I'm not a big fan of patch days. I hate needing to update all of my addons, I hate the endless spam of "hay were's the new vender?" in trade chat, and I hate how overcrowded the new zones are.
While I think there's plenty to dislike, patch days aren't all bad. With patch 4.2's release date closing, we can look forward to Firelands and the new quest hub in Hyjal. The introduction of new reputations and raid bosses mean that there are both new challenges to be overcome and new rewards to be obtained.
The good news is that the gear we'll be seeing in patch 4.2 is much better itemized for holy paladin than what we saw in the first tier of Cataclysm raiding. Holy paladins are the only spec that uses plate gear with intellect on it, and so it's always a bit interesting to see gear that's not that good for us. Our potency should improve significantly from both the pure ilvl boost from the new gear, but also due to the better selection of secondary stats.
Make friends with a blacksmith
We've talked a lot about which stats are best for a holy paladin, and the conclusion hasn't changed: haste and spirit win. Blacksmiths will have access to several new plans in patch 4.2, including a few new pieces that are of interest to us. The first item is a pair of boots, the Emberforged Elementium Boots. These are the best boots you can get your hands on in patch 4.2, and they're itemized with the perfect haste/spirit mix as well. There's no reason to wait around for something to drop, you'll want to have someone craft these for you ASAP.
The second item is a pair of gloves, which gives me the impression that the developers want our hands and feet to be cozy as we explore Firelands. The Holy Flame Gauntlets are quite good, again perfectly itemized with haste/spirit. The only catch is that our set gloves (which I'll be covering in a minute) aren't bad either. Holy Flame Gauntlets are definitely better, and so I'll be making myself a pair, but in the long run I'll want to use the set gloves to obtain the awesome 4-piece bonus. There's also a decent weapon available, the Lightforged Elementium Hammer, available from blacksmiths. Look into one of these if your weapon is lacking.
Regalia of Immolation rules
Our new tier set is called the Regalia of Immolation, and it's a huge upgrade over our lackluster Reinforced Sapphirium Regalia of tier 11. First, there's not a single piece itemized with mastery rating, which is great since mastery still isn't impressive. Secondly, three pieces of our tier are itemized with haste, including two awesome haste/spirit pieces that we'll want to focus on first. The worst piece of the tier is our Immolation Breastplate, with its spirit/crit mix. We'll want to replace that with a Clutch of the Firemother, picking up the other four pieces for our splash healing bonus. Our Immolation Mantle is also itemized with spirit/crit, but the offset piece isn't any better. Every holy paladin will want to work on getting both the 2-piece and 4-piece bonuses as soon as possible. It's nice to have our tier set be viable again.
New gear from vendors
The Cenarion Circle has started their reverse invasion of Firelands, and there's plenty of great gear to be found if you lend them your talents. There's a new faction, the Avengers of Hyjal, which will likely be very similar to the Ashen Verdict of Icecrown Citadel. They've got some great epic rewards at every reputation level, but we'll probably need to raid Firelands in order to increase our AoH reputation. The second gear source is the quest hub known as the Molten Front. The setup is very similar to the Argent Tournament in Wrath, and we'll be saving up Marks of the World Tree to unlock access to new vendors. The gear we get from the Molten Front isn't quite as impressive as the new raid or reputation gear, but it's better than what you can get from normal modes in tier 11.
The Avengers of Hyjal reputation gear
As you level up your Avengers of Hyjal reputation, you're first granted access to a new healing cloak, the Flowing Flamewrath Cape. It's important to note that all reputation gear is ilvl 378, which is better than even the current tier of heroic gear. At honored, we get the Belt of the Seven Seals. You'll want to get this belt immediately, since it's the best intellect plate belt that we've found in patch 4.2.
Revered reputation brings us a decent spirit trinket with an intellect proc, although I think we'll be focusing on some of the intellect trinkets that are available from Firelands itself. If you don't have access to Firelands, then the Fiery Quintessence is still pretty good. The final reputation item, available at exalted, is a decent healing ring. You'll notice that none of the items are particularly well-itemized, so expect to replace the rep gear eventually as you gear up in Firelands. The only persistent item will be the Belt of the Seven Seals, especially since the other options aren't that great.
Vendor gear from the Molten Front
The vendor gear that you can unlock by doing dailies at the Molten Front is all ilvl 365, and there's a huge selection of gear available. While none of the pieces will be better than crafted or reputation gear, the gear can still be valuable if you're having bad luck with drops or if you don't have access to Firelands. If you're going to be doing the daily quests anyway, you might as well pick up a few pieces to round out your gear as you wait for better stuff to drop.
We can buy a Nightweaver's Amulet and Spirit Fragment Band to fill our necklace and ring slots, though the Spirit Fragment Band is pretty bad. There's also a Globe of the Moonlight, which is a lackluster offhand options (I'll hold out for a shield). The Moonwell Chalice is actually a decent trinket, as we always love intellect. The Belt of Living Obsidium is awful, so ignore it for the Belt of the Seven Seals mentioned above. There's one more plate item: the Gauntlets of Living Obsidium. The gloves are well-itemized, but you're going to be crafting the Holy Flame Gauntlets anyway, so don't waste your gold here. The Relic of Elune's Light provides a decent relic slot option, although we'll be buying a Singed Plume of Aviana as soon as we have valor points to spare.
Valor point gear isn't impressive
Speaking of valor point gear, there's really not much here (besides the Singed Plume) that's of interest to a holy paladin. None of the gear is well-itemized, and you'll be burning your valor points on your tier set instead. If you find yourself having awful luck, buying valor gear is an option, but make sure you've bought everything you want (your tier and relic) first.
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.