Discipline in 7.2.5

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#1 - April 19, 2017, 4:42 a.m.
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As with other specs, we'd like to get some discussion early in the PTR process about our goals for any significant changes, so that people giving feedback have context for what we're expecting.

First, some problems with live Discipline:
--The mana cost mechanic on Plea is clumsy and makes the spell require a complex evaluation to use at all.
--Relatedly, PW:Radiance is a no-cooldown Atonement applicator that is better than Plea in almost every way, and is basically limited only by total mana.
--So the spec is now balanced around very high Atonement count in raids (from using Radiance as much as possible) being the only time Discipline is strong. High-end players have gotten used to this as a playstyle as well.
--The spec is very dependent on mana, since more mana turning into more Radiances is virtually the only thing constraining your healing.

We understand that toppling any aspect of this situation gives alarm to high-end raiders, mainly related to power level of the spec. There was one way to make the spec "work" in raids, and the dedicated Discipline players have learned to optimize it to get good performance. And we can probably start assuaging some concerns by saying: without using all nearly your mana on concentrated Radiance usage, and without using focused Innervates to push that even further, we understand the power level of the spec would be clearly impacted absent other changes.

It is our intention to have fewer average Atonements out in raids after the patch, which will likely involve an increase to either Atonement transfer or simply to damage dealt. This, among other results, should result in an increase in power in all situations other than mass spread raid healing. And even in that situation, there's no overall reduction in power intended, other than perhaps in extreme cases of Innervate stacking. Ideally, Discipline will more regularly and stably be near that level of performance through a normal playstyle.

Because the spec is so complex, there will surely a lot of tuning of mana costs and damage amounts and the like throughout PTR, to get everything into the right place. But for some further goals on the changes that are in so far:
--The damage increase is on Smite (I believe this PTR build only has a small damage increase, but the internal build has a much larger one) moreso than Penance. So that your incentive is not to spam out as many Atonements as possible and then convert them to healing with Penance. A decision of more Atonements vs. more damage should be more relevant than it is now, when more Atonements are essentially always right.
--For similar reasons, reducing mana costs to free up overall mana on the spec was done to Smite rather than Plea. Smite should never feel wrong to cast, whereas shifting to cast a heal spell is an expenditure of mana to get an Atonement, very similar to any heal on a typical healer.
--PW:R going to more, shorter Atonements rather than fewer, longer Atonements is to allow a quick payoff on a lot of targets (5 or 10) through a Penance and some Smites. Cases such as group damage in dungeon healing should have a tool that's a smoother fit for them now.

These details are very much open to feedback like anything else, but the main point at the outset is: we're very aware we're poking at the one trick of a spec that is a bit of a one-trick pony in raids. And that requires making sure that all the other parts of the toolkit are up to snuff in the same process. Our hope is that it's not only a clear upgrade for everyone outside the high-end raid setting, but also that those players have a less degenerate and more varied rotation while still performing at the right level.
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#13 - April 19, 2017, 5:37 a.m.
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04/18/2017 09:52 PMPosted by Threefity
Thanks for the post. Any thoughts on making penance heal untalented again? IMO the spec is way hard to play in most situations for the average player. I found myself having a hard time keeping up tanks spike damage in 5 mans, even when out gearing the content.

This is in the current PTR build--Penance can be used in either mode baseline.

04/18/2017 10:02 PMPosted by Mhezzo
Also, the problem of the time used to apply Radiances is an issue, because the casting time has to be considered into how long you actually get to make use of those Atonements.

Yes, the current cast time and duration might be a little constrained--both are potential things to look at as we see how it plays out. The payoff from a PWR shouldn't feel like it's overly conditioned on getting an exact sequence of a few spells with no interruption.

04/18/2017 10:02 PMPosted by Totallite
Yeah, sure, makes sense, except one crucial point... you removed the Smite absorb per-cast. That was the one feature about the spell that actually favored having fewer Atonements. A Smite that heals 5 people now does actually even less healing than before, and while it's nice and all that it costs almost no mana, it's the time constraint on Disc now to actually cast Smite that creates a problem.

It's true that works against lower-Atonement healing somewhat. Overall this effect should work as a talent since it's somewhat situational in a way that contrasts nicely to Castigation, but there could be something different here if it becomes a problem. The Penitent is definitely better baseline since it's an option that is rarely a net power increase to use, but allows some important convenience/flexibility in some cases.

Lack of mana is not why Smite is not cast. Smite is not cast because by the time you're done doing everything else in the spec that costs a GCD, nobody with Atonement is still damaged unless you're on a fight that has literally constant damage every second from start to finish or your fellow healers are really, really bad at the game.

If nobody in the raid is damaged, then basically no healer has anything to do other than 1) set up something like a HoT (analogy: apply an Atonement), or 2) do some damage. So that's not unusual, and favors making sure that Smite is near-free or free and the mana decisions are on applying the heals (Atonements).
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#209 - April 20, 2017, 12:38 a.m.
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There are various things still being discussed, so it will be better to talk about it after some changes settle down more, but one good point of feedback was about the targeting on PW: Radiance. We're going to try smart targeting of some sort in the next PTR build. Details TBD, but potentially: "true smart" (lowest-HP) targeting while maintaining the current behavior of favoring targets without Atonement.