Now that we know what exactly is going live with the patch, here are my thoughts:
I’m so excited about this, however many casual guilds that are bored of Kara may be in for a rude awakening if their are not geared enough for it. Everything I know about ZA indicates it is on-par with starting Tier 5 content (which makes sense, given that the loot is on-par with T5 content). Blizzard has also said that if you are having trouble clearing Karazhan, than ZA will be very rough.
- Guild Banks
About time! My only concern with them is that they only log up to 25 transactions for each tab. For large, active guilds, this might not be enough.
- Leveling Improvements
Better gear, faster leveling, new quests, faster faction gains (again), and more things tuned for solo leveling. If I wasn’t already so close to the character limit, I’d probably find myself with 12 new alts.
- +Healing -> 1/3 +Dmg
I’m really on the fence about this change … still. Great for some raid fights, such as Leo in SSC, but bad for pugging. Hopefully other casters will give priority on healing gear to healers, despite some healing gear now potentially being an upgrade for them. As for only having to carry one set of gear? I’m still going to carry two. Healers will see a buff to their mana gain from shadowfiend because of this change, at least.
- No more need for /stopcasting
A nice change in general, that you will be able to start a spell even if the server doesn’t yet know that you spell finished, however the GCD is still measured server-side, so the change will only help us shadowpriests on Mindflay.
- Pets going behind targets
Pets will try to perform melee attacks from behind targets. I worry that this will lead to our shadowfiend doing a bit less damage from maneuvering.
- Battleground Changes
Being able to cast for free before the start will be nice when being nagged for buffs. However, I’m going to miss the in-faction griefing from mages opening a portal before the start of the battle and having a few dim individuals click it thinking it was a summoning portal or something.
- All the better to see you with!
You can now see on your minimap various points-of-interest (where to repair, buy reagents, etc). Things you can interact with (quest objects, etc) will now be more visible to you, too. You’ll also be able to mouse-over corpses to see who they belong to. It’s nice Blizzard is slowly making the game more accessible.
- Oil me up!
Wizard and mana oils last twice as long! I can now regain some much-needed bag space.
- Notable Instance Changes
Aside from all the tweaking of old-world instances and their loot, Blizzard made some changes to the newer dungeons as well. The minibosses in heroic Mech will no longer drop badges (though one badge was added to their chest). Sethekk Halls will give delicious Lower City rep all the way through Exalted! And the numbers of mobs you need to kill in Kara to get the animal boss to spawn will now be considerably less (my guild swears they will help me farm those shadow damage bracers after this change).
It now has a 30 yard range and you can now see talents! I love peeking into others’ talent specs. This will surely provide some in-game amusement for me. The con of this is that I may be turned away from healing instances as a shadow priest.
- Auction/Mail/Interface changes
Auctions now last 12/24/48 hours, and the auction house window has been better organized. You can mail up to 12 items in a single message.
- Unfeared targets no longer gain aggro
Now if everyone gets feared in an instance but you, you will no longer gain aggro from the mob(s). Many more priests will (hopefully) drop their Wand Spec for Unbreakable Will.
- Priest Racial Changes
I’m somewhat indifferent to the changes to priest racial spells. Starshards is going to be a great spell for NE priests to use, well, all the time. Us shadow dwarves (and draenei) are finally off the hook with fearward in PvE. I’m just tired of everyone complaining about them all the time.
- No more GCD from shifting out of Shadowform
This has to be one of the best changes. My shadow dwarf will now be able to drop Shadowform, Chastise what is beating on her, and pop off a Flash Heal, Desperate Prayer, Inner Focus, then switch back to Shadowform … all within two seconds (and only for the cost of Chastise (50 mana at rank 1) and Flash Heal).
- New Discipline talent: Focused Will
Not very useful unless you are sitting on more than 320 or so resilience. Up until that point, stick with a Blessed Resilience build for arenas.
- Mediatation effects doubled
This is probably the single best change for us priests. I’ll probably still be chugging potions, but perhaps a little slower.
- Reduction in mana costs of buff spells
Fort and Spirit buffs will now costs less mana. This is a very welcome (and needed) change. I always get fidgety having to wait for a full raid to get buffed up.
- Mind Control bar
This bar now appears as your primary action bar instead of as a pet bar.