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Demystifying Spirit Shell

Spirit Shell is a new tool available to Discipline in MOP. Essentially it allows us, on a short 1 minute cooldown, to convert all of our spells into absorbs that last for 15 seconds. Finally, we have a spell that lets us do what we’ve always wanted to do… mass absorbs!

This isn’t mechanically different than POH spamming to prepare a raid with Divine Aegis prior to damage occuring that many priests have been comfortable doing in 4.3. Spirit Shell now simply allows us to do this much more effectively, and with much greater ease. Note: Spirit Shell caps at 60% of the Casting Priest’s HP and each Disc Priest in your raid can cast a unique Spirit Shell.

Using Spirit Shell effectively will be a hallmark of a good Discipline Priest. You could simply use Spirit Shell on cooldown and either pad a tank, or POH pad a raid and see fairly positive results— however the real marker of a good Disc Priest will be using SShell when its needed the most. Despite it having a fairly short cooldown, we might want to pause a second or two to line up Spirit Shell’s absorbs to large raid/boss damage. Simply using the ability on cooldown will be effective, but ultimately not as effective of using it when the fight benefits from it. The tricky part is not delaying it so much, that the short cooldown is wasted.

Why is understanding Spirit Shell so important? Spirit Shell will represent a LARGE PORTION of your output on many/most fights… understanding its mechanics and stat scaling will be critical.

Spirit Shell scales exceptionally well from both Mastery and Crit. Each cast of a heal while Spirit Shell is active will be the same (barring throughput procs). The Spirit Shell calculation takes Mastery, Crit, and Divine Aegis creation into account and rolls it all up into a single absorb– making this one of our most scalable heals in our arsenal. Spirit Shell scales linearly by Mastery as well as by the amount of critical strike chance you have. Additionally, when Spirit Shell is active, it essentially ignores the RNG aspect of Crit as it provides direct scaling based on your critical strike chance (guaranteed). (It does this by essentially looking at Crit as an aggregate stat, not as a RNG stat based on a single heal)

Spirit Shell’s Calculation is as follows:
Non-POH Shell = Average Heal * (1 + Mastery %) * (1 + Crit %) * (1 + (Crit % * 0.30)) 
POH Shell = Average Heal * (1 + Mastery %) * (1 + Crit %) * 1.30

As you can clearly see, SShell’s stat scaling is quite liberal, scaling crit linearly with the amount it absorbs as well as mastery. This method of scaling essentially guarantees crit chance to provide scaling to the heals cast when SShell is active. (as well as accounting for Divine Aegis).— This method of scaling, in fact, is better than the baseline spell’s scaling  just by nature of Spirit Shell. In fact, it may be too good on a number of single target heals– be careful don’t overcap the 60% cap on SShell! Currently, a single GHeal gets you about 80% capped…. and with full stacks of Grace and a healthy amount of Mastery, you’ll likely get capped in a single GHeal cast.

Haste does not have a direct throughput increase to an individual cast of Spirit Shell, however it does allow you to cast faster while the Spirit Shell proc is active, and theoretically, create more Shells during a single Spirit Shell cooldown. Generally speaking, you should be able to fit in 6 GHeal/POH casts during Spirit Shell’s uptime. (some haste and spell conditions might allow for upwards of 7). Haste scales Spirit Shell in a tiered fashion, given the fact that you must complete the cast when Spirit Shell’s buff is active. If you cannot complete the cast when the buff is active, it is considered a regular heal. Once you get enough haste to complete that cast in the time allotted, then you can count it towards SShell scaling.

How do you make the most out of Spirit Shell? Know the fight. That is always the biggest boon to a Discipline Priest. The more you know and understand the fight, the better you can be at predicting periods of large amounts of damage and preemptively preparing the raid (or Tank) with Absorbs.

Spirit Shell does not scale with Archangel, so save this cooldown for after/before Spirit Shell is going to be used. Further, Inner Focus only provides the mana cost reduction when Spirit Shell is active. (this is intentional given how Spirit Shell’s guaranteed crit scaling is already accounted for). Remember to use, and time these abilities appropriately before or after a Spirit Shell period.

Generally, absorb mechanics are fundamentally superior to raw healing. This is because it actually preventsthe damage from happening to a player. If a killing blow is prevented via mitigation, regardless how much a player can raw heal, that mitigated damage is tops.

 

Editor Comment: Thanks to my friends Valen and Dayani for assistance in the TC and confirmation of calculations.

Written By: on September 3, 2012
  1. I’m a casual player, Cata 5-mans and HoT being my max content so far. I ran as Disc during Cata and sort of got the hang of the Atonement healing method but usually failed at sustaining this during busy times with healing and mana regen suffering as a result. I switched to Holy with 5.0.4 and I’m enjoying it so far.

    Spirit Shell is a compelling reason for me to switch back to Disc – I also play a resto druid and like the idea of keeping hots going and pre-hot’ing before incoming damage, Spirit Shell seems like that on steroids as its all mitigation.

    Is Disc still dependent on Atonement dealing damage for additional heals & mana regen from Archangel?

    1. Archangel no longer restores mana; however AA still provides a substantial throughput buff. My Disc guide (going up shortly) should provide some insight for you that might be of benefit. :)

  2. I am struggling to see the benefit of Spirit Shell. I get how it is supposed to work but in practice I’ve seen it produce no healing output. So much so that despite using it regularly Skada has shown me to be outhealed by a paladin tank.

    Combine this with my 2 mins of heals then I’m oom and as a raid leader I really can’t justify my own spot on the healing team. Maybe I’m doing something horribly wrong, maybe my 401 gear isn’t good enough for the spec or maybe Skada is borked and I’m doing way better than it feels I’m doing overall. But if it continues to feel this way at 90 I really see no future for me as a disc healer.

    1. I know Recount was not recording spirit shell at all for me, when we did a run this week to test new spells etc. However when i uploaded logs it shows SS doing alot more than it felt like it was doing at the time. http://www.worldoflogs.com/reports/a21vv61wl4iam1co/sum/healingDone/?s=744&e=918

      I’m not quite sure how you’d be outhealed by a paladin tank in all honesty.

    2. Well, it could be a number of things to be honest. Reforging/stats, mana issues…Generally, and you’ll see this in my Disc guide which should be up tonight/tomorrow, I’d suggest:

      Spirit (To comfort) > Mastery > Crit=Haste

      In reality, I’d suggest:

      Spirit (to comfort) > Mastery > Haste (to comfort) Crit > Surplus Haste

      You’ll always want SOME haste to be able to get those heals you ‘need’ to get off faster… No one likes casting through Jell-o!

      Crit scales Shell, so amazingly— I mean you have guaranteed linear scaling from it. And remember Haste only affects Shell in a tiered manner (ie getting that 7th or 8th cast off during the uptime of the buff).

    3. I have noticed the opposite with spirit shell. When you ramp up stacks of SS on the raid right before major AOE dmg (Black Phase on Zon’ozz, or RYB for Yor’sahj), you will see a huge spike of healing. From what I can tell, you are credited healing the moment the absorb from SS occurs so if 44k dps is going out, and your bubbles are absorbing it all, you should be healing 44k hps at that moment.

  3. I’m amazed at how well this spell scales (as you pointed out and ty for the math!) with mastery and crit. Particularly due to the fact that so much of the initial pre-raid/raid gear I’ve comes across is Mastery heavy.
    I’m really looking forward to working in SS into my arsenal, coupling it with Power Infusion (might bring the tiered haste scaling into the rhealm of 100% SS caps?…I don’t know). It was a blast (of lack thereof) on heroic Spine last week. Amalgam pulses??? I don’t see no Amalgam pulses???

    That said, Disc is becoming very daunting in terms of the number of CDs and the lack of synergy between things like SS and AA, which requires more attention to buffs starting and stopping. I think my Rapture timer bar is going to have lots of friends in the near future :)

  4. Yo! I’m thniking now on changing my meta gem to 2%mana pool insteed of spell crit. What’s ur advice in this point? Will it be just better since we all got 100k mana pool or tottaly stupid cuz of changing the mechanics of rapture? Remember that mindbender/sf still is affected by ur mana.

    PS: ry if that’s not the right place to write it :)

  5. FML, this serves me right for not checking this out. Gone through raid where I subsequently stacked AA and SS together always. =(

    And I call myself a raider *blushing*

    Thank you Derevka for this site, its my special haven as a Priest. And Im really greatful for all the hard work you have put in to give feedback to blizzard this expansion, and singel-handedly gotten us some changes we very much needed.
    *Forever devoted fan, Midnightstar of Darksorrow*

    1. A very sincere, thank you.

  6. I like using it Archbishop Benedictus wave, since no one dodges it =p Nice blog Derevka, I’m hoping to see the weak auras for disc soon =) thank you

  7. I’ve tried to potentialize the use of Spirit Shell, mainly on heroics, but once on LFR, but I really am not liking the way it works. Of course I haven’t studied it as deeply as you, Derevka, have done it, and probably didn’t test well enough as well, but here are my considerations:

    If I use it on cooldown, it probably is wasted, because people/tanks won’t take enough damage to use all its absorption, so I’ll mostly need to apply SS (at maximum absorbing amount) twice, if not just once.

    If I leave it to be used in moments of high damage, I always risk of having it wear off before I can apply it again, so people’s health end up going down slowly (by the damage taken between applies) and I can’t actually heal anyone until the 15 seconds have passed, UNLESS I cancel the buff manually. That, in my opinion, is not good mechanics.

    I would think it MUCH better if, instead of just the 15 seconds duration, Spirit Shell had 2 or 3 charges, for example.

  8. I know I am late to this but I only just found the guide and it is awesome. I am only 75 so far but for the last 5 levels (Since I found this guide and the other one about pro-actively using cooldowns) I have changed my healing style and nobody has died and all runs gone so much smoother.

    Thank you so much, and I am linking this guide/site everywhere I can!

    I disagree with the above poster though, I use SS and PoM (Mostly) to keep shields up and Renew to top up anyone who wasn’t full before the cast. Re-casting PoM to re-apply the shield is pretty much making everyone invincible for 15s. It may be overhealing, but it creates so much confidence that the team is able to do things they wouldn’t otherwise dare. And of course it gives time for you to DPS :)

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