Upcoming changes – Fear Ward
Rant ahead. This is your once and final warning…
One of the big furors ongoing in priest-land right now deals with Fear Ward. It appears that Blizzard is thinking there’ll be a major change in priest racial spells when Wrath of the Lich King (WotLK, or WLK) comes out. The one thing mentioned is that all priests will get Fear Ward.
Before I get into the potential ramifications, let me deal with an overview of the situation.
One of the best PVP abilities we priests have is our Psychic Scream. Sure, it’s got too long a cooldown (speaking as the caster, of course) but it’s our get-out-of-jail-free spell. It interrupts EVERYTHING the other guy’s doing as he suddenly starts running away. And we all dread anything that’ll stop this. As it happens there are a LOT of things that’ll stop it. There are two, however, that sit at the top of the list. Will of the Forsaken is one, and belongs to every undead even at level one. Fear Ward is the other, and every Dwarven and Draenai priest gets it (or at least CAN get it) at level 20. Both are, in their respective areas, heartbreakers for the rest of us. So much so that the constant complaint of the alliance is about WotF, and the horde constantly calls for debuffing FW.
Sure, there are several other defenses and counters. Running in battlegrounds enough to get the little anti-fear trinket is for everyone. Some classes have defenses – warriors in beserker stance, for example, have an applicable defense. But the big ones on each side of the fence are mentioned above. On one side, an entire race has a single-shot defense. On the other side, anyone traveling with a priest who is one of two races has a chance of a single-shot defense — if the priest remembered to cast it.
In short, both sides have their restricted anti-fear that seems overwhelming. Well, sometime in the next year (guess), the alliance ability will belong to ALL priests. Which means that an undead has the chance of having TWO shots at resisting fear before gear and other class skills. And dwarves will not be THE priest race for PVP players – well, dwarves and draenai.
OK. Big deal.
Yep, here’s where I begin the rant.
I find myself with mixed opinion, leaning toward approval. On the one hand — I dislike that the undead will have two fear resists in almost any encounter. Oh, I don’t think WotF is the most unbalanced racial in the game – that title goes to Arcane Torrent. But it’s annoying that the Alliance must have a priest in the group while the undead… have it anyway. On this count, however, I’m not much of a PVP player. Which means it’s not as overwhelming from my point of view.
On the other hand – and the hand to which I give much more weight – I have disliked the priests’ racial spells since almost the first time I encountered them. For what it’s worth I actually understand the reasoning behind them, but that’s because I’ve found some obscure flavor text. The Priests’ Gods grant these abilities, and these gods are as different as the races served. Except… except the flavor is a pastiche which is pretty much insignificant beyond level 30 or so. Except some of these gods aren’t so different, and some of these spells are identical — Blood Elves and Undead get Touch of Weakness? Why? sigh….
I would be fine with all the priestly racial spells moving to the spellbook. Or the talent tree for that matter. Who do you see choosing Shadowguard given a choice (and how pathetic is the god who grants THIS favor instead of, oh, Desperate Prayer?)
On the gripping hand, there is a lot to be said for flavor. And temptation to select races for classes that would otherwise be far less popular. Of course, that raises the question as to why Blizzard’s had such trouble getting players to be trolls – priest or otherwise. If they really want to encourage people to play trolls, give them racials that attract — priestly or otherwise. *sigh*
There is no doubt that some of the priestly racial skills are better than others. There is further no doubt that Blizzard is bothered by this, as it means people are ignoring a lot of work aimed at those classes. It is bad on a dollarwise basis for programmer hours, and it’s scary when facing player boredom — if they’d only explore THOSE races they’d have hours more play which means more months of money for blizzard…
In the end, I expect we’ll see enough changes that the move of fear ward to everyone will be relatively minor to most players. Some – dedicated dwarves and draenai – will still object. Alliance PVP warlocks and priests who must now deal with One More Fear Defense when facing Undead will gnash their teeth – and some will quit, some will roll a new toon, and other will develop new tactics.
And most of us will continue having fun, facing joy and frustration all the way.