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!

Ardent Defender Overrides Guardian Spirit

I want a Paladin tank. One of my tanks will be retiring from the game soonly and I’m hoping to start shopping around. So if there’s any free agent Alliance Prot Paladins looking for a raiding guild, get in touch with me.

Some intriguing information coming out of Honor’s Code lately.

The Hammer has reported (via Modus) that the Paladin’s tank saving ability, Argent Defender, activates first over Guardian Spirit. Ardent Defender has priority. Raid leaders then are going to have to reconsider and re-order which save to activate if they’re working on progression bosses. Paladin saves will need to be factored in first.

It’s a great read for all healers as we gain a sneak peek into the future. Our play is tied directly to our tanks so its good to keep up with that stuff.

Again, free agent Protection/Holy (dual off spec) Paladins looking for a raiding guild are players I’d love to speak to. Check out the Conquest guild site. We’re presently raiding 9 hours a week, but I will be adding an extra day just after the Independence Day weekend.

Any free agent Balance (DPS) Druids are also encouraged to apply.

Priest Guide: Part 2 – How to Build Holy

Priest Guide: Part 2 – How to Build Holy

Building-your-spec

So now that you know what each talent is, does, and have a basic idea of when it’s most effective, let’s take a look at how to build a spec:

Step 1:14-mandatory-points

To start, plug in those mandatory 14 points:

  • Twin Disciplines – 5
  • Improved Inner Fire – 3
  • Improved Power Word: Fortitude – 2* **
  • Meditation – 3
  • Inner Focus – 1

*PvEers: If you are 100% certain that another Priest in your raid will have Imp:Fort, and not mind buffing, and you REALLY feel the need for threat reduction, you can move these two points into Silent Resolve. I don’t think it’s worth it, but it is an option.

**PvPers: Choose Martyrdom rather than Imp:Fort.

Step 2:

Decide whether this is a Holy build, or a Discipline build. For this example, I’ll walk you through my Holy spec, my reasons for each point, and where you could easily change it to suit yourself – and which changes wouldn’t be as helpful.

Step 3:

Build it!

CritFor Tier 1, take a look at your crit on your character screen. The idea here is that you want enough crit to get the mana saving goodness that is Surge of Light and Holy Concentration with reasonable reliability. Since Holy is largely a raid-healing spec, your three major raid-healing spells are Circle of Healing, Prayer of Mending, and Prayer of Healilng. CoH hits 5 people (6 if glyphed), ProM hits 5 (6 with 2-piece T7, assuming full duration),  and ProH hits 5. If you have 2-piece T8, ProH gets 10% extra chance to crit.

Why does this matter?

Because in the first tier, Holy Specialization allows you a tremendous amount of control over the crit chance of your heals. Having around 20% crit unbuffed (25% fully raid buffed) gives you a 1-in-5 crit chance for each 5-target raid heal, with the raid buffs allowing some insurance. As with everything heal-related, you want to react as quickly as possible, and KNOWING that you will get a free, instant Flash Heal after every AoE allows you to plan ahead. If you have enough crit on your gear to get you to that threshold, you can start subtracting points from Holy Specialization. Personally, I like having the freedom to stack a bit more Spell Haste on my gear, so I choose to max out Holy Specialization so that my crit isn’t lacking.

Wynthea-holy-spec-tier-1

Next, take a look at a Recount, WWS, WoWmeter, or other combat log parse. How much do you Renew? A  lot? A little? For more research, check out the uploaded combat logs for a guild that’s farming the content your guild is learning. Do those Holy Priests use Renew? Often, if there’s a huge discrepancy between a very successful guild, and a guild that’s having trouble, a small strategy change can make a big difference for those new to the content. (I’m probably going to catch some flack for that – yes, the idea is that all Priests are individuals, and your spec should reflect that. My argument is that when evaluating the effectiveness of a particular spell, look ahead and see how effective it is for successful people in content that you plan to clear. Don’t be so attached to your personal status quo that it prevents you from achieving your goals.)

If Renew is something you use, or plan to use, a lot, pick up the three points in Improved Renew.

Healing Focus – for this talent, consider the content your guild is working on. Are you having trouble keeping yourself and your assignment alive during Mimiron? This could be a great option. Aside from that, there just aren’t many fights where the pushback will kill you, and you’ll be too far away from a Paladin that could use Concentration Aura – or another healer that can help you until the danger has passed.

 

Wynthea-holy-spec-tier-2Tier 2 gives you even more wiggle room. Spell Warding will help you if you tend to die to spell damage. If you’re building a spec specifically for Mimiron or Mimiron hard mode, this will help protect you from his Rapid Burst ability. However, it’s five points that help NO ONE except you.

Divine Fury  – points in this are a must if you still use Greater Heal a lot – more than can be helped by Serendipity, or if you also use your raid spec to solo quest grind. If neither of those are true, and you took points in Healing Focus, feel free to only put in two points. If you skipped healing focus, you have to put at least three points here to move forward. (Two will get you to tier 3, but you’ll need 3 for tier 4 if you take Desperate Prayer, and 4 if you don’t.)

Since I do all of my dailies in my Holy-raiding spec, I go ahead and max this out. It only costs me one extra point, which I steal from Improved Healing.

 

 

Wynthea-holy-spec-tier-3

Tier 3 includes an easy decision: Max out Inspiration. Even though this is a raid-healing build, it’s a guarantee that some of your AoE will land on the tank. Spreading the love around won’t hurt the rest of the raid, either – if anything, it’ll make your job easier.

Blessed Recovery won’t help you in a raiding scenario, so skip it. (If you’re getting critical melee hits regularly enough to take this, get yourself a new tank.)

Desperate Prayer is completely up to you, but I find it very useful. It’s cheap, instant, has a short cooldown, can crit, and is a GREAT “Oh Sh–!!” button, especially now that pots are only once-per-fight.

 

In tier 4, since this is a healing build, forget about Searing Light.

To move forward, you’ll need 5 points between Holy Reach and Improved Healing, or 4 if you also maxed out Divine Fury. Since Improved Healing only affects Greater Heal (which I use rarely these days) and Divine Hymn (Which I always Inner Focus), I give Holy Reach both points, and stick just 2 in Improved Healing for filler.  (You could also completely bypass Improved Healing by putting these two points in Healing Focus.) In my opinion, that 5% savings on a heal I don’t use often is less efficient than the extra radius on my AoE heals. (And I’m more comfortable putting that point into Divine Fury, where on the rare occassions I do need Greater Heal, it will be fast enough to be effective.) Although you’ll run into many people who are perfectly comfortable with 1 point in Holy Reach, you will rarely see Holy builds that skip it entirely – you want CoH and ProH to have the chance to hit as many people as possible. If you skipped Healing Focus, you’ll notice only 1 point in Improved Healing is needed to move forward. You can easily plug that point into Lightwell, Blessed Resilience, or Test of Faith later in the tree.

Wynthea-holy-spec-tier-6Once you reach Tier 5, maxing out Spiritual Guidance is a no-brainer, since it’s a flat-out increase to your spell power. Similarly, don’t skip Spirit of Redemption, since one point here buys you an extra 5% spirit. (Which, obviously, also increases your spell power in addition to your regen. It’s also nice to not ever have to inform your raid leader when you need a battle-rez, since it will be glaringly obvious.) Your other choice in this layer is Healing Prayers, and since Prayer of Healing and Prayer of Mending each benefit from set bonuses, and the AoE damage in Ulduar encounters makes Prayer of Healing your work-horse spell, skipping Healing Prayers is mana-suicide. Max it out.

In tier 6, Spiritual Healing is a misnomer, since it has nothing to do with spirit, however, it’s a straight up increase to the amount healed by all of your healing spells; max it out. Surge of Light is another talent where theorycrafters disagree: is one point sufficient, or are two required? Because I count on these procs, I max it out to ensure that I get them as often as possible. (And, really, why wouldn’t you want more mana-free, castable-on-the-move heals that stack Serendipity and take advantage of Twin Disciplines? More to the point, where could that one point buy you more benefit?)

By now, you’ve got more than enough points in Holy to get you to Tier 8, but this part of the tree is thick with awesome points. Still in tier 7, Holy Concentration is one of the best talents we have to increase our mana-regen, and you’ll find yourself gasping for water on longer fights without it. Combined with Surge of Light, this is one of the main reasons that crit is important for Priests these days. Take all 3 points. Lightwell, on the other hand, is a polarizing point. There are enough points in this particular spec that you can take it if you have trained your raid to use it properly, just either drop Divine Fury down to 4 points or Improved Healing down to two. Both of these will impact your Greater Heal (the former will nerf your cast time by .1 seconds, the latter will increase its mana cost by 5%.) Personally, I skip lightwell altogether.

Blessed Resilience used to be a strictly PvP talent. Then they re-worked it to “increase the effectiveness of your heals by 1% per rank.” Which makes it viable for PvE, theoretically. Frequent plus heal poster Sindaga posted the math over on the Elitist Jerks Priest Compendium that shows how this works:

“Empowered Healing vs. Blessed Resilience (yes, the PvP talent)

Taking two examples for empowered healing (Flash Heal & Binding Heal); this is due to the very low amount of greater heal casting, personally, done in Ulduar 25 and 10-man. Each heal will be looked at with empowered healing or with blessed resilience. Calculations will be done with 3000 spell power (a very attainable goal with even just a couple ulduar upgrades). The formula used will be as follows:

Spell = [Average + (Spellpower * coefficient)]*(talent modifiers)

i) Calculations with Empowered Healing (w/ spiritual healing modifier)
Flash Heal = [2049.5 + (3000 * 0.9668)]*1.1
Flash Heal = 5445 healing average
Binding Heal = [2237.5 + (3000 *0.9668)]*1.1
Binding Heal = 5652 healing average
Greater Heal = [4300.5 + (3000 * 2.2256)]*1.1
Greater Heal = 12075 healing average

ii) Calculations with Blessed Resilience (w/ spiritual healing modifier)
Flash Heal = [2049.5 + (3000 * 0.8057)]*1.13
Flash Heal = 5047 healing average
Binding Heal = [2237.5 + (3000 *0.8057)]*1.13
Binding Heal = 4969 healing average
Greater Heal = [4300.5 + (3000 * 1.6111)]*1.13
Greater Heal = 10321 healing average

iii) Calculations with Blessed Resilience & Test of Faith (w/ spiritual healing modifier) – I found something interesting testing with Renew. If the spell is cast below 50%, the ticks (even if the health goes higher than 50%) stay with the 12% increased effectiveness.
Flash Heal = [2049.5 + (3000 * 0.8057)]*1.25
Flash Heal = 5583 healing average
Binding Heal = [2237.5 + (3000 *0.8057)]*1.25
Binding Heal = 5818 healing average
Greater Heal = [4300.5 + (3000 * 1.6111)]*1.25
Greater Heal = 11417 healing average

So those are some pretty plain numbers. If you find yourself casting greater heal more than once in a blue moon, perhaps stick with Empowered Healing. If you regularly find yourself not casting it at all during fights then a spec for better output would first put the 5 points from empowered healing to 3/3 blessed resilience and then 2/3 Test of Faith.

Justification for taking test of faith is it provides more healing to those targets who need more health.” — Sindaga

The bottom line here is that putting 3 points in Blessed Resilience along with 2 in Test of Faith increases the amount healed on targets below 50% by a significant amount. If you’re looking to take advantage of Test of Faith in the next layer of the tree, it’s a good idea to pair it with Blessed Resilience – and you can easily take the points from Empowered Healing to make that happen. It’s entirely a play-style dependent call, and I personally prefer the constant levels of healing provided by Empowered Healing to the low-health dependent benefits of Test of Faith.

Wynthea-holy-spec-tier-9 Moving into tier 8, you’ll find some of your decisions have already been made, due to the preceding math. If you decided to put Sindaga’s 3 points into Blessed Resilience, you have already decided to skip Empowered Healing. If you decided against the BR/ToF combo, you’ll max it out instead. The other talents in this layer are Serendipity and Body and Soul. Although I’ve read some arguments that the self-poison cleanse is useful on the more poison-heavy encounters in Ulduar, if your Shamans, Druids, and Paladins are doing their jobs, you won’t need Body and Soul. Serendipity, on the other hand, plays a major role in making Holy a more synergistic healing spec. Layering spell haste for your bigger heals is a huge part of the raid-healing strategies for fights like Ignis, Deconstructor, Freya, and Mimiron. My typical heal pattern takes careful advantage of this: Inner Focus-Prayer of Healing -> Surge of Light-Flash Heal -> Binding Heal -> Circle of Healing -> Surge of Light-Flash Heal -> Serendipitous- Prayer of Healing -> Surge of Light-Flash Heal…. into infinity, peppered with Prayer of Mendings and Renews as much as possible, both of which provide extra Surge of Light procs, and, therefore, free layers of Serendipity to haste my next Prayer of Healing. Make sure you take maximum advantage of Serendipity.

Like tier 8, you’ve already made quite a few decisions regarding tier 9, without realizing it: If you picked up Improved Renew in tier 1, you would shortchange yourself to skip Empowered Renew. When you decided to build Holy, you decided to take Circle of Healing,  (I know there was a lot of noise about avoiding it when they added the 6 second cool down, but with its coefficient balanced to reflect the cooldown, the glyph to increase it to 6 targets, and its ability to proc Surge of Light, skipping Circle of Healing would be foolish.) And when you decided between Empowered Healing and Blessed Resilience, you decided whether you would take Test of Faith as part of the Blessed Resilience package. If you’re following my build, take all three in Empowered Renew, Circle of Healing, and skip Test of Faith.

For tiers 10 & 11, you’ll notice you have exactly 6 points left. Finish out your spec by finishing out the tree with 5 points in Divine Providence, and the last into Guardian Spirit.

This is my completed spec – and I fully expect as many detractors as I do compliments. Lightwell may work for you and your raid, or perhaps you think I’m foolish to finish out Divine Fury rather than taking Healing Focus. I’d love to hear about tweaks that you make (and how they work for you), but for me this is my perfect spec – Renew-heavy, allowing me to stack haste, and with Desperate Prayer the only concession to keeping myself alive rather than focusing on my raid. Wynthea-holy-spec-final

Next Post: How to Build Disc

Luv,
Wyn

Healing Priest Guide: Part 1 – Talents

Healing Priest Guide: Part 1 – Talents

Banner---Trees

In 3.1, PvE Priests are in a good place. We have two distinct and raid-viable healing specs, and enough good places to put our talents that you can make arguments for several “cookie-cutter” builds.

When I first started rooting around in the WoW-blogosphere, I came upon a post over at Dwarfpriest that laid out each talent and what it did – and it helped me understand so much about my class mechanics that I thought I’d borrow a page from her grimoire and go over the trees as they stand now. (However, while she included our shadowy brethren, I won’t. Sorry guys, it’s not that I don’t love your replenishment you, it’s just that I’m not going to claim to be knowledgeable about that strange tree of yours.)

After introducing each talent, I’ll spend some time showing how to actually make a build – by walking you through mine, as well as other examples.

Discipline

A quick note on our beloved Disc tree: If you Google Priest Specs, you’ll likely find a lot of people talking about how Priests have “14 mandatory talent points.” (Sometimes they say 13.) What they really mean is that there are some talents in the Disc tree that are so universally outstanding that every Priest should take advantage of them – PvE, PvP, Holy, Disc, or Shadow. These talents are Twin Disciplines, Improved Inner Fire, and Meditation.  It takes 10 points in Discipline to get to Meditation and 3 to max it out. The 14th point is Inner Focus, which I agree should be considered mandatory. You can fool around a little in the 2nd tier with Improved Fort, Martyrdom, and Silent Resolve, but skipping those others will handicap any spec you try to put together.

Tier 1:

Unbreakable-Will Unbreakable Will: Reduces the duration of Stun, Fear, and Silence effects done to you by %6 per rank

Outstanding for PvP, but no longer the premiere choice for the first tier of a PvE build.

Twin-Disciplines Twin Disciplines: Increases the damage and healing done by your instant spells by 5% per rank.

This is your bread and butter for any PvE build. Renew, Circle of Healing, Prayer of Mending, Desperate Prayer, Holy Nova, PW:Shield, SW:Pain, SW:Death, Devouring Plague, Flash Heal and Smite (when made instant by Surge of Light), and the Glyph effects for both PW:Shield and Dispel Magic all benefit from this. You could make a strong argument for this in PvP as well.

Tier 2:

Silent-ResolveSilent Resolve: Reduces the threat generated by your Holy and Discipline Spells by 7% per rank (capped at 20%) and reduces the chance your helpful spells and damage over time effects will be dispelled by 10% per rank.

For PvE, the threat reduction can be helpful when running 5-mans with pugs, or on fights like Auriaya or Ignis where there’s a lot of raid healing and random adds popping up. For PvP, this keeps your DoTs ticking, and your Renews and PW:Shields where they belong.

Improved-Inner-Fire Improved Inner Fire: Increases the effect of your Inner Fire spell by 15% per rank, and increases the total number of charges by 4 per rank.

This will increase the Spell Power gained from 120 to 174, and the charges from 20 to 32. For PvP or PvE, you want this talent.

Improved-PWFort Improved Power Word: Fortitude: Increases the effect of you PW:Fort and Prayer of Fortitude spells by 15% per rank and increases your total stamina by 2% per rank.

As long as one Priest in the raid has this talent, the others could technically do without it, but you’ve got to put two points into something in this tier to get to the next level. For PvE, it should either be Silent Resolve or this. For PvP, Martyrdom would probably be a better choice; the 4% total gain to personal stamina is nice in PvP, but it’s not going to make or break you.

MartyrdomMartyrdom: Gives you a 50% chance per rank to gain the Focused Casting effect that lasts for 6 seconds after being the victim of a melee or ranged critical strike. The Focused Casting effect reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting spells and decreases the duration of Interrupt effects by 10% per rank.

Brilliant for PvP (and in my opinion, more useful than Imp:Fort), but next-to-useless for PvE.

Tier 3:

MeditationMeditation: Allows ~17% per rank (50% at max) of your mana regeneration to continue while casting.

Disc, Holy, PvE, PvP, Shadow…. Take this talent, and max it out.

Inner-FocusInner Focus: When activated, reduces the mana cost of your next spell by 100%, and increases its critical effect chance by 25% if it is capable of a critical effect.

Priests argue whether this one is actually mandatory. To an extent, it’s a function of playstyle – I always use this for either Prayer of Healing or Divine Hymn since they are the most expensive. Because of that, I use this every time it’s off cooldown. The added crit also means an almost guaranteed Surge of Light and Serendipity proc. It’s also a nice last-ditch effort when you’ve run out of mana. Really, I just can’t figure out where you’d get more benefit from spending a single point.

Improved-PWShieldImproved Power Word: Shield:
Increases the damage absorbed by your PW:Shield by 5% per rank.

Brilliant for PvE or PvP disc builds. You also must max this out to access Soul Warding.

Tier 4:

AbsolutionAbsolution: Reduces the mana cost of your Dispel Magic, cure Disease, Abolish Disease, and Mass Dispel spells by 5% per rank.

For PvE-Disc, this can save you a TON of mana over the course of a fight like Hodir or Yogg-Saron. For PvP, don’t leave home without this – remember that you’re not only dispelling and curing your teammates, but offensively dispelling your opponents.

Mental-AgilityMental Agility:Reduces the mana cost of your instant cast spells by ~3% per rank. (Caps at 10%)

If you’re this deep in the Disc tree, you’re not going to be getting Surge of Light procs, but this still impacts Renew, Prayer of Mending, Desperate Prayer (if you took it), Holy Nova, PW:Shield, SW:Pain, SW:Death, Devouring Plague,and the Glyph effects for both PW:Shield and Dispel Magic. Not a bad place to put points to get you to the next tier.

Improved-Mana-BurnImproved Mana Burn: Reduces
the casting time of your Mana Burn spell by .5 seconds per rank.

Utterly useless for PvE. Absolutely essential for PvP.

Tier 5:

Reflective-ShieldReflective Shield:  Causes 22% or 45% of the damage your absorb with PW:Shield to reflect back at the attacker. This damage causes no threat.

Originally designed to work no matter who you had shielded, the code proved too complex. For now, this only works when the shield is on you. Pro for PvP, this has basically zero application in PvE.

Mental-StrengthMental Strength: Increases your total Intellect by 3% per rank

I think if this were lower in the Disc tree, it would become another “mandatory” talent. For raiding, Int. scales your replenishment and increases your crit. The total mana regen formula is also largely dependent on int. If that wasn’t enough, you also have to max this out to access Power Infusion.

Soul-WardingSoul Warding: Reduces the cooldown of your Power Word:Shield ability by 4 seconds, and reduces the mana cost of PW:Shield by 15%.

If you’re this deep into Disc, you already know that Shield is one of your most-cast spells. This removes the cooldown (why does it have that, anyway?), and makes it cheaper. You’ll get a lot of mileage out of this one point, especially PvE-ers with the 4-piece Tier 8 bonus. (+250 Spell Power after casting PW:S.) You have to max out Improved PW:S to take this.

Tier 6:

Focused-PowerFocused Power: Increases damage and healing done by your spells by 2% per rank. In addition, your Mass Dispel cast time is reduced by .5 seconds per rank.

PvE-ers will want the increase to spell power, and appreciate the cast-reduction on fights where Mass-dispel is needed. PvP-ers will want both effects. Highly Recommended.

Enlightenment Enlightenment: Increases your total Spirit and Spell Haste by 2% per rank.

Spirit will increase your mana return, and Spell Haste is becoming more and more important. You could argue about this talent, but it’s a very solid choice for PvE or PvP.

Tier 7:

Focused-WillFocused Will: At max rank, this increases your spell critical effect chance by 3%, and after taking a critical hit you gain the Focused Will effect, reducing all damage taken by 4% and increasing healing effects on you by 5%. Stacks up to 3 times, lasts 8 seconds.

In PvE, you can make a good argument for 3% crit. In PvP, this will increase your survivability tremendously. An interesting detail is that even when you’re wearing resilience gear, this talent will work if you WOULD have been crit, but a crit is prevented by your gear. Nice.

Power-InfusionPower Infusion: Infuses the target with power, increasing spell casting speed by 20% and reducing the mana cost of all spells by 20%. Lasts 15 sec.

This is one of the defining spells of a Discipline spec. Requires 5 points in Mental Strength. You can cast this on yourself, or make best-buddy friends with a mage.

Improved-Flash-HealImproved Flash Heal: Reduces the mana cost of your Flash Heal by 5% per rank, and increases the critical effect chance of your Flash Heal by 3% per rank (10% at max) on targets below 50% health.

 You’ll be Flash Healing whenever penance is on cooldown – even if you didn’t need these 3 points to get to the next tier, this talent would be a major part of the mana-efficiency that makes Discipline such a strong spec.

Tier 8:

Renewed-HopeRenewed Hope: Increases the critical effect chance of your Flash Heal, Greater Heal, and Penance (Heal) spells by 4% on targets afflicted by the Weakened Soul effect, and you have a 100% chance to reduce all damage taken by 3% for 20 seconds to all friendly party and raid targets when you cast PW:Shield.

So, when you shield someone, your major heals heal for more on them. You also reduce the total amount of damage they take, period, in addition to what is absorbed by the shield itself. This talent is amazing for either PvE or PvP.

RaptureRapture: At max rank, when your PW:S is completely absorbed or dispelled, you are instantly energized with 2.5% of your total mana, and you have a 100% chance to energize your shielded target with 2% total mana, 8 rage, 16 energy, or 32 runic power. This effect can only occur once every 12 seconds.

Getting mana back is a Very Good Thing, whether you’re killing bosses or player-opponents. Helping your team or raidmates have more resources is also a Very Good Thing. This talent is awesome for PvE, and due to the Dispel mechanic, equally so for PvP. Maybe more so.

Aspiration Aspiration: Reduces the cooldown of your Inner Focus, Power Infusion, Pain Suppression and Penance spells by 10% per rank.

As Disc, these are the spells that more or less make your spec. Allowing you to cast them more will allow you to do your job without always being on cooldown. PvE or PvP, you want this.

Tier 9:

Divine-Aegis Divine Aegis: Critical heals create a protective shield on the target, absorbing 10% per rank of the amount healed. Lasts 12 sec.

This provides an additional shield to Power Word:Shield, that scales with your Spell Power. As Disc, providing preemptive healing is one of your major benefits, especially as you venture further into single-target healing. A must-have for PvE, and a solid choice for PvP.

Pain-Suppression Pain Suppression: Instantly reduces a friendly target’s threat by 5%, reduces all damage taken by 40% and increases resistance to Dispel mechanics by 65% for 8 sec.

In PvE, 5% threat shouldn’t break a tank in a raid scenario – this is an excellent extra cooldown for those fights where the boss hits extra hard on a regular basis. (Think Mimiron Phase 1, or General Vezax). For PvP, the life you save could be your own, and it’ll even help you hang onto your PW:S and Renew.

Grace Grace: Your Flash heal, Greater Heal, and Penance spells have a 50% chance, per rank, to bless the target with Grace, increasing all healing received from you by 3%. This effect will stack up to 3 times. Effect lasts 15 seconds. Grace can only be active on one target at a time.

Maxed out, this gives you a 100% chance to increase your healing on one target by 3%, stacking up to 9%, for 15 seconds. I think you can manage to throw a Flash Heal or Penance every 15 seconds on your MT. Don’t skip this for PvE. For PvP, you’ll see less benefit from this, but in 2v2 or situations where one of your teammates is being focused, it can help a lot.

Tiers 10 & 11:

Borrowed-Time Borrowed Time: Grants 5% per rank spell haste for your next spell after casting Power Word: Shield, and increases the amount absorbed by your Power Word: Shield equal to 8%, per rank, of your spell power.

As if you needed another reason to cast PW:Shield. Maxing out at 25% spell haste after casting a Shield, and an additional 40% of your spell power added to the power of your Shield means more mitigation for raid damage or single-targets, and faster heals from you. A Disc on raid duty will use this for Prayer of Healing. On the Tank, it will help you drop faster Greater Heals (or anything else.) For PvP, this also synergizes well with Reflective Shield, dealing more damage to your attacker.

Pennance Penance: Launches a volley of holy light at the target, causing 375 Holy damage to an enemy, or 1484 to 1676 healing to an ally instantly and every second for 2 seconds.

Penance is a little funky, because of its dual nature. It ticks three times: Immediately, 1 second later, and 1 more second later. Each tick has the chance to crit (and proc Inspiration, Divine Aegis.) Talented, this 10 second cooldown is 8 seconds. You can glyph it down to 6.4, but remember: it has a 2 second channel time – so 2 of those 6 seconds don’t matter anyway. The damage range is 30 yards, the heal is 40. It’ll heal for something like 8-12k, and damage for 2-4k at lvl 80. This spell is AWESOME.

holy

A note on the Holy tree: as a rule of thumb, and especially in 25-man raid content, Discipline Priests will specialize in single-target (tank) healing, and Holy Priests in multi-target (raid) healing. So, Holy Priests will spend the mandatory 14 points in Disc, and Disc Priests will put enough points into Holy to get Inspiration, because of its huge benefits to tank healing. Discipline priests who don’t do this will find themselves at a serious disadvantage when healing tanks. I’m also operating under the assumption that serious PvPers will be spec’ing Disc, since it’s amazing right now, and the PvP applicable talents in the bottom of Holy are largely outshone by their Disc counter-parts. I’ll still point them out when they come up, however.

Tier 1:

Healing-FocusHealing Focus: Reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting any healing spell by 35% per rank.

There’s some debate over how effective this talent is, compared to your other options in the holy tree. Basically, the only top-end fight where spell pushback is bad enough to kill you is Mimiron. If you find that you cannot survive this fight due to blasts, by all means take this talent – it, and a Paladin with improved concentration aura, will help your survivability immensely. For all other PvE encounters, there are better places to put the points. For PvP, this just might save your life, or your teammates – take it!

Improved-Renew Improved Renew: Increases the amount healed by your Renew spell by 5% per rank.

Synergizes exceptionally well with Empowered Renew, for those going deep Holy. For Disc builds working towards Inspiration, this is also an excellent choice, since Renew benefits from Mental Agility and Twin Disciplines. It won’t give you the full 5 points you need to get to Tier 2 talents, though. For PvP, I find it helpful to have a bigger spell that’s castable while mobile – and with all the help the Disc tree offers to keep your spells from being dispelled, there’s a high chance it will last long enough to do quite a bit of good.

Holy-Specialization Holy Specialization: Increases the critical effect chance of your Holy spells by 1% per rank.

Another good choice for Disc Priests working toward Inspiration, this is also worth maxing out as you work towards gear caps. Personally, I find that 25-30% Holy Crit (when fully raid buffed) provides a guaranteed Surge of Light proc off either Circle of Healing (especially when glyphed) or Prayer of Healing (especially with 2-piece T8 and/or Inner Focus activated). Once you’ve reached that soft cap, feel free to reduce the points here to take either Healing Focus or max something out further down the tree. For PvP, I personally take 2/2 Healing Focus and 3/3 Improved Renew to get to the next tier – there are talents that will provide more reliability and stamina that are more worth the points.

Tier 2:

Spell-Warding Spell Warding: Reduces all spell damage taken by 2% per rank.

I’ve seen suggestions that Spell Warding also helps on Mimiron, and other AoE-heavy fights in Ulduar. My opinion is that for 5 talent points I can either increase my PW:Shield to protect me from ALL damage, or increase my healing to keep me and the other people that I’m healing (can’t forget about them!) up through the damage. For PvP, however, this can save you against burst damage attacks from pesky mages, and the ongoing drain from warlocks.

Divine-Fury Divine Fury: Reduces the casting time of your Smite, Holy Fire, Heal, and Greater Heal by .1 seconds per rank.

If you find yourself grinding solo a lot, pick this up. If you find yourself using Greater Heal a lot (and check a combat log – don’t THINK you’re using it a lot, know.), pick this up. If you 2v2 or maybe 3v3 and need to be able to dps a little, pick this up. If you need points to get to 3rd tier talents, pick this up. If you need to find talents to put into something you KNOW will be more useful, do that. Most Disc Priests rely on Penance, Shield, and Flash Heal. Most Holy Priests rely on Flash Heal, Renew, and Circle of Healing. (not to mention Prayer of Healing….) This talent affects NONE of those, so you can safely rob points from it without getting anyone killed. You do need it maxed out to access Searing Light, so Holy-DPS builds will want it. (LoL-smite!!)

Tier 3:

Desperate-Prayer Desperate Prayer: Instantly heals you for 263-325. 2 min cooldown.

At lvl 80, this hits me for around 5-6k, and can crit. This point is all about personal playstyle. I have a bad habit of staying too long to get off just.one.more.heal. This helps keep me alive when I finally run away. If you find yourself not having any problems staying alive, feel free to skip it. For PvP, anything insta-cast that helps you is a good idea, so make sure you have this.

Blessed-Recovery Blessed Recovery: After being struck by a melee or ranged critical hit, Blessed Recovery heals you for 5% per rank of the damage taken over 6 seconds. Additional critical hits taken during the effect increase the healing received.

This talent is as mandatory for PvP as it is useless for PvE.

Inspiration Inspiration: Increases your target’s armor by 8% per rank (25% max) for 15 seconds after getting a critical effect from your Flash Heal, Heal, Greater Heal, Binding Heal, Penance, Prayer of Healing, or Circle of Healing.

Anyone planning to heal a tank is short-changing themselves if they don’t take this talent. (That should be everyone, even dedicated raid-healers. It proc’s off all your AoE heals, too.) For PvP, any increase in armor is a good thing when you’re wearing a dress.

Tier 4:

Holy-Reach Holy Reach: Increases the range of your Smite and Holy Fire spells and the radius of your Prayer of Healing, Holy Nova, Divine Hymn, and Circle of Healing spells by 10% per rank.

Holy Dpsers will want this for sure. For PvE healers, the current debate is whether 1 point is sufficient – I find that on AoE heavy, yet very spread out, fights like Deconstructer and Hodir, I appreciate any extra range I can get. Disc Priests can feel free to ignore this – If you’re going this far into Holy it’s for the next talent. PvPers will need to check their personal style – but most arenas are so mobile and small, that I doubt you’ll see much benefit.

Improved-Healing Improved Healing: Reduces the mana cost of your Lesser Heal, Heal, Greater Heal, Divine Hymn, and Penance spells by 5% per rank.

Very few Disc Priests will go this far into Holy, including PvPers. Personally, I DO take this talent in my Disc spec, (I steal 1 point from Rapture to do it), since it’s VERY SPECIFIC for General Vezax, and Rapture benefits on that fight are almost negligible. Holy Priests will likely need at least one point here to get to the next tier, but if you’ve looked at your combat log, and found that you don’t cast Greater Heal enough to justify these points, feel free to move them from this into something else.

Searing-Light Searing Light: Increases the damage of your Smite, Holy Fire, Holy Nova, and Penance spells by 5% per rank.

This requires 5 points in Divine Fury to unlock. PvE healers will find it utterly useless. HolyDPSers will love it. Disc PvP builds will have a hard time figuring out which points to steal from survivability viable talents to put into it.

Tier 5:

Healing-Prayers Healing Prayers: Reduces the mana cost of your Prayer of Healing and Prayer of Mending spells by 10% per rank.

With all the AoE damage in Ulduar, the T8 2-piece bonus (adds 10% crit chance to Prayer of Healing), the T7 2-piece bonus (adds an extra bounce to Prayer of Mending), and the fact that Prayer of Healing is now castable on ANY party in your raid…. you’d be mad not to max this out, because you will be spamming these spells.

Spirit-of-Redemption Spirit of Redemption: Increases total Spirit by 5% and, upon death, the Priest becomes the Spirit of Redemption for 15 seconds. The Spirit of Redemption cannot move, attack, be attacked, or targeted by any spells or effects. While in this form, the Priest can cast any healing spell free of cost. When the effect ends, the Priest dies.

This is your angel-form, and the beacon telling the raid that you have died. Again. I’ve been told that this is helpful after you die in PvP, but my opinion is that if you went Disc PVP instead of Holy PVP you’d probably still be alive. The reason all Holy Priests take this talent is for the 5% spirit. Increases your regen, and if you take Spiritual Guidance (why wouldn’t you?), your Spell Power.  You also have to take this if you want Lightwell.

Spiritual-Guidance Spiritual Guidance: Increases spell power by 5% per rank of your total Spirit.

You’re a Priest, so the vast majority of your gear will have a lot of Spirit. It’s likely that all of your blue sockets have either Spirit or Int/Spirit gems. You’ll get a lot of spell power out of this.

Tier 6:

Surge-of-Light Surge of Light: Your spell criticals have a 25% chance per rank to cause your next Smite or Flash Heal spell to be instant cast, cost no mana, but be incapable of a critical hit. This effect lasts 10 seconds.

Holy DPSers will like this one, too. Healers will find the mobility and mana-free benefits to Flash Heal (also great for stacking Serendipity back up after Prayer of Healing, since ProH will likely give you a proc) indispensable. The debate here is whether 2 points are required. Please note that this does not increase your chance TO CRIT, but rather for your crits to CAUSE A PROC. I keep 2 points in, because I like being able to count on this after a large amount of raid damage, and I find a noticeable reduction with only 1 point.

Spiritual-Healing Spiritual Healing: Increases the amount healed by your healing spells by 2% per rank.

Odd in that it increases healing but not damage, this should be considered mandatory for any Holy build.

Tier 7:

Holy-Concentration Holy Concentration: Your mana regeneration from Spirit is increased by ~16% per rank (50% max) for 8 seconds after you critically heal with Flash Heal, Greater Heal, Binding Heal, or Renew.

This talent is a large source of mana regen for any Holy Build. Don’t skip it.

Lightwell Lightwell: Creates a Holy Lightwell. Members of your raid or party can click the Lightwell to restore 4620 health over 6 seconds. Attacks done to you equal to 30% of your total health will cancel the effect. Lightwell lasts 3 minutes or 10 charges.

Most Priests who like this spell REALLY like it, and the rest of us call it LoLwell. If you can train your raid to use it properly, it can be very useful. You must take Spirit of Redemption to unlock it.

Blessed-Resiliance Blessed Resilience: Increases the effectiveness of your healing spells by 1% per rank, and critical hits made against you have a 20% chance, per rank, to prevent you from being critically hit again for 6 sec.

For Priests who insist on PvPing Holy, this is the entire reason you’re this deep in the tree. It is an amazing talent. The question is whether it’s more amazing than everything you give up in the Disc tree to get here, and I don’t think it is. The change to increase the effectiveness of your healing spells DOES add up in PvE, however, and if you’re soft-capped on crit, but don’t Greater Heal much, those points you robbed from Divine Fury and Improved Healing will stretch to this. HOWEVER, the amazing Sindaga did some great math over on the Elitist Jerks forums that suggests you’ll want to max out Test of Faith first. Ghostcrawler, if you’re reading this, I think this talent should be moved much further down in the tree – around where Divine Fury is. (actually, GC, if you’re reading this just make Greater Heal baseline 2.5 seconds and take Divine Fury out all together. Also, I’ll be asking for your autograph at Blizzcon!!)

Tier 8:

Body-and-SoulBody and Soul: When you cast Power Word:Shield, you increase the target’s movement speed by 30% per rank for 4 seconds, and you have a 50% chance, per rank, when you cast Abolish Disease on yourself to also cleanse 1 poison effect in addition to diseases.

Another very solid PvP talent, much too far down in the Holy Tree to do much good. (and since it would synergize so well with several talents in the Disc tree, I really do wonder why it’s located here at all…. GC?) However, aside from the situational use of the self-cleanse for poison, there are better places to spend the points for a PvE healing build.

Empowered-Healing Empowered Healing: Your Greater Heal spell gains an additional 8% per rank and your Flash Heal and Binding Heal gain an additional 4% per rank of your bonus healing effects.

Anything that increases your Flash Heal is huge at this point. Binding Heal (especially) and Greater Heal are just a bonus.

Serendipity Serendipity: When you heal with Binding Heal or Flash Heal, the cast time of your next Greater Heal or Prayer of Healing spell is reduced by 4% per rank. Stacks up to 3 times. Lasts 20 seconds.

With 3 stacks, this reduces the casting time of your Prayer of Healing by over a third. (36%) Mine are about 1.7 seconds, and I have less than 450 haste. While no longer glitched to allow 2 ProH casts, it’s still a huge benefit in fights like Freya and Deconstructor that involve predictable raid damage. With Surge of Light, it’s typical that your next Flash Heal will be instant to aid in re-stacking this. Do not skip this talent.

Tier 9:

Empowered-Renew Empowered Renew: Your Renew spell gains an additional 5% per rank of your bonus healing effects, and your Renew will instantly heal the target for 10% per rank of the total periodic effect.

In addition to adding more to an instant cast spell without a cooldown (great for fights where you’re running a lot – Hodir and Thorim, anyone?) it gives Renew a front-end instant heal like a Druid’s Rejuvenation. With Circle of Healing on a 6-second CD, this gives you a great option for a single player who needs a heal NOW. For you Holy PvPers, this is another heal that can’t be kicked. If you’re in this far anyway, take it along with Circle of Healing.

Circle-of-Healing Circle of Healing: Heals up to 5 friendly party or raid members within 15 yards of the target for 958 to 1058. 6 second cooldown.

The spell that changed the face of Holy Priesting. Still a powerhouse, even without being spamable – the range is increased by Holy Reach, the healing output increased by Twin Disciplines and Divine Providence, and it will nearly always proc a Surge of Light, which will then help you stack Serendipity.

Test-of-Faith Test of Faith: Increases healing by 4% per rank on friendly targets at or below 50% health.

This talent is an extension of the use effect of the Crystal Spire of Karabor. Maxed out, and combined with 2 points in Blessed Resilience, it makes for some interesting effects on Flash Heal and Binding heal – at the expense of Greater Heal. If you don’t have all 5 points to spare, you’re better off taking the crit from Holy Specialization, as this is situationally applicable. Unless you’re PvPing, in which case you already have 3 points in Blessed Resilience, which makes this a no-brainer.

Tiers 10 & 11:

Divine-Providence Divine Providence: Increases the amount healed by Circle of Healing, Binding Heal, Holy Nova, Prayer of Healing, Divine Hymn, and Prayer of Mending by 4% per rank, and reduces the cooldown of your Prayer of Mending by 8% per rank.

Circle of Healing, Binding Heal, Prayer of Healing, and Prayer of Mending are all in heavy rotation in Ulduar, and gain tremendous benefit from this talent. Max it out.

Guardian-Spirit Guardian Spirit: Calls upon a guardian spirit to watch over the friendly target. The spirit increases the healing received by the target by 40%, and also prevents the target from dying by sacrificing itself. This sacrifice terminates the effect, but heals the target of 50% of their maximum health. Lasts 10 seconds. 3 minute cooldown.

A talent worthy of capping a tree – this is amazing. You can glyph it to reduce the cooldown to 1 minute if the target doesn’t actually die, which would change it from an emergency button to a very frequently used part of your overall healing rotation. I’ve found that, due to the 40% increase to healing (from ALL healers, not just you), very often, the target doesn’t trigger the sacrifice. I’ve got mine macro’d to whisper the target that it’s on them, so that tanks know not to blow additional cooldowns. (and mages feel loved.)

Next Post: Building your spec

Luv,
Wyn

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.

hybrid

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.

Paladin Healing in Heroic Ulduar

This is a guest post by Adgamorix with some tips for Holy Paladins working their way through Ulduar.

3.1 and Ulduar are upon us, and the tears of Healadins fill the forums, feeding Yarg-Saron and keeping XT’s joints lubed. Bloggers and forum goers alike lament the death of Flash of Light as a useful heal, and wonder if the new Infusion is even worth it. 10% extra crit on a Holy Light? I want my haste back! I need to raid heal!

Can you taste the tears?

My question is what is the real issue? Granted, my guild hasn’t cleared Ulduar yet, but we did get six bosses down in the first week (no hard modes), and I haven’t seen the problem. As we’re a 25 man raid guild, we typically run with seven healers: two Paladins, Disc priest (dual spec’d for Holy which some Priests just aren’t good enough to do *wink*), Holy Priest, two trees, and a Resto Shaman. Our tanks are a mix of all the tank classes, and we run a fairly balanced mix of melee vs. ranged (though we do have a lot of hunters – fortunately no huntards).

Given a balanced raid makeup, I’m very happy with where paladin healing is right now. On any boss fight that we’ve done so far, I’m confident in putting my paladin partner and I on the tank and letting the other healers take care of the raid, off tanks, etc. Between Beacon of Light and Sacred Shield, we can run a steady rotation on the tanks, and it hasn’t failed us yet. Granted, I haven’t seen the fights in 10 man yet, but I’m confident that it’ll be ok.

Note that I’ve said ‘balanced raid makeup’ a couple of times here. Even though we’ve been told to “bring the player and not the class”, I don’t think anyone would reasonably expect to waltz through Ulduar with nothing but a pocket-full of rogues and no ranged DPS… at least not for a while anyway. Having a mix of buffs and abilities is part of what makes raiding so much fun. It’d be boring if any 25 people (regardless of class/spec) could walk in and down the content during the first week.

I think the problems being experienced by some paladins can be explained with the same explanation we had when our MT pulled XT with his face the first time, leaving all his healers 40 yards behind him.

“You’re doing it wrong!”

Ulduar isn’t Naxx, and I’m glad. The trash is harder than most Naxx bosses, and “gasp” we have to use crowd control again. XT’s trash brought back nightmares of old Kael’Thas trash (with a mix of Void Reaver), and it takes some getting used to. Healers can’t snipe any more, and target assignments are crucial. Trusting your raid mates to do their assigned task, and focusing on yours, keeps the raid alive. I generally can’t spare the GCD to hit someone else, and I count on the raid healers to cover me when I’m not beaconed. Sure, I’m lower on the meters than I used to be, but our strategy works and bosses die.

I won’t disagree that it would be nice to have another tool in my box, but I love the healing aspect of my paladin so much that my Resto Shaman has been collecting dust for two months. I like the challenge of healing without a designated ‘raid heal’, and learning new ways to cope with the incoming damage.

Here’s how we’ve pulled off each boss so far

Healing rotation: This healing rotation is similar to what we use for every boss we two heal. My partner will spam HL while I run FoL/HS rotations. I generally keep my SS up on the tank, and we beacon an OT if they are close, our we just beacon ourselves. After about one minute of this, we switch roles, and she hits DP to start her regen (I usually hit Illumination right at the start – I also pop my haste gloves). This continues for one minute, and then we switch again (this time I Plea). With this rotation the MT is getting around 30k in healing every 2 – 2.5 sec (lag depending), and there is always a heal landing.

Flame Leviathan: All I can say is, flying through the air with a boom-chicken by your side is worth it. I beacon the boom-chicken and unleash my holy DPS on the turrets. Instant FoLs on myself are enough to keep us both alive without any stress (hard mode may be different).

Ignis: Pallies beacon themselves and do nothing but roll heals on the MT. We have our Disc priest on the OTs, with the druids dropping HOTs on them as they race by with the constructs. Raid healing is covered with the shaman and holy priest, and the druids kicking in after a flame jet.

Razorscale: This fight is a lot less coordinated. Generally I sit on our DK who picks up the whirlwinders and also stays closest to Razor so he gets her fire patches. I beacon myself, and just roll FoL on him until the fight ends. I’ll also run in and hit the boss a few times while she’s harpooned, that way I have a full mana bar at the start of phase 3 (phase 2 if you don’t count the chained phase) so I can just bomb the tanks with HL.

XT-002 Deconstructor: We handle this fight just like Ignis. Prot pallies on the tank, Disc Priest on the add tank, and the rest of the healers on the raid. The only change up is during the earthquake/pound one of us will switch off the MT and drop HL bombs on the melee to help with the damage.

Kologarn: See previous strategies. I usually beacon the add tank on this one, since he’s close enough to always receive my heals. Only one of the tanks holding Kologarn should be taking a significant amount of damage, so we focus on them individually. A Resto shaman is also amazing for the folks caught in the grip.

Assembly of Iron: This one we switch up just a touch. We’ve only downed this once, and that was in the ‘easy’ mode. Here we flip the disc priest and a holy paladin, beaconing the off tanks and healing through the damage. A shaman is an ideal healer for the tank on Stormcaller, as they can interrupt the chain lightning and the lightning whirl.

Suggested Healing Priest Specs, Glyphs, and Addons for 3.1

Not sure how to spec or glyph for 3.1? Here are my suggestions. Feel free to modify accordingly. WoW Insider has a great roundup to everything 3.1 related.

No Stock UI has a great list of updated and compatible 3.1 addons for you to peruse.

Discipline Priest Specs

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Soul Warding: Reduces the cooldown of Power Word: Shield by 4 seconds and reduces the mana cost of Power Word: Shield by 30%.

Absolution: Reduces mana cost of Dispels and Disease curing spells by up to 15%.

Focused Will: Increases your spell critical effect by 3% fully talented. If you get crit, incoming damage is reduced by 4% and healing effects on you increase by 5/10/15%.

3 points can go either into Absolution or Focused Will. With the amount of cleansers and dispelers in my arsenal, I opted for the increase crit for the time being. But that might change later.

Improved Flash Heal: Must talent, I think. Reduces mana cost of Flash Heal by 15% and increases the crit chance if your targets are below half health.

Rapture: It’s different now. When your Shield is absorbed or dispelled, you instantly get back 2.5% of your total mana and your target gains 2% mana, 8 rage, 16 energy, or 32 runic power. Works every 12 seconds.

Discipline Priest Glyphs

Glyph of Flash Heal
Glyph of Power Word: Shield
Glyph of Penance – NEW: Your Scribes will have to be lucky here.
Glyph of Prayer of Healing – At least it’s some form of AoE healing if the fight calls for it

Holy Priests Specs

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Blessed Resilience: For 3 points, it increases your healing effectiveness by 3%. The stronger your healing effectiveness, the better this talent will be. For the time being I opted not to get it.

Serendipity: A haste inducing talent. Requires you to Flash Heal or Binding Heal before it adds a 12% haste buff per stack up to 3 (total of 36%). Makes your next Greater Heal or Prayer of Healing faster. Note: Binding Heal used to grant 2 haste buffs per one cast. It doesn’t do that anymore.

Test of Faith: No change here.

You’re going to end up with 6 talent points. You can only invest in two of the above abilities. I recommended Serendipity and Test of Faith.

Empowered Renew: Another instant healing spell added to Priests. The closest thing I can think of is that it’s an inverse Lifebloom. Instead of tick, tick, tick, BOOM! It becomes BOOM! Tick, tick, tick.

Holy Priest Glyphs

Glyph of Circle of Healing
Glyph of Hymn of Hope
Glyph of Renew
Glyph of Flash Heal
Glyph of Guardian Spirit

Things will be very busy in the World. New places to explore, new dungeons to conquer. All of us will do our best to provide the advice and guidance in the challenges ahead.

T8 Set Bonuses Revealed

Post updated 1:42 AM
MMO Champion’s got the goods on the next level of tier 8 bonuses. Let’s check it out and do some quick analysis shall we?

Priest

  • Priest T8 Healer 2P Bonus — Increases the critical heal chance of your Prayer of Healing by 10%.
  • Priest T8 Healer 4P Bonus — Casting Power Word: Shield also grants you 15 spell power for until cancelled. Increases spell power by 250 for 5 sec. (Source: Thottbot)

I’m not the most thrilled with the 2 piece. It’s not bad but it’s not that great, I don’t think. Although let’s not forget that Prayer of Healing is no longer restricted to the Priest’s current party. You definitely want to consider coupling this with the Prayer of Healing glyph. Having the extra crit chance means there’s a higher chance the glyph portion should tick for more.

Now the 4 piece is a real eyebrow raiser. I’m almost certain that’s a typo. More than likely, it’ll grant 150 spell power instead of 15. The second typo is towards the end. It sounds to me that either a) There’s going to be a duration on it. Probably 9 or 15 seconds. b) Until the Shield wears off of a target. This is a bonus that seems targeted towards Disc Priests. With talents like Soul Warding (Reduced cooldown of PW: Shield by 4 seconds and reduces the mana cost by 30%), I can see myself throwing shields around. It’d be mana inefficient, to be sure. But I’m chain casting it to maintain a spellpower boost. Of course, with the mana regeneration changes this might not be the most smartest idea. Anyway, I don’t think they’re quite finished with this set bonus yet guys.

Paladin

  • Paladin T8 Holy 2P Bonus — Your Holy Shock critical heals now also place a periodic healing effect on the target, healing for 15% of the Holy Shock’s heal amount over 9 sec.
  • Paladin T8 Holy 4P Bonus — Increases the damage absorbed by your Sacred Shield by 10%.

Any Paladins want to weigh in on these bonuses? How do these look to you guys?

Shaman

  • Shaman T8 Restoration 2P Bonus — Reduces the cooldown on Riptide by 1 sec.
  • Shaman T8 Restoration 4P Bonus — Reduces the cast time of Chain Heal by 0.2 sec.

That Shaman 4 piece makes me go wa wa wee wa. Assuming haste, could we possible see 2 second Chain Heals?

And for the Druids, don’t forget that Syd’s got a nice writeup for the Druid bonuses that were released earlier in the week.

Thoughts on Rapture and Mana Regen

Thoughts on Rapture and Mana Regen

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I wanted to put some thoughts together on the post 3.1 Rapture ability and our overall mana regen. A lot of players have contacted me and wondered why I thought it was a buff and asked what it meant for their mana regeneration. Why am I so optimistic about something that’s going to tank our regeneration?

Two key concepts

Mana regen is but one important piece to the whole puzzle. But here are two important concepts:

  • Regen: Your ability to grain the resources you need to perform your skills.
  • Obstacles: This is stuff that makes you use your skills and drains your resources.

We have access to half the puzzle right now. We sort of know what our mana regeneration mechanics are going to be like (in theory).

But we presently don’t know is under what conditions they’ll be stressed. We don’t know what our opposition is like yet. We don’t know how combat’s going to be in Ulduar. We don’t know the fights, we don’t know bosses, we really don’t know anything.

Calm down.

This is the public test realm. Players on there are supposed to provide honest feedback about what they feel works and what doesn’t. I’m not complaining about any of the changes yet because I haven’t been able to test them in combat. I don’t have any healing dummies, unfortunately.

Here’s the new Rapture:

Rapture ( Tier 8 ) revamped. Now a 3 point talent. When your Power Word: Shield is completely absorbed or dispelled you are instantly energized with 1.5% of your total mana, and you have a 33% chance to energize your shielded target with 2% total mana, 8 rage, 16 energy or 32 runic power. This effect cannot occur once every 12 seconds.

Fully talented, the 1.5% of total mana becomes 2.5% of total mana and the 33% chance becomes a 100% chance to energize. I’m not sure if the second effect applies to Priests who cast it on themselves. I think the 12 second limitation effect is for the latter component not the Priest’s mana energized component. So if you’re shielding 3 tanks and they wear off one after the other, that would be 3 separate activations of the mana return. Only one of your tanks would get the benefit from the 8 rage.

I just can’t test that theory out right now.

Anyway, it’s a buff in the sense that the players we Shield will gain a return of some sort to their power. Warriors will no longer have a reason to cry and request zero shields on themselves. You are getting bubbled whether you like it or not.

With extra gravy.

We are now glorified battery chargers.

On the other hand, you could always click it off.

I’m okay with nerfs

They can nerf our regen if it’s proven that we (as Priests) don’t need it. Decently geared players don’t have to watch their mana as much. I’m not potting, I’m not hitting my Hymn of Hope, I’m not asking for Innervates and I’m not breaking out the Shadowfiend because they aren’t necessary right now.

When does it become a problem?

If our nerfs our active and we’re hitting all of our consumables and mana regen abilities and we’re still running out of gas? That’s when it becomes a problem.

Holy changes

Serendipity has lost its mana gaining flare. This is supposed to be counteracted by the revised Holy Concentration.

Holy Concentration (Tier 7) changed to: Your mana regeneration is increased by 16/32/50% for 8 sec after you critically heal with Flash Heal, Greater Heal, Binding Heal or Renew. (Previously had a chance to grant clearcasting effect)

Beneficence started a thread on Plusheal regarding the new 3.1 mana regen mechanics. Be wary as it is numbers heavy. The bottom line from Bene:

The HC change itself strikes me as about even with it’s current iteration, by itself. Once you factor in the oo5sr changes that can result from that, it looks like a light nerf. The loss of serendipity’s mana restoring mechanic though, can be a pretty noticeable loss, even if you are relatively efficient.

Why so optimistic?

In my line of work, I kind of have to be. I have a fun job where I get to write about a game and a class I truly enjoy playing. Every buff, every nerf, every change I view as fascinating! It’s just another step in the evolution of the Priest. If all I did was zero in on nothing but nerfs, I’d end up being just a shell. I’m being optimistic because my sanity depends on it.

Ever watch or read the news lately?

There’s always a shooting. There’s always a homicide. Someone gets robbed. Someone gets sexually assaulted. Even in newspapers, you read about corruption and what’s wrong with our society today. Good news is lucky if it even makes it on to the side bars.

It’s depressing.

Now imagine what kind of blogger I would be if I approached every change negatively. If I said our class was getting wrecked left and right. If I told you to all reroll Paladin (heaven forbid). If I told you I was quitting the game. I’m sorry, but that’s not who I am. My glass is not half empty. It’s going to be completely full.

In the sense of the Priest, some parts of us are getting hit with nerfs. Other parts are getting buffs. We’re getting non stop changes.

A majority of us have yet to try out the changes in the situations where it matters: On the field.

And once I do, you’ll get an honest, zero BS assessment. I won’t bore you with numbers. It will be a straight up yes-or-no answer to the important question we’re all dying to know: Are we running out of mana in combat?

Besides, we’re apparently missing a few talents in the Disc tree.

For another point of view about Rapture, try this: