Yesterday I thought it would be about time for me to check out the cataclysm priest changes. Unlike some people I don't throw myself on every crumble of a rumour that is given to us by various pages claiming to have the inside information. The reason is simple, I know it will change. And if I see glimpses of a pony and don't get it I'll be sad. Better not to have any hopes. I have been sneak peaking some though, it is hard to miss. And now I thought I'd take another glimpse at what they've said they'll give us, maybe.
Remember that everything can and probably will be changed before we actually get our hands on Cataclysm, but looking at the changes they've got so far will at least give us a general idea of where they want to take us healing priests. And I must say, I am intrigued. I'll look at discipline changes first off. I'll stick to the actual talent changes and leave tier jumps and non-changed talents. If you want a more thorough look at -all- the changes you can see them here.
The Changed Talents
Twin Disciplines: " Increases the damage and healing done by your instant spells and the damage absorbed by your Power Word: Shield by 1/2/3/4/5%
Twin Disciplines has been changed to include shield absorbs as well. Not much to say about that, a straight and slight buff. But as we will see further down it will be welcome.
Improved Inner Fire: Increases the effect of your Inner Fire spell by 15/30/45%.
They've removed the extra stack gains which could be interpreted as it simply won't have stacks anymore in Cataclysm. I really hope so, I didn't really see the point of a buff with stacks like some sort of Water Shield wannabe... In a raid setting it rarely happens that I lose the stack anyway, since it isn't removed by spells. And since it happens so rarely I often don't notice it is gone before some time. Forgetting it isn't the end of the world either, but unnecessary of course.
Focused Power: Reduces the cast time of your Mind Control spell by 0.3/0.5 seconds, and your Mass Dispel cast time is reduced by 0.5/1.0 seconds.
The reduction to Mass Dispel cast time is still there, but the extra damage and healing as been replaced by a reduced cast time to Mind Control. This means this talent has gone even more over to the pvp side, not even sure it'll be worth grabbing for a pve-priest as it looks.
Inner Focus: Cooldown lowered to 1.5 minutes.
Wow, halved the cooldown? About time if you ask me. Inner Focus is far from any overpowered talent and it won't be with the new cooldown either. How often do you need your next cast to be free? You either want all the casts to be cheaper (like clearcasting shamans), don't have control over it (like clearcasting druids) or you'll save it for the big bombas. Usually only if you're about to throw something really expensive (like Divine Hymn) or are really, really oom. These two things don't happen often in a fight, but with the lowered cooldown we might want to use it with the occasional PoH too.
Soul Warding: Reduces the cooldown of your Power Word: Shield ability by 1/2/3 seconds, and reduces the mana cost or your Power Word: Shield by 5/10/15%.
This talent has gone from a one point talent to a three-point talent. I don't really have a problem with that since Soul Warding was a really powerful talent and the bread and butter of any disc priest talent spec (and still will be). But besides of that change, there is also a small but possibly very significant nerf here. The talent now reduces the cooldown on PWS with 4 seconds. The new talent will only lower it by 3 seconds. That means there will be a 1 second cooldown to take in mind, which might not be noticed at all since it's within the global cooldown anyway. We'll notice.
Focused Will: After taking a critical hit you gain the Focused Will effect, reducing all damage taken by 2/3/4% and increasing healing effects on you by 3/4/5%. Stacks up to 3 times. Lasts 8 seconds.
The extra 3% crit chance to spells has been removed. But they've put it elsewhere (look further down for Penitence) so it's not a big nerf.
Grace: Your Flash Heal, Greater Heal, and Penance spells bless the target with Grace, increasing all healing received from the Priest by 2/4%. This effect will stack up to 3 times. Effect lasts 15 seconds. Grace can only be active on one target at a time.
Yet again a small but significant nerf. Today it gives 3% extra healing received from the priest, and it will be increased to 4%. That's a total of 12% instead of 9%, so that's a nice little buff.
Borrowed Time: Grants 5/10/15/20/25% spell haste for your next spell after casting Power Word: Shield, and increases the amount absorbed by your Power Word: Shield equal to 4/8/12/16/20% of your spell power.
Huge nerf inc. Like I said up there, the little extra absorbtion the shield will get through the Twin Disciplines will be welcome, because over here it is getting a major nerf. Currently Borrowed Time increases absorbtion by 40% total, that will as we can see change to 20%. It is clear where Blizzard is going with this, they don't want disc priests to rely as much on shields as they do today. Also considering the major jump in stats that'll probably come with cataclysm (as with every new expansion), 40% of a Cata-Priest spellpower pool might simply just be too much. I did see some blue post a long time ago where they said they were hoping that disc wouldn't be all about shield spamming. Unfortunately that is basically what it has come to, and these changes are welcome -if- they give us other proper tools to substitute our awesome shields.
The New Talents
Silent Resolve has been replaced by Penitence that: Increases the critical effect chance of your Smite and Penance spells by 5/10/15%.
I for one won't miss Silent Resolve at all. Healing threat really isn't an issue at all, and even if we start dpsing (as we soon will see more about) I strongly doubt threat will ever be a problem. PvP Disc might be grumpy about the removed dispel protection. This talent also shows the first step towards what seems to become a real smite-priest. I usually level as smite-priest but I never thought I'd see them in serious raid contexts. I'll say more about that further down. 15% crit to Penance is awesome anyway and in great synergy with talents such as Divine Aegis. It is interesting since I often see people say that crit is a nearly gemmable stat as disc, it is that good. And then we get a talent that is an answer to our crit prayers.
Meditation has been replaced by Atonement that: When you deal damage with Smite, you instantly heal a nearby low-health friendly target within 40 yards equal to 15/30/45% of the damage dealt.
First I had to rub my eyes and pinch myself. Am I seeing right? A talent that buffs smite? And makes it heal? Freaky. And cool! The removal of Meditation made me sad panda, but since I get the feeling that Blizzard want to do something completely new with the whole mana regen business I suppose this had to go out the window. I'm not sure what they're up to, but I hope it will be good.
Absolution has been replaced by Evangelism that: When you cast Smite you gain Evangelism, increasing the damage done by your Smite, Holy Fire, Holy Nova and Penance spells by 2/4% and reducing the mana cost of those spells by 3/6% for 15 seconds. Stacks up to 5 times.
Yet again with the smite! Now it's starting to become really interesting. Blizzard seriously want us to become pewpew-priests? I like it! Priests aren't the only class to have become these quasi-heal-dps talents that mixes dps skills with healing skills. It seems all healing specs will have this kind of synergy effects going on, and it will be really interesting to see how this works out.
Mental Strength has been replaced by Archangel that: Consumes your Evangelism effects, instantly restoring 3% of your total mana and increasing your healing done by 3% for each stack. Also allows you to channel Penance while moving. Lasts 18 seconds.
Ok, stop the presses. Channel Penance while moving? I can see any PvPer who doesn't play disc priest frown in anger right now. The only drawback of disc priesting was that you had to stand still for less than 1,5 seconds to channel your Penance (and that you automatically turn to face your target when you do so, annoying!). With Archangel this has been removed. This does mean however that you have to smite regularly while healing, or else there won't be any Evangelism stacks to consume. This means, yet again, that Smite won't just be a fun spell to throw now and then but a serious part of a disc priests healing rotation. I have to quote myself here and say "it will be really interesting to see how this works out."
Power Word: Barrier: Summons a holy barrier on the target location that absorbs 293 damage done to party or raid members within it each time they take damage. While within the barrier, spellcasting will not be interrupted by damage. The barrier lasts for 15 seconds or until it absorbs 1955 damage. 13383 Mana 40 yd range 0.5 sec cast 3 min cooldown.
We were promised this in already with Wotlk, but now it seems we might actually get it (that's what we thought last time too though). The numbers are (hopefully) completely off of course. Nearly 14k mana for a barrier that absorbs 2k damage? No I don't think so. That would make it, without a doubt, -the- worst spell in the game. Other than that it'll probably work like and closely resemble the DK Anti-Magic Zone, with the difference that the Barrier absorbs physical damage too.
So these are the changes to the disc tree so far. Like I have said, it seems like the focus has been put on making dpsing part of our standard healing rotation, on the expense of less shielding. Overall the changes look really interesting and it will probably make disc healing to something completely else than it is today, which is what happened between bc-wotlk too. I thought I'd give a more full conclusion on the way healing seems to be going after tomorrow, when we have looked at the holy changes too. I can give you a heads up however and say that disc looks alot more promising than holy, and if I had to choose one over the other from what I've seen so far I'd definitely go with Disc. But, anything can still happen!
Oh and PS, if you didn't notice I changed the design on the page some :P Hope it's a little easier on the eye when reading!