I want to play a little game with you. I’m going to say the name of a talent and you tell me the first thing that comes to mind when I do. Are you ready?
Surge of Light.
I’m pretty sure the words “useless,” or “filler” and maybe even “waste” come to mind. But if there’s one thing that I have learned from my time playing this game, it’s that very few players go into a situation wanting to hate or seriously dislike the tools in their arsenal. Most people want to find ways to make every spell or talent that they have work and they only get upset or start to rally against them when they realize that these spells have little or no practical use. That’s when feelings of anger or resentment start to set in, when a player realizes that they have little choice but to put points into a talent, just to get further down into their tree and to get access to more useful things.
So, what went wrong? Was it the change from a previously stated mechanic in Wrath to a newer one in Cataclysm? Is it the lack of reliance on certain spells to trigger it and even the reliability of such a thing happening? Can Surge of Light be fixed to make a holy priest want to take it? What do discipline priests think about it?
Let’s find out!
Surge of Light used to be a tier 6 talent and was worded as: “Your spell criticals have a 25/50% chance to cause your next Smite or Flash Heal spell to be instant cast, cost no mana but be incapable of a critical hit. This effect lasts 10 seconds.”
It was re-vamped for Cataclysm as a tier 2 talent and is now described as: “You have a 3/6% chance when you Smite, Heal, Flash Heal, or Greater Heal to cause your next Flash Heal to be instant cast and cost no mana.”
As you can see, there are many differences between how Surge of Light used to be and how it works now. For starters, it used to be able to proc off any spell you cast that was capable of a critical healing effect. It was not just limited to two spells that rarely saw any use on their own. The chance to proc was also greater, at 25/50% versus the abysmal 3/6% that Surge of Light comes with now. Flash Heal also changed quite a bit since Wrath, going from being a flash in the pan heal (no pun intended) with little healing effectiveness behind it, to now being a strong fast heal with a higher mana cost.
Surge of Light wasn’t seeing a lot of use then, presumably because most holy priests were firmly locked into the Renew/CoH rotation that had become our trademark and only one of those was able to reliably crit and therefore have any chance of giving you a free Smite or Flash Heal. The reasons why it’s not seeing use now are many.
For starters, the only spells that can proc Surge of Light now are Heal, Flash Heal, Greater Heal, and Smite. Heal, Flash Heal, and Greater Heal tend to see more use in 5 man settings and not very much use in a raid environment, as holy priests aren’t often asked to tank heal where that spell would come in handy. We also aren’t using Smite much in raids, for obvious reasons. Binding Heal is being added to the mix in 4.1.0 to try and increase the attractiveness of this talent, but that doesn’t seem to be generating the interest that the developers had hoped. This is probably because there are only certain fights where Binding Heal is relied upon heavily and when that’s the case, the 3/6% chance of getting a Surge of Light is still largely unreliable.
Sadly, even discipline priests are hard pressed to find room to put talent points into Surge of Light. The initial talents available in the holy tree are attractive to a discipline priest, particular those with Atonement builds and there is too much competition from more vital talents like Inspiration or Divine Fury that cause Surge of Light to be overlooked. So if holy priests don’t want to put points into it and discipline priests simply don’t have the points to spare, where does that leave the talent? What can we do to change this?
Here are my thoughts on how to improve Surge of Light.
1) Make it like Malfurion’s Gift/Omen of Clarity
Malfurion’s Gift is a tier 4 talent in the resto druid tree that gives a druid a 2/4% chance to cause Omen of Clarity, which puts them in a Clearcasting state and reduces the mana cost of their next cast time healing spell by 100% when they heal with Lifebloom.
Admittedly, 2/4% does not sound like a lot, but ask anyone who plays a resto druid (myself included) and they will tell you that this talent procs quite often. It wouldn’t be too difficult to make Surge of Light work like Malfurion’s Gift and change Lifebloom to Renew, since you should be keeping at least a Renew on the tank at all times. This could also work out really nicely if you are at the 12.50% haste cap (which you should be) and getting 2 extra ticks from your Renew.
Surge of Light could be changed to have it just proc Flash of Light as the free, instant heal or it could include other spells like Omen of Clarity does. Note to that Omen of Clarity does not make the next spell instant cast, it just removes the mana cost. Surge of Light does both and I would imagine it would be considered too powerful if it stayed that way in this example. Still, I think using what druids already have in place and what works would be a great start towards turning Surge of Light into something more appealing to us.
2) Open Surge of Light to all spells, but keep the chance to proc low.
Instead of only allowing Surge of Light to proc off the same 4 spells (5 if you count Binding Heal), make it possible for any spell that can crit to trigger this effect. If the problem was that the chance to proc was too high (at 25/50%), keep the proc rate the way that it is now. This also opens Surge of Light to spells that you may only cast once, but that actually heal a number of targets. As the previous wording indicated it was “spell criticals” that had a chance to proc Surge of Light, so spells that you cast once but heal multiple targets would increase the odds of this happening, even if the initial proc rate is quite low.
3) Increase the chance to proc, but only from specific spells.
I would think allowing Surge of Light to have such a high chance to proc from any spell that you cast would be seen as overpowered and that it would be nerfed in short order. It’s obvious we couldn’t have both, so how about keeping the initial 4 or 5 spells that trigger Surge of Light the same, but increase the chance that these spells will activate this talent? Even a holy priest with a typical raid healing assignment should be using Binding Heal to some degree in raids and this would give them a nice incentive to do so (if they’re not) or an additional perk (if they already are). Or maybe this change to Surge of Light would encourage more raid leaders to assign holy priests to tank heal, something we woefully do not get asked to do enough.
What do you think? How do you feel that Surge of Light needs to be changed to make it more viable? Do you like it the way that it is?