8.3 Preview: Healer Essence Breakdown

Patch 8.3 adds The Formless Void, Unwavering Ward and Spirit of Preservation to our Essences collection along with a minor Essence slot. The rank threes appear to be time-gated in various ways so these might not feature heavily in the opening weeks of the raid but you’ll want to get started on them early. Recommended sets for each of the healing specs covered will be included at the end of the article though these could change after patch launch. We have a very haphazard PTR data set at the moment and there is nothing quite like Live testing.


Unwavering Ward

Charity Damage Reduction

How to get it

Uncommon: Defeat Thrall or Alleria and loot the end of Visions chest.
Rare: Complete the “Lost Areas” and loot the end of Visions chest.
Epic: Combine 45 Sparks of Unwavering Strength from the loot chests at the end of Tier 2 and Tier 3 visions.
Legendary: Complete the achievement “Through the depths of Visions” (level 15 cloak, purchase all research items, complete all Orgrimmer and Stormwind objectives).


HPS Gained

Data: 11/12 Major shields used, 60% overheal on the heal portion, 12 average allies hit for “average performance”, 19 hit for “fully stacked raid”, 100% absorbs used, DR value varies heavily so discussed below.



In practice this is unlikely to see use in its current state. It has a very long channel time, long cooldown and the absorb shields are pushed quite far away if not intercepted which makes using all 12 difficult. The potential throughput just isn’t high enough to go through so much trouble for. It might hold a small niche when you’re looking to counter specific large bursts of damage where you’re ok taking a healing hit to bolster for a mechanic. Think of it as a better version of Seeds in that regard. It does still require that you’re able to stand still for almost four seconds prior to the damage.



Damage Reduction has been a rather hot topic so far this expansion. Many a healer has found themselves rerolling to be able to bring the popular commodity to raid. Now we get it on an Essence. Here’s how it works. Every target that has any Unwavering Ward on them gets 3% damage reduction and when damage hits the DR is applied before the shield is deducted. That means if you take a 500k hit the DR will reduce it to 485,000 and then that’ll be reduced by any shield you have left. It also stacks multiplicatively with any other damage reduction effects like Barkskin, Pain Suppression and Devotion Aura.

The value on this varies widely. On a rot fight where the raid is taking heavy persistent damage this isn’t a very good minor essence. The shields are removed quickly and can reduce as little as 200-300 damage every 10 seconds from the DR effect. Ny’alotha happens to be a raid with a lot of this damage type which means you’re not getting quite as good a return from this as you might hope. Fortunately the base absorb still puts up reasonable numbers and on any fight where three quarters of the raid are stacked within 15 yards you likely pop this in. If you are a Holy Paladin it is an insta-lock as the competition isn’t quite as fierce. It’s notably decent from rank 1 which is a rarity in the essence system. Currently doesn’t reset on boss-pull so you’ll start with it fully stacked on the raid for tiny additional benefit.

Log analysis tools will be able to offer more precision after the patch goes live.


Spirit of Preservation

The healing does match the size of the beam

How to get it

Uncommon: 8.3 intro quest chain
Rare: Combine 3x Breath of Everlasting Spirit from the weekly mini-vision quest.
Epic: Exalted with the new 8.3 Reputation.
Legendary: Appears to be a chance in your Paragon chest for the 8.3 Reputation similar to how Well of Existence and Ever Rising Tide function in 8.2.


  • You can use the beam on yourself if you like. You are also counted as one of the “allies in between you and the target” for the rank 3 effect.
  • The following spells are boosted by the Devout Spirit effect:
  • The rank 3 crit effect on the minor applies to the next spell you cast after the one that consumes your Devout Spirit bonus. That means you need to cast your listed spell twice within six seconds to gain the maximum effect.


HPS Gained

Data: 20% overheal on beam, 40% overheal on ally heal, 3.2 average allies hit, Disc Priest using Shadow Mend, 20% crit, 8% vers, 12500 intellect.



This fills a similar niche to the Vitality Conduit major with a few small differences. Vitality Conduit drains a little health from your party or raid whereas Spirit of Preservation (“Healing Beam” from now on) heals them. Healing Beam has a long channel time while Conduit only costs a GCD. There’s also a small difference in cooldown (60 on Beam vs 45 on Conduit). Here’s how they compare on single target alone. I’ll be using a Disc Priest for the comparison since Disc and Resto Shaman are the two big current users of the essence.

Vitality Conduit v Healing Beam

Data: Disc Priest, Vitality Conduit + 3x Shadow Mend; Healing Beam + 2x Shadow Mend (1x 5-stack Devout cast, 1x guaranteed crit from the rank 3 effect), 20% crit chance.

In Mythic+ you will likely stick with Spirit of Preservation since the minor is far stronger for shoring up single target healing weaknesses. Raid usage isn’t quite as likely unless single target debuffs end up a significant healing challenge. You could maybe have one healer run one for Vexiona to counter the Despair debuff but I’m not convinced that’ll be necessary.


The minor basically gives your spot heals a little more pump. It’s actually balanced nicely. The raw throughput is decent but in most cases it’s attached to spells that you don’t cast too much in raid (with the exception of Shadow Mend). This’ll likely end up more of a Mythic+ essence whether used with the Major or not. Single target healing is a weakness of several specs in dungeons and this is a decent way to keep your tank a little more alive and a little less dead. It’s not going to turn your Disc Priest into a Resto Druid but it helps.



The Formless Void

Charity Healer DPS

How to get it

Uncommon: Combine Raid Drop tokens
Rare: Combine Raid Drop tokens
Epic: Combine Raid Drop tokens
Legendary: Mythic N’zoth


  • You can copy any non-passive Essence. Any. Notable picks are Spark of Inspiration (increases raid azerite damage) and Essence of the Focusing Iris (“meme-beam”). Condensed Life Force might also be an option but is being nerfed in 8.3 and won’t be analyzed for now. You can also swap throughout a fight. Steal Crucible to fire two shots into a priority add, then copy Lucid Dreams during downtime to regenerate.


HPS Gained – Minor only

Data: 12500 intellect, 1.4 haste stat weight, 87% of healing scaling with int, HPS as indicated, 85% uptime


Major – Essence of the Focusing Iris

This is going to be significant in Mythic+. Beam is incredibly powerful, even with a 30% longer cooldown. The only question will really be how much single target you want to bring to the key with the new Awakened Affix. Very high chance you use this frequently, especially on teeming / fortified weeks.

Major – Spark of Inspiration

A big note on this one. The 45% increase to Azerite damage applies to your party only. That’s yourself plus the four people in your immediate group. By stealing Spark of Inspiration you won’t be dealing much damage with Azerite yourself so we’ll look at this through the lens of your party. It only applies to Essences with active damage components so stat increases and Vision of Perfection appear to be out. You’re also unlikely to steal this in Mythic+ since it requires someone in your party already be running it (so it can be stolen) and the second is of far lower value.

Let’s look at some raid numbers. I’ve picked some logs at random just so that we can get a feel for how much damage we’re looking at. This isn’t a perfectly optimized group but rather a sampling of different specs.

Remember that Crucible of Flame alone is around 2.5k and you can’t really stack your group with your five best DPS because that slot will already be taken by the DPS that runs the Essence (for you to steal). It seems like a tough ask to get big numbers out of this unless the raid can cater to it without losing any DPS themselves. It might also be a raid damage loss to have one of your DPS run it in the first place.


The minor is far easier to evaluate. You get some intellect and haste whenever anyone in the raid pops their Major essence. You’ll need close to 100% uptime on this for it to compete with the other essences so it’ll likely require a few people in your raid to be wearing ultra-low cooldown majors like Crucible. I’m not well versed in what every DPS and tank spec will run in 8.3 but if the meta stays similar to how it is now you’re looking at around 85-90%. Higher if your raid tries to play around it.

Even at a 90%+ uptime this isn’t great. Intellect continues to fall in value quickly and the paltry Haste offering isn’t enough to sustain it against bigger fish. If you must take an 8.3 minor for Corruption Resistance then you likely run Ward unless you are pushing very high HPS, or the fight is very spread.


Conclusions and Recommendations

These are solid additions to the Essences roster. Delivering additional means of DPS, a small form of damage reduction and big single target healing helps different specs cover their weaknesses. None of them are meta changing, and you’re likely to only wear one of the three but I kind of prefer that to a model where we throw out our 8.2 essences and start over.

So what do we wear in 8.3? Without further tuning we’re likely looking at something similar to:

Worldvein Major is also getting a large buff in 8.3 and could be in contention for a large number of fights, particularly for specs like Disc and Resto Druid that can combine the huge int buff with throughput cooldowns. I’ll be analyzing that one shortly.


Patch 8.3 preview series

Corruption | Ny’alotha Trinkets | Essence Analysis

6 responses to “8.3 Preview: Healer Essence Breakdown”

  1. Reilly Miller says:

    Thinking through the unwavering ward DR %, I think the correct way to evaluate it is to determine what the average hit is in an encounter. This makes the simplifying assumption that each shield will reduce exactly 1 hit, but based on the logs I’ve reviewed, that seems very likely – most ticking damage deals in the range of 5k – 25k every 1-3 seconds, so even on the very low end it still breaks the shield entirely.

    Then the question of the value of the DR becomes, what’s the EV of the next hit you take after gaining the shield? But that’s nothing more than the average hit. Looking at different logs, a Za’Qul kill had an average hit of ~30k – a rot fight. On the other Hand, QC had an average hit over 72k, a fight with almost no Rot to dilute the pool.

    Taking a conservative average of a 40k hit, the next question is how much other DR you have. Again looking over logs, a reasonable guess would be an average of 25%. That takes into account the fact that a lot of the hits in a raid are directed at the tanks, who’ve got quite high average mitigation. Because of the small numbers at work, that still means 3% comes out to account for around 2.9% mitigation when you fairly distribute the mitigation.

    Then the total expected mitigation per 10 seconds, assuming 12 players hit, is :
    .029 * 40,000 * 12/10 ~ 1,400
    Or, a throughput increase over the R2 essence of over 50%, catapulting this essence into S+ tier on average, and still solidly in the A range even against Rot.

  2. Athemic says:

    Any holy priest essences for M+/raid recommendations? 🙂

  3. Awin says:

    I assume it’ll take some time to grind up rank 3 on these essences. At what rank does Unwavering Ward outperform Well of Eternity rank 3?

    • Voulk says:

      I’m kind of expecting overhealing to be lower this tier compared to last because there’s far more rot damage. Just a prediction so we’ll have to see how it plays out. On a heavily stacked fight or a 30 man raid you’re likely able to swap in Ward at rank 1. On a more spread mythic fight you might want that rank 3 first. We’ll be able to compare them in more detail when the patch is live.

  4. khaxd says:

    why no restoshaman in Conclusions and Recommendations ??

    • Voulk says:

      I don’t tend to make recommendations for Resto Shaman because I don’t play much of a role in Shaman theorycrafting and I defer to the specs experts. In my opinion Lucid major + ERT / C&S / Ward minors are the likely go-to set. I imagine Vision of Perfection will remain popular in parse logs too.

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