Of the major complaints I’ve seen about the new version of Holy Shield, there are two that really stand out in my mind as the “loudest” – in other words, the ones I see most often.
- We’ll take more damage on average
- We already have enough cooldowns, why do we need another one to manage?
I wanted to write a blog post about these, but Mel has already covered both of these points pretty effectively. He’s discussed why taking more damage on average isn’t necessarily a significant change in overall survivability, and he’s talked about planning cooldowns a few weeks ago. So blame Mel for the lack of content this week! However, there are a few things that he didn’t cover that I think I can add to the discussion.
Taking more damage on average is only meaningful if it causes you to die. That seems like an obvious statement, but it’s not. The crowd of folks clamoring about the decrease in total damage reduction tend to overlook it, at least. As an exercise, go to World of Logs and bring up one of your most recent raid parses for any moderately difficult boss. Pick a progression boss that you’re working on. If you don’t have any parses, pick one of mine or Mel’s. And try not to spot any stupid mistakes I’ve made!
Click on “Players” and choose your character (or if you’re looking at one of mine, Theck). Go to the “Healing by spell” tab, and look at healing received. The far right column gives you the amount of overheal you got from each spell, along with an average at the bottom. Take note of how large that number is – in my parses, it tends to be around 30% or more. On “farm” bosses it can spike as high as 50%. That’s a huge amount of overhealing.
Consider what happens if you start taking 10-15% more damage. For the most part, it’s just going to soak up some of that overheal. Instead of topping you off with a 20k Divine Light and overhealing you for 10k, it might overheal you for 5k. That’s not important in most cases, the important part is that you got topped off. That’s why Mel and I, amongst others, keep reiterating that losing 10% static block isn’t a huge nerf to survivability. It’s certainly a nerf, but most of us won’t really be able to notice it.
So when does that extra 10-15% damage taken become important? If the extra damage meant that 3 melee hits killed you instead of leaving you at a few thousand health, or if it ran your healers out of mana. The former is one potential concern, but it’s significantly mitigated by the new form of Holy Shield. We have a “freebie” cooldown to pop for those situations when your healers can’t counteract a series of 3 melee hits. I’ll talk about that more in a minute.
As Mel mentioned in an earlier post, the extra damage shouldn’t be running your healers out of mana. Content in this tier hasn’t been balanced around excessive amounts of tank damage – a competent healer (or healers) can keep a tank topped off during periods of throughput damage with little mana expenditure at all. I don’t believe that many healers are capable of mentally distinguishing between a tank that took a 50k hit and a 55k hit; they see your health percentage as a rough estimate, not at a fine level of detail. The events that cause them to drop back to a mana-inefficient heal are going to be the bigger spikes, where you take a few hits in a row. That’s not going to change if each of those hits are 10% bigger. What will save your healers mana is using Holy Shield to mitigate those spikes, which is why I think that the new version may actually be a net boon to healer mana efficiency.
As far as the second point, I think the primary disconnect is the concept that Holy Shield needs to be “managed.” People are assuming they need to micromanage it to get the maximum possible effective uptime out of the skill. I don’t think that’s the case at all, and in fact doing so may very well be sub-optimal. You are not going to be expected to keep HS up to counter-balance the mitigation nerf, and I don’t think that was ever the design intent.
On most fights, I have a plan for when I need to use AD/GAnK/DP, and sometimes Mirror and WoG. The longer cooldowns are ones I “manage” and worry about, because using them at the wrong time can guarantee a wipe. WoG is nice in that regard, because it’s a short cooldown that I can blow when I feel threatened without agonizing over whether I’m locking myself out of it at a critical moment later in the fight. It’s “selfish,” because I can use it when I want it, rather than when the fight dictates I should use it.
The beauty of the new Holy Shield is that it’s also a “selfish” cooldown. I don’t have to worry about saving it, because it’ll be available again very quickly. I’m not going to worry about maximizing its uptime – in fact, I’m not even going to try. I’m going to mash my Holy Shield key bind whenever I feel like I’m in danger the same way I would with WoG, but without the annoying reliance on my current Holy Power state. It’s going to be my “me” cooldown, for my discretionary use. Looking at it that way, the new Holy Shield is a lot like WoG, a skill that was fairly overpowered when it lacked a cooldown. If you like having WoG in your back pocket, you’ll probably like having Holy Shield up your sleeve as well.
I think that a lot of the outcry over Holy Shield is a matter of perception as a result. If you view it as something you have to micromanage, you might see it as a pain and an annoyance. But if you think of it as WoG v3.0, and use it that way, it’s not something you manage at all. It’s the button you hit during those “oh shit” moments where you need something to buy you time. If more players stopped worrying about “managing” and “maximizing uptime,” I think they’d start seeing the issue in a new light, and perhaps begin to understand why many of us like the new Holy Shield.