Penance Priest

Discipline Priest Blog

Happy Monday everyone! Especially in New Orleans. Awesome game, just awesome.

Ok, to the heart of the matter. I’ve been one of the most staunchly anti-QQ forces I know, both in this blog and in the forums I haunt. Typically QQ is a sign of some sort of failure: failure of understanding, failure to play with the right people, failure to adjust to changes in game mechanics, failure to listen, etc. I hate the inner experience you have when you’re complaining. I also hate the feeling of reading others’ (usually irrational and aggressive) complaints. It just feels gross, and it’s a self-perpetuating phenomenon: it riles you up in the wrong way.

It’s a life question more than a game question: with all of its complexity, is life basically good but with bad stuff that happens? Or is life basically bad but with some good stuff that happens? If you take the latter position, you’ll QQ morning noon and night. If you take the former position, you might QQ, but it will be within a framework of positivity and forward motion. I strive for this philosophy.

However, not all QQ is just emo-ranting. I will be presumptuous and assume that there is more than some merit in the QQ that I’m collecting in this post. That, and it’s also a rant.

To spare you from repeated assaults, I’ve put in three QQs into a triple post. Aren’t I nice? I have a chance to get it all out of my system at once, and if all goes well, you won’t have to read QQ every post for the next three weeks. I’ve put each one in a separate post, just to allow the dialogue to make some kind of sense.

Here we go! It’s long, meandering, and has some intense moments. Brace yourselves.

Is Discipline Fun?

I made the mistake of looking at an old post of mine. It was the second post I ever wrote, called “Why Disc is So Much Fun.” I was still trying to figure out what the hell I was going to blog about, and I definitely hadn’t developed much of a writing style. In it I compared the Recount profiles between two priests, one discipline (me) and one CoH. (This was in 3.0.2, prior to the release of the Lich King content. We called Holy priests “CoH” priests back then.) Here are the graphs, just so you can see them without clicking through.

The bubbling joy I experienced with discipline was not only its novelty, but its versatility. Back then, I expressed my love for the spec because it “forces a degree of engagement and creativity,” which is displayed very nicely in the healing profiles above. I was using every tool at my disposal. The creativity and versatility were the source of the thrill of discipline healing.

Well, as you saw in my last post, discipline’s role (at least in 25-mans) is much more well-defined than it was in those frothy days, when we were all finding out how the new spec would work out. We’re now officially bubble spammers with a wee bit of tank support. The more I play 25s with an excellent team, the more I realize just how narrowly focused the tree has become. There are exceptions of course, and certainly in 10-man raids bubble spam isn’t really much of an option anyway, so there’s more room for creative play in that setting.

Here’s a graph from our raid last Tuesday, covering 7 bosses. I removed the Glyph of PWS and Divine Aegis from the graph, since they aren’t spell-casts. There are 662 shields and 17 ticks of Penance in the graph. And a single Divine Hymn out-healed my entire use of Penance for the night.

I’m thinking about renaming my blog “FUCK YOU BLIZZARD.” If our ridiculous and broken one-trick pony-of-a-spec doesn’t get fixed on day one of Cataclysm’s release, I’m folding my healing robes and burning them. Yes, I know discipline has a powerful role in raids. Yes, I know GC recently declared that discipline “is in a good place at the moment,” which means it’s unlikely to get fixed. That doesn’t mean it’s fun to play. It’s not. I don’t play discipline for its function. I play(ed) it because it rocked, because it “force[d] a degree of engagement and creativity.” It revitalized my interest in healing, which had gotten rather dull at the end of BC. The chart above shows the current state of affairs: there is an absolute and total lack of engagement and creativity. Props to those who still enjoy discipline. Seriously. Meanwhile, I’m begrudgingly bubble-spamming my way to glory, hoping for the change that I do not expect to arrive.

On to QQ #2 »

(16) Comments

  1. 2/08/2010 11:12 PM Topher

    I'll wait to write to much, but so far my healing as Disc in 25 ICC has been nothing but a whole ton of fun, and I'm far from being a bubble-spamming robot who occasionally pops PoM. Or your paladins are just that good. Or your dps really knows how to not take shit-tons of damage. Or you have too many healers? I can't imagine a 25-man raid where I'm not only a vital part of the success because of my shielding and damage reduction abilities but also because of my super-awesome Penances, Flash Heals, and smartly-targeted PoMs.

    I can understand how a person can end up being kind of just a support healer, nothing more, seemingly little variety or creativity involved, but I don't know that it has to be that way.

    But maybe our healers just suck or something, and I get to feel engaged and creative because I'm actually picking up their slack. But I don't think so.

    Hmph. How do other Disc priests feel?

    2/09/2010 5:03 AM christina

    I've not been wanting to agree with Paolo, but I find myself coming more and more over to his position. As we've all geared up in ICC (10 and 25) my direct heals are providing less and less support. It now seems an undeniable fact that ICC can progress quite smoothly with 5/2 healers competent healers, and on 25 this is beginning to look like 2 x pally, 1 x shammy, 1 x druid and 1 x holy.

    I think disc provides a massive benefit in a less well geared/competent environment, because we can support tank heal, raid shield, etc, our versatility really shines then, however, these aren't the people I'm currently playing with and, yes, these days I'm reduced to overhealing the tank I'm assigned or being a one trick bubble pony.

    I don't like it, I don't like enough to have worked up my shadow spec - and there's the rub, our disc gear is so precisely itemised (sp, crit, intel) that I regret dropping holy with its more balanced stats which now compliment shadow much better.

    2/09/2010 6:34 AM Scott

    Maybe I'm doing it wrong. I always have a blast playing Disc. I love the puzzle-solving feel of it, like I'm trying to cast just the right spell at just the right time, setting up buffers, timing casts, tracking PoM bounces... Maybe it's my build? I run a FH-less build; something about that spell just bugged me, and once I started hearing that Disc was viable without it, things just really clicked. I admit that I never really understood what I disliked about FH, or why the build worked without it, but I think it's that the tools you need to make the spec flexible, vibrant and fun are too weak if you've made the sacrifices necessary to focus on FH.

    I agree that Disc gear is broken. T10 seems designed to make us want to use FH again, but instead it just crippled the T10 gear for us. Doesn't make the job any less fun!

    2/09/2010 8:11 AM Miss Medicina

    I've been wondering about this, because the distribution of my heals is vastly different from yours - however, I'm a tank healer (and a damn fine one if I do say so myself).

    BUT - I'm a tank healer in a 10-man raid. And I usually have plenty of GCDs to spare for a few random raid bubbles.

    Do you think this is a much more significant problem in 25 mans than in 10s? I haven't had too many opportunities to be a tank healer in a 25 man environment.

    2/09/2010 9:10 AM Paolo

    Yes, it's definitely a 25-man problem. Also, it's a problem when you have two strong pally healers. Pallies are designed to tank heal, and they're so strong at it that they break BTPNTC. In my old guild on my old server, we had one pally, leaving me freer to float and be creative. Now my tank heals are silly compared to what the pallies can do.

    Here's a parse from last night's 10-man run, which I mostly two-healed with an undergeared shammy alt. It put a lot of pressure on me, which I definitely welcomed:

    As you can see, it's still shield-heavy, but otherwise looks pretty well balanced. The run was totally fun; playing discipline in 10-man is really where the versatility shines.

    Disc definitely has a place in 25s, but that place is bubble spam. It's incredibly strong. Just dead boring.

    2/09/2010 11:36 AM Wikwocket:

    I think your QQ 1&2 topics have merit, but are also somewhat foregone conclusions.

    You're talking about bubble-spam, and it being boring to play and not well supported by gear. It seems clear from the outset that spamming one spell is bound to get tiresome, and that reducing a class to one spell (which can't crit and which haste caps itself) means getting less benefit from many stats.

    The real question to me is, why limit oneself to bubble-spamming? I know it's been the rage of the disc priest community since Matticus posted on using shields as raid healing, but I don't think it's the only thing we can do.

    I know PW:S is OP in many cases... I've posted on this myself. But I've always thought the strength of Disc is not in mindlessly playing Bubble Bobble, but in contributing mitigation and healing to the tank and the raid, wherever it is needed most, at any time. This role definitely works best in a 10-man, but I think there is room for it in a 25-man too.

    2/09/2010 1:51 PM the901

    I find that I use penance in life saving situations. Aside from that, it sits there waiting to be used a lot of times. I kinda know how you feel, yet I don't. I see pw:s playing the biggest role from a meters perspective although there was so much more going on. Don't stress too much about meters imo.

    2/09/2010 5:14 PM helenagiammarco

    Thanks for another great read, Paolo.
    I have fun as Disc and felt especially engaged in last nights raid. It felt extremely useful in the Lich King encounter when my pre-Infest shields made the debuff laughable. I hope Blizzard does not take that away from us like they did with the Saurfang fight. At this point I am thankful for the small things.

    2/09/2010 11:30 PM Tobias

    first i'd like to say that i consider myself a hardcore raider (lich king(25) top 15, tier9 top50), just so you know from what kind of raid setting my oppinion is coming from. there certanly are perceptions from other people who raid in a different enviroment and thus experiencing our spec different than me. i dont think i'm "more right" than others, its just my observation.

    while i agree that healing as a disc priest is mostly based on using that one spell (pw:s), what i to this day find engaging about dischealing is WHEN to use that spell on WHOM.

    because, as paolo himself said numerous times in his blog, disc is about mitigation and prevention of damage. so in many encounters, you have to stay on your toes und actually take your eyes off of the raidgrid and watch whats going on. who is standing in the fire, who is probably going to take a hit from a blood beast doesnt move out of los on sindragose airphase etc...
    sure, there are times where your raidlead gives you a fixed assignment, but thats usually the case on new encounters, where i rarely get bored anyway.

    also, if you dont like disc (anymore), why dont you just go ahead and try holy again? its also groupheal, its still very viable (we almost never raid without a holypriest) and the spell diversity is quite big in comparison to disc or even any other healing class. also, the gear requirements arent that different. maybe you already got some spirit/haste or spirit/crit pieces from your shadow gear, and even if you dont, i dont find mana management that much of a problem. if its really bad, try switching flask/bufffood.

    2/10/2010 3:56 AM John

    I think your disdain for disc comes not as a result of your disc spec but more as a result of your particular raid makeup. If you have 2 highly qualified pally healers then you will likely have them on tanks 100% of the time simply because *THEY CAN'T DO ANYTHING ELSE*. Holy Paladins are really a one trick pony and thus their roles are predetermined. However, there are plenty of fights in ICC which require competent backups because one or both pallies are otherwise occupied: bone spikes, mind control, kiting a blob, etc.

    Bubble spamming can be effective on some fights (heroic twins is a bubble-spammers dream), but you have more tricks than that. You can quickly recover large chunks of health on raid members while continuing to PW:S/PoM the tanks (if only to mess with the pallies a bit). I find the versatility of disc to be a great bonus both 25 man and 10 man raids. My guild runs 4 to 5 groups of through icc10 each week and we mix-up the groups week to week. In a 10-man raid I can roll with virtually any other healer. I've had great success in 10mans when grouped with a pally, druid, or shammy (and a holy priest would be similar, but I don't tend to raid with our holy priests in 10man). In 25-man I can provide pure tank heals, backup heals to a tank, or raid heals depending on the situation and I find each roll to be very exciting.

    Part of the morale problem that many disc priests have had is that they show up poorly on meters and it can be disheartening. Even with the recount addon (RecountGuessedAbsorbs) you still can't see your effective healing in one place. I've since switched to Skada after several guild mates switched (their decision was based on performance) and I must say it has opened a whole new world of enjoyment. Skada allows me to view "Absorbs & Healing" for any given fight which lets me compare myself to other healers on a more level playing field. While meters are not the only measure of a good healer they do provide some tangible comparison points when used correctly. This has gone a long way to reinforcing to myself (and guildies) that disc priests can keep up with the best of them.

    2/10/2010 1:48 PM Anonymous

    I think you may be taking too narrow a view on this. When we try to maximize our play as healers, that generally means that we focus on our single, best spell. All classes do it; that's what min-maxing is -for.- Healadins have Holy Light, shaman have Chain Heal, Trees have Rejuvenation, Holy priests have Circle of Healing. (Sort of on that last one. It's often said that the lack of a single spell to min-max is why Holy priests are lagging behind the other raid healing specs.)

    Disc priests and Trees raid heal in very similar manners. They both spend nearly all their time blanketing the raid with a single, instant cast spell. They both have a great "instant" heal that has a cooldown for emergencies. (Penance is sort of instant.)

    What I'm getting is that you're finding the min-maxing process boring. That would happen no matter healing class you play, most likely.

    2/10/2010 4:09 PM Nymarie


    2/10/2010 4:30 PM Paolo

    @901, John: It's not really a meter issue.

    @Tobias: I was holy for about half an hour last week, before we realized you didn't need (and couldn't use) multiple GS priests on VDW. It was fun because it was novel, and also because I had healing spells that actually HEALED! Perhaps I'll give Holy a try, but at this point, I'm more lamenting the death of a spec that used to be ecstatic to play.

    @Wikwocket, John, Cody:
    Lich King brought tanks into parity. In BC, pallies were the "stupid big pack of mobs" tank, warriors were the boss tank, and...what do we do with this bear? Now, you have four viable tanks that each have strengths and weaknesses which are largely secondary to BTPNTC.

    If Cataclysm does the same for healers, we'll be back in business. But it will require significant changes to both paladins and disc priests. It doesn't mean all healers need to be identical; just that no niche is so deep that a class can't be replaced.

    If min-maxing means one-spell spamming, then Blizzard has failed. Wasn't that why they redid warlocks (shadowbolt shadowbolt shadowbolt)?

    And this entire conversation is (as I said in my first comment above) in the context of progression 25-man raids. Less aggressive 25s and 10-mans will not be as subject to the effect I was discussing in the post.

    @EVERYONE: Thanks for the comments! I'm enjoying the responses...and very happy to see both the agreements and disagreements.

    2/14/2010 2:42 AM Adorno

    I found the t10 four piece added a little excitement to the mix. Now, I have fun healing 25 mans as well -- as a raid healer with two strong pally tank healers -- but nevertheless, I think you might like the 4p bonus too. :)

    And I just got a 3rd place ranking on WoL for Linch King last night using the t10, so it can't be all bad! :P

    2/15/2010 6:18 AM Anonymous

    I tend to run 10s with a resto shaman, and 25s with 2 pally tank healers, so in 25s I'm the shieldbot too.

    For 10s I think Disc is probably the most interesting and fun to play healer spec in the game right now. Incredibly versatile, quick to respond and with a great range of abilities.

    I understand your point about the tedium of shieldbotting, but think this is currently caused by encounter design not class design.

    PW:S is our best spell, and I love it. Our talents give it some awesome efficiency, GCD hasting and spellpower scaling. It gives disc much more time and freedom to respond to our predictions of incoming damage than other healers get. In 10s its still the first spell to turn to, but we can shield everyone who needs it and still have plenty of GCDs to cast a variety of other spells.

    If the number of raid members in 25s liable to take damage was fewer, we'd similarly see more use of our other spells.

    Its just that at this moment, the ICC encounters have been designed with a lot of raidwide damage. This is pushing all raid healers towards specialised playstyles, whether this is PW:S spam, Renew spam, Rejuvenate spam or Chain Heal spam. Sure, it makes disc more boring - it makes all raid healing more boring!

    Just because your best answer to one particular circumstance (a raid-wide spread of damage) is spamming the spell best suited to that encounter model doesn't mean the class is bust. It just means there's too little variety (in terms of damage spreads) in encounter design at the moment.

    It may get better, it may not. I tend to think of it as just the way things go in 25s. With the larger raid size comes more specialisation. Most healers end up spamming their "best" button, so I don't think aiming qq at the disc spec is justified right now.

    With Cataclysm set to shake up issues of health, healing and regen then I'm hoping that this will improve the situation a little, but its still the case that if you enjoy the variety of responding to a range of situations you'll have more fun in 10s than 25s because your assignments will by necessity be broader.

    2/25/2010 7:54 AM Anonymous

    Having just moved guilds to one that is more focused on 25 man progression I have had to change my healing style to the bubble spammer (or manual Val'anyr, Hammer of Ancient Kings proc as I prefer to call it).

    Like yourself I was the rejuvenated holy priest by the fun that Disc brought at the Naxx/Ulduar level of raiding and am once again back to the end of TBC feeling.

    I don't think its the spec thats wrong I thing the real issue is the stupidly high amount of raid damage that goes on within ICC that is the real cause.

    If the talk of the "old" style of reactive healing is coming back in Cataclysm it should restore Disc to the fun days again.


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