Blizzard is significantly altering the 10 existing World of Warcraft classes in upcoming expansion Cataclysm, introducing new spells, abilities and talents as well as altering those already present.
The developer has previewed changes for all but one of the classes, the Paladin, which will be detailed on 16th April. Blizzard didn't want to offer a less "comprehensive" preview and so delayed the reveal to "properly honour the Paladin class and those who play them".
There are some broad changes going into effect. Mana is going to be a much greater consideration for healers and Blizzard hopes this will result in less frenzied, spammed healing and more thought-out strategies. Similarly, Mages will have abilities that do more damage depending on the amount of mana they have, and even abilities to return mana should a spell not hit. Cheats. Dispel mechanics are changing, too.
Blizzard is also doing away with various superfluous class abilities and is removing the "on next swing" melee mechanic and making abilities instant (but more costly) in response. Also, weapon specialisations are being removed for all classes.
All classes will be given three to four new high-level spells or abilities and new talents. But, as Blizzard pointed out, all of these are subject to change during testing.
Priests are getting four new spells: Heal, Mind Spike, Inner Will and Leap of Faith. The best is the last, which teleports a party member or raid member to your location. A group shield's being added and so are Shadow Orbs, which float around Shadow Priests and can be consumed for damage or spell shortening. Loads more detail on the World of Warcraft forum.
Soul Shards are being overhauled, as we know. They're not inventory items any more but UI resources, and up to three can be used per fight. You won't need to use them out of battle. Soul Burn consumes a Soul Shard and produces a different effect with a different spell. Snazzy. Warlock's new spells are Fel Flame, Shadowfire (a green bolt), Dark Intent and Demon Soul. Loads more detail on the World of Warcraft forum.
Mages are getting a spell called Time Warp. Brilliant. It's a Haste buff for self or party or raid. Better are the other new spells, Flame Orb and Wall of Fog. The former conjures a ball of fire that moves slowing in a single direction, beaming fire at any passers by, a bit like the BFG weapon in Quake 2. And Wall of Fog creates a giant wall of ice in front of the mage that stretches 30 yards across and snares and damages anyone caught in it. Water and food can't be summoned until around level 40 now, and Arcane Missiles are turning proc-based, which means they have a chance of being available to use when the Mage causes damage. Loads more information on the World of Warcraft forum.
Arms-specialised PVP Warriors will wince at the Mortal Strike healing debuff reduction to 20 per cent rather than 50 per cent, but apparently targets will be healed less in Cataclysm and it was overpowered anyway you big crybabies. What? High level Warrior abilities Inner Rage, Gushing Wound (a bleed effect that stacks when the target moves, cackle) and Heroic Leap, which does exactly what it says on the tin. Stunning, literally. Loads more information on the World of Warcraft forums.
Death Knights are apparently being replaced by Carebears. Oh, no, I've misread. I mean the rune system is being overhauled so Death Knights feel less "constrained". The basic gist is to think of now having three sets of runes filling every 10 seconds (possibly faster with Haste) rather than six individual runes filling every 10 seconds. Or think of it as three runes going to 200 per cent capacity rather than six runes that go to 100 per cent capacity. New Death Knight abilities are Outbreak, Necrotic Strike and Dark Simulacrum. The latter allows the Death Knight to copy the spell of a target and unleash it. Loads more detail on the World of Warcraft forum.
Rogues are being made more resilient and less reliant on chaining together various stuns to incapacitate targets and kill them before they can move. Again, cheats. In general Subtlety Rogues can expect to do more damage ("harder hitting finishers") and Combat and Assassination Rogues to have more utility. New abilities are Redirect, Combat Readiness and Smoke Bomb. The latter messes up single-person targeting on all caught in the area. Loads more information on the World of Warcraft forum.
Hunters will no longer use mana but a new resource called focus that isn't affected by Intelligence at all. That's lucky, Hunters. Focus works like a Rogue's energy and slowly builds up, albeit a bit slower. Ammunition is being removed and pet mechanics changed, so Hunters can hold more pets in their bags and store more at town. Hunters are also being "reinforced" as a ranged class. New abilities are Cobra Shot, Trap Launcher and Camouflage (semi-stealth!). Loads more information on the World of Warcraft forums.
New Druid abilities are Thrash, Stampeding Roar and Wild Mushroom. That Wild Mushroom is grown at a location and then hidden after four seconds. Should someone walk on it they'll get hurt, and so will their friends. Various talents will play off this. Druid's healing is not being tampered with, really, but their Feral abilities are, with added tools being given to cat and bear forms. One key alteration is Tree of Life changing to an active talent that's non banishable and to be more effective in some way or another - Blizzard hasn't decided. Loads more information on the World of Warcraft forum.
Shaman are getting a massive five new spells. They are low-level spells Primal Strike and Healing Wave and high level spells Unleash Weapon, Healing Rain and Spiritwalker's Grace. Unleash Weapon unleashes the enchantment on your weapon (or both, if you're dual-wield). A Windfury enchantment, for example, will allow a spectral version of your weapon to be thrown for 50 per cent damage and also buff Haste for the next five swings. Various passive abilities are going to be ditched to allow Shaman to focus on more interesting paths, too. Loads more information on the World of Warcraft forum.