Priest Q&A
Better late than never, right?

Part of the delay on this is that after reading the Q&A I had no thoughts, because for healers it seemed to have very little relevant information, relatively speaking. We've sorta been put on the back burner while other classes are given more tweaks, and while I'm not opposed to that in principle or for any particular reason, it makes for a pretty boring Q&A. But regardless, let's get to it - I'll try to keep my comments limited mostly to the topics relevant to disc or holy.

For the full Q&A, instead of the tidbits I'll be quoting here, please visit the source.
"In World of Warcraft, the priest isn’t a stronger healer than the other classes, but does have unmatched versatility. At its core the priest has two unique talent trees for healing, while the others only have one. Furthermore, the priest has strong heal-over-time spells (HoTs), direct heals, and area-of-effect (AoE) heals."
Strong heal-over-time spells? Where? There is ONE official HoT, and that is Renew. Don't get me wrong, I love my renew spell, particularly coupled with the Empowered Renew talent for Holy. And yes, we have the option of more HoTs with the Glyph of Prayer of Healing, but I think GC is overestimating our HoT abilities here. In spite of that, I do agree with his underlying message - Priests really are incredibly versatile healers, with lots of tools in their toolbox. This also means that contrary to popular belief, they are not easy healers to play well. Sure, you can spam a couple of spells and probably do okay in most 5 mans and the like... but there are so many different healing spells to choose from that it can create quite the headache (not that I'm actually complaining!). That's one of the reasons I chose to level holy instead of shadow - by the time I hit level cap, I finally understood all my different healing spells. You can have a 25 man raid with only priests for your healers, and you will be okay, though it is certainly not ideal. This is generally not the case with Pally healers or Resto Druids, though it might apply for Resto Shammies. Our versatility is our strength.
"Overall, we feel the priest is one of the most versatile classes in the game, and can be the most enjoyable of the healer classes in the game because of its feature of having two different unique talent specs providing two different types of play styles."
The idea that priests are "one of the most versatile classes in the game" is so completely laughable that I can't even laugh. That's definitely a feel-good phrase if I ever heard one - did GC say that for every class Q&A? If you want true "versatility", roll a shammy, a druid, or a pally - not a priest. However, if you are into healing in a big way, a priest is the way to go, because with one class you can try two different types of healing due to the uniqueness of priests being the only class with two healing talent trees.
"When we go to improve Holy, things we want to improve are mana efficiency and burst healing."
I suppose with this statement I am left wondering how, exactly, the developers go about improving "burst healing" for any class. I say this because it seems that over the past year or so, they have done a couple of things that have already improved "burst" healing for Holy priests. The change in focus from haste/regen to crit in and of itself fosters and encourages priests to stack crit, which gives burst (if unpredictable) healing. Also, the changes to Serendipity give another source of burst healing, depending on how you look at it. A large amount of healing in a much shorter amount of time = burst healing in my book. Now, if you wanted to add a talent that granted more healing bonus on someone with some other type of healing buff on them, and define that as burst healing, I would like that too. Otherwise, I think we're okay without needing too much more burst healing, though I suppose this may not be the case in PvP. In response to mana efficiency - YES PLEASE. Holy priests are at the bottom of the totem pole in terms of mana efficiency.
"Flash Heal is big, so Greater Heal is just overkill. Combine this with the fact that there are other spells that are doing a lot of the healing that Greater Heal used to do -- Penance for example. I don’t think many players look at Greater Heal as being too expensive from a mana-per-healing standpoint. They often aren’t in danger of running out of mana. It’s also worth pointing out that max rank Greater Heal has always healed too much. The difference is that priests used to be able to cast down-ranked Greater Heals. We have considered offering say Lesser Heal as a literal 50% mana, 50% healing version of Greater Heal."
To be honest, I never used downranked heals. Part of that is that I started raiding only a short time before downranking was removed as a viable option, but the other part is that I just always found it stupid, and much more effort than it was worth. Priests have so many heals in our aresenal that quadrupling those split-second decisions with downranked additions was jsut too much for my tiny brain to handle. Greater Heal is a bit of an issue, because it does heal for too much, and too slow. Unless I have several stacks of Serendipity, I just don't use it, it's just not viable in Ulduar when we need to be on the ball and quick. GC does address this later, and I'll get to that in a second, but lastly I wanted to add that I've always thought it was a pity that after a certain level, Lesser Heal is completely abandoned. You get your highest rank of Lesser Heal at level 10, and if you compare it to Greater Heal, you'll see what I mean. What is the point of having a spell that is essentially abandoned 1/4 of the way through your leveling career? I encourage any efforts by developers to bring back this spell in a raiding environment.
"In a raid in which healers don’t coordinate well it’s easy for other healers to stomp on your big, slow heals. While you are casting, someone heals your target for you [...] Or else everyone has their targets and won’t heal someone else unless something unpredictable happens. Other raids just heal anyone who is injured and don’t have a lot of assigned targets, except for probably the tanks."
There is a lot of truth in this, and I do applaud GC for pointing that out. It can be very difficult to coordinate heals, and in fact, from my experience, even when you give healers specific healing assignments, a lot of them just can't resist healing others. Sometimes this is fine, and other times while they're healing someone else's target because they are bored and think they will "help out", and their targets are fine, some big whammy comes along and makes sausage out of one of their responsibilities. In a 25 man raid, chatting over vent and saying "I'm healing Jimmy!" "Big heal incoming on Pat!" just doesn't work very well. Too many healers, and too much healing going around. We've trained ourselves to heal essentially one of two ways - either via mitigation, in which we prep our targets for incoming damage and try to reduce what the consequences of the hits they take, or even more commonly, reflexively. It's reflex for us to respond to someone getting a big hit, and even if it's not one of our main targets, we can't seem to resist clicking on that shrinking green bar. It's hard to focus our attention on only a select few targets, even though in theory it should be easier. I can give all kinds of healing assignments, but it doesn't stop people from ignoring them.
"Q: Have you considered reducing the 10-minute cooldown on Divine Hymn?
Ghostcrawler: It was balanced like Tranquility. We basically want these to be once-an-encounter spells. "
Hey look! I spell I never remember to use, and have therefore never established a good justification for it. See, that's the problem with having such a large toolbox. >.>
"Pain Suppression is more or less targeted Shield Wall. It’s really good. "
I beg to differ. The problem with Pain Suppression is that it reduces the amount of threat on the target. This may seem like a good thing, but it is a deep Discipline talent, and the strength of Discipline healing is in single-target healing. Single-target healers usually focus on tanks. Therefore, reducing the threat of the tank is rarely, if ever, a good thing. I'm never quite sure just how much threat the tank can afford to use, so I avoid using Pain Suppression on the tank, and therefore rarely get any use out of this spell, sadly - which is too bad, because it is an awesome spell. I have no doubt that personally I'm far too conservative with it.
"Q: Do you have any plans to improve [Lightwell's] functionality?
Ghostcrawler: [...] The basic root of the problem is that most dps classes seem unwilling to have to take the time or spatial awareness to make use of the Lightwell, even if it provides great healing. [...] We don’t like that dps characters focus on dps at the exclusion of even their own survival and just assume that’s the healer’s job [...]. Lightwell heals for a lot. The problem is just getting players to use it. Encounters currently are very fast-paced, in terms of both dps and healing required so you have trouble finding room to use it. "
GC hit the nail on the head with this one. This has always always ALWAYS been the major problem with Lightwell. They keep improving it and making it even more awesome, but it does nothing to fix the problem with people not remembering, or taking the time, to use it. It is also a situational spell - some fights it's just pointless because everyone is moving around too much. But consider the benefits - you can precast it before a fight, players can use it whenever, it lasts for a long time, has plenty of hits available, and heals for a helluva lot. The tanks I run with are usually pretty good at hitting it here and there, but it seems to be more of a struggle for dps. I also understand that it's not always easy to target with so many visual effects going on in fights now. One way they could change it would be to make it a stationary AoE heal - standing near it will give a HoT to the lowest health players near it. This would make it way OP, and it would undoubtedly need to be nerfed, but it would get a lot more utility. However, it's not really the fault of the developers if people just can't be bothered to make use of something, no matter how awesome they make it. That's why you'll often hear holy priests calling out over vent "Lightwell up! Use it or die." I make frequent reminders to people to use it, and I hope that helps.

After the Lightwell discussion, there is a short discussion about the technical difficulties of showing absorption mechanics in combat logs, which is an important issue for Disc priests. They have made some changes to make it easier for 3rd party add-ons to pick up on it, and I hope it helps. A few uninteresting comments on dispel mechanics (yawn) and then we touch upon Inner Fire.
"Q: Would you consider increasing or removing altogether the charges of Inner Fire?
Ghostcrawler: At that point it just becomes a passive buff and we might as well just say that priests have the armor of a leather-wearer while wearing cloth. It works a little better for mages and warlocks who are at least making a decision about which armor spell to cast. If we go ahead and add alternatives to Inner Fire ("Outer Fire"! "Inner Shadow!") then we might take off the charges. Certainly the spell requires a lot less micromanagement now than it used to. "
I agree completely with GC here. If everyone is doing their part, we don't really need the extra armor provided by Inner Fire - the main benefit is the added spellpower buff that came a few patches ago. Inner Fire used to only have 10 charges, lasted 10 minutes, and it was a pain in the ass. Now it lasts a half hour and has a lot more charges along with the spellpower buff, and I'm quite pleased with it - most of the time the buff wears off long before the charges are all used up. However, it would be really awesome to have a few options for armor spells, like locks or mages. It would be much more useful to have spell resistance than an armor buff, or to reduce any damage taken, that sort of thing. I'd love to see a decision change like that made.

All in all, I was supremely disappointed in the Priest Q&A, unlike the pally one. Though I certainly found plenty to say about it, the Q&A itself just seemed rushed, and it didn't even look like GC put much thought into his responses. It seems like Blizz thinks that priests are fine just as they are, and while I can't say I necessarily disagree, it's kinda a bummer to see so little creativity going on with regards to priests from developers.
4 Responses
  1. Fuubaar Says:

    Regarding the Pain Suppression spell & the threat reduction:

    Is there a percentage that it reduces or is it just "Reduces threat" tooltip. I'm just asking because there are some fights when I'm tanking and my threat is through the roof.

    I can be your guinea pig if you like :)


  2. Jessabelle Says:

    @Fuu

    It is a 5% threat reduction. From everything I've read, that's apparently a pittance, and nothing to be concerned about, so as long as it's not the start of a fight, I don't really think there is a problem with using it on the tank!


  3. Fuubaar Says:

    See now, I wish they made a talent where you give someone a shield but it increases their threat. So, yes you are mitigating more damage but you are getting attacked.

    That makes more sense to me tbh.


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