Over at MMO-champion they've finally posted the compilation of priest changes that the devs hope will take place in Cataclysm. And we are (finally) looking at some really interesting things. Wotlk made some good changes to priest healing too, most notably making discipline a viable pve healer at all. What will happen to us priests in Cataclysm? At a quick glance I can sum it up to Blizzard wanting us to be good tank healers too, maybe just as good as paladins and shamans are today. My guess is that when looking at shaman and pala changes, they're going to be better aoe-healers as well (some changes in this direction can be found in the shaman heals, and paladin hasn't been posten yet). But we've also got some awesome new skills to look forwards to. Remember that these changes are still only preliminary and can be pulled away from under our noses at any moment.
"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."
I've wondered about the spells "Heal" and "Lesser Heal" before. It's always felt kinda odd to have spells that actually become worthless after some levels. It seems like Blizzard want to add some extra flavor to our healing arsenal simply by bringing Heal into play again. The usefulness of it is pretty well desribed in the text above, and I think it will work nicely as a small filler heal. In my guide on my guild forums about priest healing I've actually written that one of the things a priest lack at the moment is that small, cheap, nifty heal. Well looks like we're getting it. This hasn't been much of an issue previously (Flash Heal works fine), but since Blizzard want to make us think about our mana efficiency, this will probably come in handy.
"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."
"Neither Inner Fire nor Inner Will has charges. The decision is on which armor you want up at the time"
Interesting new spell. Apparently we're going to switch between healing "modes" alot more in Cataclysm. The addition of the talent "chakra" which makes your spell more efficient if you use the same in a row (i.e. three single target heals make single target healing more efficient, three aoe heals make aoe healing more efficient and so on) points toward this too (look below for some further details on that one). Priests, and healers generally I think, shouldn't be locked into a special role anymore, but be able to switch between different ones as needed. Question is if this will become a part of healing rotation or something we chose before each fight. I guess it depends on the mana cost of these Inner spells.
"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."
"The idea behind the Holy "cast three in a row" talent (it's called "Chakra") is that we've always positioned Holy as a versatile healer. This talent lets you shift into different modes. If you need to be a tank healer, cast three single target heals and your single-target healing is now better. Cast three area heals, and you can be a temporarily specialized group healer. We're going to try to play this mechanic up with a cool UI to try to get that "I'm almost in the zone" feel. We'll let it apply to as many types of spells as we can, perhaps even Smite for those times when nobody's taking damage."
"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."
Blizzard themselves call it "life grip" as a pun to "death grip" and I am quite sure this is what it will be called in game. But look at it, it looks awesome! Being able to pull someone out of harms way, and there are plenty of situations where that could come in handy, will give us even more responsibility and thus chances to shine. I am really looking forward to this one.
"Discipline will finally be getting Power Word: Barrier as a talented ability. Think of it like a group Power Word: Shield."
"The closest analogue to PW:B is the DK Anti-Magic Zone, but it has some important differences, such as a way to counter it in PvP (since it absorbs all damage, not just magical damage)."
They had plans to introduce this one already a long time ago, maybe even as early as the coming of Wotlk, I don't remember exactly. It never came however, don't ask me why. Blizzard are promising us ponies again and we can only hope that this time, it will be for real.
They've also mentioned something about wanting to prevent dot-clipping. This means classes like warlocks and shadowpriests (and maybe and dotter) won't be able to clip dots, but only add to the duration of a dot. If this also applies to hots, I don't know yet. It's a really interesting mechanic however, and me and Love thought if that doesn't just mean you'd place a 3 min dot/hot on your target for the total duration of the fight? Haste will also not change the duration of a hot/dot, but rather the amount of ticks.
Yet again it seems like Blizzard are making the grand overhaul of healers, and yet again it seems to be for the better. I haven't had much thoughts about Cataclysm before eventhough people around me have been going all nutty about them changing the world and whatnot. But reading about these very interesting changes to priest healing I really long to test it out!
Blizzard are promising us ponies again and we can only hope that this time, it will be for real.