Disc Spec in Cataclysm: Putting the pieces together

14 September 2010 § 4 Comments

See what happens when I work on a post for too long? We get a new datamined beta patch on MMO-Champ, and the opening of the PTR servers, which means I need to rewrite half the post. Oh well, teaches me to post more quickly, I guess. So, without any further ado, let’s start!

In the last post, I split the Cataclysm Discipline tree into several different pieces, each of which was focusing on a different aspect of our roles or actions. In this post, it is time to put the pieces together into a coherent spec – or specs, as I will also look at several alternatives, because of course it is difficult to decide before we can see the numbers of (at the very least) the lvl 85 Heroic dungeons and the first tier of raiding (Tier 11, which from my understanding should be Bastion of Twilight, Blackwing Descent and Throne of the Four Winds).

The Spec

So, this is the spec I came up with. Basically, and in reference to my last post, I took all the talents of the Frame, as well as the Heal piece. I skipped the two PvP/levelling talents, and then took Archangel/Evangelism, as well as Power Infusion, Pain Suppression and Desperate Prayer (please, let that “Requires Shadowform” be a mistake). This left me with a gap on the lower tiers, which I needed to get the later talents, so I took Twin Disciplines and Improved Inner Fire. Let’s examine the spec in more detail, moving from the talents I cannot see myself taking at all, to the talents that barely made the cut, to the talents I cannot do without.

The Ones in the Discard Pile

The PvP/Levelling Piece: I don’t think it comes as a surprise here, but Focused Will and Reflective Shields are clearly not talents made for me. They are fun talents, and useful, just not for the WoW I personally play. Unless the talents will change a lot, these two will stay out of my spec.

Atonement: Much as I want to give Archangel/Evangelism a go, I really cannot see this talent being any use beyond some 5-man action. The fact that it requires 3 talent points for 45% of the Smite also makes it very expensive for the result.

Inner Focus: I am really sad to see this talent go. In fact, it will be the first time Tsark will be without Inner Focus since November 2005. Back in those days, smartly using Inner Focus was the key to additional ticks of full mana regen, and the sign of a good priest. This stayed for BC, when Inner Focus, coupled with some nifty trinkets, could result in massive mana regen – again, if you knew how to time it. However, with the demise of O5SR regen, Inner Focus loses a lot of its appeal – and the fact that it only applies to the Heals and to PoH makes it even LESS interesting as a mana saving tool. There is still the crit portion, but 25% is a bit too low to make it worth a talent point.

Mental Agility: When it comes to filler points, I decided to go for the ones that cover throughput, and forego the mana regen (or mana saving, in this case) one. My rationale here is balance: I’m already getting Archangel/Evangelism, so I hope that can cover all my needs when it comes to mana. Ghostcrawler last Tuesday answered a post about healing saying that “you shouldn’t have huge mana problems in a normal dungeon”, so I’ll keep this choice and review it after a bit more experience.

The Ones that Just Made the Cut

Improved Healing: I am absolutely not sure about this talent. 10% seems sizeable, but I cannot find information about base stats at 85, so I cannot exactly see how much mana saved would that 10% be. To be honest, it’s quite likely this talent will be cut out from my final spec, in favour of either Mental Agility or filling out Improved Inner Fire and Empowered Healing. If I can handle the mana requirement of healing, then 1 additional point in Improved Inner Fire would give me about 150 more spellpower (Inner Fire at 85 gives 1080 spellpower), and I can get the 5% increase in Heals from the last point in Empowered Healing. If mana is tight, then the real question is whether I will save more with a 10% decrease in cost of my cast heals, or 8% for my instant spells – and this is an empirical question, which will need an empirical answer after some adjustment at 85.

Evangelism/Archangel: I *really* want to give this mechanism a go, mostly because it’s new and different. I agree with Derevka over at Tales of a Priest that this is far less appealing as a mechanic than Chakra. However, I’m resigned to the fact that this is what we will be getting for Cataclysm, and we may as well just make the best of it. Let’s look at some numbers. Evangelism stacks to 5, you gain stacks when you Smite, and each stack gives you increased damage and a mana reduction for Penance and for your damage spells. The stacks last 15 secs, so assume your Smite is around 1.8 sec cast time (2 secs with Divine Fury, minus your haste – I think 1.8 secs is actually fairly conservative, especially given we could become smart with Borrowed Time). So,it takes 9 secs to build the full stacks up, and 66% of your base mana (15% per Smite, but with a 6% discount for each successive stack of Evangelism). This gives you 30% reduction to your Penance, and the possibility, through another GCD, to gain 15% of your total mana. Mana wise, this is interesting if 66% of your base mana is lower than 15% of your total mana, which means that base mana should be lower than 22% of total mana for all this to be worth it.

Currently, at 80 and at the end of the expansion cycle, Tsark has 31k mana unbuffed, while a priest’s base mana at 80 is 3863 – amply above the cutoff point. In fact, with 3863 base mana the cutoff for Archangel to be worth it is just shy of 17k mana, which is a value that, if memory serves, I attained almost as soon as I hit 80. Now, this of course tells us little about Cataclysm: if anything, the values of intellect should be even higher in Cata, as spellpower is converted to Int in all gear except weapons – which suggests that yes, Archangel will net mana. UPDATE: Miss Medicina reports a base mana pool for level 85 priests of 20,586 – so if your total mana at 85 is around 81,546 Archangel will return mana at 5 stacks.

We still don’t know whether it’s worth it, though – because aside from the mana investment needed to get the mana return, we need to also invest time (the 9 secs + a GCD mentioned above, to build the 5 stacks and then use Archangel). Just to give another example, Hymn of Hope gives us 10% net mana (just above it) for 8 secs of time investment. Of course, it’s apples and oranges (HoH requires channelling, which is a lot more painful than finding 5 discrete 1.8 secs intervals; I’m also assuming the caster gets all three ticks on himself/herself, something that is not necessarily the case), but it does give an idea. Even more difficult to consider, I find it difficult to switch to dpsing mobs while healing – I generally lose track of my heal targets, and then need to catch up on the tank (though, hopefully, this is just a matter of practice).

If this does not work, I think there are multiple options. One possibility is to get Atonement. If the mana return is really worth it, and it just needs a little extra investment to make complete sense, then that minor heal may be the deal breaker. The heal will make the ramp up time for Evangelism slightly less of a waste, and thus could in the end make the whole experience worth it. I doubt this would ever be the case (especially if Atonement stays 3 points), but conceivably I could drop Improved Inner Fire or Empowered Healing to get Atonement. The other possibility is the one Blizzard doesn’t want to hear about – drop the whole “piece”, and instead use the three points in something else: Mental Agility or Inner Focus if mana is still an issue without Archangel, or Improved Inner Fire if it’s not.

The Ones I Cannot do Without

Divine Fury: The real issue is not so much getting this talent, but whether to max this or Empowered Healing out. So, .2 secs off Smite and all Heals, or 5% more healing? Both outcomes are throuput improvements, so it really is a mathematical question. Given HPS is given by Amount Healed/Time, and if we make our average heal 100 (for discussion’s sake) we have (100/2.5) = 40 vs (105/2.7)= 38.8 repeating, which means that Divine Fury is the way to go (and of course, this is independent of our actual amount healed, given that is the numerator of both values).

Strength of Souls: This talent looks more appealing every time I look at it. In fact, the talent could make it so we could Shield a tank every three heals, as opposed to every six-seven heals (depending on haste) – a clear increase in our effective healing that is nothing short of staggering.

I think all the other talents I chose are non-controversial, so I won’t go into detail on them all – of course, I’ll be happy to answer any questions that appear in the comments 🙂 Now of course the question is what to cut for the levelling, and whether I want to actually get Reflective Shields until I get to 85. That, as they say, will remain a question for another day.



§ 4 Responses to Disc Spec in Cataclysm: Putting the pieces together

  • ambient says:

    Thanks for making me turn a closer eye onto Inner Focus! It’s funny because I hated the spell when I was Shadow for early Wrath, and only begrudingly specced into it when I became Disc. I’ve come to tolerate it, knowing that it’ll fire when I cast Divine Hymn or PoH (IF I ever cast a PoH)…so I have no idea why I was blindly including it in my Cata spec. It won’t apply to Divine Hymn anymore so it’s outta there! I find other mana-saving talents more appealing, and prefer to get my crit from gear rather than a cooldown.

    Can’t tell you how thrilled I am about Strength of Souls, though. Flash Heal (aka new Heal) is my filler spell, even in Holy spec, and this is tank-support-healing deliciousness!

  • […] the end, I went with a slightly different spec from the one I suggested here a while back, mostly because of comments back in the EJ Disc priest forum thread, pointing out that we will not […]

  • […] Disc Spec in Cataclysm: Putting the pieces together September 2010 3 comments […]

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