If you checked the most recent Patch 3.3 PTR patch notes, a comparison of spells would show that Blizzard has reduced a lot of spells' cooldowns by a notable amount. This makes a significant impact on the playing environment on numerous levels, as most of these spells on long cooldowns were long considered to be powerful abilities whose use were once thought situational.
These shorter cooldowns will see more abilities in play, figuring more into dungeons, questing, or world PvP. Most of these abilities still won't see action in Arenas, where the allowable spells have been limited to abilities with cooldowns below ten minutes (down from fifteen). The change appears to be a direct result of many spell cooldowns being reduced.
This continues a trend in shortened cooldowns, reflecting what Ghostcrawler said in one thread about how Blizzard "in general (has) been moving away from long cooldowns, anyway." Players saw this when the iconic long-cooldown ability Lay on Hands -- an inevitable Patch 3.3 candidate for a nerf -- became usable every 20 minutes from a formerly mind-numbing one hour. More abilities are now being adjusted to be usable more often and, when necessary, balanced accordingly. Check out the full list after the jump.
- Raise Ally now has a 10 min cooldown. (Down from 15 min)
- Army of the Dead now has a 10 min cooldown. (Down from 20 min)
- Night of the Dead now reduces the cooldown of Army of the Dead by 2/4 min. (Down from 5/10 min)
- Tranquility now has a 8 min cooldown. (Down from 10 min)
- Divine Intervention now has a 10 min cooldown. (Down from 20 min)
- Divine Hymn cooldown has been lowered from 10 to 8 min.
- Filthy Tricks now reduces the cooldown of Preparation by 1.5/3min. (Down from 2.5/5min)
- Preparation cooldown has been lowered from 10 to 8 min.
- Fire Elemental Totem now has a 10 min cooldown. (Down from 20 min)
- Earth Elemental Totem now has a 10 min cooldown. (Down from 20 min)
- Inferno now has a 10 min cooldown. (Down from 20 min)
The ramifications for such a move is pretty extensive, and it doesn't begin or end with those abilities. Shorter instances, less trash, easier quests, better guides in-game -- everything seems to be designed towards a faster, shorter, yet more rewarding playing experience. It's an interesting concept moving forward, and this philosophy will certainly shape the game (as well as the upcoming Cataclysm) and the way we play it.
Patch 3.3 is the last major patch of Wrath of the Lich King. With the new Icecrown Citadel 5-man dungeons and 10/25-man raid arriving soon, patch 3.3 will deal the final blow to the Arthas. WoW.com's Guide to Patch 3.3 will keep you updated with all the latest patch news.