One of the most interesting things about the new talent system added in Mists of Pandaria is that it encourages priests (and all classes) to choose which talent is best for them at almost every turn. No longer is one talent clearly better than another when examining them in a bell jar. Now instead you have to look at how and where the talent will be used; one talent might shine brightly in certain scenarios but be so utterly awful in others that it's practically unusable. The result of all this? We're now adjusting our talent builds more than ever.
Of course, this isn't a new thing for DPS, who frequently swapped to alternative talent builds on each encounter to get the best possible damage (got to beat those 'locks!) but for healers it's more of a change. In the past, a healing priest might have considered switching between disc or holy, but rarely did that involve altering individual talents in our trees. Usually healers had an all-purpose build that was good for everything; changing around talents was only done on the rare occasion. That makes this new talent system a bit of a shake up for us, since the majority of priests are healers (two healing specs and all). So today I thought we'd look at the new priest talents as thoroughly as we could so it's easier to decide which one you want.
Level 15, crowd control
Void Tendrils A good way to keep enemies from chewing on your face is to keep them from touching you. Void Tendrils is the ideal crowd control talent for moments when you find yourself overwhelmed by mobs or enemy players; just wait until they're all piled on top of you, cast Void Tendrils, and then run for safety. You might think of Void Tendrils as the "Oh shit!" crowd control, because you're typically using it when you're already in danger, as opposed to carefully planning its use on the sidelines before engaging your enemy.
The long duration of the talent (20 seconds) and 30-second cooldown makes it an excellent crowd control choice for questing. For raiding, on the other hand, you're more likely to annoy your tanks if you use this, since it might root an add out of range. In PvP, this talent is really only good for a momentary snare since most players will make quick work of an individual tendril (my own have about 70k health each). Void Tendrils can be healed or shielded if you target them though, so if you're quick you can buy yourself an extra second or two.
Psyfiend The best way to describe this talent is with a user comment from Wowhead: After eight years, priests can finally summon a warlock on demand. Unlike Psychic Scream, which only affects targets immediately around you, you can place Psyfiend where ever you want; so you could use it to save yourself or place it several yards away to scare off the mob that's beating on your healer. You could also use it in combination with Psychic Scream for PvP ... Use either spell to force an enemy to use their PvP trinket, then immediately follow it up with the other spell to fear them for real.
And while yes, the crowd control offered by priests is notoriously bad for PvE, if you pair Psyfiend up with Glyph of Psychic Scream you can create a reasonably safe method of CC that won't pull several packs of mobs or get you instantly killed. Just keep in mind that Psyfiend does not cast an AoE fear like Psychic Scream, so you'll want to use it as your tank is pulling so the Psyfiend doesn't get ganged up on by an entire pack of mobs. Psyfiend has extremely low health, so it won't be around for too long if you try to use it in the wrong situation.
Dominate Mind The updated version of Mind Control has the same functionality of its former self, but now it has more application in the rest of the game. Previously priests could only take control of humanoid targets, but now a priest can target any creature type other than mechanical. You would think that meant lots of crowd control potential in PvE, but this talent always suffers from the downfall of putting the caster out of commission; if you're busy controlling a mob, you can't fight or heal. It can be worth it when the mob has some amazing ability for killing its allies, but it's often more trouble than it's worth.
Not much is affected in PvP by this change, since the majority of your enemies are humanoids. This could let you control pets though, which has an opportunity to be advantageous if it's the right pet. Beyond that, Dominate Mind has all the same great uses in PvP it always had, particularly in battlegrounds where there is a variety of terrain to overcome or take advantage of.
Level 30, movement
Body and Soul This talent first appeared in Wrath of the Lich King, and has been coveted by priests since. The ability to quicken your movements (or the movements of an ally) with the simple application of Power Word: Shield has a plethora of applications in PvE and PvP. Body and Soul can assist with running out of fire, kiting bosses (or players), or just running from quest item to quest item. The spell is limited in some ways, though. First, Weakened Soul prevents you from casting Power Word: Shield on the same target more than once ever 15 seconds ... So you can't spam this buff on yourself. Second, Power Word: Shield has a 6-second cooldown for shadow and holy priests ... So you can't spam this buff on several members of your party unless you're a discipline priest. That said, the talent is still extremely valuable when you or another players has to get somewhere quickly.
Angelic Feather Angelic Feather offers the same movement speed boost as Body and Soul, but instead of casting it on a specific player, the priest casts it on the ground for other players to pick up. The strength of Angelic Feather is that you can place three feathers on the ground, one after another, with no restrictions on the amount of time a player can be buffed by the talent. A player who runs over three feathers in a row has the potential to be sped up for 12 seconds, as opposed to 4 seconds with Body and Soul. That makes Angelic Feather ideal for questing, especially when you're indoors and can't mount up.
The limitations of Angelic Feather are that you're restricted to having three on the ground at a time, and further restricted by the charge system which the talent uses in place of mana. The other problem with it is that you don't have a lot of control over who can use it once you place it on the ground. If you and the rest of your raid are trying to run out of a big patch of fiery death, your feathers might get grabbed up by other players before you can use them. (So if you're concerned about saving yourself, you're probably better off using Body and Soul.)
Phantasm The ability to free yourself from movement impairing effects every 30 seconds has huge potential, especially in PvP where a new threat lies behind every pillar. Mind you this isn't a PvP trinket with a 30-second cooldown. You can't get out of fears and abilities that make you lose control of your character with this talent, but anything that might slow or snare you (a Frostbolt or Entangling Roots, for example) should be affected. That makes it a particularly valuable talent for shadow priests, who do not have the ability to cast Purify on themselves to dispel common, magical snares.
That's not all though, this talent also makes you untargetable by range attacks for 3 seconds. So even if you're not already snared, you can use Fade to dodge a ranged assault from enemy players. This one aspect alone makes this talent extraordinarily powerful.
In PvE there is less use for this talent because many boss mechanics are designed so that the majority player abilities cannot circumvent them. Still it's worth testing on every new encounter you learn just to be sure; you never know what you might find.
Next week on Spiritual Guidance
We'll continue our thorough look at talents next week (and probably the week after that at this rate). If you have anything to add, such as examples on how to use Dominate Mind to win friends and destroy your enemies, please leave a comment. Also, if you have questions, don't be shy. I did take note of all the requests you guys made in my last article for what you want covered on these talents articles, but if you come up with any more ideas let me know.
Spiritual Guidance is WoW Insider's source for priest information. For information on playing the class, check out our Mists of Pandaria guides for discipline, holy, and shadow. For getting geared up, check out our pre-raid gear guide.