Disc Priests need a new Mastery

90 Human Priest
10840
I've been doing a lot of work recently when it comes to disc priest stats, fueled primarily by the change to crit and the different ways we heal in Firelands. Some of the conclusions (in this forum and on other sites) are interesting. After many simcraft runs, and much spreadsheet analysis, the results are clear: disc priest stats are very peculiar and counterintuitive. In particular, Mastery is just a bad stat for us right now.

The root of the issue is this -- our Mastery affects our spells in very different ways. It affects PW:S the most, obviously, and that is why many disc priests historically have chosen to stack mastery -- bigger shields. It then affects PoH decently since we have the guaranteed Divine Aegis proc (and, when it crits, it double dips). Finally it affects our other spells, but to a much smaller degree since it only comes into play on a crit.

This leads to some interesting stat weights. Mastery is better than even Int when it comes to shield strength (though Int is better overall because of mana concerns). However, for every other spell, even PoH, Mastery is our worst stat -- often by significant margins. This is a product of the requirement to crit as well as how well PoH and other spells scale with Haste.

The result is our best, most defining spell (PW:S) scales basically with only one stat, Mastery. Haste helps it somewhat (more shields per second), but not remotely as much as Mastery. Crit only helps the Glyph, so basically crit is worthless for PW:S. Every other spell we have, however, scales much better through every other stat.

I think the core issue is our Mastery doesn't really work well. In particular, Divine Aegis requiring a crit is just not a great mechanic. It makes gearing for Disc tricky and just leads to player confusion.

I would not presume to suggest what our mastery should be, but I do look at Holy Paladins with a jealous eye at times -- if almost every heal were affected by Divine Aegis, then our Mastery would be more appropriate. Regardless, it would be very nice to have our stats be more consistent... when stat weights from one secondary stat to another vary by as much as 4x for some spells, it makes gearing difficult. Lowering the impact of Mastery on PW:S and making it apply more evenly to our other spells would be outstanding. It also would be even more outstanding if crit somehow affected PW:S; I know that's tricky but that, too, would go a long way to improving our stat balance.

Overall Disc is actually in a really good place right now; it is fun to play with a lot of interesting tools. It's just the gearing and mastery side of things that make it a bit tricky and counterintuitive.
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32 Gnome Mage
350
...and also increases the amount healed by your single target heals that do not critically hit by X%.

Instead of Shield Discipline call it Willpower.

There is currently a problem with a huge disparity between disc non-crits and crits. For example, where you go up on the web on beth and if you have a non-crit streak the tank is in big trouble. It's like playing against a pre-hotfix Rageface all the time.
Edited by Jancy on 7/15/2011 6:04 PM PDT
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Community Manager
07/15/2011 03:57 PMPosted by Valen
The root of the issue is this -- our Mastery affects our spells in very different ways.

The intent is exactly that. If mastery affected all of your spells the same way, then it would really just be a “+healing” stat, which we already offer (Intellect). Crit and haste don’t affect all your spells the same way, and we think it’s a more interesting design if mastery behaves the same way. It is possible to go too far of course. If mastery doesn’t affect enough of your entire healing package (either in terms of number of spells or raw output), then it just becomes a weak stat. Alternatively, it can lead classes, and healers in particular, to neglect spells that are weak because mastery doesn’t boost them.
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90 Blood Elf Priest
10470
07/15/2011 05:28 PMPosted by Zarhym
If mastery doesn’t affect enough of your entire healing package (either in terms of number of spells or raw output), then it just becomes a weak stat.

I think this is where the OP is saying the situation is right now.

I don't entirely 100% agree with him, as my Armory shows - I've tried the simcraft-suggested haste priority and found the resulting healing experience lacking. I find I'm most comfortable sitting around 15-16 Mastery - but then, I'm not an especially good Disc priest, and part of the value of Mastery builds is that they're much more forgiving.

For good disc priests it really is a rather weak stat.
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85 Human Mage
10925
07/15/2011 05:28 PMPosted by Zarhym
The intent is exactly that. If mastery affected all of your spells the same way, then it would really just be a “+healing” stat, which we already offer (Intellect)


Druid Mastery says hi.
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90 Draenei Priest
9370
07/15/2011 06:16 PMPosted by Ikissedagírl
Where does your mastery show up on logs? Under aegis?


It doesn't show up separately; it is a percentage boost to both DA and PW:S.
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90 Human Priest
0
Disc Priest for life chiming in!

I remember when 4.0 came out, before they increased the shield by 208%, and Mastery was COMPLETELY useless. When I was 80 and reforging all my gear to Mastery cause it was the new kid on the block, my shields were bigger than anyone else, but I really suffered on the charts. It wasn't until I said 'screw Mastery it sucks' and went back to Haste and Crit that I started topping the charts and going oom very fast. Then I realized Spirit was actually important now and ever since then I've been topping (or nearly topping) charts when geared equally with other healers.

The original design of Power Word: Barrier was an aoe Power Word: Shield. Mastery would've affected that a lot too. But then it got changed to an aoe Pain Suppression instead. Having Mastery improve Pain Supression and PW:B in some way would be a significant boost to the class as well, while staying very much in line with the 'theme' of Disc.

I also wouldn't mind seeing Divine Aegis on every heal cast and/or a huge, huge buff to Mastery for Disc priests. There's only two things it affects: Shields and Divine Aegis. Significantly increasing the strength of Mastery (perhaps by as much as 208% again!) would 'bring Mastery to the table' so to speak when right now it's outside in the yard laying next to the dog bowl, half chewed on. Even the dog didn't want it.

I read somewhere that the design choice is that a character should have to choose which stat they want to go for, sort of, with some consequences of stacking a stat too high. There's really no choice for a Disc priest. If you choose to get a lot of Mastery, you're a horrible Disc Priest. Any gear with Mastery on it gets reforged to some other stat automatically.
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85 Night Elf Priest
4735
They can't buff the shield much more without hurting PvP, so that won't happen.

But I agree, the mastery is very weak. I don't want to see a guaranteed proc either, since then it's just holy's mastery with shields instead of hots.

I'd personally like to see something that buffs the size of healing crits. That would increase DA indirectly and give slightly more throughput. It might be nice to have to balance crit and mastery, instead of crit always winning.
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90 Worgen Warrior
16520
07/15/2011 05:28 PMPosted by Zarhym
The root of the issue is this -- our Mastery affects our spells in very different ways.

If mastery doesn’t affect enough of your entire healing package (either in terms of number of spells or raw output), then it just becomes a weak stat. Alternatively, it can lead classes, and healers in particular, to neglect spells that are weak because mastery doesn’t boost them.

Pretty sure that's exactly what he highlights in his 3rd paragraph.

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90 Human Priest
10840
07/15/2011 05:28 PMPosted by Zarhym
The root of the issue is this -- our Mastery affects our spells in very different ways.

The intent is exactly that. If mastery affected all of your spells the same way, then it would really just be a “+healing” stat, which we already offer (Intellect). Crit and haste don’t affect all your spells the same way, and we think it’s a more interesting design if mastery behaves the same way. It is possible to go too far of course. If mastery doesn’t affect enough of your entire healing package (either in terms of number of spells or raw output), then it just becomes a weak stat. Alternatively, it can lead classes, and healers in particular, to neglect spells that are weak because mastery doesn’t boost them.


It's totally fine for different spells to be affected differently by our stats. That said, the other healing masteries generally *do* affect the bread and butter spells roughly evenly, and one of the big changes for Cata was making haste and crit affect hots (to make those stats more valuable to healers), and even 4.2 came with a very nice change to make crit more valuable. We're not really talking about a 5-15% difference in stat values; these are things like mastering being less than 50% as effective in throughput as crit or haste for PoH spamming scenarios, 50% better than haste and 660% stronger than crit for PW:S spam, and 30-40% as effective as haste or crit for tank healing scenarios.

PW:S is definitely the odd duck here, being so benefitted by PW:S and so poorly benefitted by other stats (particularly crit). If PW:S weren't like this, then mastery would just be a bad stat for Disc and people would avoid it unconditionally. If all of our spells were like PW:S then we'd avoid crit unconditionally. The problem isn't that the stats are different or that one or the other is significantly better or worse, it is that they literally pull in different directions.

Put another way: our defining and (by almost any measure) "best" spell scales almost completely the opposite from our other spells. If a stat is good for PW:S, it is bad for every other heal; likewise, if a stat is good for every other heal, it is bad for PW:S (the exception being Int, of course).

Right now, there is choice in gearing -- mastery or crit/haste. Generally which direction a priest goes depends on their personal beliefs and, to some degree, their healing style. The problem is making that choice is tricky and the subtlety requires more sophistication and mathy calculations than pretty much every other class, and it is unfortunately to go so far in one direction for just one spell. Here are some weights (from simcraft but also verified by the priest spreadsheet):

PoH Spam - 34,871 HPS
Stat Weight
Int 2.74
Crit 2.24
Haste 2.44
Mastery 1.11


PW:S Spam - 29,344 HPS
Stat Weight
Int 1.89
Crit 0.47
Haste 2.06
Mastery 3.10


Tank Healing - 25,512 HPS
Stat Weight
Int 2.18
Crit 1.52
Haste 1.96
Mastery 0.61


(The tank healing rotation is Penance on CD, PoM on CD, Shield on CD, Holy Fire, Smite, and a few Greater Heals/Flash Heals).

I think it is nice when spells and stats interact in different ways, no question. But the current design seems to be making Mastery more homogenous -- the new Druid mastery, for instance, and many of the DPS masteries that have changed since 4.0 launched to better affect a broader number of abilities. My main point is it is just a bit extreme right now, particularly since the worst and most boring healing style -- shield spam -- isn't really viable, but with every tier, it gets maybe a bit more doable, which saddens me just like 100% rejuv spam would sadden most Trees. Mastery is too strong for PW:S and not strong enough for every other spell.
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90 Draenei Priest
9210
Disc as a whole works pretty well now, so I do hesitate to suggest that Blizzard focus their attention on us. HPriest and HPally need more attention right now.

With that said, I completely agree that our mastery design is horrible. We're using PWS less and less, and while I approve of this it does devalue mastery greatly for Disc.

The other big concern with Disc is the large gap between crits and non-crits. Our crit modifier is about 280% (100% base heal, 200% crit + ~40% of 200% as DA). While our overall tank healing ability is strong, the reliance on crits makes us very vulnerable to poor RNG.

I'd suggest that a mastery revamp could help both issues. Something along the lines of:

"Increases your PWS absorb by X% and allows your non-critical heals to proc DA for Y% of the heal".

Or if you think that idea is boring (true), a completely random idea for mastery which could be interesting by retaining the flavour of Disc while reducing RNG:

"Increases your PWS absorb by X% and every non-critical heal you cast increases the critical strike chance of your next heal by Y%, stacking up to 10 times"
Edited by Kashir on 7/15/2011 7:23 PM PDT
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90 Draenei Priest
16925
There's only two things it affects: Shields and Divine Aegis.

Doesn't it also affect Inspiration?

No. It doesn't affect any form of damage reduction (Inspiration, PW:B, Pain Suppression). Just PW:S and DA.

Our mastery doesn't need a massive change, but it does need some more flavor. Right now it's incredibly boring and it's downright literally useless for a large portion of our heals. No other healing mastery has this issue. Heck, even Paladin mastery is seeing the light now.

And yes, Resto Druid mastery does indeed say hello regarding a flat healing increase.

Holy Priests' mastery affects all their heals (or almost all of them).

Resto Shaman have an amazing mastery which affects all their heals I believe and is factored in when it matters most.

Yeah, I'd actually trade Disc Mastery for Holy Paladin mastery now.
Edited by Intrigue on 7/15/2011 7:35 PM PDT
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29 Human Mage
0
What's wrong with the mastery stat? It scales with crit--the more crit you have, the more valuable mastery becomes... isn't that more interesting than "stack X until Y, then switch to stacking Z?" I mean early in an expansion pack (aka now) we're not going to have all that much crit, so mastery won't be worth very much... but it's going to rock in 4.4.

Regarding damage reduction, while it would be cool, it could have some serious balancing issues once we got mastery to high levels--pain suppression could become a new paladin bubble, and I don't think that's where we want to go with that.
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85 Blood Elf Paladin
12555
07/15/2011 05:28 PMPosted by Zarhym
The root of the issue is this -- our Mastery affects our spells in very different ways.

The intent is exactly that. If mastery affected all of your spells the same way, then it would really just be a “+healing” stat, which we already offer (Intellect). Crit and haste don’t affect all your spells the same way, and we think it’s a more interesting design if mastery behaves the same way. It is possible to go too far of course. If mastery doesn’t affect enough of your entire healing package (either in terms of number of spells or raw output), then it just becomes a weak stat. Alternatively, it can lead classes, and healers in particular, to neglect spells that are weak because mastery doesn’t boost them.


He said package....
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