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Spiritual Guidance: New priest talents in the Mists of Pandaria beta

Dawn Moore

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. Dawn Moore covers the healing side of things for discipline and holy priests. She also writes for and produces the Circle of Healing Podcast.

Let's get the bad news out of the way first: We've already lost Path of the Devout on beta. The good news is that in its place, we now have Feathers From Heaven, a talent that allows priests to lay out a little track of speed-boosting feathers. Think of them as those little speed arrows in Mario Kart, only they're feathers, and you can put them wherever you please.

The individual feathers have no expiration that I can tell, so you can lay them out in advance on one end of the room for special tactics in your raid encounters or PvP, if it suits your fancy. The ability has no mana cost at the moment. Instead, it is limited by charges: one feather per charge, and you can have three charges at a time. You can place one feather right after the other, but it takes 10 seconds to restore one charge. This allows you to spam three of them on the ground in succession if you like (something you can't do with Body and Soul) or spread them out gradually ahead of you in your path. They can be used by any friendly target, not just party members, so be mindful of people's stealing them if you're using them while leveling to snatch up quest items. Oh yeah, and the feathers can be used on top of water with Levitate.

So, you're excited about Mists of Pandaria now, right?

Level 90 priest talents

One thing I didn't cover last week was the new level 90 priest talents. Divine Star got moved from a mid-level talent down to level 90 and discovered two long-lost brothers, Cascade and Halo. (I think we'll have to get Fox to draw up a children's book version of this.) I still haven't been able to use any of these abilities on beta because of the level cap, but just reading them, my first thought was to wonder if WoW combat at level 90 is going to start playing a lot more like League of Legends. Between these spells and Feathers From Heaven, there just seems like so much more potential for movement and location-based combat. I'm really very excited to see how these types of spells get utilized. Personally, I think it would be a lot of fun to move for more reasons than fire and the boss' shifting slightly to the left.

Anyway, each talent does both damage and healing in a different way. Divine Star, as we've already discussed, works like a boomerang. Cascade ricochets and splits each time it does, getting stronger as it travels. Halo expands outward in a ring and, similarly to Cascade, is most effective the farther away you are from the center. Both Divine Star and Halo heal and damage at the same time, while Cascade seems to depend on whether you start with a friendly or enemy target.

Both of the new spells have amazing AoE healing potential, which will be invaluable to both holy priests and discipline priests in the next expansion -- discipline because we really don't have any other AoE healing otherwise, and holy because Circle of Healing and Holy Word: Sanctuary are not always the best option when the AoE of other classes is available. Options are always good, and these talents give holy priests more than I think we could have ever imagined in one expansion.

Blue posts on the development of discipline

There was a pretty lengthy response from Ghostcrawler (lead systems designer) this past week on the current state of discipline on beta. A poster on the official forums complained about the lack of choices in glyphs for priests, how utterly awful the Glyph of Penance is, and that the spec's mobility seemed in jeopardy with the current changes. She (or he) titled the original post "The Amputation of Discipline" and got the following as a reply.

Ghostcrawler -- The Amputation of Discipline
"Amputation" is a strange word in this context. Is it the new gutted? :)

I think you guys can tell what we're trying to do with Spirit Shell. We want Disc to have a spammable absorb that isn't as powerful as the instant Power Word: Shield. Spamming an instant absorb is just really hard to balance, which is why we have constantly had to nerf it over the years. We want a model where Disc can cast Spirit Shell often, and use PW: Shield for more critical cases... much like a Flash Heal. Currently on beta, Spirit Shell is lackluster because it's trying to fill the Heal role, but that's never going to be a really exciting role for a spell. We are going to try letting it fill the Greater Heal role instead. It should absorb for a lot, and if the absorb expires or is dispelled, then the heal will still kick in.

We agree that Rapture was a cool mechanic for Discipline, and we'd like to add it back, but have it scale with Spirit, so that Disc priests don't neglect Spirit on their gear (or worse, get mad at us when priest gear that they share with Holy has Spirit on it).

We have already changed PW:Barrier to have a mana cost similar to Divine Hymn. We want to lower the mana cost of Mass Dispel, but it is so potent with the new dispel model that it may require a cooldown to compensate. Mana costs as a whole are something we are going to continue to adjust. I said last week that we thought heal costs were in a good place, but then folks running through dungeons and raids told us they couldn't cast their big heals, so something isn't quite right. Remember the goal is for mana management to be more forgiving than it was in early Cataclysm, but not be irrelevant in later tiers. If it doesn't feel that way yet, then it is just because we still have more work to do.

We still have some other changes to make. We're not happy with some of the priest talents yet, and the glyphs aren't finished. The glyph of Penance is pretty unappetizing.

Overall, I think it's a decent response from Ghostcrawler. An acknowledgement from the developers on glyphs, Spirit Shell, and Rapture is very reassuring to me. (By the way, if you didn't see the news, Spirit Shell is going to work with From Darkness, Comes Light now.) The address to mana cost didn't really concern me much, but I'm rarely worried about that kind of thing anyway. Every expansion overhauls mana a fair bit, and with how quick the fixes have been in the past, I've developed a degree of confidence in Blizzard's ability to address that without issue. In general, I think mana regen is probably a pretty easy fix from patch to patch, compared to altering design mechanics. If you're going to give feedback to the developers during the beta, I'd focus on that.

By the way, since we're on the topic of mana, I had a few readers ask about how mana and regen were feeling on beta. As I said earlier, there is currently a level cap in place, so I can't get past level 87. Once I get to level 90 and run my first heroics, I'll write up my thoughts on priest regen.

Druid Symbiosis and priests

So druids are getting this new ability in Mists of Pandaria called Symbiosis. With it, the druid can form a link between one other party or raid member and in doing so will gain one of that player's spells. The druid will also grant that player one spell from the druid spell book in the process. The spell the druid gets will depend on his spec, so if you're a balance druid linked with a mage, you can use Mirror Image.

In the case of priests and healing, I thought I'd let you all know that restoration druids will be receiving Leap of Faith. So there goes our exclusive right to harass our raid and relocate our flock to more appropriate locations. Damn, I say. On the plus side, I guess it will add an interesting dimension to the ongoing series How to annoy your guildmates with Leap of Faith in the Daily Quests webcomic. (Grumpy Tree and Fyreuni Symbiosis?) Anyway, you can see the full list of exchanged spells at Sunfyre's Nest.

As for the spell the linked player receives, most of them seem to be situational in their utility and not all that useful the rest of the time. This makes sense to me, since the spell exists for the sake of the druid, not the rest of us. Holy and discipline priests are getting Entangling Roots, to which I respond "Meh." Shadow priests are receiving Tranquility, to which I'm sure they're responding "Oooh! Shiny!" Or something like that. (They're actually probably saying "meh," too.)

I really have to wonder, though, why in the world do holy paladins get Rebirth? That's actually useful to a healer and thus really annoyingly unfair when you compare it to what the rest of us got. All resto shaman got was Prowl for when they're in Ghost Wolf form, and I'll bet they're just hopping up and down about that (in Ghost Wolf form, no less). Dear Blizzard, have you ever considered that this is the reason everyone who isn't a paladin hates paladins? Love, a priest.

OK, that's enough snark for this week. You know the drill ... If you've got questions, comments, or concerns, leave a comment or shoot me an email.

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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