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.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Discussion about Raid Lock in 4.0.1

The complete description of the new Flexible Raid Lock System is on MMO Champion. I wanted to give you a few thoughts about it because it can change a few things for many players, especially if you only have one main character.
To say things simply, you can now only down an ICC boss once a week, either in 10-Man or 25-Man (I'll address heroic mode later). You can move from a 10-Man to 25-Man raid or the other way as long as the raid you join has down at least all the boss of your previous tag (it can have down more).
For heroics, your tag is mostly fix as it is now, you can not join an heroic tag different from yours, though you can freely move from heroic to normal.

Only problem I can see is for smaller guilds playing mostly 10-Man (as mine). If your guild is running 10-Man with your main char, this character will be locked out of 25-Man even though he could need gear in 25-Man. That system will be perfect once the loot is the same in 10 and 25-Man but it is not yet the case and I can see groups having problems with it until Cataclysm.

I probably have too many alts to have any such problem, but not everyone has more than one 80 ...
what do you think about it ?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Yet another PTR build for patch 4.0.1

I though they were finished with the patch build as the last one was tagged release., but I was wrong. A new PTR Build 13156 was announced on MMO Champion yesterday, and I want to discuss a few things about it.

First changes for Holy Paladins:
What can I say, all our healing spells but Word of Glory (he free holy power heal) and our aoe heals get a slight buff. If this is a sign our heals were a little too low, that will patch it at 80, but not increasing the spellpower coefficient value will mean they will still be too low at 85 and even worse after a few tiers of raid items ... I'm a little frightened by these buffs, probably the firs time it happens to me.

Now the other part of this patch:
This threat increase is general among all tanks. They all ramp up from 125% to 200% threat bonus generation. This clearly indicates that tanks were too low on threat. Is this because they don't have mastery at 80, and hence don't have Vengeance yet? According to some blue posts I don't think that was the reason of this buff. It seems that tank threat during any sort of aoe was really too low.
Blizzard told us that tanking would not be trivial anymore, I guess it was just too hard. Will this change turn tanking into a simple gearing problem with no skill as it was during Lich King? Or will it remain harder and hence more interesting?
I'm sure that change was necessary, but it's a strong increase and I'm surprised it happens so late in the testing process. As many things (like strange talent trees with talents obviously intended for another tree which are too deep to be taken, Fury of Stormrage anyone ?) it makes me feel that this patch is far from being thoroughly tested and ready for live.
I guess we'll have 2 months to "live test" these changes before the release of Cataclysm. When the new talents came out at the end of BC they were also strongly unbalanced and a lot of nerfs/buffs happened during the early days of Wrath ... we'll probably see these times again.

Ok I'm done grumbling about these changes, in the end only good news for us so we should rejoice :P
As always, have fun raiding guys.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Cataclysm expected for December 7th!

There is another build on the beta test servers, Cataclysm Beta - Build 13117. This one doesn't change much for Holy Paladins.
I was kind of sad to see the global nerf to resto druids, I hope it is a balance change and indicates they were a bit too high, as they have already been strongly nerfed by the change of most of their core talents as our mana regen has been savagely put "To The Ground Baby" ...
Retribution paladins also see the increase of
Two-Handed Weapon Specialization from 10% to 20%. It is good for them, but indicates that they were probably very low on the dps charts, I'll probably go ret for questing, I hope it won't be too bad ^^

But the new build is not the big news of today. Cataclysm will hit live on the 7th of December according to MMO Champion and some clever datacrossing. Thx Boubouille, you're as always, on the top of news.