Holy qualms and related Cataclysm healing links

So Discpriests got some sweet buffs last week to boost their raidhealing power and having gone through various articles on healing in Cataclysm and the state of priests on the beta servers lately, I am beginning to wonder more and more where that will leave Holypriests in the upcoming expansion.

[/rant on]

I can’t say that I am very happy at the moment. The echoes from the test servers so far were disheartening – “priests have the lowest throughput”, “priests go OOM before everyone else”, “priests are the least efficient of the lot”. Blizzard states that druids and paladins are getting the nerfbat and that priests apparently are the only healers that are working as intended for lvl 85 while everyone else is still slightly overtuned. Wonderful…
While Disc gets buffed, our Chakra sounds duller by the minute and Blessing of Sanctuary got nerfed along with the respective AoE heals from other healers. And with the distribution of heavy AoE healing to everyone in Cataclysm, Holypriests will definitely not hold their niche of powerful raidhealing in the same way they have done in WotLK anymore, with our fabulous CoH (since nerfed) and bursty PoH – the two spells that really set us apart from Disc and the shammies or druids on raidhealing duty.

What will be the state of Holypriests in the expansion? Does our strength come down to “gimmicks” like Lightwell and Leap of Faith now, while we’re struggling to maintain our Chakras AND Evangelism stacks (an issue I have seen coming for a while)?

All the articles I’ve read so far have done nothing to improve my initial mood on the holy tree changes. From day one I have played a holypriest in WoW and those of us rolling priests back then chose the class because they wanted to be healers – good healers, THE healer. Continuously Blizzard homogenized all healing classes in WoW and I am fine with equally powerful healers as long as you still have reasons to favor every class for their individual strengths. This was true in TBC and mostly in WotLK too. Holypriests were never the most efficient healers but we were always the most versatile while producing great raid healing together with the shammies. It seems this is true no longer.

At the same time I don’t see we were given buffs to make up for this loss: where’s our improved single-target power? Heal-Chakra (still too slow @ 1500+ haste)? We do not have access to the buffs and shields of Discpriests and we don’t have the Holy Paladins single-target throughput. As for HoTs, they’ve just taken our extra HoT away again with the removal of Renew-Chakra.

Where’s my share Blizzard?

[/rant off]

Further reading

Dawn Moore from WoW Insider recently published a detailed and insightful overview on priest healing in Cataclysm heroics. I linked this in our guild forums as it is a very useful read for healers of all classes, while including some more priest-centric advice. To highlight a few of her most interesting points:

  • The new heroic dungeons are properly challenging and will require players to prepare a lot more than before due to more complex encounter mechanics. For this reason, you might want to lay off PuGs for a while – a long while.
  • Priests might find themselves in situations where they want to use Psychic Scream (glyphed) as CC.
  • You will want to encourage parties frequently to use Lightwell so you have more time for mana breaks.
  • Yes, you want to spec into Evangelism and Archangel – and things are going to get rather complicated for Holypriests:

So let me lay it on you … You will want to take the talents Evangelism and Archangel. I’m talking to both disc and holy here.  […]

Anyway, let’s get back to Evangelism and Archangel. The key to not going out of mana with these talents is upkeep. Especially with holy (and all the Chakra maintenance), it’s pretty easy to forget about your Evangelism stack and just heal until you realize you’re nearly out of mana (OOM). When this happens, you can freak out a little and pump out four or five Smites in a row — and hell, you might even pull it off without anyone dying. But if you do that, you fall behind.[…]

As a holy priest, I will look for natural breaks in the damage to Smite, then heal the rest of the time. You have to get comfortable riding out the duration of Evangelism (make a Power Aura for it if you have to), and if you must use Archangel at three or four stacks to keep from losing it, do so.[…]

While I always look forward to a challenge and welcome anything that adds to our versatility, I am very skeptical about coordinating for Archangel as a Holypriest. I’ve never liked the idea of smiting several times in a row just to regen mana and I have yet to see just how chaotic this will get while we are also trying to heal, cleanse, manage CDs and juggle Chakra states. Then again, if Chakra really ends up not being much of a choice anyway that should simplify matters, huh? /sarcasm

To finish off,  Matticus recently posted a Cataclysm raidhealing video that gives healers a nice idea of what to expect for the first raid encounters. I am actually looking very much forward to the more technical and tactical aspects of healing in Cataclysm – I just do have my justified worries about holy right now and how all players will cope with the required switches in mindset. Alas, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, I guess.

16 comments

  1. I thought the removal of Chakra: Renew meant the removal of us spamming renew as well, but they actually just baked it into our Chakra: PoH, meaning we can spam renews without having to sacrifice being able to spam aoe-heals! Yay.

    Overall I totally agree though, holy priests need a little more oomph right now.

  2. obviously I’ve been talking to you recently mate and I understand where you’re coming from but just to point something out;

    “And with the distribution of heavy AoE healing to everyone in Cataclysm, Holypriests will definitely not hold their niche of powerful raidhealing in the same way they have done in WotLK anymore, with our fabulous CoH (since nerfed) and bursty PoH – the two spells that really set us apart from Disc and the shammies or druids on raidhealing duty.”

    Actually, you nicked that AoE Specialisation niche from the shammies when they made CoH more effective than chain heal ;) That was the shaman niche – not great at anything else but the most efficient raid healers prior to that change.

    Holy Priests like you say have always been the versatile healers…while everyone else had a niche, the Holy Priests were able to fill all roles and do it well – not perfectly, but do a damned fine job wherever they were thrown.

    I think they’ve homogenised everyone else, but from a starting point of their previous niches – they can still perform that specialist role as they could before but have had everything else moved up to a decent level too….whereas the priests are kinda even across the board but with nothing stand-out. It’s something Blizzard needs to consider if they are not to start alienating the Holy Priests I reckon.

  3. @Zinn

    I can see why it is handy the way they changed it but at the same time I feel the whole point of having different Chakras was situational choice – packing them together like that it just seems like there’s “one best Chakra to go for” at the moment and I really don’t see the point. we’re down to 2 states now and from what I’ve been told so far, heal isn’t much of a choice still.
    I liked having 3 choices and the extra HoT was really powerful.

    I agree with you that we seem to miss a certain ‘ooomph’ at the moment: things just seem poorly designed and there’s a lack of definition and consistency right now. =/

    @Stumps

    While the point on resto shammies might be a fair one, this is not how it actually played out in WotLK: rather healers we’re separated in two camps and the holypriests and resto shamans worked together and complemented each other on raidhealing, while discpriests and palis were on MT duty, with the druids playing jack of all trades. that’s how we handled it in Adrenaline too. Also, holypriests were forced into their role really once Blizzard defined Discipline to be what they became in WotLK.

    it’s true that Holypriests were very powerful on PoH/CoH for a while but that got leveled out later on when they buffed Chainheal again. and those (few high end) raidguilds that left shammies out in wotlk, also left holypriests out in favour of discpriests in ICC for example.

    I think we all had our place and there was still enough reasons to want and need an equal number of healers in your average raidguild. shammies were absolutely fantastic in certain encounters.

    Our versatility is not a great feat anymore if everyone is almost equally versatile and also several classes produce more throughput on top of that than holypriests.

    That said, I checked MMO Champ today and Blizzard is currently thinking of buffing priests single-target output across the board. Have to wait and see.

  4. You are not really QQing about your class not being powerful enough, are you ? Thought only 10-year olds with no interest for game design do this :)

    On topic:
    The homogenization is necessary for challenging 10-man content that all reasonable combinations of speccs/classes can play.
    Homogenization is the price we pay for it.

    I would certainly say that I miss epic content in WoW by now. So maybe 10-man raids and rated BGs for 10/15 players are not the climax of MMO evolution, but so far I have to admit Blizzard is only consequent in their design philosophy.

    For epic content we will need another game or another game-changing expansion.

  5. I think part of the problem is that Holy Priests like an identity, or that is to say a defining characteristic;

    Disc Priests – Shieldy Healers
    Resto Shammies – Golden chains and totems
    Resto Druids – Did anyone need a HoT?
    Holy Paladins – Ugly healers (yeah someone had to say it =p) – or big beefy heals if we want to be serious

    What exactly is a holy priest’s identity or signature flavour if you will?

  6. @Nils

    Judging from your comment, I am not sure you have actually read my article. ;)
    The healing classes have always had a sort of balance between each other and right now, holy lacks definition. if everyone goes more versatile the logic consequence of that needs to be that the one healer who has always been versatile and suffered its drawbacks from it, needs to get equally brought on par.

    that’s not the case right now for priests and has actually been acknowledged by Blizzard – which is why they buffed disc recently and are now talking of buffing our single-target powers. the holy mechanics still feel clunky however which is mostly due to chakra changing again and the whole rota conflict with evangelism.

    ..which is something that has to do with mechanics and is not a question of “who is the most powerful”.
    besides that I have never been a fan of complete homogenization and never will be – it is not necessary to achieve equal opportunities or be equally ‘powerful’ if you prefer that term. it’s only one way how to achieve this in MMOs and kills diversity.

  7. @Stumps
    so far I’d have answered you ‘versatility, mobility, powerful group healing, survivability”.

    the problem is certainly the definition, but if Blizzard really wants all classes to do everything exactly as good as each other, there’s nothing we can do about it.
    but in that case the drawbacks of being versatile for (holy) priests need to be removed too – which so far were things like efficiency and throughput.

    it was always either OR…now it seems like we got neither of both.
    and our mechanics feel far from intuitive at the moment either.

    it’s the whole ‘package’ really that concerns me at the moment. I don’t feel we are very streamlined.

  8. Still think for a long time Druids have done the mobility bit a lot better than even the holy priests. There’s nary a thing they can’t do on the move if necessary, even combining NS with a big heal if necessary.

    When you think on it, your thoughts on mobility stem around Renew, CoH and PoM no?

    the problem is certainly the definition, but if Blizzard really wants all classes to do everything exactly as good as each other, there’s nothing we can do about it.

    Don’t agree with that either…the aforementioned other healing classes all retain their identities despite the homogenisation….the Druid is still the hotter, the disc priest is still to all intents and purposes the shielder….Holy priests should be screaming for some kind of definition – while we’re talking about homogenisation we’re not (yet!) talking about clones ;)

  9. @ Stumps

    that’s very true. we are certainly those with the least definition right now.
    and druids have the nr.1 mobility among the healers certainly, I didn’t mean to say that they didn’t but that mobility is certainly also one of our maybe ‘lesser strengths’ compared to palis and shamans. hence it being further down the list. ^^
    before the patch we got a lot of it from SoL procs but while that was removed we still have a large palette of instants – dont forget we can shield too even if ours arent as powerful as disc, and we got things like our self-save and ally-save as an instant as well. and LoF will be instant as well – which is not to say I will use it! =P

  10. I’ve already started sucking up to my guild’s three moonkins, their innervates will be mine!

    I’m a little grumpy that all the nerfs to regen or the buffs to poh etc weren’t hotfixed into the live game. Watching your husband’s completely PvP geared resto druid’s mana bar stay full and blue whilst you’re haemorrhaging the stuff in PvE gear is a little frustrating to say the least. Add in the fact that on fights with movement or mechanics which require you to run away for periods, with the current live version of chakra, you either have to cast unneeded spells to keep it up or you have to wait for it to come off cooldown and recast. Both of which are bad.

    I can’t help feeling our aquarium themed tier set with the water or mana pouring off our shoulders is a little too close to the bone.

    As for chakras, evangelism and the like, it feels a bit like a pointless number of hoops for us to jump through. Compare the shaman talent to return mana when they cast lightning bolt to our clunky version. Theirs is simple, cast lightning bolt and profit. Ours requires multiple casts to build a stack and then another button press to utilize all within a certain time frame. Yes, I realise ours buffs our healing as well, but it’s more buttons to manage plus a ticking clock to keep an eye on.

    I do however feel that most healers are a bit up in the air at the moment. Druid hots have been a neutered quite a bit for example. I also suspect that once Cataclysm goes live, there will be a fair amount of gnashing of teeth as people try and get accustomed to the new world of healing. Who knows, Cataclysm might be the time I finally return to the shadows. Yes, I was one of the few people who actually rolled a priest to dps in vanilla…. and no that didn’t work out too well.

  11. This reminds me of a rant I wrote a couple of months ago during the early beta: What defines a holy priest? Sad to see the issue crop up yet again. :(

    I do approve of them going down to two Chakra states, because as it was, the Renew state was just awkward (as in, too good to use anything else most of the time). I just wish they had kept Holy Word: Aspire, moved it to Heal Chakra and got rid of Holy Word: Serenity instead. I thought a second HoT would have been awesome for tank-healing, much more so than a random instant heal.

    That said, I’m worried about all the other news as well. In all honesty I hadn’t even thought about Archangel. That’s just way too much crap to keep track of in order to be barely as good as other healing classes. >.<

  12. @Erinys

    “I can’t help feeling our aquarium themed tier set with the water or mana pouring off our shoulders is a little too close to the bone. “

    lol!
    I hear you. and we can only hope that they go through with what they’ve said and properly adjust those mana regen numbers across the board, along with boosting our single-target healing further.
    I completely agree on evangelism, building up 5 stacks is just ridiculous imo, but I can really see them review this. I guess we’ll just have to be patient – but for now I’m not impressed.

    @Shintar

    Your post indeed echoes a lot of the current concerns. If versatility is about the only thing you can bring to the table among more ‘specialized’ healers, you don’t like to see that taken away as well and to refer to spells like desperate prayer or SoR is about the same as talking about lolwell or leap of faith now…oh wow, awesome…not.

    and it’s not that I dislike our more ‘gimmicky’ abilities, but at the end of the day we know how many guilds and people measure healers. right now we just look rather complicated with little to show for in return.

    and if they had revamped Chakra in the way you suggested, I would’ve liked that 10 times better. :)

  13. it’s only one way how to achieve this in MMOs and kills diversity.

    I agree that it kills diversity and I also agree that it is a major problem.

    Where I disagree is that there are other ways if you want to have challenging 10-man content.

    To create balanced and challenging 10-man content, Blizzard needs to know the capabilities of your group. How much CC you have, what’s your single target dps, single target hps, etc etc etc. Otherwise there will be a best group setup and a worst one and that would really be a problem in a game like WoW that focuses so much on achieving and challenge.

    There is no other way to make content that is challenging and doable by all reasonable gropup setups (=balanced).

    This wasn’t so much a problem with 25 people and no problem at all with 40 people. In the end it comes down to the number of viable speccs/classes and number of players in the raid.

    The number of players in a raid
    needs to be larger than the number of viable and diverse classes/speccs. Otherwise balanced and challenging content is impossble.

    Blizzard tries to keep WoW diverse with diverse styles of classes/speccs. I am, like you, sceptical of that and wish there would be more focus on the experience, the adventure, the fun than on challenge and skill.

  14. On the whole, I enjoy where holy priests are at right now. I participated in the Beta and I admit that I haven’t tested much of the high end raid content and I have done few Heroics, because of the new mechanics being really not friendly towards PuGs and just the general bad habits of partying that a lot of players are still holding onto.

    I see a lot of potential in Chakra and I enjoy it very much. I do have concerns about Evangelism/Archangel and I freely admit I have never used it in all of my time on the Beta and all of my time on Live, post 4.0 I was really hoping that it would be something Discipline would need to do more than we would, but it could be shaking up to us both having to hop on board with it.

    All I can say to sum this all up is that I wanted a challenge; I wanted to feel like I was working again. I went from being a resto druid that needed to do nothing more than HoT vomit on a raid and laugh all the way to Dalaran bank. I certainly did use other spells, but I could have easily coasted on my laurels and I watched others follow the same methods and get exactly to the point where I was at, with much less work involved.

    Holy priests went thru the same thing. Renew + CoH = win. I didn’t want to be just a HoT bot. I liked Chakra when it was “complicated” and had the Renew stance and I will miss it, quite a bit. Yes, Evangelism sounds difficult, but I’m willing to give it a go. I feel things aren’t as bad as people make them out to be. If people are watching meters and upset because they’re not topping them, they’re wrong and that’s an awful mindset to have about things. If people are having mana issues, perhaps they’re having to work overtime for other healers in the group that may not be putting in their fair share of work into the raid or managing their cooldowns (which I admit, feel like they have been nerfed). It’s really easy to hear what’s coming out of the Beta and without looking at their group composition, raid leading, the fights they were doing, etc. and go “We’re fucked!” But I think a lot more goes into the equation than that.

    :)

  15. That’s very true Oestrus, so much depends on what group of players you’re actually healing with and also what sort of encounters and modes you’re taking on, what gear you got too etc. etc.
    I like my class and I’d also like it to be competitive. that said, I won’t make any final judgment as long as I haven’t seen myself in action @ 85. :)
    WoW has a playerbase that’s fast on the whining certainly, as soon as something isn’t an easy faceroll.

    I’m not worried about difficulty personally, nor am I worried about what few more ignorant players might say when looking at a raidlog – right now it just seems like our holy build isn’t nearly as streamlined as other healer’s and while a lot was adapted by blizzard for cataclysm, it feels like they didn’t give holy so much thought. I’m pretty sure we’ll see some more changes though, so fingers crossed.

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