DISCLAIMER: All of the thoughts and observations included in this post are gathered from myself and other priests who have been doing discipline priest testing on the current (1/31/2016) Legion alpha client. Some of the ideas we have also came up with together. I am writing this from the point of view of a player who does high end mythic content in a top 50 world raiding guild. I am also fluent with every healing class in the game.
1. Discipline Playstyle and General Thoughts.
3. New Spells and Abilities
Discipline Playstyle and General Thoughts:
I am very excited about the current concept for Discipline Priests in Legion. I love the idea of an offensive healer who smites down their enemies and heals injured targets by doing damage. I am mostly okay with the current playstyle of purge/penance/pws on cooldown with smites to do damage and plea to apply atonement buffs to the raid. A lot of people are very accustomed to our current playstyle of pws spam with penance/hfire/etc weaved in on cooldown. In Legion currently the playstyle is very similar to live except pws = plea (sort of).
The big problem that we are going to deal with is how good we are compared to other healers when it comes to damage and healing. At the moment discipline priests are extremely strong in both damage and healing output. If we are too good in either direction (or both) we will run into running double/triple disc on progression because the benefit of having one is so much greater than other healers will be able to offer to the raid.
Personally my idea of an ideal balance is something like this,
1. Discipline Priests will do similar damage to tanks on average. This would allow the raid to benefit from an additional amount of tank damage that would be noticeable if the Discipline Priest was removed.
2. Discipline Priests will be able to (on average) do 80% of another healers effective healing. I am going to assume we will 5 heal in this example. This would make running one Discipline Priest worth it because if you were to drop this healer, every other healer in the run would have to increase their output by ~20% in order to make up for the loss of the Discipline Priest
Most of the talent rows and choices are very solid and do not really need too much improvement or change in my overall opinion. Here are my thoughts on the talent rows that actually have some significance compared to the others.
Level 75: Contrition/Power Infusion/Twist of Fate. Choices here are pretty lackluster compared to other talent tiers.
1. Contrition: Even with the recent nerf (5 seconds to 3) contrition is extremely strong in a raiding environment. Having an extra three seconds on your atonement buffs across the raid really improves your raid coverage and overall healing to those targets.
2. Power Infusion is still a really nice concept, but why would you ever drop contrition for this? I could potentially see PI used on bosses with huge damage phases followed by very light damage phases where you could choose to drop contrition and instead talent a cooldown to use during the damage intensive portions of the raid encounter. Or maybe long and mana intensive encounters on progression (think blast furnace/imperator)? It is difficult for me to come with legitimate ideas where PI would outweigh the bonuses that contrition offers to a normal boss encounter.
3. Twist of Fate: I have a huge love/hate relationship with ToF. I really like ToF because if you are optimal at min/maxing your uptime on the buff you can gain a huge healing and damage boost. What I dislike about ToF is how it is really only plausible to use on encounters with steady ~35% HP ranges.
Level 90: Clarity of Will/Divine Star/Halo. Divine Star and Halo are great in their own way, no explanation needed there. Clarity of Will? Why has this spell not been removed or heavily changed yet?
What are my problems and concerns with Clarity of Will? (In no particular order).
1. Clarity of Will removes the relevance of intelligent tank gameplay. CoW spamming on tanks allows them to disregard their defensive abilities and active mitigation and instead focus on maximizing damage over survivability.
2. CoW severely broke raid mechanics in progression and farm in a manner that made Discipline Priests mandatory for that specific encounter. I am not going to spend a bunch of time going over all the encounters where CoW was broken (because we all know what they are) but here are a few major examples.
Iron Maidens: Blade Dash/Blood Ritual
Xhul’horac: Felblaze Flurry/Withering Gaze
Tyrant Velhari: Phase 2
Archimonde: Doomfire soaking/Source tank healing
Gruul: Inferno Slice/Overwhelming Blows.
3. CoW made Discipline Priests required on bosses where the strategy revolved around CoW. This HEAVILY punishes raid groups who did not have one. Iron Maidens is the best example in this situation. CoW was the CORE of the strategy which made them required to even progress on this encounter.
Clarity of Will is one of the largest offenders when it comes to breaking encounter mechanics with player abilities and spells.
1. A single healer should not be able to remove a mechanic permanently from a boss encounter by simply spamming one button on a target.
2. Tanks should not be able to get by without using active mitigation and defensive cooldowns simply because their disc priest is just CoWing them the entire time.
3. Solutions to difficult raid mechanics should not be easily removable by simply CoWing a predetermined target(s).
Clarity of Will does not fit the class fantasy that Blizzard is really striving to achieve in Legion.
One idea that I had to potentially replace CoW in the talent tree is making Revelation (30% chance for smite to reset the cooldown of penance) a talent. I very much enjoyed this passive because it broke up the combat rotation and made it more fun. I think having it added to this talent row specifically would offer and even greater variety to talent choices. It would also make it so every talent row for discipline priests has a passive ability. If it WAS added you would have to choose between three slightly different spells.
1. Divine Star: grouped AoE heal.
2. Halo: ranged/spread AoE heal.
3. Revelation: Damage increase.
Level 100: Purge the Wicked/Grace/Shadow Covenant.
1. Purge the Wicked: Currently I would say that most players are defaulting to Purge because it is the only damage option in this row of talents. Purge is a very solid talent choice and I do not think it needs to be changed too much. I would like for the function of penancing a target currently affected with purge to apply a purge to a nearby enemy to maybe function differently. Being able to choose what target your free purge jumped to would be extremely beneficial in some respects of raiding.
2. Grace: I like Grace because it allows for you to choose between doing more damage with Purge or doing more healing (with a loss in damage) with your non-atonement heals (plea/pwr/smend/halo/dstar) to targets affected with atonement. Grace offers a more healing specific talent which might prove to be useful in certain situations.
3. Shadow Covenant: I like the concept of SCov because it allows the player to talent into a large, targeted burst heal that disc is currently missing with the recent PW:R nerfs. I do not think it is really worth taking over Purge or Grace except for very specific circumstances (think burst healing on mythic tectus progression). I am also not really sure why SCov does not apply atonement to the targets it heals. SCov replaces PW:R and improves the general idea of PW:R which is a AoE heal. I understand that SCov applying atonement to the targets it heals would make it very strong, but the spell costs a massive amount of mana and you are still picking it over other very strong talents in the same tier. A spell that requires a talent point OVER others that are very strong in their own right deserves to be worth using.
New Spells and Abilities:
Plea: This spell is simple and effective at applying atonement to the people you need to heal. Low mana cost and being instant cast allow for a large variety of uses. Unfortunately this is going to be the filler spell which is okay because every healing class has and needs one of these in their toolkit.
Power Word: Radiance: With the recent nerf to PW:R it is useless. Period. The nerf to PW:R needs to be reverted for this spell to become relevant in raiding or it needs to be changed completely.
1. If you need to quickly apply atonement buffs to the raid just pws or plea those targets.
2. PW:R is not worth casting for the amount of healing and atonement buff applications for the amount of mana it costs currently.
3. The main reason PW:R was worth using, before it got nerfed, was because it applied atonement buffs (at a reduced duration) on so many targets. The nerf only reduced the maximum amount of targets to three instead of six and they still kept the 50% atonement buff duration, so why would you even bother using this ability?
4. It would be more efficient to plea/pws the three people you were going to PW:R. Casts around the same amount of mana and time and it would also give you double the atonement buff duration on those targets.
I think making PW:R into a sort of Binding Heal is interesting (further augmented into raid heal with SCov). But in order for PW:R to be useable it would need to be changed a lot.
Rapture: I really do not like Rapture as a concept. It is pretty boring and honestly will be used in one of two different applications depending on the boss encounter.
1. Rapture is basically a “poor man’s” spirit shell in a way. Everyone knows that absorbing damage is always better than healing it. With the short cooldown it will just be lined up with the damage pattern of the encounter and you will shield the raid and that will be it. Period. That is not a BAD thing per se, but is that not what every healer (yes even disc priests) have been complaining about for years now? Mass shielding?
2. If you do not need to use Rapture to shield the raid every 2min because X boss ability does massive aoe damage to the raid (just as an example) you will just use Rapture on cooldown to apply atonement buffs to the raid instead of using plea for the same thing. Remember that absorbing damage is better than healing it here.
I do not believe the current iteration of Rapture is a huge problem in the big scheme of things but it is still boring and unengaging. It could be changed to be something fun and intuitive for the player. A few ideas that I had when I was thinking about what I would like Rapture to function as in the disc toolkit was something like Flourish for Resto Druids.
Rapture: 2min CD. Instantly doubled the Atonement buff duration on all targets currently affected with Atonement.
Rapture: 2min CD. For the next 10 seconds every application of Atonement is doubled in duration
1. This spell would offer a medium range cooldown meaning that you would need to plan the use of Rapture based on the boss encounter and damage pattern.
2. I think this concept is fun and exciting because it would allow the player to plan when they want to use Rapture in order to most effectively benefit from the spell.
3. This will obviously need tuning so that it does not become extremely overpowered, but I very much like the idea of something that improves an already important function of discipline priests into something that would be fresh and fun instead of “press rapture = spam pws on raid”.
Shadow Mend: No real complaints here. SMend is a strong single target heal that when used correctly is extremely potent. With penance going damage only (unless you talent it, which you shouldn't do) discipline priests needed a single target healing option and SMend delivers greatly. There is a small downside to SMend with the damage over time component but it is insignificant with intelligent use.
Thank you so much for reading my novel. I really appreciate it! I would like to take this time to thank Jeathebelle, Automaticjak and Jess for reading this and telling me that i'm special.