Patch 8.1 – Opinions and Info
Patch 8.1 Datamining and Discussion
This article will discuss each set of datamined patch notes in order from most recent in a descending order. The main goal with this article will be to provide not only a complete list of potential changes to the spec, but an overall discussion of what these changes mean each week and how it will impact not only our potential output in raids and Mythic+, but also how well our spec will play in the future patch.
Getting to the Point
Similar to a TLDR that is normally provided at the end of something that is written, I’m going to provide a description of what will follow and provide a general overview of the future direction of the spec based on what we know so far. This will mostly be speculation as we have not had sufficient testing in the PTR with any of the changes listed in the datamined patch notes, so please keep that in mind. Much of this is subject to change and the PTR is very volatile right now so it should be expected that some items might be reverted, some items might be added.
The general feeling right now with the changes for Patch 8.1 is apathy by most. This isn’t unwarranted when you see sweeping throughput changes, nerfs to all sorts of spells, damage nerfs etc. What we need to keep in mind is at the highest levels of play, Discipline was out performing other healers by a wide margin in Uldir. Looking at varying levels of Healer performance in Mythic Uldir:
What this data shows Discipline is on average 9.13% better than the average HPS of all healers at all percentiles. Around 70th percentile, Discipline begins to separate from its competition and, as seen above, really runs away at the max percentile. Initial calculations of the impact of the nerf, assuming no gameplay changes, is around an 8% nerf to our throughput. Based on this data and the nerfs that took place, we can assume they were absolutely necessary. Just plugging in an 8% nerf to throughput at all percentages (not taking into account any changes to other specs, new encounter design, or any gameplay changes to Disc) the nerfs that occurred will have brought is almost in line with other specs on average. Discipline still scales better at higher levels of play (70% and higher) but far less above where it currently is on live.
When taking into account gameplay changes, we would likely see some adjustments that will not only negate some of the throughput nerfs (we’ll rely a bit less on Atonement healing) and will also improve our gameplay moving forward (adding in new spells that we currently don’t use). The gameplay changes, in my opinion, are the most important improvements to the spec in some time and will provide us with decisions to be made that will only serve to improve our gameplay. Some of these changes will also help the disparity for Disc in lower difficulty raids as well, as I’ll explain below.
Shadow Mend is going to be used more than before, and this I think is for the better. The mana increase on PW:S narrows the gap in mana cost between the two spells and will change our decision making on when to use Shadow Mend. Benefits of Shadow Mending to apply Atonement over PW:S:
- Gaining an extra GCD. Since Atonement is applied after the cast, you do not need to worry about the 1 GCD you would have to wait on using PW:S. This allows us to apply another Atonement via Shadow Mend or allows us to DPS immediately following the cast.
- Approximately double the initial heal over the absorb PW:S provides. This will shift the percentage of healing Atonement provides and likely negate some of these nerfs, as Shadow Mend was untouched.
- Depth of Shadows in 8.1 will be revised to provide more of a healing increase per stack from its current form, as well as adding an additional 2 seconds to Atonements applied by Shadow Mend. This trait alone may make up for the .3% more mana it costs to cast Shadow Mend over PW:S, making it our primary Atonement applicator, especially in encounters where the added spot healing and longer Atonements will make the most impact.
When we’ll use Shadow Mend:
- Spot healing tanks or players that need it, specifically players taking sustained damage and that will benefit from the added Atonement duration.
- Ramping up when players need spot healing.
When we’ll use Power Word: Shield:
- Raid is at full HP when you need to begin ramping up. The absorb will make more of an impact than overhealing with Shadow Mend would.
- If you need to ramp up on the move and can’t stop to cast Shadow Mend for any reason.
Sudden Revelation: Power Word: Radiance has a 50% chance to cause your next Holy Nova to deal X additional damage and reduce the cooldown of Power Word: Radiance by 3 sec.
The new trait coming in 8.1.5 will also be making some major changes to our gameplay and will add more nuance to our gameplay for the better. Being able to reduce your next PW:R cooldown as we all know is very important for increasing your overall healing. This trait, for that alone, will be invaluable but that added damage from Holy Nova will likely help in situations where there are multiple enemies to attack, specifically in Mythic+.
Update: With a later PTR build, this trait was nerfed. It will still have some situational use in raids but is more focused on being a powerful M+ talent as it stands.
The nerf to damage will most definitely impact Discipline in Mythic+. We are now going to need to decide between providing more throughput via Shadow Mend / Shadow Covenant or more damage through Sins of the Many / Schism. Atonement healing will likely not be able to sustain your group at higher content as it was able to up to some moderately high keys in current content. As a result, or damage has been reduced in this content.
The issue with competitive Mythic+ is that the game isn’t necessarily balanced around that content. It’s first balanced around Mythic raiding and then tweaked to ensure people can complete their 10 keys (or soon to be 15 I’d assume) to get their weekly cache. At that level of play most healers are “balanced” since the dungeons aren’t necessarily hard or challenging so any healer can complete those. The issues become more apparent at the extreme end of the bell curve where clearly some spec’s become better than others.
Discipline was out performing other specs in terms of completion of high keys and a nerf was needed, but I think the nerfs received adversely impact Mythic+ throughput for both healing and damage to the point where Discipline will potentially fall out of the “meta” for competitive play, or at least be under-represented behind Holy Paladins and Resto Druids. However, this impacts less than 1% of the population of the game and shouldn’t be cause for concern for the rest of us.
Patch 8.1 Builds
- Depth of the Shadows Shadow Word: Pain deals damage, the healing of your next Shadow Mend is increased by 93, up to a maximum of (93 * 30). Atonement applied by Shadow Mend lasts an additional (
3000 / 1000) sec.
- Sudden Revelation Power Word: Radiance has a 50% chance to cause your next Holy Nova to deal
2147additional damage and reduce the cooldown of Power Word: Radiance by 3 sec. ().
These changes are somewhat significant out of context, but in the context of how they will impact our playstyle things remain the same. Two seconds of added duration and a stronger up-front heal from Shadow Mend (in addition to the mana increases to PW:S) will nudge us towards spot healing more than we did previously to take advantage.
Sudden Revelation will “replace” Gift of Forgiveness as Gift will no longer be on gear. This trait will still be interesting to use but not nearly as impactful for increasing healing / damage in raids but could be situational for the PW:R cooldown reduction. Also take into account that this trait is still quite strong for M+.
- Power Word: Shield Shields an ally for 15 sec, absorbing [Spell power * 1.54 * (1 + Versatility) * 1 * 1] damage. You cannot shield the target again for
Currently this change seems to be only in the tooltip. Weakened Soul still lasts only 6 seconds on PTR.
- Evangelism cooldown
This may seem like a drastic nerf on the surface due to the importance of Evangelism in raids, but it may have less impact than it appears. Cooldown increasing on this talent only has an impact if the damage pattern of a boss requires the use of the talent less than every 90 seconds. Even in this situation, we have two other talent choices that would provide us alternatives depending on the circumstance.
- Atonement Transfer
- Depth of the Shadows trait healing doubled and Atonement lasting 3 seconds longer on Shadow Mend casts. (making Atonement last 18s from Shadow Mend)
This additional Atonement nerf increases the overall throughput reduction to the spec to a total of 8% approximately. Again, this is assuming no gameplay changes. The nerf itself may equate to less once the PTR goes live.
- Damage reduction Discipline Priest modifier for Smite/SW:P/PTW –
- Power Word: Shield Mana Cost
- Power Word: Solace Damage SP
- Purge the Wicked Damage SP
- Schism Damage SP
These nerfs equate to roughly 5% of a throughput reduction in raids, assuming no gameplay changes. This puts us in line or still somewhat higher than other healers on average.
- Sudden Revelation: Power Word: Radiance has a 50% chance to cause your next Holy Nova to deal X additional damage and reduce the cooldown of Power Word: Radiance by 3 sec.
- Death Denied: Leap of Faith absorbs the next X damage to the target within 10 sec. While the shield holds, Leap of Faith cools down 200% faster.
These traits won’t likely make an appearance until the new tier is released in 8.1.5. Sudden Revelation seems to have a big impact to our gameplay and will likely be a trait we want to target and have in most situations.
- Weakened Soul makes a return. You cannot cast Power Word: Shield on the same person within 6 seconds of a previous PW:S cast which is not global, so will not affect having multiple Discs. Rapture ignores Weakened Soul.
- Focused Will no longer stacks to 2
- Body and Soul no longer has a 6 second ICD
- Penance tooltip changes