Preservation Evoker: First Impression of the New Healer Class in Dragonflight

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Preservation Evoker: First Impression of the New Healer Class in Dragonflight



During the Dragonflight expansion announcement, Blizzard revealed the new exclusive class for the upcoming expansion, the Dracthyr Evoker! In this article, we break down everything we know so far about the new Healer specialization, Preservation Evoker, including the new Empower skill type and how this class could fit into the healer meta.

Dracthyr Evoker Class Overview

Introduction

I’m AutomaticJak, I’m the guide writer for Holy and Discipline Priest. Today I’m very excited to share my opinion and speculation on Preservation, the new healer specialization coming in Dragonflight.

What We Know About Preservation Evoker So Far:

  • Evoker is a race-specific class. It is only available to Dracthyr, the new playable dragon race.
  • Evoker uses mail armor, same as Shaman and Hunter.
  • Devastation focuses on Blue (Frost) and Red (Fire) dragonflight powers, where-as Preservation focuses on Green (Nature) and Bronze (Time Magic).
  • Evoker is introducing a new casting mechanic, Empower, which is a charge system for casts.
  • Evoker is an intellect class. It uses Staves, Axes, Maces, Swords, Fist Weapons, and caster offhands.

This is all we know for certain, but there is also limited information about Evoker from the Dragonflight Expansion Reveal, Dracthyr Evoker & Dragonriding Preview, and various interviews. Based on these, we can make some additional assumptions about the class. In this article I’ll lay out what we know, how those mechanics can relate to other healers, and some history when possible around where other mechanics from healers have appeared over the years!

Class Design

The Basics

Evokers will be Mail-type armor wearers, a welcome addition after the deluge of leather-wearers in recent years! Evokers are mid-ranged casters, which begs the question of if this will also translate into a mid-range healer? Holy Paladins utilize the talent Rule of Law to naturally extend the range of their spells and benefit their own mastery, would the mid-range rules only apply to the DPS spec or would a Preservation Evoker have to deal with potential annoyances of having a reduced range to heal allies? Mistweaver comes to mind as a healer that has a large amount of its healing concentrated into allies directly around them with abilities like Refreshing Jade Wind or the legendary Ancient Teachings of the Monastery, this can be a limiting factor on encounters with a high quantity of spread players but it would not be unheard of.

Empower Skills

The Dracthyr also come with a new type of mechanic called Empower where players can hold down a button to power up the spell, allowing amplified damage/healing/effectiveness. As a healer, a large question that will be presented will be “What are the costs and benefits?” Will the Empower mechanic only add benefits to holding the spell longer and you’ll only release early for better heal timings, or will there be an increased resource cost associated with a longer held ability? Discipline Priests from Legion should remember the now-removed Plea ability which applied a singular Atonement but its cost increased based on the number of Atonements you already had out. Would Evokers have an increased mana or secondary resource (Holy Power? Try DRAGON POWER) cost based off a longer hold?

With Empower certain spells will hit more allies or have increased effectiveness. But what about the cost?

Powers of the Green Dragonflight

When it comes to the Dragonflights, the Evoker is able to master the powers of them all but primarily utilizes Bronze and Green Dragonflights for healing abilities. Green gives IMMEDIATE Resto Druid/Healing Over Time vibes as Resto Druids have a few very Green Dragonflight-referencing abilities like Ysera’s Gift or BfA’s azerite power Waking Dream. The above Empower ability however, looks a lot like a Paladin’s Light of Dawn so perhaps HoTs won’t be as large of a focus.

The Green Dragonflight suggests heavy Healing Over Time affects, but this radius based heal looks to be very bursty.

Influence of the Bronze Dragonflight

The Bronze Dragonflight also seems to continue with the Restoration Druid references as they refer to speeding up the rate at which allies are healed which sounds a lot like Flourish. There is potential for more extreme measures to be taken and for this sort of Bronze ability to empower the Green-flight HoTs to be consumed so rapidly that they could replicate a Discipline Priest’s bursty ramp. For a very long time Discipline has had one of the most unique and irreplaceable healing profiles out there, so perhaps this could be an opportunity to give Discipline competition in how they heal and perhaps to make Druid less bursty by extension?

The Preservation Raid Cooldown

Perhaps the Bronze-Flight can be a strong contender for the Evoker’s 3min raid-wide healer ability. Astrologians in FFXIV have a unique ability called Macrocosmos that buffs allies for 15 seconds and stores 50% of all damage taken during the duration. At the end of the duration (or when toggled) each ally is then immediately healed for all compiled damage. This sort of mechanic could also be thought of as akin to a raid-wide Alter Time type mechanic where it can have the “punch” of Revival but requiring more setup to yield the heaviest value.

Alternatively, maybe a raid-wide Stagger mechanic could be implemented whereby damage taken over the next 10 seconds is instead delayed over a 10 second period. Not producing any healing on its own but instead giving breathing room for the entire healing team to stabilize from many big hits. This absolutely would be insanely busted and healing is already an area where raid utility is a touchy topic but the devs did indicate that fun would come first and then time taken to balance after.

How Does Preservation Evoker Fit into the Healer Meta?

When it comes to healer niches there are many healers that share similar-ish profiles and some that don’t. In general, there are a plethora of Healing Over Time effects, some healers who incorporate heavy single target output into their raid healing (Holy Priest and Martyr Holy Paladin). Other healers who have mini-ramp type mechanics with constant healing in between (Necrolord Shaman/Restoration Druid) and heavy burst heals in Discipline. On paper it sounds like Discipline could have company in the ramping healer department with augmenting HoTs to accelerate or maybe fully consume their total healing with a slight penalty when using. For instance, using a Bronze-Flight ability to rapidly consume your HoTs on a cooldown or with a hefty mana or healing penalty (i.e. the HoT is instantly consumed but only for 85% of its value instead of 100%).

With only a few gifs to guide us, we can see that Empower should play a hefty role in the making of the Preservation Evoker which lends itself to playing more bursty at first glance. When it comes to making a powerful raid healing composition however, healing profiles are not always the primary motivator….

Concerns

In Shadowlands, like in previous expansions, raid utility has played a massive role in determining when certain healers are brought to high-end content over others, to the point that some healers are ignored completely in high-end Mythic raiding. So when it comes to how exactly an Evoker heals, I think that might be a secondary question for many Mistweavers, Holy Priests or Restoration Druids who will be more curious about what type of utility that an Evoker brings.

New expansions are always good opportunities to change up the meta and change long-standing abilities. With a new healer shaking up the natural order this is also an opportunity that the Blues should not pass up on ensuring a greater diversity in healer makeup for future raid-tiers. Fight design and balancing has done a lot to shake up the Sepulcher raid meta but for much of the last decade the competitive healer meta has been staler than bar pretzels.

The short previews that we have seen suggest that the “mid-range” aspect of Evoker should be limited to the Devastation damage spec and not Preservation healing but it is worth mentioning again in case the healer’s damage spells are still bound to these reduced range requirements, it could result in some annoyances in raiding where you cannot be close enough to the boss to attack and no healing is required so you AFK instead.

End Thoughts

It has been an extremely long time since a new healer was added to the game and I’m really looking forward to see how the Evoker is constructed. One of my favorite times in the game was during Legion Alpha/Beta when the developers communicated heavily on the forums, engaging with the community as they redesigned many healers, both Holy and Discipline are what they are today in large part because of the foundations established in Legion.

While Discipline took till 7.2.5 to become the complete healer that it is today, my greatest hope for Evoker is communication and engagement with the community as they reveal their work to the public. I was very heartened to hear the priorities of Evoker design being about establishing fun first, then working on the balance after, as what is set down in Alpha/Beta sticks around for an incredibly long time.

Evoker sounds so far like a breath of fresh air and I’m excited to see what Preservation has in store for us when Dragonflight Alpha launches let me know what you think some of the Evoker abilities might be, or perhaps how the Black Dragonflight could play a role in this new class?





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