Planned priest changes for Cataclysm: new spells

So, the priest class preview for Cataclysm is out (forum link, WoW.com link). And wow, it contains some crazy stuff. I'd just like to talk about the announced new spells in this post.


This might sound underwhelming to many people, but I'm quite excited about good old Heal making a comeback. I love it when Blizzard takes an ability that is largely ignored because of its uselessness and actually gives it a purpose again - better than just constantly adding new stuff on top, and it goes well with the whole revamp theme of the expansion.

I was never one to downrank much back whenever I healed back in BC (which wasn't all that often), but going from two to three different sizes of single-target heals strikes me as a nice addition of more choice. If mana management really becomes relevant again like the devs claim, being able to choose the right heal for the occasion will become a more important healing skill again, and having more to choose from will allow that process to be more finely tuned and skillful.

Mind Spike

Now, I haven't been shadow in a while, but this sounds like a good idea. That is to say, every point of reasoning brought up in the blue post to justify the addition of the spell sounds sensible.

There's just two things that concern me slightly. First off, why level eighty-one? I seriously hope that this is just the level where it will be introduced initially, but that Blizzard will then decide to give it to priests at lower levels too. (And while they are at it, they might lower the level requirement for Mind Sear as well.) As I understand it, this is not meant to be an uber powerful spell but simply something to fill a certain niche of damage dealing. Last time I was shadow and soloing some mobs in Icecrown I was annoyed by the fact that with dot application and how slowly they ticked, mobs didn't die much faster than they did when I just holy-smited them, even though my character was much more powerful. I'd love me a fast nuke for that kind of situation, and you bet that people will have similar encounters all the time long before level eighty-one.

The other concern I have is that I think a new spell like this might be difficult to balance in terms of power. Personally I've found that the whole dot system only really works well on mobs with very high health, like raid bosses, of which there aren't really that many in the game if you think about it. So if people suddenly have a powerful nuke to use instead of dots, what's preventing them from using that nearly all the time, while soloing, in PvP etc.? It could really weaken the overall flavour of the class if dotting things becomes the exception instead of the rule. On the other hand, if Mind Spike is too weak, people won't have much reason to use it at all. I wonder which way the balance will swing first.

Inner Will

I really like this one as well, though we'll see how useful it actually ends up being. Inner Fire is great, but I do like the option of using another buff as a point of strategic interest. Depending on the fight, smart priests might even switch back and forth mid-combat! Warlocks and mages have had different armour spells for ages, so why not.

Leap of Faith

Ah, the big one. The first words that came to mind when I read the description of that spell were "bad idea". And I'm not the only one. It's kind of funny though, all the priests seem to be going "WTF what is this crap", while the death knights are bewildered and jealous.

For me it's quite simple: I don't like death grip. It's easily the most annoying spell you can encounter in PvP, closely followed by the various knockbacks, but at least their annoyance factor is limited by the terrain. There is just something extremely infuriating about having your character moved for you against your will - I'd choose a good old chain fear or a stun lock over being deathgripped any day. Or you can just decide not to pvp and save yourself the frustration entirely.

With "life grip", people won't have that choice. I expect that there'll be some restrictions that will prevent people from being yanked all over Dalaran non-stop (you'll probably have to be grouped, maybe even in combat), but even so... not pvping won't be an escape anymore, because now your friends and allies will be your enemies too. Great.

Also, in PvE death grip can both be extremely useful in the hands of a competent player (pulling caster mobs towards the tank) and extremely annoying in the hands of an incompetent one (randomly pulling mobs away from the group). Now ask yourself, which one do you see more often? Priests might not have the same bad reputation as death knights, but we're far from being a unified bastion of competence. In fact, some of the worst healers I've ever seen were priests too. Leap of faith will give them a way of showing that more than ever and make everyone in their party miserable. Can't you already picture all those bossy and juvenile priests randomly yanking the tank around because they'd prefer him to be positioned differently? In fact, more terrible players might be encouraged to play the class too since it'll give them a way to grief people for fun. Yegads. I wouldn't be surprised if priests became the most hated pug healers in Cataclysm with this change. The griefing possibilities are endless.

And for those of us who try to play our class well and be a boon to our party? We'll be burdened more than ever with the responsibility of not just being a healer, but being a babysitter. Huntard is lagging and can never make it out of the fire in time? Oh, I'm sure Priest can take care of that, right? I've seen comments that no raid leader would ask for such a thing, but I've never seen a raid where people weren't asked to use all their abilities to their fullest extent, and it's almost always easier to force a good player to compensate than to replace a bad one on the spot.

I like healing, I like helping, but I don't want to have so much power that I have to feel responsible for every little thing. And I don't want juvenile jerks abusing that same power and giving my class a bad rep, so I really hope that life grip doesn't go live as it's described.


  1. For me introducing a "new" healing spell is a big mistake. Right now you have a fast one, that can heal a pretty amount based on your spellpower and a slow one that delivers a huge heal amount. I don't see the need of a medium heal when you can cast two fast ones in more or less the same amount of time and heal about the same or even more. With Cata mana management will be important (or so they say) and they claim adding they will make healing more fun by adding a new heal spell to choose from plus knowing casting the wrong heal type not only can hurt your mana pool but this is also a menace to "raid health" (you wipe because tank dies or you run out of mana in the worst moment, so tank dies. Either way it's a wipe)? I call this bullshit. This is not making healing more fun, but making it more stressing. Even if tanks have large hp pools and they won't suffer spike damage (something we still have to see how it will go). Making healing more fun for me is adding other kind of options, like the described player link (so they share damage) or the "priest deathgrip" to save dickheads fromstanding in fire (although I concede this is a burden to us), but when you're in the middle of a fight where the lives of your tank or assigned targets are in danger, having to decide which heal to cast is critical because you don't have much time to react. And the wrong decission will cause problems. I hope the tank damage won't be as high as now and we can heal in a more relaxed way, so we have time to choose between 3 heals (plus the hot, plus the shield, plus whatever more you can throw in to ease pain), otherwise we'll be heading for bedlam.

  2. I only just read the priest changes and hadn't had time to fully absorb that last one, but you're completely right. It has so much potential for annoyance and expecting priests to be the "Deus Ex Machina" to people's failure. I can also already see my tank friends RAGING at being moved by the healer. Position matters so much to them and is so important to their task, they can't be yanked around willy-nilly.

  3. One of my guilds used to have a number of people who couldn't move out of a fire to save their life. While progressing through Ulduar we actually joked about having a "life grip" spell to help out these people. When a friend sent me the spell description today, I thought it was a late April Fool's joke.

    Other than the huge potential to be a complete pain in the ass with this spell, I don't think it will be overly useful. I have a feeling that most priests just won't use the spell in a raiding situation. People are concerned with getting themselves out of fire, moving fast enough and doing their own jobs in a raid. As you said, who wants to be a babysitter?

  4. On Heal: Thats actually the main change for me. Even in Wrath when it wasn't really necessary I tried to heal as manaefficient as possible, I'm looking very forward to Blizzard rewarding that kind of stance again. I still fondly remember the times when a healer was considered good if he could keep the tank alive while staying below 6% Overheal at the same time. Now all I'm missing is a way to tailor the size of my heals to fit exactly into the missing-hp-chunk of the tank without a single point of overheal and I'm a happy panda.

    On Leap of Faith: I don't like it. Mostly because I firmly believe that most people need pain in form of humilation and high repair bills to do some learning inside their thick skull. The only valid application I see for this spell would be when you are in a raid, someone needs to move and says on teamspeak that a disconnect occured. But on the other hand I don't see many possibilites for grief that couldn't be prevented. Give it 0.5 seconds casttime and "pull over a cliff and levitate to safety" won't work anymore. Make it only castable on group- or raidmembers and ressource-node-grief goes away. And for pulling around the tank in instances.. tanks are usually more rare than healers. Most tanks will tell the healer exactly once to stop that and start kickvoting if he doesn't.

  5. Also as it has been said in other blogs: jump off a cliff, cast levitate, lifegrip... SPLAT!
    I suppose it will only work on group members, otherwise priest will be the next "fucking annoying class played by retards"

  6. "I don't see the need of a medium heal when you can cast two fast ones in more or less the same amount of time and heal about the same or even more."

    That's an assumption that might not turn out to be true though. The medium could heal for more than twice as much as the smaller, or have a shorter cast time than two smallers, or be more mana efficient.

  7. Have to say, I took up shadow PvP (as opposed to disc PvP or shadow PvE) as an offspec, simply because of how much I like the DoT playstyle.

    Two-three casts, and somebody is dead without help - they just may not have realised it yet. You can keep the pressure on, and hard, to someone you only see occasionally. And, if you're bursting, all those DoTs you stacked up add to your nukes for the finisher.

    It's a very effective and aggressive style that really doesn't look it, and the sheer number of overconfident plate wearers you can destroy with it is greatly satisfying.

    Oh, and remember that Death Grip needs you to be on the ground to use it, and Shadowstep will never cause you to appear behind someone with their back to a drop, and fall to your death.

    I *love* the idea of Life Grip in PvP. I run with a resto druid, and having more, and interesting, ways to save them from trouble would be great. I share the concerns of many in PvE.

  8. I honestly love the idea of saving my group with one or two more spells. After all that's why you became a healer...to save people.

    To answer some comments. The spell cannot be used on enemy players so the 'jump of cliff and grip an enemy for a big splat' is not going to happen. Yes you must be grouped to cast the spell on someone. BGs group automatically and I see this as where it helps the most.

    Too many times have I seen a flag carrier run out the tunnel and get stomped because he cant sprint twice, spell reflect, heal himself, or I cant get to him. In some warsongs, the carrier wont sit on the respawn spot and the enemy flag carrier dies. But before he can get back to cap he dies or they take the flag again. With this spell I can pull him to me saving him from imminent doom, and possibly help him travel some distance for a faster flag cap. Remember when forums were filled with complaints about deathknight's death grip, or shamans and druids knocking people off lumbermill. Well now you can do something about it.

    Second, yes it is setting you up to be a babysitter in some situations but not overall. Most priest, like me will save an idiot ONCE. After that, we let them die and once the battle is over we throw a Rez their way. Do that enough times and the idiot learns to stop doing what hes doing. I don't see this being useful in raids its mostly a pvp and 5 man ability.

    As far as the Heal spell is concerned I believe if worked on a bit it will be better for priests. Flash healing priests are seen way too often. I see more Flash priests than I do flash spamming paladins. Blizzard fixing a bad spell to me is a good thing.

    Yes, it takes more skill to be a healer now but remember, if mana is not a concern anymore then why not cast the right spell for the job instead of compromising. From what I see in beta now heal is slower than flash but heals more than two flash heals and is WAY more mana effective than both flash and greater heal. If I have a tank that doesn't suck, I cast a medium heal, mana saved continue with fight, everyone is happy.

    PS: The spell crits a lot. I would say 9 out of 10 casts are crits. I see blizzard nerfing this sometime in the future.