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The Light and How to Swing It: Holy paladins are all about throughput

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, like how to pull off an awesome dive heal, as pictured above.

Blizzard has tried to give holy paladins so many interesting tools. We saw our first absorption effect in our level 80 ability, Sacred Shield. Its potency was limited due to the proc mechanics involved, and once it was limited to a single target, it became just another buff we kept active. The dev team tried giving us not one but two different HoTs. The first was via the old Glyph of Flash of Light, which took our weakest heal and cut its up-front healing in half in exchange for a weak HoT. It simply didn't make sense.

The second HoT we received came from the interaction between Infusion of Light and Sacred Shield, which would put a HoT on our SS target when we used FoL on him. While more powerful than the last iteration, it was still far too weak to make any difference, and its limitation of a single target really made it untenable. Our ability to prevent damage via absorption effects or proactively heal damage via HoTs was basically nil, and holy paladins relied on massive throughput to solve every healing dilemma. It looks like that model hasn't changed today.

Throughput is our niche

Looking at the latest Cataclysm beta patch notes, you'll notice a trend in the holy paladin section. While yes, Exorcism did get buffed so hard that I am moving my shockadin article up to next week, the healing buffs are the real meat of the patch. We got to see the base healing of our direct heals all buffed by a full 30 percent, which is nothing to sneeze at. Many paladins have been commenting that they feel much stronger after the buffs, which made their way to our live build as well. Survivability is no longer a guessing game, and we're back to keeping the tanks up through anything.

If every healing class has the same basic heals, why did we need ours buffed by such a large amount? Restoration shaman can cast Chain Heal as often as they like, healing multiple targets every time. Restoration druids can toss HoTs across a raid to counter a pulsing aura. Discipline priests are capable of dispensing bubbles to everyone in preparation for a large attack. Holy paladins have exactly two AoE heals, both of which are throughput-based and have lengthy cooldowns attached to them.

We've got one of the best bags of tricks in the entire game. Our triple-hybrid status has gifted us with a ton of utility abilities and tools to get us out of almost any situation. Our issues stem from our inability to handle healing multiple targets for any serious period of time. Light of Dawn and Holy Radiance both alleviate our ability to recover from massive, raid-wide damage, but we need our bread-and-butter heals to carry us through the rest of the encounter. Every other healer has its own toolbox of custom spells like Regrowth or Chain Heal to lean on, while we focus on simply spamming one of our big three to get the job done. Thus, the throughput of our base heals needs to be massive, and that's exactly what Blizzard is ensuring via these buffs.

One nerf, one buff

For all of you recommending the Glyph of Divinity as the best holy paladin glyph, I'd like to point you to the new change to Lay on Hands. Its mana-granting ability has been removed, and now it's simply a huge heal with a serious cooldown. It's not going to be our mana battery anymore, and we're going to have to get used to not having it available for that purpose. However, to help our mana issues a bit, Beacon of Light's duration has been extended to a full 5 minutes. So I guess the old Beacon of Light glyph can go out the window as well. The new Beacon glyph makes the spell completely free, while the new Glyph of Divinity adds back some of the mana-restoring effects to LoH.

Illuminated Healing gets triple-buffed

While World of Logs is still having some troubles parsing the absorbs that come via our new mastery bonus, Illuminated Healing, Blizzard has decided to buff our mastery bonus quite a bit. While every holy paladin will enjoy the 2 percent boost to the base mastery bonus (it's now 10 percent), those with mastery on their gear via reforging will enjoy the scaling buff which increases the amount absorbed per point of mastery. Both of these changes will help the mastery bonus to be effective as soon as we obtain it and to continue to scale well as we get more and more mastery on our gear.

The most important mastery change is actually the fact that the duration has been bumped up from 6 seconds to 8 seconds, which is significant. For our mastery bonus to be effective, our targets need to actually get hit again after we've healed them. The longer that the shield lasts, the higher chance we have that our targets will be struck again, therefore utilizing our mastery absorption bubbles. This is a massive improvement over the old 6-second model, and I think that even bumping this up to 10 seconds wouldn't be too overpowered either. As the defining characteristic of the holy paladin spec, it needs to be valuable in every situation.

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.

Filed under: Paladin, (Paladin) The Light and How to Swing It

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