Spurious Conjecture: Disc and Cataclysm

March 3, 2010

I’m currently pondering what the changes announced for Cataclysm will mean for Disc priests.

The change to regen with us wanting Spirit is easy enough to understand. I’d personally like to keep Rapture as some kind of regen mechanic, proccing a mini Spirit Tap, for example.

What I’m much more concerned about is the proposed changes to health pools and the pace of healing. Things will supposedly get less “twitchy”, with more chance of seeing health bars at 50% and more time to plan heals.

Isn’t this what we do for the other healers in ICC already? Get shields in place that add 8 or 9k to someone’s “health” before they take damage, or shield to keep a bar at 50% long enough for another healer to take time to respond?

The faster the pace of incoming damage, and the smaller the health pool in relation to that incoming damage, the greater the benefit from PW:S as opposed to, say, Renew.

ICC is the golden age of Disc shielding as we currently understand it. Once the pace slows down, and health pools get big enough to withstand a couple of hits, the niche we currently occupy will lose it’s relevance.

In the same way that shields benefit from fast pace and small healthpools, big healthpools and slower pace make HoTs increase in value. At a certain (possibly extreme) point, Renew will always be a better choice than PW:S. The announced Cataclysm changes must be making Trees tremble to their roots in anticipation. Or tremble in fear of lumberjacks with nerfbats.

And on the subject of nerfs, Paladins, eh? The guys with the unassailable (or as Ghostcrawler described it, “outlier”) position at the top of the raw healing output meters… and that’s with 50% or more overhealing still looking for a bigger healthpool to fill. When will anyone ever see a healthpool at 50% while there’s a Paladin with current, comparative levels of throughput around?

Now I’m not suggesting that “more of the same” is what we’ll actually see happen. Cataclysm looks to be set to reconstruct everything in the game, and a rebalancing of the healing specs is certain to be part of that. What I am pondering is the niches:

Druids hold the niche of “masters of HoTs”, and as I’ve said the proposed paradigm for Cataclysm will serve to make HoTs more attractive and powerful, compared to other types of heal.

Paladins hold the niche of “masters of single target (over)healing”, and the larger the healthpool, the more attractive this becomes.

Disc Priests hold the niche of “masters of shielding”, which, unlike the others, sees a reduction in desirability.

If Disc is to remain relevant in Cataclysm it will need more than a rebalancing… it will need a whole new niche. Especially as Holy stands to benefit a lot from the new setup, having not only a powerful HoT in Renew, but likely the most efficient big heal in the game in GH.

So what kind of niche might we see? I’m expecting something that plays to our strengths other than shielding.

One is tank healing. Disc is as competitive to Pallies as any spec can get right now, though typically with less overhealing (which any rebalancing must take into account). Once the dust settles I think it’s likely that we will be very competitive.

Another is the niche of most efficient healer. Even with nobody suffering from mana issues at the moment, Disc is “not suffering” better than anyone else (well, any other animal – those of a more vegetable nature are efficient too). With efficiency and the risk of running OOM resurfacing, “masters of mana conservation” is pretty attractive.

A final one I’ll mention is our ability to heal on the move. We have an effective and complementary set of instant casts, as well as ways of hasting spells with a cast time. The new paradigm of healing is not going to be solely about mana management, and with the increasing sophistication of raiders we’re likely to see ever more complex dances with bosses. Being free of the “turret” status of Shamans and Paladins could become a very valuable benefit.

That’s enough spurious conjecture for the moment. I’ll finish with an expression of faith that a lot of thought and effort is going into Cataclysm and while there will be some bumps in the road, someone somewhere has plans for us. The fact that it’s unlikely to be a continuation of shieldbotting is, in my opinion, a good thing whatever it may turn out to be.


One Response to “Spurious Conjecture: Disc and Cataclysm”

  1. Froststar said

    Hello mate.. I did miss Run when he left the TU ranks and I do miss haveing you around.. I hope thinges are going well and feel free to drop by and say hi .. Im on holiday now my self.. but im useing Facebook.. feel free to poke me there :)

    All the best to you my freind


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