I have been playing mostly Discipline since the pre-patch and it has been really nice if a bit new. Not as new as one might think, since I really liked spamming Smite as Holy as well, but it does take some different thinking to play Discipline, especially when preparing cooldowns.
However, now I have had a couple of opportunities where it simply made more sense to play Holy which one would think is great since I loved the spec in Legion—so much so, that I basically didn’t play Discipline at all in Legion even to my detriment at times since it was such a strong spec—unfortunately, Holy just doesn’t play very fun at the moment.
The smallest contributor to this is the lack of legendaries from Legion. Holy didn’t have the most exciting legendaries in Legion, in fact one of the most used ones was just a worse version of Reincarnate from Shamans1. It was however, still a very nice wipe recovery mechanism in raids allowing you to get back to trying the boss again faster in many cases. It also functioned as a powerful cooldown through Spirit of Redemption, since it essentially gave you free rein to heal for a short time with Spirit of Redemption making you invulnerable and giving you infinite mana. It was also a way to use two potions in one fight since death starts your potion cooldown. This made it a very strong utility legendary.
However, the legendary I miss far more and that ties into the next point, are the legendary bracers that reduced the cast time of your primary healing spells while you were over 75% health. These were a mythic+ favourite of mine.
Now the lack of that legendary along with the tiny amount of haste we have in the beginning of the expansion makes the spec feel extremely slow and sluggish. This will hopefully be fixed to a degree with more gear, but it does give the spec a terrible feel at the moment for someone used to the extremely fast pace at the end of Legion—I had sub one second cast time on some of my primary spells with the legendary bracers, going back to almost a second and a half is a huge change in pacing.
The lack of haste is made even worse since Light of the Naaru is, well, not missing but basically unpickable at the moment which brings me to my next point.
The talents are kind of terrible though maybe actually a bit better than they were in Legion. We still have Enlightenment/Trail of Light and Binding Heal/Surge of Light to switch between for raids and there is actually a choice between Benediction and Halo depending on the encounter—maybe even Divine Star if people are stacke enough or the damage pattern is correct.
But the problem—though I guess that was the design intent—is really the last row. Now there is actually a cool choice here between Apotheosis and Holy Word: Salvation and they are both nice powerful cooldowns to use though they both have their clear niches—mythic+ and raids respectively. The problem really, is that Light of the Naaru is competing with them and can only win for players that want a really passive playstyle and while it’s cool that the choice exists for such players, it makes the rest of us suffer with a spec that just feels insanely sluggish when compared to Legion which as noted is made worse by the limited haste available at the start and lack of legendaries to speed up casting.
The core mechanic of Holy, the powerful Holy Words is what makes these long cast time and lack of extra cooldown reduction feel so bad. I want to be casting lots so that my fun spells are available again but the time in between just feels extremely drawn out and I feel kind of useless since my spells don’t do much in the meantime. As Discipline, sure I’d like some more haste but I also have a ton of smaller cooldowns I can stagger to do useful things and they aren’t dependant on me casting certain spells to come back within a reasonable time. Those cooldowns are also powerful enough that they give me a more clearly defined role within a raidgroup which means I know I can take it a bit easier when I’m waiting for them to become available again. As Holy I don’t have this luxury since I need to keep casting and using mana in order to have my cooldowns available in time again.
It’s a strange feeling, going from feeling it was almost a necessity to learn Discipline in order to remain competetitive to feeling I much prefer the spec after all these years due to the changes made in Battle for Azeroth to Holy. I guess it was about time for me to change things up a bit though and not be so constrained by my past feelings of the different specs. Now I just hope I don’t have to play Holy too much until the spec starts feeling a bit more fun again.
- Worse in the sense that you couldn’t choose when to activate it, it was always activated on death after Spirit of Redemption which at times meant you instantly died again.