The same bread and butter spells we use now to heal at end game will remain the same when we reach level 80. I've already done several instance runs of Utgarde Keep, the Nexus, and Azjol-Nerub (which, by the way, is the shortest instance I have ever played.) I have tried multiple variations of different specs, as varied as possible as a level 72 Priest. No matter what, my options and my tools change only slightly, and not at all from my current options on live servers.
One question is this: Do Priests need more types of spells?
Let's look at our end-game arsenal (this means no Lesser Heal or Heal.) I'm linking the max-level versions of the spells.
Prayer of Healing
Circle of Healing
Prayer of Mending
Upon first glance, we have enough spells to answer just about any threat in the game. We truly don't need any more ways to heal players.
One way Blizzard has diversified our tree is by including more proc-based effects. I've experimented with Improved Holy Concentration. At first, it seems like one of those talents that most people would pass over. But read in-depth, and you'll see that you're getting an almost 1 in 6 chance of getting a free heal and an increase in spellhaste.
The next proc-effect we get is from Serendipity. This is what I would consider a win-win talent. If your heal lands and you don't over heal, great! You've just gotten your mana's worth from a spell in full. However, if your heal lands and the player didn't make use of 50% of the punch, you get a portion of your mana back. Especially with the loss of down-ranking as a mana-efficiency tool, this talent will become valuable as a refund of mana lost to forced over-heals.
Test of Faith acts as an extra safety net, increasing the effectiveness of your heals on targets with lower health. If your target takes a large hit, you can rest easy knowing that the next heal you land on them has a higher chance of putting them back up into the green. Even if it does't crit, the amount healed still goes up noticeably at low output.
Divine Providence will buff your specialist heals. It's not like Greater Heal and Flash Heal need any more of an increase anyway. The strength of this talent is going to depend on the encounters at the end of the game. Will the fights we experience allow us to utilize this effectively? That's not a question I can answer at this time. If I were a betting man (and I am), I would go over the top and push all in banking on Blizzard to really put this talent to use. On the other hand, Blizzard has clearly stated that no fights will require certain classes to complete – will a talent buffing only those heals that are unique to our class make a huge difference in end-game fights?
The only real new trick that we have to learn is Guardian Spirit. It's the Ace up the sleeves of our long (and brilliant-looking) Priest robes. What we have to learn is how and when to put it into play. I confess I haven't quite mastered the skill of this quite yet. I've actually intentionally not healed certain players (with advance warning of course) just so I could try and get a better feel for the mechanic. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Guardian Spirit is going to depend on the twitchness and reaction time of players later on in the game.
As interesting as these new procs are, Blizzard did not give us anything that will dramatically alter the face of Priest healing in the Holy tree. We will be healing the same way at level 80 as we are now at level 70 – with a few more random surprises along the way.
Is that really a bad thing?
Looking around at the other restorative classes, Druids get another direct healing spell (aptly known as Nourish.) Paladins get an AoE heal (Beacon of Light.) Shamans get a talentable Cleanse and Decurse in the form of Cleanse Spirit as well as an interesting binding spell called Spirit Link.
Compared to the other 3 classes, we start out with a leg up on our competition. Whether Priests will stay as the premiere healing class in WotLK remains to be seen. At this point, we've exhausted our knowledge and testing of the way Priest healing will work in Northrend. Blizzard simply made it so that the spells we use now will have additional effects and benefits. Think of it as a way of saving us the time and effort of having to manually activate these abilities.
While I admit I'm not exactly jumping out of my chair and screaming "YEEEEEAH" on most of the Holy talents, I'm relieved to know that I don't have to completely abandon the old ways.
Food for thought
- I haven't even gotten a chance to play with Inscription yet. I glanced over them briefly when they were announced and gave it a passing grade. Inscription does allow us to customize our Priests even further even though it is in a subtle fashion.
- I can't shake the feeling that set bonuses will come into play. They made a fair impact in TBC. I wonder if that concept will be explored even more when we have additional gear choices to choose from. In TBC, certain set pieces were enough to make me rethink my style of play - when I got the T6 set bonus which reduced the mana cost of Prayer of Healing, I made a conscious effort to use that more often when Circle of Healing wasn't needed.
Want to find more great tips for carrying out your Priestly duties? Spiritual Guidance has you covered with all there is to know!And don't forget to check the WoW Insider Directory for more priestly info!