My main character in World of Warcraft is a Priest. When I’m healing, I have access to three dispels: Purify, which can remove malicious magic effects and diseases from my allies; Dispel Magic, which removes beneficial magic effects from an enemy; and Mass Dispel, which removes magic effects from allies and enemies within a 15-yard radius.
Purify is on an 8 second cooldown and is limited to the Holy and (inferior) Discipline specializations. It clears all magic- and disease-type debuffs from a single ally. Mass Dispel can affect up to 10 allies and 10 enemies, clears a single magic effect from each of them, and is on a 15 second cooldown. Dispel Magic clears a single magic buff from an enemy and has no cooldown.
The reason why Mass Dispel and Purify have cooldowns is to prevent spamming. Crowd control effects in PvP are generally classified as magic-based debuffs. Without a cooldown, a healer could negate most control effects instantly. Dispel Magic doesn’t have a cooldown because all dispels have a high mana cost; repeatedly clearing healing effects from enemies is a sure way to drain your mana. Both mechanics work together to encourage strategic use of dispels.
But how does the game decide which effect should be removed when there are multiple ones to choose from? For example, if an ally is afflicted with Silence, Corruption, and Immolate, and I cast Purify, which of the three actually gets dispelled? All of them are eligible. The game uses some internal priority system to decide which effect gets dispelled, but this can lead to some unpredictability on the part of the healer. How could dispels become a little more strategic in PvP?
What if healers could designate what their top three most hated debuffs are? If I set my top three to be Corruption, Silence, and Unstable Affliction (UA), in that order, then my Purify would prefer to clear Corruption before Unstable Affliction. If I were to dispel an ally and they’re not affected by any of those three effects, then the game would either choose a debuff to dispel at random or use its own internal priority system.
The user’s priorities would obviously have to be locked in before an Arena match. (PvP always means Arena in World of Warcraft.) You can’t switch around your team composition during an Arena match. Locking the priorities means combatants wouldn’t be able to change it based on the composition of the enemy team. Also, the addon API would not be able to access this list, as to prevent automation in world PvP and Battlegrounds.
The biggest problem I can see with this thought is what happens to protection mechanics. Unstable Affliction exists because Affliction Warlocks do most of their damage through dispellable debuffs. If I could really set UA at number three to circumvent that, then UA would be useless. Even if I didn’t, the game would choose one of the three effects I set before UA.
A possible solution to this problem is for the game to defer to an internal priority system. Dispel protection mechanics, such as UA, would come first, followed by the user settings, followed by the normal priority systems.
Here’s where I dispel any notion you may have that I know what I’m talking about: a priority system would be useless for healers. Our friendly dispels clear all magic effects. Thus, a priority system would be more beneficial for casters who can clear enemy buffs with spells like Purge. It’s a neat idea, but the most interesting thing that could be done with it is choosing to remove Prayer of Fortitude before Rejuvenate. The game’s internal priority system already chooses heal over time effects over standard buffs. There’d be no point to it.