Spiritual Guidance: From Power Word: Solace to Power Infusion, the latest on holy and discipline priests

Dawn Moore
D. Moore|08.13.12

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Spiritual Guidance: From Power Word: Solace to Power Infusion, the latest on holy and discipline priests
Mists of Pandaria beta From Power Word Solace to Power Infusion, the latest on holy and discipline priests
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. Dawn Moore covers healing for discipline and holy priests, while her archenemy Fox Van Allen dabbles in shadow.

Since its introduction, the new level 45 priest talent, Power Word: Solace, has undergone several changes. First, it had the percentage of mana it returned per cast reduced from 2% to 1.5%. A little over a week after that, the percentage was buffed back up to 2% while the cast time was simultaneously nerfed from 1.5 seconds to 2 seconds. Then just last week, the cast time was lowered back to 1.5 seconds, while the amount of mana returned was lowered to a mere .7% per cast. Pretty crazy for one little spell, right?

As you'd expect, a lot of discussion has come up over the changes, with one thread on the official forums leading it all. In it, the original poster asks for an explanation behind the nerfs, saying that even though he hated using Power Word: Solace with a fiery passion, the talent was necessary for healing priests. Ghostcrawler (Lead Systems Developer Greg Street) responded soon after, explaining that the developers don't want Power Word: Solace to feel like the only option healing priests have, and they will nerf it until priests consider Mindbender and From Darkness, Comes Light viable alternatives.

Ghostcrawler -- Can you please explain the PW: Solace change?

Actually they're saying that by not spending that mana on heal and instead idling/solacing, you set yourself up for larger returns later through using other spells. It doesn't make you regen any faster, but you're able to do more healing in the same window of time, increasing your efficiency. This is why solace feels required. Nerfing solace does nothing to fix the problem with our sustained efficiency, it just brings our burst potential more in line. No one is saying they like spamming solace a ton, it just happens to be the most efficient means for us to heal.

Okay, I think I understand the context. You're saying for a given GCD that generating mana through Solace to afford a more expensive heal is better than spending a GCD on Heal itself, which is slightly mana negative and not awesome throughput. It may be that priests with Solace don't Heal often, and we could live with that.

I disagree with your last bit though. Nerfing Solace does help to fix the problem with sustained efficiency, because it's masking a potential problem.

I think many of you guys are here: I need mana. Solace gives me mana. If you nerf Solace, I won't have mana.

But, I am here: Priests need to be able to function without Solace.

I think now that paladins and monks are hopefully not broken, we'll find that the other healers are closer together. If what several of you are saying is correct (druid > priest / shaman, or even druid > Holy / shaman > Disc) then that will show up pretty quickly.

Overall, I've been pretty impressed with what Ghostcrawler has had to say. It lines up perfectly with the new talent system, where cookie-cutter builds are supposed to die and players are free to choose their talents based on playstyle. I'm not so sure that the level 45 talents work that way from a shadow priest's perspective, but for healers I see a lot of potential in all the talents. Blizzard just needs to find the right balance, which they sincerely seem to be working at.

Anyway, the Power Word: Solace thread is a must-read if you're a priest. If you're short on time, at least check out Ghostcrawler's responses.

Blue post bonanza: Spell cost reduction, Meditation, and a huge change to Power Infusion

After you've read through the Power Word: Solace thread, I highly recommend leafing through the blue posts in the Beta Class Balance Analysis thread as well. In reading it, you'll be able to get a better idea about the developers' intent in designing and balancing priests and other classes.

Here's some of the latest healing priest news out of that thread.

Ghostcrawler -- Beta Class Balance Analysis
An update for priests: we're going to reduce the cost of all heals by 10%, reduce the mana gain from Inner Focus, but buff Discipline to 50% Meditation. We're also making Power Infusion priest only, for fear that priests will be asked to choose that talent to benefit someone else.

Isn't it amazing how such a short little blue post can be so utterly alarming? Mind you, most of this sounds pretty good. The 10% reduction in spell costs is definitely a welcome change, especially for disc priests who have been struggling to find the mana to use Power Word: Shield, even sparingly. Meanwhile, holy priests should see this as a significant throughput buff, since they weren't in the same desperate mana situation as discipline.

As for the bit about Power Infusion, well, that's a bit harder to take down. I'll admit that I can see where the developers are coming from ... It is a bit silly to have a personal talent that, from a big-picture standpoint, is always better off going to someone else. I'm not sure I agree with or entirely believe their reasoning for making a change to the talent, though. I've been using Power Infusion for years and never had a player or raid take issue with my keeping the ability for myself. I think the issue is more that the talent looks so much more attractive compared to Twist of Fate or Divine Insight. You can use Power Infusion on yourself when you need it and on others when you don't; Twist of Fate and Divine Insight don't have that flexibility.

Still, changing Power Infusion in this way kills a long-standing relationship between priests and caster DPSers. Some of my fondest memories and closest friendships started with a Power Infusion, and it's a shame that holy priests won't get to experience it as discipline priests have.

Personally, I think the better option would be to make it so Power Infusion can still be used on other players but at reduced effectiveness. Maybe nerf it by 50% when it's cast on another player, but let it go unchanged for the priest. That way, Divine Insight and Twist of Fate will easily pull ahead in certain situations and the essence of Power Infusion remains the same.

Getting back to the blue post above, the changes to Meditation and Inner Focus go hand in hand with discipline's mana woes I mentioned earlier. It would seem that even with Rapture, we couldn't fill in that 10% difference. As a result, we'll now be looking at a scenario where discipline benefits from slightly better mana return than other classes. I'll admit, I'm surprised it worked out like it did, though I know there were plenty of priests who expected this to happen. (I guess I owe you guys some drinks.) I'll report back on how things go once these changes hit beta.

Little buffs for spells and priests

There have been a several miscellaneous changes and additions to priests in the past month that don't warrant a great deal of discussion. Not wanting to neglect them, I've included them below.
  • Divine Fury now also works with Cascade, Divine Star, and Halo. This means the offensive portion of your three, level 90 talents will hit even if you aren't hit-capped.
  • Shackle Undead had its mana cost adjusted from 9% base mana to 2%. The spell is still only used occasionally in dungeons and leveling.
  • Holy Nova was made baseline again. Previously it had only been accessible to priests on beta by inscribing the Glyph of Holy Nova, but now you can use it again whenever you please. Granted, you'll still never use it because it's a travesty of a healing spell that's only good for killing a couple dozen low-health goons or wreaking havoc on Azeroth's critter population. I guess it will continue to hang out on my action bars with Mind Soothe. Oh, except Mind Soothe doesn't exist in Mists of Pandaria. Poor little Holy Nova ... So alone. Holy Nova, as of build 16004 on beta, is not baseline and only accessible if you have the Glyph of Holy Nova inscribed. Check out the latest comments below for an explanation on this section.
  • No changes to Spectral Guise, but a blue post in late July told us that it is intended design for damage taken while in stealth to break the duration of the ability. Not surprising really, so be sure to dispel any DoTs on yourself before you try to hide.
  • Divine Insight now procs off Prayer of Healing for holy priests. Not much to say to this other than "woohoo!" If you need a reminder on how amazing Divine Insight is for holy, I made a video of it a while back. Super-spastic Prayer of Mending for the win.
  • I mentioned that Renew was being treated as a single-target heal when under the effect of Chakra: Serenity in the last Spiritual Guidance. A blue post since then has verified that to be intended. The same post also mentions that the extra tick of Renew we were getting in Chakra: Serenity was indeed a bug with the refresh and will be fixed. You can thank Derevka for bringing this up with the developers. He's been a busy bee on the forums, fighting for your mana and stuff like a priest rights activist.
  • Holy Word: Sanctuary had its healing increased by 10%. Good stuff, though I can't comment on how necessary it was -- I've been using Chakra: Serenity almost exclusively on beta, and I didn't get to do any 25-man testing. I'll get some reports on this soon!
  • The two-piece bonus for our tier gear has been buffed. The mana cost of Flash Heal will now be reduced by 20% instead of 10%.

Next time on Spiritual Guidance

So today we got caught up on a lot of news from beta we've missed. (Sorry about that brief hiatus, by the way; it would seem that being a priest does next to nothing when helping someone move.) In the next few weeks, I'll be focused on getting together those big 101 guides some of you may remember from the start of Cataclysm. They'll be a little different than last time since we're still at a point where a lot of changes could happen on beta and after release, but I've got a plan to address that.

If there is anything in particular you really want included in the guide that wasn't in the last one, or if you just want something clarified about the news or beta, please leave a comment and let me know.

Come to Spiritual Guidance for the inside line on current healing gear and trinkets, as well as advice for healing in Dragon Soul. Newcomer to the priest class? Look into leveling a healing priest, and consult our guides to Discipline Priest 101 and Holy Priest 101.
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