Sunday, April 18, 2010

Discipline: Losing its flavor? (Not really.)

Power Word: Shield tooltip"[We want to] make sure shielding isn't always a more attractive option than healing."

These words about halfway down the Priest Cataclysm preview have sparked a surprising response from trolls and legitimate posters alike: "Discipline is losing its flavor." I'm here to disabuse everyone of the notion that moving away from shield spam is bad for the discipline spec. The non-troll complaints seem to come from two schools of thought: shields are what makes us unique, so they should always be better than healing, or using non-shield spells is much weaker than shielding, so this change will be a nerf to the spec. The first is question of flavor, the second is based on a failure of thinking.

1: Most healing specs (everyone but the druid) have a few direct heals, and then their class mechanics make up the rest of their spells. As it stands, discipline priests in high-end raids are primarily assigned to hit every member of the raid with Power Word: Shield, and then to do it again. Since global cooldowns are 1 second, and the spell prevents shielding for the next 15 seconds, it only takes two discipline priests to cover the entire raid, assuming the shields are being consumed more often than every 15 seconds. If a boss takes more than 15 seconds to consume raid shields, then a single discipline priest is often sufficient. In either case, from a flavor perspective, discipline is strange compared to the other healing classes; discipline typically uses its unique mechanic to the exclusion of other effects. Mechanically, the current state of discipline in high-end raids is that two discipline priests is problematic, and anything more than that simply won't work. That's bad on both counts, and thus, change is good.

2: The second argument is flawed in that it examines the effect of this change in isolation. If we got patch 4.0 tomorrow, and the discipline section read:
  • Discipline's shields reduced to encourage a wider variety of spells used.
  • Nope, nothing else changed in Disc, that's all. Really.
Then, it would be fair to say that this is a nerf to discipline that is not needed, and therefore the change shouldn't be made. But, that's not the case; this is a single change amongst many that will be coming in Cataclysm. I trust the developers (and you should too) to properly compensate the spec in other areas so that the net effect is to leave us on a similar level to all the other healing specs in both tank and raid healing.

Don't do this, trust Ghostcrawler to get it right.

I personally see the rebalancing of bubbles relative to our other healing components as a good thing for the class, and not just in terms of spell variety. Making it so PW:S isn't our primary spell will make more stats viable on gear. As it stands, PW:S scales only to spellpower, which we have little control over. If we commonly use our other spells, we can actually begin to care about things like whether our gear has haste, crit, or mp5 on it. Besides gear selection, the proposed rebalancing was for the purpose of letting discipline be more competitive tank healers. By allowing us more roles in a raid, the spec becomes more entertaining, less repetitive, and more detailed. So, for the reasons I've listed, I think discipline casting more heals and less shields is good for myself and all the other raiding discipline priests.

No comments:

Post a Comment