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, or with any screenshots of huge LoH crits.
When Wrath was released, there were just over a dozen bosses available to fight immediately. Most of them were found in Naxxramas, which fell to the superguilds so quickly that not all of them were even level 80 yet. A few achievements like A Poke in the Eye and the first "hard mode" of Sartharion with three drakes were all that the talented raiders had to keep them company during the first few months of Northrend. By the time that Ulduar was released, nearly everyone was clamoring for new content.
Cataclysm's launch hasn't shared the same fate. With heroic raids now the de facto form of progression and miles of new non-raiding content to explore, the content available at release has definitely lasted far longer. Even the most difficult bosses are still not on farm for the big guilds. Blizzard's developers have used this opportunity to start working on the first major patch after Cataclysm's release, which is of course includes plenty of holy paladin changes to keep us on our toes.
One day they'll figure out Forbearance
How do you balance a class that has several fundamentally overpowered cooldowns? Whatever the actual solution may be, it's definitely not Forbearance. This debuff has been redesigned more times than I can count, and it seems like Blizzard's team will never be happy with the implementation.
The newest version includes a few changes based on the cooldown changes in Cataclysm. Now Lay on Hands will cause Forbearance on its target, just like Hand of Protection does today. Divine Shield will still cause Forbearance on us, but luckily the debuff now only lasts for 60 seconds. While it means that holy paladins won't be able to chain-LoH tanks, it does mean that we won't have to wait 2 minutes between using Divine Shield and LoH on ourselves.
Lay on Hands becomes predictable
Now that LoH can no longer crit or be replicated through Beacon of Light, I have to say that I'm really going to miss those features. I remember seeing some huge numbers from LoH on fights like Valithria and knowing that I could top off any player and the tank at the same time. I can understand the nerf, but it's still sad to see that critical strike rating will be falling even lower on our priority list, even if not by much. LoH is obviously still worth having on your bar, and it's by far the most reliable cooldown we have available. LoH will fix just about any tank-healing problem you run into, but only once.
The big buff to Divine Plea
While Blizzard didn't remove the 50% healing penalty from Divine Plea, just about every other part of the spell got buffed. It now restores its mana over 9 seconds instead of over 15 seconds, meaning that we're under the half-healing effect for a far shorter period of time. Not only that, Divine Plea now also restores 12% of our mana instead of the 10% it did previously. To top off these buffs, the Glyph of Divine Plea buffs it by 6% instead of 5%, meaning that our glyphed DP will restore 18% mana over 9 seconds instead of 15% over 15 seconds, making it clearly more potent and more usable. I haven't had the chance to try any heroic raid encounters, but having extra mana can never be a bad thing.
Protector of the Innocent nerfed in return
I really hate it when I share a healing strategy one week and the Blizzard devs nerf it a week later. Protector of the Innocent's potency is being cut by 30% in the patch, which will reduce its healing from the 6,000-ish range to the 4,000-ish range. The side effect is that the Beacon replication of this heal is also hit by this nerf, meaning that our overall healing done is likely to go down. It's a nerf to both our individual survivability while under fire and our raw throughput, which makes me wonder how necessary this nerf was. PotI is one of the few abilities that we have that doesn't scale with spellpower, so it's not like it was going to get any better later.
We get to punch people in the face
I can't tell you how excited I am about Rebuke being trainable by all paladins. I love being able to interrupt in dungeons, especially since it means I don't have to explain it to the death knight that doesn't have Mind Freeze bound to a key. Arcane Torrent has a massive cooldown and Hammer of Justice lost its interrupt once the new Vindication was implemented. While it can be difficult to play at melee range as a healer, I think that having an extra interrupt will make several heroic dungeons much easier. It's also nice to see holy paladins gaining some offensive utility to go with our usual defensive toolbox.
The Light and How to Swing It: Holy helps holy paladins become the powerful healers we're destined to be. Learn the ropes in Cataclysm 101 for holy paladins, study the new balance between intellect and spirit and learn how to level your new Sunwalker. Tanking is a job, DPS is a craft -- but healing is truly an art.