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Power Word: Shield Hotfix Drama

February 17, 2011

Power Word: Shield has been hotfixed.

The cost of Power Word: Shield is being increased by 33%. While we wanted Discipline priests to be able to utilize this spell more often and with better results, we also did not want it to be the main spell (and often the only spell) used while in groups. We don’t find this to be a particularly compelling playstyle and have found that it encourages players to avoid using other spells such as Penance. We believe that using a shield in a tight moment is totally appropriate, but we don’t want it to be incredibly efficient to do so with more frequency than that.

We realize that by making Power Word: Shield slightly more expensive for Discipline priests to cast that it might cause Holy priests to avoid using it. To that end, we are adding mana savings into the Body and Soul talent. The tooltip will not reflect this change until a future patch, however. Ideally, Holy priests should not notice much of a change to the Power Word: Shield costs.

The community reaction is mixed, but there’s a general consensus that this “fix” doesn’t address the correct problem. PvP Disc priests are in an uproar. 10man Disc priests are feeling crushed. 25man Disc priests are indifferent. And Holy priests? Well, now they’re bubble spamming, just because they can. Overall, it feels like Blizzard is rushing changes and making calls that are ineffective at best, and bad at worst.

I do not fully understand the change myself. Most people will agree that Discipline isn’t properly balanced and that bubble spam isn’t the ideal playstyle. But simply upping the mana cost doesn’t solve the problem. It stings a little extra because it hinders our Rapture mana regen. Those with large mana pools won’t feel it quite as much, but priests still gearing up will feel the pinch. I personally believe that Rapture should be a net mana gain, even if it’s a small one.

I’d rather Blizzard offer a better alternative instead of focusing on limiting the ability of Discipline priests to bubble spam. At least give us a statement of what you want. And don’t just say “use penance,” because there has to be more to it than that.

  • Targeting mana affects Discipline inequally. It barely touches those in 25man raids with multiple regen sources at their disposal and hits 10 man raiders hard, as well as PvP. This speaks to the fact that Blizzard wasn’t fully prepared for balancing 10 and 25 man raids.
  • Talents need to move. Allowing Holy priests to take the Disc shield talents clearly isn’t what Blizz intended. And if it is, I hope they drop the Body and Soul component of the hotfix. Granted, moving talents isn’t so easy. There is a Discipline “tree” that has to remain balanced and accessible, especially for lower level priests.
  • Talents need to change. As much as I love Soul Warding, restricting it to one talent point would force Discipline priests to cast another spell in between each Power Word: Shield cast. Currently, I only spec 1/2 Soulwarding, reducing my Shield CD to 2 seconds. It encourages me to stagger my shield casts while still allowing me to cast shields if needed (without hindering other abilities). And it frees up a talent point to use elsewhere.
  • *One of the best suggestions I’ve seen so far on the official WoW forums (and I’m still hunting for the link) was a change to Soul Warding that reduces the Power Word: Shield CD and increases the mana cost per point. Therefore priests who wanted to bubble spam could do it at the cost of more mana, while other priests (Holy and Shadow) could use shields normally without requiring modified talents in their own trees. This is, by far, the cleanest and most efficient suggestion I’ve seen.


Lastly, why the handout to Holy? I don’t want to gimp them in any way, but I also don’t feel inclined to help. I’ve yet to see any effort to make Renew an effective ability for Discipline. I guess you attempted to keep things equal when you nerfed PoH across the board but allowed Discipline PoH crits to proc a stronger DA.

I’m still irked that you made Desperate Prayer a Holy talent AND made Body and Soul ridiculous. Really? A movement speed bonus that makes both their Power Word: Shield and Life Grip better utilities? (Note: utility, not heal). Don’t forget the ability to remove poisons from yourself. And now it also reduces the mana cost of their Power Word: Shield.

The sibling rivalry is getting a little heated here. I didn’t bubble spam, but I still got spanked. I’ll take my punishment and sulk in the corner, but you’d better at least slap Holy on the hand for misbehaving.


From → Cataclysm

One Comment
  1. Dawn permalink

    I don’t have time to write a full response, but good post. I’ll see if I can link it later in the week when I’m going to need to do more post 4.0.6 writing I think.

    I think Soul Warding could easily be moved down the tree. There is no reason for lower level priests to use it, lower level dungeon healing is boring enough as it is with archangel. IMO, swap Atonement and Soul Warding. Then holy priests can actually use Chastise the way disc was able to use Evangelism. Probably won’t be super popular for raiding now with the shield buff, but would be nice for holy priests in pvp and less intensive pve (like 5-mans).

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