My feedback on the Discipline Priest changes and state in Shadowlands. I include where things feel good and where they might be able to use some iteration.
This spell is a big quality of life improvement in the open world. It also has some very powerful applications in dungeon settings. Currently it feels very good to use, and the threat reduction radius is very noticeable. This has the potential to somewhat exploitive in a dungeon setting where entire packs of mobs can have their threat range completely nullified, without a cooldown.
This spell comes advertised as a big damage nuke that comes at a cost. At 2.5% base mana it delivers on the cost, though the current scaling on this (-45% damage aura at time of posting) makes this spell fall short of advertisement on the former. As it plays out, the power level of this spell is largely in the absorption, which doesn’t synergize well at all with the core atonement mechanic of the spec.
Consider: Moving the power budget of this spell into better alignment between the damage and absorption mechanic.
Shadow Word: Death
This spell has had a couple of iterations to move the power budget into the execute phase, and I am on board with the direction we’re taking here. Note that shadow word: death DOES deliver on the advertisement of doing damage at a cost, and is still the hardest hitting ability in discipline’s baseline toolkit, even outsdie of execute. My main issue with this spell is the damage return portion during execute and on mobs with damage taken increases. It is not a feel good moment to instantly kill yourself using a baseline spell.
I will also echo a few others in saying that having sw:d not transfer to atonement baseline is a limiting design - it naturally elevates the power of kiss of death to levels other legendaries would struggle to compete with, and limits our ability to make a meaningful decision on that front.
Consider: Capping the damage taken to a certain % of hp, uncoupling the damage return from external modifiers (such as + damage during execute, + damage taken debuffs on monsters)
Mana Cost Reshuffling
The past few builds have seen some updates to mana costs, such as those on Smite, Mind Sear, Mind Blast, and Shadow Word: Death. I think these are all thoughtful and generally encourage gameplay that feels good. Smite is now going to be correct to cast outside of burst rotations, mind sear will be mainly utilized during shadow damage amps and aoe damage situations, and sw:d is being made more realistic in its power level/cost. I like this direction in general, no concerns on this one for me.
I will keep this feedback to a couple of rows that I think could benefit from some love, as there hasn’t been significant iteration here. I’m happy to go more in depth if it’s helpful at a later time.
We’re going on several expansions now where a specialization that has zero mobility and zero personal damage reduction abilities baseline has to select between them for a talent. This decision feels less like an opportunity cost and more like a punishment.
Consider: Now that Power Word: Shield is available to all priest specializations, body and soul could possibly be made baseline in some capacity. This would reduce the pressure on players to select angelic feather in almost all relevant content.
Luminous Barrier is a talent that has typically had negative value since it was created. It’s problematic in the sense that it is outcompeted by Power Word: Barrier outside of an exceedingly rare confluence of events. As a result, it seems like the talent that could use some focus in shadowlands. Evangelism is among the most powerful throughput cooldowns in the entire game, and as a result, I think it’s right from a design point to steer other talents in this row towards other goals than raid throughput. Right now, Light’s Caress provides a very small benefit in all content, even 5 man content.
Consider: Retaining lenience for its value in small group and solo content, reworking Luminous barrier to no longer replace Power Word: Barrier so it has a net positive effect to take the talent.
I don’t include any feedback for faerie guardians as I have not had the chance to test it, and as it is currently undergoing a good amount of iteration.
Currently Boon of the Ascended is much stronger than any other option available. It aligns with the evangelism cooldown to allow for an incredibly powerful burst healing window, and does staggering amounts of damage relative to the rest of the kit. The eruption at the end of the window currently triggers atonement for each target hit. This feels extremely powerful, and maybe a bit bland. The 1 second baseline GCD on abilities associated with boon of the ascended is a little jarring, and seems unnecessary.
Consider - Instead of reducing the GCD on boon’s added abilities, keep them at a base 1.5 s gcd and tune output/stacks generated appropriately. Also consider updating ascended eruption to only trigger atonement on the first instance of its damage.
Unholy Nova has seen some iteration in the past weeks. It feels good as a button to press for AoE damage, which discipline lacks in its kit. The recent changes have made its interactions with atonement particularly anemic, and the decreases in the value of the life gain on hit effect have further lowered the power level of this spell for discipline. Removing the AoE atonement and life gain on hit portions seems reasonable, though the spell is left feeling a bit anemic and might need a bit more thought as to how to keep it relevant for discipline priests moving forward.
At present, this ability plays as a slightly more powerful mind blast on a 45 second cooldown. Mind Games does work with the discipline kit to an extent, though similarly to mind blast, has difficulty competing with other covenant abilities due to the way its power budget is routed through the absorb more than the damage of the spell.
Consider: Add a mode of the spell to cast on an ally for healing and the damage reversal effect, or on an enemy for damage and healing reversal. This would allow the power budget to be moved towards damage without punishing holy priests, and might allow some versatility to the ability to allow it to be relevant in more content. It might free up more space to play with power levels of the specific components.
Overall the available legendaries to disc provide a number of good options and feel like good design choices. My main concern here is simply that kiss of death threatens to overshadow the entire suite of choices due to the decision to remove atonement from the baseline version of Shadow Word: Death.
Consider - Kiss of Death can empower Shadow Word: Death in other ways, even if the baseline spell is updated to apply atonement. There’s plenty of good design space here that allows other legendaries to be competitive.
Discipline as a spec feels powerful in raid content in shadowlands, and maintains the core feel of the spec. Some of the added utility and dps buttons feel good to use, though perhaps too many tools have been added that emphasize the burst aoe healing that discipline is known for, without as much attention paid to the weaker elements of the spec (healing throughput on a low target count, throughput support outside of burst windows). The burst rotation feels very bloated now with the addition of multiple spells that exist specifically to all be cast within the very same short window of burst. Ultimately my impressions are positive, and the changes to the spec in the past weeks appear to be aimed at ameliorating concerns I have had while testing.
Thanks for reading !