Priest Class Preview: First Impressions

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It’s worth noting on the outset that there’s a marked difference in Blizzard’s approach to classes in general. The Legion Class Preview Series return to the fantasy of the class and then proceed to mark out their changes and design philosophies with lore as their guide map.

It is a wonderful change from the last few years and I for one, am glad that they are returning to the core of what makes us want to play our classes. It isn’t just numbers, rotations and flavour of the month – it’s the story, character and fantasy that draws us to it.

With that in mind, I dove in to look at what they had in store for us healing priests….and so far, I like what I see!

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Yes, yes and YES! We’re going back to the core what it means to be a priest and most importantly, the goal is to translate these features through gameplay. We’re off to a great start. I won’t be listing out every change because Blizzard’s blog post does it in a great way already. Here are a few highlights and my thoughts:

Holy:

Will not have access to shadow spells since shadow is antithetical to holy.

I like this – it makes the class more immersive and I think retains the aspect of the “pure healer” very well for Holy.

Chakra is cumbersome and is gone.

Boom. Suddenly, holy is on the table for me again. I haven’t played Holy since Wrath largely because Chakra just made it clunky, not fun and frankly didn’t capture the flavour of my holy priest for me. So I went Discipline and stayed that way for a while. The demise of Chakra has made holy attractive to me again.

Play style focused around massive heals with longer cooldowns and Holy Word spells.

Ultimately we’ll see how these play out but I remember a quote from the original class descriptions that described priests as being “masters of healing and preservation”. That always stuck with me and influenced my choice way back when I made my priest. And the idea that a holy priest will have access to massive and almost miraculous heals makes perfect sense both in fantasy and gameplay. I can’t wait.

Discipline:

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Things get really interesting here. Discipline has always been one of those specs that alluded the devs attempts at balance (remember their struggle with rapture?). It started out weak with under tuned shields in early Cataclysm and proceeded to dominate by the end of the expansion and beyond.

Discipline’s massive shields have done no one any favours really – they can’t play well with each other (weakened soul battles), they can pre-emptively trivialise damage making it very boring for other healers, and at some point with the “bubble bot” style going around, even succeeded in making it boring for themselves.

I experienced all of these at some point or another… and there were many a “goddamnit Saya let me heal something!!” in raids. 🙂

Less focus on absorption, more focus on balance between damage and healing.

This is good for the above stated reasons. I do not ever want to be a bubble bot.

Atonement is now a passive buff on targets.

This is an interesting change that effectively gives the healer a bit more control of where our heals go. Atonement was notorious for healing pets, minions, etc. and to top it off we really had no control of where those heals went. Now, our shields and heals (Plea) will put on Atonement on targets which will in turn be healed when we deal damage. Neat.

Penance, Mind Blast and Smite for damage.

Discipline gets a wide range of spells to do our damage and unlike we get access to shadow spells. It’s cool – keeps with the whole walking the balance of light and shadow and I like it. The sense I’m getting so far is a nice balance between dealing damage and healing.

Discipline reworked is a pretty big deal. Blizzard has essentially not just redefined how we will heal, but also our role. Discipline will be a more in-between role than a pure healer. It may well be the first real “support” role we’ll see in raids. Its success will depend largely on balancing and fine tuning the damage and healing capabilities again, and any jack of all trades kind of spec will need to bring something to the table that makes them more desirable than their pure heals and pure dps counterparts. Discipline has some awesome cool downs as Blizzard themselves note and the thought is that this will be enough. It’s too early to speculate if it will be enough, but I can see what they’re going for at least.

At the end of the day, I like what I’m seeing so far. There are some bold changes and I’m glad the devs are willing to try new things. I’m also excited that they’re focused on bringing fantasy and gameplay back together, and the evidence so far points to the fact that they’ve been listening to us. A very good start indeed.

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6 thoughts on “Priest Class Preview: First Impressions

  1. I’m glad you sound excited about the changes – they sound exciting to me too (and I don’t even play a priest!) Can’t wait to read the druid changes tomorrow.

    • I’m looking forward to the druid changes too. 🙂 Yay for updated forms! I think it’ll be a tough decision for me whether to return to my druid or stick to my priest since they’re both shaping up well – but this is a good kind of problem to have.

  2. I’m kind of “blah” on it. It’s sounds nice for lore, story, etc. but I can just see how much “fun’ it’s going to be trying to level to 110 with hardly any defensive spells. Since Disc is getting “lored” as well, that cuts any option of going Holy/Disc for duel spec.
    We need more instant spells, not more big cool downs unless they plan to let us cast on the move again.
    So far not impressed.
    Don’t even get me started on the Shadow and Warlock changes 😉

    • Getting “lored” lol….that’s awesome!

      I’m not seeing the issue for leveling honestly. With Discipline we get more offensive spells than we currently have access to with Mind Blast and SW:Pain. So if anything, I would expect it to be faster than the current situation.

      I can somewhat see your point for Holy – we’ll be losing HW: Chastise but imo, Holy sucks for leveling regardless. 😛 And since we’ll be getting tri-spec instead of dual spec, the days of having to choose between specs are behind us.

      As for instant spells, it will be nice I agree. Because otherwise as Holy priests, we’re in a pinch on the move while holy words are on cooldown. And that can be more frustrating than fun – this one’s in the “wait and see” category for me. Interestingly, I always felt “tied” down and missing instants more on the shaman than any other class.

      PS: You should totally get started on the shadow and warlock changes. I can’t wait to hear 🙂

      • Probably Disc will be okay since it usually is – eventually lol.
        I forgot about tri-spec so I guess I can go ahead and rant about Shadow 😀
        I’ve been playing Holy a lot lately and omg I do not want bigger cool downs. Maybe that will be okay in a guild raid group but LFR and PuGs? HAHAHAHAHA! Not going to happen 😀
        I’m a big fan of instant spells for casters – we need something 😛

        • LOL! That’s hilarious about LFR and PuGs… I’m curious now and want to try Holy…but that chakra business still makes me shudder. (The last time I did holy was for the one heroic fight in Highmaul while I was still raiding…don’t even remember which, just blocked it all out lol).

          I hope they get it right. Here’s keeping my fingers crossed. Really, I was so happy about chakra going away that everything else just seems sparkly right now 😛 When they burn the awful thing that is chakra stance dance, I will dance my happy gnome dance around dat fire. 😀

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