Friday, September 12, 2008

Holy Paladins: The Beta Thus Far.

It's not surprising to many that the Paladin Holy talent tree has had the least attention in the Wrath Beta thus far. It's probably to have been expected given the state of Ret on live and the number of changes Tanking will go through in Wrath. However, this isn't to say that Holy shouldn't get some much needed attention.

Previous Build Developments.

The major cause of frustration is that whilst Holy didn't get any direct attention, other helpful talents kept cropping up. For example Sheath of Light in the Retribution tree provided a HoT on crits, a concept which many Holy Paladins adored. Sheath at that time was in competition to Holy's 51pt talent, a version of Beacon of Light which performed a weak AoE HoT with small radius. A lot of Healing Paladins thus thought that some variation of 40(+x)/0/23(+8-x) would be the way to go to exploit not only Sheath, but also the additional Crit which Conviction now applied to their Healing spells, and hence maximise their healing potential. The term 'Sheathbot' was coined for such builds, and lots of Ret Beta testers were pretty snooty about them. 'It's not for you', or 'why aren't you testing Holy' were common refrains.

Changes to Beacon of Light to its current form, a Heal buff which when placed on a target causes all healing done by the Paladin to also heal the target, helped somewhat. The buggy nature of the talent still turns off a lot of Paladins, but it was seen as a reasonable alternative to Sheath at the time. Then the new Judgements of the Wise hit the servers like a thunderbolt:

Judgements of the Wise (rank 3): Your Judgement spells have a 100% chance to grant the Replenishment effect to up to 10 party or raid members mana regeneration equal to 0.5% of their maximum mana per second, and to immediately grant you 20% of your maximum mana.


This appealed directly to Holy Paladins because for some time they've felt behind the curve in healing longevity. They could also still get this, Sheath of Light and Enlightened Judgements (+20yrd range to Judgements) for 20% Total mana regen at range (At the time of writing you can still spec like this on the Official Beta Talent Calculator, now out of date).

Current Build, Current Unease.

With the advent of Build 8926 both Sheath and JotW have been moved further down the Retribution Tree, and yet many Holy Paladins continue to protest that right now they'd still spec for JotW over Tier 9 Holy, using an adaptation of the old Shockadin builds. They seem unconcerned over the idea of needing to be in melee range to heal and regen mana effectively; 20% of Maximum Mana, they reason, is just too strong a mechanic to pass up. And in many ways they are probably right.

It's likely that Blizzard will change things up a bit, probably by adjusting JotW to regen ~35% of base rather than maximum mana, a change which would make little difference to most Ret Paladins but will cripple the concept of a Holy Paladin speccing for JotW. Unfortunately this doesn't solve the underlying problem that the Holy Tree has...

It Sucks. Or perhaps more accurately, it's a one-trick pony, specialising in raw one-target healing output.

With 3.0 downranking and chain-potting will be eliminated, which inevitably is causing some further consternation with regards to mana consumption. Blizzard have said that they want mana to mean more than it did in TBC, which is fine, but Paladin's don't have the tools with which to mana their mana any more. In its current form the Holy Tree does nothing to address these, and other issues which healing Paladins have for 5-man, 10-man and 25-man encounters. It is centred around two factors: increasing the size of your heals and making them cost less mana over time. The 5 new talents either accomplish variants on that theme, or are PvP talents:

  • Infusion of Light: Causes Holy Shock criticals to make your next Holy Light instant
  • Sacred Cleansing: Gives a change when cleansing to increase debuff resistance
  • Enlightened Judgements: Increases Judgement Range and Hit chance
  • Judgements of the Pure: Causes Judgements to increase haste by 10%
  • Beacon of Light: Already discussed. Seems to be changing every other build, so we don't know what the next one might hold.


  • Unfortunately more and more encounters are spitting out AoE damage like that seen in MgT which Paladins have difficultly dealing with. More and more require huge healing throughput at high mana efficiency, a combination which Paladins don't seem to do terribly well at. We have improved with regard to mobility, but this comes at a heavy price so far down the tree.

    As PvP talents these could perhaps work well. Infusion allows instant heals on the move but at a high mana cost, but is high mana cost spot healing that important for raids? Sacred Cleansing is a debuff preventative, but at only 30% and requiring a successful Cleanse to be cast first its value is debatable. Enlightened Judgements+JotP feel like 7 points for a chance at 10% haste (costing a GCD), whether or not JoL is any good. And Beacon (in its current form) allows you to spot-heal a bit more freely.

    None of these aid in Mana consumption even close to as much as 18 points in Retribution currently does, and aid only marginally in healing problem encounters. None of them will make Healing Heroic MgT much easier for instance. For 3 and a bit Tiers, this is pretty poor fare.

    Holy, and what could happen

    Well, I'm not going to tell you what needs to happen. You can read the opinions of dozens of Paladins for yourself. I don't think we're in danger of the Holy Paladin dying out for raiding, as the saying goes 'If you have a Holy Spell you will heal', but it could be very tough on them leading to higher burn-out rates. With that said, here are a few ideas:

  • Leverage Divine Plea heavily in deep holy, increasing its value to Holy Paladins by knocking off the 50% healing penalty.
  • Keep PvP utility talents like Sacred Cleansing shallow or give those deep in the tree more oompf. Something like allowing 2 Cleanse's instead of one per cast, or a much higher resistance rate. Recall that a lot of debuffs applied now aren't done so actively (like Corruption) but passively (like Winters Chill) and have associated dispell resistances.
  • Make Judging from range a more meaningful action. Minor damage with 5%+ chance to miss, and 10% haste, probably just isn't attractive enough


  • Some Paladins are looking to Glyphs to fill a shortfall, specifically the Glyph of Holy Light. But really, having to rely on your Glyph to feel confident in your healing abilities isn't good design, and with a 5-yrd range on the Holy Light Glyph its' value is extremely limited.

    Blizzard has done a very good job with Ret and Prot, and whilst they haven't addressed specific weaknesses in those class roles they have at least provided them with the tools to excel in this narrow role. Holy needs something more imaginative, and perhaps a taste of what other healers can provide a group. As it stands Heroic lvl80 healing with a Holy Paladin could be extremely difficult even for the most skilled, and nigh-on impossible for the rest.

    I'm expecting some Holy talent changes in the next build. God knows they're needed.

    3 comments:

    Galoheart 13/09/2008, 13:33  

    Good to read up on Holy side of things and Ret. But especially Holy since it's not a Spec I play to any degree. So I read more to stay inform on the Holy tree much more so than Ret. Paladin as a whole did have lots of problem in all 3 specs for a long time.

    With this expansion seem many things are getting addressed to some degree. Though it will never be to the degree everyone is all happy but hopefully are in some way better than before. So all I can say is hope Holy spec does get some needed attention at the end of next week. Given that only recently the class have been looked at. So maybe it's a matter of just time and which spec the Devs are addressing first that have glaring problems.

    So I say wait for the next pass and see what comes for Holy. I know as Protection the devs are not yet done fixing things with our talents as well as giving us one or two new tools as GC has said before. So those are hopefully expected and has yet to appear as yet.

    Given that things will hopefully again get changed in the next build I'm sure. So right now it's a wait and see for all three specs.

    Noktaris 18/09/2008, 05:25  

    Thanks for your rundown on Holy's state, at the moment. You're correct in regards to glyphs: the only feel good post I've read involving the Holy tree up until this point involves complete use of glyphs.

    Also consider the fact that glyphs are meant to be useful additions to your ordinary skill set, -not- class-defining abilities.

    Lastly, the 5 yard range on Glyph of Holy Light is terrible on a level that's stunning.

    Wrath of the Lich King is an expansion that serves to recreate the difference between the "primary healers" and the "secondary healers". It's a logical change, considering that this balance arguably got out of hand in the Burning Crusade. However, it still stings for those who leveled a Paladin or Shaman specifically to heal.

    Looking at the Holy / Disc trees and Resto / Balance trees, along with the versatility and synergy that these trees provide, makes this fact very apparent when you then compare them to a Paladin's Holy tree or a Shaman's Resto tree.

    Suicidal Zebra 19/09/2008, 00:16  

    Thanks for the comments guys.

    I'm not sure about Wrath recreating the difference between Primary and Secondary healers, I have a feeling that those two descriptors can be consigned to the history books because they aren't too relevant any more. However I do agree that on the face of the current changes two distinct sub-types of healing class may be emerging: the Two-Target healer and the Utilitarian healer. Both healers spend the same time healing in a raid, and are just as necessary, but have different tools and roles.

    The Two-Target healer, at its' core, has massive healing throughput on one or perhaps two targets. They may have tools to extend this somewhat, or provide some spot-healing, but fundamentally they will be spamming a few skills on a few targets without pause.

    The Utilitarian would not only have more skills, but as importantly many more targets to heal. They will perhaps be able to rival raw healing their strength of the jobbers, but it is in using their group heals, HoT's and direct heals that they perform their role to keep the whole raid up, rather than just the Tanks.

    Of course, for 25-man Raids there's no problem with this, you'll have enough members of various classes to do all the jobs required. For 5-man and 10-man groups however those classes with more tools will be in a better position to deal with the encounters which crop up, leading to a clear distinction being made between these healers in this smaller form of the game. As seen in MgT, small encounters are becoming all the more complex, and this trend doesn't look like stopping in Wrath.

    Unfortuantely we (as bloggers/theorycrafters/commentators) tend to disregard this form of the game, but given that it's the stepping-stone into raiding Shaman and Paladin need at minimum the tools to deal with these encounters. That or future encounters need to be significantly dumbed-down, an unpalatable option.

    And yes, the 5-yard range on the Holy Light Glyph is god-awful. Why I didn't mention it I have no idea, but I will now. Thanks for reminding me Noktaris.

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