World of Warcraft, discipline priests.
You look at your meters. Healing done shows your discipline priest at the bottom of the list. That's good! It means your other healers are pulling their weight. The day a discipline priest outperforms a traditional healer in healing done is the day you send them home to retrain. Or maybe they were wearing their RP gear set to the raid?
You look at your healing + absorbs meters, and your discipline priest's numbers are so beyond the next healer down that there is absolutely no comparison . What gives? Is something wrong? No, with numbers like that your Discipline Priest is simply doing their job correctly. It isn't even an indication of that Discipline Priest being "better" than any other healer on your team!
You cannot compare an absorber with your traditional healers. I'll explain.
Why is there this gap between traditional healing and absorption-based shielding? In L2Disc - An overview of Discipline Priest raiding I talked about the most overall-effective way for a Discipline Priest to act. It's summarized pretty easily as "shields". Shields on everything. In that post, I explained the difference between shields and regular spells and I compared raid-shielding to single-target tank-healing. My conclusion was that there is an obvious overall benefit to raid-shielding.
Now comparing a Discipline Priest to any kind of "green bar goes up" healer you will see precisely the same effectiveness.
Let's not try to compare focused-healers with raid-healers. Instead, we'll imagine that we are comparing two totally free and unfocused contestants. One is a traditional healer (of any sort) and the other is our discipline priest.
Given a boss fight where the overall raid is taking moderate to extreme damage, the "biggest numbers" will be given by free raid healing. If the damage is single-target-predictable then a traditional healer can pre-cast a big heal and time it to land when the damage hits. This kind of thinking is usually only possible on tank healing. It takes a particular kind of expertise to do that on a tank. I'll admit that I lack it, but even so I cannot imagine anyone being able to act with that skill on erratic raid damage. So damage will be unpredictably sprinkled throughout the raid. The only reaction time that can be given is when threat changes are seen.
Yes, "in theory" pre-shielding can blanket the whole raid with nice cozy absorption. But in practice that kind of possibility completely falls apart 30 seconds into any fight. Priorities need to be made for shielding. People need a shield thrown on them to give them the extra moment of survivability for a traditional healer to get to them. Once one or two such "emergencies" occur, the shield cooldowns will become spotty throughout the raid and it becomes annoying at best to consistently re-cast shields on everyone. It's not simple like shielding players one through give one after the other through groups one through five, and then rolling from the last player back to the first. Also, yes it's possible to run out of mana being so generous with shields. It depends heavily on the fight and the raid damage being dealt.
So shielding becomes spotty as a rule. It's true effectiveness is seen when cast on someone who is about to take additional damage. So let's imagine some situations..
- Situation One:
We have a player who just got threat. Imagine a boss turns and casts at them. Our shielder and our healer both have equal reflexes and turn to aid that player.
The Discipline Priest's shield lands first, being instant-cast. The traditional healer cannot have any particular effectiveness until damage is actually taken. However, a skilled traditional healer will pre-cast.
In either case, the traditional healer is forced to be second in line.. the shield usually lands immediately. Next, the damage lands, the shield is usually torn through and some damage is seen. The traditional healer either reacts now or the pre-casted heal lands.
The Discipline Priest overhealed because of their shield glyph, but the shield itself was 100% used.
The traditional healer probably healed the entirety of the damage with varying amounts of overheal depending on what spell was used.
After this first cast, both the Discipline Priest and the traditional healer are on equal footing on how to address any remaining damage. For me, unless it's a particular emergency I would just move on to some other player, letting any additional slower traditional healers all hammer their pointless overheals on that player. It's an extraordinary advantage to have your healers all know how oneanother work to be able to do this kind of thing. I've had things go from a terrible wipe to an outstanding success on the second try because the healers got into their groove.
- Situation Two:
A player just got hammered by some random event. They're very damaged and near death. Perhaps additional incoming damage is expected. The Discipline Priest shields, extending the player's life for precious moments while the traditional healer does their "green bar goes up" thing.
This situation is somewhat opposite the above. The Discipline Priest's shield glyph did a heal which was 100% valuable. The shield's absorption may have some fractional value against future damage. The traditional healer's heal was probably 100% valuable. Well maybe there would be some overheal, but let's ignore that. Fucking paladin crits. ><
But in this situation, the absorbtion still has 30 seconds of life in it, and it's extremely likely that most if not all of it will be of use against upcoming damage.
See the advantage the Discipline Priest has here? 100% of the glyph heal and next to 100% of the absorption value of the shield will be used, and all for the low low cost of a single global cooldown.
In the time it takes a traditional healer to cast a heal twice, a discipline priest has already shielded three players. Where a traditional healer "wastes" heals to overhealing, a Discipline Priest's "over-shielding" has a lengthy 30 seconds before being a waste.
So it should come to no surprise that the healing + absorption numbers are head and shoulders above the best traditional healer.
The question becomes.. how far over should one expect the Discipline Priest to be? On what fights, taking what kind of raid damage? Taking what kind of tank spike damage, where the Discipline Priest must stop raid shielding and turn to assist?
I have no clue.
Of course, if you're lucky enough to have two discipline priests and both are free to do as they wish, then you could compare them to each other. Sortof. It gets annoying because they can't both shield the same target. Each same-target clash is a wasted cooldown for one of them. They step on each other's toes constantly, so neither is usually as effective as they could optimally be.
On the bright side, in an upcoming post I'll talk about how to learn if your discipline priest is slacking off.