As promised, a first look at the upcoming 3.2 Priest Changes:
Prayer of Healing
Prayer of Healing: The percentage of spell power this spell gains in healing (per target) has been reduced from 80.7% to 52.6%.
I’ve not seen a massive amount of complaining about the change to Prayer of Healing. Whilst it’s a reduction from 80% ish to only 50% for the spell power coefficient that’s not horrific. It’s already got a very high base amount of healing. So for a Naxx geared priest it’s the difference between healing for 3750 Versus 3150 per player. Of course, those numbers are minimums. Talents, crits, buffs etc will increase that. But the % change will stay the same at around 16%. It’s substantial, but probably not game breaking.
It is a little surprising to see a nerf because the 2 piece Tier 8 set bonus increases the crit chance on Prayer of Healing by 10%. So maybe Blizzard didn’t realise how powerful Prayer of Healing was going to be when they made that set bonus. Prayer of Healing has benefited a great deal from now being targettable, as well as recent talent changes, particularly in the Holy tree. The biggest problem with Prayer of Healing used to be the mana cost, but since 3.0 mana has been much less of an issue. Since then the main difficulty was the casting speed, and with Borrowed Time in the discipline tree, and the new Serendipity in the Holy tree since 3.1, both specs have had ways to overcome the slow cast time. That’s probably why it’s become so powerful.
Penance: Cooldown increased to 12 seconds, up from 10 seconds.
I’ve seen far more complaining the increase on the cooldown for Penance from 10 seconds up to 12 seconds. The complaining has been because there is already a Glyph of Penance in the game which decreases the cooldown on Penance by 2 seconds. So it seems a little strange to increase the base cooldown instead of just removing the glyph. If they removed the glyph from the game it would have the same effect (increasing the cooldown) and would free up a major glyph slot for priests. Seems an odd choice.
Having said that, what’s the impact? Fully talented and Glyphed a Disc priest could get Penance down to a 6.4 second cooldown. From a base of ten seconds the glyph reduced it to eight and then 2/2 Aspiration reduced that by another 20% down to 6.4. With a twelve second base cooldown the glyph reduces to 10, and Aspiration takes it down to 8. So in actual practice it’s a loss of 1.6 seconds not 2.
Increasing the cooldown is not as bad as, for example, reducing the amount healed by Penance. An increased cooldown is not always something you feel the effects of because often you aren’t using the spell the moment it’s available. It’s painful to raw healing throughput because Penance is available less often, but you will only feel it those times where you are trying to max your throughput as much as possible. So for hard mode fights you’ll feel it more than easier fights.
There has been some complaint that it’s primarily a PvP nerf and PvE players are just caught in the crossfire. I’m sure there are PvP reasons for this nerf, but I don’t think that’s the only reason. Discipline is a very powerful healing spec and Penance is an extremely powerful clutch heal and very very mana efficient. To ensure fights are balanced at the right difficulty you have to restrict how often players can get access to Penance. If it had no cooldown we’d be casting it non-stop without bothering with Flash hHal or maybe even Power Word: Shield. Greater Heal would never get used. As a result, tweaking the cooldown of Penance is important to getting Discipline perfectly balanced in PvE and encouraging us to use a nice mix of spells. In this case using Greater Heal with the benefit of Borrowed Time perhaps.
The danger with cooldowns on healing spells is that often you are already having to make complicated decisions weighing up Mana, which player to target, what sort of heal to use, how much time you have, as well as where you are standing and what damage might be coming soon. If you are also constantly having to check your cooldowns to see if a spell is available that can become very frustrating. I can name a number of occasions when I hit Penance, it doesn’t cast, and during the time I hestitate, to work out that it’s still on cooldown, somebody dies. So cooldowns can be very frustrating when you are Healing. We’ll have to see how it feels to go back to an 8 second cooldown like we had before the Glyph.
Replenishment and MP5
Replenishment: This buff now grants 1% of the target’s maximum mana over 5 seconds instead of 0.25% per second. This applies to all 5 sources of Replenishment (Vampiric Touch, Judgements of the Wise, Hunting Party, Enduring Winter Frostbolts and Soul Leech).
Mana Regeneration: All items that provide “X mana per five seconds” have had the amount of mana they regenerate increased by approximately 25%.
A quick mention on the Replenishment changes. It seems to me that with 20% less mana coming back from Replenishment that should balance things about right. I do feel I have a lot of mana at the moment, and with the 25% buff to MP5 on gear that should give us something to gear up more if we feel our mana is running too low. Given that Discipline got no benefit from Spirit anyway apart from mana having the option of gearing for Mp5 instead is just dandy. Holy priests will almost certainly still prefer the spell power benefits that Spirit brings. That being said, could we now see more MP5 and Int on gear please Blizzard? It seems it’s all Spirit, particularly now DPS classes want (read: Don’t hate it as much) spirit as well.
Inspiration: The buff from this ability now reduces the physical damage taken by the target by 3/7/10% instead of increasing the target’s armor.
A slightly odd one. Armor reduces your physical damage anyway, so this change seems to me to be mostly aimed at balancing the power of Inspiration regardless of how much armor the target has. It also means it should work better with things that directly reduce a targets armor such as boss effects from people like Gluth or Kologorn, or in PvP if an enemy player is using a lot of Armor Penetration. Decoupling Inspiration from Armor seems to me to be a good improvement. For the most part armor tends to get debuffed down much more often than it’s buffed up, so it’s good that we are relying on it less.
Silence, Strangulate, Silencing Shot, and Arcane Torrent: These abilities will also apply a 3 second interrupt effect against non-player controlled targets, making them more versatile against creatures immune to silencing effects.
Silence has been pretty much exclusively a PvP and 5 man ability. There are so few silencable mobs in Raids that it just wasn’t worth taking, particularly with those two points wasted in having to pickup the reduce cooldown on Psychic Scream. It’s still not great, but given that it can now be used as an interrupt on mobs and bosses even if they aren’t Silenceable means it can get involved if for example you are short of Interrupt on General Vezaxx or other boss mobs who need regular silences. And if you’re a blood elf your racial can do some work as well (although you probably still want to stay out of melee range of Vezaxx. It’s not a fantastic buff, but it’s a little more raid versatility for shadow priests who’ve got the talent for PvP anyway.