We’ll call this a “retro post.” Contrary to previous posts I’ve made recently, I actually wanted to discuss something that I actually find that I’ve been missing recently. Besides, it can’t always be about theorycrafting and OMGSRSBZNZ stuff all the time. Remember, WoW is a game, it’s there for entertainment. So here’s a “fun” post that has nothing to do with all the number and maths for a bit. Well, sort of.

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Back until 3.0 hit, priests were unique relative to all other classes in that they had racial abilities that they could train at levels 10 and 20. I’m not sure how much, if any, debate this caused regarding other classes and how “fair” it was for priests to have their own special abilities. But I do know this – it made racial choice a little more important in both PvP and PvE, since this was long before race and faction transfers were available.

So, I just want to give a quick rundown first of all the different racial abilities each race had – and how (if at all) they’ve been implemented in the game to date.

Troll

Shadowguard. Shadowguard was essentially a Shadow version of Lightning Shield – it even had the same icon! – and was specific to troll priests. It had no cooldown, and had three charges, so refreshing it was largely not an issue. Its current incarnation is more or less a shadow priest’s mastery, with Shadow Orbs. It actually has a much cooler graphic now than it did back in the day (which was just a color swapped Water Shield).

Hex of Weakness. Hex of Weakness was actually an interesting one – and a fairly useful one, too, for PvP. It was sort of a combination of a warlock’s Curse of Weakness (back when it was AP reduction) and Mortal Strike. It reduced damage done (not just physical, but all), and also reduced healing received by the target by 20%. Without a warrior, rogue or hunter for a normal Mortal Strike type ability, this would’ve been pretty worthwhile, since reduced healing effects were in limited supply. In current content, we’d see the reduced healing from Improved Mind Blast, though priests currently do not have a reduced damage ability or talent.

Undead

Touch of Weakness. Touch of Weakness was an interesting racial In that it was a buff applied to the caster, but would then be transferred to an enemy once hit with a melee swing, reducing melee damage done by the enemy. Though a bit dangerous, it would help against melee classes, specifically rogues, in PvP, and while soloing. It also caused a very small amount of damage, but so little as to be considered negligible. Currently, there is no equivalent to this spell in game.

Devouring Plague. Devouring Plague has seen a few different iterations since its inception, but this was the undead-specific racial. For a very long time, this was the only caster DoT that wasn’t a curse or magic debuff, and instead a disease (feral druids were the only ones until death knights otherwise that had anything that was a disease debuff). It deals damage over time and heals the caster. Originally, it also had a cooldown, which allowed it to potentially be cast on multiple targets. We still have this spell in game, and it is a large portion of Shadow DPS, and can only be cast on one target at a time.

Blood Elf

Consume Magic. Blood Elves also had access to Touch of Weakness, but their specific racial was called Consume Magic. This allowed the priest to remove any singular priest buff on themselves in order to restore mana. This could include any possible priest buff available at the time – Renew, Prayer of Mending, Power Word: Shield, Power Word: Fortitude, Shadow Protection, Divine Spirit, Inner Focus, Inner Fire or Touch of Weakness. This was also one of the first spells that could scale with level, and no additional ranks needed to be trained. There currently is no other spell that works in a similar manner.

Dwarf

Fear Ward. Well, Twirling Braids™ aside, dwarves were originally the only race that was able to have Fear Ward. This has seen a few changes, but most notably, this originally was on a 30 second cooldown, and had a 10-minute duration. That made this exceptional for encounters like Onyxia and Nightbane, and amazing for PvP. Currently, it has a 3 minute cooldown and duration, but can be glyphed for 2 minutes.

Desperate Prayer. Desperate Prayer was also one of those spells that was once a racial. Instead of 30% maximum health as we see now, it was a set amount, but it was still fairly powerful, on a relatively long cooldown of 10 minutes. Currently, Desperate Prayer is a tier 2 talent in the Holy tree, and has a much shorter cooldown of 2 minutes.

Chastise. When Fear Ward was given to everyone, Dwarves (and Draenei) were given Chastise to compensate. It worked exactly the same as Holy Word: Chastise in its natural state now, except the disorient was for 2 seconds instead of 3. It got changed to a root after a while, and eventually was removed in 3.0. Come Cataclysm, this is actually the freebie for specializing into the Holy tree, and is modified via Revelations to different Holy Words depending on Chakra state.

Draenei

Symbol of Hope. Short of Arcane Torrent, Symbol of Hope was quite possibly the most overpowered racial at any given time during Burning Crusade. While Draenei also had Fear Ward (and subsequently, Chastise), Symbol of Hope was the race-unique spell. It was your basic mana regeneration spell, but at the time, it did not require channeling. It also restored (relatively) more mana than Hymn of Hope does. Over time, Symbol/Hymn of Hope has seen several changes, both in terms of it being channeled, not channeled, what level it got trained at, and how much mana restoration occurred, and to whom. In today’s game, Hymn of Hope is pretty much the current incarnation of this spell, though woefully annoying to use.

Human

Feedback. Humans got Desperate Prayer right alongside the dwarves, but their unique racial came about with Feedback. It was likened to a “Thorns for casters,” which it kind of was, but a little more than that. So, imagine you take Mana Burn, and convert it into Thorns, and Thorns procs off of spells absorbed by Power Word: Shield, and every single tick of channeled spells, in addition to any spells that are not absorbed or resisted. That’s pretty much how feedback worked, as a 15 second buff, with a 3 minute cooldown. It could have potentially been a game breaker (versus Shadowplay, RMP), or a waste (Cleave teams). There is currently no similar spell, short of Mana Burn itself, to this old racial. We’ll all be better if there never is one, either.

Night Elf

Elune’s Grace. Strangely, night elves are the only ones aside from trolls that had not one, but two, unique priest racials. Perhaps this is sort of to lend to the idea that night elves and trolls were related in some way? Food for thought. Elune’s Grace was similar to Hex of Weakness, after a fashion, in that it reduced damage, but it was reduced incoming damage, rather than reduced outgoing damage. However, this spell was in the Holy school, which prevented it from being cast while in Shadowform. At Patch 2.3, this was instead changed to be a reduced chance to be hit by melee and ranged attacks by 20%, and with only one rank, since it was constant. Unfortunately, this also came with a fairly prohibitive cooldown, so for a very brief period of time, Elune’s Grace was a ridiculously good racial for PvP (since all racials were removed at 3.0), but since it did have a 3 minute cooldown, using it where its effects would be of greatest use could have been difficult to do. There is no current version of this spell, but perhaps it could be likened to Dispersion, in a way.

Starshards

STARSHAAARRRDZZZ!!!

*ahem*

Anyway. Starshards was night elves’ other racial. This one was, sadly, fairly miserable damage. Moreover, it was originally channeled and lasted 6 seconds, to boot. However, it did get a significant buff in patch 2.3, making it instant cast, a magic debuff, lasting 15 seconds, with a 30 second cooldown. This would have made it a possible help for shadow priests at the time (who were largely mana batteries due to the way Replenishment worked at the time), or just soloing in general. The closest we have to this spell is, believe it or not, Starfall, for Moonkin druids.

So like I said originally, I really do miss the old priest racials. They added a bit of flavor to your choice for rolling a different race, rather than just your standard racials. Blood Elves and Arcane Torrent are still overpowered, I might add. What about you? Do you miss having a reason to roll a particular race, or did you like the way certain racials worked for different priests? Maybe you know something more about all this stuff I forgot?