Well, Cataclysm is now announced! December 7, 2010– the Beta still has some work that needs to be done (quest reward itemization, profession implementation to name a couple). However, we all need to remember that there are often several internal builds that Blizz’s teams are testing that the Beta folks do not have access to yet. I am confident that we’ll ultimately be pleased with the end result.
With Cata FINALLY announced we need to start planning for it’s release. Not only will we have access to 5 more levels, new dungeons, new spells and abilities, we also will have access to new races and new race combinations with the classes. I am guilty of changing my race more than a couple of times… hell, more than several times. I am embarrassed to admit I’ve spent nearly $200 in race changes/customization of my Priest alone- every time I change races, I hate the old one. Does this make me racist? At this point, Ava is threatening to buy me a Barbie doll to play with instead of changing my character’s race again and again. I am almost in agreement with her… almost.
Blizzard has stated:
We’re not going to overhaul the racials to the degree that we overhauled the talent trees. We are going to make a pass at them, so if you have specific concerns for Cataclysm now is a fine time to bring them up. In this case, specific feedback is more useful than “I think the way racials should work is a totally different way” designs.
The changes are pretty much complete and I would be shocked if we see much (if any at all) else on racials in the builds. Now, let’s take a look at each of the Priest-Eligible races for Cataclysm. To be fair, we only are going to evaluate these racials in the light of PVE Min/Maxing. As such we will not weigh in (mostly) any profession bonuses and school-specific resistances (they are often fight specific), mounts, or other novelties.
Human – Every Man For Himself will likely continue to be valuable in a PVE setting. We will be battling a number of dragons– Blizzard dragons usually have a cleave, tail swipe, and quite often… a fear. EMFH is great for breaking Boss Fears and getting that raid-saving heal on the MT. Diplomacy is great to get your Faction Rep up to where you need it to be to get the Exalted Enchants/Recipes. Human Spirit sounds great, but 3% spirit is not worth nearly as much (point to point as the other stat modifiers). 3% spirit in full premade 85 dungeon blues is only worth ~50 spirit. That is worth about one Sparkling Ocean Sapphire. Humans are a great PVE option with EMFH alone, their Diplomacy ability is really only good as you level and early 85 until you Rep Cap at Exalted– so I wouldn’t weigh this too heavily, and Human Spirit isn’t worth very much until you get a lot more spirit. (and even then I’m not excited about it).
Draenei – The biggest change we’re seeing here is that Heroic Presence is no longer an “Aura” it is now a self only modifier. (sorry DPS, Draenei priests are a less altruistic in Cata!) If you do not play shadow, there is really very little reason you’d want the added +1% hit. (Even with Atonement Specs, you’ll be hit capped on Smite). This 1% is worth ~120 Hit Rating at 85. Gift of the Naaru is pretty lackluster in my opinion… Yes it costs no mana, and yes it scales with Spellpower… as a healer I doubt we need a high CD HoT.
Worgen – Aside from having a pretty pimpin’ Change Form animation, you have a couple of really solid racials for PVE Raiding. Viciousness bringing you an added 1% crit is quite tasty. At 85 that equates to an additional 179 Crit Rating right out of the blocks. Even though crit is not quite as valuable to Holy as it is for Disc ( DA procs), it is worth quite a bit. (More than 4 of the Rare Quality gems). The 70% sprint from Darkflight is very handy in PVE, I know my Engi Rocket Boots have been quite helpful- no reason to not consider movement modifiers. (Running from Defile and kiting Anub’arak, are two examples).
Gnome – One key thing to remember is that Expansive Mind is worth 5% mana, not intellect. (Read: you do not get a spellpower bonus) Point for point, regarding your mana pool, it is worth more than Intellect. In premade 85 dungeon blues, Expansive Mind is worth ~3600 mana. Of course, this then trickles down to increased mana restores from Hymn of Hope, Shadowfiend, and Replenishment. With mana being a premium in Cata, the increased mana pool (that scales with gear) is exceptionally valuable. Escape Artist is handy but very situational, and many boss mechanics make it ineffective.
Night Elf – Sorry Night Elves, you really bring nothing to the table that a PVE healer would be exceptionally excited about. Shadowmeld, while it can save you, shouldn’t be a button you have to press as a healer. Shadowpriests might be interested in a temporary aggro dump while the tank Taunts… but they already have Fade. Wisp Spirit means you get back to your body first during corpse runs… “[Whisper to Night Elf Priest] : hey man, can you rez me when you get back? I’m grabbing a beer.”
Dwarf – Putting their penchant for beer, and twirling braided hair aside, Stoneform can be helpful if we run into a lot of encounters that have bleed/poison effects… I guess. Ignoring my interest in level capping Archaeology, the rest of their abilities provide very little to casters.
Undead – Underwater Breathing lost a lot of value when Blizzard increased everyone’s underwater time when we installed Wrath. The strongest thing Undead Priests have to offer is Will of the Forsaken. Akin to Every Man, this will become very handy once we start fighting Dragons with Fear effects. I won’t comment much about Cannibalize… enjoy your free food and drink.
Tauren – Ahh Tauren… the Night Elves of the alliance. You’ll get a slightly higher base health pool from Endurance, and War Stomp which can be handy when you need to emergency help stunning mobs. (Valkyrs on Lich King) Overall, there isn’t much here that you should get excited about from a healer PVE perspective.
Blood Elf – Arcane Torrent continues to be valuable as it provides a healthy mana return. Using a premade dungeon blued 85, it provides ~4300 mana back. Using the 2 minute cooldown to put it into mp5 perspective you’re looking at 179 mp5 when used on CD. Remember,since it is a % of total mana, it will scale with your gear. Magic Resistance provides a blanket non-school specific miss chance from all sources of magical damage– this diversity makes it more valuable over many fights as the other race’s resistances are school specific.
Goblin – Time is Money provides a flat 1% buff to your attack and casting speed. (currently on beta this DOES affect HoT’s and DoT’s– I’ve confirmed as of 10/28/2010)). This racial increases all your spell’s cast speed- so depending on how often you are instant cast spamming this might not be a big bonus. To understand the numerical value to speed, 1% is valued at 128 Haste Rating– more than 3 Quick Amberjewels! The Rocket Jump brings priests the ability to Blink and kite/reposition fight mechanics more effectively. Best Deals Around makes repairing cheaper until you are level capped. And the Hobgoblin is handy to grab extra flasks/potions from your bank mid raid. (Edit: Hasted HoT/DoT)
Troll – Da Voodoo Shuffle is nice is you happen to get snared by a frost zone or other similar effect in game; but this mainly is something for PVP. The real win for Trolls is access to Beserking. Your own 20% Heroism (valued at 2560 Haste at 85) every 3 minutes. The trick here is when do you want to use it? I always struggle with liking “on use” effects becasue you never /really/ have the foresight to know when the best time to use it will be. So to be fair, averaged out over the duration of the cooldown and buff, you’re about on par with Time is Money. (2560/180 sec * 10 sec) It really depends on if you prefer a spike of haste to clean up a mess, or a constant, “encounter wide”, throughput improvement. Both have their benefits.
In my eyes there are a couple of good options on either side. What race you choose (or stick with) might purely hinge on how you want to play. If I were forced to choose, based solely on throughput in a PVE world, I would go with:
Alliance – Gnome: just for the added mana. However I would place Worgen at a close second with the Sprint/Crit Bonus.
Horde – Blood Elf: Arcane Torrent is that good- with mana at a premium, restoration will be critical. I would likely place Goblin at a close 2nd due to their Haste and Rocket Jump.
All of these discussions are based on a purely a throughput point of view. You also need to pick a race that you’ll have fun playing…. if you don’t like being a short bouncing gnome (That, i’ll be honest, I am not super excited about) don’t pick Gnome! I’ll likely pick Worgen due to the fact that I like their casting animation as well as the fact that I could totally entertain myself for hours changing in and out of Worgen form. That, and I am convinced that Female Worgen will be doing this… LOL.