Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Be nice with your healers.

A short post today, I'm swamped by work and don't have enough time to finish my big post about healing in Cataclysm. It will have to wait a little bit more.

Until then I wanted to say one thing to all the tanks and dpsers around here (that I sometimes am on some of my chars).
Be nice with your healers.
Seriously people, healing in cataclysm isn't the piece of cake that it was before, now you can really say that The cake is a lie! (ok bad pun)
Mana quickly becomes a serious issue for all healers (with level 83 very often you feel the bite even with ICC gear). But more than only mana, sometimes we just don't have the time to get everyone up, esp. when some people stay in poisonous pools or other fiery areas ...

I once had a player complain I let him die while he was standing in a green poisonous ground that a mob put under him ... I healed him ... he stayed ... after 10s he died. I could have saved him, spending all my mana and 50% of my gcds, that should have been used on the tank.

Please everyone, don't be silly, be nice to your healers and help them. Just ...
Don't stand in the fire.
Until later, Peace, and have fun :)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Much Needed Blogroll Update

Last night I was finally taking some time "off" from both work and the game to read some blogs I enjoy and have neglected for too long. I also discovered that through the summer (ok I know I'm very late) some have closed or changed names or have just fallen into slumber. So it is time to update the Blog Roll List (on the right part of the page).

I'm going to point a few changes for those used to it:
Holy Paladin .net: I'm finally repairing a grave miss in my blog roll, I discovered yesterday that, even though I've linked it numerous time here holypaladin.net was not in my blog roll, when it is the home of the Holy Paladin blog list.
Critical QQ: one of the "fun" blogs I enjoyed to read has changed name to Preposterous Pretentious Prattle, this is not much about wow anymore but has some nice (though often sad) fanfiction on it, go give it a look.
PorkchopsnHolysauce: a new entry into my blog roll, I just discovered this informative and lighthearted blog, give it a go, it's worth your time.
Divine Plea: yet another Holy Paladin site for your reference, I think I'll soon need to make 2 blog rolls, one for paladins, and another for general blogs :)

Have fun reading :)
And see you next post.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Restoration Shaman Cataclysm Talent Build

Did I say Shaman? I did just say Shaman. If some of you don't know yet I'm now playing a shaman as my main character, and very much enjoying it. Probably just needed some changes after the stressful period of Wrath of the Lich King, but totems are fun!

I will try to make that post as complete and instructive as I can with all the information I have gathered so far about healing as a mostly PvE shaman. First I will point you to the very nice blog called Totemspot and its article about restoration after patch 4.0.1 . And second to the Elitist Jerks Shaman forum and resto discussion where you can find the most updated discussions about resto.

Now let us go on with the long talk, get some crackers it'll be long :)

Part 1 The Restoration Tree Bonuses

When you spec into Restoration you get 4 bonuses, the last one being tied to your mastery rating and only accessible once you hit level 80.

Earth Shield
Earth Shield is one of the Restoration Shaman trademark, the most unique healing spell we have, and one that should be on at all times. It is obviously intended for your tank, but should be on the target on which you expect the most hits to come.
Increases the effectiveness of your healing spells by 10%, and reduces the casting time of your Healing Wave and Greater Healing Wave spells by 1 sec.
A 10% bonus to healing is far from being as appealing as the 25% bonus druids have. But the casting time reduction to two of our core healing spells, combined with the Tidal Waves effect make them much more effective than they would be without it.
This talent allows you to get half of your out of combat mana regen while fighting. This allows healers to endure longer fights and the ooc/ic mana regeneration are displayed in your character sheet. This makes spirit a very desirable stat for all healers.
Mastery: Deep Healing
Increases the potency of your direct healing spells by up to 20%, based on the current health level of your target (lower health targets are healed for more). Each point of Mastery increases direct heals by up to an additional 2.5%.
Shaman restoration mastery is kind of tricky, and the final call about it's efficiency is not yet done. The healing bonus is directly proportional to the health of your target, bonus will be full if your target is near death, and zero if your target is full hp.
To say things simply:
As long as you maintain your targets near full health, your mastery will be pretty useless. But when you need it the most (large raid aoe damage, damage spikes on your tank ...) it will be at its strongest.
This very contradictory statement makes it hard to evaluate properly the value of mastery for shamans.
Deep Healing’s effects also stack with other healing multipliers, making it a very complementary stat nearby spellpower, haste and crit. The sad part though is that Earth shield is not affected by our mastery. And ES is an essential part of our playstyle.

Part 2 About our Talent Trees

I will shamelessly use the very nice talent description from Totemspot. Though this analysis is done for lvl 80, it is still very true at level 85. I added Ancestral Swiftness that was not reachable at level 80 and now considered as nearly mandatory for all resto builds.

Every talent is flagged either Optional (filler talent), Recommended (should be strongly considered, there are options but you should not leave this talent behind without care), Mandatory (every resto should have it) and PvP (guess what?).
Every talent also has x/x numbers beside it, indicating the max number of ranks and what I chose in the build I'll discuss.

The build I propose is a 3/7/31 build, including both Ancestral Swiftness and Telluric Currents.
I will discuss motivations and variations after the talent list.

Restoration Tree (31pts)
Ancestral Resolve (0/2) – Reduces the damage you take while casting by up to 10% (Optional)
Tidal Focus (3/3) – Reduces the mana cost of your spells by up to 6% (Mandatory)
Spark of Life (3/3) – Increases the (active and passive) healing your spells do on other targets by 6% and increases the healing you receive from all sources (active and passive) by 15%. (Mandatory)
Improved Water Shield (2/2) – Provides up to a 100% chance to gain a Water Shield orb when you land a critical heal with GHW, HW, or RT, a 60% chance when you crit with HS, and a 30% chance when you crit with CH. Do note, in regards to the latter spell, each CH bounce has the chance to proc Imp WS, so it is possible (although unlikely) that you will proc multiple mana returns on one CH cast. (Mandatory)
Totemic Focus (2/2) – Reduces the mana cost of your totems by 30% and increase their duration by 40%. Do note, the increased effect does apply to Mana Tide totem, adding 5 seconds to its duration, which in turn, equates to more regen. (Recommended)
Focused Insight (0/3) – Reduces the mana cost of any heal which follows a successful shock and increases the effectiveness of that heal by 30%. Do note that Wind Shear does not count as a shock which will proc this effect and the shock must land for FI to be activated. (Recommended)
Nature’s Guardian (0/3) – Whenever your health is reduced to below 30%, your total HP is increased by 15% for 10 seconds and your threat against that target is reduced. (PVP)
Ancestral Healing (2/2) – Reduces the physical damage taken by a target of one of your critical heals by 10%. The effect lasts 15 seconds and can be refreshed by subsequent critical heals on the target in question, though it’s worth noting that the effect does not stack with multiple shaman nor does it stack with Priests’ Inspiration. (Mandatory)
Nature’s Swiftness (1/1) – When activated, it makes your next spell an instant-cast, provided that you cast it within 10-seconds of activating NS. NS can be combined with any cast-based spell in the Resto arsenal, very useful with CH and GHW for urgencies. (Recommended)
Nature’s Blessing (3/3) – Increases the effectiveness of healing done on Earth Shielded targets by up to 15%. This applies to direct healing spells only (HS, HW, GHW, and CH) and is shared between Resto shaman (meaning that your healing on an ES’ed target is increased even if it is not your ES on the target). Do note that this effect also stacks with other healing modifiers like Spark of Life and Focused Insight. (Mandatory)
Soothing Rains (2/2) – Increases the amount healed by your Healing Stream by up to 50% and increases the amount healed by your Healing Rain by up to 30%. Healing Stream will be your totem of choice if you have a Blessing of Might when raiding, if it is the case don't skip this talent. (Recommended)
Improved Cleanse Spirit (1/1) – Enables you to dispel magic effects along with curses. Do note that this no longer enables you to remove poisons or diseases. Magical effects are the most common debuffs in Cataclysm, you should not pass that talent. (Mandatory)
Cleansing Waters (2/2) – Reduces the cost of cleansing by up to 40% and provides a small heal on the cleansed target. Dispels cost a lot more in Cataclysm and you should strongly consider this talent that even provides a small free heal. (Recommended)
Ancestral Awakening (3/3) – After you critically heal with any single-target healing spell (HS, HW, GHW, and RT), you will also heal the lowest HP target in your party or raid for up to 30% of the amount of the critical heal. Do note that this effect is not instant, as indicated in the tooltip, but rather follows your critical heal by about a 1-second lapse. (Recommended)
Mana Tide Totem (1/1) – Increases party members’ Spirit by 350% for 12 seconds, 17 seconds when you pick up Totemtic Focus. Do note, in patch 4.0.1, MT was changed to a 3-minute CD to align with other class’s regen mechanics. (Mandatory)
Telluric Currents (2/2) – Will restore 40% of the damage dealt when you cast a Lighting Bolt. Do note, this talent is intended to be mana-neutral and not a viable regen mechanic for Resto Shaman. Nevertheless when you reach raid level gear, even at tier11 pre-raid gear, you will do enough damage to regen with this talent, especially during enhanced damage boss phases. This could be your only hope during long fights when you get near the zero mana state. (Recommended)
Tidal Waves (3/3) – After casting RT or CH, you will gain 2 charges of a Tidal Waves buff which will decrease the cast time of the following GHW or HW spells by 30% and increase the critical effect chance of Healing Surge by 30%. Tidal Waves will last until 2 spells are cast or after 10 seconds. (Mandatory)
Blessing of the Eternals (0/2) – Gives your Earthliving hot an 80% chance to proc on targets below 35% HP. This talent no longer increases critical strike chance, as of the patch. This is a minor healing gain, but it is a free one, if you have spare points it is ok to put them here. (Optional)
Riptide (1/1) – An instant cast spell which also applies a hot to the target, it will also increase the healing done by a CH hit by 25%, if CH is cast on a target with a Riptide hot still active. (Mandatory)

Enhancement Tree (7 pts)
Elemental Weapons (2/2) – Increases the passive bonus granted by Earthliving Weapon by up to 40% and increases the effectiveness of Unleash Elements. (Recommended)
Improved Shields (3/3) – Provides up to a 15% increase in the return of Water Shield orbs and a 15% increase in the healing done by Earth Shield. This effect stacks with other healing modifiers like Spark of Life. (Mandatory)
Ancestral Swiftness (2/2) - Reduces the cast time of your Ghost Wolf spell by 2 sec and increases movement speed by 15%. This does not stack with other movement speed increasing effects. This a very strong mobility talent. (Recommended)

Elemental Tree (3 pts)
Acuity (3/3) – With an increase of up to 3% on all spell critical chances (both dps and healing), Acuity is a very good talent to have. (Recommended)

The whole build can be found here: Resto Shaman 3/7/31 .

There are variations of the build to get 3/3 Focused Insight. If you want to get Focused Insight, which can be better either for instances or for some bosses when you can't find the time to shoot any Lightning Bolt, you have the choice to drop some of these: Totemic Focus, Cleansing Waters, Telluric Currents. If you have another resto shaman in your group with Totemic Focus, then you can probably drop these 2 points and 1 into Cleansing Waters. The other option is to drop Telluric Currents and another point either in Totemic Focus or Cleansing Waters.
My view at the moment is that I can not be sure I'll be able to finish a long fight without Telluric Currents, when mana regen becomes better with gear then we can probably go away from it.

Part 3 The Glyphs

With Cataclysm, the glyph system changed to a 3 layers one, with Prime glyphs, Major glyphs and Minor glyphs. Not all classes/specs have the same amount of useful glyphs and we are probably in the middle, with some glyphs being mandatory as boost to our core play, and other just marginaly useful.

Prime Glyphs
  • Glyph of Earth Shield – Increases the amount healed by your Earth Shield by 20%.
  • Glyph of Riptide – Increase the duration of Rptide by 40%.
  • Glyph of Water Shield – Increases passive regen of your WS by 50%.
  • Glyph of Earthliving Weapon – Increases the effectiveness of your ELW’s periodic healing by 20%.
These three glyphs are probably the only ones we should look at. The three of them are increasing some of our most used abilities.
Earthliving Weapon is much stronger for raid healing than instances, and could be an alternative to consider once you're starting to run more raids than instances. There has been some interesting tentative raid log analyses about the "hps" value of each of these glyphs. The conclusion seem to be the following:
As long as you need the regen keep the Glyph of Water Shield, once you're doing well mana wise you can drop it for ELW. Until then, for raids, ELW seems to be roughly the same strength as riptide, and about half better than ES. So drop ES and take ELW, even if you're tank healing. This is partly due to the fact that, sadly, ES does not benefit from our mastery.

Major Glyphs
  • Glyph of Chain Heal – Increases the healing done to targets beyond the first by 15% but
  • decreases the amount received by the first target by 10%
  • Glyph of Ghost Wolf – Your GW gains 5% additional movement speed.
  • Glyph of Healing Stream – Increases resistances by 195.
  • Glyph of Healing Wave – Your Healing Wave also heals you for 20% of the healing effect when you heal someone .
  • Glyph of Hex - Reduces the cooldown of your Hex spell by 15 sec.
A little more "choice" here. The only glyph that should probably always be taken is Healing Wave. After that take Chain Heal for 25-Man raiding, Healing Stream if you're using that totem and/or don't have access to kings/wild, Hex for instances, Ghost Wolf for a small speed boost when you need to move quickly in a raid (or between wipes :p).

Minor Glyphs
  • Glyph of Renewed Life – Your Reincarnation spell no longer requires a reagent.
The other minor glyphs can be useful but are not linked to healing in any way.

Part 4 The Relative Weight of Stats

Now that we have considered our basic bonuses, have looked at our mastery talent, and all our other talents, we can discuss the relative use of the different basic stats we will be interested in as a healer.

Many analyses have been done on sites like the elitist jerks forums about the relative values of each stat. If for some classes a common point has been found it is still unclear for shamans, mostly because our mastery is very hard to model.
The agreed point is that intellect will be better than anything else, as for all other healers and casters. Int is a main stat though, a difference from any other we will discuss. Knowing what stat is better than another (at least on paper) will be important for several things: choosing the right gear, gemming correctly, and finally reforging.
I am not going to details the discussions I have read, and a final common ground hasn't yet been found by the community, but the one that makes the most sense to me is:

The reason is that mana regen, at least for the moment, is very important. Some classes have tools or abilities to regen mana, shamans have very few, the two strongest being spirit and water shield with Improved Water Shield procs, hence crit rating. Because of IWS, crit is for us both a throughput stat and a regen stat, when haste and mastery are only throughput stats. That is the reason for crit to be considered better for resto shamans than haste, which was our desired stat at the end of LK. Take also in consideration our numerous talents that are activated by crits.

Haste can also be considered a "plateau" stat, also called "break points" because some specific values of haste can now give you more ticks of hots during a fixed hot duration. I copied for you an extract of the EJ forum with the 3 break points you should consider (at least for your first raids):
Number of Riptide ticks Haste Needed Haste Needed with WoA Totem
9 ticks 708 Rating 518 Rating
10 ticks 1176 Rating 964 Rating
11 ticks 1645 Rating 1410 Rating
You should probably target 518 haste at first, and then 964 when your gear increases. The next break point should probably not be your target before the next tier of raiding (tier 12).

To Sum-up the stats discussion:

When you chose gear, keep to the Int > Spi > Crit > Haste/Mastery choice.

When you chose your gems, always go for a pure Int gem, unless the socket bonus is good, and then gem for Int/Spi (Blue socket) or Int/Crit (Yellow socket).

When you reforge, follow this priority: Haste / Mastery reforged to Spi / Crit
You can reforge mostly haste as long as you keep to one of the break points, having at least 518 haste rating. Haste is a good stat but only crucial for urgencies and mastery will serve mostly the same goal with no mana cost. Keeping up to a Riptide hot break point is a good plan though.
As for Spirit or Crit, that depends on how you feel with your mana regen and your ability to keep WS up at all times (trust me, that is a skill that has to be learned). If your mana is ok, reforge to crit, if you're oom often, reforge to spirit.

Part 5 The Way of the Wave

Here I will try to talk a little about gameplay. I'm only playing a resto shaman since a few months, and have only raided normal ICC with her, I'm now trying my hands at heroic cataclysm instances but have yet to touch lvl 85 raids.
This is to warn you that even though I did my research, please take my advices with a grain of salt, and if you want to add ideas and comments, you are the most welcome.

Gameplay Synergies

Playing a resto shaman is a very interesting experience. There is a lot of synergies between very different abilities created through the restoration talent tree. I'm going to detail them by order of importance:

Tidal Waves - TW will allow you to burst heal (increasing the crit chance of your HS) or fast spam costless heal (hasted HW) or faster cast a big heal (hasted GHW). This talent is the reason for which you should never cast a direct heal if you're not under the effect of TW, unless there is a pressing urgency (Riptide coolddown being a little longer than 2 casts of HS). Remember if you have a free gcd that Water Shield needs to be recast regularly (it costs 0 mana to cast) and that Telluric Currents, if you have it, is a mana regen.
Improved Water Shield - Most of your crits will give you mana through this talent. Recast Water Shield as often as you can, and preferably before it reaches 1 charge left. TW + HS + IWS is a strong combo, strong enough for TW+HS being considered better hps and hpm than TW+GHW, despite HS being worst hpm than GHW on paper.
Nature’s Blessing - Increases the heals you give to your Earth Shield target. This is the second reason for which you should keep ES on your tank at all times (the first one being that ES is really good by itself).
Ancestral Healing & Ancestral Awakening - Two other talents activated by your criticals. The first one is a damage reduction for your tank, the second one a free heal proc on your raid. Both are passive and you won't have to look for them, but they are here as reminders that our crits are so very useful for us on many different ways.
Focused Insight - If you have this talent, it can make good combos like TW+Shock+GHW for a big strong burst of heal. You can also use Earth Shock that reduces atatck speed by 10% on any mob not immune to that effect, that will be roughly 10% less damage on your tank. Having FS is getting used to shock regularly will ensure you don't forget to do it when it can be of use.

Healing Rotations

Now that we have looked at the synergies provided by our skills and talents, let us discuss about gameplay.
The basics are: Earth Shield is your friend precast it before any fight and keep it up on your tank, Tidal Waves is super good and you should use it as much as you can, Improved Water Shield as so nice you should never ever let your Water Shield go down.

If we refine that into "classic" situations and try to provide simple "rotations" for them (I use quotes because rotations are much more common to dpsers than healers, and these should not be considered as optimal but as guidelines).

Low Mana Cost Rotation
Riptide (6s cd) > Healing Wave (1.7s) > Healing Wave (1.7s) >
Water Shield / Lightning Bolt / Chain Heal
This ensures that you use the 2 TW buffs with fast and very low cost HW. You can then chose what you want to do during the remaining time until Riptide goes off cooldown.

High Throughput Rotation
Riptide (6s cd) > Healing Surge (1.5s) > Healing Surge (1.5s) >
Water Shield / Lightning Bolt / Chain Heal
This is the same idea, where HW is replaced by HS for burst. If you really need the healing output you can replace HS by GHW, they will provide you more reliable healing. But you should know that, under TW, HS is a better heal than GHW, both hps wise and mana wise.

In group/raid damage situations, Chain Heal and Healing Rain are your main tools. Be careful though, they cost a lot of mana, and if people aren't close enough they could be a big waste. In some occasions snipe healing with TW combos will be your best choice.


I can't say I always have the same totems, in fact I change very often, even sometimes during a single fight.
Wrath of Air is probably the only one I always have, unless there is another resto/elemental shaman in my group/raid.
I use the mana totem most of the time, though not if I can have a Blessing of Might, switching then to Healing Stream.
As for the fire totem, unless it is already provided by another character, I use the spellpower one.
My earth totem is the one that changes the most often during a fight, to use tremor for anti-fear, or even sometimes the slowing totem. On usual I use the armor or strength totem.


If you took Ancestral Switness you will both have a basic speed boost (very nice) and an instant change to your Spirit Wolf form for emergencies.
Keep your SW form change on a hotkey, and react quickly, the faster we are out of the fire, the faster we can heal again securely.

I hope this big wall of text was of some use to you. And I wish you a lot of fun with your shamans. To end this all, please all remember: "Keep your water shield up!" :)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Holy Paladin Cataclysm Build at level 85

This is an update of my previous posts about Holy Paladin builds since patch 4.0.1:
Cataclysm Holy Paladin Build
Patch 4.0.1 is going live. You are not prepared!
Holy Raiding with a ToR build.
Several things have changed since, especially the launch of Cataclysm and the fact that you are probably all lvl 85 now (at least the readers interested into my previous articles for lvl 80 Holy raid healing).
So here is the update, for patch 4.0.3a with the recent change (nerf? :p) to Tower of Radiance and Light of Dawn. I have said before that LoD strength could create the opportunity for 2 different raid healing builds, but it's recent cut by 40% most probably closes this idea.

I must remind you that I'm not playing a Holy Paladin anymore and that my paladin is still 80, so this post is more for the sake of not leaving people with a 80 build, and written from the views I get both from elitist jerks holy paladin forum and the holy paladins from my guild (that are raiding now).

This post will also be limited to Holy talent tree, targeted at raiding. I will not cover itemization, this will be covered into a general healer's post that should happen later this week if I get enough time for that.

Holy Paladin Talent tree

Here I will detail the talent points at level 85, which means 41 points, 31 of which (at least) have to be into the Holy tree before you can look at the other paladin trees.
This build is a 31/3/7 it is a stricly PvE build, intended at raiding & instances. I will try to comment and justify the choices that can be done in the build. the mandatory PvE talents will not be commented upon. All comments are at the end of the talent list.

Holy Tree (31)

Protector of the Innocent (3/3) Casting a targeted heal on any target, except yourself, also heals you for 3722 to 4282.

Judgements of the Pure (3/3) Your Judgement increases your casting and melee haste by 9% for 1 min.

Clarity of Purpose (3/3) Reduces the casting time of your Holy Light and Divine Light spells by 0.5 sec.

Last Word (2/2) Gives your Word of Glory a 60% increased critical chance when used on targets with 35% or less health.

Divine Favor (1/1) Increases your spell casting haste by 20% and spell critical chance by 20% for 20 sec.

Infusion of Light (2/2) Increases the critical effect chance of your Holy Shock by 10%. In addition, your Holy Shock critical effects reduce the cast time of your next Holy Light or Divine Light by 1.50 sec.

Daybreak (2/2) Your Flash of Light, Holy Light and Divine Light have a 20% chance to make your next Holy Shock not trigger a cooldown if used within 12 sec.

Enlightened Judgements (2/2) Grants hit rating equal to 100% of any Spirit gained from items or effects, and increases the range of your Judgement by 10 yards. In addition, your Judgement instantly heals you for 2481 to 2853.

Beacon of Light (1/1) The target becomes a Beacon of Light to all members of your party or raid within a 60 yard radius. Each heal you cast on party or raid members will also heal the Beacon for 50% of the amount healed. Only one target can be the Beacon of Light at a time. Lasts 5 min.

Speed of Light (3/3) Grants 3% spell haste and reduces the cooldown of Holy Radiance by 30 sec. Casting Holy Radiance increases your movement speed by 60% for 4 sec.

Sacred Cleansing (1/1) Your Cleanse spell now also dispels 1 Magic effect.

Conviction (3/3) Gives you a 3% bonus to damage and healing for 15 sec after causing a critical effect from a weapon swing, spell, or ability. This effect stacks up to 3 times.

Aura Mastery (1/1) Causes your Concentration Aura to make all affected targets immune to Silence and Interrupt effects and improve the effect of all other auras by 100%. Lasts 6 sec.

Tower of Radiance (3/3) Healing the target of your Beacon of Light with Flash of Light or Divine Light has a 100% chance to generate a charge of Holy Power.

Light of Dawn (1/1) Consumes all Holy Power to send a wave of healing energy before you, healing up to 5 of the most injured targets in your party or raid within a 30 yard frontal cone for an amount depending on your charges of Holy Power.

Protection Tree (3)

Divinity (3/3) Increases all healing done by you and all healing effects on you by 6%.

Retribution Tree (7)

Crusade (3/3) Increases the damage of your Crusader Strike, Hammer of the Righteous, and Templar's Verdict by 30%, and the damage and healing of your Holy Shock by 30%. In addition, for 15 sec after you kill an enemy that yields experience or honor, your next Holy Light heals for an additional 300%.

Improved Judgement (2/2) Increases the range of your Judgement by 20 yards.

Pursuit of Justice (2/2) You have a 100% chance to gain a charge of Holy Power when struck by a Stun, Fear or Immobilize effect. In addition, increases your movement and mounted movement speed by 15%. This effect does not stack with other movement speed increasing effects.

Comments and possible changes

The goal of this build is both maximizing the hps and getting Pursuit of Justice. The main sacrifice done to get this talent is Eternal Glory in the protection tree.
This is a discutable choice, but with the recent nerf to Tower of Radiance, you will generate Holy Power much slower, mostly by using Holy Shock. Hence you will use Word of Glory less often, hence getting less use from Eternal Glory. Because of that I think a 15% speed increase at all times with a speed boost after using a judgement is more profitable. Especially during raids, but even in heroic instances, you will have to move a lot, and you all know that Holy Paladins aren't the best at healing in movement.
So being able to move faster and start to heal again faster after a movement will always be a nice thing for us.

There is a small leeway in the build though, in the Holy tree.

When you will be comfortable with raid encounters and know where to be at the right moment to limit damage to yourself, and/or can recast your judgement a little more often than every minute, you can drop points into Protector of the Innocent or Enlightened Judgements. To get some in:
Paragon of Virtue (2/2) Reduces the cooldown of Divine Protection by 10 sec, Hand of Sacrifice by 15 sec and Avenging Wrath by 30 sec.
If you can use Avenging Wrath on every cooldown with this talent it will result in about 2% gain of free hps. PotI is a very nice free survivability talent though, chose what you prefer.

The other debatable point is trading one point from Last Word to get:
Blessed Life (1/2) You have a 50% chance to gain a charge of Holy Power whenever you take direct damage. This effect cannot occur more than once every 8 seconds.
This talent, though not useful on every encounter, can give you some free Holy Power when you need it the most (aoe raid damage phases). And Last Word use is very situational and was more suited to LK spiky healing style. Though still nice for heroics when you can have to save an overzealous dpser, Last Word is definitely less useful in raids and unless you are strictly a tank healer this switch could be better for you.

Here is a direct link at the basic build: Holy Paladin 85 build - 31/3/7
Keep in mind the small changes discussed before and modify it according to your preferred playstyle.

I hope this article can help some of you, and as always comments will be much appreciated.

edit (12/27):
I am still waiting to get some more raid logs to analyze pondering if Tower of Radiance is worth keeping at all now that it does not affect Holy Light.
If you are purely a tank healer, you will probably use Divine Light from time to time on your Beacon target and it could still be worthwhile. But I think that any paladin not being on tank duty should ponder about dropping it completely.
Some first raid logs are showing that ToR could result in very few Holy Power gain, so low as 3 HP per boss fight. It should be clear that 3 talent points to get 3 HP in a whole fight is definitely not worth the investment, Blessed Life gives more for only one point in several encounters.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"To the "Scorched" Ground, Baby !"

You'll have to pardon me the reference to this now legendary (more than epic) phrase from Ghostcrawler, adapted for Cataclysm. I read the info on MMO Champion this morning, and even though I'm not playing my Holy Pally lately, it still made me sad for all of you that are reading this blog.

Holy Paladin Nerfing 101

Stage 1 - Destruction of the ToR build/gameplay: Holy Light will not give Holy Power anymore when cast on your Beaconed target.
The ToR buile was based on generating as much Holy Power as you could for as cheap as you could to use Word of Glory as often as possible. This gave you a good amount of "free" healing as long as you kept your rotation up (HS/HL/HL/WoG ...repeat). As I said before this was a mean of mimiccing what has always been the Holy Paladin effectiveness: longevity during encounters. It was used with all our other tricks (like going to melee and hitting a boss when you could to generate mana) to try keeping your mana up during a raid. When other healing classes are based on their mana going down and then blowing big cds to get it up again, Holy Paladins are based on trying to "free heal" as much as they can to stay roughly at teh same mana level during all an encounter. We have few mana regen abilities, so if our mana goes down, it is hard to get it up again, and we want to be able to burst heal if needed, so we have to keep it as high as we can during a whole fight.
What does that mean? It means that, if shit doesn't happen during a raid, a Holy Paladin playing
correctly will stay at a very high mana level during a whole raid encounter. That is what blizzard is "reproaching" us, that paladins finish a fight with 90% mana too often ... so yes, you're just all
playing too well my friends, you whouls be clumsier with your gameplay and blizzard would then let us live :P

Stage 2 - Light of Dawn healing is reduced by 40%
They could have just halved it, but it's "only" 40%, what a joke. LoD was not strong enough before being linked to Holy Power. when they changed it they buffed it and removed the CD, not enough testing on their side clearly, but to nerf it that strongly two weeks after ... must have been a serious missjudgement on their side.

In the end what do I think of all that?

I don't bother much, mostly because I'm playing shaman now, and also because I've seen too many of these nerfs. My grin is ... you know what? Arena season 9 is starting at the same time ... and Bliz is, once again, trying to convince us that these changes are because of PvE, when I directly see them targeted as PvP nerfs.
Call me a cynic, think what you want, I hate how PvP always influence PvE balance. We've asked them for a looooong time now to separate how abilities work in PvE and PvP so that they can do whatever they want with PvP without influencing PvE balance. But they are not doing it (I accept it's hard to code especially for "world pvp") and it still pollute the PvE experience of everyone.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

A Change of Heart

Lich King has been a very stressful time for me as a healer. I sincerely think that it was the worst time since the beginning of the game for all healers. The reason is relatively simple, mana was nearly infinite as soon as you got your first epics. The developpers had to provide us with a challenge and as mana management wasn't one anymore, they enforced more damage spikes into the game.
Before this last expension damage was more controlled, a tank wasn't going to die in a 2s interval and none was going to die in one shot if not at full hp. People were dying when the healers were out of mana, not before, unless they made major blunders.

Wrath of the Lich King changed that and unless you're not doing what you should (and I mean by that doing content according to your gear level which means for most of us doing ICC hard mode considering how was most people gear before the launch of Cataclysm), you surely got this stressful feeling that even 1s of lag can turn your tank into a dead man and your raid to wipe.

I don't like this stress, this mandatory super fast reactive play in response to spiky strong damage. And I was having a lot of hopes for Cataclysm to bring back the "old style" when thinking was more effective than spamming and you had time to chose the right heal for the right time instead of pressing your strongest and fastest heal button as fast as you could.

It seems that it is the direction we're going to, and I'm happy of that. But Holy Paladins changed a lot too with the introduction of patch 4.0 and further. We lost a lot of our core abilities (Judgement heal, Holy Shield, Holy shield hot, several benedictions and others). We gained Holy Power and our new rotation style of play. It is fun and a lot of change from before and it surely makes the Holy paladin a very unique experience to play compared to other healers.
But sadly I don't like it.

What I want is for my choices to matter and not only for my talent spec. A rotation play is fixed, the best way to play is already written, follow your rotation, any diverging is a loss. My view on our new playstyle is that your only choice is who you heal, and even for that there is optimum and sub-optimum. I could be a bit reductive and paint it darker than it is, but that's what I feel. I don't really think that this concept of Holy Power allows for managing your mana by making the right choices, it is just a tool to allow you by using Word of Glory to duplicate very differently what paladins have always done since the beginning: being power batteries that run out after everyone else to keep up the tank as long as possible. Before we were using mana feedbacks with tools like Illumination, now were are using free heals obtained through Holy Power.

Even though it is fun to play, I like to think. So I'm going to leave my paladin behind, even if still fondly attached to her and her frostwyrm. I'm going to start Cataclysm as a Resto shaman, as I already wrote about before.
I'll still be a healer, and I'll continue to post about healing in instances, and later raids, but I will not provide specific paladins inputs anymore as I don't like to talk without facts. I'm sorry for my fellow paladins that like the blog, I promise I'll try to give you general healing inputs that can be of use to you as any other healer, like the Heling Through series that will hopefuly continue into Cataclysm.

I wish you all good times into Cataclysm, and as always, have fun. I hope to see you here again soon. And congratulations for surviving this deadly wall of text attack.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Optimizing your Holy Power Use

I got a question on my ToR build post about the change of LoD and the best use of Holy Power considering it. Just quoting a part of the question "I am getting mixed input with WoG vs LoD and which to use".

Light of Dawn has changed recently from being a fixed strength heal on a 30s CD to being cast with Holy Power and without CD. One important fact to keep in consideration is that is still activate Holy Beacon (though it is not sure this will continue).
This change has two important consequences.

First LoD is not as bad as before, with a 3 HP stack and reasonable spellpower it becomes a strong aoe (cone) heal, not far from 10K / target affected. The position issue remains, and it is still a bit situational, but if you can manage to get two or more people in your cone (plus you) it is now a strong healing output ability.

Secondly, Holy Power now has two uses, Word of Glory or Light of Dawn. Obviously the uses are very different, one is a single target strong heal that can benefit from 2 talents (Eternal Glory and Rule of Law), the other is a raid healing ability that only benefits from its own glyph.

From my point of view LoD has always been very situational, but this change makes it strong enough to be valuable in situations like infest heals in a Hard Mode Lich King fight, it wasn't strong/reliable enough before. I am still using an Eternal Glory / Crusade talent template at lvl80 for the reason that I find WoG invaluable when a quick strong heal is needed, which happens to be what I'm the most useful for at the moment (I raid with resto druids and damage spikes are the only thing they can't deal with much better than me).

But I wanted to get inputs for the future, so I went to look at some parsing for good raiding guilds in the last days of the beta (when this change was pushed and before beta was turned off). Here are the results.

There seem to be two "templates" for Holy Paladins now.

The first template is a tank healer based on the TOR build & rotation for mana efficiency and spike management. You will do a little bit or raid healing with Holy Shock and Word of Glory from time to time, but most of your heal will be on your tank. LoD will only used in very specific occasions, when the raid groups up or on the melee group nearby the tank, if you use it properly with Beacon it will also be a spike heal on your tank.

The second is based on LoD "spam" for raid healing, this will require you to move often to position as efficiently as you can, your Beacon should be on the tank at all times to use LoD Beacon proc. You will use a Divinity template as you'll nearly never use Word of Glory.
Both of these templates have been used in lvl 85 raids and are efficient enough for me to mention them, the first one seem to be the most efficient, close to the output of resto druids (which are still very strong despite the various nerfs they got lately). But I think this is due to the fact that a LoD build is harder to master and requires getting used to. You'll need to move a lot and depending on your position the number of persons you will affect with a LoD will strongly change your hps. Moving speed boot enchants are advised, and don't forget you'll main HP source will still be Holy Shock on a 6s cooldown, keep crusade for that.

We'll have to wait until raids are live for more inputs, but at least this give us a choice of spec and not only one direction and gameplay to focus on, which is always good.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Where did my Insight go ?

During the Lich King era mana regeneration became more and more a non issue for healers. And even since the 4.0 patch heal spam and overhealing still reign supreme in raids. The healer metagem of choice still sticks to Insightful Earthsiege Diamond though, I would dare to say more by habit and having used it for now two years.
An interesting point to not though is that there is no upgrade to this meta gem in Cataclysm. The insightful gem disappears from the scope entirely. There is a reason for that, and it is very simple. With the increase of healing spell cost from 80 to 85 and the amount of raid damage of most Cataclysm raid fights, an upgraded Insightful gem would be very very overpowered compared to the other meta for healers.
We do not have final studies at lvl 85 for metagems, because the value of each stat (int/crit/haste/...) has not yet been set for every healer class. But some people have already given it a first look and it seems even at lvl 85 the old Insightful Earthsiege Diamond could still be the best healer metagem. I find it a little silly to use an outdated metagem and usually blizzard corrects the values when something like that happens. But ask to shield using tanks, they would tell you they used a BC enchant for their shield during all the LK period.

So don't sell/drop your Insight yet, you could still use them in Cataclysm.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Nothing that great nowadays ...

but I must concede I'm still quite happy of it.

It is the first time I'm able to finish the content of an extension before the next one. A big thanks to all the members of my guild, Skyre Hordalis on Dalaran EU. You all deserve a big big hug for all the nights together in the frozen halls of Icecrown Citadel.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Light of Dawn with more flashy flashy light ?

Two new builds hit the beta servers this week, I'm not going to detail everything but I want to notify you a change for one of the new spells we got with 4.0.1.
For detailed infos you can look at the build 13241 on MMO Champion.
Light of Dawn now uses Holy Power instead of Mana. Now heals up to 5 targets. No longer has a cooldown - Consumes all Holy Power to send a wave of healing energy before you, healing up to 5 of the most injured targets in your party or raid within a 30 yard frontal cone for 1008.96 to 1124.15 per charge of Holy Power.
What does that changes do? Both a buff and a nerf.
No more cooldown is a buff, even if dependent on Holy Power, getting 3 stacks of HP is usually much faster than waiting 30s.
It can now only heal 5 targets, whatever the positioning of your raid. This is clearly intended as a 25-Man raid healing nerf, you will never get more than 5 people in your "aoe cone" in a 10-Man. Blizzard is nerfing most aoe healing recently, especially the paladins which seemed to do too much of their raid healing via aoes (that's a change ...) no surprise LoD finally got the shaft too.

All in all I think that it's an interesting change, at least for 10-Man raiders which will not suffer from the nerf.
Now ... Light of Dawn is a crappy situational heal as it is right now on live. Will it be strong enough with a 3 Holy Power stack to justify its use is to be verified once these changes are live.

Up to now, most paladins are just playing with their "disco ball" and getting silly giggles on vent for using it, it's pimp, it's flashy, it's also near from useless in 10-Man where you will rarely heal even only 3 people with it (but for Festergut perhaps, if you're a lucky healer and sticking to the melee range, usually not the case of a paladin in hard mode).
We'll see what it will be.