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.


Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses


  • Healing
  • Meditation
  • Absorption

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


  • 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?