The title of this post might be assumed to be some poor attempt at sarcasm—with an assumption another tirade of negativity is about to follow, highlighting why Blizzard don’t care contrary to the title above. Yet it isn’t. Blizzard seem to have taken the phrase actions speak louder than words to heart, evidenced by a myriad of examples (in terms of Disc Priests at least). These actions highlighting that they do care and they are listening to and acting on the feedback of their player base in regards to MoP.
The latest incarnation of the Mists of Pandaria talent calculator proved extremely worrying for Discipline Priests. A number of key abilities, including Binding Heal and Renew, were given exclusively to Holy and other abilities, such as Mana Burn and Shackle Undead, were scrapped entirely. It seemed Blizzard, when implemented the eight second cooldown on defensive dispels, had failed to take into consideration the fact Dispel Magic comprised both our defensive and offensive dispel. However, this all paled in comparison to the removal of Mind Spike for Disc and the cast time of Smite been nerfed from 1.5s to 2.5s since the previous version of the MoP talent calculator. In fact, it looked as if Disc would be at a net loss in the ability department come MoP and “good, if not great” was destined to reoccur.
Issues were made more worrying when it came to our attention that the designer working on Monks is also in charge of Priests—a potential recipe for disaster. Yet, thus far Blizzard is doing an amazing job in terms of Disc and gone has the mentality of focusing on abilities from a purely PvE perspective. Blizzard is listening. In fact, they’ve so far fixed all of the issues mentioned above or at least plans to in the near future.
Blizzard is eager for feedback and the door to change is not yet closed and locked. This post is therefore an attempt to raise some other, unresolved, issues with Disc and also highlight how Blizzard have acted and corrected a large number of problems with Discipline, to give credit where credits due and hopefully give the PvP community some much needed hope. Before we jump into this though, Hydra has released his second Mists of Pandaria video. This time he shares his thoughts on the tier one talents.
At BlizzCon one of the aims of MoP was to clean up our spell books and remove unnecessary clutter to free up much needed keyboard real estate. They aimed to do this in two ways. Firstly, Blizzard stated their intention to limit certain baseline abilities to specific specs. For example, Combat Rogues don’t utilise Backstab while both Assassination and Subtlety do. If Backstab is never necessary for Combat, it’s pointless giving the spec access to it. This design makes sense in that context. The second way they intended to fulfil this aim was by removing certain abilities all together:
Spell books cleaned up, got rid of more junk, the goal is to clean up action bars a little more without removing the fun things [Source: BlizzCon Slides].
This essentially meaning they’d carried out or intended to carry out another clean up akin to the removal of Sentry Totem like abilities at the start of Cataclysm. We’ll miss you Mind Soothe.
In the latest incarnation of the talent calculator they’d gone overboard with this strategy in terms of Priests. Binding Heal, Renew and Divine Hymn were made Holy only and Shadow lost out even furthermore with the loss of Prayer of Mending, Greater Heal, Holy Nova and Hymn of Hope. They’d also outright removed Shackle Undead, Mana Burn, Cure Disease and Devouring Plague. A large number of passive effects were also absent such as Borrowed Time, Renewed Hope, Focused Will and Strength of Soul.
Blizzards reasoning for this change was:
Our intent is to make the healing styles between the two as different as possible, while cutting down on the number of rarely-used-yet-core spells that each spec has.
This would have seen Disc at a net loss in the abilities department come MoP. It would have done nothing to strengthen Disc and make it unique in comparison to Holy. It’d have also seen Shadow Priests with only Power Word: Shield and Flash Heal—pushing Shadow further towards the one dimensional do nothing but damage mentality.
Fortunately, Blizzard has listened to feedback and once again made Prayer of Mending, Renew and Binding Heal baseline for all three specs. They’ve also reinstated Shackle Undead and, as far as I can tell, Mana Burn. This is certainly great news and it’s extremely satisfying to see Blizzard listen to feedback rather than stubbornly going forward with questionable changes.
As to the Passive Effects, a number of them have become glyphs:
This still leaves a number of passive effects missing, but with Blizzard claiming Priests are still very much work in progress, we can only assume the inclusion of passive effects such as Borrowed Time, Renewed Hope, Inspiration, Divine Fury, Strength of Soul (the weakened soul reduction portion) and Focused Will are to follow. This certainly may not be a complete list so please do add to it in the comments below. The fact is, while Blizzard might fully intend to add these effects, they may have simply forgotten about them. Also, while certainly describing them as passive, they aren’t boringly passive in the same way Twin Disciplines (6% more damage and healing) is, they’re fun mechanics and, presumably, the type of passive mechanics Blizzard intends to keep.
Disc has traditionally possessed both the best defensive and offensive dispel capabilities in the game. Indeed, Dispel Magic removed two harmful effects from an ally (and still does) or two beneficial effects from an enemy. The offensive portion of Dispel Magic was particularly strong and received a nerf in Cataclysm. While this nerf certainly made Dispel Magic’s offensive capabilities equal rather than better than purge, Mass Dispel and the abundance of magic debuffs still sees Disc reign supreme as the de facto Dispel master in Cataclysm.
However, Blizzards intended design for Dispels in MoP raised a few potentially devastating issues for Disc:
Similar to with interrupts, we also want Dispels to be more meaningful, also for both the dispeller and the target, and to be rarer, but stronger, so that when you do get dispelled, you know that you have a period of time where you know your spells won’t be dispelled again. Dispels, both offensive and defensive, will have a short cooldown, and will dispel all dispellable effects. We’re still evaluating what cooldown feels right for these, and they may vary a bit, but we’re currently thinking of possibly up to a 10-sec cooldown.
On the current incarnation of the MoP talent calculator and within the latest beta build, this has come to fruition in terms of defensive dispels. Indeed, Dispel Magic (Priest), Cleanse (Paladin), Nature’s Cure (Druid), Detox (Monk) and Purify Sprit (Shaman) all have an eight second cooldown suggesting the initial idea of a ten second cooldown was deemed too severe. Secondly, all these dispels remove all harmful debuffs that correspond to their Dispel type. The requisite Druid, Paladin and Shaman dispels possess the capability to remove all magic effects as well as all curses (Druid and Shaman), diseases (Paladin), bleeds (Monks) and poisons (Druid and Paladin) from their target. In terms of offensive dispel, Purge has no cooldown and still only removes one beneficial effect from an opponent. It is, in fact, likely Blizzard have changed their mind on changing the offensive dispel mechanic, but we’ll come on to reasons why this may be so shortly.
Dispel Magic is composed of both our defensive and offensive dispel. Unlike Shaman who can Purge and then immediately Purify Spirit, Disc Priests would have to chose between using their dispel cooldown offensively or defensively. They’d effectively go from the strongest dispeller to the weakest.
Fortunately the beta has brought with it the separation of Dispel Magic:
The offensive and defensive mechanics of Dispel Magic have been separated into two abilities. This is something a certain Lord Hydra has been demanding for years. This is also the perfect solution to the Dispel Magic problem in this new cooldown era. It also highlights Blizzard does have the forethought to think ahead and make decisions based on PvP reasons as well as PvE ones.
The decision to remove Cure Disease and bake it into Purify is actually a disadvantage since disease removal now effectively shares a cooldown. However, disease removal is easily the weakest dispel type in the game especially with the removal of Devouring Plague and Death Knight Diseases having immunity via Unholy Blight in Cataclysm and this glyph in MoP:
It’s a decent idea attaching a negative effect to the immunity, but, with the cooldown on dispel, this is a better time than ever to remove this immunity effect and raise the value of the disease dispel type. It’ll also provide Discipline Priests with a minor, but much needed counter to Death Knights.
Speaking of Glyphs, the following new Glyphs suggest Blizzard no longer intends to give offensive Dispels this cooldown treatment:
It seems counter intuitive to put the effort into creating these new glyphs if the offensive dispel mechanic is going to be changed. Indeed, if the offensive dispel mechanic was going to receive the originally intended cooldown treatment, they’d also have changed the mechanic so that it removed all beneficial magic effects. These two new glyphs suggest Blizzard no longer intends to add a cooldown to offensive dispel. The glyphs certainly don’t state this point for definite, but they’re certainly evidence for a change of heart on Blizzards original aims for offensive dispel in MoP.
Freedom effects are all effects that remove or provided immunity to harmful magic effects that would normally require dispels. For example, Hand of Freedom makes the possessor immune to snares and roots therefore removing the necessity to dispel such debuffs while Hand of Freedom is active. In an environment where defensive dispels are no longer readily available due to the 8 second cooldown, the value of these effects increases. Indeed, healers who possess such utility are much more desirable in this new environment.
Imagine one of your team mates is feared and one of them has been caught in a Frost Nova. At the moment you could simply dispel both parties. However, in MoP this will no longer be possible and you’ll be limited to dispelling just one of your team mates in an eight second period. As a Shaman you can drop Tremor Totem to break the Fear and Dispel your other team mate. As a Paladin you can pop Freedom on the team mate caught in Frost Nova and dispel the fear off your remaining team mate. The ability to provide other outs will be more advantageous in this new dispel cooldown era. A Druid can shape shift a root or snare rather than waste dispel. A Priest can pop Phantasm on such effects every 30 seconds.
Now in terms of group utility, Priests seem to be lacking in this department. This could potentially be a problem. The other healers may be more desirable because of their ability to keep their team mates active and mobile in spite of whether dispel is on cooldown—at least while they have the cooldowns to do so. This isn’t to say Priests are absolutely lacking. They do have Fear Ward and Glyph of Life Grip (removes roots and snares), but Fear Ward has somewhat of a lengthy cooldown and, while you might want to use Life Grip to break movement impairing effects, the associated grip to your position may not always be desirable. Druids aren’t as strong as Paladins and Shaman in the group freedom department, although they do have Stampeding Roar. However, Druids will never have to dispel themselves out of a snare or, with the talent, roots—meaning the Druids dispel is free that much more.
Shamans seem the strongest in this department with Grounding Totem and Wind Shear as preventative measures as well as Tremor Totem and Freedom Totem (a talent called Wind Walk Totem). Hand of Freedom certainly can’t be underestimated though with the shortest cooldown of any group utility freedom effect. Priests on the other hand seem somewhat weaker.
Mass Dispel is the likely candidate here, should a solution be necessary of course. At the moment it currently has no cooldown and remains the same. If it’s left like this, Discipline Priests wouldn’t have a problem keeping their team mates active and mobile. In fact, discipline Priests would be able to dispel on demand rather than every 8 seconds. This, with the limitation of the other healers, will probably be overpowered if left.
In my opinion, Blizzard should instead give Mass Dispel a short cooldown, but allow it to remove all harmful magic effects from allies hit and all beneficial magic effects from enemies hit. This would give Discipline two defensive dispels and the most powerful offensive dispel—cementing Discs place as the de facto dispel master in MoP. It’d also give Disc the ability to keep team mates mobile and active. The cooldown needed for this is hard to say, but around 30 seconds would be ideal. It’s also a fun mechanic in terms of skilful decisions—do I let my rogue sit in this nova so I can Mass Dispel this Druid shortly or use Mass Dispel to get him out? These types of choices really add to the game in my view and, any change which makes decisions actually matter and count towards the end result of a matchup, would be welcomed.
Discipline Priests are offensive healers. It was once the case that, when left to their own devices, Disc Priests could kill any damage dealer—even Death Knights if they could be kited for five hours. In fact, Priests could even win when the odds were against them as Hydra proved time and time again in his 1v2 skirmish endeavours. Indeed, the reason Discipline was so fun in the glory days of Wrath was because it played like a hybrid between a damage dealer and a healer. However, while Disc damage used to be a game changer, in Cataclysm it became barely anything. Disc Priests can still certainly hit harder than the other healers, but nowhere near as hard as they once did.
This problem seemed like it was going to get worse in MoP because, while Disc had Mind Spike and Mind Blast to replace the over nerfed Smite in Cataclysm, those two abilities will be Shadow only. This makes Smite Disciplines only (no cooldown) nuke in MoP and, in fact, this looked promising on the two previous incarnations of the MoP talent calculator because Smite had a base casting time of 1.5s. It was as if Blizzard had actually considered how iconic damage and Smite in particular was to Discipline Priests. However, on the latest version of the talent calculator and on the beta, Smite has been nerfed to a cast time of 2.5s making it completely useless.
This is essentially a deal breaker for me. If Disc lacks its iconic damage, MoP can be as brilliant as you can possibly imagine and I still wouldn’t play it.
Yet, quite fortunately, Blizzard has once again pleasantly surprised me:
One of our sources has revealed Smite will have a base cast time of 1.5s in the next beta build.
Awesome. Best change in MoP!
On another point, Blizzard should possibly consider having the Glyph of Atonement increase the cast time of Smite or have the Glyph heal for a smaller percentage of the damage dealt. This isn’t an attempt to get Priests nerfed, just an attempt to future proof this base cast time of Smite and ensure, even if Atonement is particularly powerful in PvE, the cast time of Smite is not up for consideration to tone the mechanic down in PvE.
Also, based off the suggestion of Hydra, Blizzard should possibly alter Holy Fire by making it belong to the Fire school rather than Holy. With the removal of Mind Spike and Mind Blast, Disc can no longer protect its self from a holy lockout while nuking. This was the case in Wrath somewhat, but Priests could switch to Mind Blast when an interrupt or silence was about to be used. This allowed Priests to continue nuking with Smite or switch to healing if need be. The same mechanic could be achieved by making Holy Fire belong to the Fire School either as a baseline effect or by adding the effect to the Glyph of Smite. They could also make Smite fire school, but frankly there’s something about the risk of nuking that’s somewhat appealing to me.
There’s a new Glyph of Holy Fire which makes Holy Fire instant. This could be quite fun, but with only three glyph slots available (or so it seems), Disc could be a bit limited with using this. It might work best overall to change Smite and Holy Fire from holy school to fire and just have Glyph of Smite also make Holy Fire instant. We’ll really need to see how Disc damage plays out first though and see the final selection of Glyphs available to get a real feeling for our options.
A few quick suggestions:
One of the appeals of playing a Priest is the amazing feats possible with their utility. From Warding Fears, gripping Bombs, pre-emptively dispelling Ice Blocks, hitting a silence immune and, of course, Shadow Word Deathing, Priests are capable of some amazing tricks. This makes the class awesomely fun to play. MoP looks set to continue this trend with, at least, the following:
This is only three abilities. There are a number of talents marked “Coming soon”. The level 90 talents are also off limits at the moment and the new baseline ability for the level cap is currently unknown. There’s a ton of possibilities and, based on their current work, Blizzard doesn’t look likely to disappoint.
Blizzard has done an extremely good job at resolving a large number of issues with Discipline Priests in MoP. While there’s still some issues to be resolved, the work thus far has proven Blizzard are looking at and tackling issues from both a PvE and PvP perspective in terms of Priests at least. This new attitude is fantastic to see. Blizzard has a long way to go to make up for their treatment of the PvP community throughout Cataclysm, but they’ve certainly started to make up for it. Indeed, they’ve managed to wash away a number of doubts and worries from my mind with their actions of late. They need to keep this up though, especially with all the balance issues MoP will pose in terms of new mechanics and, especially, the new class. It’s imperative they give PvP the focus it deserves so MoP launches on a high note rather than the run of the mill chaos we see often see in rated PvP at the start of new expansions.