EDIT: As you can see, my comments on T10 were written prior to the changes in March. The new set bonus is massive for 25-man bubble-botting disc priests. The rest of this article is basically irrelevant now :( Except Gentle Giant. They still rock.
We need to start planning our emblem purchases, so it’s time to start looking generally at where the set bonuses will be taking us, what compromises we’ll need to make, and whether or not those compromises are worth it. This is not going to be a complete exposé on the value of the Tier 10 set bonuses, but a broad-stroke look at the cost of going tier. Stay with me, this is long! But hopefully there’s something in here you can chew on; I know the whole issue of gearing up for T10 has been bugging me for a while.
As usual, if you come expecting a single, final, absolute recommendation, you will be bored, disappointed, and end up sending me hate mail. Bail now.
Just for review – here are the T10 set bonuses for healing priests.
(2) Your Flash Heal has a 33% chance to cause the target to heal for 33% of the healed amount over 9 sec.
(4) Your Penance spell has a 20% chance to cause your next Flash Heal cast within 6 sec to reset the cooldown on your Penance spell.
Apparently there was something in there about CoH too, but who gives a hoot about holy anyway? (Lol at you dual-speccing traitors. Shame on you!)
For shield-spamming raid healers
You, my friends, are SoL. (And that’s not Surge of Light.) On a recent jaunt to ICC, I was on shield spam duty for the night, and Flash Heal made up a whopping 2.7% of my overall healing for the night. Obviously, since both the 2-piece and the 4-piece bonuses are tied to Flash Heal (and/or Penance), you certainly won’t want to make any compromises to get the set bonuses, which are basically crap for you. Get whatever gear you want, including tier pieces if you like.
That’s about all there is to say for shield spammers. The tier bonuses are largely irrelevant. But I feel bad, since you came here hoping for a real post. So, as my gift to you, for coming here planning to spend some time reading tons and tons of words, I offer you some music instead. Enjoy this window into 1978 British prog-rock bliss. If my calculations are correct, this was around the time your parents were dating, plus or minus.
This is one of my favorite bands. Consider it a sneak peek at my playlist, which is on whenever I can spare the brain cycles for music while I’m healing. Look up the albums Freehand and Interview for more deliciousness. Yes, they're goofy to watch.
For tank-healing foos
Clearly the bonuses are aimed at tank healers. Both the hot and of course the Penance cooldown reset will be throughput boosts. How beneficial will they be exactly? Hah! You shall not receive the glory of mathematical analysis in this post. Instead of looking at the benefits, we’ll be looking at the opportunity costs of using the tier pieces. For those of you not familiar with the term, “opportunity cost” simply means: what do we give up, relative to getting non-tier BiS gear, to get the tier gear? The actual cost (in emblems, for example) might be the same for tier gear and non-tier gear, but there’s a stat tradeoff that we want to look at carefully.
My own thinking
Treat this as a disclaimer, or as deep thoughts on the matter, or as the ramblings of a lunatic fool. But we all come with our own context: the gear we’re wearing now, the role we’ll be playing, the availability of upgrades, etc. Here’s my context, and how I expect it will affect how I relate to the new tier gear.
First, as you know, I just transferred servers and joined a new guild. How will that affect my role? Who knows. I might be needed more as a shielder than as a tank-healing support healer. So until that’s resolved, I’ll be moving slowly on tier pieces.
Also, I might be raiding as shadow quite a bit more now. Which is fine, I love shadow. And it turns out that several of the shadow tier pieces are BiS for disc as well, although they count as offset from that perspective, since those set bonuses won’t exactly proc on heals.
And, like many of you, I have two pieces of T9. I don’t plan to drop that bonus any time soon! In an ideal world, I’d find a way to have two pieces from each tier.
Lastly: I’m fascinated by the new 4-piece bonus. It’s not clear yet how it will translate in practice, but I love the fun factor of it. It’s a weak version of the other proc-based items they’ve added to the game (Nibelung, Trauma), of which I am a BIG fan. I’m kind of peeved that there isn’t a weapon that summons a healing Val’kyr; that would be just about the biggest win in the game. But you get the idea: the reset on Penance, while not something you’ll be able to rely on, will still be awesome to use. If I’m going to be tank healing, I will try to find a way to make the 4-piece bonus happen. I just like the idea of it, and if it’s not the perfect or absolutely optimal setup, I’m ok with that.
Three sample gearsets
Below are three 5-piece gearsets. They are made of all 264s; nothing higher for now. The first gearset uses four tier pieces plus the BiS item for the fifth piece. I chose offset legs for this experiment, although one could certainly look at gloves, or even the robe as your offset piece. The reason I chose the legs is that they are craftable (and more importantly, purchasable with cash), which means I won’t necessarily have to wait to accumulate additional emblems before getting them crafted. YMMV, of course.
The second gearset uses two tier pieces and three BiS offset pieces. For this set, I picked the two tier pieces with crit (head and shoulders), then picked the best offset pieces for tank healing.
Oh, all the offset pieces are crit/haste. I’m maximizing tank-healing throughput for this experiment.
Lastly (I hope you saw this coming) I created a gearset which ignores tier pieces altogether, and just grabs five BiS pieces. And yes, two of those pieces are shadow tier gear.
Here we go:
You can see the comparison on this Wowhead page, which gives a great presentation of the tradeoffs I’ll be discussing below.
There are lots of debatable choices I just made. For example, why the crit pieces instead of the haste pieces in the 2-piece gearset? Why the offset legs instead of the gloves in the 4-piece gearset? These questions are valid. But for now, as you’ll see, all this is secondary to the main tradeoff we see in this comparison: regen.
What do we lose in order to get the tier gear?
Check out the Wowhead link above for a very nice presentation that I won’t reproduce here.
I’ll start by using the 0-piece BiS gearset as a reference. Going to the 2-piece gearset, we lose 156 haste and 16 crit, but gain 172 spirit. (And, of course, the 2-piece bonus itself.)
Going from the 2-piece gearset to the full 4-piece gearset, we lose another 100 haste, 64 crit, and 25 spell power, but gain 180 spirit (and the 4-piece bonus). (I’ve put red gems into the two extra slots we get, just to keep things simple.)
The full tradeoff from the BiS gearset to the 4-piece gearset is a loss of 256 haste, 80 crit, and 25 spell power, and a gain of 352 spirit, plus the two bonuses.
So returning to the debatable points I just mentioned: no matter how you pick your pieces, the tier gear will give you more spirit, and the BiS offset pieces will give you more throughput stats (crit/haste). The throughput stats can be adjusted towards crit or haste by making adjustments to the gearsets above, but in the end, it’s a tradeoff of throughput versus regen.
I expect this was not a big surprise, now that we look at it. After all, I’m defining “best in slot” as those pieces with maximum throughput stats, and the spirit on the tier gear is most definitely not a throughput stat.
About that regen
Ok, using the BiS gearset loses us 352 spirit that we would have gotten from the tier gear. For my current unbuffed setup (600 spirit, 1400 int), this translates to approximately 100mp5. There are ten gem slots in the BiS gearset (eight slots in the 4-piece gearset). Using a healthy dose of intellect in those slots would not quite make up the difference, but it would make up enough. If you’re stacking throughput stats, you damn-well better have enough mana to make use of all those big & fast heals!
So… go for the BiS gear, lose the spirit, and gem intellect. Not bad…not bad at all.
And the 2-piece
Not known yet whether or not the hot will stack. This matters a bunch. This question should be resolved soon, as enough emblems become available for early-adopters to get this bonus and test it out.
The BiS throughput gear costs you a bunch of regen, which you can (and will probably have to) recover by using int gems. The benefits of the tier bonuses are as yet undetermined. Until we know about the hot stacking, and until we can get a real-world sample of how the 20% Penance reset works for a tank healer in ICC fights, we can’t put pen to paper and come up with the perfect analysis of tier vs. non-tier.
And the real conclusion is that I have no conclusion. I’m stumped. I’d like to have it all! As I said, the 4-piece bonus appeals to me on levels that go beyond pure min-max throughput. But max throughput appeals to me as well, not to mention the fact that gearing up with BiS throughput gear is perfect for shadow play as well. I don’t expect everyone will share my opinions in this matter, and that’s fine. Hopefully I’ve given you some food for thought as you make your own way in this early phase of tier 10 gearup.