Though Legion has not hit, there is official commentary on things which might be expected. I can already work with the scraps we've been thrown.
This document is mostly obsoleted by World of Warcraft pre-7.0 Discipline Priests, a second look
Some thoughts ∞
It's nice to see I have the expertise to notice Disc subtleties that others miss.. Disc can switch healing tactics on the fly, has a scary-good hot and can adjust based on the mana of other healers. Hell, if a dps dies there's one less person to heal which means Disc can lean more on dps to cover for them.
People who argue that enough healing can free up a spot for a dps instead of a disc will learn the hard way that two discs will do for a raid what a healer and a dps can't. Bets on the best in the world using Disc to shift focus between healing and dps on the fly, to deal with emergencies, phase changes and fight subtleties.
I've been using the upcoming Legion tactics and spells as they've been worked into the game over the last two expansions. It appears that people haven't noticed the trend. I'm going to have to poke around the various videos pre and post-release to see if I need to actually contribute. I'd be dismayed and surprised to learn the heavy-hitters don't already know this stuff.
No, I won't be making my own guides.. I'll just whisper into the right ears if that's necessary. I hope it's not. I like thinking people are better than me.
It's also likely I'll continue my hobby of breaking the spec to help Blizzard make additional adjustments. =)
What Blizzard has said ∞
(minor changes are mine)
We continue our early look at class and specialization design with the Priest. In these blogs, we'll be exploring class identity, discussing Legion's new designs, and presenting core combat abilities for each specialization—laying out the foundation upon which talents and Artifacts will build further. With that in mind, let's delve into what it means to be a Priest in World of Warcraft.
Priests have a strong identity as spiritual practitioners who harness divine power to inspire and protect allies, heal the injured, and cure the ailed. But while this clearly holds true for Holy Priests, these ideas are less fundamental to Discipline Priests—and the ideals and beliefs of Shadow Priests are antithetical to those of Holy Priests.
Despite these differences, Priests of any spec share one key thing in common: unwavering faith in something from which they draw great power. What delineates specializations is the source of that power. In Legion, we're going to explore that dichotomy in greater depth than ever through the gameplay for each specialization.
Some priests pride themselves on pragmatism. They understand that light casts a shadow, that darkness is defined by light, and that true discipline stems from one's ability to balance these opposing powers in services of a greater cause. While these priests possess many holy virtues to aid their allies, they also dabble in the dark arts to debilitate their enemies—always exercising immense discipline to keep themselves away from the brink of insanity. Many would say the ends justify the means; scriptures both virtuous and vile should be studied and understood to protect the congregation.
The power of absorption mechanics has created a gameplay issue for healers that we're looking to address in Legion. Discipline Priests have been so effective in their role of preventing damage that it has sometimes left other healers yearning for an opportune time to throw out a clutch heal. To alleviate that issue, we're tempering Discipline's emphasis on shields in lieu of a reimaged Atonement mechanic.
Discipline Priests are now more clearly defined by their use of both Holy and Shadow magic, and that extends to how they function in combat. Sacrificing a portion of healing ability and having a reduced focus on absorption spells, they gain a significant contribution in damage. Still filling a healer role in group content, they aim to strike a balance between healing allies and damaging enemies in a unique gameplay style. Discipline Priests have strong cooldowns with Power Word: Barrier and Pain Suppression, along with Rapture, a new cooldown that temporarily removes the cooldown of Power Word: Shield.
Here's a basic look at the core defensive and offensive combat abilities for Discipline Priests:
- Plea, Power Word: Shield, and Shadow Mend also apply Atonement to your target for 15 sec.
- When you deal spell damage, you instantly heal all targets affected by Atonement for 50% of the damage done.
- Developer comment: Healing is not split between Atonements—the more allies you have Atonement on, the more total healing that a damage spell will cause.
- Increases the healing transferred through Atonement by 28% (with Mastery from typical gear).
- 1.2% Mana, 40 yd range, Instant
- A quick, efficient plea to heal an ally for a minor amount.
- 3.0% Mana, 40 yd range, 1.5 sec cast
- Wrap an ally in shadows which heal them for a large amount, but at a price.
- The ally will take minor damage every 1 sec, until they have taken half that amount of total damage from all sources, or leave combat.
Power Word: Shield
- 3.5% Mana, 40 yd range, Instant, 6 sec cooldown
- Shield an ally, absorbing a large amount of damage. Lasts 15 sec.
- While the shield holds, spellcasting will not be delayed by damage.
Power Word: Radiance (formerly Prayer of Healing)
- 7.0% Mana, 40 yd range, 2.5 sec cast
- A burst of light heals a friendly target and their 5 nearest allies for a moderate amount, and applies Atonement for 50% of its normal duration.
- 0.75% Mana, 40 yd range, 1.5 sec cast
- Smite an enemy for moderate Holy damage.
- 3.0% Mana, 40 yd range, 1.5 sec cast
- Blast the target's mind for strong Shadow damage.
- 2.5% Mana, 40 yd range, Channeled, 9 sec cooldown
- Launches a volley of holy light at the target, causing huge Holy damage over 2 sec.
- Channelable while moving.
Shadow Word: Pain
- 2.0% Mana, 40 yd range, Instant
- A word of darkness that causes minor Shadow damage instantly, and an additional huge amount of Shadow damage over 18 sec.
- Your Smite and Mind Blast casts have a 30% chance to reset the cooldown on Penance.
Additionally, to give you an idea of how some talents may build upon this, here's an example of one of their Discipline-specific talents:
My thoughts ∞
No, Discipline is not a mix of Holy and Shadow. I guess this means the spec-specific legendary quest line will force a completely different self-image. Sigh.
The power of absorption mechanics has created a gameplay issue for healers that we're looking to address in Legion
... having a reduced focus on absorption spells...
Then why is Power Word: Shield still in the game?
- Are absorbs in the game for any other class, like Paladins? (I'm told it's gone, even for Paladins)
- If there was a concern with shield-spamming, then the mastery change alone would fix this problem. There shouldn't be a cooldown, that's just another frustrating mechanic. I guess Disc won't be able to save lives like it used to.
Mastery will no longer emphasise shields.
- It instead increases the healing transferred through Atonement.
I would bet that critical strikes will no longer shield.
Damage and healing ∞
Being able to do damage and heal means that Discipline is
- either half a healer and half a dps
, or completely overpowered.
This problem has been discussed again and again in the past. It is blindly obvious, and Blizzard seems to not care.
While my guild is ok with me being half-and-half, being so would mean that I can't heal or dps dungeons. I may also be excluded from PUGs; they'll just kick Discipline Priests. Later on, geared Disc will be acceptable, but not early on. World of Warcraft 6 (WoD) was TERRIBLE to heal for Disc, and it left a really bad impression of dungeons in general. I'm betting the same would be true for Legion.
I can probably safely guess that some talenting/glyps/whatever will let a Disc lean on healing without too much Atonement reliance, making dungeons reasonable.
Already with what's known, Disc is extraordinarily flexible. With the extra mechanics like talents, I'd bet Disc will be by far the most reworkable class and spec in the game. There will be no visible "skill cap" for most, probably even for me.
Still filling a healer role in group content ...
If disc will still be 100% healer and some percentage of DPS, then they will be overpowered.
Probable gameplay ∞
Get Atonement on as many players as possible.
- Plea, Power Word: Shield, Shadow Mend.
- Power Word: Radiance for 50% duration.
Do as much damage as possible.
- Keep Shadow Word: Pain up, as this makes Atonement a HoT.
So this means Discipline Priests will have a priority system..
- Keep Atonement up on the tanks.
Keep Shadow Word: Pain up on high-health targets, especially the boss.
- To keep Atonement as a HoT.
- Penance on cooldown.
Power Word: Shield for emergencies.
- Disc will likely be one of the few who can really hit a player with a massive instant-cast heal, though I haven't reviewed the other healing classes/specs enough to judge.
Plea to keep Atonement up.
- This spell re-uses the mindset of what is currently called Saving Grace. Yes, I use it and I am horrifying with it.
- This is a pretty shit heal, so it'll probably be a simple way of weaving in an additional Atonement if near but not yet at Penance cooldown.
- It's likely that this will need to be put on ranged units, because Radience is unreasonable to use on ranged targets.
Power Word: Radiance occasionally, on the tank with the shortest Atonement.
- Its heal "splash" and Atonement splash to melee is useful.
- Casting it on range is possible if they're stacked, but I'm unlikely to do that. Discipline Priests can't heal ranged or distant targets with Radiance without significant effort. I'll save that for Plea.
Shadow Mend as a filler
- This spell is unlikely to be used at all unless damage output is unavailable.
- Its damage-taken mechanic is inconsequential in raiding. In dungeons/etc this mechanic basically makes this spell less effective. That it doesn't do damage out of combat is nice though, which is useful for the various trash pulls in dungeons.
Mind Blast as a filler.
- Mana-efficiency would probably swap Mind Blast with Smite.
- Perhaps instead Smite would be the regular filler, and Mind Blast would be just occasionally used for stronger than normal heals.
It must be emphasised that damage is usually secondary to keeping Atonement up. Every moment spent on damage lets Atonements expire, continually trading healing output for damage. Remember that Atonement is more-or-less a FIFO queue, with the first applied targets falling off first. It's not exactly like that since Radiance Atonement targets are not selectable. Since Atonement is important to keep on tanks, dps are the first to lose it if you tunnel-vision on damage.
On AoE damage ∞
While it is possible to randomly smash
tab to hope for a "better" target to do damage to, during the regular rotation, doing so requires a level of skill that most humans can't have.
Not won't but can't. Hey Blizzard, did you think this one through? Soft-target damage while keeping Atonement up, while considering rotations and cooldowns and everyone's health and prioritizing targets and knowing their defensive cooldowns while keeping mana use in mind is insane.. and don't forget about movement. Not just the player's movement but the range and movement of others. Oh hey, let's not leave out the knowledge and prediction of other role changes and boss/phase mechanics. Watching DBM timers? HAHAHAHA .. is there even a Discipline priest on staff at Blizzard?
Therefore, there basically is no multi-target on softer targets.
Having a dps assist would help a lot, but it's likely they stay on a priority target until it's dead, and aren't too concerned about losing a cast if their target dies in the middle of one. A caster dps assist who is more concerned about that problem would certainly help.
For most Discipline Priests, their damage will be entirely on a boss. This won't exclude Discipline from entering into phases of the fight where they will have no or have only soft targets to damage, since they will fall back to traditional healing. They will just be shitty healers for such situations.
For multiple hard-targets, damage output would probably be vastly improved by multi-dotting with Shadow Word: Pain.
TODO - Effective semi-soft AoE dps ∞
I will be able to do semi soft-target dps because I will make a godlike addon and macro combination which will..
- Go down an assist chain and auto-target to Mind Blast.
- Automatically switch back to the boss when there's nothing else to do.
- Make the judgement call if I want to let the Mind Blast cast go off, or use a
/stopcastingfrom my Power Word: Shield, Plea and Shadow Word: Pain macros to change my mind.
- Penance, Smite and Mind Blast will fall back to the boss.
Shadow Word: Pain will fall back to the boss.
- I'll need to have an easy way to determine if the boss needs a refresh of Shadow Word: Pain when it's not currently targeted. An addon could easily do this.
I will be able to do all of this without using a focus.
I don't even need to refer to @boss1 etc, though I probably will.
Artifact weapon ∞
I don't give a flying fuck about the RP behind a weapon. Furthermore, not enough information on the artifact-talents has been released for me to care.
Discipline Priests stand between the light and shadow -- wielding both, they straddle the precipice between. For them, this balance must be carefully cultivated so that they might wield and control the power of the staff Light's Wrath in battle.
Obsessed with cleansing undead from the world of Azeroth, the fanatical Scarlet Crusade tried to create a second Ashbringer in the form of a staff. However, a dreadlord who had infiltrated the order intervened, interrupting their efforts and triggering a violent magical explosion. The damaged staff's power proved nearly uncontrollable. After several wielders tried and failed to use the staff safely, the elite magi of the Kirin Tor hid it away lest it unleash further deadly calamities.
Atonement explained in greater detail ∞
Atonement is on one ally
Cast one damage spell. Take that number, and divide it by 1/2. That is the heal on that one Atonement-buffed target.
If 100 damage is delt, then that one ally is healed 50.
Atonement is on two allies
Cast one damage spell. Take that number, and divide it by 1/2. That is the heal on that one Atonement-buffed target, and that is also the heal on the second Atonement-buffed target. It's like cloning yourself and casting a heal on two different targets. Paladins will see this like a beacon of light effect.
If 100 damage is delt, then that the first ally is healed 50 and the second ally is healed 50.