Within the last few days, we have been inundated with information about everything and anything concerning patch 4.3. Yesterday, a huge amount of data was released, which covered upcoming class changes, the first images of the hunter and priest T13 sets, and even a few words about class balance from Ghostcrawler himself. Let’s take a look at what we do know, so far, with regards to where priests will stand in the next patch.
___ of the Dying Light
Our first look at the priest T13 set came out yesterday and it looks a little something like this:
What you may notice right away is that there are three different color schemes for this set. The one on the left is presumably made up of the pieces that you can get from the new Raid Finder feature, the second one is probably made up of the pieces that you can get from a Normal mode of a raid instance, while the last image on the right is most likely the Heroic version of the set.
I’m pretty pleased with how it all looks. I like that they incorporated elements of Lightwell into the set, in keeping with the theme of using noteworthy spells from each class as inspiration for the set designs. The overall theme kind of reminds me of the Royal Flush Gang, from “Batman Beyond” with bits of Jenova thrown in, from “Final Fantasy VII.”
Information about our T13 set bonuses was released first. They appear to be, as follows:
- Healer, 2P— After using Power Infusion or Lightwell, the mana cost of your healing spells is reduced by 25% for [10|15] sec. (10 sec for Discipline, 15 for non–Discipline.)
- Healer, 4P — Your Power Word: Shield has a 10% chance to absorb 100% additional damage, and the cooldown of your Holy Word abilities is reduced by 20%.
At first glance, it seems like the 2 piece bonus will end up being stronger for discipline priests than it will for holy priests. The reason being is that discipline priests tend to save Power Infusion for themselves, so having 10 seconds where your spells can be cast at a reduced cost ties in nicely with the benefits of casting that spell. Lightwell remains a polarizing spell that not every priest, or even every raid can be counted on to use often enough to warrant tying it in with a set bonus of any kind.
Typically, Lightwell is cast at the start of a pull, where the priest in question may not be casting very many heals for the first 15 seconds afterwards, when the set bonus would take effect. It may be handy, if a priest needs to cast another Lightwell in the middle of a fight or towards the end, but I still see the bonus that includes Power Infusion being the stronger of the two. Power Infusion also comes with a 2 minute cooldown, whereas Lightwell has a 3 minute cooldown. In a 6 minute fight, a discipline priest could enjoy the 2 piece bonus 3 times, and a holy priest would only be able to make use of it twice. To me, that goes to show that the discipline priest version of the 2 piece T13 bonus is the stronger of the two.
The 4 piece bonus is a bit more exciting, especially in light of potential changes to Holy Word: Sanctuary (which we’ll cover a bit later). For discipline priests, the 4 piece bonus is pretty stellar. PW: Shield is a core part of a discipline priest’s rotation, as it not only ties into damage prevention, but goes along well with talents like Borrowed Time and Rapture.
For holy priests, the 4 piece bonus essentially reduces the cooldown of Holy Word: Serenity from 10 seconds to 8 seconds and the cooldown of Holy Word: Sanctuary from 28 seconds to 22 seconds (with points in Tome of Light) or 13 seconds and 32 seconds, respectively without it. This ties in nicely with HW: Serenity, as the buff to direct heals on your target that comes from this spell only lasts for 6 seconds.
Casting Serenity off cooldown means your tank would only have a 2 second window where they wouldn’t have the critical effect buff on them, as opposed to a 4 second window before. This could make holy priests more viable tank healers, but I’m sure more number crunching would be necessary to really determine this. Still, it looks pretty positive.
Holy Word: Sanctuary was never a spell that holy priests tended to spam and I don’t see that changing with the 4 piece bonus in effect. What I do see happening is a priest taking comfort in knowing that HW: Sanctuary is available more often, if you do happen to need it. It’s always better to have the choice to use a spell, rather than not having a choice, due to said spell having an unusually long cooldown.
Spirit of Redemption
- Spirit of Redemption has been rebuilt to address a few functionality issues and make it more responsive. Spirit of Redemption otherwise remains unchanged.
I don’t seem to recall having issues with the functionality of SoR or feeling like it was unresponsive. What I did take issue with was the fact that in most situations where SoR would go into effect, it was probably already too late to save your raid and so the healing that you could be doing wouldn’t make much of a difference. SoR also tends to delay people who are attempting to battle res you, as they won’t be able to target you while the effect from this talent remains active.
Lastly, when things go wrong on a progression fight, you typically want to die as quickly as possible, so you can run back. This usually involves clicking off the effects from this, so you can start your corpse run back to the instance and make another attempt. All of these things, combined with the fact that SoR no longer gives Spirit anymore (which was established at the start of Cataclysm), still serves to make this talent pretty lackluster. I don’t see these changes making me want to put a talent point back into this again.
The return of Spirit
Speaking of Spirit, I was pleased to see that the initial batch of datamined items shows some off-set pieces and even weapons with Spirit on them. I know many holy priests struggled with the loss of Spirit on their gear, leading up to obtaining their T12 set pieces and even beyond that. I would have liked to have seen some change to our regen mechanics, since we are still extremely dependent on Spirit for mana regeneration, whereas other classes are not. While Holy Concentration will still be a required talent for holy priests, I also believe that Power Torrent will remain the enchant of choice for our weapons. You can find more information on my findings relating to Heartsong vs. Power Torrent here.
Glyph of Circle of Healing
- Glyph of Circle of Healing now also increases the mana cost of Circle of Healing by 20%.
The benefit of healing one more person with Circle of Healing comes at the cost of a 20% increase to the cost of the spell. I don’t see this changing the value of Circle of Healing, but I do see priests being a bit more careful in how they use it. We were using Circle of Healing pretty mindlessly, for a while. Myself included. We weren’t taking into account whether 5 or even 6 people really needed any healing. We were just using it to use it, sort of on auto-pilot.
Both Circle of Healing and Wild Growth (which is also receiving a similar treatment in 4.3, much to the annoyance of druids) have been spells that the developers have constantly tried to monitor and prevent people from spamming, even dating back to Wrath. This change goes to show that they’re still not happy with the amount of time that we spend using these spells and how much we seem to rely on them to get by.
Divine Hymn/State of Mind
By far, the biggest news to come out of the last few days has been the major changes to Divine Hymn and State of Mind. State of Mind has been scrapped and replaced with a talent called Heavenly Voice, which will serve to buff Divine Hymn. The two of them will work, as follows:
- Divine Hymn now heals up to 5 targets, up from 3. Maximum of 20 heals, up from 12.
- State of Mind has been replaced with Heavenly Voice Increases the healing done by your Divine Hymn spell by 50/100%, and reduces the cooldown by 2.5/5 minutes.
This means that every 2 seconds for 8 seconds, Divine Hymn will assess which 5 targets (up from 3) in your raid have the lowest amount of health and then heal them, which is a huge improvement from how Divine Hymn currently works. The 8 minute cooldown can also be lowered to a very reasonable 3 minutes, with 2 points in Heavenly Voice.
While this is certainly a vast improvement from how Divine Hymn currently operates, I still worry that it won’t be enough. If you asked a holy priest before what things they liked about their spec and which things they didn’t, you would probably get a wide variety of answers. Of course, every class has things about themselves that they wish could be better or changed a little bit. But, by and large, we didn’t know we were a problem or that we were at such a disadvantage until other people told us that we were.
Holy priests can be as pleased with these potential changes to Divine Hymn and State of Mind as we want to, but in the end, it’s not our opinion that matters. It’s the raid leaders, the healing leads, and the GMs that need to believe in the changes that are going to be made and that need to see that we can bring something just as useful to a raid, even if it’s not what our discipline counterparts bring to the table.
Ghostcrawler, on priests
Last but not least, some thoughts on priests from the man himself:
We were seeing too many situations where a raid wanted one or even two Disc priests at the expense of a Holy priest. We think part of the problem was Holy’s lack of a strong raid cooldown, so we replaced the State of Mind talent (which was fairly weak ever since Chakra had an unlimited duration) with Heavenly Voice that boosts the healing of Divine Hymn to make it more competitive with Power Word: Barrier. We also increased the number of targets of Divine Hymn from three to five.
We also reduced the mana cost of Power Word: Sanctuary. We think Holy has sufficient AE throughput, but this spell in particular was very expensive.
We wanted to change the Glyph of Circle of Healing to make it less of a no-brainer as I explained above under Wild Growth. In the case of the Holy priest, we thought the healing done by CoH was appropriate (which was not the case for the druid) so we had the glyph increase the mana cost instead. Relying too much on Circle of Healing in inappropriate situations (such as when only a few characters are injured) risks hurting the priest’s efficiency with this glyph.
We rebuilt Spirit of Redemption in a different way. We aren’t trying to change the power of the talent at all, but we did want to make it feel more responsive (less lag between death and Spirit) as well as clean up a few bugs.
I approve. Do you?