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WoWDec 29, 2017 6:00 pm CT

Spiritual Guidance: Looking at what Battle for Azeroth may hold for Priests

The next expansion was announced last month, the last raid is out, we’re getting ready for the last major patch…you know what that means. Alpha and/or beta is on the horizon. Two years ago, when Legion was announced, we saw alpha before the end of the year. Given Battle for Azeroth’s announcement and timeframe, we can probably expect to see testing begin after the new year. While we don’t really have confirmation of exactly what’s coming or when, it’s fun to talk about future changes and speculate what we might see.

New races for Priests

Of the four Allied Races confirmed for the start of Battle for Azeroth, three of them can be Priests. The two remaining Allied Races that will be coming after the expansion launches have not had their classes confirmed yet.

Lightforged Draenei: From a lore standpoint, these are the only ones that really make sense. They’re so ingrained with the Light that Priests are a natural option. Doubly so given that they are Draenei who also follow the Naaru. Holy Priests are a natural option, as are Discipline who stick to the Light side of things — we’ve all seen how enthusiastic Grand Lector Enaara can get with her Penances.

Void Elves: These fall into the same conundrum that Forsaken Priests fall into. Lore-wise, they would only ever be Shadow… maybe Discipline with a more hearty acceptance of the Void. Their very acceptance of Void power means that a Blood Elf Holy Priest would never dare touch the darkness that would turn them into a Void Elf. The tenet of Holy is completely at odds with the Void. But gameplay has always been more lenient than lore, and we can’t realistically confine an entire race to only one spec of a class. I don’t personally have a problem with it, and I think Void Elves are interesting — but I will find it hard to reconcile in my own characters’ head-canons.

Nightborne: Honestly, it’s hard to see the Nightborne as anything other than Arcane, given our experiences in Suramar and the Nighthold. However, they come from the Kalodorei, who had a Priest sect at that time, and Suramar is directly next to the former Temple of Elune, so it’s not like the Nightborne would be unfamiliar with Priesthood. Perhaps they’d be a little rusty after 10,000 years if they all had stopped practicing in favor of the Arcane from the Nightwell. Even so, a glimpse at the Nighthold on the PTR shows that the Nightborne are interested in learning new things.

Zandalari and Dark Iron Dwarves: These two races will be arriving after the new expansion’s launch and their class options have not been confirmed. If we go by the precedent held by the current playable Darkspear Troll and Ironforge Dwarf races, Priests could very well be an option for the Zandalari and Dark Iron. Troll Priests follow the Loa, and Dwarves have always had a close relationship with the Light through their Human allies.

Also, Moira is a Priest and lived with the Dark Iron for a while, and if they didn’t have Priests before her, they could have had them after. Given that Priests were playable with Trolls and Dwarves from the start of WoW, it would make them natural choices for the new Allied Races. On the other hand, Blizzard might decide these two Allied Races want nothing to do with the Light and go for other class options.

What could stay from our Artifacts

One of the bigger — but expected — changes going into Battle for Azeroth will be the removal of our Artifacts. The Artifacts have helped shaped our playstyles so naturally players are concerned about losing the accumulated talents. Blizzard has said that while they won’t be bringing over all the Artifact Traits from Legion to Battle for Azeroth, they will be keeping those that feel integral to the spec. While we like a lot of the “increases X by Y%” talents simply for making us stronger, they’re pretty boring with regards to spec playstyle. It’s hard to classify those as integral to our rotation and there are better ones to look at.

For Discipline, the most integral Artifact Trait is the base Trait on the weapon itself, Light’s Wrath. This is part of Discipline’s rotation and is important for the burst healing window. Without Light’s Wrath, Discipline won’t be nearly as capable as handling periods of bursty damage and would suffer. One fun thing related to Light’s Wrath, but obviously less important, is Overloaded with Light. This is the hidden ability of the weapon and it would be nice to bring it over with Light’s Wrath as a bit of flavor.

Another Trait I’d like to see brought over is Share in the Light. Unfortunately, this seems like one of the Traits that will go away with the Artifact, since Power Word: Shield has always been a single shield spell… but I hold out hope. Discipline is far less focused on absorbs than it was in the past, and they don’t make the spec overpowered any longer, so an additional small shield doesn’t make too much of a difference. It’s just nice to be able to shield another player and not have to worry as much about your own health at the same time.

Holy’s baseline weapon Trait is Invoke the Naaru and, while it’s not as mechanically significant as others with regards to healing rotation, I feel like having a chance to proc T’uure with your Holy Words gives flavor to Holy. We are so closely related to the Light that it makes sense that a Naaru would continue to help us once in a while. It also adds significance to our Holy Word spells that define the spec. Much like Discipline’s Share in the Light, I have a soft spot for Guardians of the Light. We have so little personal cooldowns as it is, it’s nice to be able to protect ourselves while we protect someone else. On the cosmetic front, I like Blessing of T’uure simply because of the Naaru wings. If we can’t get it brought over as a spell, perhaps we can get the cosmetic appearance as a glyph, kind of like Glyph of Angels.

One Trait I sincerely hope they don’t bring over is Trust in the Light. Admittedly, it’s a nice Trait when you’re trying to heal someone. But the troll in me mostly uses Leap of Faith to annoy my guildies, and healing them when I’m trying to get them killed just ruins my nefarious plans and disappoints all true “Leap of Faith artists.”

Changes into Legion and beyond

We aren’t going to see the wide, sweeping changes that Legion brought us, changing entire specs from the ground up. But we will see refinement based on what worked and didn’t work this expansion.

Discipline was completely redone in Legion, taking away its focus on absorbs and giving it Mistweaver Monks’ fistweaving style of healing. While the idea was sound and interesting, in practice the spec suffered from too high of a skill cap. Patch 7.2.5 brought that down a bit and made the spec more accessible, giving it a little more leeway. The changes have done well and players can persevere at all levels, though those who put in the effort will find more reward. It’s unlikely that Discipline will see any bigger changes, like going back to absorbs or removing the damage-to-healing component. What we will probably see going forward is more refinement with Atonement and mana management like in 7.2.5.

Holy didn’t receive a large revamp like Discipline, but the playstyle benefited from the change from Chakras to Holy Words. While it was a good start, it wasn’t quite enough. I’d like to see more synergy with our Holy Words and more spells to make use of Serendipity. Our Tier 20 set bonuses were the best point of this expansion, directly working with and encouraging use of our Holy Words. Tier 21 is unfortunately a step away from that, and I hope the next expansion will focus more on Holy Word playstyle.

The new Heart of Azeroth system is likely to pick up where our Artifacts left off, so we’ll still see a degree of customization in Battle for Azeroth. It’s supposed to be even more customization and individual paths than Artifacts were, which opens the doors to the possibility of unique builds. BlizzCon didn’t do any deep dives on classes or provide any hints as to what spec changes will happen, so we won’t know until those first alpha or beta builds go up.

What are you hoping Priests will get or change in Battle for Azeroth?

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