Priest Nerfs

January 20, 2009

This is not a post that I have been looking forward to making.  Let me just highlight the Priest nerfs out with the latest patch for those who have not been checking religiously:

Circle of Healing – 6 second cooldown added

Glyph of Spirit of Redemption – Changed from 20% chance on each heal to extend your time in spirit form by 4 seconds to a static 6 second bonus

Glyph of Dispel – Heal bonus upon successful dispel reduced from 6% to 3%

Let’s get the glyphs out of the way.  The dispel glyph was certainly a very nice bonus, and arguably this reduction has a greater impact on Shadow Priest versatility than anything else.  There’s still a little bonus there at 3%, and this is supposedly in line with what the devs say they intended.

I’ll be honest, I never tested the Spirit of Redemption glyph in-game as it goes against my “try not to die a lot” policy.  On paper, I’m sure we can all see how the old mechanic of this glyph could lead to situations where the priest is allowed consequence free heals for much longer than intended.  I haven’t heard a lot of outcry about this change, which leads me to believe that it wasn’t a highly favored glyph to begin with.

Now let’s address the most controversial change.  A lot of people agree that in its old form, CoH was too powerful.  A lot of people also argue that the 6 second CD on the spell was not the right way to go about rectifying this problem.  Blizzard has already communicated in the past why other commonly suggested solutions to the spell would not work (ex., diminishing returns, extended cast time), but the 6 second CD is supposedly the only way to get people to stop spamming the spell.  This is particularly upsetting to Holy Priests everyone, because if groups want raid heals in the brave new world of 3.0.8, why would you take a priest over a resto shaman chain heal?

Ignore the famous statement from Ghostcrawler “Bring the player, not the class.”  This is meant more as a general pve encounter balancing rule of thumb, not an across the board class comparison.  Assume equal skill levels for a Holy Priest and a Resto Shaman: objectively, who would you want?  Honestly, as a Priest right now, I’m going to say Resto Shaman.

Compare a Disc Priest in PvE to other healing classes as well.  The bottom line is that there just isn’t much need to take more than one of them in any large raid.  This is due to the mechanics of how a Disc Priest does their job (more mitigation, single target heals), and the weakened soul debuff.  Since they’re less effective the more there are, why not just substitute another strong single target healing class, such as a paladin, who does not have to negotiate shields and debuffs?  You could make one spec into imp divine spirit, but that talent does not stack with shaman raid buffs.  And if you just want a Disc Priest in a 25 man for the +80 spirit anyways, you don’t need more than one.

I’ve kind of jumped all over the board here, but my point is whether speccing PvE Disc or Holy, are you really bringing anything to the table that another healing class doesn’t already do better?  There is a common expression that Priests are jacks of all trades, masters of none; that their greatest strength lies in versatility.  In the end, I suppose you might be ok with that if you rolled a priest with those initial expectations in mind.   But it’s been disappointing over the years to see priests continually bumped from their king of the mountain position again and again.

I have some difficult decisions to make in the next few weeks.  Should I stick it out as Holy, switch to Disc, or surrender completely and invest more time into my Resto Shaman?  Personally, my predictions are that Shaman will continue to be the preferred healing class, and that preference will only continue to trend upwards.  At the very least it doesn’t hurt to get to 80 then weigh your options.

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