Preface for this post: It contains opinions, I am aware that Legion is reverting shields to the choice of “who should I shield” not “how many people can I hit before I run out of targets lol”. I am specifically referencing the current meta. I love Priests, I just can’t stand shields. #Salt
Mister Knuckles Protects the Power Word: Shield
Much like Mister Knuckles not letting you steal from the BMAH; Discs in their current iteration don’t let us steal heals. Like, ever. It’s amazingly broken. Part of this issue has to do with player power and ilvl inflation. I mean I was crit healing the other day on targets for 400k. The power level is across the board, I am more so going to focus on why shields are too abundant and powerful. (I see you over there holy pally, I’m talking about your shields too!)
So whats the issue with shields?
I will exclude Clarity of Will (CoW) from this section as that is a whole different can of worms. Power Word: Shield by itself is a wonderful spell. An instant shield that prevents damage is awesome. In most cases this shield can save a life if placed on a low health target (not annoying to the Shaman) or the Priest could pre-shield the target preventing the damage (again not annoying when logic is applied to one target). This allows for player choice. Great! I love having the choice, especially if what I’m have to choose between has a reasonable CD (previous cds for PWS were something like 8 seconds if I recall correctly). Giving a player choice and in turn consequences raises skill caps and makes the game more fun.
The issue that creeps forward is when the game allows for a shield to be spammable. Forgoing CoW for the moment; Disc is capable of blanketing the majority of the raid in a powerful instant cast shield. With no cool down, low mana cost, and the debuff the shield applies can be reduced to the initial duration of the shield. Downside? No. Shaman can spam cast Healing Surge for crazy big and fast heals but the downside is mana consumption. Holy Priests can spam Circle of Healing or another AoE heal and the downside is mana consumption. Resto Druids can spam Healing Touch and the downside is mana consumption. Is anyone else noticing a pattern? Other healers make a choice to spend mana to keep a target alive. Disc hits a single button and tabs to the next raid frame to do the same.
This partially comes down to how mana is regained in combat; however with the tremendous focus on Power Word: Shield it causes a strange “locked” healing spot in the raid.
“My raid comp doesn’t use a Disc and we are fine.”
A perfectly acceptable thing to do, either by choice or necessity. The problem is when you find yourself (as a healer) wishing you had the class and spec you despise because it makes an encounter trivial. This is because a power focus on a singular spell causes the raid design to account for that spec being in the group.
Remember how I said Gorefiend is a great raid encounter example? I’M USING IT AGAIN 😀 . Mythic Gorefiend, Touch of Doom, when that debuff expires your character pulsates large amounts of AoE damage to your raid members based on their distance from the explosion. Have good players and there is no need to be carried by a disc priest; have players that pay attention sometimes but mostly don’t? Get a disc and 15 shields on the raid and you will be fine. This type of design rewards sloppy play.
Oh the disc can shield me so I don’t need to pay as much attention to X
This in turn is severely punishing when you don’t have that disc carry. Clearing Mythic Gorefiend farm last night (at the post of this article) was painful because players were not properly paying attention to debuffs and blowing up the raid one Touch of Doom debuff at a time. Insert a disc into our healing roster and I could have carried those players ignoring mechanics with my eyes closed, with one button. That’s not only broken, that’s boring.
Once again, the issue is when you hinge a mechanic based around a single specs ability to carry a raid. (Anyone remember Mythic Maidens? If not, look up how that fight was done cough*CoW*cough)
Shaman Mastery: It’s important to let targets get low.
Deep Healing increases the amount healed to a target based on the target’s health and the amount healed is an ever increasing percentage; which can be increased by higher amounts of Mastery. What happens when a target is given a 400k shield and takes 300k damage? Well they still have 100k for the next 300k hit and then can be healed.
What happens when 5 people are each given a 400k shield and then another passive shield for half the initial amount is then applied on top of the existing shield due to crits? The absorption count quickly gets out of hand.
This mostly becomes a problem when your raid is on farm, as the shield strength vs incoming damage gets to a break point where the incoming damage doesn’t break the stacked shields. Healing at its basic form is a game of whack-a-mole. And when there are no moles to whack there are more reasons to drop healers. Blizzard has been exclaiming the idea that they want 5 healers in a mythic raid group. Progressing currently there is only ever the NEED for 4. Put the Disc’s ability to prevent the majority of damage and you really only need 2 healers and a Disc. It’s a slippery slope that I hope is fixed with the spec redesign in Legion.
TL;DR: I HATE SPAMMABLE SHIELDS
Thanks for your reading of my tirade. The goal is to keep things positive, I love priests and if you enjoy “shield spam” that’s fine. Take solace in the fact you didn’t lose CoW. If I was in charge Disc wouldn’t have CoW either lol. -Nop ❤