Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Effects of a Failed First Impression: A Lightwell Story

The Importance of a positive "First Impression," whether it be in business, relationships, or any other social situation, is one of those things that cannot be stressed enough.

Having been in hiring and recruitment for a long time, and having done many interviews with potential candidates for different positions, I can personally vouch for how incredibly important a positive "First Impression" truly is.

This is also true of guild applications. Having been an officer in guilds, and a GM of others, positive First Impressions help there too, but that's a topic for some other time.

First Impressions are also important when it comes to class spells and abilities in WoW. To show my point, lets look at the Priest ability, Lightwell.

Lightwell is one of the most unique healing spells in the game, for any class. It heals for quite a bit, is incredibly mana efficient, it persists after death, and allows for healing outside of your GCD (after your initial cast).

Why then... is Lightwell still one of the least used Priest spells in the game? In my opinion, this is a direct result of a Failed First Impression. When Lightwell was first introduced, the spell straight up sucked. It did not benefit at all from +healing effects (spellpower), only had five charges (which one person could spam and take all five), had an obscenely long ten minute cooldown, took 3 seconds to cast (in a time where haste didn't exist to speed it up), the lightwell itself was incredibly small and difficult to click, and the effect broke on any type of damage. All of these things made the spell, in most priests' eyes, a waste of a talent point. It wasn't mana efficient, didn't get any better based on your gear, took forever to cast, was incredibly difficult to use, and so situational due to the effect breaking on damage that players may as well use a bandage.

All of these things, lead up to the popular adopted name for the talent as "lolwell" due to it being such a useless and unused talent.

Even Wowwiki states:
"Lightwell is a healing spell that can be acquired from the Holy talent tree, and is a 31-point talent. While situationally a very powerful spell on a health/mana basis, it is generally considered to be a lackluster talent, often jokingly referred to as "lolwell", and is rarely taken."
The Lightwell has come a long way since the "lolwell" name was adopted, and is now actually a pretty powerful and useful spell. The devs at Blizzard recognized that the talent was pretty useless in its original form, and have given the spell some pretty hefty buffs over the years.

To show just how far it has come, the Original spell description was:
"Creates a Holy Lightwell. Lightwell has a 3 sec cast time and a 10 min cooldown. Creates a Lightwell near the priest that party/raid members can click on to be healed over time. Being attacked cancels the effect. Lightwell lasts for 3 min or 5 charges."
The description of the spell now:
"Creates a Holy Lightwell. Lightwell has a .5 sec cast time, and a 3 min cooldown. Members of your raid or party can click the Lightwell to restore 4620 health over 6 sec. Attacks done to you equal to 30% of your total health will cancel the effect. Lightwell lasts for 3 min or 10 charges."
In addition to the changes listed, Lightwell now receives 100% of bonus healing effects from gear, whereas it received none of the bonus effects when the spell was first introduced. The cooldown now lasts as long as the Lightwell is up, meaning the only reason it would go down before the CD is up is if all the charges (twice as many as the original) are used.... or if it's killed (lol).

Let's look at the original complaints against Lightwell, and compare them to the spell in its current state to see how many of those issues have been resolved.

Complaint: "The cast time and cooldown are both too long."

Resolved? I would say yes. At .5 seconds to cast (before haste is factored in), that's pretty dang quick. Depending on the situation, it is also possible to pre-place the lightwell before combat even begins (since it stays up for 3 mins), making the use of a GCD irrelevant. Either way... on most fights, it's not too difficult to find .5 seconds of time to place a lightwell.

The cooldown is also reasonable now. Like I stated above, the CD is as long as the lightwell's life is, so if it goes down before the CD is up, it means you have a well-trained raid, and they're actually making use of your Lightwell.

It is possible to kill the lightwell, but since I have never actually seen it be killed, except in a duel after the player I was dueling used it himself (Well played sir... well played), that's not common.

Complaint: Players can spam the Lightwell, using up all the charges.

Resolved? First off, if a player is spamming the Lightwell, and you have players complaining about it... it means you actually have people who are trained to use your Lightwell. Well done! That's half the battle. Second, with the Lightwell Renew buff, and the mechanics around it, it makes it much more difficult for someone to spam it. Can it be done? Yes. Server lag, and other factors can play into it and it can still be spammed. For the most part though, it is relatively difficult for players to spam all the charges from your lightwell unless they're specifically trying to do so by clicking off their buff. If that's the case, there are larger issues regarding that player at hand that should be dealt with, and not any real fault of the spell itself.

Complaint: No one ever uses the Lightwell.

Resolved? Unfortunately, this is the only real issue I still see with the spell. The fact that you have to rely on someone other than yourself to make sure you get the full potential out of your spell can be truly aggravating. If you raid with the same people often though, it is relatively easy to "train" the group to use it.

It's a behavior that needs to be ingrained into a person's play style. Much like getting a raid/group member to not stand in fire, or getting DPS classes to utilize raid-frames to make sure they don't wander out of range of heals... this too is a learned behavior. Once the group adopts using the Lightwell as something that can benefit them, it can truly be a powerful tool.

The fact that players can click the Lightwell and receive the buff even when they're:
  1. Stunned
  2. Sapped
  3. Casting
  4. Running
  5. Feared
  6. Falling
  7. Eating
Makes it pretty useful if placed correctly.

If nothing else, it's one talent point, and as situationally useful as Desperate Prayer (imo). Even if you simply take the talent and use it for yourself, you can still get some use out of it by making it a cheap self-heal that's off the GCD.

Complaint: Lightwell is too hard to use/Lightwell takes too much time to go out of my way and use.

Resolved: I may be going against the grain here, but I'm going to say that this complaint was never a real issue to begin with, and just another lack of "training" in terms of players not being used to using it.

Below, I have video I Fraps'ed a couple weeks ago showing how quickly and easily a Lightwell can be clicked and used. I'm only Holy for the first half of the video, but that's the part I want to show.

The Lightwell can be an incredibly useful and easy to use spell.

Complaint: The HoT from the Lightwell disappears when damage is taken.

Resolved? I would say yes. The spell has been changed from its original form to only break when the player takes a hit that is equal or greater than 30% of their total hp. This means a single hit of 30% of their hp, not once they have taken that much damage. If a player has 20k hp, this means that they would have to take a hit of 6000 or more in order to break the Lightwell Renew buff and stop the healing.

Will some AoE's hit players for this much? You bet. There are not as many AoE effects out there from bosses that hit for that hard in a single hit as one may think though. It also takes into account resists. If a boss hits a player with 20k hp for 8000 but they resist 2500 of it, they're only taking 5500 damage, meaning the Lightwell Renew will continue to heal.

Now let's take an off-tank scenario. Let's say an OT has 40k raid buffed hp. 30% of 40k is 12,000. This means that (depending on the mob they're tanking) hits for less than 12k per single hit, even OT's could potentially benefit from a Lightwell.

Since the damage needed to break the Lightwell Renew scales (being it's a percentage of total hp, and not a static amount of hp), this means that Lightwell will continue to be useful, and scales with gear.

Complaint: Lightwell is too situational to be truly useful.

Resolved? Personally, I don't even see this to be a valid complaint. All spells are situational. Being able to know when and how to utilize them, and recognizing which spell/ability would be best used for each situation shows a mastery of the class/role.

Is Lightwell a situational spell? Yes. So is Hymn of Hope, Divine Hymn, Shadowfiend, CoH, PoH, Penance, PoM.......

There are certainly situations that are better than others in which to utilize Lightwell to its full potential, but that does not mean it's a useless spell.

To wrap this up, my overhanging point of this post is that I feel that the reason so many Priests in the World (of Warcraft) still consider Lightwell (lolwell) to be a "lackluster" talent is because of the "First Impression" it gave years ago when the spell was first introduced. It took literally years for the spell to get buffed and patched to is current state, and I think a lot of priests just gave up on the talent and have never really given it another chance. Players have gotten into a routine and play style without Lightwell being a part of that routine, and they haven't seen the point to try it.

The talent has come a very long way since "lolwell" was first used, and I think it deserves a second chance.

Sure, it can be argued that the spell still needs some work, but I could say that about quite a few spells in WoW. That doesn't mean that they are completely useless until those changes happen.

I may be a Discipline priest most of the time... but there's a reason I named this blog "Save the Lightwell."

I'm anxious to hear from others, and their thoughts on the Lightwell talent.


  1. This is a fantastic post, and I agree with you on all fronts. I happen to think Lightwell is a fantastic spell to use, once everyone is trained to use it! Because of that, if you're the type of person who raids mostly via pugs, it's not as useful - but if you have a regular group, much more likely to be properly used.

    And I entirely agree with the comparison to Desperate Prayer ;)

    I've got a page on my blog about the usefulness of Lightwell, and I think I'm going to link to this post, as you go into much more detail about why it's a valid talent!

  2. Thanks :)

    I'm glad I'm not the only Lightwell supporter out there!

  3. I've always liked the idea but have been dragged down by years of raid groups refusing to click on it. When Ulduar was first brought out I included it in my build but no matter where I placed it, hardly anyone clicked on it. I made macros, I yelled, I begged, I offered bribes but still it was a gimmick that people forgot or couldn't be bothered to use.

    Which is frustrating because there are so many fights in which it could be useful in all tiers of content. I'm going to play around with my build before Icecrown and will probably try again (I'm an eternal optimist at heart) but I admit the odds of it being used by anyone other than myself and a few of our other healers are pretty much zero. Although as a self saver I definitely prefer it to desperate prayer but my current holy build has neither.

    One thing I do love lightwell for however is two manning heroics. It completely trivialises fights like Malgannis in Stratholme for example and on other fights, allows me to dps virtually full time whilst the tank uses lightwell for healing.

    What it needs is a PR campaign to make the average dpser really really really want to use it. If only it had a chance to give a slight dps boost or something I bet they couldn't keep their paws off it.

  4. Thank you for a GREAT post about a spell I personally love.
    I think I really lucked out as far as "training" my guildies to use it. When lightwell was fixed to actually be a viable healing spell, my raid team consisted of 10 players including myself and another holy priest. Those other 8 people all knew either myself or Jill in person, and through persistent reminders we gradually got to the point where everyone in that core group was clicking on the glowy basin. We now do 25 man raids, and while most of the 15 other people don't touch the lightwell, it's enough for me that the 9 people I started to raid with use it.

  5. I have tried to use the lightwell many times. Many pick-up group members just ignore it. I have taken to giving a quick lightwell tutorial at the start of a run. "This is a lightwell. It will heal you. If it heals you I don't have to use mana. Please use the lightwell." But one of the best uses is to keep putting up the lightwell next to Warlocks in your group. They use their health to give themselves mana and then get health from the well. Light feeds dark.

  6. I remember playing a Priest and loving this spell. The hardest part? Yelling all the time "Lightwell for heals! LIGHT WELL YOU MORONS!" Well, I yelled that last part in my head...

  7. The biggest issue I have with Lilghtwell is that you have to change your target to use it. DPS never will change their target from the boss to get a hot. Until that is addressed, its not worth the 1 talent point IMO.