Personally, I'm not a huge fan of Ghostcrawler. I think it's great that he is a presence on the community forums to show that the Devs do indeed read them... but sometimes, I get the impression that he posts just for the sake of posting, and actually puts more fuel on the flames, so to speak. I'm also not a huge fan of the "shotgun approach" they seem to have taken with class balance over the last expansion, and then applying hotfixes to fix their mistakes when a nerf/buff doesn't perform the way they expect.
All that aside, I have to applaud him today with his responses to the Disc Priest threads, because as a player who has played as a healing Priest since launch and is perfectly happy with the way the class is now... he nailed his description of a Disc Priest's role.
His description of a Disc Priest's specialization is:
"Discipline priests specialize in single-target heals and damage prevention. They are nonetheless fairly well rounded and have some fun tools, such as Power Infusion and Pain Suppression.
They are awesome and in some cases borderline overpowered. :)"
I'm willing to bet that one of those cases he is referring to where we are borderline overpowered is the Lich King encounter.
Any Disc Priest who has healed that fight knows exactly what I'm talking about. PW:S makes the LK's Infest ability practically trivial... whereas it would normally be an incredibly difficult ability to heal through, considering the other things happening during the fight at the same time.
Ghostcrawler also addresses "Single Target Healing." This quote alone makes me respect GC a whole lot more than I had prior to reading it, and goes to show that an overwhelming number of Priests in the WoW community (at least the ones who post on the boards) have absolutely no clue about the amount of potential the Priest class has.
The quote I'm referring to is:
"Yep. Perhaps I should have said "single-target HEALING" since unglyphed PW:S isn't technically a heal. But any Disc priest who is trying to heal multiple people at once is probably doing it wrong. You can raid heal effectively by targeting one person at a time, and that's what Disc priests do. Shaman and Holy priests can heal several people simultaneously."
The part of the quote that I feel most of the Priest community cannot seem to wrap their brains around is "You can raid heal effectively by targeting one person at a time..."
The term "Single Target Healing" does not mean you are limited to healing solely the Main Tank. Yes, the MT is probably the person taking the single most amount of damage... but no where is there a law saying that limits you as a Disc Priest to healing solely that one person.
Again, I will refer to the Lich King encounter and his Infest ability. Infest, for those of you that have not had the chance to face the Lich King, is an ability that hits the entire raid for ~7-8k, and applies a DoT that increases in power every second it's up. The only way to remove Infest is to get the target back up above 90% HP. He does this ability every 30 seconds or so during the first two non-transition phases of the encounter.
What makes Disc so great for this is our ability to pre-shield the entire raid with PW:S. If you're doing the encounter correctly, the rest of the raid, aside from the MT's, should not be taking a huge amount of damage during these phases, which means you can reliably keep PW:S up on the raid in preparation for the Infest. With iLevel 232 gear and above, PW:S is strong enough to absorb most (if not all) of the Infest, meaning it does no damage to the raid... and that means it does not apply the DoT, since the targets never go below 90% HP.
Anyone who does not consider this "Raid Healing" in an encounter like this, needs their head examined, IMO.
The Lich King is not the only encounter in which Disc Priests can excel at "raid" healing. During Dreamwalker, in ICC... the healer's hay-day because they get to "dps" the boss... I raid heal, as Disc. I'll post our guild's kill the other night of Dreamwalker below, and if you watch, I never cast one single heal on the Dragon... but I'm responsible for keeping the entire raid up.
Ghostcrawler's description of us being able to raid heal, only by doing it by selecting single targets, is spot on... but this is not a "new" concept. Prior to Burning Crusade, the only "AoE" heals in the game were PoH, Holy Nova, and Chain Heal. There was no CoH, or Wild Growth back then. Unless you were a Shaman... (which Alliance did not have at the time), most of your "raid" healing came from, you guessed it, selecting single targets.
Here's the Dreamwalker video. I'll try to remember to record a Lich King video this week (I forgot to hit record last week) and get that posted once I have it. Remember to watch the video in HD... it looks better.