This song encapsulates my feelings about disc: what, how, what, how, wtf, rage, what.
I haven’t really commented about the changes yet – I understand that they are only a stepping stone between here and the new expansion, but after playing (and raiding and PVPing) for a few weeks, I know enough to know that disc has been gutted.
My favorite moment from the past expansion was healing Shamans our first few times fighting them: there were two tanks to keep up. On weakened soul clear, both tanks got a bubble. I was rolling penance on CD to ensure I had a free bubble to use to kill that weakened soul on whoever had the HIGHEST weakened soul CD. The other one got FDCL flash heal procs – unless penance was on CD and that CD was 6+ seconds. In that case, greater heal, yo. If under, flash heals. Keep up grace on both tanks as well, using that penance smartly and those flash heal procs cleverly to reset the 3-stack CD. Weave in prayer of mending and holy fire/smite for boosted heals via archangel. Get that spirit shell in and time a halo or cascade to land when meteor lands. Fucking exhilarating.
Now: BUBBLE BUBBLE BUBBLE BUBBLE HOLY NOVA HOLY NOVA HOLY NOVA HOLY NOVA HOLY NOVA.
Obviously, our mana pools and regen will be changing, and we’ll be getting buffs from leveling and new talents, so I won’t comment on the balance – but the balance isn’t what upsets me. I trust that Blizzard will balance things. What I am concerned about is the deeper issue here: disc has been completely gutted and lost its complex interplay of skills. Disc was incredibly exciting to play – you had to know the fight, and you needed to use your skills well in conjunction with each other. You could do “OK” without maximizing that, and you could even do pretty good (which is a balance issue which should have been tackled) but to truly do great you needed to know every skill and know how to use them in conjunction with each other.
Now, I just play whack a mole and bubble spam.
…And the thing that frustrates me is that isn’t going to change. I’m going to passively get better at basic healing simply for levelling up and having gear, but that does not do anything to ameliorate the sting of losing all of my complex and engaging gameplay, nor do I want it to. I don’t want to be OP. I want to be CHALLENGED. I understand that simplifying things makes the game more accessible to more people….but does Blizzard even understand the ramifications of these changes?
I don’t want to get too heavily into the problems with PvP, but I’ll give this a short bit. First, self peels are super vital to healers. Who cares if we have silence? That’s very potent for arenas, yes – but most of us don’t play arenas. As someone who primarily just plays battlegrounds (because I’m a healer and love healing) god does stuff suck hard atm. I lost a self peel. I have a grand total of two instant casts (bubble and holy nova – both of which I already had). I lost my strategic and tactical stun interrupt. Hell, my freaking 4-set has even been nerfed. My hot has vanished. My strong prepared heal (glyphed Prayed of Mending) has been made a cast. On top of this, I lost my tiny hybrid potency (Shadow Word: Death), I’m physically weaker (lost Inner Fire glyph to increase armor), and now my shield glyphs are mutual exclusive – let me just reiterate this last part: I can either have a slightly less shitty bubble, I can have one that helps heal, or I can have one that deals damage. I am the class that basically just has bubble, but I can’t actually soup my bubble up to make it potent. That’s so damn depressing.
I think disc definitely had problems. Absorbs as a concept reward skilled healers way too well – if you know the fight, you can gimmick it to really just trivialize it and make things frustrating to your fellow healers. Absorbs really aren’t very fair as is, especially once you calculate in a good disc doing things like spirit shelling before big AoE pulses. My team didn’t like it initially, until we chatted out why I was nomming heals and making it clear that numbers meant NOTHING unless there were clear issues. I don’t expect every raid team to do that, and I’ve had to step in and go WHOA STOP to multiple pugs bitching people out for not competing with a 585 disc priest. Healers: you’re beautiful, keep on keeping on. You each have a special job to do. Raid leaders: Heal meters =/= dps meters so please stop citing them. Anyways, yes. Absorbs make other healers feel bad and unbalance fights, and disc was definitely due for a change.
Blizzard, however, cut the wrong things: aegis + crit gems + reforging + atonement were the big problems here (basically 50% of everything I did made an absorb), not the complex interplay around weakened soul and grace. Those things let anyone mindlessly stack absorbs without any skill, blanketing a raid without much thought, especially with this tier’s 2-set increasing crit. Seriously, most of us were doing fights with 30-50% of our healing coming from aegis. If you’re going to fix disc’s disparity, make it so absorbs require thought and pre-planning – and I’m baffled at why the more complex skillplay has been removed but mindless and RNG absorb procs have been left in. This isn’t smart gameplay. This isn’t rewarding clever players. Aegis is a fun concept, but its current iteration is the big reason why disc pisses people off. People do NO thought about aegis, it’s based on RNG, it can proc off anything, and derpy smart heals proc it….and as a nice toss of salt in the wound, it’s been kept in, while the actually engaging and intelligent aspect of the class has been gutted. Changing aegis to be a talent, making it be a buff you activate for x amount of time, or even just flat out removing it – these would have done a significantly lot more to fix disc than the changes we’ve seen.
I really don’t want to think that Blizzard is just slashing stuff to cater to the least common denominator – partially because I think that will backfire badly. Let me draw it out.
Mythic raids: people are min-maxxing. They’ll bring 1, maybe 2 disc healers. The disc are frustrated but play and do ok. Thing is, this is NOT where the problem is.
Every other (ESPECIALLY LFR) raid difficulty: You roll in via group finder or automated match-making and there are 3-5 other disc priests (according to the wow census priests are BY FAR the most popular healer class). One priest bubbles some people. The other priests can’t kill that weakened soul, so they are stuck unable to use their most potent (and in WoD, prime) skill. The top geared healer sees their numbers dropping to shit* because weaker absorbs are eaten first, and are ridiculed by clueless derps (this is already happening), and subsequently loses interest in trying to help out lower-geared people. Healers start sniping or recklessly healing to raise their numbers. Newer healers feel heavily discouraged. The new AoE skill invites mindless spam. It really just creates a shitty environment.
* Note, I do NOT promote heal chart number linking. You should only ever refer to heal charts as a tool for analysis. Heal chart numbers on their own mean nothing. See this article for more enlightenment.
In short, I am really unhappy with where disc is now. I used to enjoy healing. I don’t anymore. Numbers can be tweaked. Skill interaction and a dumbing-down of healing is a far huger task. I am worried about the expac.