How To Fix Surge Of Light

28 Apr

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?


11 Responses to “How To Fix Surge Of Light”

  1. gina April 28, 2011 at 5:54 am #

    I tried spec’ing into it once as disc, for one raid night. Then looked at logs and respec’d. I think I saw 1 proc per fight. It’s too bad, I wish it was more viable to include in my current build.

    • Oestrus April 28, 2011 at 5:58 am #

      I felt like I was proccing a lot more with it last night, with Binding Heal. I’m sure it was just luck, but it felt nice to see the flashing light that let me know a free heal was ready to go.

  2. Dawn April 28, 2011 at 7:23 am #

    Don’t forget it now procs from binding heal. =)

    SoL does have a place actually, namely with priests who seriously lack gear and can’t sustain a holy playstyle that incorporates renew. I’m in the current situation. I was in a guild playing disc and went to a guild where I swap between holy and disc almost every fight. Disc needs next to nothing for gear and I had 2 resto shamans in my previous guild, so I passed upgrades to the holy priests (who hated disc passionately) readily assuming I could just get my gear later. Suddenly not having 4 piece is a really big problem and as a result I have to take some of the least important jobs if they need me holy because I can only raid heal with CoH and PoH, I can’t touch Renew at all.

    So I single target heal and use my AoE spells when I need to and honestly the proc rate on SoL is extremely good when you’re casting the rest of your spells. 6% seems low but it’s fantastic, and since I have Serendipity, I can use Greater Heal more and have more opportunities to proc it than maybe even disc can (ace it, the days of using a PW:S between every cast to have Borrowed Time on all your casts are over – it’s just not sustainable from start to finish of a fight.) I got SoL procs constantly before the patch and now with Binding Heal I actually don’t always have time to use them because of how frequently little wings are popping up on my screen.

    I think older holy priests are definitely going to have issues with this playstyle though. Kinaesthesia hates SoL, as does the other holy priest in my guild. I think if you played holy before now your goal is to going to be to get enough gear to support playing a high throughput healing style and not deal with those silly single target spells as soon as possible. That’s fine, but I do think a holy priest doing what I’m doing – constantly swapping between single and aoe healing – has a place, particularly in 10 man raiding where I can see that kind of playstyle actually being required because holy powerhouse healing just isn’t as effective on 2 groups of people as it is on 5. Granted, I play in a 25-man guild so I wouldn’t know, and not being able to be a pure raid healer in my situation is not ideal for raid teams that still operate using the old healer niches … But for a team that’s just making with what they’ve got I think it works, especially when we have two paladins who are itching to use their AoE heals but can’t do as much raid healing as they’d like (because of the class and because they’re always assigned to tank heal) but do try to. I think it evens out that we have two types of healers working together to fill two niches that historically have been filled by separate players.

    Obviously my play style isn’t going to get me to the top of the meters as a holy priest, but I think holy priests in general think that topping of the meters is the only way to be a good holy priest because it’s your job to do a lot of healing. If there is always damage then there is always work for you to be doing, right? Probably, but still, there is a place for more single target healing in many raid teams, it just requires a different approach.

    That said, my friends have accused me of being unnaturally lucky with SoL procs upon seeing my logs as both disc and holy so I could be completely biased. Maybe Blizzard changed the tuning on my character alone so I’d talk about how great it is to the masses o-o

    • Oestrus April 28, 2011 at 7:53 am #

      Hi Dawn!

      There was a bit of discussion about Renew’s place in the holy playstyle recently, over @ EJ. That all started because people were discussing how important it is to have a 12.50% haste breakpoint, solely dependent on Renew when holy priests haven’t been dependent on Renew since Wrath. We do use Renew, but we don’t rely on it and it’s not a mainstay like it used to be. It was a good discussion and several good points were brought up, but I digress.

      You’re absolutely right about SoL having a firm place in a 10 man setting and I am starting to see that more and more from other 10 man priests that I talk to. I can count on one hand the number of 10 mans that I’ve done in this expansion – so most of my experience and opinions come from a 25 man setting, where SoL doesn’t see much use unless you’re tank healing. I love tank healing and when I do, I see a lot of good come from SoL. When I follow my “typical” raid healing assignment, I don’t see it coming into play very much, if at all. I hope that including Binding Heal in the talent will change that.

      Also, can I get in on that Blizzard hax goodness?


      • Dawn April 28, 2011 at 8:45 am #

        I’ll check out the thread. I’m about 2 weeks behind on my reading and forums are the first thing I cut out when I get busy (if only you could incorporate RSS to certain posters on forums.) (Maybe you saw I didn’t do an article this week =( I was a bit bummed when they didn’t find anyone to cover me though. I always like to see someone else tackle the reins.)

        I hear you on 10-mans. I’ve run all of two, and while I love the new system I think it’s makes things difficult for bloggers who want to write for both sides. I feel like I’m at a huge disadvantage when I try to write some of my guides because I just see one perspective and can only speculate on what the best way to do things is in a 10-man raid. I don’t know if there will be mana problems either. But I’m not about to roll another priest and add a 10-man raiding schedule to my existing one. x-x

        • Oestrus April 28, 2011 at 9:00 am #

          It’s funny, because we actually had some attendance issues last week due to Passover and finals week and our raid was forced to break up into 10 mans on our last raid night of the week. Some people were unhappy about it, I was actually very excited. I couldn’t wait to get in there and try things out, see how things are different between 10 man and 25 man.

          I have to say that I really enjoyed myself. I got to see a lot more of my talents and other spells in use that I don’t typically see enough of (i.e. Serendipity) and it felt good. I’m not sure if I could do it permanently, but it was fun while it lasted. It felt more personal, like my performance stood out more than in 25 mans. I wouldn’t be opposed to doing it again!

          I saw that you didn’t do a post, but I just assumed that you were saving up to unleash a major post in the near future and that was why it didn’t happen. Plus I know you do a podcast and other things, so I wasn’t too worried.


  3. Amyranth April 28, 2011 at 7:41 am #

    “The chance to proc was also greater, at 25/50% versus the abysmal 3/6% that Surge of Light comes with now.”

    The old SoL had a 25/50% chance on *critical* heals while the new SoL does not rely on crits. So to directly compare the proc chances is misleading.

    One of the biggest problems with the old SoL was that it could not crit. So having the talent would actually lower your HPS on FH-spam. Now that it can crit normally this is not an issue. Also, we care at least a little about HPM now.

    I do miss SoL procs from other heals (CoH especially). Even so, I don’t really have another talent in mind to put those 2 talent points.

    • Oestrus April 28, 2011 at 7:56 am #

      Hi Amy,

      You’re right about that statement being slightly misleading. I guess what I was trying to say with that is that on the surface, people could look at the difference in numbers and could be immediately discouraged from taking it. At first glance, 3/6 looks quite paltry compared to 25/50. While people should consider other factors, not everyone does. I admit that I could have worded that better and I’m sorry for the confusion.

      I’m kind of in the same boat as you, with not really having any other place to put those talents. There are quite a few talents that we currently have which I feel don’t accurately reflect the current state of the holy priest (not to sound pretentious). They seem more like throwbacks from another time, if you will.

  4. Zelmaru April 28, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

    Basically, right now, it doesn’t happen often enough and you can’t do anything to GET it to happen more often. If it happened more often, it would be more helpful. If its proc were something you could control a little better, then people would choose it or not choose it based on playstyle. So I agree, there are some good alternatives you have suggested to making it more viable.

  5. Lunarsoul April 29, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    For my 10-man team, Surge of Light is amazing. While I still raid heal as a PoH/CoH bot, I do cast quite a few Greater Heals to get the tank back up. When it procs, my next PoH cast time is reduced and my personal HpS increases. I freakin love it for 10-mans.

    I can definitely see its limited use for 25’s though. While I haven’t raided in a 25-man guild, by looking through logs I can see where it’s a lackluster talent for 25s.

    An easy fix? Maybe have it proc off of PoH as well.



  1. » Does Surge Of Light Proc More From Binding Heal? The Stories of O - December 24, 2011

    […] I was doing research for my previous Surge of Light post, I got to thinking about just how this polarizing talent works.  I would read the description over […]

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