Sunday, May 15, 2005

The case for taking another look at priests

Alright, by this point I hope most of you know the story; Priests were asked for feedback from the devs with Fangtooth as an intermediary. We compiled 40-50+ pages on two official threads of our problems, concerns, gripes, and just general whines. We started dozens upon dozens of threads giving numbers and hard facts about what our problems were. For the most part they were very well thought out and constructive. Upon getting the "Priest Report", most priests feel that nearly all of these concerns seem to have been completely overlooked, and we seem to have been told (not directly, but implied heavily) that priests are "finished". Now that Fangtooth has moved on to Paladins and we see other classes who arguably are much more functional in groups getting the same style of buffs we asked for -namely PvE group specific buffs-, that seems to be the case more than ever.

Let me say right now, this isn't a whine about Paladin buffs, Warlock buffs, Hunter Buffs, Shaman buffs, or any other kind of buffs. The fact is many priests feel we didn't get a fair shake when it came to our feedback.

I've posted many times on this very subject from the very thought out and constructive to earning myself a small vacation from the forums and everywhere in between. This is to be one of the more constructive. I don't necessarily agree with everything in this post, however, the purpose behind it is to try and voice the priest community's problems ideas and suggestions, not just mine. So let's get to the point, shall we?

Problem: Holy Nova isn't nearly effective enough to justify its being a 31 point talent.
Status: Partially resolved. Changed from a near useless 5 second aggro reducer to a more useless group heal/very small AE nuke (both components are aggro free).
Outcome: Not satisfactory. The change to an AE heal from aggro reduction was a step in the right direction for a talent on the top of the Holy tree, I think many priests would agree. However the numbers seem off. Also, the talent is reported to be bugged in that friendly players periodically resist the healing effect. Interestingly, Fangtooth stated in his priest report:

Q u o t e:

"This spell is also more mana efficient healing wise than Prayer of Healing. For Prayer of Healing you will need a minimum of 3 targets for the mana to heal ratio to be at maximum effectiveness, with Holy Nova you need only 2 targets."


This is both incorrect and misleading, Holy Nova rank 3 has a ratio of 2.5 HPM while Prayer of Healing has a ration of 4.68 HPM. Those numbers are calculated for 5 people healed because as any high school math teacher will tell you: You pay the same price no matter how many people you heal, so you only reach maximum effectiveness when you heal the maximum number of people allowed. With talents the disparity will become even bigger because in order to get to holy nova, most priests are going to to get Improved Prayer of Healing as well as Spiritual Healing, both of which make Prayer of Healing more efficient.

The above statement by Fang leads me to believe that perhaps the Holy Nova talent is not as efficient as intended. One way of fixing this would be to lower the mana cost, however the majority of priests would rather see the ammount healed raised to offset this. Priests still feel that the small ammount healed doesn't buy enough time to get out even the fastest of our heals in order to save a life. In short, this is not the emergency skill many priests had hoped it would end up being. After all I think every player in the game is under the impression that the end tree 31 point talents are supposed to make us say "wow". Currently neither Divine Spirit nor Holy Nova make us do this.

Suggestion: Please take a second look and consider raising the ammount healed, even if you have to reduce damage dealt. Remember than any Holy/Disc priest (as there is no such thing as a pure holy priest, and that's fact) has to weigh this against Inner Focus from the discipline line. We get ONE or the OTHER. As it is now, and even with a 30 second cooldown, it's currently considered to be no contest. During unscientific polling on my server (sending people tells asking if they had holy nova) I found that 1 person out of the 20 I asked had holy nova, no one else had even considered it after looking at it or testing it.

There's holy nova. The rest will be much quicker, I promise.

Problem: Priests deal with large and slow heals, in high end instances damage can streak badly so healing with greater heal must either start early and risk over healing or have the heal land late and see a dead tank.
Status: Mostly resolved, albiet indirectly.
Outcome: When the Devs buffed mana regen by allowing full regen during casting, they negated most of the penalty of cancelling a four second spell, the only penalty now is usually wasted time, but still definatley exists when heals critical. Many priests almost feel landing a critical heal is a penalty of wasted mana rather than a bonus of extra healing in most circumstances.
Suggestion: See Inspiration, below.

Problem: Master Healer
Status: Unresolved, unacknowledged
Outcome: Not acceptable. Many priests feel that for a tree buried so deep in the Holy Line half a second off an already unwieldy spell is too long.
Suggestion: Many priests have asked for each rank of Master Healer to take off 0.2 seconds as opposed to 0.1. Other priests are less demanding or fear balance issues and ask that the full 5 points in Master Healer end up taking off 0.75 seconds.

Problem: Holy Fire just isn't worth it.
Status: Resolved?
Outcome: Holy Fire was greatly retooled to be more mana efficient, and many priests are happy with it, but a sizable number of priests question why there is even a damage talent in our healing line while some others ask how we are supposed to use something with this long a cast time in groups when we very likely will need to interupt it in order to heal.
Suggestion: Some priests have felt that this spell would better suit priests needs in instances and grouping if it were instant cast with a prohibitavely long recast timer. This spell is generally only used once in combat while soloing, and that is as an opening spell to pull the mob, and they suggest that making it more usefull to priests whose main desire is to group (the ones who are most likely to spec Holy in the first place) might open up this portion of the Holy Tree to many more people (whether or not this is wanted by the devs is an entirely different story, I know).

Problem: Improved Smite - The minority of priests who have a problem with this particular talent feel that, again, damage talents shouldn't be a part of the Holy line. The larger part feel that the ammount added is too small. To be clear, no one, to my knowledge, has voiced a complaint about Smite itself. Smite without talents has a damage range of 384-492, and this is fine. Priests aren't mages, but when we talk about spending 5 talent points in order to add 38-49 damage at level 60 many priests just wonder what the point is.
Status: Unresolved, Unacknowledged
Outcome: Not acceptable.
Suggestion: Perhaps lowering the mana cost, or raising the damage by more than 10%?

Problem: Inspiration - Some priests fear (probably fueled by warrior rumors) a "soft cap" to armor ratings, and many priests question the validity of adding an ammount of armor valued in the hundreds in a game where tanks measure their AC in thousands, especially when that tank is beaing beat on by dragonspawn in Molten Core. We wonder if the ammount of mitigation is worth it, and ask what priest relies on critical heals. It's widely felt that this talent should somehow benefit the healer, not necessarily the healee.
Status: Unresolved, Unacknowledged
Outcome: Not acceptable.
Suggestion: The beta version of this talent was highly prefered (a bonus to mana regeneration after a critical heal) to this version, if undoing the change is not viable, then perhaps changing it to a talent that addresses our over heal problem in some way would be? Perhaps by returning a small portion of the original casting cost back when a healing spell crits.

Problem: Inner Fire - While this spell is universally appreciated for its armor, many priests question its cost to duration ratio (this spell costs more per minute than most every other self buff in the game) as well as the decision to include a melee attack buff. The only time I have seen a priest melee is a holy spec who solos. The process involves a semi-exploit which manipulates wand cooldown and weapon delay in order to get the DPS of both. With the wand auto-fire toggle coming next patch, unless auto-attack can be triggered at the same time, priest melee will all but disapear and this bonus will be useless. Also, the 3 minute duration is seen as highly annoying.
Status: Unresolved, Unacknowledged
Outcome: Not acceptable
Suggestion: Apply the attack bonus to wands either instead of, or in addition to melee weapons.
Most PvP priests are afraid a boost in duration would be accompanied by an increase in mana cost. If the cost/duration ratio does not warrant, in the devs eyes, being improved; The duration should likely stay the same as shaman paladins and priests love to purge this spell.

Problem: Holy/disc priests would kill for improved fade.
Status: Unresolved, Unacknowledged
Outcome: Unnacceptable
Suggestion: Perhaps moving improved fade to the discipline line, and improved mana burn to the shadow line. I've seen this suggestion many times and have yet to see a shadow priest object (i'm not saying one hasn't, I just haven't seen it). Most shadow priests value Improved Mana burn as a talent and go that deep into the discipline tree anyway. Either that or say "working as intended".

Problem: Unbreakable Will doesn't appear to resist stun effects as it should, it's unknown if this bug extends to silence or fear (i've yet to see any conclusive testing).
Status: Partially resolved.
Outcome: A good start: Blizzard has uncovered a bug in which prevented this talent from resisting stuns, and a fix should go live next patch.
Suggestion: First of all, priests should stop and give Blizzard a great big hug and pat on the back for recognizing and fixing this talent. After the tears of joy have dried, we should ask them to run tests on the fear and silence resist aspects.

Problem: Divine Spirit, over all, is worth less mana as a 31 point talent than Arcane Intellegence is as a normal ability except in the longest of fights. This largely has to do with spirit itself.
Status: Unresolved Unacknowledged
Outcome: Unacceptable
Suggestion: Raising the ammount of spirit added by this talent, after all I think every player in the game is under the impression that the end tree 31 point talents are supposed to make us say "wow". Currently neither Divine Spirit nor Holy Nova make us do this.

Problem: Levitate's duration is rather short, and it requires a farmed reagent that is rarely found.
Status: Partially Resolved
Outcome: Levitate now has a 2 minute duration as opposed to a 1 minute. However the light feather is still not sold by vendors, forcing us to farm birds in low level areas or forget about this spell.
Suggestions: Either have vendors start carying light feathers (doesn't the Merchants Union know there's alot of demant?), or put more birds in more places with more of these on their loot table.
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