8.2 Preview: Healer Essence Breakdown
Patch 8.2 features an extension to the Azerite system by including “Essence” traits in the Heart of Azeroth itself. Each Essence has a minor and major component. Anything you socket into slot #1 gives you both powers, while slots #2 and #3 give you only the minor. The items drop from a number of sources including raids, M+, quests, reputation and PVP. We’re going to take a look through four prominent healing essences and a follow up article will cover the rest. These are likely to be tuned several times before they go live so don’t add anything to your imaginary best in slot list just yet. Blizzard are making changes almost every week and this article will be updated as required.
Blizzard withdrew the PTR Essence vendor and testing in the Proving Grounds is rather limited which led to some assumptions being necessary through the article. I’ve tried to mention them when they’re important.
How to get it
Uncommon: Complete a Mythic+4 or above in season 3.
Rare: Complete a Mythic+7 or higher in season 3.
Epic: Combining 15 Focusing Life Anima from your Mythic+ weekly chest.
Legendary: Complete all Mythic+15s in time in season 3.
Data: 80% seeds consumed @ uncommon, 85% rare / epic. HoT portion of minor averaged at 6 seconds with 40% overheal, 5% vers, 10% haste.
Life-Binders Invocation is a straightforward, reasonably strong essence that provides interesting power increases with each upgrade you collect. A ~300k heal across the raid isn’t game-breaking but cooldowns tend to be of high value and the ability to bring this on multiple healers should give you coverage for any damage pattern Palace of Azshara can throw at us. You are rarely dying to sustained damage with a half competent raid – it’s the big bursts that tend to do you in. They’ve brought this down quite a bit in power since the PTR went live and it’s going to see tough competition now from more powerful cooldown based essences like The Ever Rising Tide. This is a well balanced, easy to use Essence and I’m sure it’ll see use – it might just fall behind some more… cheese-able alternatives in high level play.
Memory of Lucid Dreams
How to get it
Uncommon: Complete the quest “A brief respite”. Basically, unlock Nazjatar world quests.
Rare: Vendor (Speaker Utia). This is a rep vendor in Nazjatar.
Epic: Vendor (Speaker Utia).
Legendary: Vendor (Speaker Utia).
- You have blue fire surrounding you when you use the Major. That’s useful because you won’t notice any other difference on the healing meters or to your raids health.
- 623 leech is 15.58% which is actually a lot.
Data: 1.2 Vers stat weight, 10500 total intellect, 2800 average mana cost, 35% overheal on self-heal, ~11 healing gained per mana
This is basically the “mana” Essence (with a strong self-heal theme) and the minor holds up well from a strength perspective on any fight where you’re able to make good use of the extra mana.
The Major power on the other hand is problematic. The first two ranks just double your mana regen for 10-12 seconds when clicked which is so unimpactful that it feels like a PTR placeholder. Compare that to spreading seeds to 30 people and immediately impacting the raid, reversing time on a party member, or burst healing someone back to full. 8000 mana over 10 seconds. It’s effectively a passive essence that you still have to spend a global cooldown on. The addition of Leech on the Epic version is slightly more interesting since you’ll feel unkillable over the duration but it’s still a pretty bad button press. Remember that all of this is tied to a long three minute cooldown.
The minor is an absolute blaster. You’re looking at about ~35,000 mana over an eight minute fight on top of a powerful versatility buff with high uptime. The self-heal is a cherry on top so don’t worry too much if it overheals heavily. Assuming you aren’t a Glimmerdin and ignoring potential Ever Rising Tide shenanigans (covered in the next article) you are likely to use this as your first Essence until you hit neck level 55 and can swap it to your minor slot.
How to get it
Uncommon: Combine Aqueous Reliquaries. They drop from Radiance of Azshara, the Queens Court and Azshara herself in the new raid.
Rare: Combine Aqueous Reliquaries. They drop from Radiance of Azshara, the Queens Court and Azshara herself in the new raid. Requires more than Uncommon.
Epic: Combine Aqueous Reliquaries. They drop from Radiance of Azshara, the Queens Court and Azshara herself in the new raid. Requires more than Rare.
Legendary: Defeat Queen Azshara on Mythic difficulty.
- The Major isn’t a channel. It heals your target for 6 seconds like a HoT rather than something you have to stand still for.
This is a really interesting design and it’s a real shame that it isn’t stronger. The idea behind it is to rebalance the HP of your raid through the fight by stealing HP from the healthy and giving it to those you heal. There are a number of flow-on effects like your raid overhealing going down and your raid survivability going up as five people on 80% health is generally better than four being at 100% and one at 20. The tuning on it just isn’t quite there. As you can see from the chart above, the minor power falls behind the others even if we completely ignore the health loss portion. We can get more healing without the drawback.
They’ve completely revamped Vitality Conduit several times through the PTR and I think they can be mostly happy with this design – it just needs a very high proc rate to do an effective job (10+) and preferably the 20% bonus to transferred healing that it has in an earlier PTR cycle.
The Major is an even tougher ask than the minor. You can expect ~120k healing channeled into the target over 6 seconds. That ~120k will be spread as damage around the rest of the raid or party. It’s in direct competition with Well of Existence which has a shorter cooldown, heals immediately, and is much more flexible (you can use it every 15 seconds for a smaller heal or bottle it up for later). Outclassed.
The Well of Existence
How to get it
Uncommon: Honored with Rustbolt.
Rare: Revered with Rustbolt.
Epic: Exalted with Rustbolt.
Legendary: Earn Supplies through Rustbolt paragon caches.
- You can pre-charge it to full before most fights start. It caps at your maximum health. I doubt Mythic+ bosses reset it at all, but raid bosses should.
- Overhealing on pets does fill the well on the current PTR patch. Little Milo has never received this much love before.
- Any heal event on a target below 50% counts. It doesn’t matter if it’s a HoT or direct heal.
- The well of existence actually follows you around. Fantastic.
Data: 90% of total well healing used, empty well at start of fight, 25% overhealing
This powerful essence lives or dies on two core tenets: 1) how much healing you can put into the well, and 2) what percentage of the wells stored healing can you convert to throughput. On average in a difficult mythic raid you can expect 25% overhealing on most specs and ~35% on a Disc Priest or Glimmerdin. We only store 15% of that but that’s still a 3.8% throughput increase if we’re able to use it all. The well will proc once for every healing event on a target below 50% health and we can use Wowanalyzer.com to work out how many such events we can expect in an average fight. Here are some quick averages:
Holy Paladin looks unfortunate but Light of Dawn is a fantastic way to spend your Well healing and it also procs off Glimmer so they’ll have no trouble depleting it in 8.2 – just like every other spec.
The Major Power lets you use stored overhealing every 15s on a single target and amplifies it by 50%. That’ll make emptying the well easier but we’ve already established that we won’t have a problem with that and the 50% boost alone would make it the weakest major trait. We’ll want some non-throughput value from having an instant, short cooldown burst and we might find it. Life saving potential on this one should be pretty high but not high enough to give up 5% healing on most fights. That puts it in a niche slot however I 100% expect it to see use somewhere. Should be potent in Mythic+ too. We definitely like the minor power – I just don’t think you’ll need the Major that often.
I really like the Essence system. I think it’s the high-impact gearing choice that we’ve been missing so far this expansion in the absence of legendaries and tier sets. They’ve created some interesting picks and it’ll be really enjoyable to plan out which to use and how to get them. That does make the thematically weaker essences that much more noticeable and I hope that they spend the rest of the PTR cycle improving them. There should be no passive Major Essences. Many minors are also stronger than their paired majors which came as a surprise to me but seems intentional on Blizzards part.
Which setup are we likely to use with current tuning? Well of Existence and Memory of Lucid Dreams are both capable in a minor slot and Ever Rising Tide asks some very interesting questions for a Major. More to come.
QE is now on Patreon and you get drafts of upcoming articles as one of the perks. Part two of this article is available now to all patrons.