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Skill Mastery: Penance

Eliah Hecht

Welcome to Skill Mastery! In the weeks to come, the WoW Insider staff will give you the skinny on each and every new skill coming in Wrath of the Lich King or, in some cases, in the 3.0 patch.

Healing priests aren't getting a ton of new tricks in Wrath. In fact, some of our old tricks are getting removed: downranking is no longer viable, so goodbye Greater Heal (Rank 1). However, like every other class, we are getting a few new spells, and one of them is Penance.

Penance is the 51-point Discipline talent, and it currently reads like this (at max rank):

33% of base mana, 30 yard range
Channeled, 10 sec cooldown
Launces a volley of holy light at the target, causing 184 Holy damage to an enemy, or 670 to 756 healing to an ally every 1 sec for 3 sec.

So it's kind of like the love child of Arcane Missiles and Holy Shock. But before we talk too much about how it's going to be useful, I should note that Koraa has just told us it will be changed as follows:

  • First tick will be instant, so the channel will now be 2 sec instead of 3.
  • Mana cost halved.
  • A new talent in Disc will make it "more interesting."

Basically we have a 33% increase in throughput for half the cost. (This post by Koraa was a response to a complaint that Penance was worthless, since it did less in more time for more mana than Greater Heal.)

What is the role of Penance going to be? It might be informative now to compare with max rank Greater Heal. I'm taking into account Koraa's announced changes, and assuming the caster has Divine Fury (as pretty much every healing priest will).

Penance 4 Greater Heal 9
Mana cost 16% 32%
Cast time 2 sec 2.5 sec
Healing 2139 4450
Healing per % mana
134 139
Healing per sec 1070 1780

As you can see, Penance still doesn't stack up very well in terms of HPM or HPS as compared to Greater Heal, which is a shame for a 51-point talent as compared to a baseline ability (not to mention it's on a 10 sec cooldown). [Be sure to see update below.] This table hides the fact that the first tick of Penance happens right away, and the second tick after another second, so if someone needs a bit of healing right now, Penance might still come in handy. And we have no idea what Koraa might mean about a new talent that makes Penance "more interesting."

But based on the numbers available right now, I conclude that Penance needs a hell of a big buff before I'll be thinking seriously about taking it.

Update: It has been pointed out by Malcolm below that the numbers currently in-game for rank 4 Penance are the same as for rank 1, implying that ranks 2, 3, and 4 have not been implemented yet. Therefore, here is a new table comparing rank 1 Penance, available at level 60, and rank 5 Greater Heal, also available at 60.

Penance 1 Greater Heal 5
Mana cost 16% 36%
Cast time 2 sec 2.5 sec
Healing 2139 2080
Healing per % mana
134 80
Healing per sec 1070 832

When you take this into account, Penance is suddenly (significantly) more efficient per mana and does more per second than GH. All of a sudden it looks quite attractive.

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