(Note: This is based off PTR build v4.0.1.13033)

Hey kids! It’s me! Ava! Remember me? You do? Shit. I still don’t have a beta key, so all you’re going to get from me is PTR scraps. And if you’re looking for awesome videos of me talking, like Derevka does- sorry, won’t happen. I’m usually too drunk for you to understand what I’m saying, and talking into a mic requires me putting down my beer glass.

So today’s musing is Disc at level 80 when 4.0 hits – what to do, what to spec, what to freak out about…kidding, kidding. This is the WoW community – you should freak out about everything!

33/3 Disc spec with Smite capabilities at 4.0

Let’s start with the 33/3 build, and the one I’m planning on starting with. With the changes to Archangel and Atonement, I really get the feeling that these are not simply “DPS Disc” options. I really feel as if this is intended to be part of our healing arsenal, and turns healing on it’s head. It’s more interactive. It has more strategy. And it has the potential to really make things interesting. My only hesitation is I don’t think we’ll be able to get the full potential at 80, and it might turn people off.

I really got a nice “weaving” feel, using flash/heal with smite, penance and shields. The higher my Evangelism stacks, the harder my smites hit. The harder those hit, the more  healing Atonement hits for. The higher Evangelism stacks dictates how much healing bonus and mana return I receive when activating Archangel...and neither are minor. Smiting also utilizes Train of Thought in this spec, and allows for more penance usage. Rotating Heal in utilizes Strength of Soul. And our defining talent, Power Word:Barrier, is going to provide some amazing uses.

Some notes on the 33/3 Spec

I see a need for a power aura code to let me know when 5 sec remain on Archangel. Since each stack of evangelism lasts for 15 seconds, and is refreshed upon application, I think it’s possible (in theory) to have 5 stacks ready for every 30 second AA cooldown. I say “in theory”, because we all know there’s no script for healing, and situations will arise where it’s not feasible to utilize this technique, much less maintain the application.

Mental Agility: not needed at 80 – I can’t cast faster than my mana was regenerated. Like everything in this post, it’s use and application most likely changes at 85, however.

Atonement – I’m still up in the air on this. The mechanics behave similar to the Abacus trinket, and the random selection of the target makes me hesitant. In a perfect world, it will hit the tank when I smite….but I have yet to find a perfect world (it would probably be made of booze). Currently my smites hit for around 6K unbuffed (non crit) which at 3/3 equates to a 7200 heal. It doesn’t seem that much currently, but the scaling at 85 could change all that. I was unable to validate it’s usefulness in a raid setting at 80,unfortunately. This is subject to change if I can convince enough guildies on the PTR, or I can find 9/24 other people that have a family tree that forks, and test it out more. Regardless, it’s still a free heal, and there’s not much else to do with the talent points, unless you prefer to put them in Mental agility. See my thoughts on Train of Thought for more applications. I’ll keep an eye on it.

Are Archangels supposed to be this pretty?

Inner Sanctum -No longer increases our spell power gain – now reduces spell damage, like our old spell warding talent. Unlike spell warding, I don’t think this will be needed at 80 after 4.0, but 5 years of raiding sets off my nerd sense, and tells me it will probably be a ‘must have” for progression raiding. At in the fact we get Inner Will at 83 (the speed buff) and I’m willing to bet on it. But at 80 in 4.0? Pass.

Inner focus is not taken with this spec, but I would take it if I dropped atonement. I’ve never considered this a “must have” talent, and my opinion hasn’t changed.

Strength of Souls – I’m guessing a “must have” for tank healing at 85, and if tank avoidance & damage “spikiness” go live the way it is now, a must have at 80. It also looks like the effect is repeatable (ie every application of heal knocks off 4 seconds) – if that’s intentional, I see some great uses, and not just for tank healing. For the bubble spamming robots, it’s a possible way to encourage moving away from being one-button-wonders, and using it as a way to speed up reapplication of PW:S as needed.

Train of thought – the value I see in this (at 80, mind you) is the reduction of the penance cooldown. I would probably like it more if it reset the cooldown all together (like our original 4pc t10), and this has little to no value it you are not using a Evang/AA approach like this. Each application appears to remove one second, and could prove very interesting using a weaving cycle of smite & flash/gheal/heal to build Evangelism stacks for Archangel while relying on atonement to fill in on some healing.

Focus Will – note that this no longer gives Crit. It seems to be a purely PVP talent not, thus I didn’t take it. Duh.

I rounded out with 3/3 Divine Fury. This spec revolves around the use of Heal and Smite – reducing the cast time by a 1/2 sec is important.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

One thing you will notice at 80 with the current build is Flash Heal still hits considerable harder than Heal. Don’t be worried – remember, the mechanics are based around level 85. Because of that, I will probably still be relying heavily on Flash Heal & the only use Heal has to me AT LEVEL 80 is for Strength of Soul. So if you find that mechanic is not important to you at 80, spend the two points in 2/3 Empowered Healing for a 31/5 build. But I really recommend trying the new mechanics out before writing them off, and remember to re-evaluate as we get closer to 85.

What If I don’t WANT to use the Smite mechanics?

31/5 No smite talents, 4.0

Why wouldn’t you? Don’t be afraid to try! If you’re going to be stubborn about it, you could do a variation of the 31/5 spec, dropping Evangelism, Archangel, Atonement & Train of Thought, replacing them with 3/3 Mental Agility, 2/3 Inner Sanctum & Inner focus (or 3/3 mental agility) and 2/3 empowered healing. I understand wanting to stick within a certain familiar comfort zone of healing, and taking baby steps in learning how to use Heal & Gheal all over again with the new mechanics, but I think ignoring the smite mechanics entirely could potentially be cutting off a huge part of your arsenal.

Don’t be scared of new things – we’ve always asked to have healing made more interesting, and here’s an option to accomplish that – don’t ignore it! It may play out that the smite mechanics aren’t worth the risk or are too situational to be of use – we’ll have to see, experiment & give feedback. But I’m hoping that won’t be the case, and it will come down to knowing how and when to use them.  This is the time to experiment, and the jury is still out on what’s viable. So again – don’t be afraid to try.

OMGOMGOMGOMG What about GLYPHS AT 80!!!???

Based on what I know is available, I’ll pick the following. This is subject to change before the the final 4.0 release. Thanks to Nahmanides for reminding me to mention that as of 4.0, once you learn a glyph, you never need to relearn it, and you can switch between them at will (out of combat, of course).

Prime: The 2 must haves still seem to be Glyph of Penance and Glyph of Power Word:Shield. The third seems situational depending on fight and raid makeup. Grab a Glyph of Flash Heals, Glyph of Prayer of Healing and Glyph of Power Word Barrier and experiment in your raid fights.

Major: My two “Must Haves” with the 33/3 Smite build are currently Glyph of Divine Accuracy (obvious reasons) and Glyph of Mass Dispel (remember we can’t talent the cast time reduction now!). The third is a crap shoot currently – I might stick with Holy Nova despite its changes, but I’ll probably carry a Glyph of Dispel Magic, and maybe even a glyph of Fade for leveling with PuG tanks *shudder* (note: If you need Glyph of Fade during raids – get new tanks)

Minor: Your call, as these are usually a matter of convenience. I take Fort for the mana reduction in case I need to rebuff someone mid raid due to battle rez, soulstone, ankh, etc. Shadow Protection for the duration increase, and Levitate so I don’t have to carry feathers. Fiend is an option, but he’s not so stupid anymore, and doesn’t die very often.

What about Gear & Gems?!! OHSHITOHSHIT….

Relax. I was all prepared to completely re-gem and re-gear when I hit the PTR because of the mana mechanics. I loaded up with uncut gems, and extra 264/277 tokens to experiment with and…..I didn’t need it. Using my current “Live” Disc gear (read: minimal Spirit) I couldn’t cast faster than I regained mana. The only time I could burn thru mana was when the Holy Nova bug was still active (And BOY! Did I learn some great new words playing with THAT in the PTR battlegrounds!!) – even spamming gheal couldn’t dent it.

Now that doesn’t mean that’s how it will be going Live, and we’ll be sure to keep you updated as things change. And it most certainly will be different at 85.

As always, keep reading Tales of a Priest as we explore this and other mechanics throughout beta and Cata. And I just wanted to show you the ridiculous tabard I have to walk around with in our beta guild, thanks to Derevka.