Spiritual Guidance: Did we need the patch 3.2 nerfs?

Every Sunday (usually), Spiritual Guidance will offer practical insight for priests of the holy profession. Your host is Matt Low, the grand poobah of World of Matticus and a founder of No Stock UI, a new UI and addons blog for WoW. Patch 3.2 nerfs here we go!

Where do I start? There are several intriguing changes impacting the Priest class (specifically those of us that heal). On the one hand I'm partially disappointed by some of the changes. On the other hand I'm relieved because the changes could have been worse.

Let us get to it then, shall we?

First up is the Prayer of Healing change.

Prayer of Healing: The percentage of spell power this spell gains in healing (per target) has been reduced from 80.7% to 52.6%.

This change was probably needed. I don't like it but I can understand the need for it. When your Prayer of Healing starts critically healing in excess of over 8000 points, that might be construed as a bit much in our current stage of end game.

But 30%? Really? What about something more in between? I think the 65% range is a good number. Who knows? Maybe they might decide that it's too severe and decide to raise it back up again. I can't fault the design team for wanting to reduce the healing coefficient. With Priests breaching the 3000 spell power barrier right now, Prayer of Healing was doing an enormous amount on its own. Factor in the two piece set from tier 8 and it was a change we saw coming.

Those of you that disagree, stop and think ahead for a moment. The Coliseum raid instance that's coming out is a full tier better than Ulduar. Assuming Icecrown is after that which is either tier 10 (or 11 depending on what else is in between), then we'd be seeing 10000 point Prayer of Healing crits. Couple that with the Glyph of Prayer of Healing? You can see those numbers go up even more.

For Discipline Priests, Penance takes a slight hit.

Penance: Cooldown increased to 12 seconds, up from 10 seconds.

We may as well just say that we our Major Glyph slots drop from 3 to 2. Personally, I believe this makes the Penance glyph that much more important. Does it really change anything though? In the grand scheme of things, it's two seconds. My Priest is rocking around ~400 haste. Those are some lightning quick spells as it is. So what do we do with the extra 2 second cooldown? There's a lot of spells we can use in between. Another Flash Heal, another Power Word: Shield, or another spell are just a few of the things I can think of. Heh, for the more offensive minded Discipline Priest, you could sneak in a Shadow Word: Death or a Shadow Word: Pain. (I'm kidding!)

Over the past several weeks, I did manage to get involved in a few arenas playing on my Priest. Running Vault of Archavon over the past several months resulted in a decently capable PvP set (800 resilience is the amount I started with). Penance played a big part in the ability to keep myself and my partner alive.

What about the change to Inspiration?

Inspiration: The buff from this ability now reduces the physical damage taken by the target by 3/7/10% instead of increasing the target's armor.

Switching from the armor increase to physical damage taken isn't a completely bad nerf. A first, a lot of Priests I spoke to thought it was a great buff until they realized the damage was physical. The majority of the raid damage in Ulduar is magical. I'm leaning towards it being a slight nerf.

That's it for the Priest specific changes. We're not done yet. There are a few other things listed in the notes that affect Priests. Did you spot these?

There's a slight modification to the Glyph of Power: Word Shield.

The heal from Glyph of Power Word: Shield can now cause Divine Aegis.

So what type of numbers are we looking at exactly? A typical Discipline specced Power: Word Shield will land for 6000. The glyph heals for 20% of the amount absorbed. We can ballpark that at 1200 healed. Not only that, but Divine Aegis only activates if the heal portion crits (which goes up even more). The Aegis will protect 30% of the overall crit heal.

The PTR isn't up yet so I haven't been able to give it a shot. I don't foresee it making a huge impact, but it's a slight improvement at least even though it won't make up for the Prayer of Healing changes.

And then there is Replenishment.

Replenishment: This buff now grants 1% of the target's maximum mana over 5 seconds instead of 0.25% per second. This applies to all 5 sources of Replenishment (Vampiric Touch, Judgements of the Wise, Hunting Party, Enduring Winter Frostbolts and Soul Leech).

That's a straight nerf. It's an overall 20% reduction in Replenishment's effectiveness. You can read more about that change in Eliah's Replenishment post. Pay close attention to your manipulation of mana.

What about the buffs to MP5?

Lots of questions about this. MP5 based items have their numbers increased by 25%. With the previous Spirit nerf, one would wonder if we're being shifted back into MP5 mode. The jury is still out on this one. Discipline Priests don't care that much about Spirit regardless so this change is an overall buff. But for Holy Priests, the ultimate question is between gear with Spirit and gear with MP5 and which to choose. Spirit does affect the spell power stat for Holy.

So here's the million gold question.

Is the increased regeneration from MP5 better than the spell power modifiers and regeneration from Spirit?

I'm going to leave that question for the theorycrafting gurus to answer and patiently wait and see what the conclusion is. I believe the answer is more towards MP5.

Like all patch notes, all of this is pre-emptive and subject to change at any time.

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 out our other Leveling Guides as well as our Wrath Guides and Galleries!