I really enjoy being a Discipline Priest. It’s probably my favorite healing spec in the game. I really enjoy the healing play-style. Preventing damage is something unique to the spec that defines it and keeps it from being “another pure HpS” healing spec.
Until recently, I have been a huge advocate of stacking Mastery. As a tank healer, I found Mastery to be fairly good stat, especially with the use of the Strength of Soul talent. With enough Mastery, Power Word: Shield ends up having more HpM than Greater Heal, so being able to cast it more often is why Mastery was fairly valuable over other stats like Haste. Power Word: Shield is the only reason to stack Mastery. And herein lies the problem.
We recently picked up another Holy Paladin for our 25-man raid team. Being that most of the Firelands bosses require only 2 tanks, the 3-tank heal squad was dropped to 2 and I am now on raid healing duty. Now while part of me thought “raid healing = Holy,” I decided to stay Disc to be more of a utility raid healer. We already have 2-3 Holy Priests in raid as it is and I didn’t even think I needed to regem/reforge any of my gear. I got completely blindsided.
Mastery is awful for raid healing. The way it scales with Divine Aegis is absolutely abysmal. On a normal Prayer of Healing cast, my DA usually leaves about a 2800 bubble on all targets if no Crit has occurred. I reforged all my Mastery to Haste and the bubble’s potency only dropped by 250 which is about 10% give or take. Meanwhile, I gained almost a .2 second faster cast time to my Prayer of Healing which I think is much more beneficial.
So overall, the problems with Shield Discipline are:
1. It doesn’t scale well with Divine Aegis in comparison with Power Word: Shield. Back when we could bubble spam, Mastery ruled because it made Power Word: Shield so powerful. But now that bubble spam is no longer possible, Mastery has been devalued greatly.
2. It only affects 2 spells and critical strikes. Other than Prayer of Healing and Power Word: Shield, Shield Discipline doesn’t affect any of our other spells unless we get a critical strike, and even then the value that Mastery has against Divine Aegis is fairly nominal. This is why Haste and Crit have become more valuable. They affect EVERY spell we cast.
What I’d like to see happen:
Shield Discipline needs to be able to affect every spell we cast for it to be valuable again. I hate to say it, but the Paladin Mastery “Illuminated Healing” would have probably been a better Mastery for Discipline. I hear how Holy Paladins don’t value Mastery nearly enough in comparison to Haste, and I can’t help but think that their Mastery would be better suited as our own.
We can’t just rely on a +Absorbs Mastery to get us by. We need some type of +Healing mechanic as well to remain competitive raid healers. Yes, I know Discipline Priests scale with Intellect better than any other class, but it’s not enough. Most other classes scale very well from their Mastery as raid healers, while we scale very poorly. I’d look to the new Druid Mastery “Harmony” as a great example of how to encourage 2 types of healing into one Mastery. Give us a Mastery that encourages us to cast the occasional Power Word: Shield that grants us a +Healing and +Absorb bonus. Example:
Shield Discipline- Every time you cast Power Word: Shield you gain Shield Discipline for 15 seconds increasing healing done by your direct spells by X and the potency of your shields by Y.
It doesn’t solve all of our problems, but it would make Mastery more beneficial due to it’s +Healing component because it would affect every spell in our arsenal.