Welcome to my Holy How-To for PVE Paladins. This is the eighth of what I hope to be a great many posts aimed at helping holy paladins succeed at PVE content. I will focus primarily on max-level talent specs, glyphs, enchants, gems and the like, including tools, tips and tricks that I use, but I hope to touch on levelling content and advice as well.
Holy paladins have, thus far in the expansion, changed considerably. Arguably, the biggest change that we have encountered is the change to Beacon of Light, which now takes overhealing into account when mirroring heals.
This one change has completely modified the way in which holy paladins heal. We’ve had to adapt to this change and it’s been for the better, in my opinion.
What this one change has allowed us to do is to be absolute superstars on two encounters in particular: Deathbringer Saurfang and Valithria Dreamwalker. There are other fights where we can shine, but these two encounters are basically designed for us to be awesome. So, this Holy How-to will focus on exactly how to be awesome on Saurfang and Dreamwalker.
This guide will assume you are familiar with the basics of both the Saurfang and Dreamwalker encounters. You are expected to know what a Mark of the Fallen Champion is, what Blood Power is, how Blood Power is gained and what Frenzy is. I won’t be going into detail on those things. For Dreamwalker, I will assume you know what a portal looks like, how to get into a portal and collect orbs and not lose your stacks. It will also assume you do NOT use a hunter’s Tenacity pet for extra healing.
The fourth boss in Icecrown Citadel, Deathbringer Saurfang is a great fight for a holy paladin. One paladin can handle two Marks of the Fallen Champion on their own with any kind of decent gear. Of course, on regular 10 and 25, with the 30% ICC buff, getting more than a couple of Marks is probably not going to happen too often. However, unless your raid group is super geared, you’ll still push 4-6 Marks on heroic 25 and the fight will last up to about four and a half minutes.
What I’ll discuss here is specifically how to be awesome on 25m heroic Saurfang. However, the methods I use are what I’ve used on every single Saurfang fight I’ve done. That’s 10m normal and heroic, 25m normal and heroic. They’re just good paladin habits on Saurfang.
The first thing you should recognize (and communicate to your fellow healers) is that you are not a tank healer on this fight. Sure, you can work on the tanks until the marks start coming out, but you are a single-target healer for this fight. Actually, you are a single-target healer with the ability to mirror those heals to another single target. Period.
Before the fight starts, I like to put up Sacred Shield on the tank who’s pulling (although if you’re doing this with another paladin, agree beforehand which tank you’re each shielding), keep my judgement refreshed almost on cooldown and then just focus on whoever the active tank is until the Marks of the Fallen Champion come out.
I save my mana here. I do not use Holy Light much; basically, just enough to keep Light’s Grace up, unless the tank is in serious trouble. Like I said, I judge a lot, both for the mana (from Seal of Wisdom procs) and to keep my Judgements of the Pure fresh.
With regards to Boiling Blood, I BOP (cast Hand of Protection on) any caster (mages, shadow priests, warlocks, healers, moonkins, elemental shammies) who gets Boiling Blood on the first or second round of Boiling Blood. This removes the debuff entirely and also does not inhibit the caster or healer from doing their jobs. The reason we want to remove the debuff, of course, is that it’s one of the primary methods for Saurfang to gain Blood Power. Mages can Iceblock out of it, but a BOP allows them to continue casting and leaves their Iceblock up in case they need it for a Blood Beast.
If I get Boiling Blood before the first Mark of the Fallen Champion goes out, I will not only Divine Shield out of it, but I will also cast Divine Sacrifice (so DS/DS). Additionally, I will try to use DS/DS before the first Mark goes out, on what I think will be the last Boiling Blood beforehand, even if I’m not afflicted with Boiling Blood.
Once the first Mark of the Fallen Champion goes out, I kick it into high gear, assuming I’m on the first mark. If I’m with another paladin, we’ll ideally split up the first four, so I have 1/3 and they have 2/4 or vice-versa. If I’m not with another paladin, I’ll take the first two ranged marked and leave the melee marks to our awesome resto shammy GM. For the purposes of this guide, I’ll assume that you have another holy pally buddy and are on Marks 1/3.
I do not actually heal the first person with Mark of the Fallen Champion. I beacon them and continue healing the tanks. However, I will switch from using Flash of Light to using Holy Light exclusively. I will still judge fairly frequently until Saurfang gets to about 50% Blood Power. Once that happens, I continue healing the active tank with Holy Light, but stop judging.
Probably 15ish seconds later, the second mark will go out. I will let my holy pally buddy grab that with their beacon but will take the opportunity to judge, thereby refreshing Judgements of the Pure. Judgements of the Pure and Beacon of Light are the only things you will care about keeping up on this fight, by the way, because if either of them don’t get refreshed, you’re almost certainly going to lose a Mark, which will heal him. On 25m heroic, this is basically a wipe.
Again, I’ll continue healing the tanks with Holy Light and judge until about 50% Blood Power has been gained. At this point, I can probably stand to regain some mana and refresh my Beacon, which is glyphed for a 90-second duration. What I’ll do here is pop Divine Illumination and Divine Plea, throw out a Holy Light, then refresh my Beacon, then throw out another Holy Light, then judge, and resuming healing. The key to this fight is to never, ever use two global cooldowns without using at least one to heal your target. Two or more global cooldowns in a row on something that’s not healing your assigned Mark is what we call “bad” because it can easily lead to the death of your Mark. Don’t forget that the heal from Beacon *does* lag!
This is when I will spend a bit of time watching Saurfang’s Blood Power. At about 90%, I’ll judge and continue casting Holy Light, but will be ready for the third Mark of the Fallen Champion to come out.
When the third Mark comes out, I spam Holy Light as frequently as possible on that third target. I am no longer healing the tanks. I no longer care about Sacred Shield. My global cooldowns are reserved for four spells, roughly in this priority:
– Holy Light
– Beacon of Light
– Divine Plea (WITH an offset!!! Either Avenging Wrath or Talisman of Resurgence and sometimes both!)
With any luck, I’ll have more than a minute left on Beacon and won’t have to refresh it before the end of the fight, but I’ll probably have to squeeze in at least one more Judgement, maybe two, depending on how the fight is going.
If we’re going to hit six marks, I’ll probably have to cast Beacon of Light again as well and will need to watch my mana and use Divine Plea, plus Avenging Wrath, probably with Talisman of Resurgence as well.
You are not in control of how quickly Marks of the Fallen Champion come out. You can’t control if others in your raid are too clumped up together, causing more than three people to get Boiling Blood at once or if people are getting hit by Blood Beasts or if your tanks aren’t taunting properly.
Ideally, your 25m heroic Deathbringer Saurfang fight will last about four minutes and you’ll have about five Marks of the Fallen Champion. By allowing two healers to take care of four of those Marks, you have a lot more healing available for the tanks and random raid damage.
– Saurfang causes more damage to the Marks the more Blood Power he has. If you have to refresh a buff, it is ALWAYS better to do it just after he’s cast a Mark than just before. Try to time it so you use a GCD for a non-healing spell prior to 50% Blood Power so that you’re flat-out healing when he’s causing the most damage.
– Don’t run out of mana! Ask for an innervate or a Mana Tide Totem or something if you’re running low and Divine Plea isn’t up with at least one offset for it. Mana potions are also an option!
– If you have a spare GCD, toss a Sacred Shield on the squishier of your two targets, or, if both wear the same armor class, toss it on the one with the Beacon. That little bit of absorption every six seconds can add up and can be the difference between the Beacon lag mattering or not. Do not worry about Sacred Shield if it’s going to prevent you from keeping your targets healed.
The first thing I do when I hear we’re heading to Frostwing Halls is change my outfit.
What I normally wear (updated regularly as I get new gear): http://www.chardev.org/?profile=426504
What I wear for Dreamwalker (updated when I swap in a new piece): http://www.chardev.org/?profile=443325
Sure, that’s only a rough 250 spellpower difference and I actually lose a wee bit of crit since I drop a bunch of intellect, but I also switch to the Glyph of Seal of Light and actually USE Seal of Light. I also take a Flask of the Frost Wyrm, although I do continue to eat 40 haste food. You may question why I have the Talisman of Resurgence in this gear set if it’s just 128 intellect. That’s because I use the trinket at least twice on the encounter in order to gain 599 extra spellpower. I keep my heroic Solace of the Defeated because it naturally has spellpower on it, but if you’re using a second Intellect trinket, you may want to swap in a spellpower trinket here.
And yes. I do use the Libram of Veracity for this fight. I still feel dirty, but I do use it.
Note that I am well over the 676 haste requirement for a 1s GCD with Judgements of the Pure up, Wrath of Air totem and Swift Retribution/Improved Moonkin Aura. This is key in helping your throughput on this encounter. Do not drop below 676 haste for anything, not even more spellpower.
While I can do, and have done, the encounter without switching gear, glyphs and consumables, I find the switches really do make a difference.
The next thing I do is put my Dreamwalker macro in the “1” position on my action bar. The macro is simple:
/target Valithria Dreamwalker
/cast Beacon of Light
I’m sure that’s not as efficiently-written as it could be, but it works. I want to be able to see Dreamwalker in my focus window and I want Beacon cast on her.
Then I pull out my other macro:
/cast Divine Illumination
/cast Divine Favor
/cast Talisman of Resurgence
/cast Avenging Wrath
What’s that? That is my “Pop everything!!!” macro, basically. That’s blowing all of my CDs and throughput bonuses at once. My Dreamwalker gearset still has 2pc T10, so I still have 35% extra healing with Divine Illumination used. Divine Favor is a guaranteed crit. Talisman of Resurgence is 599 extra spellpower. Avenging Wrath is 20% extra healing.
I also make sure my Potions of Wild Magic are in a place I can hit them easily on my bars. I try to take one as we run in, before I actually get into combat, so that my potion cooldown starts up and then another later on.
So, here’s what happens.
Pre-pull: Potion of Wild Magic just as the tanks engage.
Pull: Beacon Dreamwalker using my macro, run into place right near her. Commence spamming Holy Light *on myself* so that the Glyph of Holy Light splashes on to Dreamwalker (and the raid) for extra healing. Long-time readers may be shocked to know that I learned that strategy from WoW.com’s Chase Christian. (Which I’ve mentioned before, but wanted to mention again in the interest of full disclosure.) This has the added advantage of healing yourself when you’re outside of the portals and taking damage from Twisted Nightmares (the buff to your healing and mana regen that causes nature damage on heroic).
I will also pop my “Pop everything!!!” macro at this time to maximize the amount of healing I do without any orb buffs.
Portals: Collect orbs. The key here, as I’m assuming you’re aware, is to grab one as soon as you get in, share as many as you can with others and try to grab one on your way out.
EDIT: In the comments, nameless has let us know that Crusader Aura apparently works within the portals. This is confirmed by the Valithria Dreamwalker WoWWiki entry, although I haven’t confirmed it myself firsthand.
Outside: Refresh your Beacon as soon as you phase out of the portal realm. If you need to heal yourself while running into position, cast Sacred Shield on yourself, then Holy Shock yourself and hope for an Infusion of Light proc to cast Flash of Light while on the run (and for the hot).
Repeat until she’s at about 82-83%. After exiting the last portal after 83%, heroism should hit. This is when I pop all my cooldowns again via my macro AND pop another Potion of Wild Magic AND pop Lay on Hands and then resume Holy Light spam on myself.
– If, looking at my orb buffs, I realize that I am NOT going to refresh my stacks and I have over 10 stacks, I will pop Lay on Hands before I go back into the portals to gain new stacks. Any kind of buff to Lay on Hands is better than none.
– If I get hit with a Frostbolt Volley, I do not wait for anyone to Cleanse or Dispel me. I Cleanse myself. I also try to cleanse other healers if it’s right before a portal phase. Being slowed in the portals is Bad.
– For heroic 25m, especially, the goal is not to grab as many orbs as you can. The goal is for as many people as possible to benefit from the popping of one orb. Grab your first orb to refresh your buff. Then wait for nearby raid members before popping your next orb. Move in two groups of people, popping every orb in a half-circle, letting the other group pop their half-circle. This actually works quite, quite well and isn’t exactly what we do in my current guild, but hey, I’m not the raid leader or the healing lead and we heal her up anyways. But to be the most efficient about it, you do want to share as best you can.
– Don’t forget to TURN ON Seal of Light. I’ve reglyphed and forgotten to do this entirely.
– Don’t forget to make sure you’re NOT in combat when you reglyph! I’ve been interrupted several times while reglyphing and never noticed until after the encounter when I went to put Glyph of Seal of Wisdom back in.
– Don’t forget to bring extra Glyphs of Seal of Wisdom for after Dreamwalker!
– You may spam Holy Light on a Tenacity hunter pet (the key is that the pet has to have 2/2 Blood of the Rhino for maximum effect) that is on passive and parked right next to Dreamwalker, instead of healing yourself. The extra healing done will NOT transfer via Beacon of Light, but WILL boost your Glyph of Holy Light heals substantially. You will also want to keep Sacred Shield and the FoL HoT on yourself if you do this on heroic to prevent you from, you know, dying to the damage from the orbs.
Anyways, that’s it for being awesome on Deathbringer Saurfang and Valithria Dreamwalker. These are the two encounters in Icecrown Citadel that were basically designed for us. Played properly, no one can do more effective healing on these encounters than we can. I’m not talking about the meters, either, I’m just plain talking about keeping our Marks of the Fallen Champion alive and healing Dreamwalker to full. Although, if you’re not at the top of the meters for these fights, there may be a problem. ;)