In the latest PTR notes, the two priest “hymns” have been reworked. Good riddance, many priests have responded, as in their current form, the two spells barely warrant a spot on one’s secondary action-bar. Hymn of Hope, arguably the better of the two, always constitutes Plan B mana regeneration for me, something to cast in those very rare times when I’m low on mana and have used my shadowfiend, or when I can’t be arsed to sit down and drink. I hear priests talk about uses for Divine Hymn — to CC the zombie chows, for example, or right before Malygos’s vortex — but I cast it even less frequently than Hymn of Hope, so rarely that it might as well be never.
You can read about the revisions to the hymns on Matticus’s site. In essence, Hymn of Hope restores a chunk of mana to the three most-OOM players and temporarily boosts their mana pools, while Divine Hymn restores a chunk of health to the most-injured ones, temporarily increasing their healing received. The cooldown for both spells has been increased from five to six minutes. These are improvements, I guess, but really that’s not saying much.
My beef, in no small part, is that the spells are channeled. Channeling irks me. I know, I know, whether I’m a Shadow Priest (Mind Flay!) or a Disc Priest (Penance!), I channel. But with so much movement in raiding, I often find myself clipping a pulse when I reposition myself. (I guess I should be happy that channeling allows me to eek out some dps or healing, even if I have to stop midway, rather than stopcasting or interruption which would get me none.) The other drawback to channeling is that unlike the mechanics of “pushback” that simply add more time to a spell’s casting length, an interruption while channeling decreases the spell’s duration (by 25% for each of the first two hits).
If Divine Hymn and Hymn of Hope are really supposed to help folks in their “time of despair,” then channeling sucks. Eight seconds is an eternity while raiding, and I’m not sure that if things are headed south — in terms of damage or mana sustainabilitiy — that a priest would want to stop healing, stand still, and channel for that amount of time. (I say “healing” because currently Shadow Priests cannot cast either of these spells while in Shadow Form.) Furthermore, considering that the mana boost from Hymn of Hope only lasts 8 seconds, the priest casting won’t receive any benefit from that portion of the spell either, even if they are OOM themselves. And unlike the restoration druid that can pop Barkskin to protect their channeling of Tranquility, priests don’t have similar protection (although there are “PVP” talents that do mitigate some pushback). Two hits from AOE and that 8 second duration quickly becomes 4.5, cutting by half the spells’ effectiveness (provided the first “tick” occurs right away). And now you have to wait six minutes to cast the spell again. Boo.
I was happy at first glance to see that they’re tackling the hymns, but I’m just not really wowed by either of these changes. I don’t see raid leaders calling for priests to blow their Hymns of Hope like they do Heroism, or for priests to announce they’ve used Divine Hymn like it’s some sort of oh-shit-Shield-Wall last-line-of-defense. Granted, I don’t think priests were really asking for either of those type of abilities. What we did want, however, were spells that we’d use. And as it stands, I’m not sure these revisions will move hymns from healers’ secondary action bars.