As a player who recently fell in love with Circle of Healing, this news hits me pretty hard: Blizzard is considering adding a six-second cooldown to CoH and its Druid analogue, Wild Growth. Basically, they're not happy with the fact that CoH often provides upwards of 70% of the healing done by a Holy priest in a raid. The design, according to Ghostcrawler, is for Holy priests to be versatile healers: we have a fast heal, a slow one, a HoT, and several group heals, as well as a couple of unique tricks. But the new, smart CoH sort of blows this out of the water, making Circle the answer to almost every situation, and making AoE healing Holy's de facto speciality (GC's phrase is that it makes our other heals "look like poo").
I'm not sure what I think about adding a cooldown to CoH as a solution to this, though. Initially, I hated it; it looked like Blizzard brute-forcing us to play the way they want us to, instead of making it more attractive by buffing other spells or pushing less AoE damage on us. On the other hand, there is talk of reducing AoE damage necessary. And the more I think about it, the more I think a cooldown might actaully feel good. I do sort of miss my other spells; I don't think I used Greater Heal more than a dozen times the fist raid I did after getting Circle. With a cooldown I could save Circle for when I really needed it. I do like the skill involved in selecting the right spell from our arsenal to deal with the incoming damage - it helps keep me awake during those late raids, and it brings an element of strategy that is missing when I'm just spamming CoH three out of every four GCDs.
Reactions from the blogosphere include Matt's "No comment, stabbing myself in the eyes" and the Dwarf Priest's "CoH is fine," so it looks like I'm in the minority in actually not thinking this is necessarily a terrible idea. I do like the idea of making Prayer of Healing raid-wide to compensate, which is suggested by the Dwarf Priest and acknowledged as a possibility by GC. Groups being mostly irrelevant in raids right now makes the limiation on PoH feel archaic.
Holy does have a history of our top-tier talents being mocked and considered useless (Holy Nova, Lightwell, Circle of Healing; even the new Guardian Spirit has received its share of skepticism). Would a six-second-cooldown CoH still be useful? Yes. Would it be worth its spot in the talent tree? Maybe not. It does make me think of one interesting idea, though: put a cooldown reduction on the beleaguered Divine Providence. If DP reduced the theoretical cooldown of CoH by 30%, bringing it down to 4 seconds, as well as its current effects, it would be an excellent talent, in my opinion, and the Holy tree would be in pretty good shape (albeit with a very different play style than we have now).
Druids: apologies for the Priest--centric nature of this post. I've never specced Resto, so I don't have any basis from which to speak about Wild Growth. But I am very interested in your perspective; what is this cooldown going to do to Resto, if it happens?