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.