From the noises coming from Blizzard, it seems the spell every Holy Priest loves to hate is here to stay.
Lightwell is complicated because it deals very much with the healing philosophy we’re trying to resurrect in Cataclysm. Remember when your raid would make a conscious effort to survive before doing damage, would bring stacks of bandages and use them throughout the fight to save their healers mana? Lightwell is very strong – if not overpowered – in that environment.
On paper Lightwell looks good. It’s cheap to cast and scales really well with gear. In theory it’s a perfect example of a fire and forget spell, cast it and the next ten people who click it receive healing, leaving you free do do other things. Although since you are there as a healer, it’s questionable what else you should be doing, smiting perhaps?
In practise however Lightwell really doesn’t work. I’d actually go as far to argue that it’s never worked, not in vanilla, not in the Burning Crusade and certainly not now. Thus I admit to being far from convinced Cataclysm will change anything.
I raided on a Priest in vanilla. I remember speccing for Lightwell all excited when it was first implemented and I still remember that excitement slowly wearing off as people ran straight past it on a quarter health. When it was introduced, we were working on the Twin Emperors in AQ40, the perfect fight really for Lightwell to shine. I popped it down in the middle of the room in position for the melee to click as they ran past and they all ignored it. At that point I was playing in the top guild on my then server, we had plenty of excellent players who ran damage meters, drank pots like crazy and generally pushed themselves to the limits of their characters. Yet for some reason they couldn’t or wouldn’t get their head around the concept of Lightwell.
Now we aren’t in vanilla anymore and I really don’t see people’s attitudes changing. People have had four years for the idea of “Lol it’s a Lolwell” to sink in and become set in stone. Then there is the enrage timer issue, as we’ve moved through expansions fights have become tighter and tighter in terms of duration. On hardmode Hodir you couldn’t really afford your rogues to stop hitting Hodir and bandage. Now, I accept we have no idea what raid content will be like when Cataclysm ships but I doubt they will move way from dps races as they allow the raid designers to test dpsers. Now if your dpsers can’t stop to bandage, they can’t stop to go looking for a Lightwell either.
Don’t get me wrong, I have a soft spot for the Lightwell and I’d love for it to become mainstream and useful, rather than a dark and dirty secret I tend to only use when I’m alone with the Gnomeling. It has plus points and if only you can find a way to make people use it, it’s extremely powerful. For soloing things as holy or two personing heroics it’s amazing.
- You can use it whilst stunned, sapped, falling, running around feared. Useful for a range of things, including Kel’thuzad’s frost blast (my last attempt at using lightwell ended around Naxxramas) as well as PvP.
- It heals for a lot. The hit which breaks it needs to 30 percent of your total health in one hit, that’s a lot even in PvP if you have decent gear. In five man content, even the tank can use it safely.
- It’s cheap to cast.
So with all that going for it, what are the negatives and do they outweigh the plus points?
- Mobility or lack of it. Once it’s down, it’s down. Given this expansion has been full of movement based fights and Blizzard are handing out movement enhancing spells for Cataclysm like candy, this is a problem. Obviously as you learn a fight this should become less of an issue. If you know that at 1 minute 30 into a fight, the floor becomes a giant snake pit, you wouldn’t put it down then. However if a fight requires constant movement or forces people to stay apart, Lightwell loses it’s charm fast.
- Disappearing on the death of the Priest. This is a fairly recent change and I suspect a PvP based one, although I can’t think of anyone who actually PvPs seriously as Holy. Fix this and suddenly Lightwell and Spirit of Redemption have their synergy back. The last thing you do before your pretty angel collapses is cast lightwell giving your group heals whilst you lie dead on the floor.
- It breaks the mould in terms of the holy trinity of raid roles. Healers heal people, dps kill things and tanks stop said bad things hitting dpsers and healers. This to me is the deal breaker. I can work around the fact that it’s fixed to the floor and I work really hard on not dying but I can’t force other people to use the Lightwell. Maybe lifegripping them to it and yelling really loud will work.
Then I thought maybe I was looking at this all wrong. After all Lightwell surely isn’t designed around healing me, the Holy Priest who cast it. It’s designed for the Dps who ignore it. So I put on my feathery moonkin hat and pondered would I as a dpser use one?
Well yes but only in certain circumstances. My main reason for being in a dungeon or raid is to kill things. Whilst I always keep a wary eye on my own health, I’m always going to use a healthstone or personal “eek” buttons like barkskin before a lightwell. Why? First of all, speed and ease of use. Healthstones, health pots and cooldowns are all keybound on my interface. Without having to think I can use them when and if I need to. Now to use a Lightwell, I first have to visually locate it, then move to it and click it. Sure if I’m fast and the Priest hasn’t hidden it behind a pillar, that might only take a few seconds but I’ve wiped on plenty of fights due to overall dps being a few seconds slow. Then of course there is the probability that in the time it takes for me to decide to use it, someone else will have healed me.
So when would I use it? Perhaps on a fight requiring mobility, if I was at low health and I happened to be passing it by. If I was silenced and hurt then I’d definitely grab a drink. If I was stood next to one, I’d use it. Basically no matter how I look at it, the issues are always the same. The biggest issue is that it requires someone other than the healer who placed it down to make it work.
How do you solve a problem like a Lightwell?
You can’t. At the moment Lightwell is cheap, efficient and effective all because the caster has little to no control over who uses it. Sure they can use it to heal themselves as a sort of glittery healthstone but in terms of everyone else, all you can do is pray. In return for that cheapness and that scaling, Lightwell is a sort of snack bar for the raid. If you give control over who it heals to the priest then the mana cost would have to increase and the amount healed for would have to decrease. Holy priests already have the biggest arsenal of aoe heals in-game, prayer of healing, circle of healing, holy nova, divine hymn even binding heal and the new talented desperate prayer so they really don’t need another cooldown based aoe superheal. We have plenty of options to pick from already.
The other option would be to make lightwell more attractive to the people it’s aimed at, dpsers and to a lesser degree tanks. However if say like the current version of revitalize it gave a small buff on use, whether increased damage or regen or whatever, people would probably be queuing up to use it yet then you run the risk of people stacking Lightwells in order to clear content. Given that holy priests already come with a tank saving cooldown as well as the benefits of being a priest (i.e. hymn of hope, fortification, shadow prot) making Lightwell do anything else besides heal would be over the top.
So what’s the answer?
I really don’t have a clue. When Cataclysm comes out, unless there are vastly more exciting talents I’ll pick up Lightwell again (eternal optimist that’s me) and see how it works out. I’m willing to use it and I know my pet tank will as well. If and when I start raiding again, I’ll probably have another shot at making a whole new bunch of raiders use it, but my track record really doesn’t inspire confidence on that front.
Blizzard are addressing some of the concerns raised by priests, namely the fact that at the moment it forces you to deselect your target when you click on it. Keeping your target will help a bit but if you could make macros allowing you to target and use in the same fashion as you can use a healthstone, I think that would be a positive step forward. Maybe increasing the range you can use it from would help as well. Although again you run the risk of if Lightwell becomes too easy to use and too attractive, it will have to be nerfed at some point.
The simplest fix would probably be to make Lightwell look like this.