However, Blizzard has more recently released some revisions to the priest talent trees which are somewhat more interesting, and at least make me stop to think before deciding I should immediately reroll. (I have already reserved the character name "Rerolled" on my realm for my paladin-to-be, just in case.) Read on for talent-by-talent impressions...
Reduces the mana cost of your Dispel Magic, Cure Disease, Abolish Disease, and Mass Dispel spells by 5/10/15%
- For three points, this provides a reasonable cost reduction to skills that can get quite common use, depending on the dungeons you run. It's not an exceptional talent, but it's not bad, either, and provides another option for players trying to move up the tree.
Improved Divine Spirit, requires 1 point in Divine Spirit
Your Divine Spirit and Prayer of Spirit also increase the target's spell damage and healing by an amount equal to 5/10% of their total Spirit.
- When combined with Spiritual Guidance (in the Holy tree) and a decent amount of spirit gear (I'm fond of spirit to begin with, though some aren't), this is a nice added bonus for the priest, putting the damage/healing bonus up to around 35% of total spirit (depending on how the calculations are done) -- providing benefit similar in line with the paladin's increase as intellect itemization...!) However, for other party members, the benefit provided by this "improved" version of Divine Spirit is minor, at best. Let us estimate that an average caster winds up with 200 spirit at level 60 (which I believe to be a generous estimate). Improved Divine Spirit will give them +20 spell damage/healing. While it's never bad to have extra spell damage, the slight benefit may not be worth the points. (I will probably have this talent for a holy/disc build -- but for myself moreso than others, as I run with heavy spirit gear)
Your Smite and Mind Blast spells have an additional 2/4% chance to hit and cause 5/10% additional damage against Feared targets.
- Since they changed "Dazed" to "Feared," this talent is much more interesting. The +hit chance alone is nice for a smite-build priest or even a shadow priest, as you could pick up this talent and still have points to spare for Shadowform. The extra damage on feared targets provides an interesting addition and gives priests a good reason for using Psychic Scream other than as an escape spell.
Causes 10/20/30/40/50% of the damage absorbed by your Power Word: Shield to reflect back at the attacker. This damage causes no threat.
- I like this talent and i dislike this talent, all at once. At level 60, a max rank PW:S absorbs 942 damage (or 1083 if you've spent the talent points to improve it). So if you constantly use shields, you add about 471 (or 541, with talents) damage every 15 seconds to your target. It does seem like a nice way for a priest to add some damage utility (albeit low) to a group while staying in a healing role. However, the problem I have with this talent is that shields are expensive to cast (500 mana per at max rank) and tend to be something saved for emergencies
Increases your total Stamina, Intellect, and Spirit by 1/2/3/4/5%.
- This is a nice all-around buff to the priest's primary stats, and certainly worth the investment if you're heading towards the top tier Discipline talent. However, it feels weak when compared to similar druid talents. At tier 5 in Feral, druids can get Heart of the Wild which for 5 talent points gives +20% intellect as well as +20% stamina in Bear form and +20% strength in Cat form. Alternatively at tier 5, druids can pick up Survival of the Fittest, which for five talent points gives +5% to all attributes as well as reduces their chance to be critically hit by melee attacks by 5%. Our variation on these talents are higher in the tree as well as weaker, leaving me feeling a little less enthused about it.
154 mana, instant cast, reduces all damage taken by 60% for 8 sec. 3 min cooldown.
- This is an interesting ability to see for a priest. It is similar to a warrior's shield wall, only on a shorter cooldown. However, a warrior's usual job is to take damage, while a priest's usual job is to avoid taking damage. In soloing and PvP, this is likely to get common use (every 3 minutes!), whereas for PvE it's an emergency button (similar to fade) that's only used when things go terribly wrong. (And since fade has a shorter cooldown, it's likely to still be the button you'll reach to first.) However, even in PvP, use of this talent may only delay your death for 8 seconds.
Spirit of Redemption
Increases total Spirit by 5% and upon death, the priest becomes the Spirit of Redemption for 15 sec. The Spirit of Redemption cannot move, attack, be attacked or targeted by any spells or effects. While in this form, the priest can cast any healing spell free of cost. When the effect ends, the priest dies.
- It's not a new talent, but it's received a couple interesting improvements. First, it increases the priest's total Spirit by 5% -- which gives us a nice buff during those times we aren't dead. And the duration of the Spirit of Redemption effect itself has been increased by 5 seconds, giving you a bit of extra time to get those after-death heals off.
Surge of Light
Your spell criticals have a 25/50% chance to cause your next Smite spell to be instant cast, cost no mana, but be incapable of a critical hit. This effect lasts 10 sec.
- This is phrased to suggest that any spell, be it healing or damage, could trigger this free Smite. For 5 points at tier 7 and a 25% chance, I didn't feel that this talent was very useful -- however, for 2 points at tier 6 and a 50% chance it's a cheap investment that adds some DPS utility to a mainly healing build, or adds an extra punch to a Smite build.
Gives you a 2/4/6% chance to enter a Clearcasting state after casting any Flash Heal or Greater Heal spell. The Clearcasting state reduces the mana cost of your next Flash Heal or Greater Heal spell by 100%.
- For a relatively minor investment of talent points, you gain a 6% chance of getting a Clearcasting proc from your two primary healing spells , giving you a mana-free cast of either. I'd say this is a great investment for a scant number of talent points, but that may depend on your personal opinion of such chance to proc spells.
Critical hits made against you have a 20/40/60% chance to reduce the chance you'll be critically hit by 100% for 6 sec.
- I, personally, dislike talents that require you to take a crit before they take effect. The damage a single crit can cause could easily kill, so what do I care what happens afterwards? However, if you're aiming for a maximum survivability (PvP, likely) healing build, this isn't a bad talent, though I wish max rank would give a 100% proc chance rather than a 60% proc chance.
Your Greater Heal spell gains an additional 4/8/12/16/20% and your Flash heal gains an additional 2/4/6/8/10% of your bonus healing effects.
- The utility of this spell depends entirely on how well geared you are. If you have a lot of +healing gear, this talent's improvement will scale (as opposed to Spiritual Healing, which won't scale with gear). But if you don't, then you may not see much benefit. With 1000 +healing gear (currently reachable with the right epic gear), your Greater Heal will get an extra +200 healing and your Flash Heal will get an extra +100 healing. Rank 5 Greater Heal (available to all at level 62, or available at level 60 if you've gotten the book drop) heals for 1966 to 2194. With 1000 +healing, you've pushed that to 2966 to 3194. The extra +200 gained from this talent will push it up to 3166 to 3394, which gives a bit more than +6% bonus to the spell. But if you were, say, a blue-geared priest with 200 +healing, you would gain an extra 20 +healing on a spell that regularly healed for 2166 to 2394 -- or a little less than a 1% bonus. So the better your gear, the better the return on this talent.
Circle of Healing
400 Mana, instant cast, 40 yd range. Heals target party member and all other party members within 15 yards of the target for 289 to 319.
Rank 2: 450 Mana, 337 to 372 Healing
Rank 3: 500 Mana, 385 to 426 Healing
Rank 4: 550 Mana, 434 to 479 Healing
Rank 5: 600 Mana, 475 to 525 Healing
- Even at its highest rank, Circle of Healing is a weak AoE heal. However, it has a couple of advantages -- first, that it's instant cast, meaning it can immediately start negating damage. Second -- it's targetable, implying that it can be used to AoE heal people in other parties. However, it's still an extremely weak heal with a reasonably high mana cost, and I have trouble thinking of when I'd be tempted to use it besides the Vaelestrasz fight in Blackwing Lair (during that fight, you're given a buff that tends to regenerate your mana more quickly than you can use it).
Reduces the mana cost of your Mind Blast, Mind Control and Mind flay spells by 5/10/15%.
- A bit of mana management for the shadow tree. If you find you regularly have mana problems while out and about in Shadowform, this is a decent investment for 3 talent points. Of course, with so many good talents in the shadow tree, it may be difficult to find the points for this one.
Reduces the chance you'll be critically hit by all spells by 2/4%.
- A decent survivability/PvP talent that's neither stellar or lousy. However, with Darkness (increases shadow spell damage by 2/4/6/8/10%) on the same tier, my theorycraft shadow builds have trouble finding a place for this, as well.
Increases the critical strike chance of your Mind Blast and Shadow Word: Death spells by 3/6/9/12/15%.
- A very nice boost to crit chance for these spells -- but it's worth noting that Mind Blast has a lengthy cooldown and SW:D is only usable as a death blow (unless you want to take damage from it), so the high crit boost is somewhat balanced by the fact that neither spell is spammable.
Your Shadow Word: Pain, Mind Flay, and Vampiric Touch spells also cause the target to take an additional 1/2/3/4/5% spell damage.
- This has been moved from a similar position in the Discipline tree, and seems to fit quite nicely at this tier in Shadow. Misery not only provides you, the priest, with a +5% damage boost, but it also provides caster in your party or raid with a similar damage improvement. This talent alone could make the Shadow tree raid-viable, by giving it a very nice raid buff.
325 Mana, 1.5 sec cast, 30 yd range. Causes 450 Shadow damage over 15 sec to your target and causes all party members to gain mana equal to 5% of any Shadow spell damage you deal.
Rank 2: 400 Mana, 635 to 640 damage
Rank 3: 475 Mana, 685 to 690 damage
- This spell, again, provides group and raid viability to the Shadow priest and encourages a raid to have a Shadow priest in the trenches doing shadow damage for a whole-group mana regeneration buff. The other options for group-wide mana regeneration are shaman totems (which are limited by party and range), and paladin's blessing/judgement of wisdom (the later providing mana regeneration only if you hit the judged monster). This seems to complement Vampiric Embrace's health regeneration nicely and -- and even for a soloing priest it increases damage (you have another DoT) and reduces downtime.