<3 Mah Mana Battery!
In a shocking turn of events, Shadow Priests (SP) became not only raid viable in 2007, but a key component for them. /horror It all started with a little talent I like to call Vampiric Touch. Previously staunch Holy Priests started converting over before the paint even dried, including me. If you weren't purple, you weren't kewl. Plus you had 10 levels to get asap, and the general consensus was this is how you got to 70 the fastest.
Gone forever were the days of public ridicule and raid bench warming. Reports of the leading raid guilds not allowing their priests heal but requiring shadow spec's fueled the dps fire. Even the outward appearing "holy priest" was sneaking some lawsmites on the side. Don't deny it. I saw you! Priest dps was the latest craze after years of repression... errr... healing.
From a pure dps standpoint, Blizz upped the anty with Shadow Word: Death. It was quickly heralded as one of the key ways to increase your dps to be on par with locks and mages. And thus began some healers' all consuming hatred of clothies that damage themselves. VampTouch SP's came into their own in 2007, becoming as good as the other dps caster classes, providing tons of utility, and typically receiving adoring fan mail on a daily basis.
Fun New Holy Toys
As if Priests didn't have enough healing spells, 2007 brought them about 5 more. While some have questionable use, this class has converted from "Gr8rHealz 4 Life!" to "Yep, I have one of those. Lemme show you it." Seven button mice were flying off store shelves as people tried to jam three ranks of Greater Heal, Binding Heal, PoM, Bubble, Demagic, Flash, and Renew into Clique.
Non-combat pets were so 2006 with the addition of Shadowfiend. At first they had the same player control as a Jubling, which is how I liked it. Find something hostile not wearing a I-damage-you-if-you-hit-me shield, cast, and back to teh healz. Naturally, the Shadow Priests* had to go and wreck it. What? Of course it's their fault. If they weren't the latest and greatest Lock clone, it would have never occurred to Blizz that Shadowfiend needed a pet bar. It ended up not being as bad as I thought, though. The mana totem with legs still has enough AI to find the nearest mob without too much interaction. (*SP get fiends, too. I just stuck them under holy because they had to go somewhere.)
And as these cloth covered buffets of healing waddled into instances, it was soon discovered that moar doesn't always equal better, though. My first reaction was "Omg, I can only heal a small fraction of the tank's total health per cast now." I then proceeded to freak out. This was not the norm before. The real purpose of Binding Heals took a bit to discover beyond just being a double-whammy Flash. Mana regen back then was all about the mp5, too, with Spirit fixes only a gleam in the developers' eye (Yes, they all share one). There's still discussion going on about it, too. And then there was the near-constant mocking from healadins. See more about that below.
Get Buffed by Nerfing Others
Most priests probably recall the Priest Riots of 2007, the result of a slow burn starting with BC. First Blizz gave everyone paladins and shaman, adding another class to the healing competition. The Horde soon found out what the Alliance knew all along: healadins rox sox. And the previous Kings of the Hill were outraged. Add to that Crapwell and Circle of Wut? and you had a revolt brewing. Blizz tried to appease the masses by nerfing Paladins for healing too well. CoH got "buffed" with 25 hp of extra healing. Whew! That's really gonna make a difference! /sarcasm
The nail in the coffin was when Blizz announced nerfs to Vampiric Embrace (-25% dmg and 0 crit chance), stole Silent Resolve's shadow spell threat reduction, and upped the cooldown of PoM to 20 sec. Priests grabbed their pitchforks and hit the in-game streets. A bunch got smacked with GM mass sleep and when that didn't work, the 3hr Account Ban Stick started swinging. Here's some video coverage if you missed out. Droves of others merely accepted their fate in silence and rerolled paladin. In the end, Blizz reversed their plans, requiring less mana for CoH and making PoM cooldowns reasonable, but keeping all that nonsense involving SP's. Fade got a buff as a consolation prize.
The reality was the actual fixes didn't come much until later for holy priests, but even now CoH isn't stellar until you're well into raiding. Fear Ward handed out in Patch 2.3, even in its must-nerf-for-the-Horde state, is pretty nice. With the latest crash and burn of Holy Paladins' T5 set bonuses, Holy Priests are pretty much right back where they want to be: high on the healing hog.
A Piece of Me Died
...the day Benediction/Anathema went in the bank for good. I think this happened about 2.5hrs after entering Outlands. No more guild chat begging for a druid/priest/mage to come help kill skellies. Oil of Immolation don't sell like they used to. The plague victims? Basically on their own. Nearly endless discussion about exactly what constititues cheating to complete the quest? Covered in cobwebs. The stave that had been at my side forever, the obvious sign that I could indeed dedisease/heal many slow walking whelps, was tossed aside for a random green stick with no glow whatsoever. On the bright side, at least I no longer have to explain why I'm healing with Ana for the next 30 min after misclicking it by accident. You can't really hide that sorta thing, you know.
Crafted Gear? I has em on!
On the topic of items, one of the biggest changes in 2007 for priests was that tailoring gear became pretty freaking nice. Like "Whaaaaa!!!" from PvE/PvP'ers nice. After a brief nerf threat and subsequent outrage (if anything, Blizz learns from full-out rioting), Primal Mooncloth, Frozen Shadoweave, Whitemend, and Spellstrike continue to be must-haves for up and coming priests. More love was poured in from SSC/TK with pattern drops like Boots of the Long Road and Belt of Blasting. Add healadin nerfing-by-omission (no equivalent BS gear) and a Priest's place in the healing world is secure.
The Pee Vee Pee Scene
A lot of what I've talked about is raiding, so I want to toss in PvP changes as well. For one, PvP as a whole got a major renno in 2007, the result of which Priests found their niche as arena mana burners. For me, this seems like one of the few times the Disc tree has much use beyond Imp Spi. But if you pack on enough stam and resil, add in Imp Mana Burn, Pain Suppression, and Mass Dispel the crap out of the other team, you're one tough first kill target.
BG's are still good for either SP or Holy spec's, depending on what you enjoy. MC'ing people off mountains is just as funny now as it was in 2006. Supposedly Fear has diminishing returns, but I've never seen them. >:)
Not Everything is Sunshine and Roses
This certainly doesn't mean Priests are completely happy with their current status. Avid Discipline lovers are out in the cold until Blizz comes up with a solution to make that tree remotely viable beyond PvP. Maybe 2008 will be Year of the Priest Tank. They're supposed to be a hybrid class, right?
What are your fondest Priest memories of 2007? What did I forget to include? Gimme that and more in the comments! (P.S. to Extremitus: I l2speel :P Sorry about that!)
[Special thanks to Rykir, Dek, Demyse, and Solerah of Archon, plus Hobbs, Trepitation, Kaliption, Marek, and Cerinne of Ascent for the picture. See? Alliance and Horde can get along!]
Marcie Knox loves her Undead Priest very much and longingly inspects anyone walking by wearing angel wings. Sometimes for fun she'll log on to Mart just to pull out her full T2 and Bene, dreaming about the glory days gone by. Well, until the first "lol wut r u wearing, nubcake?" whisper...