Saturday, February 13, 2010

Discipline Priest Tier 10 Bonus Review: not that bad!

Disc Priest Tier 10 Gear, and its (dis)contents:
After only hearing bad news about our healing set, I was hesitant to venture down this road; but at last, last night, I finally bit the bullet and purchased the 4 piece set to give it a trial run of my own.  

While the tier 10 bonuses hasn't had a warm reception so far, especially for those with negative-healing (preventative) roles, my experience has been a little more ...positive.   

So far I've given it a limited healing test: a full ICC10 clear, coupled with a holy paladin tank-healer. There is a 25 man addendum to follow, these are my findings thus far.

My findings:
  1. Gives around 4-5 second shorter CD on my 8 sec penance CD, not counting borrowed time*. 
  2. There's no inner CD: back-to-back procs!  
  3. Natural feel and enjoyable to use.
  4. Added utility, extra ability.

*I.e., approx: 1.7 sec penance + 1.3 sec FH = 3 sec => penance.

Natural feeling:
I didn't have any problem getting used to it. I set Power Auras Classic to give a visual and audible notification for my Flash Heal! proc, similar to my setup for 'Surge of Light.' And it didn't take long to get used to: upon hearing the proc, I would naturally plot the remainder of my Penance-FH-Penance combo. And that's how it felt, like a 3 move combo. Or when double procing, a fantastic 6 move combo!

Of course you can't count on the proc; but, when it hits you know you have a hefty 1-2-3 move on your hands -- a serious burst towards your choice of 1 to 3 targets.  

In practice, when I was healing Lich King (LK) last night, it was our guild's first 10 man LK kill and the Penance-FH-Penance combo definitely came in handy on many occasions. And it was a little exciting each time, like knowing you have a winning ace up your sleeve.

Two Piece Bonus:
I agree with the community on this, with some exceptions. The two piece bonus for negative-healing is virtually worthless.

For tank healing it's presumably decent. Granting a theoretical 10.89% extra healing to your Flash Heal, assuming it procs a perfect 33 out of 100 times and doesn't over heal.
On healing Dreamwalker, the bonus can be quite remarkable -- up to %14 of your healing done in this (expectational) case. Results vary (a lot), but since the HoT has no overheal on Dreamwalker, she offers an ideal scenario for the bonus.

For general raid duty however, it gives something like .01% to .6% of your total healing, for the night -- around the same value as the 4pc T9 bonus is for negative-healers.

Four Piece, Is It Worth It?
Despite the two piece bonus, or lack there of in most cases, I think its worth it. The alternative is to pick up haste instead of the spirit, and skip any bonus whatever. Now forgetting the four piece bonus for a moment, strictly in terms of stats, our choice is either haste or spirit. On this evaluation alone, I lean towards spirit. I'll settle for borrowed time for haste and spirit to help maintain my mana pool. 

So on pure stats, since we have to choose haste or spirit, one or the other, I would choose spirit. Now, bring in the bonus, and the balance tips a little further towards the tier gear.

The four piece bonus might not give a noticeable HPS increase over the haste gear, if at all. But throughput isn't a major concern either, my ehps still ranked 3rd for Lich King last night on World of Logs.  

For its fun and utility, and given the alternatives, our T10 is definitely a respectable gearing choice.

Provisional Addendum: 
After a few attempts on 25 man Lich King using the 4pc, I found it questionably weak over the 2pc T9.5. 

Namely, when given the choice to either Penance an Infest or shield it, I would opt to shield the Infest -- the remainder of the shield carry's into the next infest -- and let the druids' HoTs do the positive healing. Additionally, PoM does a great job at picking up slack on Infest. Without further testing however, it's over-all effectiveness is still questionable.

Our phase five of LK would likely have benefited more from additional Penance than +20% PoMs, as many targets needed not merely shield-capping but also rapid burst healing. Stat wise, the differences between the two sets are fairly negligible -- at this stage

Using the 2pc T9.5, I produced the top ranking healing parse on WoL for 25 man Lich King, of any class to date.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Raid healing 10's: to disc or not to disc, part 2

Raid healing 10mans:
Assuming the same skill level, assignment, and sustainability, when comparing the differences between the holy and disc on raid healing there's only two important metrics to look at: (1) Effective Healing per Second (EHPS) and (2) Practical Application.

(1) EHPS: the evidence from all the worlds public logs aggregated onto a single page of comparative data on EHPS shows no significant throughput differences between the two specs on the latest content -- i.e., WMO Top 20 Scoreboard for ICC10. 
(2) Practical Application: which spec is more effective in keeping the raid alive. Disc and holy heal differently and the majority position is probably that it depends on the encounter. I would disagree. As a general rule, preventative measures tend to be safer than reactionary measures; so in general, disc offers the more effective application than holy.

So, if you had to choose which spec to raid heal with disc should generally be the stronger option. It's throughput is just as strong while around 30% of it is the safer kind -- negative healing.

For further on disc vs holy, I have a more detailed write-up looking at this question for 25 mans: "Raid healing: to disc or not to disc."

Discipline Raid Healing in 10 mans vs 25 mans

Disc, 10's vs 25's:
It's true that disc heals differently in 10's than it does in 25's. Namely, we have to do more positive healing in 10's because a greater portion of the raid will have the weakened soul debuff.

For a comparative study, I'm going to use Professor Putridcide as our example since it's a recent and unforgiving, leaving little room for any slacking or meter padding.
In terms of EHPS:
Disc is no less powerful from a strictly throughput point of view in 10's compared to 25's:
          - 25man: Top recorded EHPS is 5699 (  
          - 10man: Top recorded 10man EHPS is 5824 (
In terms of negative healing:    
Disc healing in 10's has more positive healing of their percentage of healing done than in 25's.
          - Top 25man: percent of negative heals: 77.3% (
          - Top 10man: percent of negative heals: 47.2% (
We see more positive healing in 10's because weakened soul prevents further shield spamming. That doesn't mean less effective: just the opposite. It means we've maximized the negative healing potential of PW:S on the raid, with ample room to spare.

Further, the DA procs from additional positive heals in 10s means disc is actually doing more negative healing per person in 10 mans than in 25 mans.

Quiet defensibly, disc is stronger in 10's than it is in 25's. Not only is disc throughput just as strong in 10s as it is in 25s, it can do a relative amount more negative healing in the smaller raid environment.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

How to Disc: the way of negative-healing

Preamble, why you should use disc as I say:
I'm going to use the Earth, Wind, and Fire achievement as an example of why you ought to operate a disc priest as I do in a raid healing situation. This fight is still challenging for most guilds and puts a ton of pressure on raid healers. It has massive raid damage including chain lighting, fire, smoke clouds, and raid-wide stomp like effects. These often happen simultaneously, producing a perfect storm of wipe and carnage. It's in such cases, which amount to the worst cases, where the disc priest needs to stand up as the raid's savior.

When various sources of inc damage overlaps, traditional healing, or positive healing, is at it's weakest point -- this damage model defines the Earth, Wind, and Fire achievement -- and it will overwhelm positive healers. Only preventative healing, negative healing, can hope to save the raid when all the elements do their worst. This situation is your reason for being.

My ranking for Earth, Wind, and Fire is not as important as my arguments herein, but as best in class on WoL for that achievement, or 18th overall regardless of class, you can be sure my advice here comes with decent enough qualification.

This guide is about as "all purpose" as you can get with healing at a high level. It applies to:
This guide is not aimed at ranking on the scoreboard, it's aimed at healing the worst case. It happens that healing for the worst case brings out the best case numbers, and that stands to reason -- the worst cases demand the best performances.

Disc, how-to:
The first basic rule is a play-style point, it applies to any fight: never let a global cooldown go to waste. Overhealing only applies to positive healers, don't think like a positive healer. Unused shields (including DA procs) are much closer to unused fort buffs than overheals. So think of them as a insanely huge HP buffs which, if you can afford the mana, are never a waste.

The second basic rule is a gearing point, a proviso: never come to the fight unable to sustain the first rule. You need to gear for mana and regen. Your single greatest limit for increased HPS in a wost case scenario will be your sustainability, not your throughput stats. Even if you're on farm content remember that healing for the worst tends to bring out the best numbers, so apply this rule generally.
  • The play style I use and recommend should have you going near oom on all fights, including easy fights like Heroic Beasts and Ony.
Final Word:
Follow the two basic rules that I follow and recommend. This prepares you for the worst, which is what matters most; and it should garner you some top scores.

This application is good for easy fights like Heroic Beasts; progression fights like Earth, Wind, and Fire; and for fail-recovery or pulling the weight of others.

    Sunday, December 13, 2009

    Why player rankings matter to you

    It's not merely epeen:
    How do you evaluate which stats to favor for maximal HPS throughout a fight? The proof is in the pudding -- check the scoreboards and armory those folks to see what the top dogs are stacking.

    For moderate to advanced players, scoreboard data is the single best resource for learning class principles. It's one of the only resources you can be sure you're learning from the best.

    In hand with this, check their parses to see what their approximate spell rotations are. If you see 60% shields,10% PoM, and 10% PoH, you might compare this to your own breakdown to see if there's an important play-style discrepancy.

    I've been recommending doing this myself for years; and recently I came across a World of Raids interview with a top dps, Kripparrin, who recommends the same thing.
    "Despite many hunters making gear and spec decisions based on Shandara’s spreadsheet on Elitist Jerks forum, I often review the hunter DPS leaderboards, especially when one of my marks is beaten. It’s always a good idea to see what the competition does differently in terms of shots and gear choice. Out of the many hunters I check out, I would say that Krez of 'Fusion', and Starfair of 'CUTIES ONLY' are the two that I have looked up on multiple occasions due to their consistency. "
    This is great advice for every player that can reasonably interpret WoL and WMO parses and follow up with armory searches.

    Spreadsheets and theory are important, but they only go so far as in-game results. Starting with the scoreboard data simply cuts to the chase.

    Saturday, December 12, 2009

    ICC Scoreboard up on WMO

    WMO Ice Crown Citadel ladder lands
    Brand new feature added, as of this morning. ICC scoreboard. No logs are updated on it this soon of course. But, we should see some familiar names on it right away.


    Monday, December 7, 2009

    Raid healing: to disc or not to disc.

    • 3.3 on the doorstep, 'tis the season to get informed.

    Whether you're a champion healer or just struggling to keep up in your family guild, you can only take what you read so far. The proof is in the pudding, so let's get down to it.

    Topic Problem:

    "Holy or disc, which is the better raid healing spec?"

    Standard Response:
    "Disc is NOT an optimal choice for raid healing. It is however the only choice for raid mitigation so switching specs isn't optimal. Weaving PW:S onto raid members, well timed PoH, and PoM are more than enough to allow Disc to fill a niche in any raid. All this can be done while healing the MT if necessary."
    - The doctor, Discipline Healing Compendium v3.1
    "First, you are primarily a tank healer."
    - Sinddir, WotLK Healing Compendium v3.3: Arthas' downfall!
    The Doctor's opinion sounds reasonable, but the answer is ambiguous. If disc on raid not optimal, then why not go holy?

    A common (little contested) assumption from the days of old is to put disc on tank and holy on raid, if given the choice. But how do we test the efficacy of either move?

    My response (Go Disc):
    I will argue that, generally, disc is choice for healing the raid.

    The best test for our basic claims are the healing meters. Numbers matter -- as Codi, over at "Moar HPS!," rightly points out (link). Solid provisos and points.

    However, we need more reliable numbers than recount. While meters reveal guild trends, they don't reveal general trends quite so well. Even if your in-guild comparison priest is also a top ranked priest on the scoreboards (
    see: lifebind on twins), because the sample size is so small your guild's trends can easily miss the general trends.

    So on what basis can we reasonably defend our claims?

    Enter scoreboards:

    This is the grounding upon which many an assumption about class mechanics comes to die. Including "Holy>Disc on raid." Let us observe.

    Looking at the numbers relative to assignments, we see Disc holding competitively against Holy Priests for every 25 man ToGC fight, save for Anub and Twins where they more or less balance each other out.

    While holy may seem to have greater representation on the whole, keep in mind that in most guilds holy has greater raid-healing representation than disc does; so it stands to reason holy has more representation on the scoreboards -- more attempts increase the odds of getting record numbers. This only means that the disc priests we do see up there ought to be taken as representative of disc's potential standing more than their actual standing. The exceptions prove the rule, in this case. Disc is a strong scoreboard contender, given it's underrepresentation in the playing field.

    Tip: If you're wondering about the assignments in more depth, look at each log individually -- check spell rotations and the Healing Target Analysis and make an educated guess. Or, where Adorno is ranked, you can just ask me in a comment bellow.

    Taking stock:
    Our WMO data reasonably indicates that disc priests are generally able to raid heal as much as their holy counterparts. Importantly then, this means disc isn't at a disadvantage at the outset -- and thus falls the "disc is primarily a tank-healer" theory.

    Critical Review:
    A further look reveals more: because of their class mechanics, disc may well be the stronger spec for raid healing in most situations.

    So far our analysis hasn't account for absorption vs healing; and it neglects Renewed Hope (disc's %3 raid wide damage reduction buff), and divine aegis(DA). These can be significant variables.

    If you're the only healing priest in the raid, Renewed Hope may give disc more weight since, notwithstanding renewed hope disc is already a competitive raid healer against holy.

    Then there's absorption, the defining feature of the discipline raid healer: DA makes every crit an HP buffer, and each PW:Shield normally grants 6-8k HP per target (talented and according to your spell power).

    Absorbs>Healing: between healing 6-8k HP on ranged or protecting them from the damage in the first place, the safer option here is pretty obvious.

    Last Words:
    If you had to choose between the two, go disc.

    It's an easy call. Scoreboard data is collected over thousands of successful attempts from hundreds of guilds, and it clearly shows that disc is able to raid heal on par with holy.

    More than that, it's a fact that much of disc's "healing" literally absorbs would-be damage that otherwise would bring our target's health much closer to death -- those are 'last words' one can live with.

    Further reading, gear stats for disc on raid:
    Penance Priest developed an informative Q&A session, 'formidable opponent' style. It's a great little discussion on this topic, well worth the read.

    Future of this blog:
    Stay tuned for 3.3 topics, where I'll discuss raid healing in ICC. And expect to see reviews of the leading views hitting the e-waves, such as from EJ Healing Compendium v3.3, BobTurkey, Matticus, among other 3.3 priestly authorities.

    Until then, happy healing.

    About the author:
    Healing priest named Adorno, in the guild 'Play' on US-Hellscream.