I touched upon the changes to the Priest specs during episode 15 of The Edge. Today, I want to expand upon that and examine the rest of the changes that were made in further detail. I still maintain that Priests are the flagship healer class in any game. In Mists, Discipline outshone Holy completely and Shadow was considered average to above average DPS on major fights. Blizzard decided to dial back the potency of Discipline, ease up on the restrictions of Holy, and offer Shadow a little more flexibility in their gearing.
Cooldowns like Hymn of Hope and Void Shift have been removed. In a recent interview with Gamebreaker, Celestalon explained the logic behind removing Innervate. Simply put, the strategy behind Innervate was to wait until mana falls below a certain percentage, then cast Innervate and use it whenever it was available. Same logic with Hymn of Hope. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to miss it. In a more recent build of the alpha, Holy and Disc are seeing alternate methods in gaining mana back. We’ll touch on that shortly.
Void Shift is a little trickier. It functioned as a “skillshot” for the Priest. It traded health percentages with the target. I daresay it wasn’t often used as Guardian Spirit or Pain Suppression but really stellar Priests were able to find a way to use it. Instantly changing tank health from 20% to 87% saved time and mana for other healers which provided a meaningful buffer during high stress fights. Going to miss this spell too.
Major changes are in store for Chakra. In it’s current form, Chakra was just a little punishing. These were introduced with Cataclysm as a type of stance for Holy Priests for excellent single target healing or supreme AoE raid healing. However, if you were in Chakra: Sanctuary and had to tank heal for some time, it felt like you were penalized for being in the wrong state. How’d they fix it?
They switched where the bonuses would go. In the current state, being in a Chakra stance now increases the bonus healing done. With Warlords, the bonus healing is actually going to the spell itself. Being in the Chakra: Serenity increases the power of your single target spell by a mere 10% compared to the old 25%. Holy Word: Serenity will hit for 40% more than it does now. Now you have this feeling of being less punished for being in the incorrect Chakra stance.
Chakra: Chastise has also seen a change. Remember that Hymn of Hope removal I mentioned earlier?
Increases the damage done by your Shadow and Holy spells by 50%, grants a 10% chance for Smite to reset the cooldown of Holy Word: Chastise, causes Smite and Holy Fire by to cost no mana and refund 0.75% of maximum mana, and transforms your Holy Word spell back into Holy Word: Chastise.
Looks like we’ll have to weave some damage into our rotation here.
Is Renew spamming is back?
This was a popular playstyle during the late stages of Wrath of the Lich King, Holy Priests could turn themselves into Renew blankets. Sort of like a Druid, really. But that type of play fell out of favor as the expansions progressed. I’m not sure about the viability of it in this expansion, but Renew did get readjusted to a 1.5 global cooldown and you’d need a boatload of haste to really make Renew spamming worthwhile.
Discipline was powerful throughout the expansion. It will experience two major adjustments:
Atonement was simply too strong. You should either be doing strong damage or strong healing. With Atonement in the current form, it was easy to do both within one cast.
What about absorption changes? Why are they being made? Blizzard made a mistake of removing the AoE cap on the level 90 talents. Divine Star, and Halo in particular were dropping massive shields on top of players because of the major overhealing that was going on. Enjoy the large numbers while you still can, because AoE caps will be going back in place where those spells will start seeing a diminished affect after a certain number of players receive heals from the same spell (like Halo).
In addition to the Chastise changes mentioned above, Discipline also sees their own form of mana regeneration.
Each time Penance deals damage, the Priest will regain 1.5% of maximum mana.
Do you save the Penance for the quick burst heal or do you unload it on the boss for quick returns on mana?
Mastery: Mental Anguish: Increases the damage of Mind Blast, Mind Spike, Mind Flay, and Mind Sear by 20%.
Priests were dominant on multi-target fights due to the nature of their DoTs but they fell far on single target fights like Iron Juggernaut. The Mastery now ties in the strength of their single target spells like Mind Flay. This gives Priests an option to switch to a high Mastery set for single target fights and switch out to haste for extra DoTs on multi target fights.
Level 100 talents
Priests actually are receiving 7 new talents since Holy and Discipline are sharing two of them.
- Saving Grace: Heals a target for an amount, but it reduces your healing done by 10% for 10 seconds. This stacks up to 10 times. Good talent to pick up on any heavy mobility fights. You can even spam it on the same player for a few casts in a dire situation.
- Words of Mending: You gain a stack of Word of mending when you cast a heal or an absorb spell. Hit 5 stacks? The NEXT target you cast a healing or shield spell on will also receive a prayer of mending. Sounds like a good default talent to use on any non special encounters. It’s a free heal. And don’t worry, Blizzard changed Prayer of Mending so that the same Priest can have multiple Prayer of Mendings out AND the same target can also receive multiple Prayer of Mendings on them.
- Clarity of Will: Discipline exclusive only. It’s a cast time shield which absorbs a set amount of damage within 20 seconds. The benefit is that the target won’t receive a Weakened Soul debuff. So I’m not really solid on this spell itself as a talent yet. It doesn’t feel like a level 100 talent to me. But take it as you will.
- Clarity of Purpose: Holy exclusive only. Replaces Prayer of Healing. It’s a group heal that will heal the allies within 10 yards of your target, but with a twist. The more injured a player is, the greater the heal they will receive. So it’s the Einstein of healing spells.
- Clarity of Power: Mind Spike, Mind Sear, and Shadow Word Death deal 40% additional damage to targets NOT dotted up by Shadow Word Pain or Vampiric Touch. Not only that, Mind Spike restores 5% Mana and reduces the cooldown of Mindblast by 1 second. Great for fights where you need to burst down targets fast like Norushen.
- Void Entropy: Costs up to 3 Shadow Orbs. Deal X damage to a target every 3 seconds for a minute. Better for single target encounters.
- Auspicious Spirits: Shadow Apparitions grant you a Shadow Orb instead of dealing damage. Not actually sure when or where I’d use this.
What was your first reaction when you read about the directions Priests were going? Are you going to change your main spec when the expansion is released?