4.03 was a fairly hefty patch for Priests, especially the Holy variety. First up and perhaps most importantly there were the changes to our Chakra states. Chakra Renew was removed so we’re down to three, two healing and one dps.
Entering a Chakra state has had it’s mana cost removed as well. So apart from the cost of either Prayer of Mending, Prayer of Healing or Heal, we don’t expend any mana powering up.
Chakra PoH (or Chakra: Sanctuary as it is now known) not only got a 5 percent buff and now increases the amount Renew heals for but also can be triggered by Prayer of Mending which makes entering it on the move so much easier. Just to clarify, it’s the cast of Prayer of Mending that enters you into the Chakra, you don’t have to wait for the spell to proc. So if you had a macro for entering the old Renew Chakra you might want to change it to to work with Prayer of Mending so you can enter it on the move.
On the downside however it seems as if each Prayer of Healing cast now only adds 2/4 seconds per cast rather than per person it hits if you are specced into State of Mind. So instead of potentially getting 10/20 seconds per PoH in a raid environment, it’s only 2/4 which is fairly hefty loss.
Chakra Heal got altered slightly as well. Now you can use any of the three “direct” heals to refresh your renew. That’s flash heal, greater heal and heal. Personally I like this a lot. In most situations at the moment (I fully accept that game is likely to change at 85), casting heal is too slow and just doesn’t provide enough bang for your buck (as Mr Harpy’s Canadian Uncles would say). However I like to keep renews rolling, especially in PvP. Now I have better options for keeping them up. The 25 percent crit bonus after using Holy Word: Serenity also now applies to any heal you cast in that period rather than just providing a bonus to Heal.
However Blizzard still haven’t fixed the chastise/holy words bug, so you still need to use a work around like the one I talked about here.
State of Mind
I am quite literally in two states of mind about this talent. This time around I went for only spending one talent point in it and that’s fine for Heal Chakra, now that flash heal and greater heal both refresh the renew aspect. I just cast one heal every 30 seconds and use the other two to keep the hot ticking.
My issue comes from PoH Chakra and it’s upkeep. With the one talent point I have invested, if I’m in a situation which doesn’t require the casting of PoH and I cast prayer of mending every single time it’s off cooldown, I extend my Chakra state by 8 seconds in PvP gear and 6 seconds in PvE gear. This is relying on being bang on with my prayer of mendings. Miss a second and the whole thing starts to unravel.
We gained a new talent called Rapid Renewal which is a one point talent that sits on tier 4 of our tree. As the name implies, this reduces the global cooldown of Renew by .5 seconds making it a flat 1 second global if you are spamming out Renews on multiple people.
This patch brought quite a few changes to our arsenal. Prayer of Healing and Binding Heal had their cost reduced quite substantially in the case of the former and very slightly in that of the latter. All our single target direct heals had the amount they heal for increased (heal, flash heal, greater) and Binding Heal now heals for roughly double.
The names of both our “Revelations” spells have also changed so if you use a /cancelaura macro in combination with State of Mind, you will need to revisit it.
My old macro was this:
#showtooltip Chakra /cancelaura Chakra: Prayer of Healing /cancelaura Chakra: Renew /cancelaura Chakra: Heal
It now looks like this:
#showtooltip Chakra /cancelaura Chakra: Sanctuary /cancelaura Chakra: Serenity
If you happen to be in say Chakra: Sanctuary but the Chakra cooldown is up and you need to swap to tank healing, you can put down a sanctuary, cancel the Chakra state and immediately enter Chakra Heal. The sanctuary will continue ticking and as soon as your first Heal is cast, Holy Word: Serenity is available to you. If you happened to be doing this in PvP, you could sneak a Chastise in the middle of that without throwing the cooldown of the Holy Word which corresponds to the Chakra you wish to enter.
TLDR: each of the Holy Words has a separate cooldown and leaving one Chakra state whilst it’s word is on cooldown still lets you either use Chastise straight away or enter the other Chakra state and use it’s Holy Word.
The cooldown of Holy Word: Serenity was reduced slightly and that of Holy Word: Sanctuary increased to 40 seconds, 28 if you are specced for Tome of Light.
Holy Word: Sanctuary was also changed to fall into line with other similar spells (like Holy Radiance, Efflorescence etc). If by some miracle you manage to get more than 6 people to stand in it at once, it now diminishes. Somehow I doubt very much I’ll notice the diminished healing since everyone seems to run straight out of it the second I put it down.
Random thoughts about specs
This is the build I ended up picking but I still have a few doubts about a couple of talent points.
First up Desperate Prayer, mine heals me (in PvP gear) for roughly 6761 and procs our mastery. It costs no mana but has a 2 min cooldown and obviously can only be cast on myself. Compare that with Holy Word: Serenity, which heals for a slightly higher amount, is also instant cast, leaves a buff on the target to give 25 percent crit for the next six seconds and only costs 309 mana plus has a 10.5 second cooldown. Sure you have to jump through a few hoops to get a Heal Chakra up before you can use Serenity but in most situations it makes Desperate Prayer look bad.
I don’t have Improved Death, a.k.a Spirit of Redemption for a couple of reasons. First up there are the various bugs that have been associated with it, being permanently stunned for the duration of a battleground and not receiving achievements if you happen to be an Angel when a boss dies. Also historically, I tend be one of the last to die on wipe fights, I take staying alive really rather seriously and so if that trend continues, I don’t gain much from it. However I’m semi tempted to pick this up and perhaps add a /cancelaura Spirit of Redemption line to my Chakra macro to make removing the debuff easier if someone is trying to combat res me or my angelic form is being spat on in PvP.
Surge of Light, I ignored this because when I tried it between Patch 4 and 4.03 I found that I just wasn’t cast enough smites or heals to make it worthwhile. Plus when I was using heal or smite, most of the time the extra burst of the free flash just wasn’t called for. However at 85 should either Archangel/ Evangelism truly be required for Holy (which personally I doubt) or we are in situation which calls for using Chakra Serenity, I will probably pick up the points.
All in all though Patch 4.03 was rather successful for Holy Priests. We now clearly have an AoE healing state, a grinding or solo state and a Tank Healing state. In PvP things are a little more murkier but given that you can switch Chakras fairly easily every 30 seconds and that dropping a Chakra state even straight after using that state’s Holy Word gives you access to Chastise makes me faintly hopefully that I won’t have to PvP as Disc for another expansion.
Edit: Changed the macros because I’ve run through so many variations and had managed to copy the wrong ones. Thanks Zel for pointing it out.