Spiritual Guidance: Holy and Discipline Priest updates in Legion alpha
Discipline and Holy Priests have been available in the Legion alpha for a bit of time now, and the past month brought a spate of new alpha builds complete with tweaks large and small. Here we’ll dive into some of the more interesting changes to get a feel of how and where our favorite Priest specs are heading.
Angelic Feather was adjusted slightly, decreasing the speed and time it lasts as well as increasing the time it takes to recharge. It’s still a useful spell, especially if you only need one feather at a time. However, the change is noticeable for those used to using feathers often and it definitely feels a little harder to cross large areas on foot with multiple feathers.
Inner Focus, removed in Warlords of Draenor, returned in a similar incarnation in alpha. In earlier builds, it increased the crit chance of nearly all Discipline’s toolkit as well as some of Shadow’s spells. Those have been removed and it remains solely as a PVP talent for Holy.
In other alpha builds, a couple numerical adjustments also went out to staple spells: Plea’s mana cost was increased from 30% to 50% for each Atonement you have out, and Power Word: Shield’s strength was lowered very slightly (6x spell power down to 5x).
Schism was changed from an AOE spell to single target. Previously, your last Penance bolt would cause an explosion of Shadow magic to all enemies within 10 yards of your target. This was useful in that you could rely on Penance to do a bit of AOE, but it was hard to manage with lower health mobs. If your target died before Penance finished its full channel, the explosion wouldn’t happen.
We do have some good news on the AOE front, Divine Star and Halo do damage again! Discipline is definitely lacking in any AOE spells since they took away Mind Sear, so adding the damage component back to our two 90 talents helps. However, the damage still feels lacking and it’s hard to stay up when you accidentally overpull 3 mobs.
We have a new Artifact talent: Forbidden Flame, which increases damage per point. I mentioned before that the Artifact trees are a callback to the old Vanilla talent trees, and the new talents are driving that home. Rapid Atonement is now under a new name of Borrowed Time, though otherwise unchanged in function. Currently in Warlords of Draenor Borrowed Time is a passive that provides 40% haste for 6 seconds after casting Power Word: Shield. In Legion it will make your Smite or Penance 5% faster after applying Atonement. This will allow for some nice spell weaving, keeping Atonement up and able to do faster damage in between.
Holy’s spells have received some numerical adjustments across the board: a slight decrease in their power along with a significant decrease in mana cost. There were some concerns that in order to maximize our Holy Word effectiveness we would have to blow through our mana, but these changes will allow for some leeway.
Divine Hymn had a bit of a spell power adjustment as well, but the most important part is this addition: “Healing increased by 100% when not in a raid.” This solves the issue where Divine Hymn worked okay in a raid, but hit like a wet noodle in dungeon groups. Small changes like these make me happy. We can see the devs catering to all levels of play and working to make sure that spells aren’t gutted at one level in order to prevent being overpowered at another level.
Lightwell has made an appearance as a “new” spell in an uncategorized spell list, though it’s probably too much to hope that it will be returning to us. I mention this spell only because I think Lightwell has been such an iconic part of Holy, as iconic as Circle of Healing, and it’s a shame for it to be removed in the pruning. Even the Priests in Trial of the Champion fight used Lightwells (though theirs was cooler). It would be nice to see it return as a talent or something, similar to Circle of Healing. Even though its healing was minor, it adds to the class flavor and is something unique to Holy Priests.
Body and Mind replaces Path of Light, which turned Levitate into a new version of Body and Soul by adding a slight movement increase and reducing its duration to 30 seconds. I kind of liked the idea of incorporating Levitate into more raid situations, but there are a lot of people who don’t like the feeling of loss of control of their character that Levitate creates. Angelic Feather will still be more useful on an individual level, since you can keep placing feathers at your feet to keep your speed boost up.
In raids, the talent choice will come down to what you need to accomplish. Feathers are always great to place in a pre-defined spot where someone needs a speed boost (i.e. kiting in a certain spot), but they can be wasted if another player accidentally runs over it. Body and Mind will be very useful for random speed boosts, such as when the fight targets a raid member for a mechanic but RNG means they won’t always be in the same spot.
Like Discipline, Holy also has a new Artifact talent: Beacon of Light. Once again, a callback to the talent trees of old. Personally, I don’t find these “increase by 1/2/3…20” talents all that exciting, but they do make for filler and add an “appearance” of complexity. I say “appearance” because often it feels like having more mundane choices over a single meaningful choice is rather the same as when a toddler tells you that five pennies is better than one dime because 5 is more than 1. These talents might not have been so bad if they stayed at 1 or 2 points, but they go up to 20 which just screams “filler.”
Light’s Wrath quest
The Discipline Artifact quest has received a few changes, most notably inside the Nexus. Previously, Azuregos was simply standing around in humanoid form in a random Nexus room, complaining about you as you ran through the maze to find him. Now, he’s in his dragon form in the center area being subjugated by three ethereals that you must kill. Once they’re dead, you need to heal Azuregos to full, where he then “slips into something more comfortable” and runs off with you as your new sidekick. The maze is still incredibly annoying to navigate through.
There is a mini-fight where the energies of Light’s Wrath lash out at you; before, all you had to do was simply DPS to kill it. Now Azuregos asks you to use Dominate Mind to control it and turn its flames back on itself. Once you reach the end with Azuregos, the final fight has had a few changes. Azuregos transports you across, but he drops you onto a platform instead of fighting from his back. There you have to avoid void circles on the ground which will knock you back and Nexus-Prince Bilaal will periodically try to blow you off the platform (although it sends you spinning back up à la Ji-Kun).
I mentioned before that this Artifact quest feels entirely too mage-like, and hey, turns out it’s nearly identical to the Arcane Mage artifact quest. What differences are there? Arcane Mages collect Arcane power, you collect Light power. That’s it. Even though Discipline was added to the alpha before Arcane, it really felt that we were given a Mage quest by mistake. Now that Arcane has been added and their quest is exactly the same, I feel really cheated. Discipline is turning into something disappointing that’s once again hard to balance and we don’t even have a unique quest to go with it. The entire spec really feels like an afterthought and more a reaction to “Absorbs are incredibly OP and we need to completely change/gut it” rather than “this is a super cool gameplay idea.”
Tier 17 and 18 bonuses have been adjusted slightly on alpha to accommodate the inevitable changes that will come with the 7.0 pre-patch. Now, these probably aren’t very important in the overall scheme of things, but I find them interesting nonetheless, since it shows the devs are thinking ahead.
- Holy Tier 17 4 piece bonus will grant 100% chance to reduce the cooldown on Holy Word: Sanctify by 3 seconds instead of 20% chance to gain a stack of Serendipity.
- Discipline Tier 17 2 piece bonus is a little boring, simply removing Evangelism from the equation.
- Discipline Tier 17 4 piece bonus substitutes Rapture in for Archangel and Power Word: Shield in for Prayer of Healing, with a slight decrease in the mana cost reduction (50% to 35%).
- For Tier 18, only Discipline is affected. The 2 piece bonus nerfs Reparation slightly (12% to 4%), but the 4 piece bonus adds damage from Penance to proc the chance of an extra heal.
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