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.


  1. It's sad you're leaving your paladin :/ I thought they became more fun lately, since it wasn't about spamming anylonger (on the other hand all healers were about spamming in wrath, like you mention). I really agree with you about how the spike-damage healing style sort of ruined healing. I am happy to say it seems to work differently in Cataclysm. Now we have more time to react but have to make the right choices, instead of just whack-a-mole across our interface. I strongly recommend priest healing - a huge arsenal of skills to pick from :) I hope you have fun with shaman healing too!

  2. After playing my Disc/Holy priest for a while, I decided the grass isn't really greener, it's just different, which was nice for a while. I'm playing my pally again with Cata, loving LoD, the heavy-hitting instants, and overall having fun. I look forward to continuing to read your blog whichever class you play!

  3. For those that have not followed this blog from the beginning, I have quite a few healers: a 80 priest (disc), a 80 druid, my main 80 paladin and recently a 80 shaman. All healing specced, and I have killed the Lich King with all of them as healers :P
    I have played all of them since the 4.0x patch, and enjoyed the changes. I feel that all healers really have a different feel to them now, which makes switching between them fun, and which will encourage more healing cooperation because all classes are not all at their best in every healing task.
    The thing is that over the 4 of them, the one I have the least fun with right now is the paladin, I don't like the idea of rotations based on short cds (Holy shock) and procs (Eternal Glory) for healers. It is fun as a dps, and a frost mage is a lot of fun to play for example. From my point of view, as a healer I want reliability and proc/crit based gameplay don't give me that.
    So I'm switching to my Shaman because I feel it is more what I want, and a good challenge (Shamans aren't the best healers on recount :p). They also offer a complex group support gameplay compared to a paladin, and I love complexity ... in case you didn't figure that before.

    Anyway, thank you for your kind words, and be sure you'll continue to find tips and info here as often as I can and feel like sharing something useful.

  4. I totally see where you're coming from. I don't have a high level alt to switch to, though, so I'm still levelling my Paladin. However, this is one of the big reasons I decided to level up so many healing alts this expansion. So I could pick a new main and, if there's mega changes next expansion, I can choose again then.

  5. Holy Paladins have never been better or more complex than now. I see a lot of paladins quitting Holy because they just don't understand the choices they must make now. Instead of just gemming all int and spamming the biggest heal over and over you now have to deal with the "reliable" healing choice (Divine vs. Holy vs. Flash), the AOE choices (Light of Dawn, Holy Radiance, or both), the positional choices (stand near melee or stand behind ranged), or how to best take advantage of resources. The holy power doesn't make you a slave to it or a specific rotation; it is a tool that you can choose to ignore when it doesn't make sense, but it is always there for you to leverage when you actually need it. A good player will manage the balance between all these things.

  6. @Fobok: Having the choice is always a nice thing. I hope you'll have some fun anyway, Holy pallies are at least competitive now in the hps side, so you won't have to suffer from their state at the beginning of the beta.

    @Anonymous: You probably miss-understood me. I don't leave Holy because it is too complex (lol) or too weak (at least they fixed it). I leave it because I don't like short cds/proc rotation gameplay as a healer. And please ... don't tell me you can be competitive as a Holy Paladin when ignoring Holy Power ... or try some raiding first :)

  7. Saying "ignore" does not mean ignore for the entire fight! It is not necessary to follow a holy power rotation no matter what. For me personally, it was totally possible to heal ICC 10 (including some heroic bosses) while only using Flash of Light: I never needed to use any Holy Power if I chose not to. However, I also played around with your "Tower of Radiance" technique and others as well, and it was easy to heal with those too.

    I think the key is that you do not have to follow a strict rotation that never changes. In fact, while healing some of the new Cataclysm Heroics (Deadmines, etc.), I would find myself using Holy Shock and then healing my beacon to generate three Holy Power. I would keep it around while I healed using Holy Light and Divine Light. Then when I knew a dmg spike was coming I had the power to Holy Shock + Word of Glory (even more when Eternal Glory procs) for instant bonus healing, or pop a cooldown + Light of Dawn in the case of AOE dmg. Having that on-demand instant healing is awesome if you know when damage will happen in the encounter. As a player improves they can better predict the amount of time it takes to generate those holy powers.

    Of course, the paladin must balance this type of usage with mana conservation, since WoG and LoD are free and help to save mana. Using them as much as possible may be more prudent for those who are mana-constrained. Short story: it isn't necessary to follow a strict holy power rotation -- you can weave it in when it makes the most sense and focus more on the "reliable" heals when you need to.

    While it is true that the new Holy does indeed rely on some procs, so do others (Shamans have procs too -- off crits via ancestral talents, Tidal Waves, earthliving heal -- use short cooldowns i.e. riptide/shocks/nature's swiftness/tidal force, etc.).

  8. @Zenwolf
    I like your pointers on gameplay, that is always useful tips to give to anyone. I tend to agree with most of them, and it was the style of play I was using when doing ICC with my pally before the launch of Cataclysm.
    It was certainly effective in heroics and was a very good way of "snipe healing" during raids, which was the role I found to be the best at. And snipe healing was very useful in Lich King hard modes.

    Now is the time for Cataclysm, I'm not sure snipe healing will be as good / necessary as before. What I'm sure of is that I'm having a lot of fun with my shaman right now, fun I was not having with my paladin lately.

    I'm not advising you all to change class, surely not, as I said, this is purely a personal choice. I was first unimpressed by Holy paladins hps in the beta but that changed lately and it is not a matter anymore, just a style of gamepley I love or not :)
    (update: sadly holy pallies got hit by the nerfbat once again ... I'm sad for you my friends)