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Spiritual Guidance: Patch 4.3 holy priest buffs and more tier 13 set bonuses

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. Dawn Moore covers the healing side of things for discipline and holy priests. She also writes for LearnToRaid.com and produces the Circle of Healing Podcast.

You'd really think after all this time Blizzard would have done the obvious and invented some sort of healing hand grenade for holy priests. It could be the little brother of Lightwell or perhaps some sort of talent upgrade to Holy Nova -- toss the grenade to a specific location on the dungeon floor and in 10, 15, or whatever seconds, an explosion of AOE healing would nuke the area. Wouldn't that be fun? Naturally there'd have to be some witty flavor text on the tooltip, but -- wait, what day is this? Dawn looks at her calendar. Oh! Uh ... Never mind what I just said.

Today, we've got to get caught up on patch 4.3 news. We've been up to our necks in priest news from patch 4.3 recently. Last week, we got a first look at our two-piece and four-piece set bonuses for priest tier 13; this week, we got a look at the gear model itself and a hefty list of mostly positive changes. We also (shock and awe) already received a few tweaks to our tier 13 set bonuses, so there is quite a lot to tackle today. First, let's talk fashion.

Priest tier 13, Vestments of Dying Light

As Fox put it
, our new gear is "soulless and terrifying. Which, I guess, means they got the design just right." Though I'm not sure everyone will agree with him on that assessment, the reactions from around the community so far do seem largely positive. I think Oestrus said it best by describing the armor set as having "bits of Jenova thrown in," but if you're too young to get that reference, get out of my sight that probably won't mean much to you.

Fortunately, Blizzard was kind enough to include a little statement from the artist with this preview, who explains the direction he (or she) received was "Venetian carnival with creepy, soulless black eyes." I'd say it's spot on in that case, but I can't help but wonder why the designers were interested in tying that particular look into Azeroth and the fight against Deathwing. Personally, the mask reminds me of that fight scene from The Mummy Returns, which could tie in pretty well to Uldum or the Ramkahen, but who knows? Whatever it is, this will be the first tier you'll have the option of transmogrifying your gear if you absolute abhor it. Win-win situation, right?

4.3 class changes

As I briefly mentioned, most of the changes priests are scheduled to receive in patch 4.3 are for the better, with the only nerf being to a particular playstyle, not the class as a whole. Let's take a look.
  • Divine Hymn now affects five targets, up from three.
  • Atonement will now account for the target enemy's combat reach when calculating proper range, enabling it to be used on large creatures such as Ragnaros and Ala'kir.
  • Divine Aegis has a new spell effect.
  • Spirit of Redemption has been rebuilt to address a few functionality issues and make it more responsive. Spirit of Redemption otherwise remains unchanged.
  • State of Mind has been redesigned and is now called Heavenly Voice. Heavenly Voice increases the healing done by Divine Hymn by 50/100% and reduces the cooldown of Divine Hymn by 2.5/5 minutes.
  • Glyph of Circle of Healing now also increases the mana cost of Circle of Healing by 20%.

First off, I'm really happy to finally see State of Mind put on the chopping block. I was appalled when the developers tried to justify its usefulness after Chakra was overhauled in patch 4.1, and I was further annoyed when it stayed in the game through patch 4.2. The new alternative, Heavenly Voice, is just what holy priests have been asking for (a holy-only buff to Divine Hymn) and will likely bring the spell in line with a restoration druid's 3-minute Tranquility. A holy priest's Divine Hymn might even end up being better than Tranquility in some instances, since it's a smart heal. Maybe the difference will be similar to the slight variations between Guardian Spirit and Pain Suppression? We can only hope.

Overall, I'm pretty sure these changes will be everything holy priests have been calling for in the past few months. We'll have to wait and see how the new numbers hold up across various raid teams on live servers, of course, but I expect this buff to balance things. Up until now, holy priests weren't necessarily suffering from being bad but rather from being directly compared to restoration druids. This was because holy priests, like restoration druids, lacked a defensive raid cooldown like Power Word: Barrier or Spirit Link Totem, so their primary contribution to a raid was bringing healing throughput. Holy priests couldn't keep up, though, and were being benched by competitive raiding guilds who follow min-max principles. With this buff and the huge nerf resto druids are simultaneously receiving, I think everything will start to line up and everyone will be happy for the final tier of raiding in Cataclysm. (The druids may be a little bitter, though.)

Discipline priests, on the other hand, won't feel too much from this patch, even if Divine Hymn is getting buffed. The increased number of targets will naturally increase the output, but with a lengthy channel time and comparably low output, disc priests will probably still want to reserve the spell for assisting others rather than trying to save the day. Likewise, the change to Atonement isn't so much a buff as it is an overdue fix. I guess the Divine Aegis animation is something to look forward too, though I really liked the existing soap bubble one.

Oh! I almost forgot the glyph. Ghostcrawler basically spelled out the change for us, so let me share what he said about it in case you missed it.


Explanation of 4.3 Balance Changes, Part One -- Ghostcrawler
We wanted to change the Glyph of Circle of Healing to make it less of a no-brainer as I explained above under Wild Growth. In the case of the Holy priest, we thought the healing done by CoH was appropriate (which was not the case for the druid) so we had the glyph increase the mana cost instead. Relying too much on Circle of Healing in inappropriate situations (such as when only a few characters are injured) risks hurting the priest's efficiency with this glyph.


Basically, the developers want to penalize poor use of the spell since most of us were using it blindly on cooldown for the numbers. By making it less efficient to cast on two or three targets, it will sort of encourage us to use a different spell. Unfortunately, this will only apply if the priest views mana as a commodity, so we'll have to wait and see how effective this is at stomping out poor play.

Tier 13 set bonus tweaks

  • Two-piece After using Power Infusion or Divine Hymn, the mana cost of your healing spells is reduced by 25% for [10|23] seconds (10 seconds for Discipline, 23 for non-Discipline).
  • Four-piece Your Power Word: Shield has a 10% chance to absorb 100% additional damage and increase the mana granted by Rapture by 100%, and the duration of your Holy Word abilities is increased by 20%.

[This section has been rewritten on account of Dawn being a complete idiot.]

Discipline priests won't notice any changes to the two-piece since last week, but holy priests have had their bonus touched up significantly. Holy priests (or non-discipline priests, as many of you have been so astutely pointing out) will now receive their bonus after channeling Divine Hymn. BB Crisp from the comments explains it quite concisely.

"The duration of the 2-piece buff for holy was moved up to 23 because it's now linked with Divine Hymn, not Lightwell. We lose the first few seconds of its use with channeling, so the extra seconds are likely meant to compensate for that."

Though most holy priests won't have any qualms with using their new and improved Divine Hymn regularly, I suspect this change will still be subject to the same complaints that were made about the previous incarnation of the bonus. Because the usage of cooldown or utility abilities like Divine Hymn or Lightwell tend to be used at a predetermined moment in the script of the fight, holy priests will be put into a situation where they have to decide to maximize their mana usage or do what's good for the raid. With the new and improved Divine Hymn looking to be an essential part of raid strategies, holy priests will be in even more of a pickle than they were with the previous option. In that sense, I'd say this is worse, even if there are still many priests who don't want to pick up Lightwell.

Anyway, let's move onto the four-piece bonus. Things got even better for discipline priests, who will now receive double their mana from Rapture when their double-strength Power Word: Shield gets broken. Pretty nifty. Holy priests on the other hand, sort of, kind of got a change for the better. Now, instead of having the cooldown reduced on Holy Word abilities, the duration of the abilities is increased. Overall, I'm still thinking it could be better. Granted, Ghostcrawler also said that Blizzard is reducing the mana cost of Holy Word: Sanctuary, so maybe the combination of the two will make a lot more sense for holy throughput. That said, the creativity is still a bit lacking, but I guess we can't always summon a healing fire pet.

So, about that article I promised you ...

OK, OK, so assuming nothing new and exciting happens in this next week, I will finally get around to that stat weight article I keep promising you. If I don't, I'll draw you guys a picture of a holy priest saving Fox Van Allen from an evil space octopus on a rocket ship using a jar of chocolate chip cookies. Seriously.

Spiritual Guidance has the inside line on pre-raid, valor point and raid gear for patch 4.2, as well as priest healing guides for the early and final bosses of The Firelands. Newcomer to the priest class? Look into leveling a healing priest, plus our guides to Discipline Priest 101 and Holy Priest 101.

Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

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