When World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria is released all the classes will get a brand new talent system to deal with. The new talent system 2.0 is vastly different than the old system and greatly simplified. For a complete look at the new system check out the preview article here: WoW Talent System System Overhaul - Mists of Pandaria and Talent System 2.0.
This article however looks at the brand new priest talent tree to see if each choice that you can make provides a greater impact on your character than the old system provided. Instead of the old talent system with many points to spend in several different trees leading up to a 31 point talent in each tree you will now only have 6 choices, one at each of six different tiers. Is this more choice or less?
You can look at the new talents for Priests on the Mists of Pandaria Priest Talent Calculator over on Blizzard's site.
Mists of Pandaria Priest Talent Tree: Tier 1
The first tier in the new priest talent system contains talents that are all about controlling your enemies. There are Void Tendrils which summon tenticals that hold enemies in place for up to 20 seconds or until killed. There is Psyfiend which allows you to summon a stationary pet who will scream at nearby enemies causing them to flee. Lastly there is the good old fashion Psychic Scream, which causes up to 5 nearby enemies to flee in terror.
Void tendils sounds appealing since it will keep a bunch of enemies in place for a while, however at this point it is unclear if they are summoned around you or in a location of your choice. It seems to imply they are summoned around you and if that is the case it is of less use since you will generally be away from the fight other than while leveling. Psyfiend seems useful as well since it casts 5 psychic screams, one ever 2 seconds, as it can fear more things over a longer time, however you don't have control over it. Lastly there is Psychic Scream which is a old standard and is very useful as you can use it when you want and target what you want.
For leveling up I would select void tendrils, for PVP I would take psychic scream. For end game PVE I really am not sure about any of them, oh well, we don't need control in most PVE situations anyway as a priest.
Mists of Pandaria Priest Talent Tree: Tier 2
The second tier in the priest talent tree contains movement enhancing abilities or abilites that take away movement restrictions. Body and Soul grants a short term movement speed boost to targets of your Power Word: Shield and your Leap of Faith. Path of the Devout boosts your movement speed while levitating by 25%. Phantasm removes any movement impairing effects whenever you fade and ensures you can move unhindered for the next 3 seconds.
Body and soul seems to be the best for most PVE situations since it will grant anyone you shield a movement increase including yourself. This will take place whenever you are already shielding them which likely means they are in a dagerous situation anyway. Path of the devout could be useful for moving around in a fight, but since levitate would then specificaly need to be cast it is kind of an out of the way thing to do, therefore for PVE take body and soul.
For PVP situations phantasm should be your choice though because while it doesn't add extra speed, it does ensure you can move. Stripping off your movement debuffs and giving you 3 seconds to move away can be extremely useful in PVP. If the glyph of fading sticks around that could mean a get out of jail free card that you could use every 21 seconds, with the 3 seconds of not being affected by abilities afterwards meaning you would be down to 18 seconds of being slowed at a time in PVP.
Mists of Pandaria Priest Talent Tree: Tier 3
The third tier is about extra healing or extra damage, although it is all done in different ways. First up is From Darkness, Comes Light which allows many of your healing spells to cause your next flash heal to become an instant cast and cost no mana, or your mind flay to cause your next mind blast to become instant and not consume a shadow orb. Divine Star is a talent that grants a new ability that launches a star forward healing friends in its path and damages enemies. Lastly Archangel which increases your healing or damage based on the number of stacks of evangilism or your shadow orbs.
For all out best utility from darkness, comes light seems the best talent, simply because it allows you to go about your normal rotation and get free spells to mix in. Divine Star however has some very interesting AOE DPS and healing potential, allowing you to be near a group and heal or damage them as appropriate. My only issue with it is that you have to be near a group of friends or enemies. Archangel is a little changed from before but fairly close and is still very usefull since it can ramp up your healing or damage significantly. However it is unclear how or if Holy priests will be able to get stacks of evangalism so I can not comment on it's usefullness to them.
For PVE and PVP therefore I would recommend From Darkness, Comes Light for both damage and healing purposes. In PVE if you find that you need a little more AOE healing then consider Divine Star.
Mists of Pandaria Priest Talent Tree: Tier 4
Tier four of the new priest talent tree is full of abilities to keep you alive and save your backside. First up there is Desperate Prayer which instantly heals you for 30% of your health on a 2 minute cooldown. Angelic Bulwark increases your shields by 30% when cast on yourself. Final Prayer automatically casts a shield on you any time you are damaged to below 30% of your health, the shield will absorb 20% of your base health in damage before disapearing and has a 90 second reset timer.
All three abilities have thier uses, upsides and downsides. Deperate prayer (DP) is a great instant heal, but 30% isn't that much and it is only every 2 minutes, plus it has to be activated. Final Prayer (FP) is only 20%, but is automatic, happens when you are most in need, and is only a 90 second cooldown. Comparing these 2 however is only theoretically possible because you could use DP at 50% health to top up and never get down to 30% for FP to trigger. Assuming for a second that you are under constant pressure in a PVP situation though and kept at low health, over time DP is better. Over 6 minutes you could use DP three times thereby healing a total of 90% health. Over the same time FP would trigger four times preventing 80% health however you could never use it voluntarily to heal, it just prevents.
However I would not take either one, I would chose Angelic Bulwark. A 30% increase to your shield effects all the time on your self is going to add up to quite a bit. Assuming for a minute at level 85 your PW:S protects for arount 20k, this would boost that to 26k when cast on yourself. Your health is likely around 125k. This means it protects an additional 24k of damage or roughly 20%. That is only factoring in PW:S every 15 seconds and no other shielding effects. To me it is the way to go in both PVE and PVP situations.
Mists of Pandaria Priest Talent Tree: Tier 5
This tier is again about allowing extra damage or healing, mainly in different burst methods. Twist of Fate allows all of your abilities to heal or damage for an extra 20% when used on targets that are at or below 20% health. Power Infusion is the same as before granting you or a target a 20% haste boost and 20% mana cost reduction for 15 seconds every 20 minutes. Lastly Serendipity allows your small fast heals to reduce the casting time and cost of your big heals or for mind spike to lower the casting time and cost of your mind blast.
This one is really a matter of choice. Twist of Fate would grant some benifits by increasing your healing or damage when you most need it, especially in PVP. Power Infusion is a great healing or damage boost and has the added ability of being able to grant it to someone else if you do not require it. Serendipity is constant extra heal or damage talent and has the potential to be a great choice, it really depends on how you play and how you use the abilities though. For me while tank healing in PVE it would definately be my choice.
Mists of Pandaria Priest Talent Tree: Tier 6
The final tier is all about big abilities and better yet all of them are about big healing. First up is the talent Vow of Unity which is a realy interesting ability with some good points and some bad points. It allows you to link to a player and 20% of all heals you cast on them heal you as well, however 50% of all damage they take is redirected to you. The effect stays in place until they suffer a hit that deals at least 30% of thier health in one blow. Next up is Void Shift which swaps your current health percentage with a friendly target for thier health percentage and then heals you for 25% health. Lastly there is Vampiric Dominance which heals 3 nearby party members for 15% of the damage or healing that you cause.
Void shift is an obvious PVE tank healer ability since you will generally be at full health and the tank will spike up and down. When the tank is low you can use this ability to swap thier 10% health for your 100% health, effectively fully healing them, and ending up with 35% health yourself. Since your health pool is much smaller it would be easier to heal yourself back to full. This could also have some great PVP usage but since it would invite an instant swap to you in arenas I would probably avoid it.
Vow of unity could also be useful in PVE healing but since tanks take big hits it would likely be canceld too fast. As a group healer it might be ok, but I think were it will really shine is in PVP where you can use it to keep an arena member alive while healing both of you.
Lastly vampiric dominance would be my go to for PVE group healers or even for PVE DPS players, since it would provide a huge amount of constant splash healing to those around you. This is good for anyone and would be my choice as a group healer or shadowpriest.
Mists of Pandaria Priest Talent Tree: More or Less Choice?
The new priest talent tree for Mists of Pandaria offers some really big choices and for me at least has more real choice than the old talent trees. No matter if you are DPS or healing for either PVP or PVE there looks to be some really good choices that offer options no matter which you choose.
At almost every tier of the talent tree I find valid choices that make me think hard about what I want and value in a character. The talents are all useful and seem to be of very equal power and really depend on how you want to use them. There are valid control options, valid healing options, valid DPS options and more. While I know what I prefer and like at each level, I can see how the other options are useful and in what situations they would be useful. If you chose to pick something other than the options I selected it is easy to understand why.
To me this shows really good design and balance of the talents. It also shows that Blizzard really is trying hard to offer more real choices in the new talent system rather than just filler. In the priest talent tree while there are some talents that have obvious PVP benifit they are also useable in PVE which is a great thing in my opinion.