Healing Discussion Podcast #6

After a few more weeks of raiding, challenge modes, and hotfix and patch notes to discusses, we get together for another chat about healer goings-on.

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0:00 Intro & catching up (My recent post we mentioned, as well as the videos I’ve been working on)
3:15 Healer Balance, with bonus digression on Ko’ragh mechanics
7:30 Patch 6.1 Notes, Mana Tea, and making healers want mana
20:15 Recent Hotfix: How do you solve a problem like PW:S?
41:30 Recent Hotfix: Haste buff and implications for healers
52:30 Challenge Mode healing thoughts
1:11:00 Outro & good night

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22 thoughts on “Healing Discussion Podcast #6

  1. In Re: Why Resto Shamans use their whole toolkit

    You mentioned the interactions with Renew/Serendipity/etc for Holy Priests, Tidal Waves causes a similar thing. For me, Master seems SUUUUPER strong, so fishing for crits under tidal waves from Healing Surge seems like the right decision when you need to heal someone who is low (I usually need to hit a tank with ONE to take him out of danger), whereas Healing Surge seems really effective if well-timed and cast on a target in the 70 – 100% range.

    Now, my instincts are probably wrong on this, but it’s why I use Surge during raids even though it should seem suboptimal when mana is at issue.

    • Basically right, I think, that the different HPM/HPCT properties of Surge as compared to say, Chain Heal, cause you to use it in situations like that even though both have no cooldown. Note that is to some extent true even if there were no Tidal Waves mechanic–HS and CW still have very different properties that give each of them a role. But Tidal Waves is a nice way of further encouraging some mixture.

      • Yes, the Tidal Waves point is one that I didn’t really get around to fleshing out in the show, but it is a nice carrot to get us to vary our spell casting. Admittedly, I think it’s kind of a lame carrot – one of those three-day-old carrots gone a bit floppy – because with the reduced RT CD, Echo or the glyph, and Chain Heal, I feel like we’re swimming in it and it’s not a very meaningful mechanic.

        But what it is, is a spell interaction between *spells that actually do things*, which I think is what Disc is missing. Yes, the Atonement/Evangelism/Archangel machinery is still there, but with Smite doing so little damage and healing, there’s little incentive to completely fueling this machine. It’s an interaction that asks you to sacrifice several PW:S now for stronger PW:S later, which I think can still be an interesting decision, but when the alternative is still-pretty-strong PW:S all the time, I can see that the reason to even think about that decision is gone. (Not to mention, 3 stacks of Archangel every 30 seconds, from Solace, is still pretty good, so there’s no meaningful, behaviour-changing interaction going on here.)

        It’s tough – I used to feel that the Disc spec was beautifully deep and elegant, but simultaneously that Atonement was a problem and that making Disc do less healing through damage/smart heals would be a good thing – perhaps I was wrong :)

        • Oh I should say also, that our mana limitations are also actually working as intended here. We can’t just use CH every time we want to heal multiple players, because we don’t have the mana to support that. We must fall back on mana-saving heals when group AoE healing is not quite as critical, and that introduces reasons for us to care about the Tidal Waves mechanic again (which we really didn’t have to, as 25-player-raid healers in MoP at least). Just one example of how appropriately costing a spell can encourage spell diversity without forcing it heavy-handedly!

          /eyes Glyph of Chaining warily

  2. I really like a lot of your ideas for discipline. Bringing back PoH would be a nice variety to PWS spam for AoE healing.

    I’m not entirely sold on holy nova still. The spell is hard to balance.

    You can balance every other efficient AE heal in the game around its duration. Healing Rain and Wild Mushroom are both limited to one instance at any time and you can determine its healing by assuming a certain percentage of uptime with ideal targets around it. Other heals are limited by cooldown such as CoH. This means it takes up a global everytime you need to heal with it, but it’s also periodic enough that you can determine its healing based on how often it’ll be available.

    Holy Nova isn’t like either. It’s similar to the first two in that it’s confined to a limited area and can be to continuously heal the raid, but unlike mushroom and HR, it’s not a fire-and-forget spell, you can’t do anything else meanwhile. It’s also unike the other heals that will take up a global on every use spammable.

    Holy nova’s healing will necessarily have to be higher than that of fire-and-forget spells, but at the same time lower than the non-spammable heals and be competitive with our other efficient fillers.

    It seems it would be easier to just remove the spell again and introduce an efficient AE heal with a cooldown(maybe healing through atonement?).

    • I agree that it’s unique, but that doesn’t, in and of itself, make me think it doesn’t work. I think you correctly identify a good set of constraints on its tuning–high HPS than WM/HR but lower than CoH/WG.

      What Holy Nova has in common with all those spells is that it would allow Disc, like many other classes, do to better and/or more efficient healing on a clumped raid. But that’s fine–if the way Disc does that is through using HN, and they way other classes do it is by getting more value out of WM or HR or something. I don’t see any reason in principle that this couldn’t be tuned.

  3. It’s really amazing how issues you mention in your potcasts get fixed a few days later. With that in mind, could you perhaps talk about the Holy Priest mastery not scaling with Renew, Lightwell, Sanctuary and PW:S? Obviously you want Multistrike, but the next two stats you should aim for, haste and mastery, cause some weird scaling issues. If you go for Mastery, your Renew and Lightwell (about 30%-40% of total healing), will suffer. And like you mentioned in your potcast, you don’t want haste for your other healing spells, especially not for CoH.

    Oh, and please consider discussing about underperforming/underused spells and talents. Would be nice to get some fixing done in that regard.

    But fixing Disc still proofs to be an impossible task. PW:S being the main filler spell AND main throughput spell at the same time just doesn’t feel right, but there are no efficient alternatives:
    -Holy Nova? To situational and far to weak. Also even more mindless than spamming PW:S
    -PoH? Way to expensive and even more situational. Why would anyone use it more often than every 30 sec with Empowered Archangel?
    -CoW? It’s just a talent and you have to be lvl 100.
    -Atonement? Heal? Flash Heal? Not really…
    -Penance could fill the role of a filler spell, but wait, it has 9 sec cooldown.

    Looking forward to the “complain about disc” part your next potcast.

    • I think the more fundamental problem with Holy is probably overuse of Renew. It’s a not a huge problem compared to say PWS, so people aren’t talking about it much. But it’s still a little monotonous and as Day mentioned, has mostly eclipsed the use of Serendipity combos like BH/PoH that should be good for AoE healing. As a result of so much Renew spam, mastery does come down somewhat, and as we mentioned, haste starts to become interesting, although arguably not in a very healthy way.

      I think Mastery affecting everything except for one commonly-used spell isn’t too big a problem inherently; it could actually allow for interesting stat selection.

      Your objections on fixing Disc, which are very similar to others I’ve seen, seem to treat some things as immutable that you really shouldn’t: that PoH is too expensive and HN is too weak. If PWS can be changed then so can those. And in fact, I think you have exactly the right idea since my current suggestions for trying to fix this would be to increase PWS cost, reduce PoH cost, and increase HN healing.

      If everything goes as we hope then maybe the complaining about Disc portion will soon be, at long last, retired.

      • “And in fact, I think you have exactly the right idea since my current suggestions for trying to fix this would be to increase PWS cost, reduce PoH cost, and increase HN healing.”

        I think those are the exact right ideas. We would end up with a kit:

        PoH: slow cast time, limited by group, not too steep mana cost but the healing can actually stay the same.
        It is doing significant healing, but the mana cost is too high compared to just spamming PWS currently.

        HN: instant, very limited by positional requirements, mana cost might have to go up slightly, but also with increased healing.

        PWS: I don’t understand why Blizzard has removed Rapture. Increasing mana cost (almost doubling imo) but having a Rapture mechanic (not based on spirit, just a flat cost return like it was at the end of Mists) would put it in the right place together with changing PoH and HN.
        When Rapture is available, it’s efficient so it can be used on tank “rotationally”. When it is down, we are still able to cast it, unlike if it had a CD, but we can’t spam it.

  4. As a career disc priest, I understand all the concerns about how PWS has all the advantage but almost none of the disadvantage. Do bear in mind that, not too long ago, it also had a mana return component. I do believe all the nerfs that came down are on target, but to say disc priest want or should use their other “heal” spells is not really the right way to address it imo.

    I personally was drawn to disc because I want to do dmg prevention, not healing, and I am glad that playing style was possible because how the class was designed. To fix the issue, I’d argue Blizz should take more heals away from disc, and instead provide more mitigation game play.

    Increase PWS mana a bunch, but provide a say 2 min CD to let disc spam PWS freely for 10 seconds would be something that might work, so we can only spam for a short duration at a very strategic point of the fight. At the same time, take heal away, I ‘d be casting smite if I have time to cast heal.

    That said, how that change will affect the 5 man content will be the problem when disc lacks some of the healing component if they become just mitigation specialist. But still, I enjoy the most of raid healing is how well mitigation and hot works together during a damage phase. Hopefully that sort of game play won’t go away soon.

    • I think the class can still retain its identity despite having some better mixture of shields and non-shields. Shields should be a strength of the class without causing it to become overly one-dimensional.

      Also, if you do try to build the class as being entirely about different kinds of shields, and different roles of spells being implemented through a variety of shields (kind of like Druid and HoTs), there’s the point that you need the actual variety of spells, not just PWS. That would require even more work rebuilding the class, in the end.

      Your idea for a cooldown is very close to Spirit Shell, which I think is a good ability that allows for interesting shielding.

      • One thing that people seemed to take away from my raid CD post is that they are “justified” in not taking Spirit Shell because it performs about the same as a Shaman’s Ascendance, and is no longer in the realm of a Tranq. And I probably contributed to this too by drawing comparisons to the power of Spirit Shell vs. MoP versions of Tranq, particularly since in 10-player mode, Spirit Shell could rival it.

        But one flaw in the way I present the data is that I present it on a per-use basis, rather than standardizing it for differing cooldowns on abilities. Spirit Shell in the post is doing about 1/2 of the healing of Divine Hymn or HTT. But it can be used 3 times as often. Maybe it’s worth considering again, I’m not sure – the individual shields are very small, but I used to always argue in MoP that smaller shields on more targets was ideal (for MoP damage patterns), and maybe there are fights in WoD where this is true too.

        Unfortunately, a focus on HPS over all other concerns will still lead people to focus on PWS spam, since it’s so strong. But if we see it get the mana efficiency nerf it needs, and see other spells come up a little in efficiency (PoH) or throughput (HN) maybe SS will be an attractive and interesting spell again. There’s some fights in Foundry with big-damage-every-minute mechanics….

        • And more fundamentally, how strong Spirit Shell is compared to Ascendance really has no bearing on whether you should take it. It’s weaker than Tranq, it’s the same as Ascendance, it’s stronger than a Healing Tonic (or it’s weaker if you count total net throughput, since in a sense it adds 0). The only two comparisons that are relevant are to Twist of Fate and Power Infusion. Spirit Shell often gives more useful flexibility than either of those.

          • Yep, totally agree – just, presenting the information the way I did practically begs people to make comparisons (and to be fair, the original purpose behind starting the raid CD series was to find out if the MoP 5.3 buff to give Tranq and DH more hits in larger raids really did even out the power disparity between throughput CDs and DR CDs, so comparisons were my main original goal). In WoD the comparison factor probably isn’t as important, and perhaps I should consider a less biasing way of presenting the information :)

  5. For some time i have been thinking about a possible way to make PWS more of a life saver, and less of mindlessly spammed spell. I’m thinking if PWS absorbs a lot more (thinking in the regions around 100k or so), but having weakened soul absorb an amount of healing equal to that (and maybe increase damage taken, after the shield is used up?). This way PWS would stay powerful, but i think it adds an interesting decision, and makes the player think about using it, as it could backfire.

    E.g.: if you know a person will take 80k hit and most likely no damage afterwards for 15s you use PWS absorb all the damage and by that do an insane amount of healing. But if you misjudged the situation, you have to heal the weakened soul up, and effectively did not do any healing with PWS, and only delayed the necessary healing a bit. The increase damage taken part could serve as a more severe punishment for misjudging the situation, or alternatively make the healing asorb larger than the damage absorb.

    But maybe this should be an entirely different spell ;)

    PS: Sry for the bad english, i’m not a native speaker ;)

  6. You guys talk about how all haste does is causes you to spend mana quickly. I completely understand that idea, but I feel like there is another way to look at it.

    What I’m suggesting is the way haste lets you cast your longer spells more quickly. This can actually save mana, because it relieves the pressure to cast quick inefficient spells. This is very similar to the idea of spell power, because it makes your more efficient spells easier to cast in spots where you need crazy throughput.

    However I haven’t done any of the number crunching. Its probably not as strong as I think, hearing you guys talk about how useless it is.

    I wonder, have you guys compared the amount of haste you would need to make say healing wave, cast at the same speed as healing surge, how would that compare to the improved throughput that other stats would give? Is the difference too much to even compare?

    • This is right–haste can help you replace expensive spells with slower, less expensive spells. The effect is pretty hard to evaluate and it depends heavily on your casting model. One of the reasons I don’t emphasize it heavily in raid discussions is that it comes up most when you’re using the single-target cast-time heals (e.g. Healing Touch vs. Regrowth). When you’re doing steady single-target healing, like might happen on a tank in e.g. a challenge mode, increasing the HPCT of the “slow” heal really does cut down on the amount of times you have to use the “fast” heal, which helps efficiency. In raid healing however, you are using other spells, typically, AoE spells, so much more often that it’s less clear how much value you get out of making Healing Wave/Healing Touch/etc. usable more frequently.

      One exception is probably Paladins, who, like we said, use Holy Light with Beacons quite a bit. This is probably something I should have thought of when we mentioned them–it’s likely a factor in haste being popular for them right now.

      HealerCalcs can help math out this question somewhat, although it takes some work. I could add haste to a rotation, and then adjust spell usage to equalize HPS, and see how much mana has been saved. Could be interesting to look into more.

  7. One of the biggest issues I feel with disc priests is that they are encouraged to cast pws not only on the person who just took a big spike and needs stabilized, but also on the full health target who is about to take a moderate hit (from say butcher cleave). As Hamlet mentioned, the spell should be used judiciously in the former scenario, and usable, but perhaps not always ideal in the latter. We certainly want to reward healers for raid awareness and pre-shielding falls into that category, but the problem arises that there is really no difference from using it as intended (an instant stabilization heal) compared to the “higher level play” of pre-shielding. They both heal the same amount, and in most cases, the entire shield will be fully used with no over healing.

    I have two ideas for improving the Disc priest playstyle with this particular problem in mind. First, as a resto shaman main, I love our mastery since it really encourages a deep playstyle with decision making on low health targets and triage. This is the exact playstyle that Disc priests need for pws, but don’t have. Perhaps redesigning their mastery to increase the power of their absorb effects based on the health of the target would encourage the low health stabilization role of pws, while weakening, but not crippling the pre-shielding playstyle.

    The other idea is related to the first. Bring back a mechanic like rapture. Dramatically increase the mana cost of pws, but have it return mana in some way based on the health of the target. It doesn’t step on Resto Shaman’s toes like the first idea, yet it accomplishes a similar goal. It provides decreased incentive to blanket pre-shield the raid, increased incentive to heal low health targets, and preventing mindless spam on pws. You can probably still spam it with this mechanic, but at least you will be making more interesting choices on who to cast it on rather than just anyone who doesn’t have weakened soul.

  8. Hi Hamlet! Absolutely love your work :) I had a question about challenge mode talents. What do you think of combining Sotf with Rampant Growth? I’m not certain if you’d take all mastery enchants to boost direct healing, but you think the typical Tree + double rejuv with haste enchants is better for cm? Thanks and hope you have a great day!

    • I’ve been using Tree and Germination. I haven’t tried SotF/Rg, but it didn’t seem right for CMs, since it’s mainly for very steady throughput. Tree gives you a lot of ability to concentrate healing when you want it, which is important for CMs.

      With any talent setup, I’d still probably use haste for CMs.

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