Disciplinary Action is in the 4.0.1 pre-Cataclysm PTR beta and here to give you the inside scoop on all the changes coming to priests dropping in the next patch. Now, on with the show!
I rolled a brand-new Liala the Priest on the EU Brill server (hey, when am I ever going to get to talk to our brethren across the pond again?). The Character Transfer is still in stasis for me, so we’re focusing this time around on all the shiny new things you get to play with from the get-go.
The new patch downloader (above) allows you to start playing, with the patch continuing to download in the background, after only a fraction of the patch has been completed. Early problems with this system seem to have been very nicely cleaned up; I jumped in when the downloader was at a tiny 5% complete, and had very little trouble accessing the areas I needed.
Blizzard’s done a great job of prioritizing the download of places you’re currently viewing. Non-downloaded content shows up as a shimmering blue smoke, which soon coalesces into the docks at Auberdine, say, or Stormwind castle. If you’re an impatient hothead like myself, you will have a brief (1-3 minute) layover in screenshot land while your starting area is loaded for the first time. The whole process is greatly improved, though, and seems to be working as intended.
THE NEW SPELLBOOK
For All Screenshots: Click to embiggen. The Spellbook has undergone a complete overhaul. Spells now increase in size automatically as you level, rather than needing to be trained at each level at a trainer. With a new look and this new scaling functionality, the Spellbook is looking pretty sharp:
For those of us with 80 priests, note that we’ll be getting back on that leveling treadmill and fast if we want to get back some of our precious spells: Inner Will is not available until level 83, and the new and exciting Leap of Faith (for you Holies) is unavailable until level 85. Mind Spike, Shadow people, is available at 81.
THE NEW PRIEST TRAINERS
Here as well a new interface makes visiting your Priest trainer feel far more streamlined:
I sincerely doubt the cost of every spell will be, in the end, 10 coppers; however, we can make the educated assumption that the prices will be somewhat similar to the price levels we currently have in Wrath. My guess is that an endgame-level spell will run you something like 10 to 20 gold.
Looking more closely at the Priest trainer screens, we encounter our first new spell, Mysticism, at level 50. Mysticism is currently tooltipped as a passive bonus that increases Intellect by 5%. Further down the list, Mind Spike provides a Shadowfrost damage and debuff with 1.5 sec cast and no cooldown for the Shadow Priests. Leap of Faith, aka ‘Life Grip’, is available at level 85 and- in case you’ve been hiding under a rock- enables a priest to seize an errant DPS and pull him out of harm’s way. Certainly no one would abuse this privilege for the purposes of base amusement. Ahem. Onward.
Mastery, as for all classes, allows you to specialize in one field of priesting: Discipline Priest Mastery (Absorption) gives you a shield absorb bonus; Holy Priest Mastery (Radiance) places an HoT on any target that is the target of a direct heal. Shadow Mastery is a new mechanism, Shadow Orbs, a chance-cast floating ball system (I see you sniggering in the back) that fly around the caster and cause shadow damage.
You’re now able to select multiple tracking types on the minimap. Not specifically for priests, but for the gathering professions among us, WOOT!
With the addition of Archaeology, we now have four secondary professions (First Aid, Cooking, Fishing, and Archaeology) in addition to our standard two primary professions. The professions pane is greatly cleaned up and enchanced, and profession trainers have the same streamlined look as the class trainers.
The Horde Archaeology trainer is Belloc Brightblade, in Grommash Hold, Ogrimmar (he’s a belf wearing a white hat and jacket); the Alliance Archaeology trainer is Harrison Jones in Stormwind Keep, Stormwind.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this first look at the 4.0.1 priest changes. As soon as the character transfers unblock themselves, we’ll take an in-depth look at the higher-level spells and get a peek at the new Talents pane!
The week of endless travel is almost at an end, after which we’ll return you to your regularly scheduled programming. Until then, enjoy a small sampling of some of the excellent WoW articles posted this week:
Old School WoW: In this new-ish series, author Adam Holisky revisits old patches, walking us through some of the long-forgotten changes wrought by the old patches. Wonderfully weird. Weirdly wonderful.
If You Could: I love Machinima, but this new one from Druidboyz is in a class of awesome all by itself.
Soloing 5-Man Content As Shadow: Fox Van Allen never disappoints, bringing you lull lulz and sick Photoshop skills in equal measure. Plus, tell me you’re not going to offspec your way to BC dungeon master now.
A number of exceedingly interesting posts this week talk quite a bit about potential changes in Cataclysm (I think this is all pretty spoiler-free, though the posts themselves are not):
”This [varying your main] is one of the reasons why Cataclysm will shake things up, even for people who don’t expect it. You may think you are in a tight knit raid guild right now, but how many of those raiders will decide that actually they’d rather focus on a different alt on a different server when the expansion hits?” Spinksville
“6. The road gets approval.
7. The loot gets approval.
8. And that gets TOTAL approval. Now we’re angry about the last years of not having it.
“Blizzard has big plans for gnomes and trolls, with brand new starting areas and questing experiences available for those races when Cataclysm launches. But before that can happen, they need your help! There are some awful baddies that’ve been crashing on their couches, and they’ve been kickin’ around for far too long.” Michael Sacco, WoW.com
All this speculation put me into a very curious state of wondering what things people (a) expected last time, but didn’t happen, and (b) didn’t expect at all that totally changed the way they play.
As a non-player when Lich King came out, no doubt there were huge, burning issues that became burnier or moot in the actual expansion that I know nothing about.
If you played pre- and post- Lich King (or Burning Crusade, for that matter), how would you answer the two questions above? (Assuming that I’d posed them as questions, natch, which I’m too lazy to go back and do.)
The inestimable Death Goddess weighs in on DK changes with DKs in Cataclysm; First Look. Even better, to my way of thinking, was her week-long experiment in being a Blood DPS in Blood dps spec for 3.3.3. I’d been contemplating a change to a Blood DPS on my own DK and she did all the hard work to find out that, in fact, it really doesn’t make sense. And I didn’t even have to re-gem.
And to veer away abruptly from all of that Cataclysm chatter, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying- not to mention accidentally learning from- Soph’s Down and Dirty Background Info, By Area (my name for it, not hers) over at The View Through The Branches. They’re bite-sized lore bits in easily digested nuggets.
IT WOULD BE remiss of me to leave off discussing the upcoming changes, even though there has been a lot really excellent analysis around the internet already, notably here, here, and here, oh yes, here. But I’d like to focus exclusively on what all these changes will mean to a Discipline Priest (Mind Spike? I vom on you).
Let’s start with the drama queen:
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.
No one sums up like Tamarind, so I’ll let him take the con:
What the hell, Blizzard?!
They might as well have called this “I don’t trust my arcane mage.” Or “Stupidity Grip.” Or “I Just Fancy Pissing Someone Off Today, Maybe Myself.”
Can you imagine the crap we’re going to get? It’s going to be why u no heal me but 1000 times worse: “lifegrip plz.”
So everybody makes mistakes now and again, and I’m the first to look sheepish when I stand in the bad shit, but if you can’t get out the fucking fire, you don’t deserve to be in a fucking raid group. It’s that simple.
My job is to heal other players. It is not to compensate for them.
There’s already an infuriating culture in which individuals are unwilling or unable to accept responsibility for their own actions: “just heal through it, lol.” I could really really do without this being hardcoded into the game.
So maybe Stupidity Grip has some PvP utility but MOVING OTHER PLAYERS AROUND NON CONSENSUALLY reduces in-game agency. Nothing says “I know what you need better than you do, baby” than yoiking somebody 45 yards across a map.
But let’s assume a different, perfect-case scenario. Let’s say you’re stunned or something, and Marrowgar’s coldflame is about to wash over you as a swarm of death and destruction. A timely Life Grip could pluck you out of harm’s way, sure. But do you know how disorientingthat would be? How much it would disrupt your rhythm and concentration? Anyone who’s gone up against a DK in PVP should know exactly what I mean. It throws you off, and costs you precious seconds re-orienting yourself and figuring out exactly where you are and what direction you’re facing. I think this ability may cause more harm than help.
And the pro comes from a number of commenters on wow.com, namely Cyanea, Hivetyrant, and Dameblanche, in that order:
Complaining about something that’s not really broken, especially before we really know how it works as is the case here is how we lose cool abilities like this one and get crappy generics.
I personally can’t understand all the hate for Leap of Faith.
Moron players are still going to be moron players, and have always been moron players so if they bitch about you not LoF’ing them in Cata, they probably bitched about you not shielding them in ICC.
I can’t wait to see some of the cool strategies and fights we could get into with tools like this.
My thoughts exactly. The obvious candidates for a life grip moment are players who already are getting on my nerves big time because they have the situational awareness of a doormat, and I’d only be happy not having to press multiple keys to type “Oi, Lolzipwnu, get yer damn ass out of the bloody fire”; just having to press one single life grip key to hammer the message home, is much much more convenient.
The only thing I was wondering is if Leap of Faith could also have a handy threat reset ability, because yanking a trigger happy dps out of harms way is less fun when the mobs that are pounding on him come towards you as well.
And of course, what I look forward to the most: when you are bored waiting for the rest of your raid group to show up, you only need two priests and one dwarf to entertain yourselves with the ancient sports called Dwarf Hurling.
Generic is bad. Weird is good. Weird might be bad, but let’s see how we can have fun with it in beta. Dwarf Hurling is very, very good. Besides, it’s not like our DPS don’t bother us already.
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.
Now this I like, and I like it because I’m so tired of watching polymorphed droolcats snatch up my Easter eggs, dammit. I’m going to throw this sucker on myself pretty much endlessly while leveling from 83 and up just to zip around. Even if you don’t use it in raid all that much, it easily comes in handy for the bosses who toss you in the air at random- more than a few tanks have bitten the dust while I’m sprinting. Generally thumbs up for giving a nod to the pew-pew/spastic runaround style of healing which comes so naturally to us discos.
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.
El yawn. Moving on.
All HoTs and DoTs will benefit from Haste and Crit innately. Hasted HoTs and DoTs will not have a shorter duration, just a shorter period in between ticks (meaning they will gain extra ticks to fill in the duration as appropriate).
While we want to keep the priest’s role as a well-rounded healer, we also want to make sure the class is a viable tank healer, which is something priests moved away from a little in Wrath of the Lich King. Greater Heal will probably be the tank-healing spell of choice, though we’ve also discussed giving Discipline a second shield so that they have a small shield to cast on lots of different targets, and a big, more expensive shield to cast on a tank or anyone else taking a ton of damage.
Divine Spirit and Prayer of Spirit will be removed from the game. As Spirit will be the primary mana-regeneration stat, we don’t want it to vary as much between solo, small group, and raid play. Blessing of Kings and Mark of the Wild will not boost Spirit either.
Mana will be a bigger consideration for all healers. We aren’t trying to make healing more painful; we’re trying to make it more fun. When the cost of a spell isn’t an issue, then casting the right spell for the job is less of an issue because you might as well just use your most powerful spell all of the time. We are, however, getting rid of the five-second rule, because we don’t want to encourage standing around doing nothing. We’re also going to cut back on the benefits of buffs such as Replenishment so priests (and all healers) don’t feel as penalized when those buffs aren’t available.
Now, as we all know, Spirit, Spellpower, and MP5 are getting the Big Nerf. Divine Spirit and Prayer of Spirit will bid us a fond farewell as there’s no need for them, and along with their removal is a 33% reduction in wear and tear on devout candle inventory. Nice. You can take candle.
Haste will clearly be a much bigger thing for healing priests, though it really leads me to wonder: what’ll the difference be between Shadow and healing gear if there’s no Spirit and Haste is needed for everything? I’m predicting a deluge of Shadow priests who assume healing can’t be that tough picking it up to get into raids and PUGs faster without having to invest even minimally in new gear. In other news, water is wet.
I love the idea of graded shields. I could use one right now, in fact. And I appreciate that Blizz sees how we’ve fallen by the tank-heals wayside in Lich. Discipline priests are arguably the best of the priestly tank healers, and even we are pretty much balls at it when compared to our non-priest brethren (yeah, I’m lookin’ at you, pally).
Mana management is going to be huge. You can see it all over the blue posts and feel it in your water. There’s no cure other than learning how to (1) prioritize your spells and really maximize your rotation and (2) gird your brain-loins for a 127% uptick in why u no heal me’s.
We want to improve Discipline’s single-target healing capacity. One key is to make sure shielding isn’t always a more attractive option than healing.
Shieldpriest is shielding.
Discipline will finally be getting Power Word: Barrier as a talented ability. Think of it like a group Power Word: Shield.
Wait, so we’re going to put more emphasis on shielding, but don’t go getting all emotionally dependent on shields? Mommy loves daddy. Mommy loves daddy! *rocks back and forth*
Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses
Meditation Absorption Absorption: Improves the strength of shields such as Power Word: Shield, Divine Aegis, and Power Word: Barrier.
But don’t go getting all emotionally dependent on your shields!!
In conclusion, I really, really, really wish I’d named this blog whyunohealme.com.