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!
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:
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.
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.