Do you want to know the greatest and most amazing new thing priests are getting in Mists of Pandaria? It's a squid. Well, it could be an octopus, but I think it's a squid. It's called a Mindbender, and it's our new level 45 talent. The Mindbender is a flying, shadowy squid that serves as an improved version of (read: replacement for) our old pal, Shadowfiend. Our new squid friend does double the damage of Shadowfiend and thus returns twice as much mana. I can only assume the reason he can do this is because he latches onto the heads of our enemies and sucks out their brains, sort of like a Mind Flayer, the squid-faced monsters from Dungeons and Dragons with telekinetic powers. Mindbender, Mind Flayer ... That's right, Blizzard, I'm on to you.
Anyway, I imagine Squiddy will become the prime choice for healing priests in MoP because 1.) mana is mana, and 2.) the other level 45 talents are a bit lackluster. That will unfortunately mean leaving Shadowfiend at home, which is awfully sad, but I've painted up a scenario in my head where Shadowfiend tells me, "Look, Dawn, we've been raiding together for a few years now, and it's about time that I caught up on all the prime time television I've missed. There's Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and I've still only seen one episode of Game of Thrones. I need a break."
"OK, Shadowfiend," I say to it, "you can stay home this expansion."
"Thanks, dollface," it responds with Don Draper-esque charm and winks an eye at me I never knew it had.
More priest talents
In addition to Mindbender, another new talent was added to our tree called Spectral Guise. This talent allows you to turn invisible for 6 seconds while a Spectral Guise remains in your place. If you'd like to see how it works, Matticus made a short video about it a couple of weeks back.
Spectral Guise was originally supposed to be our level 87 ability, but I guess the developers realized how utterly lame that was and swapped it out with Void Shift. Not a bad move, in my opinion, since Void Shift is such an amazing ability that it would be hard to choose between it and any other talent. As for Spectral Guise, you can now choose between it and two other survival abilities, Desperate Prayer and Angelic Bulwark.
The Glyph of Atonement is no more
Holy priests, say adieu, because Atonement is no longer accessible to you as a glyph. Instead, the ability is now only available to discipline priests as a core specialization ability. I guess that passionate love affair between Chakra: Chastise and Atonement wasn't meant to be, huh? C'est la vie. On the bright side, this means discipline priests no longer have to choose between having Atonement or not having Atonement.
On a slightly related note, Evangelism is still currently available to priests of all specs. Presumably this is so holy priests can still use the talent Archangel. Not too useful without Atonement, but I guess if you're one of those holy priests who likes to level by casting Smite a billion times, there's some appeal.
Other glyph changes
There were also a couple of glyph changes I neglected to mention in my last article that I thought I'd point out now. First off, the Glyph of Levitate has been changed to now increase your movement speed by 15% while under the affect of Levitate as well as the 10 seconds after it has worn off. Previously, the glyph removed the need for a Light Feather when casting Levitate, but Levitate was also recently changed to no longer require a reagent when casting.
The new version of the glyph essentially acts as a less powerful version of Path of the Devout, a beta talent we had and lost within the span of a few weeks. At the time that we had it, Path of the Devout buffed movement speed by 25% and persisted for 30 seconds after Levitate broke. It was since replaced by a different talent called Feathers From Heaven (which, by the way, had its name changed to Angelic Feather this past week.) Anyway, while Glyph of Levitate is nowhere near as powerful as Path of the Devout was, it should still be useful for leveling. It might even be useful in the occasional fight, too.
The other glyph change is to the Glyph of Holy Nova. Now, I'm not sure if this change is recent or if it's been like this for a few beta builds and I just missed it, but Holy Nova is no longer a baseline spell for priests. Instead, the spell is learned by slotting this glyph. It's a pretty bizarre turn of events, if you ask me, but I guess it makes sense when you consider how often the spell got used in Cataclysm. Holy Nova has been strictly situational for an entire expansion now, which means it's perfect glyph material.
Still, I can't help but feel like the spell got put down. We went through so much together. I remember scraping through those last few seconds of heroic Professor Putricide at 5% buff; Holy Nova is what pulled us through when there wasn't any time or space to get a cast off. I love you, Holy Nova ... I'll always remember the good times.
We'll start with the little stuff first this time. Ready for this? Holy priests got Hymn of Hope back. Yay! One can only wonder what brought on this change. I'm guessing Blizzard plans to balance mana regen for priests alongside other healing clases with the use of this spell.
Next, disc priests got Heal back. The reason for this is that discipline priests no longer have Greater Heal. As Ghostcrawler (lead systems designer) suggested a few weeks ago, the developers went ahead and tweaked the numbers on Spirit Shell so that it hits more like Greater Heal and less like Heal. In retrospect, Ghostcrawler's words are actually a bit of an understatement, because Greater Heal now only heals for about 80% of what Spirit Shell absorbs. This means Spirit Shell heals for the same amount Greater Heal heals does if it expires without any of the absorption being used. Nifty, huh? Even better, the cast times and mana costs on both spells match now, too.
The return of Rapture and Borrowed Time
Rapture and Borrowed Time are both back for disc priests, now as passive specialization abilities instead of talents. Personally, I couldn't be happier about Borrowed Time, especially when I think about pairing it up with Spirit Shell. Having a tiny speed boost to help things along has always been a favorite part of disc for me, and I view it as somewhat essential in 10-man healing where a disc priest may constantly be switching between single target and AoE healing. Without Borrowed Time, I can think of many random DPSers who would have died from Prayer of Healing's coming a split second later.
As for Rapture, I find myself hesitating to embrace its return after reading why rapture needs to retire from Derevka over at Tales of a Priest. Derevka is a bit frustrated with the return of Rapture, stating that it's unfair and unnecessary for one healing class to have to micromanage their regen against a number of factors (Weakened Soul, multiple disc priests battling over the same reliable damage target, the fact that the shield has to be fully consumed, the new cooldown on Power Word: Shield, and then some) just to keep up with the regen that every other healing class enjoys passively. He makes a lot of valid points, and I highly recommend checking out the post for yourself.
As for me, what I've always enjoyed about Rapture is exactly what Derevka dislikes about it. Whenever I play holy, I dislike the fact that there is really nothing I can do when I'm OOM other than stand around and wait for my next Shadowfiend or enough mana to tick back for me to cast whatever spell I want to cast next. I like the participation of Rapture and that it adds a level of difficulty and engagement that other healing classes don't have. I enjoy the slow transition from having to watch it like a hawk at low levels of gear to barely worrying about it in the last expansion tier -- and even then, it's nice being able to still tap into a more disciplined playstyle on particularly challenging progression fights.
But despite my preferences, Derevka's concerns that the math simply might not add up are valid. If I do a half-decent job maintaining my Rapture procs but I'm falling dramatically behind on mana in comparison to all the other healers, that's a problem I'm not going to be happy with. And unfortunately, when you've got one class using a different system from all the rest, it's a legitimate worry to have. For now, I think we may need to wait on the raid testers or the theorycrafters to see how things will fare. 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.