We've all heard by now the changes Blizzard is planning for gear and stats in Cataclysm. While the stat changes are going to dramatically change how many classes work, causing many players to panic, as a healing priest my general impression was "nothing to see here; move along." I then took a sip of my tea and resumed playing shuffle board.
That's not to say nothing good is coming to us though...
As healing priests, these are the stats we currently use:
So now the list of stats we're going to use looks like this:
Intellect -- With spellpower no longer being available on gear, intellect is where spellpower will be coming from. Currently, intellect increases the size of a priest's mana pool, and her critical strike rating. While I'm not sure if the crit relationship will remain, Blizzard said that intellect will not provide as much mana to players as it currently does, implying that intellect will still affect the size of mana pools. However, the change means mana pools will not be scaling upward as dramatically as they did from 70 to 80 in Wrath of the Lich King, and mana regeneration will be more important as a result.
Spirit -- Blizzard said in the same post they are probably going to be reworking the entire mana regeneration system and that spirit will only be found on healing gear from now on. This means it will be very easy to pick out healing gear from now on since all cloth with spirit will be specifically made for healing priests. However, it might mean that it is more difficult to share pieces of gear with your shadow set. It's a little too early to know.
Stamina -- We will be seeing more stamina on gear so that our health pools are more similar to plate wearers. This will make us less vulnerable to random damage, but make healing non-tanks a little more taxing.
The impression I get from all this is that they are really dummy-proofing gearing. At least for healers, anyway; dps will still need to account for stats like hit in order to deal damage to bosses. There will be new ways to customize gear (reforging), but the new stat system will make it harder for players to end up with the wrong base pieces in Cataclysm. Picking the right gear won't be as important as knowing how to properly tune it for your needs.
This is exactly what Blizzard said they were planning to do, so it shouldn't come as a surprise. It does make me wonder though. First, are we all going to look even more alike in Cataclysm as far as aesthetics go? (It's a legitimate concern! I need my Barbie dress-up time) And second, if the difficulty of gearing is going to go down, will the difficulty of raiding in general (not just mana regen and healing) go up? As I look at the game community, more people are raiding now than ever before. In a way, we've now had over a year to take in "Raiding 101" and made more players aware of the games mechanics in and out of combat. We're all closer to being on the same page than we ever were before, and the gear and stat changes will further that commonality. Can we look forward to more difficult content in Cataclysm? Time will tell.