Priestly Experiences in the Beta So Far

Hello again everyone! Now that the short intermission is over I figured I should post some of my experiences in the beta. From the beta boards it almost seems like all the other priests right now are shadow or disc. I primarily play holy, so that was how I knew I would go into the beta. The reason I put this post off is because last week’s patch didn’t add too much in the way of content, so I was going to wait for what I hoped would be another patch/beta wave this week. However, at the very least I figured I could provide my experiences with the first instance and the changes that went in last week.

Unfortunately right now in the beta there is no way to change your specializations, so I am stuck with 2 holy specs. No shadow or disc testing for me, but oh well, holy is my preferred playstyle anyway.

The major news from last week’s patch was the complete updating and revamping of level 90 talents for priests:

To be honest – I was quite happy to see these changes. They completely wiped vampiric dominance from the last tier, but I’m wondering if it may take up that “not yet in” spot in the 3rd tier to give leveling shadow priests their baseline group utility back. OR, they could add it back into the shadow specialization and put something else there. We’ll see what happens.

Now, these new talents strike me as much in the same lines of the paladin and druid talents. They are clearly making conscious design decisions to push upper level spells and talents into a “flashy-cool but still useful” category.

With regards to cascade, if it’s anything like the lower level monk healing spell then I’ve already somewhat seen it in action. The only real downside to this spell would be that it’s not really a smart heal and you can’t control where it goes. Still, it will probably have its uses.

The only troubling thing all the druid/paladin/priest talents have in common is that they are almost ALL AoE heals. What does that usually mean for Blizzard? Yep – AoE heavy raid/dungeon fights. So if you were hoping there would be less of those, don’t hold your breath.

It’s hard to judge these things without trying them out though. But still, you can at least see my basic talent build in the screenshot. It’s what I ran with while leveling and doing the Jade Temple dungeon. So let’s move on to those experiences, shall we?

Leveling as holy? Oh yeah, it sucks. There seems to be a huge issue with mana right now, even as I was leveling with just smite and the shadow words I found myself sitting down. Thankfully the new rank of water helped, but man. Also, the chastise spell costs about 13k mana which meant I couldn’t really use it at all. This probably won’t be as much of a problem because I doubt people are going to be so masochistic as to level holy when the expansion is released.

The major thing I noticed was just how freakin’ useful void tendrils are. It shares a cooldown with psychic scream but that really doesn’t matter. It has a fast cooldown time and summons multiple tentacles that root, all with 31k HP. Yeah, it’s a great, “HAW HAW! IN UR FACE!” button when you want to AoE level. Pull mobs, pop tendrils, watch tendrils tank mobs as you mind sear/DoT away. If you want my honest opinion – there is no way this talent will make it to live like this. If anything the length of the tendrils’ up-time and their HP will be severely reduced. Even still, they are almost painfully useful.

I didn’t really use void shift while leveling – though I could have just to be a dick. It’s still not limited to party only, so it’s just a matter of finding some hapless person nearby and snatching away all their health. They did increase the cooldown on it, most likely because – as I showed in the video – I was simply swapping health with people over and over again and setting off the “automatically heals for 30% hp” function of the talent each time. It was like ping-pong with HP and auto-heals.

I myself will probably never used psyfiend outside of PVP. I can see how it would be useful there. For example, defending AB flags and you find yourself rooted with someone quickly capturing the flag in the distance. Put down a psyfiend in the general area and watch its AoE pulse send that person flying. It does only do one pulse right now, but it’s like a more extended version of psychic scream. It will have its uses.

They’ve removed the time duration on levitate, which makes path of the devout sort of almost kind of useful. I guess. I mean if you already have someone in the raid with body and soul I guess maybe another priest would want this to speed people up during non AoE-heavy fights. I don’t think many practical raiders or 10-man priest raiders are going to take anything except body and soul though. If you only have one priest in a raid then they’re the only ones bubbling anyway so they might as well get that added benefit of the speed boost.

To get into my experiences as a level 86 in the Jade temple instance, let me first preface by saying – Beta is Beta. There were so many bugs (mana regen, PoM only healing for 1 HP, etc.) that the bugs alone added a challenge that obviously won’t be there in the release versions. I also did it on the first day it opened, so nobody had any idea what anything in there did.

Overall, I found myself abusing my void tendrils the most. There are mobs in the dungeon that split into more mobs when they die. The tank was not expecting this, so bamf – down went the void tendrils. They immediately rooted the adds and tanked them (lol 31k hp) while the tank ran into position. I did this many, many times, even on a bossfight that summoned these adds in the first phase. I’m not going to get used to this though, I don’t think I’ll have a chance to do this in live. I think of the void tendrils like a shaman’s earth elemental totem + a mage’s frost nova in one spell. If they want to keep them the same through live, I won’t complain!

I did use void shift a few times as well. It’s almost like a poor priest’s lay on hands. If I was out of harm’s way and the tank or a DPSer got low, I would pop a void shift and just keep healing the tank while I waited for the auto-heal to go off on me. That + clicking my lightwell = the end.

The jist of what I’m trying to say here is that in a single instance I was able to effectively work these two new tools into my current rotation as a holy priest. I do not doubt that other priests will do the same. It probably helps that I have played a mage and am used to rooting cooldowns, and I have played a paladin so I am used to LoH as well. If you haven’t, just be aware that if you do not learn to use these things you will be harming your own performance in the long run. These are GREAT new tools.

Jade Temple itself was interesting, probably overtuned for a leveling instance. The first boss we did was Wise Mari. The first phase he is invulnerable and summons adds, NBD. The second phase is a lot like a perma-lurker below spin. He spins around shooting a water geyser until he dies. Yes, yes it does suck for ranged DPS. Ranged DPSers – if you have “cast while moving” glyphs or talents, you will need them for this fight. I honestly think they need to break up the monotony of the second phase, but who knows if they will or not.

The library boss is a major point of contention right now. The fight we got was a “5 suns” battle that was just fighting different adds as they came. The idea behind the library is that the Pandaren fables are coming to life and attacking. The other boss fight, “strife and anger” has a method to its madness but is fairly unforgiving. It’s hard for me to explain these because I genuinely think they will be drastically changed as the beta goes on.

The third boss was simple. Basic “stay out of the fire” mechanics. The only real challenge was that some people couldn’t see the fire on the ground. Even without PoM working this was a snap.

Final boss? A bit more challenging to heal. There is an AoE magic debuff that NEEDS to be dispelled as it does a 25k per second tick. I did not know this, and me – being terrible without addons – did not know what was going on so I just healed through it. Somehow I healed through the DoT and the fight itself without anyone dying but it was HARD. If you haven’t done this place yet, be aware of and cleanse the debuff! Besides that, the mechanics are really basic. Group up to AoE down shades/adds the boss makes of you (think Valkyr in ICC) and cleanse the debuff and everyone wins.

All in all priest healing as holy remains in the good place it has been in for the second half of Cataclysm. Not only that, but we’re gaining multiple tools that will add to dungeon/raid utility. There is still the problem of mana regen, so you are going to need to go back to your earl cata-style “mainly heal, everything else for emergencies” style, which is fine because I doubt any of us have forgotten how to do it!

By the way, if you’re wondering if your raid gear will be replaced with questing gear? The answer is:

Yes. But not right away. As you can see they’ve also gotten rid of being able to choose your quest rewards, which I mostly dislike. If they do this with earlier leveling it’s going to really stink for shaman/paladin players leveling up as healers. When I leveled my paladin I was forced into cloth int/spirit items because everyone knows how sparse plate healing gear is until outlands/northrend. Also I’m kind of mad because if I didn’t need a quest reward, I would usually choose the bigger weapon/plate armor since it sold for more gold. If they equalize the gold amounts from reselling unwanted quest gear I’ll care a bit less.

Anyway, that’s really that. If they do another update I’ll be sure to post my thoughts again. Until then, have some babby/teenaged cloud serpents.