DF Class Design Philosophy and Priests

When assessing the Priest class and specialisation trees in the current Dragonflight build, I think the main causes for concern stem from how jarringly different Priest has been handled relative to all other classes in the game. I will discuss my thoughts on this for the two topics I consider to be the main points of frustration: survivability and the lack of an interrupt spell (specifically, mostly targeted at dungeons and Mythic+) . I will also discuss some proposed solutions in addition to why I think PvP balance should not be used as an excuse to deprive Priest players of either of the above. Lastly, I will also cover how I think this all impacts Shadow as a specialisation.

Even with the recent tuning adjustments to Fade and Desperate Prayer, Holy and Discipline Priests are by far the weakest specialisations in terms of personal defensive abilities in the entire game. This gap between Priest defensive toolkit and the toolkits of other classes has been further widened in Dragonflight, as other previously defensively weak classes and specialisations now have more options in their class trees. This has left Priest in a category of its own right at the bottom of the pack.

Some have argued that Discipline has access to both Pain Suppression and Power Word: Barrier, but these are designed as external defensive abilities with long cooldowns. Furthermore, consistently using these abilities selfishly dramatically reduces the utility and effectiveness that Discipline can otherwise bring to a group. As such, these should not be regarded as personal defensives in my humble opinion.

Holy also has a cheat death effect in Restitution, but this is a capstone node with a 10 minute cooldown. As such, it is not a substitute for a reasonable defensive ability that can align with the often frequent damage patterns and/or mechanics of any given PvE encounter that tend to require the activation of a personal defensive ability.

Blizzard’s response to the issue of Priest defensives has been so far underwhelming:

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.

The problem is that none of these abilities or passives are a powerful enough answer for the deadlier abilities present in the more difficult PvE content of the game. Even if we were to stack these abilities (likely requiring a messy macro and potentially multiple GCDs), their overall defensive power is poor in comparison to what a lot of classes can achieve with the activation of one ability.

The new defensive additions in particular are very underpowered when their positions in the tree and their power relative to other classes are assessed. Angelic Bulwark is an inferior version of the Shaman’s Nature’s Guardian, as it has not only double the cooldown (1.5 minutes vs 45 seconds) but also a worse threshold (30% vs 35%) and a worse overall effect (15% vs 20%). The fact that Angelic Bulwark is a class capstone while Nature’s Guardian is in the middle of the Shaman class tree makes this comparison even worse. This is not even mentioning the fact that Shaman already has access to a 40% damage reduction ability in Astral Shift, with a talent that can increase this to 55% with an appropriate increase to its cooldown. As it stands, the healing Priest specialisations are the most likely to die from either unavoidable damage or mechanics that require a sizeable personal defensive cooldown to survive.

Even when factoring in the recent talent adjustments to Desperate Prayer, this ability is still quite underwhelming for a 1.5 minute cooldown in my opinion. Abilities that either increase your character’s maximum health or provide an equivalent absorb shield (i.e. Retribution Paladin’s Shield of Vengeance) are fundamentally weaker than defensive abilities that reduce a sizeable percentage of the damage being received. They scale much worse as the difficulty of content increases and I don’t believe they should ever be designed as the major defensive ability of a class or specialisation for this reason. Such abilities are out of step with the content design of the modern game and failing to address this issue will simply dissuade people from playing Priest for no real justifiable reason.

I believe there are a few good options to solve the defensive issue. The first is to move Angelic Bulwark to middle section of the class tree and adjust it’s power so that it is at least comparable to Nature’s Guardian. If this ability is going to remain in the tree, the position needs to change at a bare minimum. Bringing its power in line with the Shaman version would also make it a much more compelling way to spend two talent points.

The second option is to redesign Desperate Prayer. I think it would be reasonable to remove Translucent Image and roll this effect into Desperate Prayer somewhat. A design similar to Monk’s Fortifying Brew would be much better, with a flat percentage increase to health accompanied with a meaningful percentage of damage reduction (I personally would like see a minimum of somewhere between 15-20%). The percentage health increase could even be changed to an absorb shield with a strong visual cue if Blizzard would like to keep a thematic difference between the Priest ability and the already existing Monk spell.

The third option is to bring Dispersion into the class tree. I think it is absolutely possible to do this with a caveat on the talent that significantly reduces its power for healing Priests in PvP, or possibly provides another effect altogether for PvP content. The point here is that there are absolutely ways and means to bring this into the class tree without breaking the game for content that Priests are already powerful in. The refusal to discuss this has been somewhat disappointing and I hope that Blizzard choose to revisit this topic with a little more willingness and creativity.

The Interrupt Issue
The lack of an interrupt would not be a significant pain point if not for the fact that the only two specialisations to not have access to one out of a total of 38 are Holy and Discipline Priests. The primary area of concern here in my opinion is Mythic+, where the content is significantly balanced around preventing interruptible casts. Healing Priests have generally not been seen as desirable for this particular content, outside of the recent tuning to damage output (something that Priests will be losing a significant portion of with the loss of Boon of the Ascended). Priests not being able to provide an interrupt when other healing specialisations can will be yet more reason for the community to prefer other healing specialisations for this content, even with the existence of Power Infusion. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that these specialisations are plagued by defensive issues that are not shared by other healing classes. As such, it is an issue that should be addressed in order to bring Priests more in line with the capabilities of other classes.

I understand that Shadow’s Silence spell would arguably be too powerful in PvP, but I would argue a new baseline generic interrupt ability (Power Word: “insert kick name here”) that had a generic ranged interrupt cooldown of 24 seconds is both perfectly possible and reasonable. This could even be designed in a similar vein to the recently updated Warrior class tree, where the ability node is a generic interrupt for Holy and Discipline but then changes to Silence on the Shadow version of the tree. And even if this were still too much control for healing Priests in PvP, would it not be possible to simply make it so it is unable to effect players? I believe there are definitely options that the Dragonflight talent trees could provide in order to improve the PvE quality of life of Priests without breaking them in PvP.

Implications for Shadow
Something I have not really discussed above is how all of this effects Shadow Priests. Currently, Shadow has to make significant talent point investments in their specialisation tree to access both Dispersion and Silence, and I think that some of the above suggestions would remedy this issue. This way, Shadow Priests won’t need to choose between class utility and damage throughput, which is a decision that never feels compelling or satisfying to make.

The refusal to put key abilities in the class tree has had negative knock on effects for the Shadow specialisation. The only real fair comparison that comes to mind is between Shadow and Balance Druid, as Balance has to select Solar Beam in its specialisation tree as well. For Balance, however, this only an investment of one talent point, with an optional improvement node talent point in Light of the Sun. For Shadow, you need to spend two talent points in order to get Dispersion and Silence, with a further investment of an additional two talent points in order to improve these spells. This results in a total of four talent points that are not being spent on throughput in the specialisation tree.

Moving Silence and Dispersion to the class tree with the options previously discussed would solve this issue and dramatically improve Shadow’s specialisation tree. There could still be improvement talents for Shadow’s Silence and even Dispersion in the specialisation tree, but I think we can all agree that four points for is too excessive relative to other specialisations and classes that have access to these things in their respective class trees.


I’m pretty sure every priest, especially, has exactly that “oh…” macro.

If you didn’t know anything about shamans, druids, or holy paladins you might look at the priest toolkit in WoW and think it’s a relatively well-designed package. The problem, I think, is that over the years the less iconic healers have overtaken priest in throughput while still being overcompensated with utility… utility that maybe they shouldn’t have anymore if Blizz aspires to balance healer throughput and utility better.

They’ve practically said as much in shooting down knockbacks or interrupts for healing priests… but they haven’t done anything.


As of the latest build, rather than getting an interrupt in the class tree, we got dominate mind. We can infinitely mind control any given humanoid every 30s, as opposed to a silence every 45s. Considering there’s a ton of humanoids in the first dungeon lineup, and some of them have interrupts, we can get access to an interrupt if we want to that way, worst comes to worst. But there’s also bound to be better applications for it, as well.

Regardless, I’d MUCH rather have this for dungeon utility over an interrupt as a healing priest if I was given the choice, so I really can’t complain here.


It blows my mind they think that perman mind control is less powerful than an interrupt.


Statistics wide Holy Priests has the least death % out of all classes in raids. I know that first hand I always had the least amount of deaths in prog most nights unless it was a bad night. It’s a combination of all your instant cast abilities and your cheat death from Night Fae as well. It’s the same if you look back in BFA as well.

Raid content is more avoiding mechanics than the raid gets bursted with big damage that if people don’t use cds: you die. M+ starts becoming more like that on bosses only once you’re pushing 25s and higher, but that’s like 0.01% content.

Disc and Shadow have about double the death rate of Holy: even though Holy has significantly more logs than Disc atm. I remember the Disc Priests always flopping over when I raided.

I think at least with Holy with the new Protective Light talent: we’re in a fairly good spot defensive wide. The -10% DR works off of Trail of Light as well so you can keep that buff up almost all the time in arenas or M+ content. In M+ you can just Flash Heal + fade and that’s a -20% DR.

Also, people are underlooking Angel’s Mercy. It makes your Desperate Prayer cdr almost twice as fast if you’re taking consistent damage. The new talented Light’s Inspiration version is a +40% hp boost/heal which is more than enough to soak high end M+ stuff.

So going forward I can Fade DR the first boss mechanic, Desperate Prayer 2nd, and have Fade up for 3rd.

So Holy looks like it’s in a good spot going into DF: just need to look at Disc more than Shadow.


I would also share and add to shadows survivability has been hit. We lose greater fade and now shadowmend plus maso. Don’t forget a weaker vampiric embrace that cost two talents.

Flash heal is currently a potato for shadow. It takes me 7 casts to heal me from 0 to 70ish percent no crits, as well to go oom. Try doing that in pvp, GL getting these casts out.

No mobility, huge major loss of self healing power now, and loss of defense pvp cd.

No compensations yet to be added.

I don’t know that they think it’s less powerful.

I had a thought a while back that the reason they didn’t want to move silence into the general tree is BECAUSE of mind control. The problem being Mind control was pretty much useless in PvE with all its downsides, and Dominate mind was just a downgrade in every way to regular MC.

Possible they saw that complaint (I saw a couple people mentioning it) and decided to finally make Dominate Mind good. I think the only reason that it’s a 30s CD/30s CC is because if you didn’t have to recast it every so often it’d be a no brainer and would have everyone in raid trying to use it to parse.

I’m hoping it stays, because if it doesn’t perma-CC, Dominate Mind is still completely awful and actually SLOWS group progression. I think the only real ‘problem’ spot is if people start trying to take it into raid fights and have to MC every 30s during downtime, and during the pull, etc.

1 Like

They could always play with the diminishing returns in pve to preven perma-cc on the same mob. Feels a bit too strong otherwise, but might be the maintenance requirements are enough for it to be ok :man_shrugging:

I mean, it already has diminishing returns with other disorients - it just is such a long CC that by the time you re-CC it hasn’t reduced the duration.

I’d rather not have the chore of having to pick a new MC target all the time if I don’t want to. My guess if they nerf it, it’s because they included some random humanoid that absolutely breaks dungeons. Granted, stuff does less damage while it’s your pet, but if we get mechagon tinkerer level of damage every pull, it’s obviously a problem. I’m also a bit wary of MCing something with a ton of stacks of bolster and if those bolster stacks stay (granted they fall off now, but still), etc.

Nothing in Halls of Valor, Court of Stars or the Shadowmoon Burial grounds comes to mind immediately. I barely remember temple, nor was I thinking of MCing back then cause I was playing Monk - so who knows there.

1 Like

For me, if it stays like that it’s definitely a more flavorful option than a kick could ever hope to be for a healer…

I mean, I have lots of other things to track as a healer, for the rare cases where dps/tank don’t kick in pugs… Most of the time, that issue comes up in bigger pulls where you’d need to track multiple mobs who needs to be interrupted… DM can probably “fix” the problem by simply removing one of those mobs from the watchlist entirely.

In organized groups, it could become a really interesting tool to play with… You can think of cases where an annoying mob come in pair and the priest DM 1 of them to kill the other and then maybe kill the dominated one with the next pack instead, or just keep it cc’ed for a bit… More options is always fun.

If we lack interrupts for a boss in m+, it’s really not a range interrupt that is going to be a game changer…

This small cd change is making me a lot more hyped than if we’d have gotten a kick.

1 Like

I think there’s a lot of potential with Dominate Mind, but it’s something that has to be learned as we do the dungeons. I really do not like some of the new dungeons though. One of them is a giant open world map where you have to fly around with your dragon mount and there’s a lot of potential headaches involved with people landing in the wrong spot.

Another one is like Uldaman 2.0. There’s an insane amount of trash pulls.

Hot take:

I already don’t like Shadowfiend/Mindbender, Mind Control/Dominate Mind as a common part of our utility is just another pet CD that only works on specific targets.

Compared to a universal kick, I think it’s obvious that the kick is better utility and less mechanically nonsensical.

Love MC/DM as a flavor spell with occasional applications, but I don’t think it’s something we should highlight as a substitute for an otherwise core mechanic like interrupts.


Dominate mind has been an actual downgrade to Mind Control since legion - and Mind control sees virtually 0 use in any content aside PvP.

It’s simply not a spell with occasional applications. It’s a very strong control spell in PvP and that’s about it.

Blizzard said they didn’t want to include more control to the priest class. While MC might be strong control in PvP, removing control elsewhere from the priest leaves them completely high and dry in PvE.

It’s not so much saying ‘hey it’s a substitute’ - rather, I’m saying if they’re going to give us this in PvE, then whatever I don’t really mind not having silence. Granted, I still don’t think they should have removed Shining Force/etc. But this is a very good trade for us, mostly. I’m just saying with Blizzard’s opinion being what it is about Priest, this is a really good compromise.


Do you heal?
How often do you notice that your kick as a healer would have helped?
How often are you available to kick when the situation needs you to do so? In high keys, wasting a global on something that someone else can do could mean the death of a party member if not plainly the tank.

I mean, outside of solo content as a healer (which not every healer do btw) the answer to that is mostly “sometimes in pugs, I’d like to have one because the others won’t kick that important ability that we need to interrupt…”.

I agree that the decision is bad as priest is the only class that doesn’t have an interrupt in its class tree, but if we’re being rational, it’s not really needed… it just feels bad because everyone else has one…


I guess my question is: How is MC/DM useful?

Is it because it is effectively a 30s stun/bonus damage? The limitation on what can/can’t be MCed feels a bit harsh if that’s the case, and given the historical value of interrupting things like heals/major damage spells, I’ve always viewed an interrupt as more valuable.

But I am willing to see how MC could be a more useful tool comparatively, I just don’t at the moment given the often times annoying interaction that pets tend to have with the game.

I can tell you regardless of role, I notice when my kick/interrupts are on CD and an important kick is missed.

If it happens to be a healer that interrupts a major cast, usually that offers a lot more value than whatever other thing they would be doing UNLESS the group is literally on the brink of death already. But at that point, I’d assume there was more being mismanaged than just the heals/one kick/damage or whatever else.

Also, group and gameplay dynamics are rarely rational. I think one of the big issues people will see is basically “Why bring a priest when other classes do the same thing AND have a kick?”

What are your sources for these death percentage statistics? Pls linky.

It’s fine to think that dominate mind is strong and it’s fine to want to make a choice to take it, but it’s not remotely comparable to an interrupt.

Never said it was. Continue reading.

The implication you’re making is that it’s fine we aren’t getting an interrupt because Dominate Mind is functional.

Which is a ridiculous notion to suggest.

1 Like