Oh it feels good to write a priest only column again, even if it is only temporarily. Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed when looking at everything healer related or thinking "big picture". But when it the focus is just about priests, I can really go into some of the gritty stuff.
Anyway, I got a little treat this week. I've been spending a bit of time in Cataclysm. You don't need me to tell you this place looks awesome. In case you were wondering about leveling, check out the video I've attached. It's me destroying a bunch of mobs both as discipline and as holy. To the untrained eye, they wouldn't really know what to look for because leveling as discipline and holy looks practically the same!
If you haven't seen what Power Word: Barrier looks like yet, don't worry as it's all in here as well. Read more about my thoughts on the two non-shadow specs for leveling, Chakra, and what end game could feel like. I healed some Blackrock Caverns as holy, and I have to say, I do like the way the default healing UI is coming.
In this video, I'm swimming around looking for Eels in the Vash'jir zone. Why? Well, I have this quest which instructs me to do so because the fate of the world rests on my shoulders.
Granted, I'm not the best when it comes to video editing and stuff but you can see the effects of Smite as both discipline and holy. And don't blink, because I open up with a Power Word: Barrier right at the start. I won't be doing it for every pull since it has a 3 minute cooldown. The smaller numbers you see are due to Reflective Shield returning fire to these Eels.
I'll try to shoot more interesting stuff like actually healing an encounter or something. I'm sure it gets boring when all I do is Smite spam. I feel the same way, don't worry.
Do it as discipline. With Archangel and Evangelism, you will be an unstoppable force of light who smites foes left, right and center. Especially if you're low level, it'll help immensely and take it from a guy who leveled priests as discipline and holy from 1-80.
Okay, maybe one and a half.
It is possible to snag Archangel and Evangelism as holy but not until you're around the level 80 mark. Remember, you need to invest 31 points down one tree before you can jump into the other. Once you get to the point where you can pick up those talents, it might not be worth the effort.
Another change you might have missed is that Soul Warding dropped down to tier 2. This now presents you with two ways to advance down discipline. You can snag Archangel and Evangelism or go purely for the mitigation and healing benefits from Soul Warding and Improved Inner Fire.
What about in a raid environment?
Archangel may have to be used periodically for mana returns. This doesn't necessarily mean you need to chain Smite go keep stacks up. What I can see happening is a priest maintaining a full Evangelism buff and then unloading Archangel when the opportunity arises. A healing priest is still going to be focused on healing. But if there are periods where it isn't required, then it becomes of a question of "What else can I do with my time?" It seems like that's the way things would be at end game and if it does, then we'll start having semblance of a DPS and healing rotation. The optimal spec that works in Smite and healing would probably be holy due to Surge of Light procs and Chakra.
A WoW.com special tasks group was sent to infiltrate the Blackrock Caverns. Yours truly was sent in as the squad's healer. I'm not going to lie, it was extremely tough for me. I think a lot of it had to do with not knowing what the encounters were ahead of time. We spent a solid hour wiping to assorted trash and bosses. There's a couple of technical encounters in there. In general, I did find healing that instance challenging. It wasn't just the sheer volume of damage but I did need to use my mana cooldowns frequently. I ended a lot of encounters with almost no mana. Keep in mind, I healed it as holy. I think my next pass will be done as discipline.
Do your best not to die. The worst part about Blackrock Caverns? It's the run back from Thorium Point. World of Warcraft veterans will know what I'm talking about. Brings back memories of Molten Core, Blackrock Spire, and Blackwing Lair wipes eh?
So if I were to extrapolate my experience from that into a raid environment, I can only come to the conclusion that there isn't enough conclusive evidence yet. It was definitely punishing, but not downright impossible. It helps having a competent crew with you that does their best at avoiding unnecessary damage. Healing at level 80 with Icecrown gear probably isn't going to be the same as healing at level 85. I'm anxious to get more levels in so I can try some of the upper level instances to see if there is any kind of transition process.
With a bit more time, we'll be topping the meters.