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.

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!

Breaking Down a Paladin’s Efficient Heals

Breaking Down a Paladin’s Efficient Heals

pally-equation

This is a guest post by Hitty the Pally. Be prepared for heavy math towards the end of the post (well, at least, it was for me :D).

I recently went back to becoming a full time Holy Paladin for 3.1.0 for many reasons including having some of our healing raiders leaving the guild.  Just to give you a quick history lesson on Hitty the pally, I started as holy hybrid in 1.0 dispelling my way through MC and switched to protection spec in 2.0 to fill a large gap left by our MT taking some time off.  Eventually he came back and ended up being a ret paladin in the late stages of TBC and stuck with it for 3.0.  I’ve always enjoyed being a dependable raider filling in all three roles when needed.

So here I am, most of my core training was from healing lava packs in Molten Core and boy was I in for a holy shock.  There are so many new toys to play with outside of the simplistic trio of Holy Light, Flash of Light and Cleanse.  So here I am getting the crash course on healing by a fellow holy paladin teammate with all these fancy terms like Bacon, Sacred Shield and JotP.  My pally friend has this enact ability to top healing charts with his eyes closed.  Now I know and understand thoroughly that being a healer you are part of a team.  Everyone on this team plays a role in which if everyone succeeds the raid will have a good chance of winning (its NHL playoffs isn’t it Matticus?). 

Editor’s note: Playoffs ended when the Canucks were eliminated.

Not to take anything away from my counterpart.  He is just that good and dependable (except with buffing… I can win there!).  The common joke in our guild is he has a big red button that he presses when he wants to top the healing charts.  Anyways he plays a major part in our guilds progression and we love him for it. But there’s a dps fire inside of me   I want to become number 1!   Talk about ego and insecurity problems /sigh.

The goal is to beat my friend and wins the heal meters among pallys!  So with every raid night the past 3 weeks, I start by pumping myself up to prepare for the challenge.  I put on some classic energy songs before raids such as Welcome to the Jungle by Guns n Roses to “Remember the Name by Fort Minor to Crowd Chantby Joe Satriani.  Hungry like a dps machine to test myself against my competition I wait for the perfect opportunity.  The chance arrived in my lap, there was no danger to the raid and I went for it. FAIL.  Next boss to try again, FAIL.

It seems that I have a gear issue in that my mana isn’t as infinite as my counterpart.  This was to be expected as my gear is inferior to my opponent but there was a few interesting findings in Recount and WWS logs.  I was able to keep up my effective healing on three conditions.  1, the fight must be short as I am chaining holy lights till I’m oom or 2, there are enough ppl who required healing or 3, stand in the fire and selfishly heal myself.  The short story is I need to boast my mana regen capability which means I need more Cowbe- err Crits!!!

Mana regeneration for Paladins have always been interesting compared to the other healers.  The bread and butter of our mana regen are through Divine Plea and critical proc heals with the Illumination talent.  Generally speaking we are never out of the 5 second casting regen not to mention Spirit doesn’t do pally’s any good.  In combat mp5 regen isn’t much better as it is very hard stat to stack as most cases the preference would be to increase Int for divine plea, +spell, and +crit.  Illumination is a talent that has a 100% proc rate to gain 60% of the base cost of FoL, HL or HS.  Looking specifically at spell crit, I have a lot of work to do.  Generally speaking, my sworn enemy will have more crits than normal spell casts in every category with a crit rate of BLAH.  My numbers really show as I would be opposite with more normal spells than crits.  Alright!  Time for science.  Divine Favour allows me to crit one of my spells every 2 minutes, which spell would be optimal to use in conjunction with Divine Favour to return the most mana. 

Please keep in mind that all these numbers and calculations are very simple math equations without factoring many different buffs, procs, talents and environments. 

Illumination Rank 5

After getting a critical effect from your Flash of Light, Holy Light, or Holy Shock heal spell you have a 100% chance to gain mana equal to 60% of the base cost of the spell.

Divine Favour

3% of base mana

Instant cast                                         2 min cooldown

When activated, gives your next Flash of Light, Holy Light, or Holy Shock spell a 100% critical effect chance.

Holy Light Rank 13

29% of base mana

2.5 sec cast                                         40 yd range

Heals a friendly target for 4888 to 5444.

Flash of Light Rank 9

7% of base mana

1.5 sec cast                                         40 yd range

Heals a friendly target for 785 to 879.

Holy Shock Rank 7

18% of base mana

Instant cast 6 sec cooldown         20 – 40 yd range

Blasts the target with Holy energy, causing 1296 to 1402 Holy damage to an enemy, or 2401 to 2599 healing to an ally.

Okay, starting in 2.4 there were certain spells that required a percentage of the base mana.  With 3.0, it’s pretty much the norm.  Now this basically means the amount of mana a certain class has before any modifiers such as int, racial or buffs.  So I got nekked for the purpose of science and found that for a Paladin, your base mana will always be 4394 at level 80.  I tried to ask a blood elf to help me confirm my findings but all I got was a slap.

Divine Favour = 4394*3% = 132 mana to cast.

Holy Light = 4394*29% = 1275 mana to cast.

Flash of Light = 4394*7% = 308 mana to cast. 

Holy Shock = 791 mana to cast. 

With these values now, we can find out how much mana it cost to cast both spells plus how much mana is returned.

DF/HL 132+1275 = 1407 mana cost.  1275*60% = 765 mana return for 2.5 second cast. 

The net cost to cast a HL would be 1407-765 = 642

DF/FoL 132+308 = 440 mana cost. 308*60% = 185mana return for 1.5 second cast.

The net cost to cast a FoL would be 440-185 = 255.

DF/HS 132+791 = 923 mana cost. 923*60% = 475 mana return for 1.5 second cast. T

The net cost to cast a HS would be 923-554 = 448.

Woot! Let’s break this down to mana regen per second. 

HL would be 642/2.5 = 257/1,

FoL would be 255/1.5 = 170/1 and

HS would be 475/1.5 = 316/1. 

The winner is… Holy Shock! 

So here we go, I found a new trick to add to my trade and hope it’ll help me inch closer and closer to my formidable opponent.  Here’s a new trick for an old dog.  If anyone has any other tricks to share, please do!!  I can’t wait till the next opportunity I get.  Nothing’s wrong with a little competition, ya?

Post edited with updated values May 27, 09

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 10 man Ulduar

This is a guest post by Adgamorix, who’s launched his own blog: Divine Plea.

So last week I wrote a post talking about Paladin healing in Heroic Ulduar, and voicing my opinion that I thought Paladin healing was spot on. I was open about my lack of 10 man Ulduar experience, and was told to come back when I’d experienced that pain – with the expectation that my opinion would change.

Taking that to heart, the next day I rounded up nine of my fellow guild mates and began my assault. This week has been an absolute blood-bath of raiding, seeing me log six days of straight raiding (no less than three hours a day) when I normally log two or three. Why did I throw my schedule to the side and perform this atrocious attack on my sanity you ask? Simple. I thought maybe I was missing something.

So 9 hours of 10 man raiding later and we’re staring at General Vezax and laughing at how the trash was essentially mini-bosses. We’re now one boss away from Yarg himself, and of course a whole slew of bosses on hard mode to go. I believe that I’ve tasted the cool-aid, and I have a response for those who still say Paladin healing is broken.

What’s the fuss?

Yeah, it’s not a real adult reaction, but it fits in my opinion. Our raid makeup was fairly balanced, with a Resto shaman, and the Holy/Disc priest from my 25 man group. We used a Druid/DK tanking combo, two rogues (our hunter is suffering from severe wife agro), ret paladin, a shadow priest, and a balance druid. Yes, we could have had a better raid makeup for buff purposes, but this group is a solid core of players and we did our 10 man Naxx together.

We had our share of wipes and pain (Mimiron alone took 2 or 3 hours), but the overall experience was enjoyable. We learned new bosses, we got to hear the “I thought the button started the encounter!” cry from a curious rogue, and we learned some things to help with our 25 man raid. I learned that more than ever, I have to trust my fellow healers, and trust my raid mates to know when to use cool-downs and consumables. I felt the agony of no mana return with Illumination on Vezax, and I may have actually shed a tear the first time I tried casting a Holy Light while under the effects of Thorim’s Defaning Thunder (75% increased cast time). Overall though I felt like the raid was tuned beautifully, and it was a lot of fun actually being challenged.

So what’s different between me and those that think we’re broken?

I will concede that our group is the x factor in this equation. Are the healing problems coming from Paladins in unbalanced groups? Are they trying to two heal, or heal content beyond their gear/experience level? Maybe it’s the synergy between the healers, in that we know the role we play, and can accurately predict the actions of our fellow healers. For example, I know that on Mimiron while I’m healing the MT through the Plasma Blast, if someone gets Napalm Shelled I can toss them a quick Holy Shock to absorb the base damage while the tree HoTs them up and the Disc priest keeps the MT alive. We don’t have to talk about it, it just happens. Would it be awesome if I could still throw a Sacred Shield on them to help with the damage absorption? Of course it would, but we seem to be making it through ok as it is.

Canceling out the X factor

So after healing a lot of 10 man (and more 25 man), I decided to take the x factor out of the equation. I couldn’t down rank my gear (short of taking a piece off) to simulate healing in blues , but I could put myself in the LFG channel and heal any PUG that came along. I tossed aside any gear/instance standards I had, and went willy-nilly into the groups. After getting through Gun’Drak, VH, UK, and UP – I decided Paladin healing still isn’t broken. Yes it’s slightly tougher, the lack of multiple SS and Glyph crits huts some, but it’s still doable (and fun).

I’m going to stick by original statement that Holy Paladins are in great shape right now, and while we could use another tool in our kit, or maybe some kind of decent raid heal, we’re still really strong.

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.

Ulduar Caster Weapons and Tier Gear: A Primer

Here’s a list of all spellcaster related weapons that drop from Ulduar. Items are sorted in the rough order of progression that raiding groups will be going in. I linked all currently known spellpower weapons and off hands so that your raid group can get a general idea of what item to go for and what items are better off in the hands of other players along with the rough order they will appear in. It seems heroic mode drops slightly more weapons. Loot tables for some of the bosses are still unknown at this time (like Yogg-Saron and Algalon). Read the bottom of the post for a theory of tier gear drops.

Heroic Mode weapons

Weapon Weapon Type Source
Overcharged Fuel Rod OH (Spell hit) Flame Leviathan
Intensity 2H Staff (Spell hit) Ignis the Furnace Master
Scepter of Creation Wand (Spirit) Ignis the Furnace Master
Guiding Star 1H Mace (MP5/Haste) Razorscale
Quartz Crystal Wand Wand (Spell hit) XT-002 Deconstructor (Hard mode)
     
Rapture 2H Staff (Spirit) Iron Council
Ironmender OH (Spirit) Kologarn
Runescribed Blade 1H Sword Auriaya
The Lifebinder 2H Staff (Spirit) Freya
Staff of Endless Winter 2H Staff (Spirit) Hodir (Hard mode)
Scepter of Lost Souls Wand (Haste/Crit) General Vezax

 

Normal Mode Weapons

Weapon Weapon Type Source
Firesoul MH Sword (Spell hit) Flame Leviathan
Plasma Foil 1H Dagger (Spirit) XT-002 Deconstructor
Pulsing Spellshield OH (Shield) XT-002 Deconstructor
Stormtip 1H Dagger (Spirit) The Iron Council
Nurturing Touch Wand (Spirit) Auriaya
Pulse Baton 1H Mace (MP5) Mimiron
Unraveling Reach 2H Staff (Hit) Freya
Icecore Staff 2H Staff (Spirit) Hodir
Ice Layered Barrier OH Shield (MP5/Haste) Hodir (Hard mode)
Pillar of Fortitude 2H Staff General Vezax

Tier gear

All we know right now is that Mimiron drops tier 8 gloves. I’m assuming Yogg-Saron either drops the chest or the helm. I have a sneaking suspicion the other 3 Titans (Freya, Hodir, Thorim) drop the other 3 tier 8 pieces. My theory is unconfirmed, however. But I think it’s a decent assumption that the 4 titans along with the “end” boss of the instance are the ones that drop the tier pieces.

My Newfound Respect for Melee

My Newfound Respect for Melee

melee_is_hard

Remember how I told you all, on April Fool’s Day, no less, that I was going to run off and play Ret Paladin? Well, it wasn’t entirely a joke. Yes, I’m still raiding on Syd, and still healing, but I’ve been playing my paladin this weekend as both Ret and Holy. I have a lot more confidence when I’m healing, and I have a few amusing stories about that stemming from a Naxx-10 PuG that I healed last night, but today I’m mostly here to talk to you about the special challenge of melee.

Not many healers have a melee class as their alt, and now I can see why. I’ve done ranged DPS before in group settings. I’d say it’s more of a challenge to me than healing at this point, but I can see how it could be done well. However, I was determined to take my Ret Paladin to some heroics. As I’m in a confessional mood, here’s a list of the Melee Failures I’ve indulged in over the last five days.

Failure #1

Accidentally taunting off the tank. Sorry, Brio. I’m still not sure how I managed to hit Shift 1 with the back of my hand, but I certainly did it.

Failure #2

Pulling mobs by accident . . . with my butt. You know, when you’re a melee class, you have to get behind the mobs. I think that my time as a healer has made me scared of them, and I tend to stay at max range, which can be rather dangerous with patrols around.

Failure #3

Hanging out in the green stuff. I was so happy when we defeated the first boss of Heroic Gundrak. So happy, in fact, that I stood there doing the Macarena as the poison slowly killed me. As always, I was suprised when Marfi hit the floor.

Failure #4

Staying in for whirlwind. I realized belatedly that the last boss of Heroic Gundrak was doing his little spinny thing. By the time I strafed out, I was low on health, and a ghost rhino charge made me go splat.

Failure #5

Standing in front of the boss. Now, I know I’m not supposed to stand next to Brio. I’ve made many jokes in my life about melee humping the hind legs of bosses. I’m not sure why I ended up in front of Heroic Anub’arak, but I do know what happened to me when he cast pound. Pound equals splat, for something like 10,000 overkill.

Failure #6

Getting ahead of the tank. In Utgarde Keep, I was getting antsy. Guess what happened when I edged in front of Brio? More pulling mobs. I’m glad Brio and I have a stable relationship, because I know exactly what he would have said if any other melee did that. Oh well, at least I can bubble and save myself.

Failure #7

Getting too far behind. Also Utgarde Keep. I have no excuse this time, only that I had to pee, and that turned into rather poor dps for a minute there. It turns out that you have to keep up, all the time, as a melee player.

Failure #8

Ignoring the kill order. Skull is for decoration, right? I’m issuing an apology to Amava, who was tanking Violet Hold on his cleverly-named druid Moodyswinger.

Failure #9

Panicking about my own health instead of trusting the healer. No, I didn’t say, heal me please, but I definitely used my Art of War procs whenever they were up, mostly on the tank, but also on myself. I have also bubbled a record number of times during the weekend.

Failure #10

Incomplete gear switch. I’m sure both Ret Paladins and Feral Druids face this one all the time. I don’t use any inventory manager addons, because my laptop’s poor performance means that I can only run necessary addons–nothing extra. This Sunday I DPS’d about seven heroics wearing my Holy libram. . . from Karazhan.

That’s my list of spectacular melee failures. The only one I didn’t check off this week was Die in a Fire. In my defense, Sartharion was the first instance I did with Marfi as DPS. I didn’t realize at that point I was making a checklist. I did die in that fight, not to a void zone or lava wave, but to a stray add. I also did about 1000 dps in my full suit of greens, but hey, I’d just dinged 80 10 minutes before. My dps has improved a bit now, but the failures keep mounting.

The Value of Failure

I’ve always told my students that failure is instructive. Errors are acceptable–even a good thing–while you’re learning a language, and they’re acceptable when you’re learning a new class role as well. If you never allow yourself to make mistakes, you’ll never learn. You’ll just continue doing what is comfortable and never branch out. However, I know my limits. I’m practicing in Heroics because they’re the minor leagues. The next time I see the green stuff, I’ll be running away.

There’s a very good reason that I haven’t let myself DPS in Naxx yet. Even though the paladin is different from my resto druid, it’s the same raid role, and I have a wealth of experience healing on both toons from Classic to current. In a raid, I owe more to my group members, so I have to know what I’m doing to some degree. Sure, I messed up my Holy spec last night and forgot to even get Bacon of Light, but it didn’t matter. I still beat the other healer, a better-geared Holy priest, on the meters. It is true that I only pulled ahead because she died on the first pass of the Heigan dance, which then continued for 10 more minutes with about five players alive, but I was proud of myself nonetheless. It’s absolutely amazing how much energy playing a new character can give me on this very, very stale content. However, the Flash of Light spam nearly killed me. Syd uses such a variety of spells, which I have mapped for both hands (left hand for direct heals, mouse for hots), that I never feel stress in my wrists. This morning my left wrist is killing me from repeatedly hitting the C key. I don’t know how full-time paladins do it.

No More Healing, Ever!

No More Healing, Ever!

marfi_triumphant

Well, here it is folks. Phaelia’s left the World Tree behind to go tend to her sprout, and BRK is likewise taking a break from WoW to spend time with family. And now me–I’m announcing today that I am changing my main character to my ret paladin Marfisa. I regret to inform you all that I will no longer be healing, ever. This blog is now exclusively about my determination to hit things upside the kneecap with a blunt instrument.

The Top Ten Reasons to Switch to Ret Paladin

10. Sure, I’m good at healing. But I’ve got a lot more room for improvement in the dps department.

9. I absolutely love regular 5-mans. I haven’t been to one on Marfi since Scholomance, but that’s not about to stop me.

8. I adore PuGs. No one ever, ever hears me complaining about fail PuGs. In fact, I love it when people play badly on purpose. As soon as I finish this post, I’m going to join a regular Nexus group and jump off all the ledges to my death, repeatedly. Bonus points if I can aggro some stuff onto my group while I’m at it.

7. Ret paladins are good at ganking people (or, at least, they’re better at it than resto druids). From now on I’m going to harass innocent people trying to do their Hodir dailies. I’ll be watching for someone to pull a couple of mobs, and when their health’s at 50%, bam! paladin burst damage, right to the face.

6. Crusader aura makes my gryphon fly faster and thus helps him burn calories. Everyone hates fat gryphons, so I’m doing the world a public service.

5. I really love the Macarena. It’s so much better than the Night Elf pole dance. Watching Marfi do her /dance emote brings back fond memories of that Carnival cruise I went on in 1997. . .

4. No more unit frames, no more mouseover macros. Just me and the numbers 1-6. I now have a free hand for gin and tonics while raiding.

3. I can pop wings every time I take a screenshot of myself. I am the angel of death!

2. Using Seal of the Martyr makes me feel superior to all the other dps. Look what I sacrificed to kill this boss! I deserve a medal. Whenever I have Seal of the Martyr up, I can throw my self-sacrifice in the faces of my selfish guild members and make them hate themselves for being such indulgent slackers.

1. With her new haircut, Marfi could be singer Lady GaGa’s twin. Don’t believe me? Check out the photo below. They were separated at birth, I swear. Maybe if hitting things doesn’t work out, Marfi can have a career as a pop singer. Half psychotic, sick hypnotic, indeed.

marfi_and_gaga

Oh and, by the way, happy April Fools Day kiddos.