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 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.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Word of Glory and Holy Power stacking

Busy weekend, Halloween and all, not much sleep, not much wow time, but I found enough to do a Word of Glory testing regarding Holy Power.

The Question:

It has been said on very serious sources (like elitist jerks) that Word of Glory healing power is exponential regarding the number of stack of Holy Power you have, hence asking us to only use it with 3 stacks if you don't want to lose serious hps.
So I did two batches of tests, one with a nooby lvl 13 Holy Paladin created for the occasion, and one with my lvl 80 ilevel 264 main. Each character used WoG 5 times with each 1, 2 and 3 HP stack, and I compared the results between each other, and between character to see the influence of the spellpower coefficient part of WoG.

The Result:

WoG healing of mostly linear in the number of HP stack. Which means that a one HP stack WoG is roughly 1/3 of the healing of a 3 HP stack WoG. It seems that with more than 3K spellpower stacking is slightly more interesting, but at low level you really see WoG being linear in the number of HP stacks.

The Conclusion:

So you can use WoG with 1 or 2 Holy Power, the healing is not exponential. Though remember using WoG is a use of a global cooldown too, so a slight loss of hps in the end. But considering it is not exponential, you should not refrain from using it in emergencies when moving, even if not at full Holy Power.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Healing Balance Discussion - Part 1

A new build hit the beta servers yesterday: Cataclysm Beta - Build 13221. You can read the details on MMO Champion, as always thx Boubouille.

I'm here going to discuss the major healing balance changes for all classes:

Druids - not affected yet, but GC already announced that they think druids use too much Rejuvenation and will probably see their mana regen nerfed to limit this.

Priests - mostly small buffs, priests are a little lower on raid recounts (even if Blizzard say you should look at them, they obviously do :p)

Shaman - Chain Heal now costs 20% of base mana, up from 17% of base mana. This is a mana nerf supposed limiting the use of chain heal by shamans.

Paladin - ok here comes the big stuff:
  • Holy Radiance's effectiveness now diminish on targets farther than x yards away.
Global nerf to our big aoe heal, this was announced because it was too strong as it can clearly be seen on the beta raid logs, holy paladin healing is crap until there is a mass aoe damage and they use this skill cleverly, then they start topping the healing meters.
Not having to re-beacon every minute is nice, it is also a slight mana gain. Not regaining mana with Lay on Hands is on the other hand a strong mana loss (especially if using the glyph of Divinity).
  • Divine Light base healing has been increased by 30%. From 8538-9512 to 11100-12366
  • Flash of Light base healing has been increased by 30%. From 5313-5961 to 6907-7750.
  • Holy Light base healing has been increased by 30%. From 3202-3567 to 4162-4637.
  • Holy Shock base healing has been increased by 30%. From 3033-3285 to 3943-4271.
Basic buff to our heals, this is supposed to balance the nerf to Holy Radiance, we'll discuss that later on.
  • Mastery: Illuminated Healing now absorbs 10% of the amount healed, up from 8%. Now lasts 8 sec, up from 6 sec. Each point of mastery increases the absorb amount by an additional 1.25%, up from 1%.
I'm still not convinced by our mastery, even though it's very close to the disc priest Divine Aegis which I know for being effective. It's a strong component pushing us to become raid healers, because if you're healing only one person (aka your tank) you're always "overwriting" the mastery shields.

A Global View on the Changes

If you look at all the changes on a global scale, most aoe healing is nerfed, either directly or by mana limitation (as for chain heal). Analyzing the first raid logs clearly shows that there are some massive raid damage and that aoe heals were very strong, if not dominant, because of that.
Balance seems to be the issue though as Holy Priests still are getting buffs when they already have strong group/raid healing abilities.

What about Holy Paladins ?

In our specific case, our big aoe heal Holy Radiance is nerfed, probably strongly enough for it to get more in par with other classes aoe heals, the priests being what is considered the "good balanced" reference right now.
My concern is that, looking at logs Holy Paladins healing is crap but for Holy Radiance. Our Beacon isn't strong enough, or our direct heals aren't, but clearly we're not on line with other healers on the direct heals side.

Now I'm complaining about something which as already been addressed, as you can read before all our direct heals are getting a 30% base healing buff. My question is: is this enough? My second question is: will it still be enough in tier 13 gear?

A Little Bit of Healing Theorycrafting

I'm going to explain these two questions here, and will probably do a dedicated post about healing theorycrafting later.
A heal strength can only be compared by using HPS: healing per second, which means the healing output a spell gives you per second if you're spamming it. If I take a regular direct heal, it's healing can be obtained by this formula:
base healing + (spell coefficient * spellpower) = global spell healing
You then divide that by its casting time and you get the spell HPS.

We got a buff to the base healing, which means a 30% buff to the first part of the equation. Now, if your gear improves, the only thing that makes your heals stronger is that your spellpower increases. What that means is that with better gear what you consider to decide of the strength of a heal is the spell coefficient and not the base healing.

Now you see where I want to go. Buffing the base healing is perhaps enough to get us in line with the other healers at 85 in blues, even with the nerf to Holy Radiance. But if the spell coefficients are not changed, we will again be lower when gear improves. On the other hand, the Holy Radiance nerf will affect it as strongly at high gear level than in blues, because it affects the global hps and not only the base coefficient.


I can understand that aoe healing could looks mindless and unskilled. And I can understand that Blizzard wants to see more dedicated healers having to target people to heal them. I have nothing against that.
My fear is that the nerf to Holy Radiance will put the paladins back down where they are right now in ICC at lvl 80. And even if I don't really like the idea that most of our hps is a single spell on a 30s cooldown, it's never fun to always be the lowest on the charts.
My second concern is that the direct heal buffs that are supposed to balance that aoe nerf are probably not right. Increasing only the base spell healing could be enough right now, but it won't last as I explained.

I understand that some could not be familiar with theorycrafting, and I'm not posting too often about it, most of the time only giving you my conclusions.
But an educated healer can better understand the problems of spell balance, and how nerfs/buffs affect it, so I will try to write a complete and more detailed / easy to understand post about spell balance later.

On a side note, my resto shaman is close to 70 now :P

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bugs & Blogs & Misc

Just an update slash news post today.

As you all know we had a bug patch on live today (or yesterday if you're a US player). The description is on MMO champion (as all other sorts of goodness about Cataclysm that I won't cover), I'm just putting the bug fixes here:
  • Using a "/cast!" command no longer disconnects players.
  • Mousing over objects that generate a cogwheel should no longer cause the client to freeze or disconnect.
  • Guild Tabards should no longer display on characters not actually wearing the Guild Tabard.
  • Floating combat text should always appear.
  • NPC Health Bars/Nameplates are now appearing correctly.
If you still experience some bugs, like the very bothering ground spell effect texture one (try to raid Hallion when half your raid can't see the fire/shadow patches on the ground and you'll discover a new meaning for crazy), I'd advise you to go read Zinn's blog, which covers all the bugs I've encountered and gives some fixes to most of them.

On another note you have perhaps read my ranty post about the state of pally healing at the moment. Also a bit ranty but very interesting and informative is a post from Tarinae on her blog: A Healadin's Tear. You should go check out that blog, good things to read there.

That's all for today, short post, I'm still working on number analysis about holy at 85 using raid logs and videos from the beta (a bit postponed by Blizzcon), and on Word of Glory healing per stack of holy power at low level / high level / high gear level. I'll post that probably later this week.

As always, have fun, and if healing as a paladin isn't fun right now well, try leveling a rogue, they just destroy everything in bgs right now :P

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Healing 5-Man after patch 4.0.1.

I have already commented enough of my views about Holy in raids since patch, but I've not said much about 5-Man. And as it seems some are struggling with them, I'll try to give a few hints about how to handle a rushing instance group. And trust me, my guildies are not stopping for more than bosses ... and most of our dpsers seem to be completely suicidal to me lately, so healing 5-Man can be intense :P

First, you should have the right spec. I advise you to read my earlier posts:
Patch 4.0.1 is going live. You are not prepared!
First impressions on 4.0.1
You should have a 31/2/3 spec with an emphasis on Holy Shock and Word of Glory. The reason for that is that they will be your main tools for any 5-Man.

The ToR style is perfect for instances, it is very rare that your tank will need more than the Beacon influx added to the occasional direct heal used to get Holy Power. Perhaps more will be need if your tank is slightly low geared or if you're into heroic HoR, but on a regular basis you'll be perfectly fine with a regular ToR build.

That means that you will be doing that, with that rough priority order:
1. Beacon of Light on your tank;
2. Use Word of Glory when you have 3 Holy Power stacks (and only 3 !), repeat if you get an Eternal Glory proc;
3. Use Holy Shock on cooldown, if only your tank is hurt, use it on him, if anyone in the group is hit, and unless your tank is in critical, heal the group member (+1 Holy Power);
4. Direct heal your tank with a Holy Light if you're not in a hurry, with a Flash of Light if you're in a hurry, with a Divine Light if he's very badly hurt (+1 Holy Power);
5. Direct heal one of the group members if your HS is on cooldown and you don't have 3 stacks of Holy Power and it's urgent.

Now if you have enough crit/haste your HS/WoG + Beacon will handle 75% of your healing. I don't think you should have any mana issues with this "rotation" as WoG is free, can sometimes be used like 3 times in a row thx to Eternal Glory, and because HS is our most efficient heal per mana skill.
If your mana is going down, use Divine Plea while running between pulls, but that should really not be an issue. Don't forget to judge for speed and a bit of mana too.

If you are still not at ease, I suggest that you test this "rotation" on yourself for a little while, it's easy to maintain once you get used to it, as any dps "rotation" (yes several paladins are saying we are now pew pew dpsers ;p).

Have fun and if you ever encounter issues, don't hesitate to comment here :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Feedback about Holy at 80, and beyond.

I won't hide it, Holy right now is crap. Perhaps I'm a bit strong with this word, but that's what I feel when I look at a recount after a raiding night. Sure most of the time we're doing fine, but I'm raiding with 2 very good druids and they're doing like 85% of the healing (call me a bad healer if you want, I know what I'm doing).

Before 4.0.1 I was confident in my healing, even when I wasn't pushing the numbers. I knew that I could do it and that if it was needed I could jump into power healing mode and start keeping all our 10-Man raid up for one minute or two just spamming Holy Light like crazy with my Beacon on our tank. None would die as long as I got enough mana, and I was playing conservatively. That saved us on Lich King, and I was proud of that.

Now I'm crap on numbers, but the sad part is that I'm not better than other healers on the mana side, unless I'm just using ToR, which seriously can't keep a tank/raid up by itself. If I need to start spamming Divine Light ... well things start to go wrong. My DL cost more than a holy priest Greater Heal and heals for seriously less at equal spellpower. We don't have any raid healing tool at 80, no more Sacred Shield & hot, no more judgement healing. Light of Dawn is cute but crap and way too situational.

That can sound like whining, and it probably is. But I'm dead serious on it, I can't support my raid anymore, or at least not enough to justify a healer spot on hard modes.

What about the future for Holy Paladins?

So I'm considering going ret until Cataclsym, at least I can perhaps do enough dps to be useful. But what about the future of pally healing?
Some perhaps remember how prot paladins were during most of TBC, and how holy paladins were during half of it, after being op at start. The answer for me is simple, balance is hard to achieve and when a class get shafted it often last for several months. Be it bad design, or a producer choice to balance the number of players on that specific class, it's not a fun spot to be in.
And I don't want to be playing a useless class/spec when we rush for 85 and raiding during Cataclysm, I don't have the time needed to rush two characters, so I need to pick-up the right healing class before Cataclysm goes live.

To answer that question I looked into how holy paladins are doing during the first raids that started this weekend on the Beta test realms. You can find very good videos on MMO Champion, I'm going to advise you two of them, that are being casted by holy paladins. You can watch them on Youtube following these links:
Paragon vs Halfus Wyrmbreaker
Paragon vs Chimaeron
I also read the elitist jerks holy paladin forum (always a good source of up-to-date information).

The answer is: Holy Paladins are doing great at lvl 85. Most 25-Man raids seem to be using something like 5-6 healers, 2 of them being Holy Paladins which are most of the time topping the meters. So what? Let's rejoice?

Not so fast my friends. If you look at the recount, and the timing of the heals, the holy paladins are using a pure ToR rotation with Light of Down and Holy Radiance inserted during raid damage periods. These raid damage timings are big, often requiring the healers to top the whole raid from 5% to 100% in about 30s. and if you look at the recounts, the paladins are far behind until these huge raid damage happen. So why are they topping the meters, because of Holy Radiance, our new raid healing spell that we won't get before Cataclysm.

Yes it seems HR is too strong, but what would they be without it, because they are clearly only helping on the raid/tank with a ToR rotation beside using HR and that is not pulling the numbers.
Now let us read the last comment of Blizzard after these first raid tests:
Yes, we buffed the 5 paladin direct heals (FoL, HL, DL, HS, WoG). This is a change for both level 80 and 85. We are going to tone down Holy Radiance as I described in the other thread. It can be powerful without being 75% of paladin healing.
You can read the two blue posts about the state of Holy Paladins (look for the 18/10 post) and the hotfix deployed thanks to Boubouille blue tracker.

So the devs decided to nerf Holy Radiance, which will bring the paladins probably way lower than what you can see on the two raids I invited you to watch. The questions for me are: will the buffs to our direct heals be enough to keep us competitive at 85, and give us back a healer spot at 80 in any serious raid encounter?

I'll keep looking at raid reports/logs/videos of the beta and try to analyze the buffs comparing them to the "old number" that you can find on Ophelie's blog (thx Ophelie ^^).
I'm kind of sad to say it, but I'm seriously considering switching class for the launch of Cataclysm if Holy Paladins can't be effective healers, at least at 85.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Thanks to my readers.

A short post today to say this little paladin blog breached 2K readers a day on Wednesday.
That was a huge surprise for me as you are more about 100-200 readers on usual depending on my updates.
So I just wanted to make a post to thank you all that come here, and I hope I can continue to give you useful information on paladin healing in the future.

Have fun with the ToR build, and take care people :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Holy Raiding with a ToR build.

So the build I discussed in this post has received a name on elitist jerks forums, the ToR build. ToR stands for our Tower of Radiance talent.

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

The concept is simple: use Holy Shock on cooldown, use Holy Light on your beacon to gain holy power and then use Word of Glory when you reach 3 holy power. The rotations have been analysed on elitist jerks and the optimal hps seem to be: Holy Shock, Holy Light, Holy Light, Word of Glory. If you get a Daybreak proc then Holy Shock twice on your next shock, if you get en Eternal Glory proc then WoG twice (or thrice, or four times ... you get the idea).

Raiding with ToR

I have raided last night with this build. ICC 10-Man regular with achievements (makes it slightly harder on some fights, or at least it did before patch). About 2 and a half hours raiding, 10 bosses down (Sindragosa and LK left). We wiped once on ... a bug after the ship battle, we were still killed by the opponent boat after having finished the battle and reached Saurfang spot ...
Usually we 3 heal ICC, at least on some fights. Last night we 2 healed it (me and a resto druid) but for Marrowgar because we were not sure of raid healing, and Festergut because we only had 1 ranged dps and had to put 2 healers on Vile Gas range.

As always before I was dual tank healing, though my druid friend was Lifeblooming the tank not having my beacon at all times and helping me with hots. Nearly all I used all night was the ToR rotation, Daybreak is huge, and Eternal Glory "proced" 4 times in a row for me once ... crazy 5x10K free heals.
I never went under about 80% mana, and lost a tank once during the princes because he was tanking Keleseth and lost his purple balls (hey dpsers, calm down please).

Discussion and changes

They are nerfing Speed of Light today in the new beta build (see MMO champion).
Speed of Light has been revamped to only affect Holy Radiance - Speed of Light - Grants 1/2/3% spell haste and reduces the cooldown of Holy Radiance by 30 sec. Casting Holy Radiance increases your movement speed by 20/40/60% for 4 sec.
So Holy Light won't be hastened after your Holy Shock anymore, this is a slight nerf to the whole ToR idea. We'll have to see if it's enough to change it.

I had fun with Light of Dawn too, it's cute, it's ... mostly useless. It doesn't heal for enough when serious raid damage happens and the aoe is too situational / the cd is too long, for it to be really a good utility talent. Right now I'll continue to test it, but I'm wondering about skipping it in the talent tree.

Divine Light is strong, even stronger than Holy Light was before. It is an emergency heal, but with the hp pool of tanks right now, a DL crit will heal for about 50% hps of your tank.

Overall view on Holy raiding with ToR

The ToR build is fun to play, it's more reactive and dynamic than before, and we've gained a lot of mobility, which is a really nice change.
You can keep up a tank with this gameplay and a few Divine Lights tossed on your tank here and there while helping for emergency raid healing (HS & WoG).
Your global healing will be ... quite low. I was at about 1/2 to 2/3 of the effective healing of our druid last night, hot spam is still easy to achieve with the mana pool druids have right now, and their hots seem to be stronger than before.
So don't worry if you're a bit low on the meter, have fun with the new gameplay, and wait until Cata to go live to see how healer mana will be impacted by going to 85. The nice thing of this build is that about 50% of it's healing is mana free (Beacon + WoG) and another part is low mana (HL) so even at 85 it should still be very mana effective.

Now a last word ... ICC normal mode is a joke now, even relatively serious bosses like Putricide or Lanathel are going down so fast that you'll never go out of mana or anything. We're definitely going hard mode next time without any fear for mana or tanks.
Btw our tanks had nearly no problem with aggro. Took them one day to adapt to the new talents/rotations, and warrior need to be very cautious with their rage when engaging, but beside that no boss ever left them.
Dps is crazy in ICC, some classes got just shafted (fury warriors and ret paladins come to mind and are buffed today on live it seems), but most others especially casters are all around 15K+ dps when they were around 11-12K before. I tell you, bosses are going down fast.

I guess it is now time for all of us to go get our frostwyrm. I'll be happy to get it, and wasn't sure we could down hard mode LK before this patch, now I don't doubt anymore at all. It's just a matter of a few weeks at most.
I just hope we won't get burned too fast, and pre-cataclysm event will be enough to keep people on until the extension.

Have fun, go go disco paladins ... grin grin.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

First impressions on 4.0.1

First evening playing Holy with the 4.0.1 patch. My guild decided to only do heroics tonight, to tune and test our new specs / gear / reforging ... etc. Seeing how it was hard for our warrior tanks (my alt among them) to keep aggro, I think it was a good decision.

Several other paladins are also posting their first impressions, some have raided last night (well, on the US servs Wednesday is the second night after patch :p). I'd advise you to read Ophelie on The Bossy Pally and the Giant Spoon, there are several others you can always follow Holy pally activity on

I was lazy and went for the easy Holy Shock / Word of Glory build with 25 yards judgements (see my previous post about 4.0.1). You can see it below.

Learned the new abilities at the trainer, put my talent points where they should be, changed one gem to get back my meta activated (silly enough I didn't had any yellow gem anymore ... yes int gems are red now).
And then went directly into heroics with a guildies group (we had 2 5-Man groups nearly all night until 1am ... I think people liked the patch for most of it). I did about 4 heroics, 2 with a 264 geared warrior tank and 2 with a 245 geared DK tank.
First thing to say, warriors have been severely hit by the patch, they are rage deprived and if they can't charge a pack they just can't tank it at all. DKs have it much easier, Death and Decay and even more Blood Boil seem to be no-brain aggro tools.
Second thing, tanks are squishier. We'll see tonight how hard they were hit by going into hard mode ICC, but it really seemed to me they were taking more damage (at least when they could get all the mobs on them).

Now what about pally healing?

I was worried about mana ... forget it. If you go for a Holy Shock & Word of Glory spec (the one I posted) and try to abuse it, you'll never ever go under 90% mana. I'm sure it won't be true anymore at level 85 but at 80 in 251-264 gear ... it's just crazy fun. Even when doing heroic Hall of Reflections with a warrior tank my mana never fell under 90% ... and for a healer I consider this instance as entry raid level.
We don't have Flash of Light anymore (it's still in our talents but please get used to ... not use it, it's crap) and Beacon was halved, which means that when party/raid damage happens we have a harder time to get 3+ people to max life while healing the tank in less than 10s. The Holy Shock / Word of Glory works ok for that, but don't hesitate to use Light of Dawn, our new "group heal" I'm not going to say "raid heal" because it's too situational to be reliable in raids, in my opinion (will see tonight how it goes about that).

Beacon was halved and tanks are squishier (their armor was lowered among other things), that means that you will have to directly heal your tank now. Once again, abuse Word of Glory by casting a Holy Light on your tank as soon as he's not full life and you don't have an urgency anywhere else. Holy Light doesn't heal much, but it's crazy cheap and if you cast it on your Beacon, it gives you 1/3 of a Word of Glory, which means about 3K free heal in a few seconds (WoG heals for about 9K for me between regular and crits).
Use Holy Shock as soon as it's up (especially if you have a Daybreak proc). And use Wod of Glory when it's at 3 charges, you'll have about 1/3 chances of having another one free just after thanks to Eternal Glory.

I'm saying it: SPAM HEALS. Seriously do it people!

As long as you only use Holy Light / Beacon + Holy Shock / Word of Glory and Light of Dawn when needed, you'll never see your mana go seriously down, even with a nearly 0 bonus spirit on your gear, I have less than 150 bonus spirit myself (having avoided mp5 gear that was the stat changed to spirit).

I'm not sure our mana will live that easily when casting Divine Light and that will probably be necessary on tanks during raids seeing that they take more damage. Especially that now our Beacon won't heal the second tank for as much.
What does that means for us ? Well, I'll see that tonight but I think paladins aren't the best tank healers anymore (druids will perhaps be). Considering our 50% Beacon, mana efficiency when using small heals constantly instead of big heals, and our mastery (Divine Ageis is huge for raid healing), I think we'll just beacon the tank, and use the gameplay style I tested tonight in heroics on the raid/tank. We'll give a regular healing infusion to the tank, and help to keep the raid up. We're more something like an infinite mana raid support healer in that scenario. More on that later once I'll have tested raiding.

Last point ... Light of Dawn is so pimp, you're being the disco ball every 30s ... silly fun to look at. I was having everyone laugh on vent last night because as soon as my cd was up I was using it and saying "Pimp Light On" ... I tell you it's so pimp and silly I can't resist to have fun with it.

Anyway, have fun, test things and don't hesitate to post comments :P
See you later for some raid feedback.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Patch 4.0.1 is going live. You are not prepared!

It's announced on MMO Champion (you can read the official announcement here) :
Extended maintenance will begin tonight at midnight, Tuesday, October 12 for the release of patch 4.0.1.
Patch 4.0.1 is going live on the US servers, it should be the same on the EU servers tomorrow. Time to work on your new talent tree if you have not yet, to get all the glyphs you can get your hands on before their price explodes (glyphs cost 3 times more ink to make after the patch), and all the jazz.
If you have not yet downloaded the 6.5Gb of prepatch data, it's probably a good idea to start now if you don't want to be out of the game for hours once the patch is live.

As one of our good friend would say "You are not prepared!" and I think he's right, I'm really not prepared for the huge change coming.

This post will be extended today with all the changes to expect for Holy Paladins: talent tree, gear, glyphs, librams ...
see you later for all of that.

Part I - Gear changes

A lot of stats change with patch 4.0.1 but the main impact for Holy Paladins is that spell power disappear and will come straight from your intellect (not that we usually lack on that), and that all your mana regen based on crits is now something of the past (I can't tell you how much I'm worried about my mana right now) and you'll be based on spirit as all other mana classes.
Intellect will probably remain our main stat, spirit will probably be second as we won't have other sources of mana, I think haste will be vastly preferred to crit now even though a "small heals" build could benefit from some crit (more on that later).
Reforging is also introduced and will allow you to change between haste/crit and mastery, even perhaps remove things like hit rating if you're using a dps weapon right now, for example.

A note on mastery.
We have three ranks as you can see on the empty Paladin talent calculator from wowtal. The three ranks will be gained simply by having 31pts in the Holy tree. The two first are fixed, the efficiency of the third one will be based on your mastery rating:
Your healing spells also place an absorb shield on your target for x% of the amount healed lasting 6 sec. Each point of Mastery increases the absorb amount by an additional x%.
Obviously anyone having ever looked at the stats of a Disc Priest in raid knows the potency of Divine Aegis, which is roughly what our third rank of mastery does. Putting a shield on anyone we heal. I definitely like this ability.
Now if we think about our usual role in raiding, tank healing, spamming heals on the tank will not use this ability to the fullest as shields will erase each other.
If your mostly a tank healer, skip mastery, if you're raid healing, invest as much as you can into it.

So to conclude on gear and how you should use reforging:
Intellect > Spirit > Haste (tank healer) or Mastery (raid healer) > Crit

Part II - Talent Tree and Gameplay Mechanics

Talent trees change *a lot* with patch 4.0.1. They are reduced from 51pts depth to 31pts depth, and we'll roughly gain one point every 2 levels starting at 11. At level 80 (79 exactly) you'll have 36 talent points and 41 at lvl 85.
I'm not going to discuss talents points at lvl 85, because I think they will change until the release of Cataclysm, and we still have 2 months to learn to play and adapt to the probable numerous changes to come (remember the end of TBC anyone ?).
My goal is to give you inputs on a lvl 80 Holy Talent Tree and the reasons for my choices.

First thing to know is that you have to invest 31pts into a tree before being able to put any point into another. Which means we'll need 31pts at least into Holy, and hence only 5pts at most into others.

Second thing to know is that our mana regen has been Nerfed to the Ground Baby! (thx GC)
We don't get any mana back from critical heals anymore, Divine Plea has been nerfed hard from 25% to 10% of our total mana while still having the 50% heal cut nerf attached to it, and to add the last stone, Divine Favor doesn't cut heal costs by 50% it's now just a panic button to burst heals for 20s.

Third thing to know is the introduction of Holy Power. This new "resource" is similar to combo points capped to 3 that you'd get when using some abilities and that allow you to use special abilities linked to that resource.
How do you get Holy Power? You get one when using Holy Shock (so we'll shock as often as we can) and when casting a regular heal (Flash of Light, Holy Light or Divine Light) on the target of our Beacon of Light.
How will we use Holy Power? For Holy Paladins the answer is quite straightforward at lvl 80: Word of Glory. So we will now have 2 instant heals (aka usable while moving) one on a cd and one depending on our Holy Power stack.

Fourth thing to know (yes yes there are quite a lot of changes) is that all healing classes are now based on the same basic core abilities:
Flash of Light (FoL) will probably just disappear from your cast bar, it costs too much and will mostly be replaced completely by Holy Shock / Word of Glory.
Holy Light will be our regular spam heal and Divine Light will be the "emergency" big heal that will probably not be used much before Cataclysm is out with its huge life pools (expect more than 100K hps for a tank starting raids in there).

Now that we have cleared all the general changes to the gameplay mechanics for Holy Paladins, let's look at the talents. First look at the non holy talents to decide if we want to invest 5pts out of the Holy tree. Id advise you to open another window and use
wowtal to look at the talents while reading this section.

The Protection Tree
Divinity: 6% bonus to healing is good, we already had it and we liked it, if we can we'll want to get these 3 points.
Eternal Glory: 30% chance to not use your Holy Power when casting Word of Glory will be a huge boost, if you've read the section before you know we will use WoG a lot, as much as we can but most of the time only with 3 Holy Power, these 2 talent points can give us 3 free points of Holy Power 30% of the time we use WoG

The Retribution Tree
Crusade: 30% boost to the healing of Holy Shock, considering we will use it on nearly every cooldown, that is also a no-brainer talent to take.
Improved Judgement: give you an increased range for your Judgements, will be necessary to reach the distance we have right now it's a filler to get the other talents more than a necessity.
Rule of Law: 15% more crit to Word of Glory, once again WoG will be used as much as we can, 15% crit will help turn it into a strong burst heal ability.

First analysis here: it is clear reading these talents that they are very nice to get, there are a lot of synergies with the Holy Shock / Word of Glory combo that we've discussed before and that will probably be the core of our healing.
At lvl 80 we only have at most 5 points to invest into these two trees, I will definitely invest these 5 points and for me the choices are: 2 points into Eternal glory, 3 points into Crusade.

The Holy Tree
Now we know we'll have 31 points to put into the Holy Tree, and we'll want to reach the top of the tree to get our mastery and the last new ability: Light of Dawn.
I'm not going to analyze all the talents, most of them are just no-brainers. I'll list the ones that I consider as PvP talents or talents for other specs, and that should be avoided into a Holy PvE spec: Arbiter of the Light, Blazing Light, Denounce, Blessed Life.

Now I'll discuss about 3 talents:
Protector of the Innocent - Casting a targeted heal on any target, including yourself, also heals you for 1241 to 1427 / 2482 to 2854 / 3722 to 4282.
Enlightened Judgements -
Grants hit rating equal to 50% / 100% of any Spirit gained from items or effects, and increases the range of your Judgement by 5 / 10 yards. In addition, your Judgement instantly heals you for 1241 to 1427 / 2481 to 2853.
Paragon of Virtue - Reduces the cooldown of your Divine Protection by 10 / 20 sec and the cooldown of your Avenging Wrath by 30 / 60 sec.

The choice here is to go PotI 3, EJ 2 or PotI 2, EJ 1, PoV 2. Most trees I have seen are going for the
PotI 3, EJ 2 build. Going for 2 points into Paragon of Virtue will give change your Avenging Wrath CD from 3 minutes to 2 minutes which is about a 1.1% healing increase if you use AW on cd in both cases.
You lose mostly 5 yards range for your Judgements and gain 1% healing. The amount healed by PotI is strong with our lvl 80 health pools and having 2 or 3 points into it isn't meaningful much in PvE, 2 points will be mostly enough to keep you up in most encounters without even having to heal yourself.
The only problem is that, not having Improved Judgements from the ret tree yet at 80, we would have to get into 20 yards from a boss to judge with only one point into Enlightened Judgements.

I guess it's more a question of testing both, and choosing what you feel the more comfortable with. Just be aware that the two choices exist and I can't say right now if one is strictly better than the other, especially at 80 with short range judgements.

So here are the 2 Holy talent trees that I would advise at lvl 80, both are 31/2/3 trees.
First one is based on PotI 3, EJ 2.
Second one is based on PotI 2, EJ 1, PoV 2.

Part III - Glyphs

And we're nearly done, what a wall of text today. Last point we need to address are glyphs. With patch 4.0.1 changes to talents glyphs had to change, but even more we get 3 ranks of glyphs now instead of 2: Prime Glyphs, Major Glyphs and Minor glyphs. As their name states, they go from stronger to weaker.
I'm going to list all of the glyphs relevant for Holy and discuss them.

Prime Glyphs

Divine Favor - Increases the duration of Divine Favor by 10 sec.
Holy Shock - Increases the critical effect chance of Holy Shock by 5%.
Seal of Insight - While Seal of Insight is active, the effect of your healing spells is increased by 5%.
Word of Glory - Increases the healing done by Word of Glory by 10%.

I'm going to skip Divine Favor and go for the 3 other glyphs. SoI is obvious and HS/WoG are going to be the core of our healing "rotations".

Major Glyphs

Beacon of Light - Increases the duration of Beacon of Light by 30 sec.
Cleansing - Reduces the mana cost of your Cleanse by 20%.
Divine Plea - Your Divine Plea provides an additional 5% of your total mana.
Divinity - Your Lay on Hands grants twice as much mana as normal and also grants you as much mana as it grants your target.
Light of Dawn - Reduces the cooldown of Light of Dawn by 10 sec and the amount healed by 20%.
Hand of Salvation - Hand of Salvation no longer permanently reduces threat over time but instead reduces all threat as long as Hand of Salvation lasts.
Long Word - Your Word of Glory heals for 50% less up front, but provides an additional 50% healing over 6 sec.

Harder to chose here, as we have more choices. I'm going to skip Light of Dawn because I need to test that spell that seems very situational to me. Long Word seems to be a protection glyph to me as the hot would erase itself if you recast WoG on the same target, but once again as we discussed in the gear section, if you're a raid healer more than a tank healer, that glyph could be very strong for you (shield + hot with a single WoG that's just really huge).
I have said that I expect strong mana issues so I'll definitely go for Divinity. On the mana side, Divine Plea and Cleansing are also contenders. I would probably go for Cleansing because the mana cost of all dispel abilities has been increased. I'm not sure about Divine Plea because it is now so weak I'm wondering if we'll use it at all in a raid encounter (50% less heal for just 10% mana over 15s isn't that attractive).
Beacon of Light could be a good idea, it would save you mana, and reduce the chore of recasting it every minute.

In the end I'll go Divinity/Cleansing for sure, and perhaps Beacon third, or Light of Dawn if it's nice to use after some testing.

Minor Glyphs

Blessing of Kings - Reduces the mana cost of Blessing of Kings by 50%.
Blessing of Might - Reduces the mana cost of your Blessing of Might by 50%.
Insight - Reduces the mana cost of Seal of Insight by 50%.
Lay on Hands - Reduces the cooldown of your Lay on Hands spell by 2 min.

Lay on Hands, Insight for sure, and Kings probably as a filler for third. I hope we'll get more choices later on, the only one I really like is Lay on Hands for the combo with Divinity.

And that will be all for now. Probably long enough for a single post. You can find more info on Coriel's blog, he's also discussing talents and glyphs though we differ on some small points.

Next one will be about the changes of gameplay after I'll have experienced them on live myself. Until then if you want some inputs from the PTRs, go read the elitist jerks thread about Holy Paladins :P

Take care, have fun people.