If you read the patch notes for the latest public test realm build, you might have noticed there is an odd change being applied to priests of the bubbling nature.
Renewed Hope: now has a 60-second duration, up from 20 seconds, but a 20-second cooldown.
Seems a bit strange, doesn't it? Is it a buff, a nerf? What would be the point of adding a cooldown to an ability that has a duration exceeding the cooldown? Well, after kicking the Blizzard downloader all night and day, I've finally tested it for myself and as it currently functions on PTR it appears to have no negative impact on discipline priests. That said, I do not believe it is currently working entirely as Blizzard intends it to. For more information on what I observed, hit the jump.
As of Saturday evening, when using Power Word: Shield, a 1-minute duration Renewed Hope buff is applied. You can use PWS a moment later on a party member, raid member, or non-party member, and the buff will be refreshed on you and your party, even though 15 seconds (more on this below) has not elapsed. The combat log reads that the buff is refreshed on each party member, each time a new shield is applied, just as it does on current live servers. Improvements to the talent in patch 3.1.2 remain unchanged: Renewed Hope cannot be dispelled or stolen.
Ghostcrawler said the following about the changes to auras:
"Removing the constant application and removal of these buffs (through both the passive aura and the range increase) might improve performance a tiny bit, will clean out your combat logs (which actually improves performance too), and reduce the UI and in some cases spell effect spam, which might make combat a little more easier to understand."
So, since the combat log is still getting spammed, my guess is that Blizzard is still working on the talent's cooldown. This could also explain why the patch notes, which refer to a 20-second cooldown, conflict with the in-game tool tip that states a 15-second cooldown will be applied.
As for the improvements to the duration of the talent, I'd consider them favorable. Changing it to 1-minute means disco priests will have an easier time keeping up Renewed Hope in fights where movement or other mechanics might keep you from getting a shield up every 20 seconds. It doesn't really improve priest mobility, since you can already bubble on the run, but fights like the Lich King come to mind, since you can't cast while in the clutches of the Val'kyr mobs.
That sums up the priest changes from the patch notes. There is one other change being added in patch 3.3.3 that is of great interest to discipline priests, though. The change is in the mage arcane tree.
Incanter's Absorption: This talent now only grants additional spell power when damage is absorbed by Mana Shield, Frost Ward, Fire Ward, or Ice Barrier. The limit of 5% of the mage's health on the spell power buff has been removed.
If you are out of the loop, arcane mages with Incanter's Absorption have had a great love for discipline priest bubbles for most of Wrath of the Lich King, due to the magnitude of the bonus spellpower that can be given by this talent. Unfortunately, it seems Blizzard is putting an end to that. To me this is a truly sad day, marking the end of a beautiful year shared with our arcane allies. There have been many mages I have bubbled with love, but soon my shields will mean nothing more to them than any other heal. I mourn the loss of this relationship.
You still have my power infusion, my beloved mages. *tear*
Patch 3.3.3 is up on the PTR and as with every new patch there's a flurry of new information. Check out the official patch notes, changes to battlegrounds, new achievements that hint at future content, new models (and more new models) in the game files, things to do with those pesky frozen orbs, UI updates, and perhaps more to come before it hits the live realms.