The 2.3 patch brought about many sweeping changes for Priests. Fear Ward, a spell once exclusive to Dwarves and Dranei, is now available to all Priests at level 20. Before Burning Crusade, the Horde answer to Fear Ward was Tremor Totem. On raids like Onyxia, the two abilities were the few that helped make fear manageable.
(Definitions courtesy of WoWWiki.com)
Fear Ward is a spell available to all priests at level 20. This spell renders the target immune to one fear effect. The buff lasts 3 minutes, has a 3 minute cooldown to recast, and is considered a magic effect. The buff is consumed even if the character is already immune to fear (i.e. warrior using Berserker Rage or Death Wish).
Summons a Tremor Totem with 5 health at the feet of the caster that shakes the ground around it, removing Fear, Charm and Sleep effects from party members within 30 yards. Lasts 2 min.
So the big benefit to Fear Ward is that it is now available to all Priests. The really big downside is that it has a three minute uptime and a three minute cool down. On engagements like Nightbane, Warriors are going to have to be more alert in their stance dancing. You can avoid the first fear easily and it gets nullified. If you have a second Priest, you can mitigate the second one. But subsequent fears will need to be danced.
Enter the Tremor Totem
What about the tremor totem? If a Shaman drops it down, it does not prevent fear effects (THAT would be overpowered). It pulses every few seconds and when the pulse hits, the fear effect is removed (along with silence, charm, etc). Tremor totems can be placed at any time and have a shelf life of only two minutes. When a Shaman drops the totem down, any fear effects that are already up are immediately removed effectively ‘cleansing’ the players. Bear in mind, totem affects only those currently in your party.
So going back to our Nightbane example, if you have a Shaman, I think this will alter some of the group makeups to include a Shaman. Tremor totem hasn’t become stronger. Fear ward just became weaker. It’s viability in PvE encounters has diminished. The only downside to tremor totem is that there may be some cases where players run out of range of it’s effect (can be lessened if you invest a point to extend totem range).
So bottom line? Advantage, Tremor Totem.
I won’t touch the PvP side of things. I’ll leave that to my buddy Pwyff to take care of.