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Priest > WoWApr 28, 2017 3:00 pm CT

Spiritual Guidance: Discipline and Holy changes in patch 7.2.5

Patch 7.2 has barely been out a month, and we already have 7.2.5 on the horizon via the ever-present PTR. We didn’t receive many changes in 7.2 and 7.2.5 is making up for that — especially in the face of Tomb of Sargeras and the next set of tier bonuses. Holy is receiving relatively few changes, indicating the developers feel it’s in a good spot, although players think it could receive some adjustments. Discipline, however, is being reworked quite a bit.

Discipline Changes

  • Developers’ notes: One of our goals for 7.2.5 is to give Plea and Power Word: Radiance a more straightforward purpose and allow for more opportunities to use both based on the situation. Radiance allowing an immediate Penance heal on more targets more quickly should help with some of Discipline’s difficulties in responding promptly to damage. Plea being an always-available Atonement applicator without having to constantly evaluate the mana cost should help with overall flow of the spec.
  • Divine Star cost reduced by 20%.
  • Halo cost reduced by 25%.
  • Plea now costs 1.5% of base mana (was 0.36%), but no longer costs additional mana per Atonement.
  • Power Word: Barrier mana cost reduced by 37% and radius increased by 23%.
  • Power Word: Radiance now has 2 charges and a 15 second recharge.
  • Power Word: Radiance now applies 5 Atonements (was 3) at 50% normal duration (was 100%). Cast time changed from 2.5 sec cast to 2 sec cast
  • Smite damage increased by 11%.
  • Smite now costs 0.5% of base mana (was 1.0%).
  • The Penitent‘s effects have been made baseline.
  • New Ability Contrition: Increases Atonement duration by 3 sec. Removed as a talent to become baseline.
  • New Talent Evangelism: Extends the duration of all of your active Atonements by 8 sec. Replaces Shadow Covenant as Tier 7 talent.
  • New Talent Sanctuary: Smite’s absorption effect is increased by 50%. Replaces Twist of Fate as Tier 5 talent.
  • Twist of Fate replaces Contrition as Tier 1 talent.
  • Purge the Wicked: additional Fire damage increased from 480% to 520% of spell power.
  • Shadow Covenant: spell power increased from 450% to 500%. Replaces Contrition as Tier 5 talent.
  • Shadow Word: Pain aura modifier increased from 24% to 36%.

The last PTR update had a lot of bemoaning about the death of Discipline. There’s been plenty of discussion going on in the class thread. These changes are a step in the right direction, but they’re not quite where they need to be yet. What’s odd about the initial changes (and especially the previous PTR update) is that they were originally part of Discipline on alpha before being reworked to what we have on live. It’s a little mind-boggling that they would try to bring it back when it was obviously changed for a reason. But it seems they don’t really know how to balance Discipline, now and in previous expansions.  We can see a disconnect already with what they’ve stated as their design intent and what’s being changed in practice. But they’re also taking steps to address concerns players have.

The Power Word: Radiance change is an odd one. That’s one of the original alpha iterations, though the charges and cooldown are new. I get that they’re trying to prevent Priests from just spamming Radiance and then DPSing, but the charges make it very restrictive. You have to be careful about when you cast Radiance so it’s not on cooldown when you need it most. Another change adds a smart heal component, targeting the four most injured players rather than the closest, which helps with its restrictions. The cast time reduction is also a step in the right direction, making it less cumbersome to get out.

Power Word: Barrier gets a slight buff, via mana cost decrease and a larger area covered, making it easier to protect raid members spread out. The Plea mana change can go either way. It’s nice to have a baseline mana cost rather than ramping up dependent on how many Atonements are out. The change makes it more forgiving, so you don’t hurt your mana bar drastically by accidentally casting a Plea on someone when you have 15 Atonements. But Radiance is still the way to go when you need AOE healing. The mana cost was originally 2% on the previous PTR notes, and has been reduced to 1.5% with the most recent update.

The Penitent becoming baseline is a return to Discipline’s past powerhouse healing with Penance, and a change to help deal with unexpected damage or reactive healing which Discipline has been lacking. As of right now, the only emergency heals Discipline has are Power Word: Shield or Shadow Mend. The Radiance change allowing an immediate Penance also helps with this. Penance always packed a pretty powerful punch as a single target heal and its instant first tick and additional two ticks will help in emergencies rather than relying on the cast time of Shadow Mend.

Several talents have also been completely reworked. Both The Penitent and Contrition are gone, now baseline spells giving a Penance heal and more leeway with Atonement duration. In The Penitent’s place is Twist of Fate. On Tier 5, Twist of Fate’s spot is filled by a new talent Sanctuary, which buffs your Smite absorb. Smite doesn’t play a large part in raids, and very minor in dungeons, so it doesn’t quite beat out the haste buff from Power Infusion. Contrition’s spot in Tier 5 is replaced by Shadow Covenant. It’s been buffed slightly, but not enough to favor putting a healing absorb on people. Tier 7 is where it gets interesting. Evangelism fills in the empty spot left by Shadow Covenant. Evangelism increases the duration of your Atonements by an additional 8 seconds, providing a nice window of burst healing on a 1 minute cooldown.

Both Purge the Wicked and Shadow Word: Pain have received slight buffs, though Purge the Wicked is unlikely to be favored in that tier over a burst cooldown. Divine Star and Halo received mana cost decreases, which are nice but ultimately minor. Most of Discipline’s mana issues stem from getting Atonement out or keeping it up, not a 10 or 40 second cooldown heal.

Holy Changes

The change to Circle of Healing puts it more in line with an instant version of Prayer of Healing. However, it’s still not enticing enough to use in a raid. You’re limited to the 12-15 second cooldown, depending on your haste, and it lacks all the Serendipity benefits that Prayer of Healing gives you with Holy Word: Sanctify. You also have to give up the much more useful Benediction or Apotheosis in order to take Circle of Healing. Benediction gives you great Prayer of Mending AOE raid healing synergy and Apotheosis is a good Holy Word cooldown, compared to a little extra healing from Circle of Healing. However, if you like to use it in 5-man dungeons like I do, it’s a small bonus.

Divinity is not being nerfed. The previous PTR notes had yet another nerf to it, this time a reduction from 15% increased healing to 10%. This kind of change stung after its duration was decreased from 8 seconds to 6 seconds in patch 7.1. It seemed that this second nerf was in anticipation of our Tier 20 set bonuses, which would have increased our Holy Word usage and thereby increasing Divinity’s uptime. While the change made sense, it was unfortunate and a bit confusing, since the spell isn’t exactly overpowered. An update clarified that the nerf was mistakenly pushed to the PTR, and if it had been kept then Holy as a whole would have received a buff to compensate.

The next three changes, you might notice, are identical to the same spell changes for Discipline. It’s likely just collateral damage from the Discipline changes, and since it doesn’t really impact Holy they probably didn’t bother adjusting it. Halo and Divine Star are still not as useful as Divinity, even if the Divinity nerf had gone through. They don’t interact with our Holy Words and their potential is often wasted if we can’t get into perfect position to have it hit everyone. A straight healing buff from Divinity is just more useful, especially with the synergy from Prayer of Healing and Power of the Naaru.

Patch 7.2.5 on the PTR

Obviously nothing is final yet, as the PTR has only been up for less than a month — we can expect more adjustments and changes as the PTR progresses. I’m hopeful the Discipline discussion will prove fruitful with regards to player and dev desires. The patch will likely hit right before Tomb of Sargeras opens, since the devs have specified they don’t like putting balance changes through in the middle of a raid tier. You can probably expect the patch sometime in June or July at the latest. If the changes stay along the same line as we see here, Holy will only have minor tweaks and Discipline will be much different, hopefully for the better.

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