So the changes are in but we are still stuck as children without our full set of adult abilities. Or maybe more like adolescents I suppose. Still the changes are in.
So what do I think? Well...I think I may swap mains from priest to Shaman. I also think the new grouping tool will be both a blessing and a curse.
Let's discuss shall we.
First up let's discuss the new group finder tool. So first off what is wrong with it? In a word, resolution.
You can tell people that you are forming a group, what voice chat you are using, and add in a note but it lacks built in resolution options like ticking a radio button that alerts people to the difficulty you are doing...and already I've seen normals listed as Mythic, Heroics that didn't list what they were and far too many other options.
You also can't click a little button to choose things like Ordos or Celestials. You know, like the previous incarnation of the same tool. Refinement would be awesome, as would being able to set minimum entry requirements like ilvl, or proving grounds achievements. Ok so that second one may be going a bit far but what about being able to limit your search to Role, certainly that would be nice.
My second complaint is that is actually my biggest praise, the tool is too easy to use. Everyone and their brother can form a group and then watch it dissolve in the first 5 min of Norushen as all the DPS zerg the orbs and more adds appear than is healthy for any sane human being.
There is an addon to the ElvUI addon that allows you to see what someones furthest progression is, such as 14/14L or 12/14F this would be handy in the new GF tool as well so you could see how well or poorly prepared people were. Make it an account progression and character specific one and it would be all the better. Also the list needs a blackball option so you can track douchebags, and make that account wide too.
All that is to say the tool is great but needs some refinement. Good job Blizz.
So on to Priestly healing.
First impressions without looking at things is it feels different. And yeah of course it does they have removed or changed much of what our muscle memory remembers to do. I had to go through and get rid of some Weak Auras and I must say my buff bar looks awful lonely. Still it didn't take too long to get used to. Holy Nova is nice where its at. Renew feels like it falls off much faster than before and that is even after I swapped out the glyph for it. Cascade and Halo not being instant where a change as was Divine Star not doing any damage for my Disc Bear.
Disc feels strong oddly. Atonement has been reigned in but still feels useful and in general disc just feels good. Admittedly I do kinda feel like Spirit Shell is a baseline must have talent but on the other hand Surge of Light feels that way for Holy, so meh. Spirit Shell does feel out of place on its talent row however. Its not a proc, not passive, and doesn't really increase throughput. It simply changes your spells from direct heals to absorptions...kind of odd given the other two talents. Divine insight is at least a proc and as such kind of a bonus heal. This gives Holy a passive, a CD, and a proc that all act similarly while giving Disc something they always had but telling them to give up ToF and PI in order to get it. Odd but livable.
The other thing I will add on initial playability for Holy was that Serendipity feels weird at first without the middle heal as a buffer. I spent so many hours in the Proving Grounds getting used to Heal until Flash proced then once I had some serendipity up using to power Greater Heal. Now Its either Flash or Heal and I have a strong urge to Flash, Flash, before I Heal just to get the proc up. Still it doesn't take too long to transition and Blue chackra feels really good with bind, bind, Prayer and the instant Circle and no penalty to some flashing and healing and renewing. Like I said before yellow chackra just feels like renews are dropping off way too fast, I'll need to adjust my indicator to go red with a few more seconds left so I have more time to refresh them. Once we have our Draenor Perks chackra dancing should be very viable and pretty interesting as well. Especially since the HWChackra abilities do not share CDs and can be used independently of each other. Start Blue and drop the golden spot, go yellow and heal during low dmg or heavy tank dmg, then pop blue to renew the spot or heal for AOE...not much going on? pop into red and smite a bit knowing you aren't stuck there for 30s if some fecal matter collides with your oscillating blade machine. Nice.
Oh and finally the new divine hymn effect and sound are just fantastic.
I have a feeling Divine Star will see a great deal of use as it is the only instant heal and acts as an emergency button for us which something it feels like we lack I suppose. Circle of healing is nice and Disc has the ole instant Bubble...I don't know, unless there is a compelling argument for Halo I just see Divine Star taking the cake. What about Cascade? Well without it's renew refreshing mechanic I suppose its main advantage over the other two is that it doesn't require the tight placement that they do. It bounces around of its own accord.
So why then am I considering going Resto Shaman and abandoning the priesthood?
Priest give out stamina...as do Warriors and Locks now. And that's it for the healy types of priest.
Shamans on the other hand given passive Haste, passive Mastery, and can Lust. I honestly don't understand why 1) Fortitude isn't passive and 2) if Holy gets multistrike attunment why they also don't to provide the buff? Shadow gets the multistrike buff and yet has Haste as its attunment??? Furthermore Healing Priest are the only ones to only bring one raid buff to the table! Even Shadow gets to bring two stats. And if you have a lock or a warrior then you just negated the usefulness of your Healy Priest Buff.
But ok Buffs aside isn't there something about being a Healy priest that is awesome?
Well that's the other thing. Disc got Silence which is certainly nice but Holy still lacks that kind of CC. Mass Dispel is the domain of the priest which has come in handy during Siege on two fights. Dispel Magic was useful for Nazgrim so unless we see heavier use of or at least the ability for use of Dispel Magic then we have to write it off. Chain undead is simply worthless when everyone you fight is a part of the living. Fear Ward has a cooldown on par with major raid CDs, lacks significant use from encounters and when it is useful in an encounter it's so limited that if it is forgotten it isn't missed. At 3 minutes it really should protect the entire raid but when there are very few fear mechanics at play anyhow who really cares. If fear ward had fallen under the pruning shears I'm sure many a priest wouldn't have even batted an eye.
Leap of Faith is a unique priest ability which is getting an odd buff in WoD. Currently the spell's primary purpose is to annoy your groups most hot headed player or pull people out of the stupid. The WoD changes will make it a throughput increase which should be pretty damn funny. I think I see where they were going with the idea, pull someone in trouble to you then heal them up, but I have a feeling it will get used much more annoyingly.
For CC we get one ability. We are allowed to choose a root, a fear, or useless MC which is there for pvp and lulz. Dominate Mind could be awesome but it is sadly left out of the useful raid ability list. So a root and a fear. Yawn.
For CDs each spec gets a raid wide and an individual.
So what about Shaman?
For renew they have riptide. For Serendipity they get Tidal Wave. Chain Heal and Healing Rain for HW:Sanctuary and Binding Heal. Plus five other CDs, one to allow for casting while moving and the other four to help out with or increase healing. In addition they have a built in mana return mechanic. Then there is Lust, which is handy to say the leaste, purge takes on Dispel Magics place and purify to help with dispels. Tremor totem is a much more effective and shorter CD fear control mechanic, Wind Shear to silence and interrupt, Capacitor totem, Hex, and Earthbind Totem round out their CC abilities.
So shaman can heal, they can buff, they have CC, they have anti-CC. I simply do not see where a Priest outshines them. And we haven't even begun to look at talents or Glyphs.
Then let's consider the attunment. Holy get multistrike.... great, so we get more of a stat that is similar to crit. Yeah =/
Disc at least gets crit which is useful for them.
Shaman get Mastery attunment giving them more of a stat that is very very useful to them to begin with.
Holy priest will certainly be looking to take multistrike over say crit but would more than likely be more interested in mastery or versatility and their reliability over two stats which rely on RNGessus to give benefit, which of course means bigger heals when you don't need them and fewer crit/multis when it counts. Some of us simply lack RHGessus attunment.
So sure Priest have a traditional place in any Fantasy setting but time has not been kind to this beloved class. I simply can not see an argument for taking a Priest over a Shaman in the new world of Warlords. I dare say you could do rather well with Paladins, Druids, Monks, and Shaman and leave Priests out of the mix all together and this is coming from someone who would much rather main a Priest. Oh and I will clear Heroic or Normal with my Priest simply for the awesome tier set...which is rare for Priest, typically I find theirs to be the worst barring a few shinning examples.