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Why Are Disc Priests and Holy Paladins the Most Popular Healers in Mythic Eternal Palace?
20/08/2019 alle 01:11
With the World First Race coming to a close and as more guilds begin progressing on the end bosses of Eternal Palace, a healer meta has taken root causing discord and dismay in many healing rosters. In this article, we'll take a look at what exactly the current healer meta entails, what factors in Eternal Palace contribute to the formation of this current healer meta, a brief look at the class specific issues that affect the meta, and what potential changes could be made to return the meta to a more balanced one.
This article was written by
Holy Paladin guide writer
Restoration Druid guide writer
What is the Current Healer Meta?
First, for those that may be unfamiliar with the term meta or metagame, it refers to the overarching strategy and assets used by players to more easily overcome the problems and obstacles they'll face in a particular game. In this particular situation, the players are your guilds, the assets are the individual healers and the classes guild members play, and the problems and obstacles are the encounters in Mythic Eternal Palace.
For Eternal Palace, the prevailing meta tends to prefer utilizing multiple Holy Paladins and Discipline Priests due to healing throughput, utility, and damage output to the point where Druids, Monks, and Shamans are severely discounted. In addition, it's typically best to underheal whenever possible due to strict encounter DPS requirements and/or based on low amounts or particular patterns of incoming damage.
Why Should You Care?
Metagaming will always exist! Players will always look for any opportunity to gain an edge to overcome the challenges presented to them, especially at the highest levels of competition. Guilds like Method and Limit will go to extreme lengths (i.e. Gearing multiple characters through split runs and Island AP grinding) to prepare for a raid allowing them to field any composition necessary that might give them even a slight edge on an encounter. It's amazing to watch them tackle these challenges and see what choices they make as new problems arise.
To an extent, the niches and solutions that certain classes bring to a particular encounter should be celebrated. It's what makes each class unique and different. It's awesome when your class really excels at a particular fight. The problem occurs when a class or particular strategy is the best answer to
encounter; when the meta goes too far.
As a healer, there's increased pressure to reroll to Holy Paladin or Disc Priest because of their prevalence in Eternal Palace and potential future raids. This pressure might come from guild leadership who is bloating the roster just to have the 'best healers' available at all times or just the player themselves wanting to see more playtime or at the very least not feel like they're preventing their guild from progressing based on their class choice. While the solution seems as simple as maintaining multiple characters, the current requirements of the Essence and Azerite Systems make keeping up multiple characters an unreasonable prospect for all but the most competitive players. More importantly, a lot of players enjoy the playstyle of their current class and don't want to be pressured into playing something they don't enjoy. This can quickly snowball to burnout, players quitting, and potentially guilds dying. While I hope it never gets that far for your guild, this is the the reality that healers are facing today.
How do Encounters in Eternal Palace Factor in?
Before we look at the specific classes at the forefront of this healer meta, let's look at the challenges that Mythic Eternal Palace poses for raiders and how healers specifically rise to meet them.
Incoming Damage and Healing Requirements
When determining how many healers to bring to an encounter, you'll typically look at the incoming damage and overall healing requirement. We'll explore other factors that affect that choice further on, but for now let's look at the current healing requirements of Mythic Eternal Palace encounters.
While we can't explicitly list the Healing Per Second (HPS) requirement for healers on each encounter, we can look at WarcraftLogs statistics for the fights and determine a rough HPS requirement for the entire raid. Healing done by non-healers will be factored into these statistics but should give us a rough idea of what to expect.
As seen above, you'll notice that Orgozoa has the largest HPS requirement by fair margin while fights like Queen Azshara and Blackwater Behemoth tend to have lower HPS requirements. Let's see how this stacks up against the typical number of healers brought to first kills during progression.
Number of Healers Typically Used During Progression Kills in Mythic Eternal Palace:
Abyssal Commander Sivara - 5
Blackwater Behemoth - 4
Radiance of Azshara - 4
Lady Ashvane - 3
Orgozoa - 5
Queen's Court - 4
Za'qul - 3 or 4
Queen Azshara - 2 or 3
While the numbers on this are less statistically based, the listings were done based on analysis of early progression logs. Generally, you'll notice that fights with the highest HPS requirements had a larger number of healers used (i.e. Orgozoa) and similarly Queen Azshara and Lady Ashvane had a lower number of healers at least partially due to their lower healing requirement.
How exactly does this affect the healer meta? Well for starters you tend to see much more diversity in the classes when more healers are required. This is due in large part to the fact that most guilds don't have access to 5x Holy Paladins or Discipline Priests often opting for a more balanced healing roster. When you bring only 2 or 3 healers to a fight, you're forced to start paring down the healing roster to those classes that bring the best specialized toolkit for the encounter.
While looking at a healing requirement can give us a rough idea of how many healers we need, to truly understand which healers are best for each encounter, we need to look at the damage patterns of a fight. Is the damage constant ticking rot damage? Is the damage one large burst that people just need to survive, followed by a large downtime? Is the damage raid-wide or concentrated on a small subset of players? To better understand how damage patterns affect the meta let's look at specific examples from the raid.
To start, let's look at Lady Ashvane. Most early kills 3 cycled Ashvane, opting to 3 tank and 3 heal the encounter. The third tank soaked the
s causing a large majority of the constant sustained
damage to be isolated on them. Eventually the tank would sacrifice himself to avoid having to heal that damage and would be battle res'd when they were required to soak again. This greatly reduced the sustained healing requirement with the only remaining damage being the AoE raid-wide burst damage from popping the
As seen above, these
bursts occurred roughly every 30s with each set of burst increasing in damage due to more
. Once the shield breaks there's roughly a 1 minute period with very minor healing to be done allowing for regen and healer cooldowns to recharge.
How does this affect the healer meta? By focusing the
on a single target that you're going to sacrifice anyway, you've already reduced the healing requirement and meaning you need fewer healers. In the absence of that sustained healing requirement, the focus turns to just surviving the next burst. Being able to provide a lot of healing in the small window of
s pops becomes invaluable. Multiple Discipline Priests rotating
Parola del Potere: Radiosità
burst windows do just the trick, as do Paladins with
Barlume di Luce
. Additionally, anything that can help reduce the burst damage or increase a player's effective health, especially with the larger damage of later
pops, helps immensely. This includes tools like
Parola del Potere: Scudo
Parola del Potere: Barriera
. Now let's look at how this problem manifests in other encounters.
For Queen's Court, the most dangerous abilities that are likely to kill a player are
, especially when any two occur simultaneously. It's during these simultaneous raid-wide burst damage events that the above utility becomes more powerful and desired.
For Za'qul, the largest damaging events are the
, and the stacking debuff
. When either the
line up with high stacks of
, those are the times you're most likely to lose a player. To combat that problem, you stack the above utility to increase effective health and help ensure that players survive the large bursts.
These are just a few examples of the raid-wide burst damage patterns that are found in nearly every encounter in Eternal Palace.
Fight Length and Underhealing
Because healers work off a relatively finite resource of mana, we need to make it last no matter if the fight length is 11 minutes (Queen Azshara) or 4.5 minutes (Abyssal Commander Sivara). We do have base mana regeneration, new essences, one-time use potions, and sometimes trinkets/gear to help with sustaining mana and therefore healing over the course of an encounter, but we cannot provide our max throughput forever. The shorter the encounter, the more liberally healers can use their mana. What ordinarily would have required 4 healers playing more conservatively over an 8 minute fight, can be healed by 3 healers if the fight can be reduced significantly in length.
As an example, let's look at more recent kills of Lady Ashvane since we're already familiar with that encounter. The newer strategy is 2-cycling Ashvane using 2-tanks and 3-heals.
As you can see above, the encounter length is just shy of 5 minutes compared to almost 8 minutes in the previous kills. By reducing the fight length, it's less of an issue for healers to deal with the sustained healing requirement imposed by raid members soaking
and getting the
debuff. This means they can add an additional DPS for the previous 3rd tank, making the strategy possible. The utility we spoke of earlier is just as important now, if not more so, since the healers are also having to deal with the
damage though they can be more liberal with their mana usage.
The other component to making this strategy work for Ashvane is damage. In most encounters, increased damage makes fights easier. You can remove entire phases, kill priority adds faster, and potentially lower the healing requirement. In early progression, your item level is lower and therefore meeting these damage checks that make fights easier will be more difficult. If you can drop a healer for more damage or have healers that deal damage without sacrificing throughput, then that is a huge boon for your raid group.
This is a two part problem. First, when you're looking to drop a healer, you need to have the remaining healers make up the lost healing. This is typically done by having the healers that can do the most throughput in. At this point in time, that tends to be
Barlume di Luce
Holy Paladins. When you're looking to eke out as much damage as possible, you'd also like to have healers that do the most damage without having to sacrifice their healing throughput. This again is most easily accomplished by
Barlume di Luce
Holy Paladins and Discipline Priests. We'll look at why that is the case further on when looking at the specific classes.
These damage checks that make fights easier are found in many fights in Eternal Palace. Za'qul with
, Queen Azshara with
Indomita di Azshara
add spawns. Additionally, most fights have strict enrage timers that must be met.
Specific Fight Mechanics
Unique fight mechanics used to be the great equalizer for healers in previous raids. By that I mean you'd have a varying range of mechanics that allowed each healer to shine. As an example, you could have a fight that required significant mobility which was a unique strength for Restoration Druids. Now while moving a
Barlume di Luce
Holy Paladin can perform a near full rotation, Discipline Priests can
Parola del Potere: Scudo
, Shamans can use
Grazia dello Spiritista
to move and cast at the same time, and Monks can
. This is just one example, and we'll explore more in the class specific section below.
For now, I want to draw attention to one specific mechanic that is seeing more frequent use that should be worrying for healers: Reduced Health. Fights like Restless Cabal with
Promesse di Potere
and Queen Azshara with
reduce the effective health of the player restricting how much incoming damage they can receive. For Restless Cabal, this is done to maintain a large damage buff to help with the significant damage requirement. For Queen Azshara, this is done to ensure players are properly coordinating
Risucchio Difesa Antica
to ensure the wards are stable,
Difesa del Potere
are drained, and players maintain enough health to survive the incoming damage.
The problem with Reduced Health mechanics is they inflate the value of Absorbs and Damage Reduction abilities to the point where it's hard for healers that don't have these tools in their toolkit to compete. No amount of healing will help a player at 40% max health take a single burst of damage that hits for roughly 45% of their max health. They'll need to reduce that damage to livable values, either by increasing their health with an absorb or reducing the damage from a damage reduction. These are real scenarios in Crucible of Storms and Eternal Palace. I'm not saying that developers should never use reduced health as an interesting fight mechanic. I just believe it should be used sparingly and in combination with a wide variety of other mechanics that allow other healers to shine.
How Does Class Design Factor In?
As mentioned above, some of the major contributing factors to the dominance of Priests and Paladins this tier are to do with the short burst damage patterns, the need to underheal, and the hefty damage/HPS requirements this tier.
Holy Paladin's and Discipline priests are the two healers that provide the most "Free Damage" through doing their core healing rotation. Most other healers have to sacrifice either throughput or itemization to deal relevant amounts of damage. This is a problem as even in an ideal world where all healers did equal healing, both Priest and Paladin bring that free damage. That damage can be instrumental in making DPS checks, particularly in the higher end of mythic raids when your item level is lower. Both Paladins and priests also don't have to do much to increase their damage outside of using their damage buttons. A shaman may need to respec entirely to do meaningful amounts of damage, yet a Paladin or Priest can simply swap to a
trinket for a similar result.
In addition to the free damage both Paladin and Priest provide they also have unique "Utility" that can be invaluable. In the case of Discipline priest they provide Absorbs through
Parola del Potere: Scudo
. This can be incredibly valuable for surviving large hits of damage, or if your maximum health is reduced such as on Za'qul and Azshara the two end bosses of Eternal Palace. Priests also provide
Parola del Potere: Barriera
which when stacked is one of the best cooldowns in the game reducing raid damage by a ton. Most encounters in Azshara's Eternal Palace it is relatively easy to stack and take advantage of this. Paladin's also bring plenty of utility themselves. Monks being the meta tank due to their Stagger mechanic synergize very well with
Faro di Luce
. But even more Paladin similar to Discipline Priests provide damage reduction through
. Additionally in most tiers you can find value in abilities such as using
Benedizione della Protezione
to negate specific mechanics.
This "Utility" on its own isn't a problem, in an ideal world every healer would have some unique utility, however when you have some healers that have no comparable utility, or/and do less or the same healing you can see why Paladins and Priests are so dominant.
Mana is generally the primary limiting resource for healers, you can only do as much healing as your mana bars allow you to. However Discipline Priests and Paladins interact a little bit differently with mana. In the case of the Holy Paladin mana isn't as much a constraint as for other healers, due to the core rotation using plenty of
Assalto del Crociato
's. You can have a paladin run out of mana, if the paladin is running a high haste setup and using their globals/cooldowns effectively. But it usually takes about 8-10mins to get there, and a simple mana pot can solve that problem. In the case of Discipline Priest It was not unusual to give external mana such as
to Disc priests before Eternal Palace. This is due to how effectively they can spend extra mana for a large HPS increase. Meaning with the addition of essences such as
Memoria dei Sogni Lucidi
priests saw an influx of even more mana, and an even more effective tool to turn excess mana into healing.
Mythic vs Heroic
Paladin and Discipline priest also are the two healers with a fairly high skill ceiling which inflates this problem, and creates a balance problem. If you play Disc Priest or Paladin well, and your raid understands how to utilize those classes best, they bring tremendous value. However in lower difficulty content, or more disorganized groups, the advantages these classes bring become less obvious. In scenarios where the burst healing of a Discipline Priest, or Paladin's cooldowns result in more overhealing, other classes are able to close that power gap.
Although HPS isn't the only metric that matters for a healer you can look at Warcraftlogs and see some interesting information. Here is an image of all mythic bosses at the 95th Percentile.
You can see paladins ahead by a sizable margin, and Discipline priests being second with all of their added utility. This is due to as mentioned above the high healing requirements and damage patterns of Mythic Eternal Palace allowing the raw HPS of Holy Paladin's Glimmer of Light build to shine, whereas traditionally it would have high overheal.
If however you look at a slightly lower percentile and on Heroic difficulty you see something completely different.
There you see paladins have dropped off significantly, and disc priests suffer even more.
This can be a tricky problem to solve. Do you nerf and buff for the lower end or the top end?
The Impact of Essences
Essences played a fairly large part in the dominance of Disc/Holy Paladin, as they were already powerful healers at the end of Battle of Dazar'alor but also benefited more from essences than any other healer. Discipline priests gaining
made their burst windows even more powerful, and paladins gained access to
Visione della Perfezione
which saw a large power gain in Mythic Eternal Palace. One of the reasons Holy Paladins are so powerful this tier is due to the damage patterns - you are able to extend
Barlume di Luce
's into two major damage events on most encounters.
Visione della Perfezione
makes this easier to do so. Additionally, it could proc on or before almost any damage event allowing you to get another (shorter) burst window in, meaning in nearly all encounters there is not a bad time for it to proc.
What Can be Changed?
Blizzard has recently announced a round of hotfixes with some minor adjustments to Restoration Shamans. This wont shift the meta in any meaningful way but is a welcome buff to them.
Some adjustments through tuning can be done before the next raid, to help bring classes closer together. This, alongside a tier that has significantly different damage patterns, focuses more on other aspects of healing such as more Raid Rot mechanics, or requiring more Priority healing would allow for different types of healers to shine.
Ultimately in order to fix these imbalances long-term, larger changes seem necessary. Hypothetically, you could tune healing numbers across the board to be roughly equal, and if you did that, this same problems today would still exist. The problem is not exactly a numbers one, some tweaks here and there would help, but not eliminate the problem outright.
At the simplest level there is an imbalance in the utility healers provide, where some healers provide far more meaningful utility than the rest. It seems like the best approach to this issue, rather than claw back what makes Paladins, or Discipline Priests unique instead to give every healing specialization something unique, but still powerful. If each healer had some kind of utility that competes with a Discipline Priests Damage, or a Holy Paladins Damage Reduction.
As an example, if Shamans had
baseline allowing them to shine on encounters with large bursts of damage, or if holy priests acted as a mana battery giving all other healers a more significant amount of mana through
Simbolo di Speranza
or buffs from
or if Restoration druids had
again. The idea being that every healer brings something unique to that spec, that has value outside of the HPS they bring. The high end guilds may still class stack for specific encounters, however it would make a well rounded healing roster much more attractive overall if everyone brought something unique and meaningful.
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