Althor’s Abacus and Disc Priests

30 June 2010 § Leave a comment

So, barely 6 months after the opening of ICC25, I managed to get my hands on Althor’s Abacus. Given that I was still proudly sporting an Eye of the Broodmother, it was something I had my eyes on for a while – I had however passed to most of my fellow raid healers, because a. I’m not very regular in my attendance of 25-man raids: b. I was not sure about the value to Disc priests.

As it turns out, I was very wrong about the second point. After two raids and some log analysis, here’s what I can say:

1. The general information first: the trinket has a 45 second internal cooldown, and a high chance to proc once that cooldown is up. The heal from the trinket is called “Echoes of Light”, it can crit, and has some benefit from spellpower (with about 3300 spellpower in 10-raid buffs, I’m seeing heals for averages of 8500, and crits for about 12000). The heal can actually go to the target of the original heal, or to someone else in the vicinity. I cannot figure out the targeting behaviour of the heal – I suspect some smart targeting, because my overheal on this feels a bit low compared to my normal overheal, but I cannot confirm it.

2. Echoes of Light counts for about 3% of my effective healing in a raid. Sometimes it’s as low as 2.5%, sometimes as high as 3.5% – and that’s both in 10 and 25. I’m not sure what causes the swings. It is not related to how close raid members are: the trinket proc can (and in fact, often will) land on the original target of the heal, so even people standing in the middle of nowhere can get the trinket to proc. I suspect the percentage swings may be a “denominator issue”: in other words, in some fights I heal less because I’m moving more. In these fights, there’s more gaps between my heals – which means that a higher percent of those heal will proc trinkets, because the internal cooldown of the trinket will be up.

3. The heal can proc from the Glyph of Power Word: Shield. This is the big thing that makes it valuable for Disc: by transforming your #1 spell into a direct heal, you get a chance to proc the trinket. Of course, the irony of proccing a 5-7k heal from a trinket, from a 2k heal from the glyph is not lost on me…

4. The trinket heal can itself proc Divine Aegis. This is the second big thing: I am currently above 50% crit rate, when raid buffed. That means that 50% of the time, the trinket will shield for 33% more – which effectively adds 1/6 to its healing, which means that instead of 3%, it’s really closer to 3.5%. Keep in mind that of course that last .5% is in the form of an Aegis, with its advantage (effectively increasing people’s health, much better than healing them after) and disadvantage (has a chance of expiring without actually preventing any damage). As we all know, ICC tends to not let the second part happen, but I guess it’s fair to at least say it. EDIT: In fact, I actually think that the Abacus heal canNOT proc Divine Aegis: I’ve seen crit heal from the proc on people and no Aegis on them, either as a graphical effect or as a buff. I haven’t done any testing of this, but I suspect for some unfathomable reason this trinket does not proc Aegis 😦

5. As far as I can figure it out, the heal can proc from the 2T10 HoT from Flash Heal. This is not very easy to verify, but there are two instances of a trinket proc where I just cannot find any other heal in its vicinity that could have procced it. This doesn’t really change things that much, given that the proc chance is very high, once the internal cooldown is up. I guess we can field it away under “trivia about our class to impress other wow nerds”.

Note that all this means that Disc Priests are either as good as any other class to get the trinket (3% is about what all the other people that have the trinket have reported), or better (if you consider that Divine Aegis doesn’t get counted in Echoes of Light, but separately). So if you roll on the Abacus, and a resto shaman or druid starts complaining, send them here :-). As for me, now that Ruby Sanctum is open, I’ll pray for a Glowing Twilight Scale, after which I’ll actually be set for trinkets!

The Obligatory Post

12 June 2010 § 1 Comment

Seems like Blizzard needs to release previews of the priest talents to actually get me to blog again… Strangely enough, it seems that most of the blogs I follow have gone silent like mine. I think “end of expansion” blues may be hitting everyone pretty hard. However, the talents really did make me giggle a bit, and I was actually looking forward to see other people’s reactions to them. Given no reaction was coming from other blogs, I feel it’s up to me to hold the torch of free information and debate, the values of our society that our fathers fought for! Errr, right… let’s stop the patriotic music there, and get on to priest talents. You can find a working talent calculator over at MMO-Champion, and I will also use Dawn Moore’s analysis of those talents at WoW.com quite a lot.

The Talents

I won’t go through it talent by talent – Dawn already does that. I just want to highlight a few things.

1. More cooldowns/active abilities: the addition of PW:B and (especially) Archangel increases our toolbox fairly considerably. PW:B has a lot of potential, though it’s effectiveness depends on the numbers. I must say I like the possibility of a mana return cooldown that we get with Archangel – it feels a bit like a Desperate Prayer for mana, and the addition of having to choose when and how to build stacks of Evangelism potentially adds a new layer of complexity to Disc healing. Lulls in fights would be great to smite down opponents and build them, but also when you know that you will have to go crazy healing soon (think about a Saurfang with 80 Runic Power situation). Just smite a bit, and when the “enrage” happens, use your Archangel to instantly get 15% more healing.

2. Clearer separation between PvE and PvP talents. Currently, many PvP talents also have PvE applications (Focused Power, Focused Will…), which forces priests all over to take them and then use only half of their potential. In some ways, I exploited this, by PvPing with my PvE spec and doing fairly well (no arenas of course). At the same time, it’s nice to be able to specialise our specs a bit more.

3. Dawn points out that Soul Warding now reduces PW:S cooldown by 3 secs only, which leaves a 1 sec CD on the spell – and foresees the end of shield spamming. I really don’t see the problem, given that 1 secs is the lowest the GCD will go to, so no-one would be able to cast faster anyway…

4. Enlightenment loses Haste and Spirit and gains Health and Mana – about time, given that the combination of Enlightenment and Borrowed Time as making Disc priests haste capped as soon as they got to 80 or close. Spirit was also a very useless stat for us, so I will certainly not miss the old version.

5. More solo potential: the Penitence-Evangelism-Archangel chain seems to add a fair bit of solo-ability to Disc. Admittedly, I never felt particularly gimped in my daily grinds, so much so that I actually stopped switching to a shadow spec a while ago (although clearly I see the difference in killing time when I’m on a dps alt). All the same, this change would be certainly welcome!

The Builds

As things stand now, this is the build I would choose. In Disc, I am skipping only the purely PvP talents, as well as Reflective Shields (which is mostly a levelling one). I get to take the Penitence-Evangelism-Archangel chain, and 2 points in Atonement. Holy is the more thorny issue: the specific choice would depend a lot on how things work out in Cataclysm raids. Assuming pushback continues to be a minor issue like in Wrath (and so much less important than in BC or Vanilla), and that Heal will really become something we use routinely, I prefer skipping Holy Focus in favour of Divine Fury. Although I have the other smite-supporting talents, I cannot justify getting Searing Light. The good news instead is that the extra five points and the reshuffling of talents allow me to get to Deliverance, the new-and-renamed Serendipity. That means that the filler rotation just got a lot more complicated, with Flash Heal building up to a use of Gheal.

Of course, Deliverance is a top candidate for redesign, as a talent, given its similarity to the new (and deeper) Chakra in mechanics. If that happens, I still have the option of plunging into Spirit of Redemption, which I always considered a far better talent than most.

The big worry, however, is Inspiration not proccing out of Penance, as Dawn Moore pointed out. That would be a mysterious change to say the least, as it would penalise our strongest heal – which also happens to be a 51-pt talent and our main stay. It would also go against the desire stated by Ghostcrawler to move us beyond shields and into stronger single-target healing. Clearly things can and will change quite a lot before we get to Cataclysm – and probably even for the first few patches of Cataclysm, if Wrath is an example.

All in all, I think Disc healing in Cataclysm is shaping up to be a lot more elaborate, forcing us to weave some Smites into our rotation to increase our healing and our mana regen, and possibly having us use all three main heals (Flash Heal, Heal and Greater Heal) at our disposal.

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