Penance Priest

Discipline Priest Blog

I confess. I am a ninja. Pretty much all the time now. If I get Yaarrr I'll just eat more buff food.

Why, you ask? Sure it's fun to hop into some tight black leather, especially after wearing delicate robes all day long. But there's a more important reason.

Blizzard's outfit designs are more miss than hit. Here are some of the robes I've had the "pleasure" of wearing, and one that is inevitably in my future. I’ll neither explain nor defend my design-level assessment, so don’t try to haggle me on my numbers.

I find Umbral Brute to be particularly hideous. And many cloaks are just plain rotten, but hiding the cloak looks just plain weird. And the T9 shoulders? Halp!!

So to ninja I go, nearly every raid now, all the time. I just despise looking at my toon. And the ninja costume is really really good. So it no longer matters to me what sort of crap designs we get in the future. I've always got a good one to cover it up.

There was a solid stretch of designy goodness, when I was wearing mostly T8, and my priest looked badass in the best, most priesty way. But that was a blip on the design radar; mostly my guy looks like he got dressed by some overeager 19-year old artiste with no sense of restraint, color-matching, or style. Yes, I do really hate Umbral Brute. Looks fine on a lock, just not on a discipline priest.


It does give me great pleasure to choose the correct pet to go with my ninja, reflecting both my mood and the encounter. Ninja + errandboy, ninja + arcane elemental, ninja + Chuck, etc. He's an oddball ninja, my priest. But he's not gonna take off his leather for just any old dress.

Postscript: An ulterior motive

I like to heal pug heroics half-naked. Just for the challenge of it. Wearing a ninja suit covers up my prank, so unless I'm inspected, it will go unnoticed, and I’ll be the only one to know that I kept up a noob tank with so much skin exposed. The fact that I often sport Anathema with my leather, however, and that doesn't get mentioned, is more than a bit unnerving.

This is a post about loot. Hard to believe, since no one cares anyway :)

It’s not a post about how to distribute loot within your guild. There are many systems, and they all have varying degrees of suck. To minimize suck, look into EPGP and move on. Perhaps I’ll expand on that another day. Not now though.

No, this post is about what Blizzard can do about spellpower plate. But wait! Don’t run away! I promise, there’s more to it than that.

The problem

Spellpower plate is just the most obvious and extreme example of bad loot distribution by Blizzard. There are other examples, and it’s only gotten worse with the new “bring the player not the class” philosophy. BTPNTC allows guilds to run with groups that are (from a purely loot-oriented viewpoint) radically imbalanced.

My guild runs with two regular hunters. (Used to be three, but grats on the new baby, Griz!) We have no enhancement shaman. So every piece of mail gear goes straight to them, and they also get a shot at plenty of offset pieces. They’ve both got multiple 232 weapons and are well on their way to building separate gear sets for MM and SV.

Meanwhile, in our cloth-heavy guild, many of us softies are rocking four or five pieces of Ulduar gear. That’s after about 110 boss kills.

So what we have is a question of balance. Your guild might be the opposite, with tons of hunters and few clothies. Or lots of trees & boomkins but no priests. I love the BTPNTC philosophy to death, but this can be a real issue.

The spectrum of gear flexibility

Blizzard has a number of different loot distribution systems in place that attempt to address the balance concern. Here’s a diagram of those systems, arranged from the most specific (boss X drops the Ring of Not Again) to the most general (40 emblems gets you whatever the heck you want):

On the left we have a boss who drops some specific item; you have no choice in the matter. This, of course, is the way almost all raid-boss loot works. On the right we have a boss who drops a token that can be used to purchase any tier piece for any class (like the new T9 system). Emblem gear is similarly flexible, perhaps more so.

Previous tiers (I’m using T7 as an example) used a semi-flexible system, in which the slot was fixed (head piece, for example) but the class was flexible (rogues, death knights, mages, druids). There are also offset options within that (e.g., different types of druid headpieces for different specs), so there was an interesting balance of flexibility and specificity.

Blizzard has been clear that they don’t want bosses to drop only flexi-tokens. The badge system was designed to fill in gaps, to allow you to buy gear after the RNG clobbered you week in and week out. But bosses will not be dropping “Buy Any Loot Token #1” any time soon. The gambler’s thrill of hitting the jackpot is a key part of the game, which means losing rolls is going to happen until darkness descends over Azeroth.

(By the way, I’m glad they didn’t implement boss-kill statistics until 3.0. Otherwise I’d know exactly how many times I killed Prince and did not get my T4 helm. Even with the flexibility in the tier-gear system, the RNG is a huge factor, and is one reason I visited that dark castle so many times.)

Quest rewards

Probably didn’t see that coming, did you? Well. Think about it. Quest rewards give you options, but they aren’t innumerable. You get about 4 pieces of gear to choose from, and Blizzard has done its darndest to ensure that all specs and armor classes are accounted for during the leveling process. (Tanks will tell you differently.) Even if there are quests that have no rewards that interest you, over time you will certainly be able to build up a set of gear that tracks your leveling progress and power.

The proposal

Have raid-level bosses drop quest-reward tokens. (“This item begins a quest.”) For Ulduar, the quest turn-in might be in the foyer, so you can easily port around to receive your quest rewards.

The quest rewards would be tightly defined. Take Ignis, for example.

Ignis Weapon Token: quest rewards would be the three 232 weapons on his loot table (Worldcarver, Intensity, Scepter of Creation).

Ignis Accessory Token: quest rewards would the rings & neckpieces on his loot table (Cindershard, Pyrelight, and perhaps the Totem of Dancing Flame)

I haven’t thought through how all the tokens would be organized, except to realize it is a non-trivial but very solvable problem. You would have to combine things that don’t fit very easily (like that totem or a trinket). You could ensure that no token gave more than two rewards, as a way of keeping this system closer to the left side of my chart. (More options in the quest reward pushes it closer to the right, of course.) I’ll leave the subtleties of the quest-reward organization to the smart people. But the general idea should be clear.

I find this system very appealing: it still leaves a lot of randomness, while allowing a bit more control over gearing up your raid. And it leaves Blizzard plenty of control over how much or how little they want the RNG to affect your winnings.

And with that, there’s no need to change any fundamental mechanics of the game. No ridiculous strength-to-spellpower conversion talents in the paladins’ holy tree. No “everyone can wear plate” silliness. We’re just taking the edge off the randomness of boss drops, while still keeping the thrill of the rare drop and the thrill of a good roll as motivating factors.

By the way, has anyone seen Guiding Star? Fifteen Razorscale kills and no drops. And ten folks who would roll on it for their main spec. WTB better boss-drop mechanics. Even slightly better would be enough.


The extra time between casts is indeed an eternity. It seems that we all have to adjust to a new rhythm, and that should take probably another week or so. I've had to rearrange my UI so that the Penance cooldown is shout-in-your-face loud. Otherwise, like many of us, I'm just clicking a dead button while I could have been doing something useful.

So meanwhile, what to do with that extra time? I've applied to the Camp of Greater Heal, and I've been accepted as an Initiate. I've redone my spec, complete with 5/5 Divine Fury and 2/3 Improved Healing. Improved Flash Heal has made its triumphant return, and Focused Will is now the casualty of spec adjustments. Other disc priests would move one point from Grace to fill out Improved Healing, but I can't quite bring myself to do that just yet.

Greater Heal vs. Flash Heal

I won't go into this minefield just now, except to say that I'm happy we have hard decisions again! Our spec is no longer fully-formed out of the box. Spell usage is now very much in debate. I'm not happy at how hard it is to keep tanks up, but I am indeed happy that things have moved past the right/wrong answers that we've gotten used to.

That said, if the nerf to Penance were 1 second instead of 2, I think we could all adjust and not feel like we just got our left arms chopped off...

Prayer of Healing

The nerf scales with your spellpower. I got hit hard. I don't cast PoH as much as my holy priest friends, and this will have me casting it even less. It's a real loss. Which brings me to...


Ok, Penance was always essential. Shield is a no-brainer as well, though some disc priests will tell you the healing is often overheal. But I have no intention of removing this from my glyph pane anytime soon.

I switched to the PoH glyph a while back, but now this is ridiculous. The glyph took a nerf in direct proportion to the spell it augments. Plus now that I'm casting PoH less, the glyph becomes even more of a waste. So back to Flash Heal for me. Some priests are using Holy Nova these days, which is very nice for tightly-grouped hard-mode fights (like Mimiron).

Trial of the Champion

Comparisons to Magister's Terrace were greatly exaggerated. As in, LOL. Long after I got the trinket from Priestess, even after I had enough badge gear to last me into my retirement years, I still did MgT almost every day. The instance was just that well designed, that much fun, day in & day out. The new not.

Comparisons to Ring of Blood, however, were relatively accurate. Fast, simple, and kind of fun. However, Ring of Blood was not repeatable, except to help out guildies or run alts. The new instance is a daily event, because it drops unreasonably good 219 gear.

My level-200-geared friends are now farming the place, and I'm helping as much as I can. We even do non-heroic, because even the level 200 stuff is so nicely itemized. This is silly. I realize it represents a gear-reset patch, almost as generous as 3.0 was before LK dropped. But at least farming ZA was fun. The new not.

Loot pinata? Yes. Magister's Terrace? Ho-ho-ho.

Trial of the Crusader

I hope it gets better.

Tier 9

I hope I never get a tier token. That shit is ugly. And anyway, how can a disc priest ever break their 4-piece T8 bonus? Tell me!!