July 22, 2009

Spiritual Guidance: Are 2 Discipline Priests a problem?

I received a kind email the other day from a raiding Disc Priest. Their Priest is already established within the raid. They've been Holy for many years and decided to try Discipline. Like many Holy-to-Disc Priests, they discovered they really liked it. An issue that I can see some guilds experiencing is when they have more than 1 Discipline Priest within their ranks.

Is that a good thing? Is it a bad thing?

Understand that having two Disc Priests is a sign. It's an omen that your guild is going to be crushed and destroyed because no organization can withstand the egos of two similarly specced classes.

Well, okay, maybe it can.

The role of the Disc Priest

The Disc Priest job is to heal. They can group heal but they excel under single target healing. We understand that! So what do you do when you have two Disc Priests?

Simple! Give them two separate targets!

Identifying your irritability

Is it annoying having two Disc Priests in the raid? Why is that? I'm Discipline myself. I have no problems with other Disc Priests in the raid. I've cooperated with them before in countless raids and on bosses.

But if you're a Disc Priest raiding with another Disc Priest and that fact bothers you, find out why. There have been raids in the past where I've raided with 2 other Holy Priests. I've seen raids filled with 4 Paladins. Sunwell raids were stacked with 5 Resto Shamans. There is nothing wrong with having healers that are the same class.

Look, you can't exactly go to the raiding supermarket and buy yourself the classes and specs that you need with the appropriate knowledge or experience. It just doesn't work that way. People will play the classes and specs that they want.

Here's the thing about figuring out a raid's healing load out that I've learned. Each encounter has a minimum number of healing required in order to complete it successfully. Your raid group is going to take a certain amount of damage and your raid healers have to either prevent or heal that up. The days of extremist Sunwell raids are behind us. You don't have to stack half a dozen Holy Priests on one raid and then ask players to switch to their Resto Shaman alts on another raid to beat an encounter.

Sometimes I read about such disputes on blogs or forums about how a Disc Priest despises having another Disc Priest in the group. I can't help but wonder if it's a competitive or territorial thing. I've seen this kind of behavior before in previous guilds (and in pugs). One player doesn't like the idea of another player healing their tank. Or maybe they don't like to share healing assignments with another player.

I'd just tell them to pull their head out of their ass.

That kind of animosity isn't really warranted. I honestly don't see the point. I've triple stacked healers on to one target before simply because the encounter and our raid composition required it.

The reality of class specific healing

If your server or guild is limited to a handful of healers, you just have to work with what you have. 9 times out of 10, any combination of healers is enough to get through most encounters. Yes, you're gimping the raid out of many buffs that would be nice to have. But that doesn't mean it's impossible. You might be missing a Blessing of Wisdom here or a set of totems there.

As a raid leader, I understand that I have to work with what I have. If that means one day stacking extra Paladins or having multiple Disc Priests, then so be it. The big picture and ultimate mandate of a raiding guild is to kill a boss using whatever players and assets we have at our disposal (legitimately). I know that if I don't want three Disc Priests in the raid, I'd simply put the call out and start looking for a Resto Shaman or a Holy Paladin or whatever it is that I felt I needed.

I understand that some servers or guilds may not have those kinds of resources to get the classes that are necessary. Not everyone's on a high pop server or has access to such a large pool of players.

We're pretty lucky to be able to afford a wide range of flexibility in terms of what classes we bring. Is it possible to knock out bosses with specifically one or two types of healers? Yes. Is it optimal? No. But you don't have to be optimal to be successful.

The thing about 2 Disc Priests

A key component of Disc Priest healing relies on their shields. Unlike heals, only the shield of one Priest can be active for any given time. No other shields can be applied on an already shielded player unless Weakened Soul wears off. That's when players can do it. Versus healing, it's possible for heals from different players to land simultaneously. There's no error message that says you can't heal a player because they've just been healed by someone else.

Clear communication becomes extremely important. Working with multiple Disc Priests, each one has to talk to the other and outline specifically which Priest is covering which target full time.

For example, when I was working with other Disc Priests, I stated that I would specifically be covering the Warrior tank. I instructed the other Priest to look after the bear tank. Every other player within the raid was fair game for our shields. But we would not deviate from our assignments and hit the other Priest's target no matter what (unless a Priest died or something). I have raid frames set up in such a way to show which players had Weakened Soul. I knew I wouldn't have to worry about that player for a few seconds if they just gained the debuff as they had either been shielded by myself or by the other Priest.

Anyways, it's possible for two or more Disc Priests to work together in a raid. In a 10 man, it may not be the most ideal, but it is what it is and if that's what you have to work with, then it's best to try or to convince the leaders to come up with a different solution.

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