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I have been keeping up to date on the changes that Blizzard will be making to priests in the next patch in preparation for Cataclysm. Unfortunately, I do not have time to play on the PTR. I was wondering if anyone knows how holy priests healing mechanics will be yet. The patch should come out in the next 2 weeks or so and I fear how ICC will go when it does. I know that Mana will, yet again, be more difficult to manage like in Burning crusade, but with chakras and all the buffs you get from using smite (and other new spells and such), I am quite lost on how to heal as a Holy priest after the patch comes out.

If anyone has been on the PTR and has a clue, or even wants to theorize, feel free to answer.

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To be honest I think it's a bit too early to say right now. On the PTR even in heroics tanks are getting beaten up pretty hard, as they scaled up monster damage output, so the numbers will probably get rebalanced a bit before the patch goes live.

The biggest thing to get your head around right now is the revamped system of every healer having the three base heals - the slow, small efficient heal, the slow large heal, and the fast inefficient heal. They apparently expect healers to use the slow small heal when there is not much else to do, and to balance the other heals with their cooldowns during heavier damage.

Also, right now I'd pay more attention to what Blizzard says about healing than what the experience is like on the PTR. Here are some recent examples:

The reason I say to watch what they say more than what they do is, they've been very clear that if the PTR behavior doesn't match what they have in mind, they'll tweak the numbers until it does. In the last PTR patch most healers just spammed their slow, efficient spell because it was getting the job done... so in the next patch Blizzard nerfed those spells, as they want them to be only a fallback and not strong enough to stand alone. That sort of thing may well happen once or twice more before the patch goes live.

Incidentally, I find that checking the top page of mmo-champion to be the easiest way to keep track of Blizzard's position on things.

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Note -- in the current PTR build, the damage of heroic mobs is tuned too high due to a bug. It's not really representative. –  Raven Dreamer Sep 22 '10 at 4:56
    
Yeah, and as well they've commented a lot to the effect that they're tuning towards L85, so even without bugs the experience on the public PTR may be a poor indication of what the bulk of play will be like in the expansion. (For example, healers on the PTR are still healing mostly AoE pulls, which are reportedly few and far between from L81 on.) –  fenomas Sep 22 '10 at 6:15
    
Hehe yea, I read MMO-champion everyday. I was just interested in how priests were doing on the PTR at the time. No changes blizzard plans to make are ever set in stone. –  Nacari Sep 22 '10 at 23:52
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I've healed as a Tank healer before cata, in Lich King and before that. I've also leveled a Holy priest. The basic idea is this (for the two new spells)

You use Chakra, then depending on the situation your in: (Lets say, for this exercise, I'm a raid healer and need to get many heals off as fast as I can to my raid.)

I cast Chakra, then use Prayer of Healing. What this does is increase the healing effects of your Area of Effect spells by 10%, and reduces the CD of Circle of Healing by 2 seconds.

With that, you have a new spell called Holy Word: Chastise. EXCEPT! Once you use Chakra, then one of the spells Chakra has on it, it puts you "in the zone" for that specific healing mechanic. If you use the new Holy Word: Sanctuary, it will drop an AOE circle that heals 466 every 2 seconds for 18 seconds.

See how it's starting to work? The Holy Word has a long CD on the Renew and Heal version. But this one has a short one.

I'll tell you what the rest of the Holy Words do, and small descriptions below them:


Holy Word: Serenity (heal) Instantly heals the target for 7296 and increases the critical effect chance of your healing spells 25% for 6 seconds. (This is for single target healing. I.E. Tank healer)

Holy Word: Chastise (Nothing/Smite) Chastise the target for 2787 Holy Damage, and disorients them for 3 seconds. (If nobody is takin' damage, Fire up some hurt!)

Holy Word: Aspire (Renew) Instantly heals the target for 3201 and another 6060 over 18 seconds. (This is a HOT system, like Druids, you can easily and quickly heal groups, casting renew every .5 seconds. Along with that, this allows you to slap a fat spankin' heal on someone who might be taking a lot of damage, and then have it heal them over time.)

Holy Word: Sanctuary (Prayer of Healing) Blesses the ground with divine light. healing all within it for 466 every 2 seconds for 18 seconds. Only one Sanctuary can be active at a time. (This allows you to heal MULTIPLE allies grouped up at once. Along with that, the Chakra version of Prayer of Healing allows you to cast it 10% more effectively, with a 2 sec less CD on Circle of Healing.)


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While I agree that it's a bit too early to speculate, it does seem that Holy Priests are retaining their flexibility as a "jack-of-all-trades" healer in Cata. While all healers are becoming more well rounded (Shamans+Paladins getting more multi-target heals and HoTs, Druids getting their big CD, Disc priests getting a bit more AOE help and less shield-spammy), it's definitely noticeable that Holy Priests will retain a strong AOE presence but, additionally, gain forte with direct heals and HoTs as well, without being terribly limited like a Paladin, Shaman, or Druid would in one of those specific areas.

Holy Word: Chastise in conjuntion with Chakra, two new abilities gained via the Holy Tree talents, are quite literally game changing abilities that alter the way you heal.

Chakra allows you to gain a boost to a specific spell type (Direct Heals, HoTs, and AOE heals) by casting a specific spell after activating Chakra. For example, casting Chakra and then Renew will give you the Chakra: Renew buff, which reduces the GCD of your Renew and increasing the amount it heals for. Similar effects apply for your direct heals, and AOE heals. On a side note, Chakra can also be used with Smite, increasing your damage dealt by all Holy and Shadow damage for the duration.

Holy Word: Chastise is an offensive ability learned early in the talent tree that transforms into a variety of healing abilities when under the effect of Chakra. For example, if you're under your Chakra: Prayer of Healing state, Holy Word: Chastise becomes an AOE HoT similar to a reverse-Consecration.

Lastly would be the mention of Leap of Faith and Lightwell. Leap of Faith is a potential new lifesaving tool available only to level 85 priests (though Discipline can get it too). Basically a friendly version of the Death Knight's Death Grip, it will allow you to pull a friend to you from harms way. In the hands of a smart player, this could prove quite invaluable. Lightwell, the butt of many a joke before, is still under constant revision and is slated to receive changes before the patch / expansion goes live. They want it to be a useful tool for all situations, not just a 1 point talent that feels mandatory to take because there's no other PVE talents to grow down the tree.

If you're looking for the specifics of the new talents (Chakra and the transformations of Chastise), www.mmo-champion.com has been very up to date with that kind of information, or you could check one of the many datamining sites like wowdb.com or wowhead.com.

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I am very interested in how using Smite while healing will work. When I looked at the new talent tree, I noticed that specing into Discipline to get Evangelism might be a good option for holy priests. I also think Leap of Faith is a rip-off new spell. On a side note, I do not think Lightwell will ever be good unless they get rid of the "fades if you take 30% of your health" thing. –  Nacari Sep 22 '10 at 23:57
    
@Nacari Re: Lightwell, hence the massive reworking. And LoF could be good, but since it remains to be seen what the new raid dungeons are like, it's hard to tell. And yes, SoL + Smite procs to get Evangelism / Archangel is actually quite useful if you're smart about saving up charges. –  TheQ Sep 23 '10 at 0:40
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