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THE SKY IS FALLING! THE SKY IS FALLING!! (AKA Ava’s thoughts on Cata Priest Changes)

As many of you know, a preview of the proposed priest changes for the Cataclysm expansion have been released. And of course, with any change announcements, the forums and players erupt in a glorious amount of QQing. I’m not sure what I enjoy more – the prospect of what we do being shaken up a bit, or watching a community of idiots & baddies make knee jerk reactions to something none of us can understand fully at this point.

Every expansion, one can assume there will be class mechanic changes, especially when new content & levels are being added. It would be a rather boring expansion if NOTHING about our classes changed, don’t you think? And LOTS is being changed – stats are being ‘simplified’ & how we receive benefits from them are being changed, we’re getting 5 more levels and talent points and new toys & spells to play with.

But like all the other class announcements, anything we see or read is PURE SPECULATION. We can’t possibly know how these things will work, or the situations they will work in. Not a single one of us has played with it.  I’ve seen how blizzard was going to “ruin” the game going from Vanilla to BC, and how healers were going to “get screwed” with the Healing/Spell Power changes going from BC to wrath- nothing played out how the negative nancys screamed it would. I won’t go as far to say all changes worked out as planned or even great; I’m simply saying we have no way of knowing. All we can do is discuss & theorize – who knows? Our thoughts may have someones ear. Nothing is set in stone yet. So 2 – 4 -6 -8 COME ON HEALING BUDDIES, LET’S SPECULATE!

New Priest Spells

Heal (available at level 16): While priests already have a spell called Heal, the existing version becomes obsolete at higher levels, which is something we intend to change in Cataclysm. Introduced at a low level, the “new” Heal spell will functionally work much like a down-ranked Greater Heal did in the past, adding more granularity to your direct-healing arsenal. If you need to heal someone a moderate amount and efficiency is an issue (making Flash Heal the incorrect spell for the job), then Heal is what you want to use. Heal is intended to be the priest’s go-to direct-healing spell unless they need something bigger (Greater Heal) or faster (Flash Heal). We will be following a similar philosophy with all the healing classes.

Interesting. With the removal of down ranking our spells, I can see this being fairly handy. Currently, my flash heals can hit for around 11K and I forgo the use of Gheal altogether as disc or holy, so this certainly adds a nice ‘in between’ heal. The best part of priest healers is our healing arsenal – we’re not three button healers, and more options can’t be a bad thing.

Mind Spike (level 81): Deals Shadowfrost damage and puts a debuff on the target that improves subsequent Mind Spike damage. The intent of Mind Spike is to fill a niche missing in Shadow DPS, though it may be occasionally useful for healers as well. Mind Spike provides a quick nuke to use in situations where the priest doesn’t have time to set up the normal rotation, such as when adds are dying too fast or you have to swap targets a lot. Spamming Mind Spike will do about as much damage as casting Mind Flay on a target afflicted with Shadow Word: Pain. The idea behind the debuff is that when you cast Mind Spike, we expect you to cast a lot of them; we don’t intend you to fit it into an already full Shadow rotation. It also provides Shadow with a spell to cast when locked out of the Shadow school. (School lockouts will no longer affect both schools for multi-school spells.) 1.5-second cast. 30-yard range. No cooldown.

I don’t have a clue about shadow things. The closest I’ve come to dps on my priest was a raid saving smite for my first Sindragosa kill. I’ll leave this one for more knowledgeable people to discuss.

Inner Will (level 83): Increases movement speed by 12% and reduces the mana cost of instant-cast spells by 10%. This buff will be exclusive with Inner Fire, meaning you can’t have both up at once. Inner Fire provides a spell power and Armor buff; Inner Will should be useful on a more situational basis.

Now this I REALLY like. I could have seen many uses for this in current content. Fights requiring high mobility will certainly see this used. I’m glad they’re getting rid of the ‘charges’ too. I never understood the point, and it was just one more thing to monitor.

Leap of Faith (level 85): Pull a party or raid member to your location. Leap of Faith (or “Life Grip”) is intended to give priests a tool to help rescue fellow players who have pulled aggro, are being focused on in PvP, or just can’t seem to get out of the fire in time. Instant. 30-yard range. 45-second cooldown.

Here’s one I have an issue with. In PVP, sure, it sounds great and deliciously annoying. But in PVE? You shouldn’t be pulling aggro.  You have a million tools at your disposal to monitor this, and as a DPS player, one of your jobs is to keep your aggro in check. You also shouldn’t stand in BAD SHIT – not standing in BAD SHIT is Raiding 101. Avoiding tunnel vision in any role is a huge part of the game, & I see alot of blame shifting to the priest for not pulling a DPS out of these situations, rather than blaming the offending player in the first place. That’s the last thing I think we want. Also, this had better include some sort of Aggro cancellation, because if I DO LoP an aggro gaining player, I forsee a VERY pissed of tank trying to run after a boss that’s now coming our way.

Changes to Abilities and Mechanics

  • All HoTs and DoTs will benefit from Haste and Crit innately. Hasted HoTs and DoTs will not have a shorter duration, just a shorter period in between ticks (meaning they will gain extra ticks to fill in the duration as appropriate).

What’s not to like about that?

  • We want to bring back Shadow Word: Death as an “execute” — something you do when the target is at 25% health.

From what little I know about shadow, I see our Spriests use this currently as part of their rotation, instead of just a finishing move. Hopefully they handle this better than the functionality of a Warrior’s Execute, which at this point is almost not worth breaking your rotation for.

  • While we want to keep the priest’s role as a well-rounded healer, we also want to make sure the class is a viable tank healer, which is something priests moved away from a little in Wrath of the Lich King. Greater Heal will probably be the tank-healing spell of choice, though we’ve also discussed giving Discipline a second shield so that they have a small shield to cast on lots of different targets, and a big, more expensive shield to cast on a tank or anyone else taking a ton of damage.

This baffles me. While I agree holy isn’t an ideal tank healer, Disc is still a fantastic one. What bothers me about this is losing a niche or identity between our specs. When each spec can do everything equally, it usually ends up not doing anything spectacular – a jack of all trades, but master of none, if you will. This is one we have to watch how it will play out.

  • Divine Spirit and Prayer of Spirit will be removed from the game. As Spirit will be the primary mana-regeneration stat, we don’t want it to vary as much between solo, small group, and raid play. Blessing of Kings and Mark of the Wild will not boost Spirit either.

I can see this being good. Early 80 players or ones that focused on smaller content suffered in the regen department, and the disparity between gearing/gemming for Mp5 vs int/spirit was a huge gap.

  • Mana will be a bigger consideration for all healers. We aren’t trying to make healing more painful; we’re trying to make it more fun. When the cost of a spell isn’t an issue, then casting the right spell for the job is less of an issue because you might as well just use your most powerful spell all of the time. We are, however, getting rid of the five-second rule, because we don’t want to encourage standing around doing nothing. We’re also going to cut back on the benefits of buffs such as Replenishment so priests (and all healers) don’t feel as penalized when those buffs aren’t available.

Again, I can see this. While mana management can be a issue in the hardest heroic content, it certainly wasn’t in normal raids. Much like the CoH cooldown seperated the good from the spammers, This will force more healers to learn to quickly adapt and choose the proper spell – right now most raiders don’t take that into consideration.

New Talents and Talent Changes

  • We want to improve Discipline’s single-target healing capacity. One key is to make sure shielding isn’t always a more attractive option than healing.

I really think this perception comes from people not understanding the strengths of a disc priest. If all you are doing is bubbling the raid, you are doing it wrong. While there are certainly fights where are points where you will be doing that, that is not ALL you should be doing. While your mitigation is a huge part of the disc style, you SHOULD be healing as well. You’re not working to your full potential, and honestly, you’re forcing the rest of your healers to work more.

That being said, I would hate to have our shielding and mitigation focus moved to the secondary. A way to encourage people to understand how to use the two TOGETHER is certainly warranted, however. Making the damage absorbed more easily seen without the use of secondary mods would be nice. I think half the problem is you can’t ‘see’ mitigated damage, thus to the average player, it looks like the disc is doing less. It’s all perception. When you have access to logs, and you can visually see how a disc priest actually ranks (it’s not uncommon to have numbers on par with a holy priest or pally) you realize this, but Joe Casual or PuG groups don’t have access to these. Another ‘wait and see how it plays out’ preview.

  • We want to improve Holy for PvP healing. One way to do this is to make sure that Heal’s throughput is similar between both specs.

See above.

  • We want to improve Shadow for short fights and reduce its susceptibility to school lockouts.

Again, I don’t know nuthin’ ’bout no shadowz. Go ask the experts.

  • Discipline will finally be getting Power Word: Barrier as a talented ability. Think of it like a group Power Word: Shield.

Woot. Something similar had been promised for a long time, and we actually expected to see it for the Wrath expansion. I can definitely see something like this move the perception that all disc is good for is bubble spamming, since covering groups more quickly will allow shifting focus to pure healing. However, I think it will require a high mana cost &/or a cool down, much like CoH, to discourage mass bubble spamming, and to encourage people to use it effectively. I hear it won’t work as a group targeting like PoH however, and more like a ‘zone effect’, similar to a Death Knight’s Anti Magic Shield. Interesting mechanic, has huge benefits for shielding melee groups that stand in BAD SHIT, or chef hat wearing death knights.

  • We want to make Holy a little bit more interesting to play. One new talent will push the Holy priest into an improved healing state when he or she casts Prayer of Healing, Heal, or Renew three times in a row. The empowered state varies depending on the heals cast.

Again, this baffles me. I think holy is hands down the most interesting healer to play. You have so many tricks and procs to manage, coupled with a large healing output, I’m not sure how this is boring. I am hoping this ‘improved healing state’ is obtained by a combination of heals, much like our serendipity stacks from flash OR binding heal. I rarely, if ever, cast 3 PoHs in a row. I’ll at least try to pad with a FH/BH or two to stack up the hasted effect. If I’m going to cast three in a row, the resulting state better be phenomenal. Which can be an interesting way to strategize – you know a phase with intense healing is coming up, you cast 3 PoH in a transition in preparation. The most powerful form of a bonus healing state probably should be harder to obtain – otherwise, healers will constantly sit at that.

I also demand a kick ass visual for this.

  • Since the Shadow tree has a lot of passive damage-boosting abilities — something we’re trying to avoid in Cataclysm — we will need to replace several of the tree’s talents. One idea is to play off of the new Shadow Orbs mechanic (see Mastery section below), possibly allowing you to consume an orb to increase damage from Mind Blast or reduce Mind Spike’s cast time.
  • Misery will no longer affect spell Hit chance. We want players to be able to gear themselves around a Hit cap that isn’t variable depending on group composition.

Durrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses

Discipline

  • Healing
  • Meditation
  • Absorption

Absorption: Improves the strength of shields such as Power Word: Shield, Divine Aegis, and Power Word: Barrier.

Holy

  • Healing
  • Meditation
  • Radiance

Radiance: Your direct heals add a small heal-over-time component to the target.

Not much is known how this will work. Set bonuses that gave a Radiance like effect always were lack luster and ended up being mostly overheal. Absorption is nice – perhaps that will encourage more interesting tier set bonuses like our original T10, instead of the current yawn fest we have now. I like the concept, but there’s still not much to comment on.

So that’s my brief thoughts. I’m not up in arms, I’m not upset, and you shouldn’t be either. We have a loooooooooong way until we see how these play out, or, if they play out at all. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time a proposed change didn’t see the light of day, and we have very little details how things will work, much less any indication on how we should apply them. So sit back, and ride the easy epic train that always pulls into the station before an expansion (I know my alts are loving it.). We’ll be getting more and more information as the weeks & months go on. When we see something concrete, THEN we can bitch.

Also, Derevka will have a follow up post in a day or two with his insights. Right now he’s holding a Starbucks hostage, screaming something about idiot melee & babysitting. When he’s sedated, I’m sure he’ll have some great thoughts.

That being said, what do YOU guys think? Anything you want to add? Musings, comments, insult my gender &/or heritage?

  1. I _like_ the changes they proposed. Most of all I see 2 big reliefs: improved tankhealing for holy and simplified mana regen model. I was getting sick and tired of the overly complex model. I hope the new mechanics will be accessible to a larger crowd to understand and work with (also be more intuitively).

    But as far as the proposed changes for holy are concerned, it looks nice imo. No expansion of our omg huge spell arsenal, increased utility and synergy. I’m intruiged.

    I’m also (slightly) amused by the rants on these notes from people. Don’t sedate Derevka just yet ;-)

  2. Ohhh, insulting is an encouraged option in comments?! Excellent! Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!

    That’s all I came by to say.

    (I agree completely about the pre-expansion QQ. Seriously… )

    Also: Life Grip. What are they smoking about this being a way to save a player who pulled aggro? If it doesn’t have an aggro cancel component, I will be one extremely pissed off tank if a healer life grips a melee out to range and I have to go running after shit. ><

  3. I can’t see them moving Disc shielding to a secondary role if Absorption is going to be the ‘unique’ passive mastery of the Disc tree.

    I also hope Inner Will stacks with the boot movement enchants. I’d like it to be a stacked speed boost for mobility fights rather than a 4% increase over the boot enchant.

    Heal intrigues me too…it might fill in that gap when Penance is on cooldown and Weakened Soul is up and you need something that’s going to heal for more than 5k and won’t take 3 seconds to cast..

  4. Just wanted to say I agree with most of what you’re saying and I really like the preview so far, looks positive.

    With the ‘addition’ of -heal-, which I think is greatly needed, especially considering their new healing model for Cataclysm.; this will allow both holy and disc to be viable tank or raid healers when the situation calls for it. And I disagree with you on the notion that disc should be tank healing and holy should be raid healing. That isn’t even the case right now. I much prefer the way Blizzard is going with giving you both options for whichever spec. It doesn’t make them the same, far from it, because we know disc is all about mitigation and holy is about heals. With the new mitigation spells being added to discipline we can see an even bigger divide between healing and mitigation between the two specs. Which in my opinion is a better way to do things. Make both specs viable for tank healing and raid healing, while keeping both specs completely different in their play style – works for me.

    Inner Will seems sensible to me and will obviously make a little bit more sense with their new regen. model, however – as you said yourself – this would have been nice to have now. And agreed, removal of charges was necessary.

    Leap of Faith I have mixed feelings about. As you stated it seems entirely useless in PvE and I really don’t understand what their thought process was in relation to that. Hopefully more will be revealed in the near future, without any additional effect than pissing off the dps you just yanked across the raid. Aggro drop could be interesting, but I do agree that it should not be a priests concern of an over-confident dps, or simply one that likes to stand in void zones/fire.

    Hasted renew = lovely. And again I have to disagree on your points with concerns to ‘healing niches’ between the two specs. Read above!

    I was really hoping for an AoE mitigation ability, and this is exactly what I had in mind with PW: Barrier. This is what makes me think that Blizzard is almost directing disc to being purely mitigation and pre-emptive healing, which is why I play the spec in the first place, it’s interesting (different).

    ‘Holy Form’ as most are dubbing it, appears like a nice idea, but sounds like it still needs a lot of work. I agree with you that moving from AoE and single target heals is part of the versatility of holy and this new system seems to limit our ability to do that, however I’m sure this isn’t what they are doing. Sounds cool though, as long as there is a really awesome visual system for it. We can only hope.

    Can’t comment much on the regen talents and the system because there doesn’t seem to be much to go on right now. It really needs to be ‘used’ to get a good feel of how it’s going to work, so I feel I cannot even speculate on how it will affect us.

    TL;DR – Awesome.

    - James (Blackdawn)

  5. To clarify, I NEVER said disc should only be tank healing – quite the opposite. I always say that disc is an AMAZING tank healer (which people seem to forget), and when raid healing, should NOT be pigeon holed in to a raid spamming shield role only, ignoring their healing abilities and only shielding a raid – that’s not only inefficient, it’s boring as hell.

    I will agree that more can be done to make holy a viable tank healer, or have an easier/more engaging way of making disc raid heal. My point was not about that, but making sure it was done in a way as to not lose the identity of the healing specs, especially the mitigation based healing of a disc priest. Seems we have the same concern, I just don’t convey them very well!

    I was thinking of this for our holy form:

    Holy form

    TLDR – I like cheesecake.

  6. Just finished writing my own reaction post to this. At the length that ended up, I’ll keep this down to a few key points.

    While I worry about the curse of jack of all trades too, the trick there is balance. If they get it right, then the homogenization of effectiveness is a great idea. If both priest specs were equally equipped to heal tanks and maintain the raid as they saw fit, it would be amazing. Anybody could be any spec they wanted, based on what they had the most fun with.

    The unique qualities come from the style of healing, and mitigation from disc and straight throughput from holy are very different styles.

    I do think discipline could use a little boost to actual healing throughput specifically because of the pigeonholing you mention. Discipline is primarily about mitigation, but our ability to weave healing in with it is also a defining characteristic. Big tank bubble, prayer of mending, then penance if you need it, and if that’s on cooldown having three spells that can be used effectively depending on the situation is a good thing!

    Finally, I’m not ready to write off Leap of Faith just yet. They gave some examples of how it could be used, but with the way they’re heavily emphasizing movement I predict it will become much more useful with upcoming encounter mechanics. For now it is a fun toy to mess with your friends, but I won’t dismiss it as useless until I see what they build us to use it in.

  7. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwOF86eQFq0

    I always thought ‘Avenging Wrath’ from paladins looked really awesome – and it always made me jealous because of how shoddy ‘Guardian Spirit’ looks.

    If ‘Chakra’ was something along the lines of AW, i.e. big golden wings or something along those lines – that’s what I’m talking about :D

  8. I like what they are proposing. Although I wonder at a few others.

    Inner Will: They said it affects only instant cast so other than DoT’s & the movement buff the haste will only be for Renew, Holy Nova, Shield, CoH?

    Leap of Faith: Why not make it a agro cancel push instead of a pull. Not only would it be fun, but you wouldnt have the problem of pulling any melee out of range and it would have the same affect to move them out of shit. Also, if it doesn’t cancel agro at least you won’t be pulling the agro magnet next to you so you’ll be the next one to get killed. Also, 45 sec CD seems an awful long time and how much good can you do to only pull 1 person every 45 sec situationally. If they are in range to get pulled to you, then they are in range to be healed so its almost redundant.

    Empowered Healing State: It would be cool for this to proc and turn you into some big angel or some other holy symbol for the duration.

    Why remove the Spirit buffs? That is one of the core buffs for the priest. Are they going to remove a mage Intel buff as well? Under their definition it will cause imbalances because groups with a mage will get increased efficiency with extra spellpower and mana. Same thing for other classes with buffs/debuffs. That is what makes those classes unique and the desirability to bring them. You want more spellpower and mana? Bring a mage. More regen? Bring a priest. It’s like our calling card.

  9. I’m not too ecstatic with some changes, but the hasted renew is the lovely.

    Regarding the “Leap of Faith”; if there’s no aggro dropping component, it might be used as another “oh shit” button to save a tank. Pull the dying tank to you, and watch those 0,0001ms late heals get him back up, while the angry boss chases him to the new position. If such tactics were viable for some fights, the “Leaping” priest could stand in a “safe spot” so as not to pull a tank into the middle of ranged, followed by a cleaving boss. :) On the other hand, it’s still more useful to keep the tank alive and lose a few ranged who [i]forgot[/i] to move themselves even if no safe spot were pre-determined.

    Anyways, looking forward to more info.

    “I think holy is hands down the most interesting healer to play.”
    <3 Read my mind. People are still asking me why I have two raiding alliance Priests on the same realm. Priests-are-awesome.

  10. I had an idea about Leap of Faith with an engineer priest, but agree mostly useless in PVE.
    Imagine this Engineer priest with the new two player RAF flying mount giving a buddy a ride, fly high enough to die from fall damage (fall damage what’s that levitate FTW!) then dismounting and popping the engineer parashoot, friend is falling to there death ubtil “I’ll save you!!” LEAP OF FAITH!! the player flys back up to the priest and jk fall to there death while the priest laughs at giving false hope.

  11. a
    I think I too might like some of the changes, and agree with many of your assessments. And I heartily agree that we just can’t yet know what the changes will be or how they’ll play. When everyone gets up in arms and begins to QQ in advance of pending game changes, I always go back and re-read the terrific “Palehoof post” on the WoW forums from last autumn, which you may remember got some notoriety:

    http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=20677635725&postId=209475904936&sid=1#0

    It always puts things in perspective and makes me laugh.
    o

  12. Just wanted to chime in with a Shadow Priest point of view (it hurts me that you’ve never come over to the dark side… Smite just doesn’t count!)

    First off Shadow Word: Death isn’t part of the Wrath rotation. In Tier 7 we got a set bonus that almost made the damage output for time spent worth it. But even then it was usually just higher DPS to keep Mind Flaying.

    That said, I actually really quite like SW:D as it is. When I check my logs I’m always surprised to find that I’ll have used it once or twice in a fight. I don’t even remember pressing it! It’s an instant spell and still worth casting on the run… assuming that your health bar isn’t too low to start with (ie I wouldn’t recommend casting it while you are running out of fire or something).

    Mind Spike is a bit of a disappointment. I hate the name. I just don’t like the idea of spamming anything. Shadow Priest have never ever been a class that spams an ability. Even Mind Sear requires you to switch targets or dot your target to kill everything. So yeah, let’s not encourage spam please!

    The change that excites me the most is actually that Haste will apply to DoTs by increasing the number of ticks over the duration. Since Patch 3.3 (when Haste sped up DoTs and shortened them too) it’s a bit annoying to have to re-adjust your mental rhythm because your DoTs now run out faster, or slower, because you swapped out a few items.

    So yeah, smoother rotation and less spam would have made me happy. That said, glad to hear they’re putting some effort into the healing classes. And I do think that Disc Priests needed a bit of a boost to bring them up to what Holy Paladins (or well played Shaman) can do as tank healers.

    And as offspec, occasional healer, the idea of being rewarded for casting 3x the same heal in a row sounds limiting. I like to just go for whatever needs it, you know? A Mage is about to go down and I might shield + flash + flash and then move onto someone/something else.

    1. Heh I assumed they used it in their rotation when I saw damage spikes. Maybe I’ll look at a log and see what they actually do besides annoy me for Power Infusions…..

      I know it’s odd, but I hate casters. Yes I’m WELL aware of how retarded that sounds when I play all the healing classes, but I have no interest in DPS casters. If I’m not healing, I like being melee and hitting shit in the face.

      Thanks so much for the insight on the shadow stuff!

  13. Even though I rarely heal, my alt priest is lonely :(

    I do find Inner Will great, it’s about time added mobility, and it also is said to stack with other run speed enchants/abilities. Sucks there is so much QQ on the US Forums. As for Shadow, the changes are good, and I’m looking forward to it.

    I also foresee our raid utility moving in a direction that is more unique compared to other classes, instead of bringing individual utility per tree, the class it self has over lapping buffs. In Cata, you’re not bringing, say, four priests to a raid, you’re bringing four: divine hymns, hymn of hopes and leap of faiths (threat resets?). Also, the whole picture hasn’t been given to us yet, we have yet to see how the trees will turn out, and I’m sure they’ll be awesome.

    mindplague

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