With patch 4.3 looming on the horizon, holy paladins need to be prepared for all of the changes that are headed our way. Both of our AoE healing options have been significantly altered, along with several of the talents and glyphs that support these abilities. Retribution paladins are also looking forward to a few buffs to their sustained DPS, but their ability to help with AoE healing is being greatly reduced.
Our core mana regeneration mechanic is about to be completely scrapped. In fact, if we continue using Judgement without making any adjustments, we'll actually have less mana in patch 4.3 than we do today. We've been healing with holy power for nearly a year now, but many of the habits we've picked up along the way will need to change.
Learning not to use Judgement on cooldown has been very difficult for me. I actually had to resort to changing the key I bind Judgement to, as my muscle memory kept pushing it every time. With the new Judgements of the Pure design, we don't need to Judge all the time, but rather just once a minute to keep the JotP buff active. As long as that crucial buff is still on, we don't need to Judge again. In fact, Judgement itself costs us mana, so continually Judging will actually lower our overall mana.
Holy paladins will still be using Seal of Insight with its glyph, as the healing bonus is too sweet to pass up. In addition, we're still allowed to melee our targets with SoI active to regain a bit of mana that way. The key is for us to try to cast Judgement right around the time that our JotP buff is about to fade, to minimize the overall number of Judgements we have to cast. I like to use a mod like clcbpt to track this for me.
For holy paladins entering Dragon Soul, the new JotP is a buff to their overall regeneration, in addition to the secondary effect of freeing up global cooldowns. For newer holy paladins (and protection and retribution paladins as well), the change results in a slight nerf to their mana regeneration, though the additional global cooldowns are obviously welcomed. One change you can make to mitigate the Judgement redesign is to use Holy Light more often since we have more casting time available to use it, which indirectly saves us a bit of mana over being forced to use Divine Light.
Light of Dawn is improved
If you're a healer in a 25-man guild, then you'll enjoy the fact that Light of Dawn now heals six targets instead of five targets, baking the old glyph directly into the spell. The change results in a 20% improvement in the spell's potency if you didn't use the glyph, or it frees up a prime glyph slot if you did. The problem is that healers in smaller formats, like Battlegrounds, dungeons and 10-man raids, can't always get six people into the spell's crosshairs.
The new Glyph of Light of Dawn helps to assuage that issue by reducing the number of targets LoD will hit to four but increasing the healing done. The scaling is designed so that the four-target glyphed Light of Dawn will do more healing to four players than the unglyphed version of Light of Dawn could to those same four players, but the unglyphed version will do more overall healing if you can squeeze in all six targets. If there are only five targets present, it's a push and both spells will heal for the same amount. I imagine that the glyph will be used by those players in smaller formats, while any raider will stick with the unglyphed version for the maximum healing potential. Light of Dawn will be a much more important part of our healing arsenal in patch 4.3 due to another change coming our way.
Holy Radiance: The final cut
The PTR for patch 4.3 is still active and things can change, but I think the version of Holy Radiance that we're seeing is the final version of the spell. It has a cast time now, and that cast time will be identical to your current Holy Light/Divine Light cast time. It's affected by Infusion of Light, so you can shave some time off of the cast if you get an IoL proc. Finally, it's been removed from the speed boost portion of the Speed of Light talent, which means it no longer boosts our mobility. To help compensate for that nerf, Paragon of Virtue now reduces the cooldown on Divine Protection down to 30 seconds, and DP still works with Speed of Light.
You may have read that Holy Radiance can be cast on enemy and friendly targets alike, like Mind Sear, but that was a bug and has been reverted. You'll be casting it on friendly players, and it heals that player and everyone nearby. If you plan to be casting it more than once, you should alternate between targets that you're casting it on. Our cast time for HR is shorter than the healing buff duration, and so if we recast it on the same target, we'll overwrite our own buff. At one point on the PTR, the healing buff effect stacked on a single player, but that didn't work the last few times I checked. Just use a mouseover macro and alternate between two targets that are close to each other.
Each Holy Radiance cast will generate a holy power point via Tower of Radiance, regardless of who the target is. We'll want to unleash these holy power points via Light of Dawn if we're healing the raid. I suggest using Holy Radiance twice, following up with a Holy Shock on your most wounded target, and then finishing with Light of Dawn. Repeating that pattern will give you significant HPS with great HPM. You can also spam Holy Radiance, weaving in Light of Dawn every three casts, which results in higher AoE HPS but also cuts deeply into your mana. You can even spam Holy Radiance and eschew Light of Dawn coompletely, but it only results in a slight HPS gain at the cost of even more mana.
The initial heal from Holy Radiance is affected by our mastery stat, Illuminated Healing, and is capable of being a critical strike. The initial heal is followed by three ticks of healing, which are unaffected by our mastery. None of this healing is replayed through Beacon of Light.
As a side note, some of our other healing effects like Protector of the Innocent are also now exempt from Beacon. We can increase the number of ticks we see from each Holy Radiance cast by increasing our haste rating, very similarly to how this mechanic works currently. The catch is that most of the breakpoints for haste are rather high and won't be obtainable without some Dragon Soul gear.
Haste breakpoints for Holy Radiance
For the average holy paladin, you will want at least 500 haste rating to ensure that you get the fourth tick of Holy Radiance without requiring a Wrath of Air Totem to be active. If you can reach 777 haste, which should be no problem, then you get a fifth tick of Holy Radiance when Divine Favor is active. Hitting this break point should be considered the bare minimum for any holy paladin. After that point, you need to reach 2,284 haste rating for the next break point, and that only buys you an extra tick when Divine Favor and Bloodlust are both active, which is maybe once per encounter. Another break point is at 2,513 haste rating, where we get an extra tick when just Bloodlust is active.
Note that since we can cast Holy Radiance repeatedly during Bloodlust and Divine Favor now, these cooldowns are actually far more effective at boosting our AoE healing than they previously were. Not only does the extra haste shorten the cast time of Holy Radiance, we can have multiple Holy Radiance effects active at once, gaining extra ticks from each one that's active. Holy paladins are now quite adept at handling incoming AoE damage, though we have to learn how to handle our mana to accommodate the new healing style.
The real haste break point for Dragon Soul is at 3,493, which grants us a fifth tick of Holy Radiance with no cooldowns activated. That's over 2,700 more haste rating than it took us to get our fourth tick, and so you can see that the difference between a four-tick paladin and a five-tick paladin is quite great. Hitting 3,500 haste is definitely possible in Dragon Soul gear with a haste-based trinket and some gemming, and reachable in heroic gear without any haste gems necessary at all.
Haste is always a valuable stat for holy paladins, but as we get closer and closer to that magical 3,500, you'll want to focus on breaking the cap. If you're stuck at 2,600 haste rating, you might want to look into working on your other stats, as you won't be hitting another break point for quite some time. There's one more notable break point at 3,790 haste, which grants us yet another tick when Divine Favor is active, but that will likely be reserved for only the most haste-focused paladins around.
The Light and How to Swing It: Holy helps holy paladins become the powerful healers we're destined to be. Find out just how masterful mastery healing can be, gear up with the latest gear, and learn how to PvP as a holy paladin.