Analysis of Priest Racial Changes

How things are now, priests get a spell at level 10 and another at level 20 that are specific to their race, making the selection of race more important to priest characters than other classes.  Not only do we have to examine our race’s core abilities when choosing, but also look ahead to those two spells when settling on a race.

Priest racial spells have drawn a wide amount of criticism since they were rolled out with the original release of World of Warcraft in 2004.  Some spells were useless (until they were reworked over two years later).  Some people didn’t like being forced into certain races for “better” racial spells.  Some people thought these spells were pointless.  Some thought them imbalanced.  Many called for them to be removed. But Blizzard stoically stood by them…

Until tonight.

It was just announced that priest racial spells will be removed in the WotLK beta.

From the WotLK beta forums (posted by Koraa, Class Designer):

In an upcoming build all Priest racials have been retired, except the following:

Desperate Prayer – This is now the 11-point talent in Holy, Holy Nova is now a base ability. Cooldown also reduced to 30 seconds.

Devouring Plague – Now a base ability. Cooldown reduced to 30 seconds, mana cost greatly reduced.

Symbol of Hope – Now a base ability. Now restores 5% base mana every 2 seconds for 8 seconds to your party. Renamed “Hymn of Hope.”

While this change does reduce the “uniqueness” of different Priests, we feel game balance as a whole will benefit.

Note: These new “racials” are not racials, they are trainable to all Priests.

This means that the following spells will be gone forever:

  • Feedback
  • Chastise
  • Touch of Weakness
  • Consume Magic
  • Shadowguard
  • Hex of Weakness
  • Starshards
  • Elune’s Grace

Let’s look at the other changes, shall we?

Devouring Plague

Formerly an undead-only racial spell.

Devouring Plague is a damage over time spell that heal the caster for the damage it deals.  It does a bit more damage than SW:Pain, but currently costs a heck of a lot more mana-wise (1153 mana at level 70).  DP has a 30 second cooldown now (formerly 3 minutes).

If this remains a disease spell, we will see a little priest/death knight synergy.

Koraa said the mana cost would be “greatly reduced.” How much use this spell will get really hinges on that change.  If it remains too high in mana cost, its use will be limited, possibly leaving it tied to Inner Focus (as it is now).

Devouring Plague will increase the effects of the shadow priest talent “Twisted Faith” (increase to damage and spellpower based on the number of shadow damage over time spells you have on the target), making this a spell we will want to be using.

Hymn of Hope

Was formerly called “Symbol of Hope” and was a draenei-only racial spell.

Hymn of Hope regenerates 5% of everyone in your party’s base mana every 2 seconds for 8 seconds. It has a five minute cooldown.  That’s 20% of base mana, every 5 minutes.  I know it sounds good, but it doesn’t work out to too much.

At level 80, for each class, it gives:

Druid:759 mana
Hunter: 1,009 mana
Mage: 654 mana
Paladin: 879 mana
Priest: 773 mana
Shaman: 879 mana
Warlock: 859 mana

Compare that to how the spell “Symbol of Hope” acts rights now.  At level 70, it grants 1k mana back to each player in the party.

It’s really too bad this spell got nerfed.

Holy Nova

Formerly an 11-point talent in the holy tree. Now given to all priests.

Same ol’ crappy Holy Nova.  It’s going to be great for running lowbies through instances on my shadow priest, but I see no other reason to be excited by it.

Does anyone else remember back when this used to have a cooldown and be the top talent in the holy tree?  As nuts as things seem now with all these changes, I can’t help but think back to the olden days and have myself a good chortle.

Desperate Prayer

Formerly a human and dwarf racial spell. This is the new 11-point holy talent.

Restores 3.5k-4.5k health (at level 80) to self-only.  Instant cast.  30 second cooldown.

This will be great in PvP, for leveling, or in raid situations with splash damage.  It costs zero mana, so it won’t put you in the five second rule.

Desperate Prayer will see so much more use than Holy Nova did as a talent.

Why Change the Status Quo?

These changes disappoint me.

It’s strange to talk to people about this and see what they will be missing.  Personally, I lament the removal of Chastise.  It was fantastic in PvP.  When I told my boyfriend about the proposed changes, he exclaimed: “What do you mean they are removing Starshards?!  How can they take my Starshards!?!”

I remember a time before Chastise, and before Starshards was useful.  When Blizzard reworked the racial spells over a year ago, I thought things had gotten better.   People were complaining less and things were more balanced.  Why did they make this change?  Koraa cited “balance” in her post, but we only saw a real overhaul to racial spells once.

I’ll admit it. I always liked priest racial spells.  They gave us an extra bit of flavor.  Sure, some of the spells were outright dumb, but the concept was solid.  Poorly implemented, yes, but solid in theory.

What would be interesting is the inclusion of faiths, allowing priests to choose their racials instead of ending up with whatever Blizzard thinks we want. We could select from things like: Faith of Voodoo, Faith of Light, Faith of Shadow, Faith of Elune, etc. How awesome would that be?  Voodoo shadow dwarf?  Elune-worshipping holy troll?  There could be some fun combinations.  This concept has been proposed on the official forums dozens of times, and has always seen a good amount of player support.  I’d be curious to hear why Blizzard decided against this.  I don’t feel it adds too much complexity to the game.  Hunters have to spec a pet.  Perhaps we have to spec our faith?

The biggest complaint I hear about the WotLK beta is how homogenized things feel.  Too many classes can fulfill similar roles, or raid slots, or buff groups.  Many abilities are being spread around to multiple classes (AoE healing, AoE damage, group mana regen, etc.).  These priest changes are just another thing players can cite when complaning about the lack of “uniqueness” in characters.

12 Responses

  1. I agree I think blizzard’s biggest fail in wotlk is over balancing. Due to there spec based balance passes instead of class, you can roll a druid and be a competitive caster, an MT, and thx to flourish a rockin healer. One note however on your post. In Koraa’s comment he mentioned plaque is getting its cd AND mana cost reduced… Significantly in terms of mana in his words, so I think it will become a part of our rotation (or what’s left of our rotation thanks to haste and cd juggling).

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  5. Well seeing as we’ll not have to renew SW:Pain now tanks to Pain and Suffering, this can easily fill that slot. I’m going to mourn the loss of Desperate Prayer. I can’t begin to count the number of times that its saved my ass. Ah well, I’ll take DP and HoH… Been wanting to get Devouring Plague for a while but I never wanted to re-roll or lose my braids.

  6. If I was a Dwarf I’d probably share your feelings on this change (because you were the guys who had it good). However as a level 70 Night Elf I’m ecstatic. When I first rolled a night elf priest I did so with little research into the racials that I would be getting in return. As I progressed into the game I realized how bad night elf racials really were. I almost never find the need to use elune’s grace and while I do use starshards often it does little damage (easily replaceable… and will only increase downtime very slightly). Our pvp capabilites compared to a dwarf priest was ridiculously bad. Desperate prayer and stoneform are EXTREMELY useful in arena. Elune’s grace, starshards, and shadowmeld aren’t very useful at all (at least in comparison). Being able to cast a 2K+ instant self heal in arena would be unbelievably useful. This is why you see dwarf priests (and undead with their overpowered will of foresaken) ranking much higher in the 2v2 arena rankings than you see night elfs or others (although to be fair you don’t see many priests ranking high in 2v2 at all).

    The point is this allows myself and other night elves to actually compete in arena much better with our dwarve counter parts (honestly who wants to partner up with a night elf priest when you could have a dwarf priest instead? Not many). Why should I re-roll dwarf just to get those advantages? Heck dwarves still one up night elves with stoneform which is ridiculously useful when faced against a rogue (whereas shadowmeld doesn’t do jack in arena/duel).

  7. I think you mean ‘homogenized’, not ‘homonigized’.

  8. @tempe85 – Arenas are just one aspect of the game. My dwarf doesn’t pvp that much, but raids a hell of a lot as shadow. If I could choose, I’d rather take starshards for the DPS boost over what I have now. However, on characters I pvp more on, I’d agree: the dwarven racials would be nice.

    @Bufinidas – Yes, I did. Me Inglish not gud sumtimes. :)

  9. Provided that Devouring Plague is changed to work with Twisted Faith, this represents a very nice boost to our DPS and scaling.

  10. @dedmonwakeen – I agree, and await the change with cautious optimism. The small voice in my head is nagging me to wait until we see a reasonable mana cost on the spell before getting giddy.

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  12. Im peeved i dont pvp can i get a free racial change to human. Im tired of all balance isues revolving around pvp like PVE is unimportant. I know why though cause they bitch the most cause their very lives depend on balance on pvp servers

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