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Spiritual Guidance: Tools to evaluate a Discipline Priest

Matt Low

Every Sunday (usually), Spiritual Guidance will offer practical insight for priests of the holy profession. Your host is Matt Low, the grand poobah of World of Matticus and a founder of No Stock UI, a new UI and addons blog for WoW. After a minor hiatus, Matticus examines the pain that many Discipline Priests experience: That they're just not good enough and how to even the odds.

Apologies for the lengthy delay. I needed to grab some field data which took way longer than it should have. Coincidentally enough, Amanda Dean wrote about this very same issue a few days ago concerning healing meters and Discipline Priests. It still makes me sad every time I read about this. A raid leader or heal leader asks a Discipline Priest to go back to Holy because they feel their performance isn't good enough. In most cases, I think it's just them not truly understanding how Discipline works. It has always been about prevention not healing.

"You're too low on the meters. Switch back to Holy."

How many times have you Discipline Priests heard this? Being forced to switch back to Holy because the powers that be didn't understand nor fully realize the true capabilities of Discipline Priests? It's a good thing my bench boss didn't tell me to switch to Holy. Then again, I am the bench boss.

My friends, there are tools that can help us. It's impossible to change people's minds on theory. But my CSI idol Grissom's always said that evidence cannot be denied. Let's stop using the same measuring stick that the majority has been using and look at something to help even the playing field.

Let's start with WoW Web Stats. It was one of the premiere tools that came out some time ago and helped raids really analyze specific details of their fights.

But it's not Disc Priest friendly, so we're going to stop using it.

Set your sights to WoW Meter Online.

Here's a side by side comparison. This is the same combat log uploaded to WWS and to WMO. Can you spot the difference? Yes, a Holy Priest is leading the charge. Yours truly here is Discipline and I'm the other Priest below. WWS shows 4.2 million effectively healed whereas WMO displays 5.8 million healed. That's a difference of 1.6. Something is seriously wrong here. What kind of weird discrepancy is this?

Let's take a closer look at my individual play via WWS.

Okay, things appear to be in order. This is a shot from a Freya kill, I believe. Flash Heal is leading the way followed by Prayer of Healing and Penance respectively. Yes, I'm aware I should fire of Prayer of Mending more often (I can hear it already) and yes I can also hear the "why aren't you casting more Renews?". Holy Nova was tossed in so I could help DPS the detonating lashers too.

Pro tip: Don't kill detonating lashers at the same time. Leads to very dire and unfortunate consequences.

The primary difference here is that WMO does display shield information. It shows Power Word: Shield and Divine Aegis (at the bottom). Keep in mind that even though you may toss a shield up on a player, if the shield simply wears off instead of absorbing damage, it won't show up anywhere. It'll display that the player received the shield buff. But since no damage was absorbed, it won't add to the healing numbers. It will only add to the "Land" column or how many times this spell was used.

So to bottom line this, if you're going to diagnose a raid, stick with WoW Meter Online for the time being. It might not be accurate down to the hair, but at least it will still show what you're doing. If you're anything like me, you're a shield happy Priest with not a care in the world. I love to fire out more shields.

For addons, I have only found one meter addon that can help track shields. Recount will do it but you must have the Guessed Absorbs Recount plugin installed. Last updated in the days 3.1.0 came out, this addon displays an extra Recount panel with damage absorption. Yes, this includes both Power Word: Shield and Divine Aegis. Note that it shows the overall damage absorbed and how many impacts or hits that your shield took.

Here's a glance at the combat log which shows the amount of damage the shield's eaten. I was having some fun in Scholomance with a guildy. If you were wondering how my shield was able to eat so many hits, that woudl be why. The area below it shows the minimum, average and maximum damage that your shield absorbed per hit. I was busy farming a few Dark Runes for use against General Vezax just in case I needed them in a pinch. The combat log does appear to show damage absorbed.

Remember that the combat log will track damage absorbed and shield casts. Your shielding powers may be uncanny. But if it wears off, it'll show up as a cast and not necessarily as having absorbed damage. Anyway, not only that but the healing done meter combines absorbs and healing done together to show the overall effectiveness of the Disc Priest in raids. Obviously if the Disc Priest gets outhealed by a Hunter, then something is wrong (in which case I don't think a simple respec back to Holy would work).

It's just education. Your leaders and healers have to learn more about the spec and its design before they can truly appreciate your abilities in the raid.

So start using these tools and I hope they'll help open the eyes of your leaders. In the future, if anyone tells you to switch to Holy, I hope you point them here so they can start using some of these tools to get a better idea of Discipline capabilities.

I'm also experimenting with World of Logs. I'll see if that's another alternative.

Have Twitter? Feel free to follow @mattycus!

Want to find more great tips for carrying out your Priestly duties? Spiritual Guidance has you covered with all there is to know! And don't forget to check out our other Leveling Guides as well as our Wrath Guides and Galleries!

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