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  1. #1

    The Times They Are A-Changin'

    Public relations double-speak wants us to believe that Warcraft is an ever-evolving medium that has made leaps and bounds since its creation, but are Priests becoming obsolete? Priests have evolved quite a bit along with the game. From the beginnings as the clear best healer in the game, to the queer balance of Burning Crusade, to the Circle spamming early Wrath days, a lot has changed. Priests are no longer the jack-of-all-trades master of everything under the sun when it comes to healing, but they are now better at certain tasks than they were in the past. The truth is that Priests have fallen behind in their primary role and are being kept aloft by under-tuned content and clever use of utility abilities.

    Let's begin in Vanilla. This was the peak of Priests. They were fantastic tank healers, could cover on raid very well, brought substantial utility and could be told to do anything and do it as well as anyone else. Healing consisted of Renew raid healing, with some minor Flash Heal use, but heavy use of various Greater Heal ranks. This was to deal with slow and extremely spiky tank damage that necessitated stop-casting and trying to stay out of the five-second mana regen rule for as long as possible. Priests were also helped along because Druids were incomplete and somewhat slow healers, while Paladin and Shaman were faction specific and neither filled a complete role. Priests on Horde side tended to tank heal more, while Priests on Alliance side tended to raid heal more. This didn't matter because they have strong tools to deal with either.

    Then comes the 2.0 changes and Burning Crusade. Paladin and Shaman are rebalanced to be non-faction specific. Druids are given a large arsenal of heal over time abilities and fleshed out. Priests in the meantime keep their old role, but are given an extremely strong pair of tools with Circle of Healing and Prayer of Mending. Damage in Burning Crusade begins to favor a mix of heals, with Priests handling most of the large spikes and Paladins, or Druids leveling them off with a constant stream of small heals. This lead to the first Priest split between your Divine Spirit Priest and your Circle Priests. Your Divine Spirit Priest would be a tank healer optimally and serve much as they did in Vanilla to great effect. Your Circle Priests on the other hand become the dominant raid healers. Towards the end of Burning Crusade it became apparent that with enough power behind them the Druid and Paladin style of tank healing fully replaced the need for the spikes from Priests. The game was moving more and more towards favoring very fast heals that could be sustained.

    Now comes 3.0, which changes everything for a second time. Divine Spirit has become baseline, but a new rift is created between Discipline and Holy. At first this has little impact, your tank healing Priests convert to Discipline and switch to the new Flash Heal healing and can now happily compete with Paladin's Flash of Light. Holy Priests find themselves stuck raid healing with no real option to tank heal when Paladin, Druid and now Discipline are all beating them easily. Now Wrath is released. More talent points are available and Holy catches up, but aided by Circle of Healing is an obvious pick for raid healer. Druids are given a new variant of Flash of Light, while Paladin's Holy Light is now able to be cast nearly as fast as their old Flash of Light. Shaman are given new tools as well and continue to fill gaps in healing. Early on Discipline is a serious contender for best tank healer with strong shields and Penance filling the old Greater Heal spike coverage.

    This lasts throughout Naxxramas, but people begin to realize that new raid content pales in difficulty to older content. When Ulduar is released and hard-modes introduced they find Discipline has a new role in preventing huge spikes of damage that would be not be possible to heal. Holy on the other hand has had Circle moved back to a cooldown and is now faced with massive raid wide damage. Holy begins moving to the 'Renew spec' to better handle this after realizing that Druids were completely dominating them on healing meters. With the shift Holy catches up, but by now it's apparent that being competitive on healing with the other classes now requires a great deal of concentration and foreknowledge of fights. Discipline is now finding that they struggle to compete with Paladins on tanks as they take more and more damage exposing that Paladins healing in Naxxramas was held back almost entirely by incoming damage. Once incoming damage increased Discipline seemed to fall behind.

    Then came the straw horse. Discipline began to use in game mods and parsed logs to show they're worthwhile by using shields and now argue that their absorbs should be considered as part of their healing. This creates numerous problems and while it is very useful on hard-modes in Ulduar, it gives many Priests the wrong impression about how to play their Priest and what spec they should be using. Holy began to be singled out as nothing but a cloth-wearing Druid who was a heal-over-time spamming raid healing robot. Discipline was now the favored spec.

    Not long after that the Coliseum opens. Discipline rides high on its (straw) horse, while Holy finds itself with a fight it does very well on with the Twin Valk'yrs. Druids continue to pull ahead on functional healing as damage increases and Paladins continue to outpace the other healers on tanks with no stopping in sight. This is the second wave of Priests realizing that they could top meters early on mostly because they were designed to react half a step faster than the other classes. While they had been mocking the other healers in Naxxramas for fifty, sixty, seventy-five percent over-healing they had failed to realize that the over-healing was not the product of poor play, but a disparity between input and output. A tank that is hit for four-thousand can only take four-thousand effective healing. Whoever can react faster will come out on top of healing.

    When four became thirty the gap became very apparent. At this point it's too late for Priests on tanks. They were moved to a Flash of Light replacement, but not given a tool to compete with Holy Light when damage increased. Discipline as full time tank healers died. Holy at the same time was dealing with the reality that Renew was weaker than Rejuvenation and their regen was not as solid as Druids. Everything they could do the Druids could trump, with a few exceptions.

    Now Icecrown Citadel is released. Damage is lowered, but the consistency of that damage is increased. This favors the faster healing style, but the damage of the fourth tier of content is now beyond the scope of Flash Heal. It's too late for Discipline to make a resurgence, so they attempt to keep riding their shield spamming bandwagon, but realize more and more that people now understand them. The horse burns away and Discipline now has to prove their worth again. They're saved first by bugs on Saurfang, then a few fights that favor raid shielding for part of the encounter. Until Lich King this barely saved him, but with his encounter being known Discipline is now safe and will have a spot in raids until Cataclysm. If only for one fight.

    The other impact of this new damage model is the massive introduction of damage auras, and other light raid wide damage meant to stress healers. The real impact is that since the raid damage comes at a slow rate it favors Druids more and more as gear improves. At this point another divide begins to form. Some Priests are moving to using Flash Heal as a raid heal. The hope here is to differentiate from Druids and win a raid spot in this manner. The truth is that while mimicking Druids was the original reason for the switch to a Renew-centric spec, the true purpose was because it was a more competitive raid healing spec. The passing resemblance is inconsequential if it is also the optimal play-style.

    Other Priests have realized that they can provide things that Druids can't and while their healing may be behind the damage in Icecrown and (H) Icecrown is not high enough to make Holy obsolete. If it were twenty percent higher then there would be a serious issue as the gap between Druids and Holy Priests would be too large. This is most likely lucky on Blizzards behalf as they planned three tiers of content, instead of the four they eventually produced. By making the final tier a small step up from the previous, while keeping the gear increase even they allowed weaker classes to be competitive. Essentially creating a throwback to (25) Naxxramas where the difference between input and output allows Holy to keep up. Essentially if a class is strong enough to keep people alive, they are a functional healer. It doesn't matter that Druids are better if the amount they are better is primarily concealed by over-healing. The realization is still there though. Holy can bring a tank cool-down, a large pre-cast AOE heal, a speed increase, a group mana restore and a preloaded reactive heal. Now we're back to Burning Crusade. Priests fill roles not because they are better, but because they are easier to add to parties without hurting the composition. They bring utility, rather than power.

    The schism is there though. Some Priests feel they need to compete on pure healing, or don't understand the utility they should provide. Some still cling to the past and try to ride old strategies to success. Some refuse to play similar to another healer, while forgetting that the other healer was based on Priests original play-style. You must keep in mind that evolution is only partially natural. The other part of the equation is how individuals react to their environment. The push towards Flash Heal Holy is missing the point and hurting the perception of Holy. The reluctance of some to adapt to the changes and learn to use the utility they can provide is leading people to wonder what the purpose of Holy is in Warcraft. The role of Priests and the power of Priests has changed over the years, but it is the inability of the users to adapt that is ultimately causing the class to drift towards obsolescence.

    TL;DR: No. Go get a cup of joe and your glasses and read, monkey!
    Edit: Slight edit for clarity on two points.

  2. #2
    Dreadlord Findus707's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Norway, Trondheim

    Re: The Times They Are A-Changin'

    Cool story. bro.

    First warning ~ Ultima

  3. #3

    Re: The Times They Are A-Changin'

    Seems like you are trolling disc priests a bit, why?
    <;~~~~{] -____- )|:-~=(}

  4. #4

    Re: The Times They Are A-Changin'

    I read the whole thing. It was a history lesson. If only you let me know that at the start. But at the end I was rewarded by you having absolutely no point whatsoever. You made a full page paper just so you can say "I think priests are doing fine, people need to l2play"
    But your eyes are drawn of charcoal they're black they're so cold they're so imperfect because they see a sleeping world where waking isn't worth it

  5. #5

    Re: The Times They Are A-Changin'

    I think there's a lot of validity to the natural evolution of things and that perhaps Priests have had to adjust to these changes with every raid tier, where we see other healers simply get better at what they already did best. However, I think there's a larger part of the equation here that is to blame, and that pretty much falls almost entirely on Blizzard's class design. That is, Priests are the only class that has two healing trees, and while each other healing class gets a set specifically designed for healing, and thus making it easy to determine appropriate stats and set bonuses, we're stuck with stats and bonuses that they try to make work for both classes, but ultimately comes up short. And sure, we can make up for the lack of appropriate stats through off-set pieces, but when other classes get the right stats AND a useful bonus, we have to choose between stats or a mediocre bonus. And worse, while other healers have to compete with healers and/or casters in general for things like necks, cloaks and rings, Priests have to compete, not just with others of the same class, but all clothies for the gear that is itemized how we want it. So, in the end, while I think the real problem is that the second healing tree was supposed to give different flavors and add utility, but all it's really done in the end is hurt our set bonuses, our stats, and ultimately leave us lagging behind in pretty much everything except for the utility you mentioned. The real problem is the disconnect between the general community and the designers. I think to a large extent, Priests have been balanced around the utility they've continued to give us, but many people only seem to judge the usefulness of a healer by how well he can perform on the meters.

  6. #6

    Re: The Times They Are A-Changin'

    Well said, good read. Where is the part where I rage at everyone? ;D
    Has opinions about stuff.
    Character - Danrar (Forever Holy Priest)

  7. #7

    Re: The Times They Are A-Changin'

    Good read, and I totally agree. The fact that Disc priests are favoring GH more means that we're trying to find any way to up our healing to keep up with a content that is increasing faster than our heals can. We will not be obsolete by Cata, but plan to see less of us if they do not drastically change the talents in our favor.

  8. #8

    Re: The Times They Are A-Changin'

    An excellent read, and I agree with the sentiments. When I'm in a 25 ICC with a mix of healers it sometimes feels like the best thing I have to offer that the other healers can't give is the Fort buff :

  9. #9

    Re: The Times They Are A-Changin'

    A good read, harky!

    I think ... that the utility we bring is great. But - ultimately, most of the time we create the need for that utility outselves by underperforming. GS is a great example. It can totally change a fight. But we mostly need it to do what shammies, druids and paladins do without GS.

    Anyway: next time, use section headlines. "Vanilla", "TBC", "WOTLK". Breaks up the text a bit, makes it easier to read
    Non-discipline since 2006. Also: fails.
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  10. #10

    Re: The Times They Are A-Changin'

    Quote Originally Posted by Berlain
    An excellent read, and I agree with the sentiments. When I'm in a 25 ICC with a mix of healers it sometimes feels like the best thing I have to offer that the other healers can't give is the Fort buff :
    and spirit lolz.

    TC did forget about the great PoH nerf in Ulduar that basically made holy priests inferior to druids in terms of raid healing. It did need a nerf but it was too much. The difference wasn't very noticable at first, but now it is miles apart. It is apparent how weak the spell is in ICC given the mana cost of it. Our problem is holy priests scale much worse compared to other healing classes, especially with haste. Here's hoping Blizz addresses that in Cata.

  11. #11

    Re: The Times They Are A-Changin'

    Best synopsis of Priest history and our current qualms I've seen to date. Post this on the official forums please.

  12. #12

    Re: The Times They Are A-Changin'

    I want to counter attack you with my wall of text. But I am to lazy to come up with something.
    Also spamming I ar baboon will proberly get me banned :P.
    Main shaman: Shaman Alt Paladin: Paladin
    Alt lvl 73 mage: Mage Alt lvl 70 Death knight: Death Knight
    Random dungeon project: Druid Battleground project: Rogue
    Worgen project: Warlock Future alt: Hunter

  13. #13

    Re: The Times They Are A-Changin'

    While I agree with much in the OP, I miss some words on shamans (unless I just failed to see it?)... I will never forget my arsenal of abilities and the abilities to do some nice healing while on the move (eg. PoM that can crit for high numbers with 2xT9, so a PoM during movement+damage is probably the best spell available for such situations)... Other niche spells are B&S and GS, but these feel more and more like 'theoretical shinies' for me...

    Every situation where you want B&S on someone can easilly be solved with success even without it. Besides, ordering the disc priests to keep their shields away from the raid is hardly a sign of a well balanced raid tier.

    GS has a slightly more well-earned reputation, but you will mostly want to save it for the tank while your primary field of work is on the raid. Chances are (unless there is a fight where a cd rotation is required) that the tank would have survived even without GS (for me I'd say it fades because of duration rather than the killing blow proc in 19/20 times, and I only use it in cooldown rotations or save it for the "oh shit!" moments on the tanks. In the end, a battleress from a druid feels more powerful as a raid utility in my opinion.

    My point is, having one Holy priest in the raid for GS is not bad... But none of out "special abilities" is likely to change the outcome of the raid...

    The synergy between raid healers feels unbalanced, or at least I am given the boring task; to cover the spots where the druids or shamans fail... But as long as the druids and shamans do their job as expected, I give no real contribution to the raid. I am a backup-healer, and does that job as a backup pretty good. I am only a "good healer" if the druids or shamans fail, or if you simply cannot find any. But I miss the time when I had to decide which spell to use on *every* gcd, instead of using only 1 of 6 gcds for something that actually makes a difference, and the other 5 in a spell rotation, CoH->PoM->fill->fill->fill... Talking about a rotation as a holy is a little over-exaggerated, but we are still closer to it than anytime before. All the guides that tells you how to heal as a holy in one sentence is some sort of proof to this...

  14. #14

    Re: The Times They Are A-Changin'

    @ Kathor_: Misunderstanding the use of B&S is one of my biggest disappointments with Priests I've dealt with. The point is not that something is possible without it, but that it would be easier with it. That's what utility typically is. It doesn't make the impossible possible, it makes the difficult more manageable.

    @ Danner: That misses the point. Guardian Spirit is not amazing utility because it boosts the Priest. It is deep in a tree designed for raid healing and supplies a tank cooldown. The point is not that GS boosts the Priest who is casting, but that it boosts the healing of classes not designed around it and functions as a powerful tank cooldown. Oh and the Vanilla and TBC 'sections' consist of a single paragraph each, so, not sure that would help.

    @ Maxpowr: Yeah, I left off the Prayer of Healing nerf due to the impact it actually had. The nerf occurred at a point where it didn't actually change much of anything. The CoH nerf and PoH nerf were both well deserved due to being obscenely powerful. There are several other large shifts that are left out as well, such as the original CoH, or the removal of down-ranking as an effective strategy. Hopefully the point was able to be brought across without a comprehensive detailing of every major nerf and buff Priests have gotten since release.

    @ Zeuq: Yes, that move is major and having both specs want different set bonuses and stat allocations in a severe problem. However, without some serious weight on the tier sets there is little that it could do. Unless it was something like 'Reduces the mana of Greater Heal by 15% and cast time by .5 seconds' Disc would be in serious trouble still. Holy would need some rather major increases to Renew. Also because Holy doesn't favor Spirit as much as Blizzard has assumed it looks more like a problem with Blizzard not knowing where Priests should fit, rather than a conflict between the specs.

    @ magicism: 0/10 for refusal to act on your natural instincts.

    @ Mr_Bojangles: Also 0/10 for not grasping the conclusion. Priests are on a thin edge and are currently functional in raids purely due to some minor utility that many raids want. They are only getting passing grades due to raids over-stocking healers in high end content with low healing requirements.

  15. #15

    Re: The Times They Are A-Changin'

    Quote Originally Posted by harky
    @ Kathor_: Misunderstanding the use of B&S is one of my biggest disappointments with Priests I've dealt with. The point is not that something is possible without it, but that it would be easier with it. That's what utility typically is. It doesn't make the impossible possible, it makes the difficult more manageable.
    I agree that B&S in itself is a strong utility spell, and I love it and use it all the time! I've been working alot to make guildies understand that too. But since it is designed around PW:S/Weakened Soul, it comes with a cost; you effectively prevent your disc priests to use their shield on the raid because you don't want them weakened... In the end I find myself thinking that maybe I am only being selfish when I glorify B&S, instead of letting the other priests go crazy with shields...

    Priests get punished because we have 2 healer trees/specs (which is the same with tier bonuses as well, while they solve it alot better for feral druids).

  16. #16

    Re: The Times They Are A-Changin'

    Quote Originally Posted by Yzak
    Just wanted to get this in there before I read this, but.....

    Wall of text crits you for infinity, you are now in limbo.
    > Beat me

  17. #17
    Mechagnome Kinderwurst's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Mesa, Arizona

    Re: The Times They Are A-Changin'

    Are you questioning Big Brother Blizzard?
    Nice Orwell reference.

    And agreed, healing on priests isn't what it used to be.

  18. #18
    The Patient Axlash54's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Behind you. In the bushes

    Re: The Times They Are A-Changin'

    Bob Dylan? Priests? Nah. Change the title
    Quote Originally Posted by Agoonga View Post
    I'm weird in any culture
    If life's a stage, when's the after party?

  19. #19

    Re: The Times They Are A-Changin'

    Disc is OP.

    GS is OP

    CoH is OP

    Renew Spamming -> Seren -> PoH is huge HPS.

    Healing Priests are fine.

  20. #20

    Re: The Times They Are A-Changin'

    Quote Originally Posted by harky
    @ Mr_Bojangles: Also 0/10 for not grasping the conclusion. Priests are on a thin edge and are currently functional in raids purely due to some minor utility that many raids want. They are only getting passing grades due to raids over-stocking healers in high end content with low healing requirements.
    My guild runs 6 healers for Lich king 25. The disc priest is obviously needed for the gimmicky nature of the fight. The holy priest is on top. That fight requires every type of healing required known to modern raiders. Our heroic rotface kill also had a holy priest on top. We don't overstock healers, and those fights hardly have low healing requirements. I really don't feel like priests are in a bad spot at all as raid healers.

    I'm holy. I don't bring those body and soul shields. Several class's bring a "don't let the tank die" cooldown. I have enough mana to get me through a hard mode chain casting big heals, I don't care how much regen the druid has. I get a raid spot because I save lives. I have all the tools I need for that.

    Don't down rate my post because I disagree with what you said or how you said it, or because I use a minimum number of words.
    But your eyes are drawn of charcoal they're black they're so cold they're so imperfect because they see a sleeping world where waking isn't worth it

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