My Priest Changes page and the spreadsheet therein are now fully updated for patch 5.3. Swing by if you have any questions!
Patch 5.3 has brought some significant changes to the overall healing landscape. With some healers’ raid cooldowns becoming more potent in 25-player content, and some rebalancing done to other classes (notably Druids and, to a lesser extent, Holy Paladins), you may find your healing meters looking a little more volatile than you’re used to. Priests have changed very little in this patch – a slight nerf for Discipline, and a buff for Holy in 25-player raiding. Here’s a quick little guide to what’s different.
Atonement healing has been reduced in potency by 10%. It now provides a heal for 90% of the damage dealt to the enemy, rather than being fully effective, and is still halved if it heals you instead of another party/raid member. This is undoubtedly an Atonement nerf, but it is not so severe that it should really affect your spell selection. It is still a smart, cheap (with Evangelism) way to provide spot-healing during periods of low raid damage, it still provides Divine Aegis on a Critical Strike, and the damage it deals to the boss is still desirable.
Along the same lines, Penance has been changed to produce approximately 10% more healing when used defensively (cast as a heal on a friendly target), but 10% less damage when used offensively. This “stacks” with the 10% Atonement nerf, such that Penance-as-damage now provides 81% less healing than it did in Patch 5.2. Even with 5 stacks of Evangelism, there is no scenario in which Penance-as-damage can beat Penance-as-healing in terms of sheer healing throughput.
Again, I don’t imagine this will change spell selection drastically, although it will be much more noticeable than the general Atonement nerf. You’ll still want to use Penance pretty much on CD. You’ll just need to make a choice between healing a single target for a large amount, or healing potentially multiple targets for smaller amounts whilst also dealing damage to the boss. I’d personally advise using Penance as a heal only when your tank is in danger, and otherwise use Penance as damage, but then again, I place a high personal value on a healer’s offensive capabilities.
Power Word: Solace’s healing is unaffected by this Atonement change; it will still convert 100% of the damage dealt into healing.
Finally, Borrowed Time has been changed so that it provides a 15% reduction in cast time/channel time of the next Priest spell cast after Power Word: Shield, rather than providing 15% Spell Haste. This change was made because the old version of Borrowed Time could be ‘gamed’ to affect 2-3 instant spells before it was consumed by a cast-time ability; now, the very next spell you cast after Power Word: Shield will consume, and benefit from, the Borrowed Time buff. This also means that Borrowed Time will not affect the number of ticks from spells like Holy Fire/Power Word: Solace and Renew.
You can still cast Renew, Holy Fire/Power Word: Solace, Prayer of Mending, and your Level 90 Talents while Borrowed Time is active, and although they won’t benefit from the buff, they also will not consume it. This protects you against mistakes and old habits that die hard, but Priests should prioritise casting a spell like Penance, Smite, or Prayer of Healing immediately after casting Power Word: Shield to ensure that Borrowed Time is effective.
Divine Hymn has been buffed in 25-player content. It now heals 12 targets each time it pulses, instead of 5. This ensures that at least 48% of its healing will be buffed by its own +10% healing buff in this level of content, and makes it an extremely powerful throughput cooldown.
General Priest Changes
The targeting mechanism for smart heals has been improved and standardised across spells. Players are now weighted more heavily than pets, so Priests should see fewer Atonement heals or Circle of Healing splashes being wasted on Sporebats. 😉
(Note that, for guilds who use pet-tanking strategies on Heroic Dark Animus, this means that pets will need to be targeted with more direct healing to compensate for their reduced priority for smart healing.)
A few other changes that don’t require much discussion:
- Void Shift now has a 5-minute cooldown;
- Power Word: Fortitude now costs less mana, so re-buffing players who have been battle-ressed during an encounter is now cheaper;
- Mass Dispel no longer dispels “otherwise undispellable debuffs” (e.g. Divine Shield, Impervious Shield) by default, but has a baseline 0.5-second cast time. The Glyph no longer reduces Mass Dispel’s cast time, but instead restores the super-dispelly option. (Huh. My browser recognises “dispelly” as a word.)
- The Glyph of Smite now no longer boosts Atonement healing from Smites by 20% when Holy Fire or Power Word: Solace are active on the Smite target. The damage is still buffed, this buff just doesn’t translate to healing. This Glyph can safely be replaced even by Atonement-heavy Disc Priests, as there are many attractive options to compete for its Glyph slot.