Holy paladins are the pillars that support every raid's healing roster. As long as there are tanks to heal, there will be paladins dropping Light bombs on their unit frames. Unparalleled single-target throughput and powerful defensive cooldowns have solidified our position as the foundation of any healing paradigm. While our shockadin DPS may be laughable, our healing capability speaks for itself.
For the last few tiers of raiding, holy paladins have been ever-present guardians. We ensure that our group makes it through the shadow and flame unscathed. I had the opportunity to speak with one of the most successful holy paladins, Diamondtear of Paragon. He's survived the toughest encounters that WoW has to offer, helping his guild push towards world first after world first.
The Light and How to Swing It: How did you get started with your holy paladin? Do you play any other classes?
Diamondtear: First time I touched a paladin was in the European open beta in 2005, when I got to 51 or so before the beta was shut down. Obviously I was a total noob back then, so that doesn't mean much. I rolled this paladin before Ulduar after clearing the first tier of Wrath on my 'lock. My first main was a resto druid. I don't play off specs.
I chose a paladin because I liked the druid healing in vanilla and holy paladins were similar in Wrath – a simple, one-button wonder. Still, I have to add that the Cataclysm changes didn't ruin anything for me, though. As long as I have a raid spot, I will stay with the holy paladin. I would have no problems with switching, though, if it benefited the guild. This isn't something we need to think about before patch 4.1.
How'd you get started with Paragon? Life in a top guild is obviously different than anywhere else. What's your favorite part about playing with them? Do you have a leadership role in the guild? Does your healing team have any sort of competitions?
I started with Paragon in May of 2009. No other high-end experience, but I had vanilla and Burning Crusade experience from the then-best guilds on Draenor, Shinasu and Chimaera.
My favorite part would be getting world firsts. Coming up with wacky tactics and using them is also fun. A large part of the raid takes part in planning, but it's four to five guys that are doing most of the talking (I'm part of the first group).
I don't have any specific responsibilities, and we don't have class leaders. While I whine in the healer channel every time a non-paladin is at the top of the meters (and console myself by laughing at the shaman), there's no serious competition.
What's been the most challenging encounter for you so far? Is there any aspect of healing that you feel like the holy paladin is weak at?
The hardest fight so far would be Lich King on 25-man heroic difficulty. The positioning required was so precise while the tank took heavy damage; I had to stun a Val'kyr and be ready to move from Defile. I think the holy paladin's major weakness is spot healing a few people. If you can't trust Light of Dawn to hit all or even most of them, there's really little you can do. Priests have Circle of Healing and Power Word: Shield, shaman have Chain Heal, and druids have Rejuvenation and Wild Growth.
If you could steal one ability from another class, what would it be? Any specific mechanics that you think would work for the holy paladin?
Leap of Faith. It has so much (I could even say too much) utility in heroic raiding. Also, the shaman regen mechanic is cooler than paladins' (which is Judging), but I don't want to be offensive while healing, and I don't think it would be possible to balance that between classes (in PvE).
Did you have any difficulty moving from the old Wrath-style of healing to the new Cataclysm paradigm? Any tricks or tips you picked up as you worked on refining your healing strategy in this first tier of raiding?
I didn't have any trouble, because in heroic Wrath raids, you still had to look at your mana somewhat. The biggest difference was that spells were faster.
In Cataclysm, the healing is pretty much the same for paladins. This time, you just choose between your cheap heal and your big heal, and most of the time that decision is quite easy. The most important tip I could give would probably be judging as often as you can. The mana return really is significant.
I'm quite worried for holydins that hit 85 after patch 4.0.6 and want to heal heroics. Healing those as a paladin was by no means easy when I hit 85, and holydins have gotten a myriad of nerfs after that. I recently hit 85 with my priest, which I leveled from 1 to 85 in Cataclysm, and healing 5-man heroics was a breeze even when I was really undergeared.
As a final thought, what are your thoughts on the current holy paladin mastery bonus, Illuminated Healing?
It's terrible, and I avoid mastery like the plague. Making it stack instead of refreshing the shield wouldn't make it cool or especially useful, but it could save it from being totally terrible. I'd like to see a mastery that relates to holy power, maybe generating it.
Thanks to Diamondtear
I'd like to extend my thanks to Diamondtear for doing this interview and sharing his perspective on the holy paladin. Best of luck to you as you continue to push the holy paladin spec further than it's ever been before!
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.