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Cataclysm Notes:

June 15, 2010

OUTDATED MATERIAL: Disregard the information in this post and refer to current material.

I’ll be writing up a series of posts looking ahead at Discipline in Cataclysm. Since there are still surprises waiting for us, I can’t cover everything and things I say here may end up being irrelevant. Be patient, as the post is in-depth.

There are some anxieties hanging in the air about Discipline’s role in Cataclysm, but the new damage as healing talents shouldn’t be one of them. You can avoid it entirely by putting 3 talents into Unbreakable Will, 2 into Focused Power, and still take 3/3 Penitence for the crit bonus to Penance. If you feel like working the new talents into your PvE spec, however, it might turn out to be a real boon.

Maybe think of it as a Holy Paladin judging, albeit more often. We get mana and a healing boost in return.

Let’s take a loot at the four new talents in Discipline’s arsenal:
Penitence, Evangelism, and Archangel are related talents in the Discipline tree. Atonement is an optional side talent. The 3 points required for it can probably be taken from Improved Flash Heal if necessary.

  • Penitence3/3 Increases the critical effect chance of your Smite and Penance spells by 15%.
  • Evangelism2/2 When you cast Smite, you gain Evangelism increasing the damage done by your Smite, Holy Fire, Holy Nova and Penance spells by 4% and reduces the mana cost of those spells by 6% for 15 sec. Stacks up to 5 times. [Not sure if the mana reduction stacks.]
  • Archangel1/1 Consumes your Evangelism effects, instantly restoring 3% of your total mana and increases your healing done by 3% for each stack. Also allows you to channel Penance while moving. Lasts 18 seconds. [Need to verify if the mana return stacks.]
  • Atonement – 3/3 When you deal damage with Smite, you instantly heal a nearby low health friendly target within 15 yards equal to 45% of the damage dealt.

First, a full-time 15% crit bonus for Penance. Second, at full effect, a Smite cast will do 20% more damage with a 15% chance to crit (at a 6% mana reduction cost). With Atonement, it will smart heal a single target for 45% of the damage dealt (65% if Evangelism is at 5 stacks) at no additional mana cost. When the need for DPS is over, Archangel will return 3% of total mana and increase your healing done 3% for each stack.

The PvP advantages of these talents are so clear that they need not be explained. Leveling, heroics, and solo’ing will also obviously benefit from these added talents.

But will they be useful in PvE, if you choose to take them?
One outlook is to utilize the Archangel proc for mana regen. One Smite costs 15% of your base mana, with a 3-15% of total mana return when you use Archangel.  A shield costs 23% of your base mana and will return 2.5% with Rapture. The number of Smites needed to make Archangel profitable during a fight might be wasted GCDs and put unnecessary pressure on the other healers. You’ll have to figure out the net gain between 75% 45% (less if the mana reduction stacks) of your base mana lost and 15% of total mana returned. Then again, it might work.

In response to a fellow blogger’s post, Chris Anthony of Duct Tape and a Prayer commented: since the stacks last 15 seconds, you only need to weave a Smite in once every ten GCDs to keep the stack going. Once you’ve got that down, you can spend most of your time healing as normal, but burn Archangel when you need to to give yourself 15% of your mana back and 18 seconds of +15% healing and Penance cast on the run.”

Emmet points out the risk of missing since we don’t carry hit, and we never should. However 2 points Divine Accuracy in the Holy tree will give us a 10% chance to hit. Weaving Smites likely won’t be feasible as a consistent practice, however it might be useful at certain points.

Trying to keep up Evangelism stacks to make frequent use of the full 15% increase to healing done will be ineffective. You’d need the extra boost just to make up for all the time wasted. Atonement will only heal for a portion of each Smite’s damage and heals a single low-health target. However, Archangel would be a powerful CD to blow if you’ve been building up the Evangelism stacks gradually. Or even quickly if you build up Evangelism during a “down time” in the fight.

No matter how you use the talents, you won’t be topping the DPS charts. You aren’t supposed to. In fact, feeling pressured to try using Smite instead of just a powerful heal will leave you feeling confused.

However, you might be able to step in to handle small encounter mechanics.
Let go off the min/max worries for a moment and consider how it would play into a current encounter like LK 10, a high mobility fight with significant incoming damage and multiple add phases.

If strong DPS is needed to bring down major adds while light DPS could handle environmental adds – such as Ice Spheres – these talents might be a middle ground in which Disc priests can provide moderate DPS without gimping themselves. It isn’t a choice between “heal” or “DPS.” I like this. You can take on the special assignment without feeling like you’re leaving your co-healers in the cold or risking running out of mana. The cost of smite is reduced. The smite gains strength each time you cast it, allowing you to get the job done faster and ultimately get back to healing.

Meanwhile, your light DPS is keeping an eye on the lowest targets and providing them with a sudden heal when they need it most. And when your job is done, you can reel in some of the lost mana and toss a powerhouse Penance heal on the tank as you’re running back to the safety of the center.

Likewise, in those last moments as the Val’kyr just isn’t coming down fast enough and everyone turns their attention to it, you can ramp up what little damage you can offer. It isn’t much, but it’ll be a bit stronger and you’ll be able to boost your heals in a pinch to heal anyone whose health has dropped during the rush.

LK is a very specific encounter and we might not see anything like it again. But it’s an example of how there might be an appropriate use for these new talents.

Conclusion
In a 25 man, I can see these talents being manipulated for mana regen. In a 10 man, I can see these talents being used to overcome tight mechanics. Cataclysm 10 mans will be hard. No doubt about it. There will be no 2healing with DPS waltzing around like nothing can harm them.  I hope to see a necessary synergy and cooperation between all the classes.

Don’t fear that there will be no need for heals. Expect the fight to be a challenge, and know that you’re going to have to offer up every unique ability you can in order to succeed. That might mean stretching your well-defined role and filling in gaps where it’s needed.

And remember that these talents are optional! While I recommend picking up Penitence for the lovely crit bonus to Penance, the other three talents are completely unneeded. Toss 3 points into Unbreakable Will and forget about them. Or get creative and put 1 point into UW and 2 points into Reflective Shield. The rest go into IFH. You can always meddle with your spec if a unique fight comes along that calls for it.

These are only glimpses of the polished abilities the Cataclysm Discipline priest is going to be playing with!

Added notes:
I neglected to include the Holy tier 1 talent Searing Light3/3 Increases the damage of your Smite, Holy Fire, Holy Nova and Penance spells by 12%. This might be an option for Disc priests considering heavy use of the new abilities.

I also wish that Blizzard would consider moving to tier 5 the talent Surge of Light2/2 Your spells have a 50% chance to cause your next Smite or Holy Nova to be instant cast, cost no mana but be incapable of a critical hit. This effect lasts 10 sec. Switching the placement of Surge of Light and Holy Reach would help the entire damage as healing package feel complete.

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4 Comments
  1. Emmet permalink

    Especially with the scaling increase of the hit required as content goes on I can’t imagine them expecting this to work in a PvE environment. They’ve also been saying that they wanted to move away from smart heals in general, so… zuh? I anticipate that they’ll widen those really narrow points in the Disc tree before release.

    • For PvP, these abilities will work in tandem with other optional priest talents that increase our chance to hit by 10%. For PvE, Disc priests might still pick up Divine Accuracy from the Holy tree if they have extra points. I’m not entirely convinced that it’s the best move. It will depend on the priest’s playstyle. Other talents may be more appealing.

      But hit doesn’t really matter when you only need to hit things twice. By that I mean I could still hit environmental features such as ice in ToC or ice spheres in ICC. I might miss once, but it isn’t a major problem. It becomes an issue when you’re a DPS and casting a large number of spells. It would also prove challenging if you were trying to keep up stacks on a very tight timer. Ten GCDs and 15 seconds go by very fast.

      It’ll be interesting to see how other priests approach it. Holy Priests will have enough points left over to try out some of the talents too, or they might just go for barrier.

  2. Khamrin permalink

    My approach will depend on the overall changes to incoming damage, gear stats, and how much the feel or rhythm of healing changes.

    While it’s fun to speculate on these things, I expect to see many more changes before we arrive at Cataclysm release day.

    One other thing: as a holy paladin, I keep a judgement up on a boss or mob at all times for the haste buff it provides. I have no issues mixing the judgement spell in with my heals (no confusion) and I also have zero hit on my healing gear.

    • A lot may still change and we can’t know what the raid or healing environment will be like.

      Comparing these abilities to a paladin’s judgment made sense. The only difference being that judgments are instant cast and an untalented Smite is a 2 second cast.

      One thought: To try and purposefully stagger the stacks to reach the Archangel buff would mean casting it every 12 seconds and losing all your stacks if you miss, or casting it more frequently. Luckily it does heal someone for a little bit when you cast it. And I guess if there’s no time to cast another smite because of heavy damage, hit Archangel early and use the healing buff.

      In practice, it may simply prove challenging to keep an eye on and maintain as part of a constant rotation. So I wouldn’t use it that way. Why try to overwhelm yourself?

      I see it being quite fun and useful in certain situations. Perhaps there will be time in the new healing rhythm to cast a smite here and there, and we can use it comfortably during the moments where frantic healing isn’t necessary. It’s certainly an element that adds interest.

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