So Discpriests got some sweet buffs last week to boost their raidhealing power and having gone through various articles on healing in Cataclysm and the state of priests on the beta servers lately, I am beginning to wonder more and more where that will leave Holypriests in the upcoming expansion.
I can’t say that I am very happy at the moment. The echoes from the test servers so far were disheartening – “priests have the lowest throughput”, “priests go OOM before everyone else”, “priests are the least efficient of the lot”. Blizzard states that druids and paladins are getting the nerfbat and that priests apparently are the only healers that are working as intended for lvl 85 while everyone else is still slightly overtuned. Wonderful…
While Disc gets buffed, our Chakra sounds duller by the minute and Blessing of Sanctuary got nerfed along with the respective AoE heals from other healers. And with the distribution of heavy AoE healing to everyone in Cataclysm, Holypriests will definitely not hold their niche of powerful raidhealing in the same way they have done in WotLK anymore, with our fabulous CoH (since nerfed) and bursty PoH – the two spells that really set us apart from Disc and the shammies or druids on raidhealing duty.
What will be the state of Holypriests in the expansion? Does our strength come down to “gimmicks” like Lightwell and Leap of Faith now, while we’re struggling to maintain our Chakras AND Evangelism stacks (an issue I have seen coming for a while)?
All the articles I’ve read so far have done nothing to improve my initial mood on the holy tree changes. From day one I have played a holypriest in WoW and those of us rolling priests back then chose the class because they wanted to be healers – good healers, THE healer. Continuously Blizzard homogenized all healing classes in WoW and I am fine with equally powerful healers as long as you still have reasons to favor every class for their individual strengths. This was true in TBC and mostly in WotLK too. Holypriests were never the most efficient healers but we were always the most versatile while producing great raid healing together with the shammies. It seems this is true no longer.
At the same time I don’t see we were given buffs to make up for this loss: where’s our improved single-target power? Heal-Chakra (still too slow @ 1500+ haste)? We do not have access to the buffs and shields of Discpriests and we don’t have the Holy Paladins single-target throughput. As for HoTs, they’ve just taken our extra HoT away again with the removal of Renew-Chakra.
Where’s my share Blizzard?
Dawn Moore from WoW Insider recently published a detailed and insightful overview on priest healing in Cataclysm heroics. I linked this in our guild forums as it is a very useful read for healers of all classes, while including some more priest-centric advice. To highlight a few of her most interesting points:
- The new heroic dungeons are properly challenging and will require players to prepare a lot more than before due to more complex encounter mechanics. For this reason, you might want to lay off PuGs for a while – a long while.
- Priests might find themselves in situations where they want to use Psychic Scream (glyphed) as CC.
- You will want to encourage parties frequently to use Lightwell so you have more time for mana breaks.
- Yes, you want to spec into Evangelism and Archangel – and things are going to get rather complicated for Holypriests:
So let me lay it on you … You will want to take the talents Evangelism and Archangel. I’m talking to both disc and holy here. […]
Anyway, let’s get back to Evangelism and Archangel. The key to not going out of mana with these talents is upkeep. Especially with holy (and all the Chakra maintenance), it’s pretty easy to forget about your Evangelism stack and just heal until you realize you’re nearly out of mana (OOM). When this happens, you can freak out a little and pump out four or five Smites in a row — and hell, you might even pull it off without anyone dying. But if you do that, you fall behind.[…]
As a holy priest, I will look for natural breaks in the damage to Smite, then heal the rest of the time. You have to get comfortable riding out the duration of Evangelism (make a Power Aura for it if you have to), and if you must use Archangel at three or four stacks to keep from losing it, do so.[…]
While I always look forward to a challenge and welcome anything that adds to our versatility, I am very skeptical about coordinating for Archangel as a Holypriest. I’ve never liked the idea of smiting several times in a row just to regen mana and I have yet to see just how chaotic this will get while we are also trying to heal, cleanse, manage CDs and juggle Chakra states. Then again, if Chakra really ends up not being much of a choice anyway that should simplify matters, huh? /sarcasm
To finish off, Matticus recently posted a Cataclysm raidhealing video that gives healers a nice idea of what to expect for the first raid encounters. I am actually looking very much forward to the more technical and tactical aspects of healing in Cataclysm – I just do have my justified worries about holy right now and how all players will cope with the required switches in mindset. Alas, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, I guess.