I've been out of the loop more than ever concerning WoW. First I had the guild issue, then the raiding issue, then the vacation and then the life changing disaster. When I finally crawl back up and peek over the edge of my table and onto my computer screen I notice that shit has been going on while I was gone. Who'd have guessed it? Suddenly I feel like them people who seem to have no clue whatsoever when a patch hits. I usually think "how could he not know?". Now I know how. You know, them people who go;
"Druids have chicken form now?"
"What are these Death Knights I see running around?"
"OH MY GOD WHAT HAPPENED TO ORGRIMMAR?!".
Yeah, that's gonna be me during 4.3, and maybe even Mists of Pandaria if I don't get cracking on reading up on everything that was announced during Blizzcon. Or maybe, I'll just let it be a surprise this time. Maybe I'll just let myself be clueless and bedazzled, kind of like the first time I set foot in WoW.
I have been checking up on one thing though. When I left for vacation, tier 13 for priests hadn't been announced yet, to my great annoyance. I was betting they'd announce it last just to make sure I wouldn't be able to see it until I got home, although I don't actually know if it did come out last or not. Either way, I've seen it now, and I love it. I thought I loved tier 12. I realize now that that was only because I really hated tier 11. When I didn't hate tier 12 I mistook it for love, such an easy mistake. But I knew true love when I set eyes on tier 13.
I'm not even sure just exactly what's so great about it. It feels unique, interesting, cool. It feels like it perfectly suits both the caring (?) healing priest and the not so caring (?) shadow priest. It feels like the designers hit the spot about what I think about priests for the first time since tier 8 - like they managed to put what being a priest is all about into clothing. But maybe even more so since it doesn't actually yell "priest" the way some other nice priest tiers have done. Maybe I am just being delusional. Either way I love it. Now I can only hope that it looks half decent on a goblin (pff, yeah right).
But the tier 13 isn't actually what I wanted to talk about with this post. Because I've been naughty and sneak-peaked on one other thing (oh and I know pandarens will come in Mists of Pandaria). Someone told me the talent trees were getting a complete overhaul, and I initially thought "Sure, for the tenth time in a row". But this time around it actually looks like Blizzard have tried to make a complete overhaul. I know they've been trying to present us with difficult choices since they designed the very first talent tree, and it has been Blizzard wettest dream to have players choose to play different styles of the same spec. In some cases they have succeded, like discipline priests who use or don't use Atonement. But in nearly any other case there is a cookie-cutter spec, and in end game raiding there is just little to warrant using anything but whatever will give you the best chance at killing that ugly boss.
Designing fights and talents that allow for personal style must be a nightmare, frankly I get a headache just thinking about it. It is basically impossible to make two things worth equally much, so how on Azeroth do you make someone choose the lesser choice? The only answer I can see to that question is that you make the choices good enough to warrant some taking the lesser just because it is also needed in the big picture. That way you'll have some people who can do A and some who can do B, and eventhough A might be better than B if you had to choose, having both in a raid is still the best alternative of all. This seems to mean that the one-direction orientation style class specs that we've seen for the last six years are gone as we know it, and I can't say I'm very sorry. I'm usually interested in giving new things a shot. Now, we can only really talk about the class, as each player can choose freely between different style talents. It will indeed be very interesting to see if Blizzard succeed this time around.
I am sure plenty of posts have been written about the choices we can make, but no Jinxed Thoughts post has been done yet! As always most of the talents will probably change until they go into action (whenever that is), but musing about what we know is fun nonetheless.
Now remember that I jumped straight into this and probably haven't really understood it all just yet. I'll just go through the different tiers and discuss which choice would be the best or most interesting from a healing priest perspective.
Void Tendrils: Summons Shadowy Tendrils out of the ground, rooting all targets within 10 yards for 20 seconds. Killing the tendril will cancel the effect.
Psyfiend: Summons a Psyfiend that stands in place. The Psyfiend casts a Psychic Scream on a nearby enemy within 40 yards every 2 sec lasting for 10 sec, preferring anything attacking the priest or her friends.
Psychic Scream: The caster lets out a psychic scream, causing 5 enemies within 8 yards to flee for 8 sec. Damage caused may interrupt the effect.
None of these choices are aimed at healing, since all seem to be about crowd control (for some reason) - something healers aren't known to use very frequently in a pve setting after level 80. I could probably count the amount of times I've found fear to be useful for my healing in a raid on my left hand fingers, which means both Psychic Scream and Psyfiend don't come off as very interesting choices for the pveing healing priest. That leaves Void Tendrils, which basically is a sort of Nature's Grasp/Roots. As I know nothing about how the raid fights will be designed in MoP it's difficult to say how useful this will be, but assuming that Blizzard keeps somewhat the same style as they have for the last couple of years, it still feels like some roots could be more useful than a fear.
Pvpers are going to have a field day with these choices though, and it is also interesting to note that this means Psychic Scream won't be baseline for priests anymore.
Body & Soul: When you cast Power Word: Shield or Leap of Faith, you increase the target's movement speed by 60% for 4 sec.
Path of the Devout: Increases your movement speed while Levitating by 25%.
Phantasm: Anytime you fade, you remove all movement impairing effects from yourself and your movement speed will be unhindered for 3 sec.
To me, the choice lies between Body & Soul and Path of the Devout. What we really got to choose between here is whether we want to be able to give run speed or have it ourselves. Experience tells me run speed is a really nice thing, and I do like Body & Soul. Unlike PotD, Body & Soul is something we can both use ourselves and cast on other people. On the other hand, PotD is a buff that lies on for a lot longer than B&S, unless you're in a fight with continuous aoe damage (and we all know they aint that uncommon). And B&S is handy, but how often do I really use it? In all honesty I use it more often to save my own ass than anyone elses, because giving someone a 60% speed increase without them knowing it doesn't always mean it will be put to good use. In the end I think it comes down to just how many of the MoP fights are about continuous aoe damage, because otherwise I think I would prefer having that 25% runspeed for myself even more than being able to hand out some speed on occasion.
From Darkness, Comes Light (caster form): You have a 6% chance when you Smite, Heal, Flash Heal, Binding Heal or Greater Heal to cause your next Flash heal to be instant cast and have no mana cost.
Divine Star: Fires a Divine Star in front of you, traveling 20 yards doing damage to all enemies and healing all friendly targets in its path. After reaching its destination, it will return to you also dealing damage and healing all targets in its path.
Archangel (caster form): Consumes your Evangelism, increasing your healing done by 5% for each Evangelism consumed.
Two oldies and a newbie. I've never been a fan of Surge of Light the way it was redesigned in Cata. I realize it was perhaps a little too good in its earlier forms (especially when it was bugged to proc from other priests crits!), but nerfing it to the ground wasn't the right way to go. Blizzard have tried to repent by making it proc from more and more spells, but I am still not very satisfied with this talent. Unless they change it to proc more often I still don't feel like it is something I would want.
Throughout Cata, I've had pretty much the same feelings for Archangel. As it is now, Archangel is a nice but not very needed buff to our healing. For MoP however, Blizzard are upping the incentive with 5% extra healing per stack, making the Archangel buff 10% more effective than it is now. 25% extra healing when you need it could actually make a difference, like when say the tank is really taking a pounding and you need that extra oomph, or there is some heavy aoe damage that needs to be healed up quickly. It might just be what Archangel needs to be a real healing tool and not just for funsies. There is also the question as to how you gather Evangelism stacks in MoP, the same way as today or a completely new way? Will that suit the raiding style of MoP or not? If gathering stacks becomes too much of a hassle, it might not be worth it.
Divine Star looks really interesting, but there is no saying how useful it is (which on the other hand, goes for all the skills since we don't know how they'll work in MoP). Being a cone effect basically, it has all the drawbacks of Light of Dawn, like the paladin constantly having to reposition to get the most out of it. This makes it mostly useful for situations where there is a lot of aoe damage and the raid group is huddled. If it is weak like Sanctuary has been most of Cata, there really isn't much use to it either. I don't like LoD, but I know many paladins do, so Divine Star is a pretty open card. Looking at what I do know about these talents I'd probably initially try Divine Star, but keep a very close eye on Archangel.
Desperate Prayer: Instantly heals the caster for 30% of their total health.
Angelic Bulwark: Increases the effectiviness of your own shield effects on yourself by 30%.
Final Prayer: Anytime a damaging attack brings you below 30% health, you gain an absorption shield equal to 20% of your total health lasting 20 sec. This effect cannot occur more than once every 90 sec.
This seems to be the ego-tier, seeing as all talents are aimed at saving your own ass. So which will do that best? Which one equates to the most healing? Depending on how useful shields will be in MoP, seeing as they have climbed up and down the useful ladder pretty frequently the last year, I feel like Angelic Bulwark is a really interesting choice. Assuming shields will work the way they do in Cata, with a 15 sec "cooldown" in Weakened Soul, 30% is quite a lot and will add up to a pretty strong shield. I think it will be more useful than a 2 minute and 90 sec cooldown. I prefer "weak but often" over "strong but rare". "Strong but rare" is usually better for tanks, "weak but often" usually works better for everyone else.
Twist of Fate: Increases the damage and healing done to targets at or below 25% health.
Power Infusion: Infuses the target with power, increasing spell casting speed by 20% and reducing the mana cost of all spells by 20%.
Serendipity (caster form): When you heal with Binding Heal or Flash Heal, the cast time of your next Greater Heal or Prayer of Healing spell is reduced by 10%/20% and mana cost reduced by 10/20%.
To me the choice is fairly simple in this tier. I am a huge fan of Power Infusion, always have been. It is an awesome healing cooldown, or dps cooldown if you want to use it on a fellow caster (like if). Yet again, it will depend a little on how the fights work in MoP, but if these choices were given to me today I'd go with Power Infusion without hesitation. To me it seems like the best from both Twist of Fate and Serendipity, in giving that extra oomph just when I need it.
Vow of Unity: You create a Vow of Unity with the friendly target. whenever you heal the target through spells and effects, you are also healed equal to 20% of this amount. In addition, when the target is attacked, 50% of the damage is redirected to you over 6 sec. if your target is victim to an attack greater than 30% of their total health, the Vow of Unity ends.
Void Shift: You swap health percentage with the current friendly target. After this effect ends, you are instantly healed for 25% of your total health.
Vampiric Dominance: When you deal damage or healing, 15% of the amount is healed to up to 3 low-health nearby allies.
When Blizzard talked about giving us tough choices, this is what they must've meant. Until now I've felt like the choices haven't been that difficult, but these actually all seem very useful. Vow of Unity seems really interesting, although maybe a little too dangerous to be really useful. Taking 50% of a tanks damage as healer could be devastating (like when I used Hand of Sacrifice on the tank on Baleroc just before a Decimation Blade). Would we want to use it on anything else than a tank? Difficult to say. I really like the idea of Vow of Unity, but it seems a little too much out of control to be good in pve.
Void Shift is dangerous too. Saving the tank (or someone else close to death) is a good thing to do, but it also means you instead will be close to death for a short while. How much will this be an issue? Difficult to say, but it means we won't be able to use it at leisure as with most heavy cooldowns, but have to make sure we're not using it just before a huge aoe slams down on us.
Vampiric Dominance is basically a 15% increase to our healing output, which looks insanely tasty. Eventhough both Vow of Unity and Void Shift look good, I'm not sure about their practical usefulness. 15% extra healing however, is always very useful and makes sure that we can do some aoe healing even when focusing on point healing, something priests haven't been very good at during Cata. For tier 6 I'd most likely go with Vampiric Dominance (which probably will be nerfed to 3% or something, before it goes live).
So there you have it! We can be 99% sure that the talent trees will look nothing like this in a couple of months, but I will be following the progress closely. One thing is certain: Blizzard mean serious business about making talents a real choice for us now. I really hope they succeed.