Paladin Healing Talents for MoP – Your Picks?

Paladin Healing Talents for MoP – Your Picks?

Here’s part 2 featuring the favourite class that everyone loves to hate on: Paladins!

Paladin talents

Matt’s picks

mop-talent-paladin_thumb[2]

Level 15: Speed of Light. 1 minute cooldown but at least as Holy they have a personal defensive ability.

Level 30: CC abilities. Repentance, but otherwise there’s nothing that directly affects healing here.

Level 45: Appears to be the defensive paladin section. Nothing healing related, but would personally select Sacred Shield. Never know when you might get spiked. Plus it lets you eat a fire once in a while.

Level 60: Leaning heavily toward Holy Shield. Another ability that stops incoming damage relative to your Holy Power? Cool!

Level 75: Acts of Sacrifice. But there is nothing that helps healing here. Clemency does come in handy if you need two Hand of Sacrifices back to back. I guess it could be thought of as another single target CD.

Level 90: I guess it depends how powerful Holy Shock will be at this stage. I can already see Paladins chain casting Holy Shock over and over again on different players after a large AoE hit. Holy Avenger does look attractive for 10 seconds of maximum Holy Power.

Depending on how you look at it, there are possibly 4 abilities you can grab which will help you do your job as healing. The rest of them are pure utility such as the CC. The talents do not appear to be as diverse as the priest ones in terms of healing selections. But then again, paladins fill three roles. Priests have just two roles as they are unable to legitimately tank. Overall not a bad list. I feel as though additional talents could be brought in or modified here.

Skills

Paladins receive a new skill called Blinding Light. It’s essentially an AoE disorient. Now that’s going to be a fun skill in PvP. Can’t think of too many raiding applications for it yet unless there’s additional crowd controllable mobs.

I’m not exactly a regular Paladin healer so feel free to share your insights on your own selections and why you would differ on your picks.

Shaman and Druids coming up next!

Holy Power and More for the Post-Cataclysmic Paladin

Holy Power and More for the Post-Cataclysmic Paladin

Please give a warm World of Matticus welcome to guest-blogger Ophelie, and remember to visit Bossy Pally for more great Paladin posts!

I came home from a weekend in the wilderness to discover my class turned upside down. That’s what happens when you spend two days and a night in the middle of nowhere without internet. You come back and you’re lost.

As I was scrambling to piece together the bits of news, Matt suggested I guest post about it. Guest post about the paladin news, of course, not my scrambling. So I did what I always do when having to talk about Cataclysm news. I grabbed a pen, some paper and called up Google.

And if that wasn’t enough, a new beta build was released between then and now, just for confusion purposes.

So…here’s what I found out, and there’s what I think of it all.

Apparently, last Friday there was a certain Twitter Developer Chat. Apparently, some paladiny stuff was said. Apparently, it was stuff like:

All of the paladin specializations will make use of a new resource called Holy Power. Holy Power accumulates from using Crusader Strike, Holy Shock, and some other talents. Holy Power can be consumed to augment a variety of abilities, including:

An instant mana-free heal: Word of Glory
A buff to increase holy damage done: Inquisition
A massive physical melee attack for Retribution paladins: Templar’s Verdict
Holy Shield’s duration is now extended by Holy Power
Divine Storm’s damage is now increased by Holy Power

We also introduced several new heals for Holy Paladins including Healing Hands (an AoE heal-over-time that is applied to all players standing near the paladin), Light of Dawn (a cone heal with a 30-yard range), as well as a new heal called Divine Light, which is similar to a priest’s Greater Heal, and the new instant heal mentioned above, Word of Glory.

As for the release of new talents builds, for those of us who aren’t lucky enough to witness them first hand, here’s a link to the MMO Champion version.

I’m going to stick with the holy side of the things, because I’m primarily a healer and this, after all, is primarily a healing blog. I’m also going to stick with the big picture and what stood out to me. I figure anyone who really cares about the nitty gritty details has already read (if not tested) them anyway.

Back to the dev chat news, in other words, we get a new bar (like a health or mana bar, and yes it’s currently supposed to be an actual bar and not cute circles on our screen) to record stacked up combo-like points as we cast Holy Shock, as we directly heal our Beacon target (via the Tower of Radiance talent) and possibly as we do other things. We’re then given Word of Glory, a get-out-of-jail free card for when there’s need to fill in one of the gaps caused by Holy Shock cooldowns.

More Bars, More Bars!

When I first heard of a Holy Power bar, I froze for a second, worried that my mana bar was being replaced. But no, they’re actually adding a new bar and not removing old bars. I like that. It gives us something else to keep our eyes on and to make the mental hamster run faster. It’s not too complex, after all, last I heard, Holy Power only stacked up to 3. 3 points is totally something I can keep track of.

Forcing us to use Holy Shock regularly, keeping track of Holy Power stacks and deciding when to use a finishing move is a small but welcome addition to the holy paladin thought process.

EDIT : In the comments, Esh, who’s been playing in the beta, reported that Holy Power is actually a buff icon and not a bar, at least at lower levels. It’s been assumed that Holy Power would be a bar due to a post by Ghostcrawler, but a buff icon certainly makes more sense.

Holy Shock: A Love Story

Personal confession time: I love Holy Shock. I’ve always loved Holy Shock. Holy Shock and I go way back. Holy Shock was the whole reason I specced Holy in the first place (hey I was new to the game and didn’t realize there were more efficient ways to deal damage). Though I eventually discovered it wasn’t the wonderful spell I had imagined, it’s still been there for me through all the hard times. Whenever I needed to quickly save someone without abandoning the tanks, it didn’t hesitate. It was my companion during all those ICC fights that had me casting and running (and cursing!) at the same time.  It listened to all my problems and never laughed at me… Erm. Moving on.

In one sentence, it should come as no surprised that I’m thrilled to see Holy Shock finally getting the game mechanics buff it deserves.

Oh, and if adding importance to Holy Shock wasn’t enough, its mana cost is brought down to 8% from 18% and it helps with all the slow casting via the talents Infusion of Light and Speed of Light, somewhat replacing the current Light’s Grace.

There’s also a new spell, Holy Mending, that gives Holy Shock a small heal over time. 15% of a Holy Shock over 9 seconds seems a little silly, but, um, you know, at least they’re trying.

EDIT: Ryonar left an excellent comment that is unfortunately stuck in pending comment limbo. He pointed out that Holy Mending is already in the game: it’s the tier 8 2p bonus. The MMO Champion Paladin page makes it look like a skill trainable at level 80. It either a bug, or it’s becoming a permanent skill in the expansion.

Addressing the Movement Issue

Remember what I said about casting and running at the same time?

Sorry, I couldn’t heal I was moving.”

How often has an embarrassed paladin said that following a premature tank death? (There’s also the slightly more disturbing “sorry, I couldn’t move I was healing”.)

To me, the new emphasis placed on Holy Shock, and the addition of Word of Glory, another instant heal, looks like an attempt to make movement more manageable. I’m curious to see how much assistance the final mechanics of Healing Hands and Light of Dawn end up providing to the current movement impaired paladin. As of now, both are instant and both seem to allow movement during the spell effect.

Healing Hands even increases movement speed by up to 60% when talented into Speed of Light. Being someone who staged a large protest when she couldn’t fit Pursuit of Justice into all her paladin specs, my stomach did summersaults when I discovers the good news.

Feelin’ Like a Paladin

Like druid healers and their tree forms, like shamans with their skirts, like priests with, um, whatever is meaningful to priests (normally I’d make a joke about priests always being dead, but for some reason, it feels like a bad idea to do that here), us paladins have a sense of identity too.

In our history, we’ve been blasphemized. We’ve been forced to wear certain pieces of mail gear because it was better itemized than plate. (Min/maxers even went as far as equipping the Meteor Chaser’s Raiment, which is made of toilet paper, of all things). Again and again, we’ve been sent to the back of the room with all the casters. Many of us were even deprived of shields, resigning ourselves to carrying orbs or lamps in our off-hands. The horrors just never end.

On top of it all, Cataclysm promises to lessen the differences between the healing classes, in an effort to promote Blizzard’s “blame the player not the class” campaign (or was it, “bring the player, not the class”? I can never get it straight.)

But you know what?

I’m ok with it.

Seriously. Healing Hands and Light of Dawn introduce some multi-target healing beyond the limitations of Beacon of Light and Glyph of Holy Light. Healing Hands and Holy Mending/Holy Shock also flirt with heals over time, another element lacking in paladin healing.

Yet, while the end results are similar from one class to another, our ways to reach those ends are tailored to our unique paladin interests (special little snowflakes that we are). The mechanics of our new spells encourage us to get up close and personal (hopefully, my stubborn plate wearing tendencies will finally be useful) and Holy Power…

Ah! Holy Power!

I can just picture my little paladin puffing up with zealousness as she casts, then unleashing it all in one blow.

Oh, and yes, I do agree with Rohan and a number of others in their preference for the term Zeal. The concept of Holy Power is terrific, the name Holy Power, however, makes me think of energy drinks.

But you know that when we’ve reduced ourselves to complaining about semantics, we’re finally getting some pretty promising Cataclysm news.

Death of the Niche Healer

Death of the Niche Healer

Recently a topic has sprung up among many healers. There are lots of blog posts popping up about it so I figured since I’ve been going on about it for a while now, I’ll add my two copper to the public domain here, but first a story.

In the days of vanilla World of Warcraft, each faction had access to 3 healing classes. Priests and druids on both sides and paladins for alliance balanced by shaman for the horde. The lines between the roles of the healing classes was not as defined as it could be, but raids stacked healers and slogged through 40 man content with two simple commandments;

“Heal thy group! Keep thine tanks alive!

Then along came Burning Crusade. The developers evened out the sides and gave everyone access to paladins and shamans despite faction. The developers then looked at the classes and said,

“LET THERE BE HEALER SPECIALTY NICHES!”

Thus healer niches were born. In Burning Crusade each healing class had something it excelled at. Shaman healers fought with priests for the title of group healer supreme, Paladins ruled the tank healer slot and druids were perfect healers to roll between targets. The roles however got a bit too specific. Restoration shaman spent the vast majority of BC casting nothing but Chain Heal, priests spammed Circle of Healing,  paladins Flash of Light and Holy Light spammed and druids just put a hot on everything they could. As healers our jobs could be boiled down to one button push in many cases. Players geared for it and played accordingly. Needless to say this got boring. As a person who cast nothing but Chain Heal through all of Black Temple I can vouch for this.

With Wrath of the Lich King on the horizon, the devs looked upon their world and saw that groups were picking healers based on class and not skill. So from on high they spoke out their voices echoing from the heavens

“LET THERE BE EQUALITY AMONGST HEALERS!”

Thus each healing class was gifted with new tools to help them fill various healing roles in the group. Shaman gained the ability to heal on the move and gained even stronger single target healing, druids joined the ranks of an accomplished swing healer. Priests rejoiced as discipline became an accepted way of life and paladins embraced their bacon. Raid leaders reveled in the choice of skill versus class and the land was truly flowing with milk and honey.

I hope you liked my little story there, I know I enjoyed it. It is however a true story. In the early days of the game no one really cared what the healers were doing as long as everything stayed alive long enough for the boss to drop. In BC everyone had a specific role or at least a lot more so than the one we had in vanilla. As a shaman I personally cast down-ranked chain heal more times in one night raiding than most people blink. Point was people began to take very specific healing classes for encounters as the healing strengths were specifically needed for that encounter. This is largely how BC ended with each healer falling into the category  of raid healing, tank healing and then the specifics of which flavor of each. To be honest it got a little out of hand. There were several points where shaman for example would claim they couldn’t heal Magisters Terrace, and unless they woefully out-geared the place, they were right. Some healers could walk into a 5 man heroic and not break a sweat while others had to work and work hard in even some of the simplest dungeons. It simply wasn’t balanced.

When Wrath came along all of that changed. The game devs actually went out of their way to make sure tools were put in place to allow each healer to fill each role. Whether it was a glyph, a new spell or tweaking talents and abilities, they went all out in trying to sure up healer equality. It has been a balancing act since that’s for sure, and if anyone remembers back in may when I got on my soap box about the State of Chain Heal, in some cases healers were tweaked too much to the point they were way too far homogenized. However even with the hard mode debacle, for the most part there was healer equality. Each of the classes could heal a tank, or heal a group and each could walk into a 5 man heroic and as long as the player was on their feet and paying attention they were capable of doing it. After the last set of tweaks from the devs this became even more the case. As it stands now each of the classes and in the case of priests, each healing spec, is capable of healing a tank or raid healing effectively. While some excel slightly better than others in those varying situations, the truth is they can still perform in the role and that is what evening out the healing lines is all about.

With all the options we have, I for one am very happy. Recently however there has been a new, for lack of a better term here, healer subculture emerging within the community. Players of each of the healing classes / specs are starting to demand their niches again. Whether it’s a shaman demanding to be the king of chain heal once more or a paladin begging to be only useful on tank heals, the proof is out there. People are actively trying to secure a niche in raid groups. This honestly strikes me as odd. Why would you want to go back to a way of doing things that honestly people complained bout incessantly. Why try to cling to a system that forces you to cast only one spell when you have an entire arsenal of heals available to you for any task you could be handed?

That’s the part I don’t get. I’m ok with wanted to be the best at something or even better than someone else but to actively shoe-horn yourself into a single role seems counter productive. As a healer I love being versatile, being able to sling chain heals until I’m blue in the face or swap out and lay some nukes on a tank, I like having the option. As a raid officer and healing lead I enjoy this versatility even more. I love being able to take a disc priest and tear them off of tank healing to make them raid heal. Same goes for shuffling priests and healers. I like being able to give my healers a little variety so they aren’t doing the same thing every day. I like to think they appreciate it as well. What I love most about it though is not having to rely on specific classes to be present to proceed through content like it was back in BC. So after many players struggling for so long to have this amount of versatility, why try to limit yourself. This subgroup centers around the idea that a healer should perform one function incredibly well, but not much else. A perfect example would be shaman who feel that they should only focus on casting and buffing chain heal, while ignoring all other spells.

So after clawing your way out of the niche market to be viable in all circumstances, why try to go back?

That’s it for today folks, until next time Happy Healing!~

What do you think? Do you think healers should focus on their specialty and nothing more? Do you think healer versatility is key?

The Flash of Light Spec

This is a guest post by @Dtotheug

What spec and glyphs should I should I use as a Holy Paladin for raiding?

That is a good question and really depends on how you want to play and what your role is in the raid. Currently there are two prevailing specs and each have their plus and minuses.

The first spec is the Flash of Light spec (51/5/15) which focuses on a bigger Flash of Light (FoL) heal, more mitigation via Sacred Shield (because Sacred Shield scales with Spell Power), increases the HoT effect of your Infusion of Light talent, and relies more on your healing spells to crit. The problem with this spec is that if you are not mostly using FoL you’re going to have to watch your mana pool closely because Holy Lights and Holy Shocks are going to eat through your mana pool.

This spec also greatly benefits from the four piece bonus of the T9 set which increases the HoT of your FoL by 100%. The major glyphs I would recommend if you are thinking about using this spec are Glyph of Seal of Light, Glyph of Beacon Light, and Glyph of Flash of Light.

Glyph of Seal of Light is a flat 5% increase to your healing spells and since you will be criting more with this spec (which means more mana being returned) you won’t have to worry about your mana as much, which means this glyph is going to benefit you more than the Glyph of Seal of Wisdom.

Glyph of Beacon of Light is chosen because it is going to add 30 seconds to Beacon of Light which means you don’t have to worry about it dropping off your target as quickly. In addition you won’t have to worry about trying to cast Beacon of Light and Sacred Shield (both have a 30 second durations) at the same time, it will also conserve some mana because you won’t be casting it as much, and plus it will let you focus on using your healing spells more.

Glyph of Flash of Light is a must have for this spec. It increases the crit chance of your Flash of Light by 5% which calculates out to a 1.5% mana return and a 2.5% increase on your Flash of Light heals.

If you are going to be the main tank healer in a 10-man or 25-man ICC raid I would suggest against this spec, you’re are going to be clicking FoL so much you may break your mouse. There are two situations when I would use this spec. The first is if this is my off-spec and I was running a 10-man or 25-man and if an extra healer was needed, I would step in. Between your Beacon of Light, Sacred Shield, and FoLs, this should give the other healers in your raid the buffer area they need to keep everyone topped off.

The other situation I would use this spec in is if I was backing up the main tank healer or helping with raid healing in a 25-man raid. Your FoLs will be filling in the gaps of the other healers and help keep everyone topped off.

EDIT: Forgot to mention there’s a part 2 coming

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…

Tier 10 Healing Bonuses

The new Tier 10 bonuses are available for preview. Note that none of them are finalized yet but these are some serious bonuses. Check them out:

Druids

  • 2 piece: The healing granted by your Wild Growth spell reduces 0% less over time.
  • 4 piece: Each time your Rejuvenation spell heals a target, it has a 2% chance to jump to a new target at full duration.
  • Paladin

  • 2 piece: The cooldown on your Divine Favor talent is reduced by 60 sec.
  • 4 piece: Your Holy Shock spell causes the next Holy Light you cast within 10 sec to have 0.3 sec reduced cast time.
  • Priest

  • 2 piece: After your Pain Suppression and Guardian Spirit talents expire on your target, they grant your target 10% increased healing received for 10 sec.
  • 4 piece: Your Flash Heal spell has a 15% chance to reset the cooldown on your Circle of Healing and Penance Spells.
  • Shaman

  • 2 piece: Your Riptide spell grants 20% spell haste for your next spellcast.
  • 4 piece: Your Chain Heal critical strikes cause the target to heal for 25% of the healed amount over until cancelled.
  • If I were to rank these bonuses, I would have to say the 2 piece for Druids is a clear winner. Wild Growth without the reduction in healing strength as a constant bonus? That’s a strong bonus. The 4 piece translates to 1 in every 50 Rejuvenations will switch to a new target with a full duration a chance for Rejuv to jump per tick application.

    For Paladins, I’m really liking the 4 piece myself. Holy Light’s going to see some even heavier use. But that 2 piece basically means a 1 minute cooldown on Divine Favor. That’s pretty darn sick.

    The Priest 2 piece seems okay at first glance. It’s going to take Pain Suppression talents and the Guardian Spirit glyph to make it truly stand out. Remember how long their cooldowns are. I have to give the edge to Guardian Spirit especially if you have the glyph. The 4 piece one looks really good to me no matter what spec you are. I don’t think we’re going back to the days of the Circle of Healing spamming Holy Priest or anything.

    And as for Shamans, they seem to consistently rank high on the tier bonuses. Riptide giving haste? Chain Heal crits doing even more healing?

    How are you liking the upcoming tier 10 bonuses?

    Bubbles and Crits: Paladins from 3.0 to 3.2

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

    Before there is Cataclysm there was a cataclysm – a massive overhaul to WoW that patch 3.0.2 brought to the game. From this Holy Paladin’s perspective, these changes were more than welcome and, once I got used to 40-yard judgments, a spell that would let me heal two(!) targets at once and a greatly streamlined judgment system, I was in good shape. The road to level 80 also brought us a shield and a new mechanism for regenerating a lot of mana over a short period of time. The revisions to all three Paladin trees made many Holy Paladins rethink where their non-Holy points should be invested.

    Prior to 3.0.2 most Holydins would go into Protection tree, primarily with the aim of picking up Blessing of Kings. With Wrath out most Holy Paladins decided to dig instead into the Retribution tree, picking up talents that increased spell crit by 8%. Although Kings remained in the same location in the Protection tree, the shuffling of talents around it made this build pale in comparison to a Holy/Ret spec. The crit talents took advantage of one of our key talents, Illumination, and enabled Holydins to stack Intellect, load up on crit gear, and Holy Light-spam our way through Naxxramas into Ulduar. Even as we watched a shameful moment in paladin history (Arthas disbanding the Silver Hand and sending Uther home in disgrace in Old Stratholme), healing Paladins seemed to be entering into a Golden Age, topping meters and putting out prodigious amounts of healing while our fellow healers were running dry.

    Storm clouds appeared on the horizon in May when Ghostcrawler dropped the first hint that Blizzard was looking at nerfing Illumination. This touched off a vigorous debate on Plusheal.com (as opposed to the O-Boards, where it spawned much QQ from Paladins, and much ‘lol, nerf pallies, QQ moar’ from everyone else) about what this would mean if the change went through, though many seemed to believe that it wouldn’t.

    It did.

    On June 18, the news was announced, and it was even worse than we had imagined: Not only did the mana return from Illumination get cut in half, one of our key talents, Divine Intellect, was also getting cut by 5% at max level. Combined with an across-the-board nerf to Replenishment, it appeared that Holy Paladins were getting nerfed ‘to the ground, baby’ (sorry, can’t resist borrowing that quote from our favorite crab). Anguish and anger ruled the day on the O-Boards. We were going to be crippled, we were going to be benched. Never mind the huge buff to Beacon of Light (and it is huge), never mind the Flash of Light over Time effect on Sacred Shielded targets: Rerolls were incoming, subscriptions were being canceled. The Golden Age of the Paladin was over.

    Or was it?

    April’s Patch 3.1 introduced some new wrinkles that may well have been designed to lure healers out of the Ret tree: Divinity and Divine Sacrifice. With the nerfs incoming in patch 3.2, a number of Paladins began eyeballing and experimenting with Holy/Protection as an alternative. Siha at Banana Shoulders predicted on July 21st that a Holy/Prot spec would become the favored spec while other Paladin deeper in Ulduar than I were looking at this spec as a way to mitigate some of the high raid-wide damage seen in fights like Mimiron. Sadly, despite the theorycrafting that was going on, few people who were actually IN the PTR were posting their experiences with any real numbers. Instead, we got a mix of ‘it’s not too bad’ and ‘it sucks, I’m re-rolling’, so we were left to wait, wonder and speculate. Much of the speculation focused on whether or not the sky would fall when the patch went live.

    Patch Goes Live, Sky Does Not Fall!

    Just before the patch hit I dropped my 1000 gold on dual-spec training and created…a second healing spec. I went with a 51/20/0 ‘Bubble spec’, figuring there was no getting around the nerfs and that I was going to have to get used to it. A funny thing happened to me: I’ve been using the bubble spec almost exclusively ever since. A one-minute Sacred Shield is nice, and Divine Sacrifice is a very strong talent (provided I don’t inadvertently kill myself with it). I do miss not seeing quite as many BIG, GREEN NUMBERS as I used to, but with raid buffs I’m still typically critting well over thirty percent of the time, and have hit 40+% on some fights.

    But what about the mana? Prior to 3.2 in my Crit spec, I was getting around 40% of my total mana regeneration from Illumination; Replenishment was a distant second at ~30%. Both were getting cut drastically in the patch, and switching to a Bubble spec would make my crit drop by another 8% or so – would I be able to heal, or would I find myself starved for mana?

    In short, my mana is fine! Despite the fact that in bubble spec Illumination now only makes up 15-17% mana return, and Replenishment returns now seem to fall in the 25% range, I have had virtually no issues with mana to date. Even on fights where I find myself having to bomb Holy Lights, I’m not the healer that calls ‘Out of mana’ over vent – that doesn’t happen for me unless something’s gone very, very wrong in our raid. How can this be? I believe it’s due to a combination of the following:

    1. High crit rate: Despite the loss of 8% crit through my respec and the 50% Illumination nerf, I’m still regaining plenty of mana through crits. Unbuffed I stand at 27% Holy crit; with full raid buffs, I’m still typically critting on 40% of my heals.
    2. Guardian, Sacrifice and Shield: With 2 points in Divine Guardian, Sacred Shield lasts one minute (as opposed to 30 seconds untalented), and absorbs 20% more damage per hit. Divine Sacrifice can eat up a pretty high amount of damage every two minutes. Fewer shield refreshes, more damage absorbed = mana savings.
    3. Play Style: Three big things in this category: First, I’ve become better about finding safe spots in fights to use Divine Plea; second, I’m getting back into the habit of using Divine Illumination whenever I can (I used to use it pretty much every cooldown, but got out of the habit since the expansion, simply because I didn’t need it); third, where I’ve traditionally done my healing from 40 yards away, I will now be found a little more often around the bosses’ feet. A single swing with Seal of Wisdom active can get you enough mana for your next Holy Light, depending on the size of your mana pool.

    Based on my experience, Bubbledins seem to be faring pretty well so far: we can still put out very large numbers and our mana seems to hold up well over long, healing intensive fights. I think that it actually makes us a more well-rounded healer than we were heading into the patch. But what about the holdouts? The nerfs seemed to be aimed pretty squarely at Int-stacking, Crit-bombing, Holy retadins, and there’s still a lot of them out there. For my next act (Matt willing) I will take a look at some numbers and reports from my critting cousins. A bit more research is in order, and it may mean taking the Crit spec back out of the garage and into Ulduar again – should be fun!

    Symbiotic Altoholism

    This is a guest post by Saunder, a Holy Paladin from Non-squishy Heals.

    Before I start I guess I should say a bit about myself. I have 2 level 80 Holy/Ret dual-specced Pallys (instance as holy, solo as ret), a 73 hunter and a 58 druid. Well I have lots more, but they are the important ones.

    Most of you will be familiar with the idea of Symbiotic relationships. One definition of such relationships is that it occurs where both organisms benefit. I see alts as exactly this sort of relationship.

    The hunter was my original toon. I leveled him in the blissful ignorance that comes from not reading about game mechanics, and running instances in the totally blithe knowledge that the tank will *always* have aggro, and the healer will *always* keep you alive. After all, a hunter is DPS so all that matters is how much damage he or she can do, yes?

    I then rolled a Pally, and enjoyed it. I liked healing and now my Pallys are unquestionably my mains … Can you have multiple ‘main’s? Anyway … And I found out some rather nasty truths. The first one was that Hunters who don’t manage their own aggro, even at the expense of their DPS are very very unpleasant group mates to have for healers at times. I have come to realise that my play as the hunter has been immeasurably improved by playing a healer. You may ask why – well, now I know that DPS isn’t everything. You need to find ways to put out the best DPS *without* pulling more threat than the tank and, if that isn’t enough, sometimes there is no better thing for the group and the run as a whole than for the DPS to fall on their sword and protect the healer, even at the expense of their own life and repair bill. It’s not what you signed up for, but it *is* the hard reality. Not only have these observations led to much improved play as the hunter, I hope that the number of pug members swearing at me behind my back has decreased markedly. I firmly believe that to be a really effective DPS, you need to play a healer, most likely to a high enough level to run some reasonable instances with pugs and learn some of the mistakes that will keep you on your main, and your group mates, alive and happy longer.

    The second truth I found was that of healing priorities. In an instance, your first and foremost role as a healer is to stay alive. That may be a very selfish view, but seriously, how much healing can you do dead? The best tank and group in the world will need heals at some point (ok, with a couple of Blood DK’s or a hybrid class that can step in that may not be an absolute, but you know what I mean) and that means you the healer need to be alive and kicking so that you can provide those heals. (It’s also a pain in the behind to have to keep running back from a graveyard if you are the only one who can res but that is secondary). The next priority is the tank. Obviously anyone who is going to keep the attention of the instance denizens away from you and the rest of the group is a good person to look after. And, in case you hadn’t noticed, healers tend to be high up there on the threat table. Second on a threat table is a bad place to be if the first on the table dies, usually leading to the situation above where you can’t heal the rest of the group as you are dead!

    So there it is, Healing Priorities in a nutshell. Now, now, now, before I hear all you DPS baying at the moon for my blood (do feral Druids in kitty form still bay? *grin*), I don’t mean that I don’t heal the DPS, far from it. I will heal anyone in a party or raid, players, pets, mind controlled mobs or whoever but I will heal them after I heal myself and the tank. In a perfect world no-one will die in an instance run, but, with the exceptions of DPS-races where the boss enrage-wipes, the death of a DPS is merely an inconvenience. The death of a tank or healer is often disastrous. DPS need to understand that there are times, and that is particularly true if they do something crazy, that death is inevitable. Live with it, and know that we your healers try to keep it to a minimum.

    Then there is the very uncomfortable truth that there are players out there who just don’t seem to ‘get’ it. You can tell them that unloading the full barrage of their uber talents and abilities before the tank has established threat is a bad idea until you are blue in the face and they will not change their ways. Surprising how fast they learn when you let them die as a result of their actions. Explain to them the pain they are causing, then if they don’t learn, just practice tough love. They will, and the group as a whole will thank you for it in the long term.

    So on the one hand, playing a healer alt really is a good thing for the DPS classes out there, and as a side effect, obviously, some percentage of you will find that you like healing, thus helping with the perpetual healer shortage. Excellent. I can live with that! :D On the other hand, it is just as valuable for a healing class to play the DPS role. Why you ask? As a healer, you need to know as much as possible that will make your runs more successful. After all, rightly or wrongly, the finger of blame is often pointed at the healer when there are problems. That means knowing the mistakes the other classes are likely to make. It can be a general knowledge such as the hunter example above, or it could be something much more specific. When that particular glow comes from the mage’s hands, for example, a LOT of AOE damage is about to happen, and that, in turn, leads to a LOT of threat. So have the big heal part way throughcasting so that if the mage *does* get aggro you might save them from being one-shotted. For those classes where you have emergency buttons, bubbling a mage in those sort of circumstance is not a bad idea. How cool is it to hear the anguished sounds that the clothies make on vent when they get aggro only to find they are still alive! You get to sit back and bask in the adulation of your peers. Ok, they mostly just grunt at you and expect it, but that’s the life of a healer

    Really look at the benefits of the different instance roles. Playing a different role is a big way to get fresh enjoyment and experiences. It will keep it interesting at the very least, and you never know, you might actually learn something and make life easier for everyone around you.

    For more great rants (and commentary), do visit Non-Squishy Heals and be sure to subscribe!

    Hybrid it up on General Vezax

    Hybrid it up on General Vezax

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    This is a guest post by Paladin blogger Honorshammer of Honor’s Code.

    General Vezax is the the last boss you must down before you cross swords with Yogg-Saron himself.

    The General is one of most challenging fights in all of Ulduar due to his Aura of Despair. What is it that this lovely gift from the Developers does?

    From WoWWiki (http://www.wowwiki.com/General_Vezax) we find:

    Aura of Despair – Prevents mana regeneration throughout the fight by all means, except for Judgments of the Wise, Spiritual Attunement, Aspect of the Viper, Thrill of the Hunt, and Shamanistic Rage. Note that unlike the Play Test Realm version of this encounter Mana Potions and active abilities such as Evocation and Life Tap will not function.

    My guild recently downed General Vezax. I was Retribution for the fight, but when one of our healers went down; I jumped in and started throwing some heals on the tank. That’s when I discovered the power of Judgments of the Wise for this fight. By Judging and stopcasting I was able to take over the 3rd healer role and concentrate on helping to keep our Main Tank alive, and do it on a Ret Paladin’s mana pool.

    What exactly does Judgement of the Wise do?

    Judgements of the Wise Rank 3 – Your Judgement spells have a 100% chance to grant the Replenishment effect to up to 10 party or raid members mana regeneration equal to 0.25% of their maximum mana per second for 15 sec, and to immediately grant you 25% of your base mana. (Source)

    The replenishment aspect is useless. After reviewing the WoW Web Stats, I can see that I never gained Replenishment. However I did gain over 100,000 mana from Judgments of the wise! Because it works off base mana, it would restore the same amount regardless of the current mana pool of the Paladin.

    We know that for a Level 80 Paladin, Holy Light cost 1,274 mana. So with a little napkin math, we can conclude that I regenerated enough mana from Judgments of the Wise to cast over 70 Holy Lights. That’s without the use of any Saronite Vapors at all.

    How practical would it be it for a Holy Paladin to get Judgement of the Wise? Let’s look at a talents build that allows a Holy Paladin to get Judgement of the Wise, and the tradeoffs it makes to get there.

    The most popular Holy Paladin build according to TalentChic is 51/5/15. Let’s look at what is needed to turn that into our hybrid build.

    First off, the 5 points in Divinity have to go. Divinity is a really strong Tier 1 talent, but we simply won’t have room for it in our build. It doesn’t matter how hard the heal hits if you don’t have the mana to cast it.

    Those 5 points move into Sanctity of Battle and Pursuit of Justice. Sanctity gives you even more crit for your Holy spells which should offset some of the loss of Divinity. There is a ton of movement on General Vezax so Pursuit of Justice is really nice as you move away from a Shadow Crash or into a Saronite Vapor.

    Then we take the points out of Beacon of Light. This is one tank fight. Let the other healers handle the Raid; you can stay on the Tank so Beacon is a minor loss. You are going to lose the Haste from Judgments of the Pure and Infusion of Light. You will also have to heal from melee range because you won’t have the range increase from Enlightened Judgments. We had our Resto Druid healing from near melee range, so we could just have just as easily had a Holy Paladin there.

    You won’t have the mana reduction from Divine Illumination. Based on General Vexax’s enrage timer, you would only be able to fire Divine Illumination more than 3 times during the fight. Are those 45 seconds of reduced cost worth the mana you can get back from Judgments of the Wise?

    Assuming a little haste from gear, we’ll call Holy Light a 2 second cast. In those 45 seconds, we can get off 22.5 Holy Lights. To give every advantage to Divine Illumination, we’ll call it 23.

    Holy Light costs 1271 so half it’s cost is 635. So we’ve saved 635 mana times 23 casts or about 15,000 mana. It’s about 10% of what Judgments of the Wise gives you. So Divine Illumination is gone as well. Bu-bye!

    Our final move is to take 2 points out of Holy Guildance which will result in about a 4% loss of spell power from Intellect. The rest of the Holy Paladin build is pretty much intact.

    With these points freed up, we continue to ascend the Ret Tree. The next point taken in Ret is Sanctified Retribution. This will increase all damage done by everyone near us, even if we are running Concentration Aura.

    We want to pick up Improved Judgments so we can judge as often as possible, and trigger Judgments of the Wise as often as possible. Now we need two ‘filler’ points to move into the next Tier. There aren’t any great places to put them. I chose to put them in Crusade to increase the damage of Judgment by 3%. This build relies on judging often, so you might as well have them hit a little harder.

    On the next tier, we grab Divine Purpose. The 4% spell miss will act as increased resistance to Shadow Crash and Searing Flames should one get through your interrupters.

    Here again we find ourselves two points short of the next tier and not really any good place to spend them. I opted for Vengeance. Maybe you could get a stack going and hit those Judgments a little harder. It’s a filler choice so anywhere you want to throw two points will probably work.

    Finally, we open Judgments of the Wise.

    Here’s the final 38/0/33 build in the WoWhead tool.

    General Vezax is a challenging fight. Specing for a specific fight is something that used to be fairly common in late Tier 6 and Sunwell. We didn’t need it for Tier 7 raids, but as we near the end of Tier 8, it may be something to consider again.

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    Speccing Your Holy Paladin

    This is a guest post by heinleinfan, a raiding Holy Paladin

    I’m no World of Warcraft Theory Crafting Genius, I don’t do number crunching well, and there’s pally healers out there that could out-heal me into the ground in their sleep…but, this spec is really working for me, I’m happy with it, I’m an asset to my raids, I can tank heal or safely be assigned some raid heals without being a failbot at it… and so, I’ll blather on about it as if I knew what I was talking about.

    This is my Holy Pally Spec. There are many like it, but this one’s mine.

    First off, you’ll notice…not a single point in prot. Maybe this is nothing new to most holy pallies, but I ran with the 5 points in Prot so I could have Kings. And with the need to reach deep into holy for Beacon of omigodsponiesilovethisspell, I was constantly frustrated by those 5 darned points in prot. But now I get them out of prot! [insert happy dance] I’m sure some folks out there are going “what about Divinity?” Eh…five percent increased healing is not insignificant…but spellpower and crit are so much more important for healadins, and I believe those five points can be used more effectively for my raid spec and play style and so forth. So it’s bye-bye prot tree for me.

    You’ll notice I ignore all the extremely powerful PvP talents. Basically, if it’s not directly affecting my actual healing output or speed in some way, I pass it by, as I am a raid pally and not a PvPer.

    I’m running 18 points into Ret instead of my pre-patch 15, to get 3% more crit. The “filler” points needed in Ret to get to the 3rd tier are all pretty useful; Benediction brings the cost of Beacon and Holy Shock down, thatsaverra nice, especially with the new Holy Shock glyph, and Heart of the Crusader and Imp Blessing of Might are great raid additions.

    Aura Mastery, yup, I’ve still got it post-patch. I had it pre-patch for the extended aura range, and I’m keeping it to try out the buff thing. I think it will prove to be more of a PvP talent addition, but…I will say, in a recent battle against Ignis, a well timed pop of Aura Mastery caused half of the raid to fully resist the Flame Jets. That’s not bad, not bad at all. But, with a two minute cooldown and the unpredictability of the RNG, it’s not great, and might turn out to be not worth the point. I’ll give it a few more days.

    I gave up a point in Enlightened Judgements for it and I can handle that. I thought it would take a horrible lot of adjustment and wind up with me roflstomped by bosses who think 25 yards is too close for a healer to stand…but it’s definitely workable and has not caused me to eat floor yet.

    And speaking of Enlightened Judgements, that and Judgements of the Pure are talents I would not pass up as holy. Especially with the UBER NERF OF DOOM to Infusion of Light…I hate you so much, Blizzard…I do *not* want to give up a constant 15% haste boost in a raid. Along with the points I have in Ret, the judgement affecting talents are just too useful to ignore for this raid spec.

    The decision to put only 2 points in Imp Concentration Aura is pure selfishness. I realize that filled it’s a really darned useful raid buff. But I just can’t seem to ever spare the point for it without losing a point in something that I feel makes me an overall more effective raid healer (namely, post-patch, the crit in ret tree). If I dump Aura Mastery, this is where I’ll put that point.

    Improved Lay on Hands just got more improved, thanks to the new minor glyph that reduces cooldown by 5 minutes. With these two LoH glyphs, and points here…when cast on myself that returns 3900 mana. That’s practically an extra mana pot for each boss fight!! *boggle* And even if I do need to use it as an “oh shit, heal” instead of “show me the mana” I still get mana back. And I can use it either way in every boss encounter without worrying about it; it’s only an 11 minute cooldown! *double boggle* No, for real though, remember the days when LoH was an absolute, last-ditch effort, only for emergencies kinda thing? I remember those days. And now I’m all nonchalant-like about it, knowing it’s not going to be AN HOUR until I can use it again. Let’s just keep this one real quiet-like, so maybe Blizz will not think about it too much, and decide to nerf it.

    I gave up the Flash of Light glyph for the Holy Shock glyph. In all honesty, my play style and usual raid makeup with my guild had me not really using FoL all that much, so the crit chance from the glyph wasn’t doing much for me. And while the HS glyph means I’ll have the option for an instant FoL more frequently, I wouldn’t want to give up my other major glyphs for a 5% crit increase on my teeny tiny heal, even if I do find myself using it more often. That may change if I really find myself constantly using FoL, but I don’t yet see that happening.

    I had chosen glyph of Seal of Wisdom over Seal of Light pre-patch for the mana efficiency. I switched them back and forth over and over (some inscriptionist on my server made a fortune off me in a 3 week period there) and I found Wisdom worked better for me with my play style, spec and raid makeup. Even though the light glyph gave me a slightly higher heal output, it wasn’t enough to really reduce the number of heals I had to cast significantly. So with that same thinking in mind…I’m switching over to the Divinity glyph, since I believe it’s even *more* mana efficient than the wisdom glyph, by giving me that almost-as-much-as-a-mana-pot return on mana so frequently.