Previewing the New Talent System: Priests!

While the new expansion is still quite a bit away from going into live, it never hurts to speculate  on how you are going to be changed ahead of time. The massive talent overhaul from a 41 point build, down to a 6 point build is going to be greatly appreciated in my eyes, especially since you will be able to (according to the Devs) switch your talents in any tier much like one would change glyphs right now. Hopefully this wont require a lot of gold for the reagents to do so, but it will still be a time saver as opposed to going back to a capital city to find the vendor.

That being said, I am also very happy that talents are being “baked” into the spec you choose to play, such as; If you choose to play as a shadow priest, you will now get Psychic Horror and Silence as baseline abilities. Discipline would get Pain Suppression and PW: Barrier, and Holy would get Lightwell and Guardian Spirit. (Unless they decide to do away with these abilities between now and the release.) I hope this turns out as feeling like you are able to use all of the abilities given to you and not turn into a “ZOMGWTFBBQROFLCOPTERS NERF <class here> post.

Onward to the dissection of talents!

Tier 1 (15)

This tier neither provides a healing or dps increase for any priest, but focuses more on keeping your enemies at bay.

Void TendrilsSummons Shadowy tendrils out of the ground, rooting all targets within 10 yards of you for 20 seconds. Killing the tendril will cancel this effect. When I first saw this talent, I looked at it as if I was playing the game for the very first time as a new player. The concept is great, in my opinion, for a first time player who has selected a priest. It allows you to focus on not being a low level cloth tank, and adapt to your role as staying way away from the mobs you are in combat with. The 10 yard range is a bit low if you are going for avoiding being hit by your opponent, I would like to see if this talent goes into live have a target reticule with a 10 yard radius, so you can summon these in a particular spot, up to 35-40 yards away. The other part with a big question mark is the killing of tendrils cancelling the effect. This makes sense, but how are the health of these going to be regulated? Will they work like totems and have 5hp from level 15 to 90, or will they scale with level/health? This concept has a lot of potential and I hope it makes it to live with everything hashed out.

PsyfiendSummons a Psyfiend that stands in place. The psyfiend casts Psychic Scream on a nearby enemy within 40 yards, every 2 sec for 10 sec, preferring anything attacking the priest and her/his friends. Did you just pull a mob and get 3-4 of their closest buddies too? SHIT YES YOU DID BECAUSE YOU HAVE YOUR PSYFIEND AND LOVE TO DOT ALL THE THINGS! I really like the aspect of it having a “smart” AI, by not bothering with enemies that aren’t directly engaged with you or your party. If anything, this provides a nice change from the normal Psychic Scream by removing the predictable (Hey the priest is coming close, he/she is probably going to fear) by giving you the ability to fear when you want to, not when you have to. It will also help keep those pesky melee off you in pvp by breaking one fear and getting thrown into another. I wonder if this will be a targetable npc, or if it will serve as just a graphic like the lava worms in the Alysrazor encounter.

Psychic Scream – The psychic scream we have all come to know and love (or hate, or become bored with). This will have no change from its current use as a close range, aoe fear. Good for timing when a mob is getting close to make it run away from you, bad because people in pvp can predict when fear is coming.

For right now, I like the Psyfiend talent in this tier, its a nice shake up from the standard fear ability of priest, plus it spaces crowd control out over a few mobs instead of what is just close to you. I would take the traditional Psychic Scream next as there is no mystery behind the talent, while Void Tendrils has too much left unanswered for me to pass judgment on it right now.

Level 15 - Be afraid of the tendrils.

Tier 2 (30)

This tier….. just… ugh, aesthetics. Provides some nice movement increasing effects as a reward for not standing bad, which I hope means a lot of damage in raid situations is going to be avoidable. Otherwise, this tier focuses on enhancing and sustaining your movement.

Body and SoulWhen you cast Power Word: Shield or Leap of Faith you increase the target’s speed by 60% for 4 seconds. The same Body and Soul that is in game right now but is exclusive to only Holy priests. As a shadow priest though, you are going to quickly make your fellow disc and holy priests angry by using a much weaker shield on their targets. This seems very situational to me, perhaps pvp to out range melee and snares, does not look too enticing for pve scenarios.

Path of the DevoutIncreases your movement speed by 25% while you are levitating. This is a nice buff to a fan favorite spell that will also turn about to be a very nice reward should you manage to keep yourself out of bad. Not to mention, if you do fall you can recast it and go back to having the speed increase.

PhantasmWhen you fade, you remove all movement impairing effects from you, and your movement speed will be unhindered for the next 3 seconds afterwards. I am glad they actually made Phantasm useful for pvp again, movement impairing effects are reapplied so often in that scenario, having a temporary immunity will make shadow priests a bit more viable again. However, unless there are raid encounters that have a slowing effect and require you to get from point A to point B in a short period of time, it doesn’t look like to me it will have a pve use.

Path of the Devout is the clearcut winner in this tier, for me. For any priest, if you are able to move out of bad and not take damage, the movement speed increase will be very useful in raid situations. Plus seeing a raid with a bunch of floating priests running around would seem hilarious. Phantasm would be me next choice to take as I also like to get into pvp every now and then. Body and Soul would be last for me due to the nature of life grip dropping shadowform, that and your healing priests wont like you if you are using shield ><.

Level 30 - I will not be slowed for anything!

Tier 3 (45) (Aka: their tier that blew my mind as a shadow priest)

I just… what…. holes and talents…time to breathe.  This is the first tier where damage and healing is enhanced by your choice of what ability you pick.

From Darkness, Comes LightWhen you Smite, Heal, Flash Heal, Binding Heal or Greater Heal, you have a 6% chance to cause your next Flash Heal to cost 100% less mana and be instant cast.

Also

You have a 6% chance when you deal damage with Mind Flay to cause your next Mind Blast to not consume a shadow orb. The existing surge of light mechanic baked in to have a shadow counterpart with it. I actually wonder if the healing part of the ability will carry over to shadow priests out of shadowform, it could provide some nice rng in pvp scenarios or if your raid leader asks for your help in situations. The question I have is by not consuming the shadow orb from mind blast, will empowered shadows not go off? I hope that it triggers the secondary effect on top of  leaving the shadow orb count alone.

Divine StarFires a Divine Star out in front of you, traveling 20 yards and dealing damage to all enemies in its path, while healing all allies in its path. When the star reaches its destination, it will return dealing damage and healing on the way back. A very interesting mechanic to say the least. It has the potential to by a powerful heal since you can position yourself or the raid in such ways to be close to the traveling star, also can work as a nice addition to Mind Sear on packs of mobs.

ArchangelConsumes your Evangelism stacks, increasing healing done by 5% per stack. Lasts 15 seconds. 30 Second Cooldown. Also, consumes your Shadow Orbs, increasing damage done by your Mind Flay, Mind Spike, Mind Blast and Shadow Word: Death by 5% per shadow orb consumed. Lasts 18 seconds, 90 seconds cooldown. I groaned when I saw this and re-read it so I made sure I was not misreading. Archangel stays the same for healing priests, but becomes tricky for shadow priests. Consuming stacks of evangelism I thought was a good way to trigger archangel, but now they want to consume shadow orbs instead, which are also the big part of triggering empowered shadows. Also, shadow orbs only stack to 3, evangelism is 5. So thats a 10% nerf to our burst, all while hoping you get good enough rng after consuming 3 shadow orbs to get another one soon after to use Mind Blast and keep empowered shadows active. Has the potential to be very frustrating to get dps out of your burst here.

There is so much unanswered for me here in this tier, almost to the point one can tell by now that something is going to get clarified or tweaked on both the Archangel and From Darkness, Comes Light talents. I am going with Divine Star as my first choice talent here, followed by From Darkness, Comes Light and Archangel last because the rng just seems way too unforgiving to be useful in its current state. Also, I want my Kung Fu star of Life…. er Death? dammit!

Level 45 - It brings the pain... healing?... confusion?

Tier 4 (60)

This tier focuses on death prevention through absorbs and self-heals. A lot of these abilities will greatly help reduce blood pressure levels of your healers in raid by being a passive death preventer, or an active big heal.

Desperate PrayerInstantly heals the caster for 30% of their maximum health. 2 Minute cooldown. The same desperate prayer that is in game at the moment, except I think it is currently 40% of max health, so a small nerf.

Angelic BulwarkIncreases the effectiveness of your shield effects on yourself by 30%. Nice for those pesky disc priests in pvp, gotta love those absorb effects, they will still hate you in pve if you shield yourself over them.

Final PrayerWhen a damaging attack brings you below 30%, you gain a shield on you equal to 20% of your maximum health. Lasts 20 seconds and cannot occur more than once every 90 seconds. A miniature version of cauterize/ice barrier! This seems like it will be very useful on fights like heroic Beth’tilac where after a pulse of aoe the raid’s health will be very low, and this shield will allow for some pad while you are brought back up to safe health levels.

If desperate prayer would continue to drop you out of shadowform, I would be inclined to not taking it over Final Prayer, even though both would be situational in use, the passive shielding without having to stop damage would suit my playstyle better. Also, avoiding angelic bulwark because those healing priests will still not like you!

Level 60 - Make sure to choose your "protection" carefully.

Tier 5 (75)

More damage and healing increasing talents here, specifically centered around quicker casting. These are also a lot more straightforward with what they outline and are have no rng with them, you get your bang for your buck here.

Twist of FateIncreases damage and healing on targets at 25% health or lower. Has the nice touch of having the increased healing component of vampiric blood from a death knight, while having an additional execute on top of shadow word: death from every other spell. However, how much increased damage and healing will the benefit be? 5% 10% 30%? Its incomplete, but depending on the value its given can be really amazing for both healing and dps, or really awful.

Power InfusionInfuses the target with power, increasing the target’s spell casting speed by 20% and reducing the mana cost of all spells by 20%. Lasts 15 seconds. The same PI we have come to know and love, only its now SHADOW INFUSION. Seriously, built in troll berserking, complete and total success. I will just hate hate hate, if this spell drops shadowform, if it does, twist of fate looks to be more appealing.

SerendipityWhen you heal with Flash Heal or Binding Heal, you reduce the cast time of your Greater Heal or Prayer of Healing by 10%. This effect can stack up to 2 times. Also, your Mind Spike ability now reduces the cast time of your Mind Blast spell by 50%, this effect can stack 2 times. They baked mind melt and serendipity together. Ok, I get that much, but up against PI and Twist of Faith was like sending a goldfish into a shark tank and hoping it would survive. Both effects are the same listed as they are live right now, I don’t know about anyone else who has a priest, but the only time I have used Mind Spike is on heroic Beth’tilac for the spinners that drop down. The healing component is nice to have especially for a discipline priest who missed out on the ability being deep in the holy tree, but…. Power Infusion…. I mean… GIVE ME IT.

Barring a tragedy that would make you drop shadowform while casting PI and then causing you to lose another GCD on switching back into form, I am really interested to pick up power infusion as a shadow priest. The limited use of mind spike isn’t even close enough to outweigh PI or ToF, and the value assigned to ToF could be enough to make it a very nice talent. Of all the tier sections, this is the one I am most interested in hearing new information on as the new expansion approaches.

Level 75 - Hallelujah!

Tier 6 (90)

The final tier has a lot of utility and survivability mixed into it, to the point it almost feels like borrowing some ideas from other classes and giving them a priest twist.

Vow of UnityYou create a Vow of Unity with the target, whenever you are heal the target through spells and effects, you also heal yourself for 20% of the amount healed. However, when the target takes damage, you also take damage equal to 50% of the damage dealt over 6 seconds. Lastly, if your target takes damage equal to 30% or more of their total HP, the Vow of Unity is cancelled. 3 minute cooldown. Holy moley, so many borrowed mechanics rolled into one talent. Healing yourself for 20% of the heal, while healing your target is alot like Protector of the Innocent currently in tier 1 for holy paladins, 50% of damage over 6 seconds to you, looks pretty close to Hand of Sacrifice, and cancelling effects if they take more than 30% damage, also happens to Lightwell Renew. It seems more complicated in words to me, than in use, but it doesn’t really have that ultra talent feel to it, like a significant cooldown such as Pain Suppression.  It just seems a bit lacking, in the sense, that one strike from a boss can negate all of those effects at once.

Void ShiftYou swap health with the current friendly target. After this effect ends, you are instantly healed for 25% of your current health. Like a lot of people at the convention, I first saw this and forgot to read the word friendly, as part of the ability. Oh, how I would have jumped on the chance to try and solo bosses with this had it made it to live. <Insert Crushed Dreams here> As being used on a friendly target, it seems very powerful in situations where the tanks are taking high amounts of damage and the healers may be incapacitated or stressed to much to keep up. I see this as a 3 minute Lay on Hands if used well, and can be very powerful in the hands of a skilled priest who has desperate prayer as one of their talents.

Vampiric DominanceWhen you deal damage or healing, 15% of the amount is healed up to 3 low-health allies. This talent seems almost too good to be true….. for healing priests. Getting back to being a nice passive party healing is great, and is the talent I am leaning towards here, but the possibilities of this on either spec of healing priests, is just… wow! Circle of Healing hitting 5 targets, then off each target 3 smaller heals hitting a total number of 20 people with 1 spell (5 direct, 15 indirect). Same thing can be said for prayer of healing, and just think if each tick of (lightwell) renew also transferred to 3 targets. If this is true, it would look like priests are gaining a lot of versatility in aoe healing just through this one talent, comparable to restoration druids.

To summarize, Vampiric Dominance seems a bit OP if how I think it is going to work is true. Void Shift seems like a nice ‘Oh Shit!’ button in emergencies, and Vow of Unity looks clunky, hopefully it will be a bit more fluid before live. I take VD in this tier, then Void Shift, then Vow.

Level 90 - The tier of rehashed and borrowed abilities.

I know the whole new system is just a few days removed from being released, I think there is a lot of potential in each class’s talent tree, and I do hope they iron it out to their liking. I am not going to say “X talent is bad and shouldn’t go live because of Y reason”. There are some things I think should change, such as Vampiric Dominance going to shadow only, because if it applies to all heals, I would be very upset as a class, such as a  restoration druid (Wild Growth much?), that all of a priests heals continue to trigger smaller aoe heals.

Thank you for taking time to read, I will be going through the mage/druid/rogue ones if I get time!

*Disclaimer: All viewpoints on the talents are my own, and you should not feel compelled to take the exact talents I take. Your play style is your own, please do what is fun for you!

**Credits to MMO-Champion for screenshots.


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