Bubbles and Crits, part 2: What the Hell Took you so Long?

This is a guest post by jeffo, a Paladin blogger from Looking For More.

Way back on September 15 I posted ‘Bubble and Crits: 3.0 to 3.2’.  In that post, I examined the development of Holy Paladins from the release of Wrath up to the much-feared Great Illumination Nerf of 2009 (i.e. Patch 3.2), and looked at how the changes to mana regeneration across the board in that patch ‘encouraged’ Holy Paladins to go from a Holy/Ret Crit-based spec into a Holy/Prot spec that focused on mitigation through Divine Sacrifice and Divine Guardian.  I concluded that the Illumination nerf didn’t hurt these so-called ‘Bubble Spec’ Paladins that badly after all, and vowed to follow up with a look at how ‘Critadins’ were holding up in the mana department.

Obviously, it never happened.

While you shouldn’t accept flimsy excuses (and I try not to offer them), allow me a moment to explain. Just after the article posted my guild headed back into Ulduar, with me planning on firing up the old reliable 51/0/20 spec and seeing for myself how my mana pool held up.  Would I be soaking up Innervates, sucking down Mana pots and leaving my partner stuck on a limb? Would we need a third healer just for me to get by?  I was a little worried, but thought it would be a good experiment. Off we went.

After clearing Flame Leviathan we rode down the hall straight to Deconstructor – ‘Crybaby’, as we call him. The trash was dispatched with no trouble, my mana was fine so far, and we began setting up. As I watched Crybaby doing his calisthenics, two words popped into my head:  Tympanic Tantrum.  I looked at the raid. I looked at Crybaby. I thought about the potential time wasted and gold spent on repairs if we wiped, and thought about how much damage Divine Sacrifice can absorb.

And I swapped into the Bubble Spec.

When we got to Kologarn I thought about how I was likely to get Eyebeamed at the same time my partner would get gripped (it’s happened before). ‘Hmm, that’s a great situation for bubble-sac’ thought I, and I stayed in the Bubble Spec. Hodir?  Frozen Blows, nuff said.  Mimiron – well, Divine Sacrifice seems like it was made with Mimiron in mind. In short, for every situation we were heading into, I found a reason to stay in my Bubble Spec.

My inner Critadin never got off the bench.

A promise is a promise, however, and I aimed to deliver something to Matticus. My next step was to post a new thread at Plus Heal asking for feedback from holdout Critadins. Unfortunately, most of the responses came from Bubble Boys talking about how much they loved the spec, so that turned into a dead end as well. This was getting tougher by the minute, but I pushed on.

I tried to pore over World of Log reports for other guilds to see how Critadins were doing, but that proved a bit too tedious – I have my limits, after all. I finally succumbed to a variation of the latest scourge to hit the world of the World of Warcraft – gear score.

I’m not a big fan of gear score, to be honest, but I thought it might work for me to some degree. I believed that checking the proportion of Critadins to Bubble Boys at the highest levels would give me an idea of how the spec was faring – after all, if the Crit spec fails, nobody would be using it, right?  So I checked the Holy Paladin list for my realm at WoW-Heroes and ran down the top 50 and checked their specs (I could have kept going, but my eyes started to bleed). 

The results were pretty interesting. 

Of the top 50 on my realm (based on gear score as supplied by WoW Heroes), we had 25 Critadins, 23 Bubble Boys, and 2 You Really Heal With That Spec? types (69 points in Holy? Really? But they must be doing something right, they’ve got better gear than me). 

Further food for thought

In the top 25, Bubbles led the way, 14-10.

Positions 26-50 saw Critadins outpace Bubbles 15-9.

The top 4 spots were split evenly between Bubbles and Crits.

What does it mean? Well, it means that Holy Paladins really are in a good place right now.  We’ve got not one, but two viable healing specs that can be used. Bubble Boys may bring a bit more utility to the raid, but there’s still a place for the Critadin, even in Hard Modes.  The giant-sized crits can keep up with the hardest-hitting bosses, and we have enough mana management tools available to keep from running dry.  It’s enough to make me think about hitting that ‘Activate These Talents’ button again…..

Next up from me – an evaluation of the changes Cataclysm brought to Paladins. Due six months after WoW 5.0 is released…

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About Matticus

Matticus is the founder of World of Matticus and Plus Heal. Read more of his columns at WoW Insider. League of Legends player. Caffeine enthusiast.

Comments

  1. I have to say that your article is pretty low quality. You really didnt put much effort into it at all. I am not sure you have really said anything of real worth.

    Alot of encounters either have opportunities for you to use DP, irrespective of your spec, or let you melee on the boss with JoW up. therefore mana isnt going to be an issue.

    There are very few that really require constant max healing. In these very few cases you can either go for a max SP/Haste FoL build or stack an insane amount of mana.

    The benefits of 51/20/0 builds is that you can use Bubble Sac as dmg mitigation to let you use DP. If you have Talisman of Resurgence and have Pandora’s Plea proccing, then you really are in a very strong position to use DP without too much risk of dropping a tank.

  2. Intriguing. I’ve yet to get the cahoonas to throw all of those semi-wasted talent points into the Prot tree just to get at Divine Sacrifice and Divine Guardian (I mean, Improved Righteous Fury? Really?!?), preferring to wait to see what the verdict is. Sounds like the verdict is… a horizontal thumb… Hmm.

    I’d be curious about a bunch of things before I actually decide to take the plunge.
    1) How many times does self-gibbing _actually_ occur in an average Ulduar “oh crud” moment?
    2) Does the 2-min DS cooldown make this a nice addition but ultimately one of those “gotta wait for the perrrrfect moment, waiting… waiting… oh the fight’s over” kinda spells?
    3) Does the arguably necessary coordination with the rest of the team (ala Shammys’ heroism) mean that in many of the tough situations it would be used, it is overlapping another healers big mitigation button and losing a bit chunk of its worth in the process?

    It’s a heck of a lot of points to take away from the Ret tree, points that I _know_ are being used to improve my healing capabilities with every click. Putting them into abilities that are situational at best, and at worst, bordering on useless, still has me a touch antsy.

    • @Mally: All of the Paladins in my guild, no matter what their role, pick up Divine Sacrifice. Then again, not every raid group has access to 6 Paladins. But it’s gotten us through a lot of tough encounters.

  3. I’d really be interested not only in crit vs. bubble but FoL vs. HL builds. Of those builds that are crit, which ones are FoL/HL? Do you have any information on that?

  4. @Josh, Ferarro looked into FoL vs HL in a recent article, which you may find interesting:

    http://ferarro.blogspot.com/2009/11/flash-of-light-vs-holy-light.html

  5. Haha Yeah I already read it 🙂 She makes an argument that FoL builds desire the holy/ret spec for the crit and I was curious if most FoL specc’d paladins did, in fact, do that.

  6. @Halthor: Ouch! Terribly sorry to disappoint you. I started these posts as a response to the Healadin community heading into 3.2: So many Paladins were worried that we wouldn’t be able to ‘compete’ at all, let alone in the Crit spec (I recently saw someone post elsewhere ‘Holy/Ret is now dead to us’). Quite the opposite, both specs are viable. Perhaps you would have preferred more of a ‘how to manage your mana effectively’ article, though it sounds like you’re quite fine on that front. What sort of Paladin posts would you prefer to see?

    @Mally: “Insta-gibbing” did occur once or twice, but it was because I was adjusting to something new on the keyboard (and I foolishly put it where Divine Favor used to live) AND I wasn’t paying attention to my rapidly-plummeting health bar. I’ve since macro’d it with Divine Shield, and that doesn’t happen anymore . I have also macro’d it to Divine Protection. This does require some care in high damage situations, but it can be useful if DShield is still on cooldown.

    On certain fights we do coordinate Sacrifice amongst our Paladins. Mimiron Plasma Blasts, Frozen Blows, etc., we’ll often work out a rotation before the fight starts just so we don’t have everyone use it at once.

    @Josh: As Mally pointed out, Ferraro just did a post on this the other day. She recommends the Holy/Ret spec for FoL spam, and the Bubble spec for HL spam. I did not look into that aspect of things in putting this piece together.
    .-= jeffo´s last blog ..Ups and Downs: 2-1/2 Years of WoW =-.

  7. @Josh and jeffo: The FoL paladin from Premonition that I inspired myself from when I did my own research on the FoL vs HL builds used a bubble spec. That said, I do not know what the majority of FoL paladins use as their spec. Let me tell you, it’s hard to find FoL paladins.

    My conclusion was that both specs can be useful with both healing styles. The extra crit does give some more oomph to an FoL pally but depending on the fight and your raid makeup, Divine Sacrifice is often too good pass up. Equally, the extra mana regen from a Holy/Ret spec has its place in an HL build.

    I often see paladins with both specs, swapping between them depending on need. Personally, I’ve tried both and I prefer bubble spec by far, but mainly because it suits my healing style better.
    .-= Ophelie´s last blog ..Your Holy Paladin Gear: Holy Light Builds vs Flash of Light Builds =-.

  8. @Ophelle, can you explain your “healing style” to see if other people share your actions and therefore may gain similar benefits from the bubble spec?

  9. Hmm. Paladin healing is something I don’t know much about at all, so reading this is really quite interesting. Hope there’ll be more to read from you soon!

  10. @ Mally, I probably didn’t choose the right word, by “my healing style”, what I meant was more along the lines of my personal preference. If I was to start breaking it down, I would need to have my own post! Overall, I love utility. Divine Sacrifice is probably my favorite spell, I like the shortened CD on Hand of Protection, I like the damage reduction from Improved Righteous Fury. I like that I can be more helpful in BGs. I also almost always raid with at least one ret paladin so improved might isn’t an issue. I’ve tried both specs and bubble was what worked best for me.

    That said, I don’t think it’s the only way to play. Both specs are viable and nothing beats experimenting to find out what works best for someone.
    .-= Ophelie´s last blog ..Your Holy Paladin Gear: Holy Light Builds vs Flash of Light Builds =-.

  11. I am a hold out critadin – love the crit!
    TBH, I have not really noticed the nerf too much at all. I still have enough mana to get the job done, and with 60% crit buffed in 25raid, and the crazy spike damage in ToGC, I find that the crit spec is still extremely viable. We barely ever use DS, TBH. The crit rating means using DP isnt too risky as long as you DP early and often.

    I also did some math recently and found that with div.ill. running at my current crit rating and SP, I can FoL and have a net gain in mana. Yes, I have 1s casts on FoL however, but I can average 30k healing over 5s and increase my net mana. Which, if you ask me, is a bit crazy, and is ONLY because I have good haste and crit.

    Now, I can maintain this because I gem exclusively for int, and I preference crit/haste gear over MP5 gear…. meh, I am totally getting too far into theory crafting this for a comment. But I might head over to plus heal and bump your thread if you want?
    .-= brangwen´s last blog ..Tweaking strat is made of win =-.

  12. @Jeffo

    Ok, agree my first post was on the harsh side. I guess I am disappointed that we got a nicely written article that basically says that 51/5/15 based specs and 51/20/0 based specs are both viable. Long article, but content light, not content rich.

    This article would have been better coming out 1 month after 3.2. With it coming out so long after 3.2, it has become far less valuable.

    Now to answer you questions around what types of article that I think would benefit Holy Paladin’s out there.

    I think that there are a few types:

    1) Talent specs – Pro’s and Con’s, when you can benefit from using one ability over another. Best example is Div Sac. Use of real life examples is always good.

    2) Healing in 10man raids – e.g. TOC10 2man healing. TOGC10 2man healing. Healing style becomes a blend of tank and raid healing. Much more interesting for a healer. Then your choice of healing partner becomes critical.

    3) Healing in 25man raids – e.g. 25man version of the above… Heroic Gormok healing on 25man compared to 10man is very different in my experience. 25man is totally focused tank healing. 10man allows raid healing, especially if 2man healing it (requires a little luck with Snobolds).

    4) Healing challenges around specific bosses. e.g. Heroic Twins, Heroic Anub Arak. The Holy Paladin 51/20/0 spec is pretty amazing for Phase 3 of Heroic Anub. Bubble Sac + Aura Mastery make a huge difference.

    5) Discussion or perspectives on the incoming changes for 3.3.

    Hope this helps

    Hal

  13. Thank you, Halthor, I appreciate the follow up.

    I do agree, this should have come out quite some time ago. There are times when I can move quite fast on things and times when I’m positively glacial. We know what this one was. Thanks for the suggestions and we’ll see what I can wrap my brain around going forward.
    .-= jeffo´s last blog ..Ups and Downs: 2-1/2 Years of WoW =-.

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