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Cataclysm: Stat and system changes for holy paladins

As you can see from the above image, I love intellect gems. The guild jewelcrafter and I don't even have to speak anymore. I hand him a stack of King's Amber, and he knows exactly what I want. "You sure you want ALL of these cut as Brilliant?" I laugh at his skepticism, he comes from the idea that gems are used to balance caps and maintain certain levels of ratings. Holy paladins have the easiest gemming strategy ever: Brilliant in every slot, every time.

If you've been reading this column very long, you know that I blame the current paladin playstyle on intellect alone. Because of its massive benefits, we really reduced our healing toolbox from two spells to one and a half: Holy Light and whatever else you decide to use when you're bored and the raid is at 100%. But oh no, what's this i read on WoW.com? Cataclysm brings with it a major stat rebalancing and intellect is in the cross-hairs?

Okay, so I should clarify. Intellect isn't going anywhere, and in fact, it's got a few crazy buffs on the way. Intellect will start being the primary way we gain spell power, since the actual 'spell power' stat will be gone completely (except on weapons). So intellect becomes even more of a throughput powerhouse than it was before, though Blizzard has promised to tone down the amount of mana it currently offers. We're taking a longevity hit to boost our throughput, which may sound dangerous now, but considering Divine Plea's current implementation, there's not much that can threaten the Holy Light lifestyle.

Here's a few of the other stat changes we can look forward to:
  • MP5 gone, replaced by spirit - With MP5 out the window, expect to see paladins sporting a Meditation-like talent soon. They may decide to tweak the 5-second rule instead, but we'll see what ends up being the mechanic of choice. Either way, Blizzard has promised holy paladins will see some significant improvements over spirit's current yield for us, and so expect any MP5 on your gear to turn into spirit come Catacylsm. This means an item like haste / spirit would become pretty powerful for us.
  • Haste - Speaking of our favorite throughput stat, haste isn't really going to see any changes for us. It'll still be on our gear, it'll still likely be our throughput stat of choice due to its interaction with the GCD and our long spell cast times. It may even be harder to 'cap' in Catacylsm, making it that much more attractive.
  • Critical Strike Rating - Same old, same old. We'll see if they tweak Illumination to work based on spirit or some other clever trick to get us using it, but crit will still be the decent stat that gets outshone by haste and regeneration.
So, in short, intellect is still crazy amazing and instead of MP5 on gear, you'll want spirit. Oh, and no more spell power on our gear, which means gemming straight intellect will be the top choice for both FoL and HL paladin builds. Go stock up on King's Amber -- you'll want a stash to use on your way to 85. Speaking of the process of leveling to 85, the developers recently mentioned in their Twitter chat that holy paladins will be seeing some new healing spells, so hopefully we'll get a spell that helps us branch out from the tank-healing-Beacon-bots we've become.

We're going to see a new tool to balance our gear around these new stat paradigms: reforging. Basically, we can draw from one stat to give to another, though the specifics are still pretty hazy. I've already got my eye on swapping crit for haste, or swapping crit for spirit, so that a piece with crit isn't wasted. Since healers don't have a lot of stats to work with, and Blizzard really hates itemizing twenty different plate healer helms for one spec of one class, expect to be reforging quite a bit to get the desired results.

Blizzard is adding one other stat change to Cataclysm, in the form of the 'mastery' stat. Basically, mastery is supposed to be the 'best' stat for any given spec. Its actual effect changes based on your current spec, so we'll really only see whatever mastery effect comes from the holy talent tree. I have thought of a few ideas like "percent splash," where a certain percent of all of our heals would splash based on the mastery stat. We could have a mastery-stacking set for a raid damage encounter, and and intellect-stacking set for a tank and spank. Any other ideas on what this could be?


World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will destroy Azeroth as we know it. Nothing will be the same. In WoW.com's Guide to Cataclysm you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion. From Goblins and Worgens to Mastery and Guild changes, it's all there for your cataclysmic enjoyment.

Filed under: Paladin, Cataclysm

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