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Developer Thoughts on Priest Changes in Dragonflight

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Blizzard have shared their thoughts on Priest changes that have been so far implemented on the Dragonflight Beta. The class has too many active spells and with Flash Heal available to all specs, Shadow Mend will be removed. The team also discusses the removal of Mindgames and Power Word: Life, but nothing has been set in stone yet.

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Greetings Priests,

Today, we’re shining some light on decisions we’ve made for Priests over the past few weeks for Dragonflight. First, we want to share thoughts on how things are shaping up overall and then go into some specific spells that we’re reading feedback about.

Number of Active Spells
We agree. Priests have too many active spells. While we think there will be more to assess as the expansion plays out, the first spell that comes to mind is Shadow Mend feeling unnecessary with Flash Heal being available to all Priests. Instead of Shadow Mend as a talent that overrides Flash Heal, we are working towards removing the spell. We realize that losing a secondary healing school lockout may not sit well with Discipline Priests in PvP, but we’re happy with this direction overall. While no plans are in place right now, we’re also discussing Mindgames and Power Word: Life as contributing to the number of active spells for Priests.

Class Tree
Overall, we feel the class tree is in a good spot. As mentioned above, there are too many active spells and we’re looking to pull back on that. For Shadow, the Class tree has shaped out well. We’re less happy about how many nodes can feel mandatory for Holy and Discipline and this is something we’ll be looking to improve over time.

Discipline
We will continue to monitor feedback surrounding the changes we’ve made to Renew and Power Word: Shield for Dragonflight. Currently, we do not have plans to change this and think it is playing well.

Historically Discipline has revolved heavily around Penance. We want to allow for builds that are centered around Penance, but also open opportunities for other spells in the Discipline toolkit to shine if invested into, such as Smite and Power Word: Shield. We look forward to your feedback on if this is felt with the tree, tuning aside.

For Shadow Covenant, we’re looking to take away the downsides so that it encourages Shadow spells but doesn’t discourage Holy spells. Shadow Covenant has gone through a lot of change, but we’re hoping this is a step in the right direction.

Holy
Lightweaver is our alternative design to Flash Concentration. Weaving between Flash Heal and Heal is fun, but wound up feeling like a maintenance buff. We believe having a back-and-forth between the spells with stacks to improve situational usability is a better direction for single-target focused builds.

When it comes to X’anshi (now known as Restitution), we are excited to keep the effect around for Holy Priests. We were uncertain of where this should belong in the tree, but after more deliberation decided it was best competing with the more powerful talents, so it has been moved to row 10 of the tree. We know adding this in was not desirable for PvP players. While we have no plans to disable the effect in PvP, we are discussing ways to tone down its effect in PvP so that the Priest is in more danger after resurrecting. This node also competes with two charges of Holy Word: Serenity, so they will be giving up valuable throughput for the effect.

Shadow
Now that the tree has been in front of players for a couple weeks, we are reasonably happy with what we have, with room to grow in the future. Our initial thoughts on Voidform being optional is something we stand by. How to accomplish this while continuing to support Voidform and improve its gameplay is a challenge we want to continue to discuss and work on. Currently, we’re happy with where we’ve landed with Void Eruption competing with Dark Ascension so there’s not too many cooldown spells. With that said, Dark Ascension is visually exciting, but we feel it is currently lacking in identity. We’re discussing changes like Dark Ascension being more rotationally transformative while active or having a different cooldown than Void Eruption, so that its use cases over Void Eruption are more clear. We don’t have plans to make major changes to either spell for Dragonflight launch, but they will be on our radar for the future.

Mind Spike and Mind Flay coexisting is something we’re going to try but are wary of. Shadow has many spells to press rotationally, and this isn’t helping that. At the same time, being able to build your own Shadow Priest was a goal with this iteration and we believe the tree allows for that.

Silence
We understand that Holy and Discipline are the two specs without access to an interrupt, either baseline or in a talent tree. We also realize Shadow has Silence in their tree which adds to the number of non-throughput nodes in their tree. With that said, we are not adding Silence to the Priest class tree. Having access to an interrupt is not something we view as necessary for all specializations. In PvP, Holy and Discipline already provide valuable control to their team and additionally having Silence would provide more control than we’re comfortable with. This is especially true with how much control is becoming available across all classes in Dragonflight.

Vault of Heavens
This was discussed early on with this iteration with the intent to add it as a choice against Leap of Faith. Upon further consideration, Vault of Heavens is almost always more useful than Leap of Faith. But Leap of Faith is one of the more fun interactions in WoW. It changes your perspective on the battlefield. You’re always ready to react to save someone. And of course, it has some clever uses to get your friends killed. If we allow for the choice, the choice is clear, or we’d have to nerf Vault of Heavens down to something that won’t feel very powerful. The fantasy of the Priest leaping to their target doesn’t match our expectations for a Priest either, so we instead separated Body and Soul from Angelic Feather for a little extra movement support and kept Leap of Faith as a standalone.

Shining Force
This spell was deliberately removed in Dragonflight. Powerful spells being removed can cause frustration; however, the amount of control available across all classes in Dragonflight is causing concern. On top of this, the prevalence of knockbacks is already increasing in Dragonflight PvP and knockbacks can be the most influential control effect on arena or battleground maps with verticality.

Spectral Guise
We’ve read feedback about a desire for the return of Spectral Guise. We discussed the ability early on and decided against it, and our stance has not changed. We do not want Priests entering stealth especially in PvP, as it removes the Priest from the target and focus frame and occurs frequently. Hunters, Rogues, and Mages already do this often enough.

Mind Bomb
In its current form as a disorient we don’t think it is very compelling as a replacement to Psychic Scream besides preventing movement during the effect. What we anticipate is desired is the AoE stun version of the spell, but we are not planning to bring that forward. We pulled back on AoE stun duration and availability some time ago and decided against adding this one back so that we wouldn’t find ourselves in the same situation we were in the past. If everyone has an AoE stun, then it’s not going to feel special to have one in the first place.

Personal Defenses
For similar reasons as Silence, we will not be adding Dispersion to the Priest class tree. Healing Priests are understandably on the weaker side of the defensive spectrum, but our answer to that isn’t to bring Dispersion to the class tree. Between Desperate Prayer, Power Word: Shield, Angelic Bulwark, Translucent Image, and Spell Warding, we feel Priests are in an okay spot. We’ve also increased the damage reduction effect from Translucent Image to 10% and separated Phantasm from it.

Looking forward to your feedback!

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