Ok I need to breath. Deep, slow breaths. Internally I am repeating “They are not finalised, they are not finalised….”. If you haven’t seen the new 41-point talent build for Holy Priests in the Cataclysm Beta go take a peek. I’ll wait. Honest.

I don’t know about you, but the changes left me seriously concerned. Granted I have not played the Beta yet. I do not know what other changes Blizzard have made to the Priest class that might make that talent build exciting. So I will attempt to relax a little. But lets go through the changes I feel are controversial and perhaps even scary.

A greater reliance on “Heal”

For those that are not Priests, you may not know that what sounds like a spell that defines our entire existence, Heal, is currently, useless. Flash Heal is faster and about the same Mana per Heal as Heal so it is better. Greater Heal is slower but again very similar Mana per Heal and has the added bonus of a possible hasted cast through the current Serendipity talent. Lesser Heal is just silly. So most Holy Priests tend to use Flash Heal as the primary single-target heal, and when the 3x Serendipity stack buff is up, pop a Greater Heal.

With the current talent changes in the Beta, it looks as if Blizzard is attempting to push Heal back into contention some more. Which, in fairness, is something they said they were trying to do pre-alpha anyways. This does mean a big switcheroo for us Holy Priests, mixing and matching Flash Heal and Heal as the situation demands.

So ok, maybe this particular aspect is not all bad, probably just my slight fear of now having to relearn how best to be a healer. I can deal with that, and I can adapt. Moving on.

Greater Reliance on “Holy Nova”

Now, Holy Nova. Hrm. This is a toughy. When I was levelling up as a Priest, Holy Nova was considered underpowered for both healing and DPS unless your entire party were all clumped up together on top of the tank (which rarely ever happens). It was also incredible efficient at sucking all your mana up as well as pulling aggro. Then Blizzard “fixed” Holy Nova by making it less likely to pull aggro. One problem is, however, that healers, well, heal. Having a spell with a small radius that required party members all to be in the tanks lap to get a healing effect and do damage at the same time …. if I wanted to DPS I’d spec shadow.

Now it seems that Holy Nova is getting a few talents all for itself. Surge of Light, for example, which is a great talent for helping to reduce mana costs is now only procc’ed on ONE “healing” spell. Yup, you guessed it … Holy Nova. Improved Holy Nova is a brand new talent added in a shortened talent tree. Why “improve” it. Its entire mechanic to me is useless. The only way I would find it an improvement is if it had a much larger range, did more healing and no DPS and was lighter on mana. Guess you would have to add a cooldown to not make it OP and then mayb….. Oh wait! We do have an “improved Holy Nova”. Its called Circle of Healing.

So we now have a spell whose limitations make it nigh-on useless except for pretty light shows and confusing the crap out of tanks, taking up a spot in a much smaller talent tree as well as nerfing an existing talent in this much smaller tree. This is one I do not like!!

Chakra! What have they done to you?

Back before Cataclysm alpha, Blizzard discussed a new talent they were going to include for Holy Priests called Chakra. They way they described it as a buff applied after using a heal three times in a row that would enhance your healing after that for 20 seconds sounded pretty damned good. More intelligence in the way we heal. I like to be thinking and not just mashing buttons or going through a repeatable loop of abilities to cast. Sounds good Blizz!

This is not what I expected though. The buff will be applied if you cast Prayer of Healing, Renew or Heal three times in a row. Oh, you can’t mix them. You need to cast 3x PoH, 3x Renew or 3x Heal to get the applicable buff for the heal that you cast 3x in a row.

Any Priest that needs to cast Prayer of Healing three times one after another has serious issues. Either the group is totally inadequate for the content or he is an idiot. Prayer of Healing’s extra long cast time is seriously dangerous. Sure the extra healing bonus is nice but just not enough to justify the risk of pushing three PoH and then still having to cast one more to get that bonus from Chakra.

Renew I may cast three times in a row, I am a Renew heavy Priest, but the bonus just isn’t all that good. 2% increase in healing effect (no idea if that affects existing Renews ticking on people before the Chakra bonus hits) and a reduced GCD. Looking at a scenario, if I am in a 10-man raid and hit three people with Renew, I enter Chakra state. I now have 20 seconds to hit the other 7 people with a Chakra enhanced Renew that only does 2% more heals really. And those people might not need healing. But I need to use my Chakra. Ugh.

And Heal. Perhaps, once all the Priest changes, including what else they are doing to Heal to make it more effective, comes through, this might be the only real Chakra state with viable bonuses. If Heal becomes the new Flash Heal, then sure, it can be handy. But ….

The big Lightwell Block

Dun dun dun!!!

You have decided you want Chakra for its bonus to Heal (and maybe Renew). So you take Lightweel to gain access. Woah there. Lightwell?! The healing mechanic that no one understands how to use besides the Priest? You want other people to heal themselves? Oh boy.

Or you could just waste a talent point to get to Chakra and never use Lightwell, making Chakra a 4-point talent to max out. Sure, you may have raid groups that you can educate to use a Lightwell, and they may know its there and have it available. But Blizzard has been designing raid encounters with more and more movement and they have stated its a trend they want to keep up. So how on earth do you place a Lightwell anywhere if people need to be constantly moving and, essentially, running away from the self heal tool?

Not to mention the fact that most other players have forgotten the art of self-healing. Asking a tank or DPS to remember to click your shiny Lightwell probably wont go down too well. I can already see the response. “Why should I heal myself? That’s your job!”

Hope they change stuff … A LOT!

As it stands, not very inspiring. Blizzard is trying to make healing with a Priest more interesting by incorporating Holy Nova and Lightwell into the mix because as of now they are really unused. Unfortunately, those two spells, if forced on Priests, will simply add to the frustration a Priest feels, especially in PuG’s.

Anyways, we will have to wait and see. Hopefully the next tree update for Priests won’t give me a heart attack!