Holy Bologna: What the Devs are telling us

21 Aug

The newest beta build has hit and I wanted to take a few moments to discuss how the priest Holy spec is shaping up. Like all good priests, I stay as current as possible in all three trees. While my love is shadow, I boast at least proficiency at both Holy and Discipline. Before I get into the meat of the changes, this makes me happy:

Darkness now increases Spell haste by 1/2/3% instead of increasing Shadow damage by 2/4/6%

I know what you’re thinking. “But Calsong, isn’t a boost to haste for three talents points just an indirect damage increase, and therefor still a boring and passive talent?” Not so, good readers. Couple this with the trends of late WotLK and the new haste aura associated with shadowform, and we become slippery agents of darkness, favoring reckless destruction over carefully placed killing blows.

It carves out a niche without overly complicating the rotation, which is a good thing.

Now let’s talk Holy.

The biggest news on the block is the new “specialization ability”: Holy Word: Chastise. I have three immediate reactions to this ability. First, its supported in the lore for a “holy word” framework. Priests are billed as the quintessential lore-keepers of both horde and alliance, filling a key role of arbitration and oral tradition. If the nature of “shadow words” is calling upon the dark secrets of this lore to weaken resolve and test faith, and the nature of “power words” is to draw forth the strength from within someone, then our new “holy word” is about the daunting, effervescent power of the Light.

What’s the point? Doesn’t Holy do fine already?

Holy Word: Chastise *New* – Chastise the target for 563.9 to 632.71 Holy damage, and Immobilizing them for 2 sec. 15% of base mana, 30 yd range, Instant cast, 45 sec cooldown

That looks to me like the instant cast, “oh shit” button that every Holy priest needs while leveling. It also appears to be another effort to get Holy priests involved in PvP, at least in the new rated battlegrounds. Interesting!

“Alas, alack,” say the QQers (this is a dramatic reinterpretation. They actually said “QQ”) “we want holy’s signature ability to be an awesome healing spell.” Blizzard thought of this, folks:

Revelations (Tier 5) *New* – While in a Chakra state, your Holy Word: Chastise ability will transform into a different ability depending on which state you are in. Holy Word: Serenity (Heal) – Instantly heals the target for 3161.85 to 3730.47, and increases the critical effect chance of your healing spells on the target by 25% for until cancelled. 45 sec cooldown. Holy Word: Aspire (Renew) – Instantly heals the target for 2363.56 and another 4471.99 over until cancelled. 15 sec cooldown. Holy Word: Sanctuary (Prayer of Healing) – Blesses the ground with Divine light, healing all within it for 298.75 to 355.32 every 2 for 15 sec. Only one Sanctuary can be active at any one time.

That talent is a mouthful, but here’s the punchline: Holy Word is going to be the long CD powerful healing effect you need it to be, in the situation you need it.

Current WotLK has holy priests being the “jack of all trades, master of none” healer. If we’re short a druid, I assign a renew speced holy priest to pick up the slack. The power of a Prayer of Healing build can rival the chain healing of a shaman, and I’ve even seen Holy priests use Flash healing to push the HPS of a paladin.

Chakra promises to only magnify this. That’s a good thing. For those of you who only read beta changes on my blog (who are you?) Chakra has been in the beta for a while. The latest version is a pop-able cooldown:

Chakra – When activated, your next Heal, Renew, Prayer of Healing or Smite spell will put you into a corresponding Chakra state. Lasts for 30 sec.

Heal – Increases the critical effect chance of your Heal spell by 10%, and your Heal refreshes the duration of your Renew on the target.

Renew – Increases the healing done by your Renew spell by 10%, and reduces the global cooldown of your Renew spell by .5 sec.

Prayer of Healing – Increases the healing done by your area of effect spells by 10% and reduces the cooldown of your Circle of Healing by 2 sec.

Smite – Increases your total damage done by Shadow and Holy spells by 15%

Holy seems geared up for long talent descriptions this time around. The ability basically says “you want to be awesome at using renew? Fine, here’s a reduced global cooldown and more HPS to help you out.” To increase the uptime on Chakra, Holy also has:

State of Mind – Your successful Heal, Renew, Prayer of Healing or Smite spell casts increase the duration of your corresponding Chakra state by 4 sec.

This means that, with a little forethought, a priest can stay in a Chakra state for as long as is needed. With mana being a bigger issue in Cataclysm, this won’t be forever.

So Holy is shaping up to be an interesting jack-of-all-trades. My questions (and they really can’t be answered without testing raid content) are: will the healing of holy be tuned for Chakra? Will one Chakra state be obviously and consistently better? Will Holy ever truly be PvP viable?

When are they giving us the promised racial changes?

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