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.
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.
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.
19 minutes ago