Thursday, April 15, 2010

Priest Cataclysm Changes: Because a million and one other posts just weren't enough.

It would be poor form to comment without a link, so... Priest Cataclysm changes from the WoW forums.

One-by-one I'm going to post my thoughts on the changes.

New Spells: Heal, Mind Spike, Inner Will, Leap of Faith Life Grip.

Heal was "added" to enable a new style of healing whereby healing is less frenetic and a lot more about minimizing overheal. The new (old really, vanilla was like this) healing environment where mana matters and health pools are much bigger than heals will be a nice change of pace, and I think it and the new middle-ground heal spells are good for the game in general. Now the devs will be able to produce more varied fights, the old hard-enrage and heal spamming fights can still work, they'd just need to be short, and if all goes as planned we'll also have more slow and mana-managing fights like Vezax.

Mind Spike is... kind of useless, IMHO. We already have (Improved) Devouring Plague spam for things with very low health, and for anything that lasts even a few seconds, I'd prefer to DoT it up. It only takes ~8 seconds to make my DoTs better than a quick, weak burn rotation. Ah well, another spell for lolsmite and on the off chance that I get spell-locked while shadow, I guess it will be helpful.

Inner Will sounds good. I can't see wanting to intentionally screw my spellpower very often, but I'm sure we'll find a few fights to use it in, and it will make things like the run from the Brann event in HoS to Sjonnir the Ironshaper a little faster.

And finally Life Grip, my personal favorite upcoming Priest spell. Life Grip promises to be riotously full of griefing potential, much like certain other hilariously fun and useless abilities like Mind Control. Unlike certain other mostly-useless abilities, I can see Life Grip being legitimately useful for more than just Instructor Razuvious Must Die! and Who Needs Bloodlust? It can function as another "shield" type heal, by preventing damage someone would have taken had you not moved them, and I expect it will also see use in a few kiting and other movement strategies.

Mechanics Changes

The new version of haste-scaling for DoTs is interesting, to say the least. At the very least, it will improve shadow's hast scaling, but it will also simplify the rotation a bit. I'm okay with the rotation getting mildly simpler if we get mildly stronger, I can view it as a necessary evil. Of course, for healing this changes things a lot, particularly if Radiance scales to haste. I hope something similar is worked out with our Weakened Soul duration being shortened by haste also.

SW:D as an execute? Cool. More to think about if you want to do more damage; exactly how it should be.

Priests as viable good tank healers? Sweet. In keeping with the above mention of using the right heal for the job, multiple sizes of bubble is also nice.

O noes, what ever will we do without our spirit buff? Oh right. Basically the exact same thing we've been doing. I actually like this; you no take candle!

The 5-second rule is gone? I'm not sure if I care about that either. On the one hand, I (sort of) liked the old complexity, since it offered the opportunity to squeeze out extra mana if you pulled off some convoluted strategy, in theory. In practice, however, we've been solidly in the 5sr for ages anyway, may as well just make it official.

Talent Changes

Much of this section I've already commented on above.

Power Word: Barrier. Cool. I hope this means that the role of a disc priest won't be "shield everyone once, than do it again" anymore. Other than that, this is also one of many announced ground-targeted AoE heals (the others are for other classes). This sounds like a fun change, switching healing from Grid whack-a-mole to actually paying more attention to the fight itself.

Chakra. Being able to specialize for many different healing roles sounds good in theory. However, since they posted that they've also mentioned that they intend to have some special UI to indicate your Chakra status, and get an "in the zone" feel. This, I'm vehemently opposed to. New UIs typically break, and broken UIs cause wipes. Please just use something that works. I recommend a few different buffs, one for each state.


Absorbtion: how bland. The mechanic is simple, but it does emphasize what makes Discipline unique, so, bland or not, I think it'll work out alright. This will also be fairly easy to balance, and helps to cover an old issue that there was no gear for priests who commonly get assigned to shieldbot.

Radiance: cool. Again a simple mechanic, but instead of increasing an effect we already had, it tacks on a new effect to spells that never had it. This is also a fairly simple thing to balance.

Shadow Orbs: not enough information. I think Blizzard doesn't yet have a clear idea of what this will do, so I can't really fault them for not telling us yet. As it stands, it sounds somewhat like a graphical version of Shadow Weaving. If executed well, this sounds like it could be an amazingly involved mechanic, if executed poorly, well, we may find ourselves saying "wait for 5 shadow orbs before applying SW:P."

In the hope that Shadow Orbs is awesome, here's a small handful of suggestions for the use of shadow orbs.
  • If they deplete over time, make sure it's not yet another excuse to rush pulls. 40 seconds out of combat seems like little enough time that farming orbs before a boss pull isn't really viable, but long enough time that you don't need to hurry between trash packs or risk wasting orbs.
  • The brief mention of "spending" shadow orbs to empower a single spell or to perhaps cast an entirely new spell sounds excellently fun.
  • There should be a balance struck between hoarding shadow orbs for their passive damage bonus and spending them for the powered-up spells. Ideally the chance to gain a shadow orb would be based off your mastery rating, but the chance goes down for each shadow orb you have. So higher mastery leads to a higher maximum number of shadow orbs, and spending more orbs on spells allows you to gain orbs back more quickly.
  • They should be spendable for a damage boost, so that keeping a balance between the passive boost of having them and the immediate boost of spending some is worthwhile. Ideally this balance should not be "pop an orb whenever you hit the maximum number." It should also not be "pop an orb whenever you have one."
  • They should also be spendable for utility effects, like temporarily making VE raid-wide, making Inner Will look more like Sprint, making Fade get you out of combat, or making Dispersion a real immunity effect. Clearly some of these are pretty powerful, so they should require a large number of orbs, possibly so many that you can't even use some of them unless you have enough mastery on your gear to be able to have that many orbs.
  • Speaking of which, having the maximum orbs vary with mastery, and having certain uses for them that only become available as your maximum increases sounds incredibly fun as well. It's like leveling up and getting new spells when you're already at the endgame.
Well, that's my two coppers on the topic of the priest changes for Cataclysm. Here's hoping for another amazing expansion.

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