Circle of Healing has been through the gambit of changes from Alpha, to Beta, to 3.0, and soon to be Wrath. From instant with no cooldown, to a 10 sec cooldown, to a 6 sec cooldown, back to instant. Well based on some information from Ghostcrawler, it looks like we are going to see a change.

Circle of Healing / Wild Growth / Chain Heal
Based on feedback from this forum, elsewhere and our own brainstorming, what we are thinking about right now is something like a 6 sec cooldown for Circle of Healing and Wild Growth.

We’re less concerned about Chain Heal, in part because it’s not instant, prevents movement, falls off with multiple targets, and is the spell that shamans are supposed to be hitting, while priests and druids have many other spells.

At 6 seconds, you would still want to use CoH/WG in the right situations (though hopefully not *every* time they are up), but you’d also want to use other spells during the cooldown. To be fair, a lot of priests and druids are asking to push other buttons.

This sounds like a potentially scary change because it has a lot of ramifications — one of the reasons we are mentioning it so early is to get feedback. We don’t want Resto shammies to push other healers out of raids. We would change some of the encounters knowing that CoH spam was no longer possible.

Didn’t you try this before ?
Yeah, we did. We thought it would feel like a big nerf and changed our minds. But seeing the state of healing at 80 makes us think it might be the right call again. When AE healing is so prominent, it also makes specs without great AE heals (Holy paladins and Disc priests) feel uselss.

Assume that we would lower Wild Growth by the same proportion as Circle of Healing. The exact numbers aren’t as important to this discussion as the concept that you can’t hit the button whenever you want.”

At first glance, you think that all healing priests would immediately QQ. Which, at its core, this is a nerf – no questions about it. However, lets recap how the COH Priest has been healing lately. With a 5 target (or 6 with Glyph) instant, smart heal, that (dependent of gear) can hit for 1000-2000 per person. Literally a monkey can have top effective healing meters with that type of a heal.

I ran BT last week spec’d 14/47/0. With minimal effort using COH, I was able to be hands down top of the meters as the only Healing Priest in the raid, with the next closest healer 9% in my wake. For Illidan 75% of my healing was COH, which is far too high, but with that type of raid damage in Phases 2 and then flame burst, it was really easy to nab up those heals.

Blizzard is right, it doesn’t make sense to have a spell be that powerful in those situations. A 6 second cooldown might be a bit extreme – how many times did you use it on Illidan P2 or Bloodboil tapping it 3 or 4 times in a row without pausing? Probably a lot. But in its current state, I do tend to agree that the spell is a little overpowered. (Gasp! Boo! Hiss!)

Pre 3.0, the key parts that make COH good are that it allows you to heal while moving because it is instant and it hits 5 people. We operated pre-3.0 with COH being a target group spell, not a smart healing spell. The smart aspect, is really what made the spell lean to the overpowered side f the coin. Then add in the fact that once you itemize for some crit, you proc Surge of Light very regularly.

The fact that COH is spamable is part of the essence of the spell, and its usage. I do tend to agree with some of the folks that are saying that adding a 6 second cooldown is just bandaging the larger issue. In my opinion, either removing the smart heal aspect restores the spell to its original meaning – not a “roll your face on the keyboard and top the meters” spell.

Blizzard seems to be bent on “you shouldn’t be able to hit the button whenever you want”, and force priests to have to think when they want to use it. That I get… fine. However, there needs to be a fair bit of quid pro quo. Lots of the deep holy talents are tuned to improving COH spam – Divine Providence, and to a lesser extent Test of Faith.

Yeah, it was nice to have a 5/6-target heal that healed those who needed it most, with a fair mana cost, but the time seems to have come for a change. I don’t think any healing priest can honestly say they didn’t like the advantage that Smart COH spamming gave them, but to be fair – it was a slightly unfair advantage. One positive from this nerf, is that the Discipline Priest now doesn’t feel quite as left out since they can’t bring both COH and Penance.

I’ve always been a fan on Beta of Disc healing – while, yes, the Discipline tree is bloated; I do think this change to COH will allow more priests to give Disc a fair shake. More on Disc later…