On my journey to level 90, the new priest talent Divine Star was what I found myself looking forward to the most. When the ability had first been announced at BlizzCon 2012, a few commenters suggested that the spell would probably behave just like Prismatic Barrier, an ability from League of Legends. Prismatic Barrier allows your character (specifically the character Lux) to throw her wand to a targeted location, shielding any allies standing in the wands path, then return to your character. When the wand returns, it returns to Lux's current location, as opposed to the location where she was standing when she first threw it, thus allowing you the potential to heal several different players in the two paths of the wand.
The prospect of being able to do this in WoW had a huge appeal to me because it required a certain degree of raid awareness that went beyond just staying out of the fire. Using it to its full potential would mean knowing where everyone in your raid was and positioning yourself in optimal locations to get the best of it. In League of Legends, these types of abilities are called skillshots because they require good aim and timing to be effective. I loved the idea of having that in WoW.
Unfortunately, when I finally got to level 90 and used Divine Star for the first time, I realized the spell was nothing close to what I'd been dreaming of. Granted, Divine Star does technically behave a lot like Prismatic Barrier; when you cast it, a golden star shoots off in one direction, healing anyone in the star's path, then turning around and healing everyone in the return path.
Sadly, it's the little variables that break this spell for me. First, you can barely control it. There is no targeting reticle; it just casts in whatever direction your character is facing, which means your character has to be looking at what you want to heal.
The second problem is that it moves too fast. The issue there is that you can barely get anywhere before the star returns to you, so even if you're changing the projectile path, you're not changing it enough to heal any more people than you would standing still. At a normal running speed, you can really only travel a few steps before the star returns. What happens when you add a speed boost from Body and Soul or Angelic Feather? Well, using that you'll actually hit a distinguishably different set of players on the return path but the angle where the two paths meet is still acute and not as dramatic as I'd like it to be. Plus, trying to set up your speed buff before every cast is just too complicated to be worth the trouble.
I'm guessing players will opt to use Divine Star as a cone heal, like Light of Dawn for paladins. It heals for significantly less than your other level 90 talents, but it simultaneously deals equal damage and has the shortest cooldown of 15 seconds. I imagine it will be most useful in fights where your raid is frequently stacked up, PvP, or single-target boss fights if you're using it as a shadow priest.
Level 90 Talent: Cascade
After the disappointment of Divine Star, I was pleased to find that my reaction to Cascade was quite the opposite. The talent was made instant-cast in a recent beta build (originally, it had a 3-second cast time), which I find sensible with the 25-second cooldown. It's significantly easier to use, being target-based, though it has a bit of a gimmick in that it's more effective the further away you are from the target.
To get the most bang for your buck, just stand as far away from your target as you can within the 40-yard range, fire, and forget. The spell does all the work after you've cast the first shot, splitting apart as it goes and healing whoever it pleases. Of the three new level 90 talents, I found this one to be the prettiest, in my own little subjective opinion.
The spell is not smart; it only prioritizes healing players who are further away (as opposed to players who are at low health) and players it hasn't already healed. Because of that, I'd consider the first cast of the spell to be the core of the spell and the rest to be just random raid healing. After the first cast, most of the heals end up being overhealing, so it's going to be the most valuable in encounters where your raid is spread out and there is plenty of raid damage to make randomly tossed heals useful. In PvP, it will probably be best for Battlegrounds, since the fact that the spell won't hit any player more than once will kill it pretty quickly in the Arena.
Level 90 Talent: Halo
Halo isn't as easy to use as Cascade, but only because more decision making goes into using it. The spell hits everyone around you within 30 yards, so by default it's excellent for raid healing. However, since Halo heals players for more when they're standing further from the center of the spell, it's doesn't make sense to just position yourself in a place where you can hit everyone. Instead, it's better to treat the spell as an arc and aim a portion of it at whatever group of players needs the most healing.
Of the three new talents, I think Halo is probably my favorite because of the doors it opens up to holy priests when it comes to raid healing. Particularly in 25-man raiding, healing the melee is generally a task left to shaman and paladins. Chain Heal and Light of Dawn are great spells for healing melee, while Circle of Healing and Prayer of Healing are not. Because this spell is most effective from a distance, priests can position themselves 25 yards from the melee cluster and heal them with the most effectiveness. Plus, since the damage component of the spell is subject to the same increase in effectiveness at 25 yards, aiming to hit the melee players will grant the added bonus of doing the best possible damage to the boss as well.
The cooldown on Halo is the longest at 40 seconds, but it heals for an appropriate amount given the longer cooldown and added damage. I think it will be most effective in encounters where it's safer for the range to stand spread out away from the boss and melee players. Like Cascade, it's probably not as good for Arena but should do fine in Battlegrounds.
Adjustments to discipline mana regeneration
The biggest news in the latest beta builds is that discipline priest mana management has become more manageable. Meditation, the passive ability that allows us a certain percentage of mana regeneration from spirit while in combat, has been raised from 25% to 40%.
Earlier in the beta, if you remember, discipline priests were supposed to receive 50% of our mana regen from spirit just like all the other healing classes and specs. When Rapture was reintroduced, however, Meditation was knocked down to 25%, and it was assumed that Rapture would fill in for the other 25%.
At the time, this raised some concern that discipline priests would be worse off with mana than the other classes, since our regeneration would rely heavily on the individual priest properly executing Rapture. Ghostcrawler (Lead Systems Designer Greg Street) responded to this, saying that Rapture didn't require disc priests to use it perfectly (that is, triggering Rapture once every 12 seconds) and that there was plenty of room for error built into the mechanic. He explained that even an average player would yield equivalent mana returns to that of the other healers. He even went on to add that if a priest did strive to use the ability to its maximum potential, the priest would actually get far better mana regeneration than any other healer.
Since then, there hasn't been much more talk from the developers about Rapture and mana, so this adjustment really has come out of the blue (unintentional pun). With what Ghostcrawler said earlier, my guess is that this change was made so discipline priests would be freer to use the rest of their spell book without necessarily needing to fall back on Power Word: Shield all the time. I suspect this was done either as an overall design choice for the class or a response to encounters the developers are currently designing. Either way, the change probably won't be too noticeable to players, since Rapture returns will surely be adjusted to account for this increase in passive mana regeneration.
No news is good news?
Aside from Meditation, there hasn't been much in the way of big priest news coming out of the beta. Confession, the new novelty ability granted by Glyph of Confession, had its cooldown reduced to 60 seconds, down from 30 minutes.
There was also a small change to the tooltip of Divine Hymn. The sentence in the original tooltip that says "maximum of 20 heals" has been removed, though given the existing parameters of the spell, I don't see any obvious way for you to heal more than 20 targets anyway. It's possible this restriction on the spell was causing it to behave improperly in some very specific scenario and was tweaked accordingly, or Blizzard removed the text for its redundancy. Some readers have also suggested the spell was tweaked in order to allow the spell to be affected by haste, that way you could get an extra tick of healing with enough haste. Thanks for the suggestion guys!