On Lightwell and Circle of Healing's increased cooldown

While reading Dawn Moore's analysis of the holy priest talent preview on WoW.com I noticed two important changes that I overlooked yesterday: the first one being that speccing into Lightwell will be required to get the new Chakra talent, and the second one being that they intend to increase Circle of Healing's cooldown from six to ten seconds.

Reading the responses related to the Lightwell change was more amusing than anything else, and people weren't so much complaining as expressing a certain amount of exasperated resignation. You have to admit that they have a point - Lightwell has been around since late Vanilla WoW, has seen tons of changes since then, and still most people think that it's a waste of a talent point and refuse to spec into it. How many more years will it take for Blizzard to get the hint? They must be really fond of the concept to be so stubborn about keeping it no matter what.

That said, I don't think that this is a terrible idea on Blizzard's part. It was clearly a problem in the past that no matter how much they improved Lightwell, people still didn't even want to spend that single talent point to try it out. (I've never been specced into it myself. I only ever saw other holy priests drop their lightwells and then have them be completely ignored, and that was enough for me.) By "forcing" everyone to take the talent by making it a prerequesite for something important, people will at least have the spell in their spellbooks and might be more willing to experiment with it here and there. Hell, I'm looking forward to being free to play around with it without feeling like I wasted a talent point that could have been spent more beneficially elsewhere. With more people having it available it should be easier to get an accurate picture of how good or bad it really is.

However... personally I think that even if more priests try it out, lightwell will never become a rousing success. It's true that we don't know what the fights in Cataclysm will be like, and that they might have mechanics that will make the spell more viable. I don't think that changes the talent's underlying problem though: it's not a healing spell. It's an ability that gives other people a tool to heal themselves, like a warlock's Soulwell, or like handing them a healing potion or a bandage.

So from a healer's point of view, all that lightwell does - even if it's crazy-effective - is put you out of a job. You can now say "there, heal yourselves" and then go AFK or start smiting (for a brief period of time anyway). If people are taking so much damage that you need to heal them on top of the lightwell HoT, it will likely "break" anyway, and if they aren't taking that much damage, doing more would just result in overheal. Either way it doesn't quite work.

From a damage dealer's point of view, spending time on healing yourself when the healer is standing right there is kind of stupid as well. People like to rant about dumb and lazy dpsers who don't care about their own survival, but fact of the matter is that when you're in a group with a healer, healing you is what they're there to do. You shouldn't constantly have to stop to bandage yourself. In a party or raid, self-heals like that are mostly for emergencies, like when you suddenly find yourself out of range, the healer just died or whatever. And for those situations you already have a health stone, a health potion and a bandage, which all have the advantage of being in your bag instead of in some static place on the battlefield that might not actually be close to where you're having your emergency.

So no, I don't think the concept of healers spending mana on not actually healing and instead expecting everyone to heal themselves at the dedicated "HoT spot" will ever go anywhere. It just goes completely against the established role distribution that Blizzard implemented themselves.

As for yet another CoH nerf... hrmph. Nobody likes being nerfed. However, with the initial six second cooldown vs. no cooldown at all I could at least see it coming. I remember going into Black Temple for the first time with the new and suddenly raid-wide CoH and thinking even then that it was ridiculously overpowered and was unlikely to stay that way. I also got bored very quickly, literally doing little else besides spamming that one spell. So when the cooldown was introduced I was a little worried about where that would put priests in relation to the other healing classes, but I could definitely see why they were doing it.

Going from six to ten seconds however is just something I don't entirely understand. To me it feels like my CoH useage is in a good place right now. I use it a lot, but it's far from overwhelming. On an average raid night about twenty-five to thirty percent of my effective healing will be from CoH, which means that I still spend two thirds to three quarters of my time casting other spells. That strikes me as a healthy balance for what's supposed to be a "signature spell" of the spec. In fact, I've found all the other healing classes to be a lot more spammy with their own primary healing spells, be it the bubble for disc priests, rejuv for resto druids, chain heal for shamans and holy light for paladins. When I see that sixty percent of all healing for both resto shamans in the raid came off chain heal, I can see why Blizzard wants to encourage the other healing classes to use different spells more than they do now, but holy priests can't be one-button spammers right now anyway! I have to admit that I'm a bit worried that by nerfing CoH too far, Blizzard might be robbing holy priests of their "healing identity" once again, leaving them in the "jack-of-all-trades, master of none" hole. I've been there before and I'd prefer not to have to go back.

That said, I realise that we're still very early in the expansion's development and it might all end up very differently in the end. I won't mind having to eat my words on this subject, because it would just mean that things end up going better than expected.


  1. In my (non-priest) opinion...
    Lightwell has potential. When I play my hunter I do try to use it on fights with heavy raid damage when one is available. Especially when learning a new fight that the healers might be having trouble with.

    My big problem with it is that it forces you to target it to use it, losing the target you are damaging. I know it only takes a second to re-target, but it's a major pain. If they could change that, it would be great.

  2. I like the idea of Lightwell. The current iteration of it however falls short for two reasons.

    1. It changes your target when you click on it. That's disorienting and discourages dps particularly from clicking on it as they often don't want or can't afford to shift their target focus.

    2. The HoT breaks too easily. I can't really understand why this is a feature of Lightwell's heal. Renews, Rejuvs, Riptides, none of these get removed if you take a certain amount of damage and the Lightwell HoT shouldn't either.

    Fix those two things and I'm totally on board with this spell. Being stranded on one side of a Defile out of range of a healer but still able to hug a Lightwell is just one of many examples of how it can/could be a lifesaver.

  3. @Shay: I agree that those are issues that could be improved, but even so the problem remains that you'd have to predict where people might end up getting cut off from healing and plant the lightwell there in advance. And if you can already tell that there are problems with healer placement, why not just try to make the healers themselves move in a different way?

  4. I think its good that you have to guess where the best place to drop it will be. That's an interesting decision to make.

    It doesn't have to be an emergency thing either. With the new healing rain spell for shamans they can drop a cloud on one group and chain heal another group somewhere else. In like manner, you could drop a lightwell for one group in one place and focus a bit more on another group elsewhere.