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 HolyPaladin.net.
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.