Spiritual Guidance: Holy and discipline tier 12 set bonuses

Dawn Moore
D. Moore|05.09.11

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Spiritual Guidance: Holy and discipline tier 12 set bonuses
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. Dawn Moore covers healing for discipline and holy priests, while her archenemy Fox Van Allen fraternizes with cultists and buys Justin Bieber albums. Dawn also writes for LearnToRaid.com and produces the Circle of Healing Podcast.

Information about patch 4.2 has been coming in nonstop this past week, and our favorite dataminers at Wowhead and MMO-Champion have dug up a first look at the class set bonuses for tier 12 gear. As usual, the community has been chatting up a storm since the release, especially the priests. Today I'll be joining that discussion to examine what holy and discipline priests have to look forward to in the next content tier -- or not look forward to, depending on your perspective. Either way, let's take a look.

  • Holy/Discipline two-piece Your Flash Heal, Heal, and Greater Heal spells cause you to regenerate 2% of your base mana every 5 seconds for 15 seconds.
  • Holy/Discipline four-piece You have a chance when you cast a helpful spell to summon a Cauterizing Flame. Friendly raid and party members can use the Cauterizing Flame to be instantly healed for 4,625 to 5,375. Lasts for 45 sec seconds or 10 charges. After using the Cauterizing Flame, players cannot benefit from it again for 10 seconds.

Please keep in mind that these are not officially from Blizzard and can change at any time.

If you follow my column at all, you may remember that during Cataclysm alpha and beta testing, I frequently quoted The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by saying, "Don't panic!" At the time, it was easy to worry about our class when we were working with so little information. I want to say that again today, because I think it's appropriate to the situation.

So, again ... Don't panic. Patch 4.2 hasn't really been tested on the public test realm yet, and none of the available premade characters are equipped with tier 12 gear to see how anything will work. All we can do right now is speculate off limited information.

Two-piece bonus

So to quickly explain the bonus (in case you're suffering the aftereffects of some heavy Mother's Day cake and ice cream binging), you'll get 6% of our base mana over 15 seconds (2% over 3 ticks), provided you cast a Flash Heal, Heal, or Greater Heal every 15 seconds. Overall, I like this set bonus. I don't think it's unreasonable to ask priests to cast any of those spells once per 15 seconds. It's particularly strong in 10-man healing, but as my priestly cohort Kinaesthesia points out, even 25-man raid healing holy priests should be using Flash Heal frequently to take advantage of Serendipity. So overall, I think the activation is fine on this.

I am interested to see how the uptime management will work, since the developers often approach each one a little differently. Will the mana return auto-refresh if you cast another trigger spell when you have the buff up already? If so, will that interfere with the timer on the mana return mechanic, or will it just allow you 100% uptime? Will it work like Rapture, where we have to be sure to activate it as soon as it ticks off or else the trigger spell does nothing? As soon as I know, I'll let you know, but keep your fingers crossed for something good.

After that, I want to draw your attention to the words "base mana." This is the amount of mana you have before gear, talents, buffs, or base intellect. So unlike Rapture, Shadowfiend, and Hymn of Hope, this mana return mechanic on the two-piece bonus will not be affected by the amount of intellect your character has -- just something to keep in mind. At level 85, base mana is 20,590 for priests, so this set bonus will give you 412 MP5, or 1,235 mana for the whole duration. Tyrande's Favorite Doll, for some measure of comparison, returns 350 MP5 if you're using it on cooldown.

Some people have pointed out the current tier 11 four-piece bonus can return more mana than the tier 12 two-piece bonus, but aside from the fact you're comparing a two-piece to a four-piecebonus, the amount of mana returned by tier 11 really does vary per spec. Holy priests got a far better deal out of the four-piece tier 11 bonus than disc, with effortless 100% uptime on the mana return mechanic. Discipline, on the other hand, has to be glyphed for Penance and use a spell (that costs mana) on cooldown to get 100% uptime. Just comparing the two, I'd expect disc priests to swap to tier 12 two-piece as quickly as possible, while holy priests carefully weigh the options to see how much they're losing just because of how well the tier 11 four-piece bonus works for them.

Four-piece bonus

Much of the reason I gave you a little speech about not panicking earlier has to do with this four-piece bonus, because at surface level it looks like the developers are giving us a second Lightwell. It's a fiery, proccing, instant-healing (as opposed to HoT-healing) Lightwell, but still a Lightwell. Or is it?

Anyone who has played WoW at level cap knows about the baggage surrounding Lightwell. I've highlighted all the complaints, strengths, and then some in various posts over my time at WoW Insider, and no matter how good our raids get at using it or how much it gets buffed, people still hate it. They hate it because it takes control away from the caster in a way that other classes don't have to deal with, or because of how much practice and reinforcement it requires to be used. Some just hate it because it's inconvenient in comparison to everything else, and honestly, I wouldn't disagree with that even if I do love Lightwell.

So when it looks like Blizzard is giving us a second Lightwell, I understand the contention -- I just hope that everyone will stop and recognize that we really honestly don't know how this thing works yet. We know how Lightwell looks, and yes, this does look like a Lightwell, but that doesn't necessarily mean it is a Lightwell. Let me point out a few things.
  1. We don't know if the heal is affected by spellpower. It probably won't be, since it has charges, but I do agree with critics that the base healing is very low. If the healing is effected by spellpower, then it will make up for the problem that other players have to actively choose to use it.
  2. We don't know if you can have more than one Cauterizing Flame up at once. We also don't know if it will be stationary or if it will increase or decrease in size. This is important because if you can have multiple Cauterizing Flames up, it will increase the available healing your party can get from it and increase its accessibility to the raid. If it crawls or grows in size, it will be even better. Just imagine if Lightwell chased after low-health people like Doomfire chases after scrubby raiders.
  3. We don't know how the use mechanic will work or the range you have to be in to use it. Just because Blizzard won't give us an Argent Lightwell in our talent tree doesn't mean it won't give us something like it as a set bonus. Imagine if all you have to do to use the Cauterizing Flame is stand next to it or in it. Alternatively, maybe Cauterizing Flame will be able to be used in a macro so players can use it like a Healthstone if they're within range. The main reason the developers puts so many limitations on Lightwell is because of how powerful they want the spell to be when players take initiative to use it. For something as fleeting as a set bonus, they might be open to alternative ways to use this. Hell, if we're lucky, in a few months we'll be screaming, "Why can't Lightwell work like Cauterizing Flame?!"
Just keep this in mind while you speculate. I'm not saying that this set bonus is going to be the best thing since Lifegrip, but I think we should give it a chance before we proclaim that the sky is falling and we're getting a second version of a spell that doesn't work. Also, as other healing classes have pointed out, even if this set bonus is the worst thing in the world, it's a lot more interesting than anything they're getting. For that alone, I think we should be happy that Blizzard is at least trying to make things interesting for us. Plus, if it is terrible, we can always get ...

Shadow two-piece bonus

  • Shadow two-piece Your Shadowfiend deals 20% additional damage as fire damage and its cooldown is reduced by 75 seconds.

Though you might end up having to reforge, the two-piece bonus shadow priests are getting is pretty tasty-looking for healing priests. Combined with Veiled Shadows, you can get a Shadowfiend every 2 minutes and 45 seconds. That's quite a bit of mana return.

Of course, before you get excited, the boys (and girls) over at Elitist Jerks point out that the extra Shadowfiend might not account for much more than Veiled Shadows already does, depending on the duration of the fights and when you decide to use it. Only in longer-duration fights does it look like you're really going to get extra Shadowfiends, and you need to use your cooldown early and on cooldown for that. More food for thought!

Wait and see

So that's that. I know I didn't quite bash the bonuses to a satisfactory level, if that's what you were looking for; I'll have a more concrete opinion after I can see the bonus in action on PTR. Until then, I've read some really thoughtful opinions (both positive and negative) around the priest-o-sphere in forums and blogs. Check them out.

Also, as I said, there is some good discussion on Elitist Jerks, in the most recent posts of the holy and discipline threads.

Spiritual Guidance has the inside line on pre-raid gear, valor point and raid gear, and healing strategies for bosses such as Atramedes and Chimaeron. Newcomer to the priest class? Look into Discipline Priest 101 and Holy Priest 101.
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