Cataclysmic Priests

8 April 2010 § 3 Comments

The changes are out! Let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty: they promised us changes on Wednesday, and they posted it at 23:57 on Wed night, pacific time… Were they worth the wait? I am personally mildly excited, albeit, as you probably know, I’m generally optimistic. You can find the full change list here, I’ll try to comment in a more organic fashion about what all this means for Disc healing in particular.

More direct heals

Like the shamans, we’re now getting three heals. Fast and expensive (Flash), big and slow and expensive (Greater) and traditional (Heal). This, by itself, is not a problem – the trick now will be on the team to manage to balance those three heals. Amber makes a good point: so far we’ve had two and always ignored one. In Vanilla it was all about Greater Heal (albeit a downranked one), with Flash relegated as the heal for trash, at most. This really only changed in Wrath, where Flash became the heal of choice of Discipline, with Greater Heal appearing only in very special occasions (with Borrowed Time up, on tank healing, with a hard hitting boss possibly hitting slowly…).

They seem to want us to move away from shielding and more to direct healing, whether it is for tanks or raids. That’s not necessarily bad, but I admit that I don’t like statements like:

One key is to make sure shielding isn’t always a more attractive option than healing.

Maybe it’s because they have a different paradigm for Discipline than the current one, but this is dangerous. Lots of people LIKE the shield idea – and as far as I understand, it’s ok that shield is the best thing to do. The problem is what to do for the 15 secs of Weakened Soul – so I support the idea of more tools, but not at the expense of our shields. I would much rather have a model of interaction between shields and our heals: for example, make Renewed Hope not just give us 4% crit, but instead a sizeable increase of healing. To avoid making it too powerful, we could have that increase only to Greater Heal, which itself would mean that we could use Gheals to heal tanks, and FHeal or Heal for the raid.

More Shields

Now, this is more like it. It seems like we will finally get Power Word: Barrier, the spell that was suggested (and then quickly taken away) around 3.1. This will work as an Anti-Magic Zone, but will be PvP dispellable. Again, the proof here will be in the pudding – or, out of metaphor, in the numbers. In principle, this is a good thing: more tools, and a fairly nice one.

There’s also some mention of another single-target shield, so that we can have one shield that we use on raid healing, and one bigger one for tanks. It’s more difficult to comment on this one, because even more than before, the numbers will make or break this. However, I support having more shields, so bring it on…

More Fun Tools

One word: LIFEGRIP!

This will be the funniest spell ever, and the potential for abuse, griefing and general hilarity is enormous. We also go back into Blackrock Mountain for Cataclysm, a place infamous for its lava pools. Coincidence? I think not!

On a more serious note, this actually has some nice interesting applications. The PvP ones are evident, but even in PvE, I can see some interesting niches opening up, with the right coordination. Everyone picked up on the “save raiders from void zones” aspect, though that will require lightning fast reflexes. Another possibility is to help kiting mobs: situations like Rotface oozes, or Valthiria’s zombies, a Lifegrip at the right time could help a lot.

Similar thoughts about Inner Will: a movement speed boost with instant cast cost reduction is clearly awesome for arena/pvp, but I can see its use in PvE too. As someone who’s always on the edge of Sindragosa’s Blistering Cold, the speed boost could be a serious boon. It’s clearly not game changing, but it’s a nice additional tool.

And the rest…

I like Chakra: the community has been asking for “holyform” for some time, but this is actually a nice cooldown that does some of that, but is a lot more flexible. Burst healing, some nice dps in lower Heroics… all in all, pretty nice.

I also like the Shadow Orbs mechanic: it sounds intriguing at least, and has a lot of potential if they make it work with some of the talents around.I just hope they don’t simply use it as a levelling tool to “make people feel like shadow priests before they get Shadowform” – that would be a horrible waste.

Misery has no hit component anymore: about time, and I do sincerely hope they take it away from Draenei racials, too. Of course, this being Blizzard they will replace it with something equally powerful and unbalanced (see the history of Alliance racials…).

Mind Spike: this does address two complaints that I often hear from my shadow brethren. One is the long build up of Shadow dps, which makes trash pulls a pain. The second is the susceptibility to interrupts (in PvE like Freya/Ignis, but of course a lot more in PvP). Having SOMETHING that still works when you’re locked out of Shadow is nice.

So all in all, the changes look promising: it’s a mix of fun stuff (lifegrip), with situationally useful stuff (Inner Will), with genuinely good spells (PW:B, the second shield). I can speak less about Holy and Shadow: the changes there make sense, but I don’t know whether other changes would have made more spell or addressed bigger concerns. They did seem to give us more scalable heals (and the fact that most classes should lose talents of the “your spellpower is increased by x% of your int” kind will help on the comparison, too). Now, the real key will be the balancing of three direct heals – and all our other infinite tools….



§ 3 Responses to Cataclysmic Priests

  • Ceralyn says:

    I think the addition of a third mid-range Heal spell is a good thing. You even mention downranking, this is the exact same thing. I had a big, middle and low-end greater heal when I was holy back in early BC. We’ll just have 3 spells with different names this time!

    I really like your idea for the renewed hope increase. I think the wording there is what’s scaring folks, but from everything else they’ve stated I doubt that they are trying to cut back on the bubbles. On the contrary I think they’re trying to offer more options. An increase in throughput so we don’t get stuck solely as bubble-bots is a nice change.

    • Tsark says:

      In theory, it is a good thing. In practice, it will require finer balancing than we had before. As you said, we all had a bar full of different ranks of the spells, but even in Vanilla Naxx I don’t remember using more than 3: Heal Rank 2 for normal stuff, GHeal max rank if the tank had suddenly spiked – and occasionally a downranked FHeal for dps if I really need to heal a lot of people.

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