Archive for paladins

DPSing vs. Healing

I started playing World of Warcraft in October of 2005, as a hunter named Kurnmogh. I primarily raided as a hunter throughout Vanilla, although I was certainly asked to swap to my alt holy paladin, Madrana, for several raids. (I remember healing Sulfuron and Golemagg in MC as Madrana, in particular, not to mention a couple of ZG clears and some AQ20 partial runs.)

When Burning Crusade came out, I dinged 70 on my hunter first. And then I didn’t really have any place to raid. So I dinged Madrana 70 and promptly got snatched up by a guild that was looking for healers. When that situation didn’t work out (8 of the 12 people on the main raid team in that guild got poached by another guild on the server), Majik, myself and a bunch of old Fated Heroes members (our Vanilla guild) formed Apotheosis.

Here’s the thing — I was so well-geared as Madrana, and we had so few healers, that I basically didn’t have a choice but to continue to heal as Madrana in raids.

It was okay. I wasn’t upset. It was very weird to me to progress as a healer, mind, but it wasn’t a problem for me. I just hadn’t really had the ability to choose what I wanted to do during BC. I mean, I wanted my guild to succeed, so I healed because I had the gear and because we needed healers. As time went by, I could have recruited another healer or two in order to replace me, but I didn’t. Over time, I’d made the decision that Kurn would get all the holiday titles and such (primarily for the free epic flying that came with the violet proto-drake) while Madrana would get all the raid titles and mounts and stuff. I’d made my peace with Kurn being my non-raiding character.

When Wrath of the Lich King came out, I was on the fence over what to do. I really enjoyed playing Kurn. I always had. So while I levelled Kurn to 80 first (as always, Kurn is the first to hit level cap), I was debating whether or not I’d raid as Kurn. Almost as soon as I dinged 80 on Kurn, I started levelling Madrana to 80. But I also dipped my toes into casual 10-man Naxxramas runs that my guildies were doing — as Kurn. I figured that it would be a good way to see if I wanted to change how I played the game.

It was the Abomination wing that made up my mind for me. We were trying to down Grobbulus. I’m sure most people in the 10-man raid were undergeared, not hit-capped and such, but we were dying to stupid things. People weren’t dropping things where they were needed to be dropped, adds were running amok and the like.

It was then that I realized that I was just one DPS. No matter what I did, I could not, single-handedly, kill everything. I was doing everything right and still, that was not enough. More to the point, it would never be enough. I, as a single DPS, would never, ever be enough to make up for all the other DPS in a raid situation.

By contrast, a single healer can make a huge difference. A massive difference. Our very first Vashj kill happened because I threw Lay on Hands on our sole remaining tank and it crit, buying us the precious few seconds we needed to get the kill. A well-timed cooldown here, a clutch heal there… Even one healer out of six or seven can make a huge difference, at least compared to one DPS out of 17. And, personally, I like being someone who really makes a difference on a fight.

Why am I talking about this?

I’ve been on a bit of an LFR binge. As of this writing, I have done all the LFRs relating to Tier 14 once. (And gained 5 Sigils of Wisdom and 8 Sigils of Power or something like that.) Of course, I’ve been doing these on my hunter, who has gotten a chunk of gear over the last few days. Madrana, much as I love healing with her, is still sitting pretty at 85, although it’s tempting to start the grind to 90.

We were on Wind Lord Mel’jarak and both tanks were dead by the three-minute mark. The fight continued for another four and a half minutes (total time was 7:22!) and I was literally mashing my buttons and trying to do anything I possibly could to get more damage out. At one point, I realized that was it: I could not put out any more damage. Everything (Rapid Fire, Murder of Crows, Stampede, agi potion, even my cat’s Rabid) was on cooldown and all I could do was wait for something to come back up and try to keep a perfect rotation while I waited.

As we whittled the boss down, I sat there thinking about how I could have made a difference as a healer. Maybe I could have kept at least one of the tanks alive. Maybe a druid would have given me Symbiosis, granting me a battle rez, allowing me to rez one of the tanks. The boss’ health kept dropping, I kept mashing my buttons and watching as OmniCC’s 1m started counting down in seconds on a couple of my abilities, rather than minutes.

Throughout it all, I knew that even that boost granted me by Rapid Fire and Murder of Crows was, ultimately, not the make-it-or-break-it portion of the fight. Even if the fight were extended by another 15 or 20 seconds, we would probably down it. Of course, it was LFR. In a normal or, more likely, heroic version of a fight where there are unforgiving enrage timers, DPS makes more of a difference. They have to put out a lot of damage or the entire raid will die. But even in those cases, I don’t think that I can ever feel as though I, personally, made a difference. Anyone can do damage. The fact that I’ve ranked on World of Logs on the majority of my LFR excursions, after not playing for 13 months, attests to that. ;)

There have always been jokes in my guild, and among my friends, that I’ve always wanted to raid as my hunter. I got teased a lot about it in Cataclysm as new people would join the guild and go “what the fuck, you don’t raid as Kurn but you want us to call you that and you refer to your non-raiding character as your main? What is up with THAT, you freak?!” (Well, perhaps they were a bit more polite than that, at least until they’d been in the guild for a while.) People made the assumption that because I wanted them to call me Kurn and because Kurn was my so-called “main”, that I wanted to raid as Kurn.

Nope. Healing is my preferred raid role. I could easily blame it on being used to healing, but that wouldn’t really be honest. I like being someone who is a difference-maker. That’s not to say DPS can’t make a difference, because they can — we had lots of people in Apotheosis whose presence would be the key to downing a new fight. But individually, I personally feel a lot more useful as a healer than as a DPS.

The fringe benefits (shorter queues for various content) are nice, too, but, for me,  it’s really all about keeping those other people alive so THEY can do crazy amounts of damage, as a solid group of 17ish DPS. As for myself, I’ll take being part of a kick-ass team of healers over disappearing into the huge group of DPS any day of the week.

As for my plans for the last three days of this trial: I have one mob left for the Glorious! achievement and I plan to try to do all of Throne of Thunder and Siege of Orgrimmar’s LFRs over the course of the weekend. (Wish me luck!) And I’d also like to get Gold Proving Grounds, too. :)

What are you doing in WoW this weekend?

5.4 PTR Holy Paladin Changes

Admittedly, I haven’t kept up on all kinds of patch notes in the last several months, but several of the changes noticed in the 5.4 PTR struck me as really interesting.

My instinct is to cringe and brace for impact whenever I see “Paladin” in the patch notes or the noted datamined changes. Rarely when you see a class name are they actually buffing the class. It’s usually some form of nerf.

So what are these changes that I strongly suspected would be nerfs?

1) Eternal Flame initial healing has been reduced by 30%. Boom. Nerf.

2) Sacred Shield stuff that is unlikely to actually be implemented on live. Would have been potentially interesting but probably still would feel like a nerf compared to current Sacred Shield.

3) Sanctified Wrath: Holy: now also increases the critical strike chance of Holy Shock by 20%. Buff!

4) Selfless Healer stacks now also work on Divine Light in addition to Flash of Light. Buff to this talent, no question.

5) Mastery: Illuminated Healing no longer activates from periodic healing effects. HUGE, HUGE NERF. (They’ve mentioned that this really is aimed at Eternal Flame and level 90 talents won’t be punished by this.)

6) Divine Plea no longer reduces the amount of healing done by 50%. A long-overdue change, in my opinion.

After reading the post by Rygarius in the official forums, you can better understand what on earth the devs are thinking here. What you can glean from the post is that too many Holy paladins were taking Eternal Flame, so they nerfed it (directly and then indirectly due to the fact that mastery shields will no longer proc off periodic healing effects) in the hopes of people taking some of the other talents at the level 45 mark in the tree. They admit that they don’t like the new version of Sacred Shield and that they will likely revert it. But they buffed Selfless Healer to give people what they think is a viable choice at that talent level. I’m also certain that they’ll screw more with Sacred Shield to ensure that prot paladins don’t ALL take the shield.

Blizzard has said, time and again, that if a talent is “mandatory”, the choice in the situation has been removed. As such, all three choices should be viable and should be able to be swapped around. That’s likely why Sanctified Wrath got a boost to Holy Shock’s crit, so that it would be better represented next to Holy Avenger and Divine Purpose. It seems as though Holy Avenger is getting a lot of use in fights with high-damage phases. Pop Holy Avenger, throw out a Holy Shock, gaining 3 Holy Power, then Light of Dawn, then Holy Radiance, gaining 3 HP, then Light of Dawn, etc, while Divine Purpose is better for fights without a ton of incoming damage… or for those who aren’t so good at remembering to hit a cooldown but still want a benefit. It seems that Blizzard devs felt that Sanctified Wrath could use a bit more incentive for holy paladins.

So I’m unsure that Sacred Shield will remain the way it is on live realms today. As to Eternal Flame, they said that because they’re nerfing it to no longer work with mastery, they’ll probably bump the initial healing back up, but that there are no plans to revert the change in how it works with the mastery, because it’s just too dominant for the holy population. They said, though, that if it’s needed, they’ll compensate by buffing healing elsewhere, because they think holy healing is at a good level, even with all the healing people were doing through Eternal Flame and the mastery shields it created. They’re not nerfing it because holy paladins are too good — they’re nerfing the talent to make it less attractive because there’s basically not another compelling choice for holy paladins on that tier.

I’m really glad we got a blue post about it, to be honest. It sucks to try to guess why something’s happened, so props to Blizzard for being so open about what they feel is a holy paladin problem. I strongly suspect we’ll see even more information about the level 45 talents in the coming weeks.

Better Late Than Never

Ladies and gentlemen of the holy paladin community… hello.

You are probably all caught up on this stuff, but since it was a lingering issue throughout the Pandaria beta and well into live, I thought I’d actually update here. Thanks to Ophelie’s post that reminded me I hadn’t updated the situation!

Shortly after 5.1 came out, I sent a note to Jacii, a holy paladin in Apotheosis. I was like, “dude, can you please do me a favour and see if they actually fixed Holy Avenger like GC promised they would?”

He happily obliged, for which I thanked him profusely. Then I got caught up in holidays and family and junk.

So here, now, are the results of Jacii’s testing:

Holy Avenger will now grant 30% extra healing to Flash of Light and Divine Light on the Beacon of Light target while active.

Additionally, they will continue to give you three Holy Power when benefiting from Tower of Radiance, when Holy Avenger is active.

Here are the averages of about 10 casts WITHOUT Holy Avenger active:

Holy Shock – 34,755
Holy Radiance – 25,674
Flash of Light – 46,791
Divine Light – 62,204

And here they are WITH Holy Avenger active:

Holy Shock  – 45,147
Holy Radiance – 33,421
Flash of Light – 60,999
Divine Light – 80,516

Jacii kindly also included the percentage differences, which means I don’t have to do math. Yay!

Holy Shock – 29.90%
Holy Radiance – 30.17%
Flash of Light – 30.36%
Divine Light – 29.44%

Obviously, the offsets here and there are due to heals healing for a RANGE of healing and not always, say, 35k, 25k, 47k and 62k. It seems as though Holy Avenger now properly grants 30% extra healing to all heals that grant Holy Power, as the tooltip indicates! Yay!

If you want to see the screenshots from Jacii, they’re all available here: http://imgur.com/a/pD0qr

Anyhow, my apologies to being late on this, but that pesky “real life” thing tends to get in the way an awful lot. :) Thanks again to Jacii from Apotheosis for getting me the info (like, six weeks ago) and thanks again to Ophelie for reminding me, however unintentionally. ;)

Lastly, Majik and I are still plotting planning our grand finale episode of Blessing of Frost. We’re looking for YOUR comments on what you liked best about Episodes 43-74! Recording will likely occur in early February, so get your comments in now! Tweet us @kurnmogh and @majjity or email us at podcast [at] blessingoffrost [dot] com. :)

 

BREAKING NEWS: Holy Avenger and Holy Paladins

Back in preparation for 5.0, I wrote a post where I talked about talents, including Holy Avenger. In it, I said:

You can see that Holy Shock and Holy Radiance both get the appropriate 30% bump. Even though I had Beacon on me and was healing myself with Flash of Light and Divine Light (and getting the extra holy power), neither of those spells were affected by the 30% bump.

[…]

Remember, though — those would only on the beacon target and it may actually be intended that you don’t get a bump to healing with those spells on a beacon.

So let’s look at Holy Avenger’s tooltip:

Abilities that generate Holy Power will deal 30% additional damage and healing, and generate 3 charges of Holy Power for the next 18 sec.

For a holy paladin, we can generate holy power in the following ways:

– Casting Holy Shock on any target
– Casting Holy Radiance on any friendly target
– Using Crusader Strike on an enemy target

… but we can also cast Flash of Light or Divine Light on a target with our Beacon of Light on them to gain holy power, via the Tower of Radiance baseline holy passive ability.

Now, if you were to use Flash of Light or Divine Light on a beacon target, you WOULD get the three holy power. Great. But you would NOT receive the 30% extra healing.

Since late beta testing and early 5.0.4 testing when I noticed this, I’ve been asking (bug report forum, beta forum, tickets, even tweets to Ghostcrawler) which behaviour is intended? The way I saw it, the Tower of Radiance heals were either incorrectly giving the extra holy power (if those kinds of heals are not supposed to benefit from Holy Avenger) or they were incorrectly not benefiting from the extra 30% healing bonus (if those kinds of heals are supposed to benefit). And I could not get an answer about it. Either way, it was buggy. Half of the tooltip worked on those heals, half of the tooltip did not. You see the issue, right?

Finally, today, Ghostcrawler responded to a tweet I included him in with the holy paladin in my guild, Jacii, who had been lamenting that he had accidentally kept Holy Avenger as a talent through last night’s raids after testing to see whether or not the Tower of Radiance heals did or did not benefit from it.

So he said it wasn’t intended to work with Flash of Light and Divine Light on a beacon target. Okay, that’s fine, that makes sense — but why, then, does it grant extra holy power?

I tested it on live servers and screenshotted the combat log and you can clearly see it IS giving me 3 holy power due to Tower of Radiance and Holy Avenger.

So there you have it, holy paladins. Holy Avenger WILL work with Tower of Radiance heals in 5.1. As to right now? Nope, still not working.

The first two heals are without Holy Avenger. Flash of Light hits for about 31k, Divine Light (non-crit) for about 40k. (Bear in mind this is on my pally at level 85 in heroic Dragon Soul gear.) The next three are with Holy Avenger and you can see that there isn’t a substantial difference between the first two heals and the last three heals (barring the crit, but if a crit is an increase of 100% from a non-crit heal, you can do math and see that the crit Divine Light wasn’t empowered either, since half of 82k is 41k).

You can see that though I’m gaining the extra holy power through Holy Avenger and Tower of Radiance, Flash of Light is still hitting for about 31k and Divine Light is still hitting for 40-41k, all before Holy Avenger fades.

CONCLUSION

Holy Avenger is still broken in terms of the healing bonus on live right now, but Ghostcrawler says it DOES work in 5.1.

So there you have it, holy pallies — don’t completely discount Holy Avenger once 5.1 goes live. I’m glad I was able to get in one last piece of important holy paladin information for you guys before my subscription ran out. :)

UPDATE: This has been fixed in 5.1.

5.0 & You: Talents, Glyphs and Playstyle Changes at 85

*** All content copyright © Kurn’s Corner, 2012. Reproduction of this guide in full or in part without express permission from the author (“Kurn”), represents copyright infringement and violation of copyright law. Please, if you like this guide, link to it, do not copy it. ***

Last updated: Monday, January 21st, 2013. (Live release 5.1.)

The release date of Mists of Pandaria has been announced. The new expansion will launch on September 25th, 2012. Blizzard tends to release a “pre-release” patch about a month before an expansion launches, which is where we’ll see all the new changes to the game that aren’t Pandaren (no monks, either) and nothing over level 85, nor anything of Pandaria itself. This patch was recently confirmed as dropping on August 28th, 2012.

However, the time between the patch and the expansion’s launch can be a difficult time as it means it’s probably time for most people to relearn (yet again) how to play their class or spec.

Holy paladins who primarily raid in PVE content, fear not. I shall attempt to help you through these troubling times!

Please note that all data was accurate as of Wednesday, August 29th, live version 5.0.4. For all of my tests, I was in gear with an average equipped item level of 407, with the following stats: 10,845 spellpower, 32.49% spell haste (2618 haste rating), 16.84% spell crit chance, 4013 combat regen, 13.82% mastery. I was unbuffed for all of the testing.

Please note that all data was accurate as of Beta version 5.0.4 build #15983. For all of my tests, I was in gear with an average quipped item level of 407, with the following stats: 11,044 spellpower, 32.49% spell haste (2618 haste rating), 17.13% spell crit chance, 3890 combat regen, 13.82% mastery. I was unbuffed for all of the testing.

THE SPEC

Congratulations. We have all the spells and abilities we really need already. Next section, please!

Okay, not really. While choosing Holy as your class specialization does mean you get all the basic tools you need, now we get to play with some optional talents and spells. We will only have access to five talent points, not six, when the 5.0 patch comes out. They are granted at levels 15, 30, 45, 60 and 75. The final point is awarded at level 90.

So which should you pick? Bearing in mind that this is tailored for the 5.0 patch (and not for when you reach 90), wherever possible, I’ve made efforts to make the talent and glyph choices specific to Heroic Dragon Soul raiding. (Mostly 25-man, mind, but 10-man holy paladins ought to find it useful as well.)

Tier 1: Speed of Light, Long Arm of the Law, Pursuit of Justice

Speed of Light is an instant cast with a 45s cooldown that increases your movement speed by 70% for 8 seconds. The downside is you have to hit the button.

Long Arm of the Law is a 45% movement speed for 3 seconds. It’s less useful because judging will not be something you *need* to do in the new 5.0 patch, although you can still do so if you wish (see below). The benefit is that you will almost always gain this movement speed boost when you cast Judgment (note the new spelling!), as long as it hits, that is, and can time it to avoid mechanics anytime you judge. (6 second base cooldown, 30y range, by the way, and the CD is affected by haste. In my testing gear, I had a 4.98s cooldown on Judgment.)

Pursuit of Justice is a flat 15% movement speed increase, which is tempting. However, the additional 5, 10 and 15% movement speed buffs all depend on if you have Holy Power. We shouldn’t really be hoarding Holy Power as healers, though, should we?

Heroic Dragon Soul Utility: Since all of them serve the same purpose (movement speed), you can use any of them for… running in or out of Black Blood of the Earth on Morchok, spreading out or collapsing on Yor’sahj, getting to your Black Phase spot on Zon’ozz, getting into position (either frost or lightning phases) on Hagara, no use on Ultraxion, really (unless you REALLY need to get your buff that much sooner), dodging fire and Shockwave on Blackhorn, no real use on Spine, no real use on Madness unless you have the Corrupted Parasite or you’re right NEXT to someone who’s about to drop their Corrupted Parasite.

Kurn’s Comments: I really like Speed of Light. On-demand with a short enough CD, with a really long duration and a whopping 70% speed increase. For those of you who enjoyed Divine Protection’s speed boost and damage reduction at the same time, you can macro these two together, as neither one is on the global cooldown.

Tier 2: Fist of Justice, Repentance, Burden of Guilt

Fist of Justice: This is exactly the same as our current Hammer of Justice, only it’s a 30s cooldown instead of a 1m cooldown. It replaces Hammer of Justice.

Repentance: At long last, any paladin can snag this talent and have the ability to crowd control things! Demons, Dragonkin, Giants, Humanoids and Undead are all susceptible to this. The major exception here would be Beasts. Best part of this? 15 second cooldown, but 1 minute duration. While I do not expect us to be able to Repentance something every 15 seconds and expect others not to break, it’s nice to know that if it breaks early, we are not necessarily screwed. (By which I mean, it’s not an interminably long CD the way Hex is.)

Burden of Guilt: Judgments will basically reduce your target’s movement speed by 50% for 12 seconds. This is what is called a “gap-closer”, allowing a paladin (or their PVP partners, etc) to catch a target.

Heroic Dragon Soul Utility: There is no need for either Fist of Justice, nor Burden of Guilt in Heroic Dragon Soul. To be honest, there’s no need for Repentance, either, unless you feel like CCing some trash for fun.

Kurn’s Comments: Since this is a PVE guide, Repentance is really the best choice for us. We still have Rebuke for interrupts (albeit now on a 15s cooldown, it looks like, and despite there is not a lot of interrupting to do in Dragon Soul), so Fist of Justice isn’t really needed and neither is Burden of Guilt for a PVE setting, probably. But if you’re running dungeons, you may as well snag Repentance. And if the raids have anywhere near the amount of trash that Bastion of Twilight did, this may be useful in a raid setting, as well.

Tier 3: Selfless Healer, Eternal Flame, Sacred Shield

Up until now, the choices you had available to you were not altogether compelling. As of this tier, your talent choices become much more interesting.

Selfless Healer: Every time you successfully judge when you have this talent, you’ll stack a buff on yourself that lasts for 14 seconds. This buff stacks to 3 (and refreshes to 14s every time you add a stack) and will, for each stack, reduce the mana cost and cast time of Flash of Light by 35%, as well as increase its effectiveness by 35% per stack — but only when you heal OTHERS. If you heal yourself, its effectiveness is unchanged, which basically is why it’s named Selfless Healer. (Yes, Kurn, it’s called reading comprehension.)

Here are some sample numbers from beta build #15983, at level 85 with an average equipped ilvl of 407 and 11,044 spellpower.

Flash of Light costs 7560 mana and, with no buffs and 32.49% spell haste (2618 haste rating), takes 1.13 seconds to cast. It healed me for 31,486.

1 stack of Selfless Healer: 4,914 mana, 0.736s cast time, 42,297 (non-crit)
2 stacks of Selfless Healer: 2,268 mana, 0.34s cast time, 52,683 (non-crit)
3 stacks of Selfless Healer: 0 mana, instant cast, 64,318 (non-crit)

Eternal Flame: This basically replaces Word of Glory. Using 1, 2 or 3 Holy Power charges, just like Word of Glory, you can heal a target; but there will be a residual HoT on the individual. At base haste levels, the HoT ticks every 3 seconds for 30 seconds. At my level of haste, 32.49% spell haste (2618 haste rating), it will heal people every 2.26 seconds for 29.43 seconds.

In testing with a 3 HP Eternal Flame, I healed myself initially for 39,212 and then had 13 ticks of it. The ticks were 4098 (5) or 4099 (8). Note that these ticks can crit!

That is 49,183 healing from the HoT and 39,212 from the initial heal, for a total of 88,395 healing.

Untalented, my Word of Glory healed me for 41,255.

What this means is that there is no downside to your upfront heal if you take Eternal Flame, unlike the old Flash of Light Glyph or the Glyph of the Long Word.

Bonuses: The Eternal Flame ticks can crit and each tick adds to your mastery shield on your target, also refreshing it to its 14s duration. Further, the ticks seem to be based on the amount of spellpower you had when you cast Eternal Flame, so if you have your wings up and cast an Eternal Flame with 4s left on your wings, the ticks will continue healing at the same rate as they did while your wings were up.

Eternal Flame does not stack with itself, though, at least not from the same paladin. As such, it’s well-worth putting on your raid frames to make sure you don’t waste the HoT portion. You don’t want to drop a 3-point Holy Power Eternal Flame on your tank while you have your wings up and then, 15 seconds later, do the same without wings. The lesser HoT will overwrite the stronger one. No rolling Eternal Flames like you’re a druid! ;)

Also, currently, the ticks can proc various things like Power Torrent, Seals of the Seven Signs, but will not add stacks to your Heart of Unliving spirit buff, for example.

Sacred Shield: Ah, the old Wrath of the Lich King spell is back, essentially, and is my personal favourite, sentimentally speaking, of course. It’s a buff you can cast on a single person that will absorb damage taken every 6 seconds and lasts 30 seconds. This is affected by haste. Again, with my haste level and spellpower, it will protect my target for 31.70 seconds, absorbing up to 12,729 damage every 4.53 seconds.

Heroic Dragon Soul Utility: While you may want to play with Selfless Healer or Sacred Shield, if you ever heal anyone other than the tanks, Eternal Flame is, at this juncture, the way to go. Period. You don’t lose any healing up front and you add a crapton of healing over time.

Kurn’s Comments: Eternal Flame. Which makes me really sad, because I love Sacred Shield. :( That’s not to say there won’t be times when Sacred Shield (heavy tank-damage fights) or even Selfless Healer won’t come in handy (when you have spare time to judge frequently), but Eternal Flame just adds to your throughput with absolutely no downside, apart from not being able to use Selfless Healer or Sacred Shield. I fully expect Eternal Flame to be nerfed TO THE GROUND. Or something. I would imagine they’ll either make the HoT tick for a shorter period of time or they’ll nerf the upfront heal a bit, if they do decide to nerf it. As of right now, there’s no reason to pick up either of the other talents in this tier for the majority of fights in Heroic Dragon Soul content. IMHO.

Tier 4: Hand of Purity, Unbreakable Spirit, Clemency.

Hand of Purity: 6 second Hand buff on a target that will reduce harmful PERIODIC effects by 70% for that length of time. It sounds good, but then you realize that many dots last upwards of 12 seconds. Shadow Word: Pain, at its base, is 18 seconds. Unstable Affliction is 14 seconds. Moonfire is 14 seconds. So while this might be a semi-useful buffer overall, more than likely, its aim is to buy you a bit of time until you can dispel someone. Cleanse now has an 8-second cooldown, so buying yourself 6 seconds of greatly-reduced dot damage is a bonus. (Don’t worry, we still get Sacred Cleansing, meaning we get the ability to dispel magic effects, it just isn’t baseline for any other paladin spec aside from holy.)

Unbreakable Spirit: Not really sure why this even exists, to be honest. For Divine Protection (1m), using 3 Holy Power brings the timer down by about 2 seconds. For Divine Shield (5m), using 3 Holy Power brings the timer down by about 9 seconds. For Lay on Hands, using 3 Holy Power brings the timer down by about 18 seconds.

In order to reach the maximum of a 50% reduction in cooldown for Divine Shield, you would need to use 50 Holy Power (obviously), but that means about 17 casts of a 3-point Light of Dawn or 3-point Word of Glory/Eternal Flame. Bearing in mind that not every cast of ours will grant us Holy Power, it can take a while to earn up enough Holy Power to make this useful. It may be useful on some fights where you want to us Lay on Hands more or Divine Shield more, but, really, in PVE content, it will be rare that you’ll absolutely need Divine Protection to come up a few seconds earlier, due to the 1m CD.

Clemency: Pretty simple and, also, awesome. You can use Hand of Freedom, Hand of Protection, Hand of Sacrifice and Hand of Salvation twice before their cooldowns come into effect.

Unfortunately, Forbearance is still caused by Hand of Protection, so you can’t BOP someone twice in a row without first waiting for Forbearance to drop off.

Heroic Dragon Soul Utility: Well, Hand of Purity is not really going to do a lot, not even on something like Yor’sahj, because the dot from Yor’sahj lasts a minimum of 12 seconds. So don’t bother with Hand of Purity. Similarly, Unbreakable Spirit is not, well, useful at all, not in comparison to Clemency. Clemency becomes useful because we do use Hand of Sacrifice frequently (at least, I do…) and it’ll be nice to BOP certain aggro-drawing resto druids (ahem, JASYLA) on Heroic Spine twice (over the course of a minute) before the Hand of Protection CD becomes active.

Kurn’s Comments: My choice is Clemency. Hands down. (haha, get it? Hands? Yeah, I blame Walks.) There’s just not much of a downside here. Hand of Purity is underwhelming in its current incarnation (although it would be overpowered if it were much longer) and Unbreakable Spirit seems as though it would be best used in PVP (for the reductions on Divine Shield and, I guess a couple of seconds off on Divine Protection), except that you can’t use Lay on Hands in the arenas… so colour me still confused about this talent.

Tier 5: Holy Avenger, Sanctified Wrath, Divine Purpose.

Holy Avenger: This is a talent that has a 2m cooldown and lasts 18 seconds. During the 18 seconds, any ability that GENERATES Holy Power will deal 30% more damage or healing AND generate 3 charges of Holy Power. It’s really important to note that this is not an overall 30% boost in damage/healing! I tried to test this out and got some pretty odd results. Bear in mind I had my own Beacon on me and was casting all of these on myself, which did generate the proper amounts of Holy Power. However…

No buffs:
Divine Light: 42,827
Holy Shock: 23,310
Flash of Light: 31,789
Holy Radiance: 16818

With Holy Avenger:
Divine Light: 40,756
Holy Shock: 30,452
Flash of Light: 31,712
Holy Radiance: 21,881

You can see that Holy Shock and Holy Radiance both get the appropriate 30% bump. Even though I had Beacon on me and was healing myself with Flash of Light and Divine Light (and getting the extra holy power), neither of those spells were affected by the 30% bump.

Similarly, Crusader Strike (now 15% of base mana, clocking in at 3000 mana at level 85) is affected by Holy Avenger.

Without Holy Avenger, Crusader Strike: 2,766
With Holy Avenger, Crusader Strike: 3,503

If they fix the bug on Flash of Light and Divine Light (assuming it is a bug and not just really stupid design), we can estimate wht those heals would be with the 30% bump.

Estimated non-crit heals with Holy Avenger:

Divine Light: 40,756 x 1.3 = 53,201.2 = 52,983
Flash of Light: 30,712 x 1.3 = 39,956.8 = 41,226

Remember, though — those would only on the beacon target and it may actually be intended that you don’t get a bump to healing with those spells on a beacon.

Sanctified Wrath: Instead of a 20 second duration on Avenging Wrath, it now lasts 30 seconds and while Avenging Wrath is active, your cooldown on Holy Shock is 3s. While this may not be worth it solely for the reduced CD on Holy Shock, the extra 10 seconds of 20% extra healing may propel this forward as the better choice in this tier.

Divine Purpose: When you spend Holy Power, you have a 25% chance to cause Divine Purpose. Divine Purpose means your next Holy Power ability won’t use any Holy Power and will act as though 3 Holy Power were consumed. Lasts 8 seconds. I played around with this a bit and found that it sometimes allowed me to cast Word of Glory twice in a row and it let me cast 2 extra (free) Lights of Dawn at one point. So Divine Purpose can obviously proc off of itself, at least in this build.

Heroic Dragon Soul Utility: Even if Holy Avenger weren’t broken in this particular build (since I imagine it’ll be fixed before August 28th), I’d go with the more-reliable Sanctified Wrath. We’re already used to using Avenging Wrath throughout the instance (hopefully!) so this won’t be a big change for us. We’ll just now be able to spam some more Lights of Dawn or Words of Glory/Eternal Flames. Alternatively, Divine Purpose is pretty decent, especially if it continues to be able to proc off of itself, but I know a lot of people like to get into a rhythm for their holy power generation and such and this might screw that up a bit. You’ll definitely want some sort of Power Aura or audio cue letting you know when this has procced (there’s an in-game one, mind you, but I tend to turn those off and rely on my own cues).

Kurn’s Overall Choice: Sanctified Wrath is probably what I’ll rely on. Note to self: Use Wings more frequently and stop being bad.

UPDATE: This Holy Avenger issue has FINALLY been fixed in 5.2.

GLYPHS

Okay, glyphs are changing. Gone are Prime Glyphs. We’re down to Major Glyphs and Minor Glyphs. Minor Glyphs seem mostly to be just neat little visual things. Major Glyphs are the ones that are really going to change your abilities.

First, let’s look at the differences between the current glyphs and the new glyphs with the same name…

Current Prime Glyphs (that holy paladins would use):
Divine Favor: Increases the duration of Divine Favor by 10s — does not exist in Mists
Holy Shock: Increases the critical effect chance of Holy Shock by 5% — decreases healing of Holy Shock by 50%, increases its damage by 50%
Seal of Insight: While Seal of Insight is active, the effect of your healing spells is increased by 5% — does not exist in Mists
Word of Glory: Increased the healing done by Word of Glory by 10% — Increases your damage by 3% per Holy Power spent after you cast Word of Glory or Eternal Flame. Lasts 6s.

Current Major Glyphs (that holy paladins would potentially use):
Beacon of Light: Your Beacon of Light costs no mana. — Removes the global cooldown on Beacon of Light. (Beacon has a 3s CD on it in Mists and will maintain that, even though it’ll be off the GCD while glyphed.)
Cleansing: Reduces the mana cost of your Cleanse by 20%. — does not exist in Mists.
Divine Plea: Your Divine Plea provides an additional 6% of your total mana. — Divine Plea now has a 5s cast time, but you receive 12% of your total mana instantly and your healing is not reduced. (This cast time is affected by haste.)
Divine Protection: Removes the physical damage reduction of your Divine Protection but increases the magical damage reduction by 20%. — Reduces the magical damage reduction of your Divine Protection to 20%, but adds 20% physical reduction. (This is basically the inverse of what it is right now. Baseline, it’s 40% magical damage. Glyphed, it’s 20% magical and 20% physical.)
Divinity: When you use Lay on Hands, you also gain 10% of your maximum mana. – Increases the cooldown of your Lay on Hands by 2m but causes it to give you 10% of your maximum mana.
Holy Wrath: Your Holy Wrath now also stuns Elementals and Dragonkin. — unchanged (note: categorized as “protection”)
Lay on Hands: Reduces the cooldown of your Lay on Hands spell by 3m — does not exist in Mists.
Light of Dawn: Light of Dawn affects 2 fewer targets, but heals each target for 25% more. — unchanged
Salvation: Hand of Salvation no longer permanently reduces threat over time but instead reduces all threat as long as Hand of Salvation lasts — does not exist in Mists.
Ascetic Crusader: Reduces the mana cost of your Crusader Strike by 30% — does not exist in Mists.
Long Word: Your Word of Glory heals for 50% less up front, but provides an additional 50% healing over 6s. — does not exist in Mists.

Okay, now let’s look at some of the new Major Glyphs. I’ll put in my recommendations at the end.

Avenging Wrath — While Avenging Wrath is active, you are healed for 1% of your maximum health every 2s.
Battle Healer — Using melee attacks while using Seal of Insight heals a nearby injured friendly target, excluding the Paladin, within 30 yards for 30% of damage dealt.
Beacon of Light — as listed above
Blessed Life — While Seal of Insight is active, you have a 50% chance to gain a charge of Holy Power whenever you are affected by a Stun, Fear or Immobilize effect. Cannot occur more than once every 20s.
Denounce — Your Holy Shocks have a 50% chance to reduce the cast time of your next Denounce by 1s.
Divine Plea — as listed above
Divine Protection — as listed above
Divinity — as listed above
Flash of Light — When you Flash of Light a target, it increases your next heal done to that target within 7s by 10%
Harsh Words — Your Word of Glory can now also be used on enemy targets, causing Holy damaged appromiately equal to the amount it would have healed. Does not work with Eternal Flame.
Holy Shock — as listed above
Illumination — Your Holy Shock criticals grant 1% mana return, but Holy Insight returns 10% less mana
Light of Dawn — as listed above
Protector of the Innocent — When you use Word of Glory to heal another target, it also heals you for 20% of the amount.
Word of Glory — as listed above

Heroic Dragon Soul Utility:

Battle Healer: I’m doing 100-200 or so damage with my white melee attacks, which heals a random nearby target for ~30-60. Crusader Strike hit for ~1385 and healed for ~416.

… pass. :P If you go ret and still want to heal, this glyph is probably for you.

Divine Plea: It’s affected by haste and we have plenty of opportunities to stand still for 5 seconds to regen 12% of our mana. It comes down to whether or not you want to heal (or can heal) at 50% effectiveness for 9 seconds or if you don’t bother healing at ALL for ~5 seconds (3.77s cast with my aforementioned haste). It’s all for the same mana return.

Divine Protection: I would only glyph this to add to the physical damage reduced for Morchok (Stomps are physical damage) and Madness of Deathwing if I was assigned to HoSac a tank for Impale, since our tanks each need one external cooldown on the third platform we do. I tend to die if I pop HoSac and either don’t pop my bubble (I prefer not to) or don’t pop a Divine Protection that is going to reduce my own physical damage taken.

Divinity: Well, 10% extra mana at the cost of another 2 minutes on my Lay on Hands… it’s not great, but there’s really not that much in terms of compelling choices.

Flash of Light: Ehhhhhhhhhhh. It would be hard to use this with Selfless Healer, if that’s what you’re thinking. What you would probably do, to get the most healing possible done to the other person, is:

Judge x3 (~10-12 seconds, depending on haste)
Flash of Light the target (full use of Selfless Healer’s 3 stacks) — I healed my target for 68,589.
Cast another heal on that target — I cast a Divine Light that healed for 49,189.
By comparison, without the 10% buff from Glyph of Flash of Light, I healed that same target for 46,343.

So the combination of mechanic and glyph works, but this is basically something that you would probably weave into your rotation after judging 3 times, and probably would be focused on the tank, because hopefully no one else is taking 100k+ damage.

The problem with that idea, though, is that Eternal Flame kind of blows Selfless Healer out of the water at the moment.

Illumination: This lowers the mana return from Holy Insight by 10%. Holy Insight allows 50% of spirit-based mana regeneration to continue while in combat. In the gear I’m in right now, at level 85, my in-combat regen in this beta build is 3890 mana per 5 seconds. Glyphed for Illumination, my regen goes down to 3512 mana/5 sec.

Check out Joe Ego’s Mana Regen post for more information on why the Glyph of Illumination kind of falls flat as spirit on gear scales up.

Light of Dawn: Great choice, still, for 10-mans. Still not a great choice for 25-mans.

Protector of the Innocent: I hated the talent. I still hate the glyph, but it works with both Word of Glory and Eternal Flame (albeit just its initial heal).

Kurn’s Overall Choices for Heroic Dragon Soul Raiding:
– Divine Plea / Light of Dawn (10m)
– Divinity / Divine Protection (for fights where I need 20% physical damage reduction) / Light of Dawn (10m)
– Protector of the Innocent / Light of Dawn (10m)

Uninspiring.

Note that the old Glyph of Divine Plea will become the new one, the old Glyph of Divinity will become the new one, the old Glyph of Divine Protection will become the new one, the Glyph of Light of Dawn is unchanged and Glyph of the Long Word will become Glyph of Protector of the Innocent. As such, all these glyphs should be available to us as of 5.0.

That said, I enjoy some of the new minor glyphs, which are not terribly useful in any raid-like environments we’ve seen in Cataclysm (unsure which, if any of these will be available at 5.0):

Glyph of Concentration: This is fun and, IMHO, pretty paladinesque.
Glyph of the Falling Avenger: No mage or priest handy for slowfall? No worries — pop your wings and gain slowfall!
Glyph of Fire From the Heavens: Judgment and Hammer of the Wrath crits show a Holy Fire effect. It’s cute.
Glyph of Righteous Retreat: When you’ve cast Divine Shield, you cast your Hearthstone 50% faster. So you bubble for 8 seconds and it takes 5 seconds to hearth. Bubblehearth is back!

HOLY PALADIN PLAYSTYLE

All right, worked your way through all that, have you? Good. Now, here are some changes you should be aware of.

1) No more Auras. They’re gone. Poof. As such, Aura Mastery as we know it is gone. All paladins (!) now have Devotion Aura (on a 3m CD): Inspire all party and raid members within 40y, granting them immunity to Silence and Interrupt effects and reducing all magic damage taken by 20%. Lasts 6 sec.

2) In place of our Auras on our bars are our seals — Insight, Truth and Righteousness. No more durations on seals, which is nice.

3) Beacon of Light now has a 3s cooldown, but it no longer has a duration. That sucker will stay on your target until they die or one of you leaves group.

4) Surprise, you can now store up to 5 Holy Power at once! You can still only use 3 Holy Power at a time, though. My new favourite move is to have 5 Holy Power, then Word of Glory / Holy Shock / Word of Glory. BAM.

5) Judging is now optional. If you have Selfless Healer, go for it. If you have Long Arm of the Law, go for it. Otherwise, there is no need to judge. At all.

6) Light of Dawn is no longer directional. No more facing people — it’ll just emanate from you and heal people around you who need it.

7) Holy Radiance has been redesigned: no more HoT component, but there’s still a splash effect.

8) Cleanse now has an 8-second cooldown, but not if you don’t actually dispel something. That means if someone dispels something before you do, you’re not on cooldown.

9) Fixed mana pools. Intellect no longer adds to your mana pool size. At level 85, I had 102,000 mana.

Rohan over at Blessing of Kings covers some of the more general changes in his post.

Kurn’s Conclusions

Overall, if you were comfortable playing a holy paladin in Cataclysm, you should be comfortable playing a holy paladin in Mists of Pandaria. The feel of, well, everything is pretty similar. The major difference for us is no longer needing to judge. Aside from that, Divine Protection doesn’t give you a sprint any longer, but you have access to your choice of speed enhancements in the first tier of the talents, so you’ll want to adapt to that. The fact that Beacon no longer expires is one less thing to keep track of, so you can basically set it and forget it.

I’ve healed a few runs of Temple of the Jade Serpent and Stormstout Brewery on beta and don’t seem to have much issue in terms of adapting to my newer spells/talents. It’ll be interesting to test them out in Heroic Dragon Soul, though. In particular, I am looking forward to hitting both my tanks with Hand of Sacrifice on Platform 3 during Heroic Madness of Deathwing, courtesy of Clemency.

*** All content copyright © Kurn’s Corner, 2012. Reproduction of this guide in full or in part without express permission from the author (“Kurn”), represents copyright infringement and violation of copyright law. Please, if you like this guide, link to it, do not copy it. ***

Holy Paladin Roundtable

Oh my God, it’s a post to do with holy paladins! Shocking, I know. ;)

Back on August 4th, Megacode invited me, JoeEgo and Ophelie to join him for a Holy Paladin Roundtable. I got a chance to listen to it earlier this week and enjoyed how it turned out.

The ever-amazing, fantastically-talented Walks even made a sweet graphic about it. You can click the graphic to take you directly to the post on Mega’s blog.

You can also find the Holy Paladin Roundtable over at iTunes if you prefer!

Thanks again to Mega for putting this together. It was great to talk with him, Joe and Ophelie about holy pallies!

Speaking of holy paladins, fear not, I shall be putting together a “oh crap, 5.0 is here, WHAT DO I DO?” guide, coming soon. :)

Change and Leadership

I remarked on Twitter tonight that it’s awfully strange to go from raiding around 15 hours a week throughout the majority of the expansion to raiding for just over 2 hours a week. It really is strange.

The reason I’m only raiding 2 hours a week is because of two reasons:

1) I’m no longer raiding with Choice
2) Apotheosis is full-clearing 8/8 HM in about two hours

Let’s talk about the first point.

I left Choice just after 4.0 hit.

They struggled a bit in T11 content, mostly due to healing issues.

So I did a stupid thing. I rolled another paladin. It actually came from Matt’s idea to clone myself so I could heal for him and I was like “BUT WAIT. CHOICE NEEDS A HEALER.” So I applied and I started raiding with them in early June.

For over a year, I raided three times a week with Apotheosis and twice a week with Choice. I got a little burnt towards the end, but that’s due to other factors, not playing “so much”. While 15 hours a week for me is probably a bit much, 12 hours a week would have been nice. Anyhow, I don’t regret it. I do not recommend doing what I did (raiding with two progression guilds simultaneously, in essence), but damn me, did I ever get GOOD at fights in Firelands and Dragon Soul! Double the chance each week to refine and better my performances, double the chance to learn how to do something. I got REAL good at Heroic Alysrazor, I was reliable on Heroic Majordomo and basically just knew what I was doing all throughout both those tiers. It felt really good.

Like I said, though, I can’t recommend it. It’s tiring, it can be frustrating and sometimes it’s nice to have a real night off. But I don’t regret it. I wouldn’t do it again, mind you, but it worked well for me.

So why am I no longer raiding with them? Well, after some weeks of being stuck on Heroic Spine and such, combined with weeks of fighting the attendance boss, Choice decided to go to a 10-man format. Fugara knows I loathe 10s, so she basically wrote me off the list. That’s right, I was cut! ;) But I let them know I wasn’t interested in continuing in a 10-man format anyhow, but that I’d stick around for two resets on Wednesdays and Mondays for them, in case of attendance issues/etc.

I did a few solid hours of H Spine and H Madness progression (both on 10m, of course) and good gravy, it totally reinforced how I hate 10s…

That said, I stopped raiding with them last week — and they promptly got H Madness, so grats to them. :)

And now to address the second point: Apotheosis is clearing 8/8 HM in about two hours a week. That doesn’t mean that I’m not still spending a LOT of time with this whole transition thing, though. With me stepping down as GM, Raid Leader and basically the recruitment person, plus Majik stepping down as caster lead… yeah.

We’ve decided that Jasyla will be the new guild master of Apotheosis. Sara will be the recruitment officer. Slout will be the new caster lead. And we’ve gotten Chronis to be the new tank lead (a position left unfilled since Dayden stopped tanking for us back in Firelands).

Sara, Slout and Chronis got promoted on Tuesday before the raid and the raid basically proceeded normally. We’ve got a meeting on Thursday for the role officers and we’ve got some new lootmaster shenanigans to handle on Sunday evening, so I have stuff going on.

But all I’m thinking, now that we have a solid launch date and an equally-solid end-of-raiding date, is that “hey, there’s one more lockout done. Just five to go.” We’re going to stop raiding for the expansion after the reset of September 4th is finished. Since we’re clearing in two hours or so, that means just five more Apotheosis raids.

It’s sad. I mean, it’s good, but it’s sad, too. Not exactly bittersweet, but I’m making a huge change in my life by not being a GM and not raiding in the expansion. It’ll be a good thing for me, personally. This job… well, this hobby, really, has become a more-than-full-time job over the last couple of years. Two years ago, I was psyched and excited about rebuilding my guild and bringing my people back home to Eldre’Thalas.

Now, I’m kind of sad that I won’t be a part of the guild’s future success. I’m kind of wistful that I’ve already accomplished most of the game-related things of which I’ll be proudest. There aren’t any real new adventures awaiting me in Mists of Pandaria. I’ll level Kurn to 90 (may not even bother with the paladin, to be honest!) and see what fun can be had, but no more raiding seriously and, most dramatically, no more leading.

Dramatic? Yes, it’s a big change. I’ve been leading stuff since April of 2006, with a short break while in Choice and a shorter break in a guild with my RL Friend the Resto Druid. What the eff am I going to do with myself with no one to lead? With no goals to strive for?

I’ve always called myself a reluctant leader. I’ve always said that if a group is being led well, I’m more than happy to follow. I used to mean that, but I’m realizing, more and more, that people are usually, in my opinion, doing it wrong. And that means that I feel obliged to step up. I strongly feel that even if I wanted to continue raiding in Mists (which I don’t), I wouldn’t be able to stay in Apotheosis, because my mouth would get me in trouble. (ETA: Not that I think that the new leadership team is going to do badly — quite the opposite — but because I was ALWAYS biting my tongue in Choice, even when things worked out well for them and I’m not sure I could bite my tongue if I disagreed with the leadership in Apotheosis. Which I don’t even know would happen.)

I need to let go. I need to let the new leaders of the guild do things the way they want to do it and be thankful that anyone is crazy dedicated enough to take up the job that I’m leaving. I’m sure I’ll be able to do that, in the coming weeks. With just five more lockouts, it’s inevitable that more and more responsibility will shift from me to the other officers. (ETA: And so far, things have been pretty smooth. I don’t anticipate much in the way of drama or issues.)

And soon, it’ll be time for me to be demoted to the dreaded Member rank, which people are only ever demoted to (or grandfathered into).

Yet, there’s so much to do between now and then. And lots of blog posts to write. :) Stay tuned!

PS: I’m doing a Holy Paladin Roundtable with Megacode, Joe Ego, Ophelie and Chase Christian this Saturday! Email Mega your questions at: healingspec (at) gmail.com!