Wednesday, March 11, 2009

(I Want You) Body and Soul

In the latest patch to the PTR, Blizzard introduced a new talent deep in the Holy tree that may or may not make a pretty significant impact with Season 6. Will it see the light of day on the Live realms in it's current form? No one really knows, but let's take a look at it anyways.

Body and Soul: *New Talent* When you cast Power Word: Shield, you increase the target's movement speed by 30/60% for 4 seconds, and you have a 50% chance when you cast Abolish Disease on yourself to also cleanse 1 poison effect in addition to diseases.

I've got to say that just from first impressions; this new talent looks pretty darn fun. I've always been a huge fan of mobility and have personally loved playing classes with superior movement based talents. I loved using Intervene on my Warrior to catch a target, I loved playing a Fire spec back in TBC on my Mage for Blazing Speed, and I still enjoy form kiting with my Druid, even though Blizzard has almost gutted it for deep Resto players due to the prohibitive mana cost tied to switching forms.

The only class that I've played at max level that doesn't have any movement abilities has been the Priest, and to be completely honest, I've hated not being able to move more than a snail's pace once a Warrior or a Rogue got a hold of me. Suffice to say, it was such a shock to me that the playstyles were so different from my Druid that I went and dropped 4k gold to level up Engineering for Nitro Boosts ... which later got nerfed from a 5 second boost to a 2 second boost... /wrist.

When Season 5 dropped, one of my more favored specs for the Priest was the Focused Will/Blessed Resilience spec purely for the defensive capabilities. People just couldn't burst me down, even though I had sub 600 Resilience. However, the problem with that spec is that while the personal survivability was through the roof, my mana efficiency and team healing strength was abysmally low. Once Priests got their Resilience upwards of 800-900, Penance specs began to dominate as the efficiency of Penance, the utility of Borrowed Time and Mana regen of Rapture superceded the need to have Blessed Resilience or Lightwell.

This brings us to Season 6, the impending changes and how this new talent will work into the fray. Two of the biggest changes to the Discipline tree are the changes to Penance, where it becomes self castable and Rapture, which will now only return mana off of PW:Shield mechanics. The Penance change is most definitely a huge buff, as deep Discipline Priests will be able to instantly heal themselves for 3-6k before a Kick/Pummel comes their way, instead of having to try to cast a heal. With the new Glyph of Penance reducing the cooldown of Penance by another 2 seconds, it will be quite difficult to force a Discipline Priest to actually cast a heal between Penances due to the large number of instants they have at their disposal.

As for the Rapture change, unless the Priest is focused, Rapture will now only give 2.5% mana every 12-14 seconds. With a 16000 mana pool, that's about 400 mana returned. If the Priest is focused, look for 800 mana every 12-14 seconds, but that mana probably won't last very long if they're getting pressured. This is a far cry from nearly free Penances and super cheap Greater Heals.

When looking at class interactions, we can see that other classes are getting changed as well. Viper Sting got a huge nerf, now only stripping 400 mana from the target. Wyvern Sting is becoming a bad Repentance like ability, with a shorter duration and a future cc breaking dot. Unfortunately Crippling, Wound and Mind Numbing Poison are still very strong against a Priest, but every class needs weaknesses, no?

Ok, so back to Body and Soul. In looking at each aspect of the talent, the movement increase will be very beneficial for classes that cannot kite very well and for melee classes that constantly get kited around. Priests, Warlocks, Death Knights and Shamans will all benefit from the mini-Sprint effect. Keep in mind that due to the Weakened Soul debuff the shield target receives, this little speed boost can only happen every 12-14 seconds. Regardless, 4 seconds is quite a long time and having it up every 4 out of 12 seconds means that alot more ground can be covered.

The other aspect of the ability is the 50% RNG poison removal upon initial Abolish Disease cast, which, to be honest, is kinda 'blah'. The Hunter poisons have been nerfed; so really, the only other poisons to be afraid of are Wound, Mind Numbing and Crippling. If you thought RNG dispels were bad when you try to remove Freedom or BoP or DS, this may be even more frustrating as not only is it just the removal of one poison, but the 50% success rate may be multiplicative with any dispel resistance. Simply trying to pull off Crippling from a Rogue with 3/3 Vile Poisons may end up at a 11.5% chance of success if Wound and Mind Numbing are also on the target. (50% chance to cleanse x 33% chance to pick Crippling x 70% chance of success = ~11.5% chance of removing a specific poison.)

Spamming Abolish Disease is prohibitively expensive, even with Absolution and Mental Agility, and when one considers the ridiculous ease of reapplying poisons, it simply becomes impossible to keep poisons off while maintaining a reasonable mana pool.

So, what do I think about the talent? It's definitely pretty cool because it gives certain classes options that they may not have had before. Unfortunately, the specs that are tied to it (PI/BaS or Deep Holy) are pretty strange and offer little to no mana longevity. This is definitely a concern, as Resilience and HP pools can only go up from this season. Combine this with Blizzard tuning burst damage, and there is an almost certain expectation for slower matches in the coming seasons. I can see this working well in a burst comp with hard to kill teammates that might need a little bit more juice for faster swaps, but that will only last until opponents figure out that all they have to do is pressure the Priest's teammates and then play defensive while keeping the Priest in combat.

One thing's for sure, I can't wait to give it a whirl.