Spiritual Guidance: Lightwell, Lightspring, and the latest on priest healing in Mists

Dawn Moore
D. Moore|05.15.12

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Spiritual Guidance: Lightwell, Lightspring, and the latest on priest healing in Mists
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. Dawn Moore covers the healing side of things for discipline and holy priests. She also writes for LearnToRaid.com and produces the Circle of Healing Podcast.

Well, we got it. I never thought I'd see the day, but we finally got the Trial of the Crusader Lightwell that shoots heals at allied players instead of requiring them to click. Holy priests will gain access to the new Lightwell, called Lightspring, using a glyph of the same name. Before you get too excited, however, I should mention that there is a catch. Apparently, automatic Lightwells don't heal for nearly as much as a manual ones do, so depending on the fight and your raid members' ability to use the Lightwell in the first place, you may choose to skip the Glyph of Lightspring now and again.

Good ol' Derevka has already written up a thorough first look at Lightspring in which he points out many of the spell's limitations. In the post, he points out that Lightspring only heals targets at less than 50% of their health, and it has a 5-second cooldown between heals to prevent it from being used as a raid cooldown. To read the rest of Derevka's write-up and see his comparisons on the numerical output of the two spells, head over to Tales of a Priest.

Holy priests in need of more love

Discipline has shaped up into a rather complex spec at this point, between the addition of Spirit Shell and the recovery of all their old talents as baseline abilities. I think there's a lot of potential for different disc playstyles to surface in the next expansion that are both fun to play and viable to use in dungeons and raids.

Holy, on the other hand, feels like it's missing something. Ever since Atonement got snatched away from it, I've been wondering what a holy priest has to look forward to in MoP. There is no new ability, no Spirit Shell equivalent, and since the spec was always pretty streamlined to begin with, there aren't even that many passive baseline abilities in the holy spellbook.

I think Glyph of Lightspring is a good start, but I'm really crossing my fingers for a new ability altogether. I'd love to see something like Spirit Shell for holy that alters the behavior of Circle of Healing or Prayer of Healing. Or maybe a revamp of Chakra so the level 90 talents are roped in and altered, but not just numerically. Maybe we could get a whole new Chakra stance altogether? At the very least, I hope we'll see Divine Insight work off more than just Greater Heal soon. The super spastic Prayer of Mending is awesome, but Greater Heal doesn't have as much application as Penance does.

The Rapture debacle

Two weeks ago, I discussed Derevka's post on retiring Rapture. Since then, Ghostcrawler (lead systems designer Greg Street) responded to Derevka's post on the forums with a few insights. I think it's worth a read for those invested in the topic.

Ghostcrawler -- Rapture Must Retire
We don't think Rapture is "fundamentally flawed." We also added it back because so many Disc priests asked for it. It's challenging for us to present a design when some players want something and some don't want it. :)

Discipline would struggle if the spec was designed around flawless Rapture use, but it's not. Meditation is still there and in fact a Disc priest with flawless Rapture use would have more mana return than other healers. A priest who totally ignored PW:Shield would have lower mana return, but why are you playing Disc if you ignore PW:Shield? For many Disc priests who say benefit from Rapture every 20+ sec instead of the minimum 12, their sustainability should be comparable to other healers. Keep in mind what I said in the other thread about considering the entire package; the only real measurement of sustainability is how long the various healers can cast in average (low HPS) and scary (high HPS) situations without going OOM.

While on the topic of Rapture, the ability has been tweaked slightly since my last post. The change is actually big news, in my opinion. Rapture now removes the cooldown on Power Word: Shield (just like Soul Warding used to) so that discipline priests will once again be able to spam shields if they choose to.

The ever-evolving Spirit Shell

A little over a week ago, Blizzard released another beta build with a major update to the functionality of Spirit Shell. Previously, the ability was just a new shield for disc priests, much like Power Word: Shield, except this one had a cast time and was balanced alongside Heal (and later Greater Heal). Now, Spirit Shell is a cooldown ability that upon use will turn a selection of your cast heals (Heal, Greater Heal, Flash Heal, and Prayer of Healing) into shields instead. The ability lasts for 15 seconds and has a 1-minute cooldown, and the shields are affected by mastery.

In its current incarnation, Spirit Shell is noticeably complex in behavior. Each of the four different spells that are affected by Spirt Shell creates its own shield when cast. Cast Greater Heal on a player, and he'll receive a shield called Greater Heal. Follow it up with a Prayer of Healing, and he'll receive another shield called Prayer of Healing. So unlike Divine Aegis, where addition absorption is stacked onto one master shield, Spirit Shell lets you create four separate shields on a player at one time.

What makes Spirit Shell complex is that each shield behaves a tiny bit differently than the other. The shield created by casting Greater Heal, for example, stacks if you cast Greater Heal more than once on the same target. The first shield absorbs for an amount very similar to healing value of the spell without Spirit Shell activated, while the second refreshes the shield's duration and increases the absorption by about 10%. Casting Greater Heal over and over, I was able to increase the size of the shield three times before hitting a cap.

With Flash Heal, I was only able to increase the size of the shield once by a similar percentage, while Prayer of Healing does not increase in size whatsoever (though the value of the shield it currently creates is about double that of the normal spell).

Because each shield behaves differently, there are a lot of different approaches you could take to this. If you want to shield as many players as possible, obviously using Prayer of Healing on each group is the most effective way. If you want to stack a lot of absorption on one player, a Flash Heal followed by two Greater Heals would be best. If you want to shield a few different players in different groups (maybe a tank and two off tanks), you'd want to use Flash Heal on each of them.

One last thing to note is that while Spirit Shell is active, none of the affected spells can critically heal and none of them (even Prayer of Healing) can apply Divine Aegis. Ghostcrawler explained on the forums that Divine Aegis comes into play by scaling the shields with your crit chance. That said, Ghostcrawler also mentioned that numbers and values are subject to change, since this is beta. Considering how efficient Prayer of Healing becomes when using Spirit Shield (each cast absorbs for the amount of a critical heal), I'd definitely expect a few changes as we get closer to launch.

Cosmetic changes from new minor glyphs

A few minor priest glyphs were added to the game in a recent beta build. All of them are cosmetic in effect. Most of them aren't currently available to players but should be soon.
  • Glyph of the Heavens This glyph actually is available on beta (it's been there longer than the others) and thus is pictured in the header graphic for this article. The clouds look a bit cartoonish to me, but the animation helps to take the stiffness out of the new character animation for Levitate.
  • Glyph of Confession With the long cooldown, this glyph reminds me of one of those novelty archaeology items that I let take up space in my bags. I hope whoever does the dialogue for this is the same writer who did the lines for the Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron.
  • Glyph of the Val'kyr I once dreamed of an update to the model and animation for Spirit of Redemption, and now it seems I've finally gotten my wish. I suspect we'll get to be the val'kyr model with white armor, like Fjola Lightbane.
  • Glyph of Holy Resurrection There was a time when I would have thought this would be a really handy glyph to have in raids, but now that the default UI shows which players have an incoming resurrection, this glyph is just as cosmetic as the previous two.

Come to Spiritual Guidance for the inside line on current healing gear and trinkets, as well as advice for healing in Dragon Soul. Newcomer to the priest class? Look into leveling a healing priest, and consult our guides to Discipline Priest 101 and Holy Priest 101.
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