The Interpretive Spam Dance
I hesitated for awhile about posting these pictures because I don't really want to say anything positive about gold farming advertising, or give any more publicity to it, but I just couldn't resist.

I imagine many of you have seen this going on in your faction capitals for a long time, but they keep getting more and more creative and crazy with their abilities to really manipulate the character abilities in game. Running around on my bank a few weeks ago, I caught this particular performance before all of the offending spammers were mass banned.

Then, in great emote spammage, every single toon fell asleep to spell out a website that if I discover anyone reading this actually went to due to me posting these pictures, I will be very upset.

This strange work of performance spam art continued for a few minutes, with an occasional toon being banned and leaving funny holes in the work of art before the whole lot were kicked.

I have to confess that I can't help but get a kick out of this. Yes, I know I shouldn't, and that I only encourage bad behavior and so on, and that this manipulation of character movement is also used to farm gold and is very naughty, but I can't deny I find this highly amusing.
The Future of Disc Tank Healing
NB: If you are avoiding spoilers, you can still read - I put a warning before any possible Cataclysm spoilers.

In ICC right now, I am, for the most part, the tank healer. I've always enjoyed tank healing as a Disc Priest. In ten man, this is a great setup, and on the rare occasions that I do run in 25 mans anymore, I am usually a shield spammer - which bores me to no end. I'm also very bored during the first Phase of the Lich King fight for that very same reason (but honestly, when you've done Phase one 19 billion times, I think everyone is bored at that point!).

One of the things Disc Priests were promised for Cataclysm was an increase in our ability to be solid tank healers. Will we be able to compete with the Holy Pally? Perhaps - it is still far too early to determine that for sure, but to me, one of the biggest reasons Holy Pallies are often better choices as tank healers has to do with their Beacon of Light, and the way boss fights were designed in Wrath.

Tank Healing in Wrath

Instead of the Main Tank/Off Tank setup in which the off tank rounds up adds and handles them while the MT focuses on the boss, we've had "tank swap fights". Every so often the tanks will have to swap due to some debuff given by the boss to the current tank. Sometimes (such as in the Toravon fight) this causes one tank to continue taking damage until the debuff wears off. Pallies are great for fights like this, because there isn't a single target to heal - these are actually dual target healing assignments, with one target needing more dynamic healing focus, and the other being safe with large "splash" heals from Beacon of Light. (more like giant tsunamis than splashes, but whatever)

As far as pure healing output, that is more of a numbers and throughput issue, one that can possibly be addressed in talents. Can Disc priests rise to the occasion with talent changes?

While our Power Word: Shield is great for shield-spamming, I've always felt it was a bit lackluster for tank healing. In end-game raiding, even the most powerful shields will often be blown away after just a few hits on the tank, and we are limited in our mitigation abilities by Weakened Soul. The main benefit from bubbling the tank comes not in the few hits that our bubble can mitigate before we can bubble again, but from the bonus healing we can do on them while they have Weakened Soul. We put a bubble on the tank, the tank has Weakened Soul, our heals have an increased chance to crit, and we therefore have a better chance of getting Divine Aegis procs on them, in addition to the stacking throughput bonus of Grace. The real mitigation comes from Divine Aegis. (Like all the math I used to back that statement up?)

Tank Healing in Cataclysm (talent spoilers)

Power Word: Shield will become more powerful and more useful in Cataclysm tank healing, because we will be able to cast it on the tanks more often. Here's a look at how the talents will change tank healing.

  • Divine Aegis will be the same in and of itself - crits will proc more mitigation. The change comes from Renewed Hope.
  • Renewed Hope will still give us an increased change to crit on the bubbled target - but instead of a 4% increase, we will have a 10% increase. Therefore, we will be critting more, and proccing more Divine Aegis mitigation.
  • Strength of Soul - This is the talent that will allow us to bubble the tank more often. Depending on your haste, you will be able to bubble the tank, and cast Heal on them until Weakened Soul falls off, and then Bubble them again, and continue forth. This means that Heal becomes a solid tank healing spell, so what follows are the talents that will affect Heal. Obviously, this is the most simplistic way to do it, since you will want to cast more than just Heal, but it gets the point across.
  • Grace procs from Heal, steadily increasing the throughput of your Heal spell.
  • Divine Fury in the Holy tree decreases the casting time of your Heal.
  • Empowered Healing in the Holy tree increases the healing power of your... uhm, Heal. (wtb better spell name)
  • Improved Healing in the Holy tree decreases the mana cost of your Heal.
  • And of course, don't forget Inspiration.

I'm really enjoying the talent changes for Disc Priests for tank healing. What is particularly interesting about Strength of Soul is that it will give us a lot more power and flexibility in managing Weakened Soul. If you are specced into Improved Power Word: Shield, or have a lot of mastery rating (and therefore stronger bubbles), it is possible you can let that Weakened Soul sit there longer, as your bubbles will last longer. Instead of casting Heal, you can focus more on using your other healing abilities. Perhaps you can even start Smiting the boss and just getting some Atonement splashes on the tank and melee (the weeping of healers all over the internet is hurting my ears after that statement).

You can tailor your healing style even more to the encounter. For instance, in Phase 1 of the Lich King, he seems to be only tickling our tank, but once we get into Phase 2, he pulls out his mighty Soul Reaper. My tank healing rotation will change depending on the encounter, and indeed, even on the specific phase of the encounter where needed.
[Cataclysm] Evangelism, Archangel, Algebra and You (Redux)
Alright, after clearing some of the numbers up, and talking with the delightful Zusterke on twitter, I'm reposting the numbers on Evangelism and Archangel, to give you an idea of mana pool sizes, and what you need to shoot for in order for Smites to not be a mana sink as a Disc priest.

Here is your hefty disclaimer, however: As I write this, a new beta build is being implemented, and since, of course, this is beta, the numbers are quite likely to change before anything goes live. These numbers are for informational purposes only, and I will likely revisit them once changes are live.

All that having been said, let's take another look. For the purposes of simplification, I am going to focus on the level 85 numbers, and then I will explain them.

I included the equation in this table so you could see how I determined how much mana you would need. As you can see, these numbers are much less alarming than I previously thought, and you do not really need to worry about if you will be able to get that much mana - I assure you, you will. At level 84, I've got over 50k mana from just quest rewards.

The "Total Mana Spent" column is a summation of the total amount of mana you've spent on Smites in order to get to that stack of Evangelism, with the mana reduction costs factored in. This table is meant to be read from left to right, and it may seem confusing, because it's a built process - You start with no stacks, you cast one smite that has no mana reduction, and you now have one stack of Evangelism. If you cast Archangel at that point, you will get 3% of your mana back, and then you will have no stacks of Evangelism, as you have "used them up".

Therefore, the first column is to be read as the number of stacks of Evangelism you have *before* you cast the Smite being calculated.

Please note that I rounded down for everything, and I did it at each step of the way, so the numbers are not exact. Zusterke ran a similar calculation, and there were small variations in our numbers for that reason. This is meant only to give you an idea of how to process works on your mana pool, so if you're a theorycrafter, don't take my numbers and try to do something clever with them. They are all clevered out, thanks.

PS: If you don't know who Zusterke is, get thee to the PlusHeal fora. Not only is he a mathematical whiz, he's also an incredibly nice guy, who is very helpful to those with questions.
Resurrecting the Downrank
I removed my post on Archangel/Evangelism and put it back in the drafts section until I can iron out the numbers. I apologize to those of you who left comments that helped me out a lot, but I don't like spreading misinformation, so until I can get everything fixed, I don't want it to be a hot "Search" item, if you will.

I'm going to step away from Cataclysm today and talk about our favorite Lich. The King.

For the first time in a very long time, I'm having mana problems during this fight. I know exactly what's happening, of course. For the first time in a long time, I'm not the tank healer... I'm a shield spammer. It's incredibly boring, incredibly valuable, and when your bubbles are not completely consumed? Very mana starving.

As usual, whenever I have a question about something very important in my life (Why is my head exploding? Where did my leg go? Do I have cancer?), I went to twitter. And twitter responded with suggestions for mana starved Disc priests - mainly along the lines of using lower ranked bubbles.

I was very skeptical about this suggestion, and, I confess, I even refused to use it until the tail end of our Lich King struggles last night. We had finally started to make some progress into Phase 2, and it occurred to me that by the time we got to Phase 2, I was out of mana, with all my cooldowns blown, mana pot already used, and therefore, I was useless. Swapping a few trinkets might stretch my time out a little bit longer, but that was not going to get me to the end of this looong fight.

So I bit the bullet and dropped one of my precious Clique key bindings, and added a Rank 11 Power Word: Shield to try out next week. I always hated using downranking, but if I'm going to be shield spamming in this scenario, I'm going to need to.

If you aren't sure why, here's the reasoning. Power Word: Shield costs somewhere between 800-900 mana, no matter what rank you use at level 80. However, if the shield is not fully consumed by damage, you don't get the proc from Rapture. Therefore, if your shields are so large that they are not being fully consumed, you are expending a lot of mana, and not getting much back. If you use a smaller shield, even though it costs the same amount of mana, it is more likely to be completely absorbed and give you a Rapture proc.
[Cataclysm] The Pacifist or the Archangel
Note regarding spoilers: Now that I am in the beta, I will make every effort to preface any spoiler posts with the customary [Cataclysm] tag in the title. If that tag is not in the title, there should be no spoilers - I may mention something about Cataclysm, but nothing specific that would be a spoiler (i.e. I may something like "I am enjoying playing a goblin" but no further details.)

There is a very annoying bug/glitch/intentional issue that renders me unable to copy my Priest over to the Beta. I have tried about ten times now, and I'm beyond frustrated. I've had no luck with creating a premade either, so no new testing on Disc Priests yet, per the many requests I got.

I have tested out a Worgen Warlock, a Goblin Priest, a Dwarf Shaman, and a Tauren Priest. The Warlock is now level 14, the Goblin is only 4 (due to a quest glitch that renders all the goblins unable to leave the starting zone), the Shaman is level 7, and the Priest about level 6. But I am devestated that I cannot currently play my 80 Dwarf Priest.

However, in preparation for that glorious day when I will be able to play a high level priest again, let's talk about talents, and you can help me figure out how to spec!

One of the major complaints I have about the direction in which talent points are being taken is the removal of creativity in spec choices. In raiding, there are generally optimal specs, with very little wiggle room, and that will still apply. However, for leveling, the new talent point system has effectively taken a lot of creativity out of the equation. My lolsmite leveling method will probably be nowhere near viable as a 1-40 leveling spec anymore, due to the changes in talents.

But Evangelism fascinates me.

At first sight, Evangelism strikes me as a leveling or PvP talent, and nothing more. It's not something I would want to choose for raiding. This talent turns Discipline into a viable solo-leveling spec. Currently, Disc is best for not taking damage while leveling, but not so much for dishing out damage, compared to Holy or Shadow (Holy is good up until level 40-45, IMO, where Shadow then becomes superior due to Shadowform).

But Evangelism puts the power back into damage dealing for Disc, which means it makes it easier to solo mobs while leveling.

The only reason, as far as I'm concerned, that Evangelism becomes a potential necessity for raiding is due to the followup talent: Archangel. Now, you can build a solid Disc spec in Cataclysm without taking Evangelism and Archangel, and then the issue of the Disc healer needing to damage in order to heal better no longer is relevant.

However, the question I intend to explore is which is superior for a solid healer: an Archangel spec, or a non-Archangel spec. What talents must be sacrificed in order to pick up Archangel, and is it worth it?

What do you guys think? What sort of talent builds would you like me to test? Head on over to the Wowhead Cataclysm talent calculator, and create some builds for me to try (once I actually have a priest that can use them on beta *weep*). Link the builds for me in the comments, and I will try to test some of the best ones and give you my thoughts.

Here is an example of a non-damaging spec that I've built.
Aaaand here is an example of an Archangel spec.

Think I should tweak those? Strength of Soul is one of those talents that I definitely need to test, because with that component of rotation building in addition to an Evangelism based rotation, I'm not sure how much time would be left for actually reacting to incoming damage.
Into the Cataclysm...
Ahh, twitter.

Yesterday I entered a contest via twitter for a beta key... and Light Above and Below - I WON!

So, now I have a beta key, but I'm waiting for to update with the info so I can start the long and arduous process. But I'm already planning ahead.

Derevka from Tales of a Priest has been an awesome resource for beta news, and I'd like to provide good information as well! So I'm asking you, readers:

What do you want me to explore in Cataclysm?

What questions do you have? What is it you want to know? Do you want to hear about the new classes? Are you interested in how leveling will be in the Old World? Want to know what things have changed? Want to know how the mana and health pool changes will affect priest healing? There are lots of bloggers who are in the beta and testing things out - is there a specific issue or question that you've had that no one has answered or tested for you?

Your wish is my command. CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE, FOLKS.
Update to the Healing Blogroll
I took an hour or two this morning to go through and update my healing blogroll. Even though I stopped doing the Friday posts with link roundups of healers (due to there being such a shortage of anything to even talk about at the moment), a lot of traffic goes through my blogroll list from, and I want to keep the list helpful.

I added a couple of blogs that I've found, cleaned up some that have closed shop, checked all the links, and also added notes if it has been awhile since someone has updated. I'm not going to remove people who haven't updated for awhile until Cataclysm for two reasons:

1. There still may be a lot of good, relevant information on their site
2. They may start blogging again once Cataclysm is close to release.

I realize I am slow on adding links to the page, and I have no doubt that due to distractions over the past couple of months, I may have missed a few. I'm double checking the comments on the post right now to make sure I've added the blogs that people have requested.

If you are on the list (and if you have a healing blog, I WANT YOU ON THE LIST), please check it here and let me know if any of the info I have is incorrect (i.e. title, url, where I have you listed). I know a lot of you blog about several different healing classes, but I'm trying to stick people under the class category where they post the most helpful information. I read so many blogs though that sometimes the details get hazy, especially right now when lots of people are focusing on leveling alts.

If you know of a blog I've missed, please, please PLEASE leave a comment here or shoot me an email: missmedicina at gmail dot com. It's not shameless self promotion... it's helping me out with more resources!
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