Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. Every Sunday, Chase Christian invites you to discuss the finer side of the paladin class: the holy specialization. Feel free to email me with any questions you want answered.
The holy paladin talent tree has historically had issues with its filler talents. While many of the talents and abilities were spec-defining, there were other talents that literally had no purpose and were never taken. I'm talking about Sacred Cleansing, which actually didn't work at all throughout most of Wrath. How could we forget Purifying Power, whose usefulness was completely negated by the Glyph of Holy Wrath, which itself was only used to exploit a difficult encounter? Even with all of these junk talents in the tree, we also had a distinct lack of DPS talents, leaving holy paladins nearly helpless when left to fend for themselves.
Cataclysm's new truncated talent trees resolve many of the issues our previous talent tree had, as well as providing several DPS talents to give us some flexibility when we need to up our damage output. Exorcism has finally become the spammable attack we can use from range to nuke our targets, and Crusader Strike gives us some DPS presence while we're in melee range as well. The core focus of the holy paladin will always be healing, but it's nice to see that Blizzard created talents and glyphs to support both the healing paladin and the pseudo-shockadin that's emerging in Cataclysm.
The core healing build and its variations
Due to the reduced size of the new holy talent tree, there are really only a handful of non-standard talents available. The core healing build incorporates all of the talents that are important to healers, as well as picking up the very important Improved Judgement talent from the retribution tree. The next eight points are considered to be floaters, and there are a lot of viable options and use situations for each. We can stuff them into the holy tree to pick up all of the great buffs to Exorcism, or we can place them in the early tiers of protection and retribution to bolster our healing. Blessed Life is really the single "PvP-only" talent in the tree, and I can see all of the others getting used as some point.
Protection sports two interesting talents for holy paladins, Divinity and Eternal Glory. I like Divinity's clear boost to our healing throughput, and in a world where we've traded our Holy Light firehose for a squirt gun, we're going to need it. Eternal Glory could be fun to play with, but the retribution talents are just a bit too tempting for me. The second tier of protection is also incredibly weak for healers, only providing secondary buffs. Smaller groups may want a paladin to provide Judgements of the Justice, but there are simply too many specs that provide that bonus already.
We're already committed for two points into retribution for Improved Judgement, so we may as well continue down that tree. Crusade provides us with a huge buff to our Holy Shock and will be picked up by healing and DPS builds alike. In the second tier, all three talents provide attractive options. Guardian's Favor buffs some of our utility spells, while Rule of Law actually buffs our Word of Glory holy power release. I'll be honest -- I'm actually going to pick up Pursuit of Justice. I'm addicted to the speed increase, and I'd gladly trade a bit of healing throughput for increased mobility. Between PoJ and Speed of Light, holy paladins are going to be quite nimble.
Prime glyphs are simple and sweet
When it comes to holy's options for prime glyphs, we really don't have much to choose from. The obvious first pick is Glyph of Holy Shock. Considering how often we'll be using it and the various effects that are activated on a crit from HS, this glyph should always be in use. Our next two glyphs give us a choice between Glyph of Word of Glory, Glyph of Seal of Insight and Glyph of Divine Favor. I'd like to say it's a hard choice, but Glyph of Divine Favor is simply too weak to be valuable. The SoI glyph bolsters every single heal we cast, and the WoG glyph provides a much-needed throughput boost to our free heal. WoG's zero-mana cost is nice, but it needs good throughput to see actual use. This glyph helps ensure that. There's also a Glyph of Exorcism that a holy paladin could use to bolster DPS.
Major glyphs looking all too familiar
If you're playing a holy paladin today, you'll recognize several of the major glyph options. There's Glyph of Beacon of Light, which will prove to be just as important in Cataclysm as it is today due to the high mana cost of Beacon. There's also Glyph of Divine Plea, which literally boosts its mana return by 50 percent. This glyph is going to be crucial to holy paladin mana regeneration in Cataclysm, which is already a bit at risk due to the removal of Illumination.
The final glyph again provides us with an interesting choice, this time between Glyph of Divinity and Glyph of Light of Dawn. Glyph of Divinity can score us a ton of mana when we need it, and I can see this becoming the go-to glyph that holy paladins use to help solve their mana issues. On a fight where longevity is key, the Divinity glyph is incredibly powerful. The Light of Dawn glyph is a double-edged sword, as it reduces the cooldown from 30 seconds to 20 seconds but also reduces the total amount healed as well. As long as our spellpower is high enough, this won't be too big of a cut, and the glyph is still a boost to our total throughput. Considering that both of our AoE heals are on cooldowns, I can see this glyph being very popular.
Minor glyphs are exactly the same
You're probably already using these glyphs today, considering they haven't changed since Wrath. There's the Glyph of Lay on Hands, which shortens the cooldown by a full 2 minutes and provides us with the only tangible bonus. We can also use Glyph of Seal of Insight to save us a bit of mana if we die in combat and are resurrected in battle. The Glyph of Blessing of Kings (or Might) will allow us to buff for less and make rebuffing resurrected players less damaging to our mana pool. There are really no other options for a holy paladin, which is fine. The rest of our glyph options are very solid, and even the fact that Glyph of Lay on Hands actually does something valuable is considered an improvement when compared to many other classes' glyphs.
The Light and How to Swing It (Holy Edition) helps holy paladins become the powerful healers we're destined to be. Learn the ropes in Holy 101. We can help you keep a tank alive, heal a raid when necessary and beat the global cooldown. Tanking is a job, DPS is a craft -- but healing is truly an art.