Cataclysm Build 12857 – The "Trifecta of Doom" Build

Ladies and gentlemen, Cataclysm Build 12857 shall hereafter be known to me as the “Trifecta of Doom” build.

Paladin Summaries

To begin, let us look at the paladin tree summaries, which let you know what abilities you get just for spending your first points in that tree. (Click for a larger version.)

Notice anything weird? Wrong? Strange?

How about the fact that the Holy tree only has 3 abilities listed, followed by their mastery, whereas prot and ret both have four?

Take a closer look at the Holy summary.

Holy Shock, fine. Walk in the Light (still at 10%, mind you), fine. Meditation (50% of regen while casting), fine. Mastery seems fine.

What’s missing?

I was about halfway through a Blackrock Caverns run last night when I realized what the problem was.

Spiritual Focus is missing.

Are you kidding me? There I am, in Blackrock Caverns, and someone, while running back to the group, accidentally pulled a pack of mobs and trained them right to us. We got a couple of them CCed, the tank grabbed the rest but there was a caster who wasn’t CCed who kept shooting me with Arcane Missiles. And my casts were being pushed back, even with Concentration Aura on.

I have faint hopes that this might be retooled or something, but for right now, it’s just gone. It seems as though Blizzard has completely gutted holy paladins.

The Trifecta of Doom Build’s Major Changes

I call this build the Trifecta of Doom Build because three major tenets of our class have been changed or removed, along with a couple of minor things.

1) Illumination has indeed been removed from the Holy tree. It’s just flat-out gone. Vanished. Poof. After four years of consistently nerfing a core talent in the Holy tree, Blizzard has finally gotten rid of it. I honestly have a visceral reaction to this change. They should have tossed it out four years ago. It would have been more along the lines of having a good friend die suddenly in an accident, rather than seeing that friend die a slow, painful death. Sure, it would have hurt like hell to begin with, but with it having only been part of Vanilla WoW, rather than Vanilla, Burning Crusade AND Wrath, it would have hurt less overall.

2) Divine Plea now only returns 10% of your mana over 15 seconds (down from 25%) and the cooldown has been raised from 1 minute to 2 minutes. Healing reduction remains at 50% while Divine Plea is active. Considering what an important role Divine Plea has played in holy paladin healing for almost two years, this definitely comes as a blow.

3) Spiritual Focus‘ disappearance was a wholly unexpected change. One of the few benefits to being a healer who mostly casts spells with a cast time is that, with Spiritual Focus (70% pushback resist) and even the base Concentration Aura (35% pushback resist), we were not able to be interrupted by damage. Sure, we were very susceptible to interrupt effects. There’s nothing quite as panic inducing as watching EVERY ABILITY YOU HAVE go on cooldown at the same time! But at least we didn’t get interrupted by damage.

Did you know that priests no longer have a pushback resist talent? And neither do druids. Shaman do, in their resto baseline skills, as do elemental shaman, and mages still have Burning Soul. But warlocks, priests, druids and paladins don’t have pushback talents or skills.

That’s 9 specs without access to pushback resistance (outside of Concentration Aura) versus 5 who do. Who here thinks that they’re phasing out pushback resistance entirely?

<raises hand>

The minor things I mentioned are the removal or change of most talents that actually improve our healing, as I mentioned the other day. We have precisely one talent in our first two tiers that actually improves healing, which is Divinity. We have Last Word, which increases the critical strike chance of Word of Glory, if used on someone under 35% health, yes, but this is not a flat increase. This is a random proc under certain conditions. We have cast-time reductions on Holy Light and Divine Light with Clarity of Purpose, true, but again, this isn’t an increase in healing, it’s just a haste increase on two spells.

Other Changes

Holy Power generation has been fixed, finally. I now can generate Holy Power through the following methods:

a) Using Holy Shock grants 1 charge of Holy Power.

b) 3/3 Tower of Radiance means that directly healing your Beacon of Light target with Holy Shock, Flash of Light, Holy Light or Divine will grant you 1 charge of Holy Power. (Yes, using Holy Shock on your Beacon target still grants you 2 charges.) This eliminates the Word of Glory bug and removes the Holy Power generation from using Light of Dawn and Holy Radiance.

c) Using Crusader Strike , which is a baseline paladin ability in Cataclysm, will grant you 1 charge of Holy Power.

You also no longer get the red W buff that was a placeholder for Holy Power in your buff area. Holy Power charges are only visible on your character portrait. It does not seem as though there is a time limit on Holy Power charges any longer. When we had the little buff icons, Holy Power was lasting 30 seconds. If there’s no longer a duration, this is good and means we can store Holy Power charges, then drink, then move on to the next pull with a full Holy Power bar.

If there is a duration, it is certainly much longer than 30 seconds as I’ve been sitting here with 3 charges on me for about five minutes, now.

In the cosmetic area…

Hammer of Wrath has had its graphic changed to the old 2H Weapon Specialization graphic from the ret tree:

Cleanse‘s graphic has gone back to the old Purify graphic. I suppose this makes sense because Cleanse removes magic, poison and disease, whereas Purify only does poison and disease, and prots and rets won’t be able to remove magic.

Clarity of Purpose‘s graphic is now the old Blessing of Wisdom graphic. This makes me happy. Blessing of Might now provides attack power and mp5, so to see the Blessing of Wisdom icon still somewhere in the game makes me smile.

Daybreak is a new talent that is actually surprisingly useful. The Glyph of Holy Shock now increases Holy Shock’s critical strike chance by 5% instead of reducing its cooldown by 1s, so resetting the cooldown on Holy Shock isn’t bad, especially if you proc Infusion of Light to get a super-fast Holy Light. (Too bad Holy Light still doesn’t heal for much of anything.) You can hit Holy Shock, then if it crits, you can hit Holy Light for a sub-one-second (and very cheap) cast and hope for a Daybreak proc, then go back to Holy Shock. Daybreak, by the way, has got a pretty “power aura” notification, as seen below. (And that was a Holy Light cast, by the way. 6782 at level 83. Sigh.)

Speaking of Infusion of Light, it almost works properly, now. Instead of giving you an instant Flash of Light (as the live version does), it now actually reduces the cast time of your Holy Light by 1.5 seconds as advertised. Trouble is, it’s still currently consumed by your next Flash of Light, even though it does nothing for the cast time. Ah, beta.


Okay, since we’re moving into talent discussion, let’s take a look at what I think the best talent spec for a holy paladin is at the moment.


Let’s walk through it together.


Tier 1

Arbiter of the Light: 0/2. This is largely because it no longer adds critical strike chance to Holy Light.

Divinity: 3/3. No-brainer.

Judgements of the Pure: 3/3. Also a no-brainer.

Tier 2:

Clarity of Purpose: 3/3. 0.5 seconds off healing spells is a good thing.

Last Word: 2/2. In previous builds, I’ve scoffed at this talent. There seemed better places to spend one’s points. Not only do we no longer have better places to spend our points, but this is actually really useful in those “holy crap” situations. There are two particularly foul attacks by Evolved Twilight Zealots in Blackrock Caverns:

1) Gravity Strike: Inflicts damage equal to 70% of an enemy’s current health and briefly reduces its Attack Power.

2) Grievous Whirl: A vicious attack that causes the target to bleed profusely until fully healed.  Deals 750 damage every 2 seconds until healed.

The combination of those two? VERY BAD. So Last Word, while originally not as great as some of the other talents we could have picked up, does have its uses.

Blazing Light: 0/2. All damage. Damage of Holy Shock and Exorcism. Unless you want to be a Shockadin (which won’t ever be viable as a raiding spec, but definitely seems like a decent soloing idea), stay away from this.

Tier 3

Denounce: 0/2. If this worked the way Telluric Currents does for resto shammies, I’d be much more inclined to pick this up. As it is, it’s a free, instant Exorcism after every Holy Shock. Shockadin territory.

Divine Favor: 1/1. Different icon than the live version, different ability altogether, but 20% spell haste and 20% spell crit for 20 seconds on a 3m cooldown? Definitely worth the investment.

Infusion of Light: 2/2. Even if this didn’t lead into Speed of Light, this is still a good talent. Snag it.

Daybreak: 2/2. As I explained above, very nice to have.

Tier 4

Enlightened Judgements: 0/2. PVP talent. I mistakenly took this when I was respeccing because I’m apparently hard-wired to click on that icon. So when I ran Blackrock Caverns last night, every time I judged, I healed myself for 4.2k-5.5k. This heal can crit, too, and I saw crits of 6-7k.

Beacon of Light: 1/1. 50% of healing done is still better than 0% of healing done.

Speed of Light: 3/3. Excellent talent to reduce the cooldown on Holy Radiance and to help with positioning.

Sacred Cleansing: 1/1. I still can’t believe we have to waste a point just so that our Cleanse remains exactly the same as in Vanilla, BC and WotLK, but it’s well-worth the point anyways.

Tier 5

Conviction: 3/3. Bonuses to healing are good.

Aura Mastery: 1/1. Same as the live version, definitely worth the point.

Improved Concentration Aura: 2/2. With Spiritual Focus missing, presumed dead, this is a must-have. 50% chance to resist pushback for you and your group.

Tier 6

Tower of Radiance: 3/3. No-brainer. Any way to gain Holy Power is good. 267 charges gained over the course of my run last night.

Blessed Life: 0/2. I specced 1/2 for this last night to test it out. From what I can tell, this does require direct damage done from a mob in order to proc. I do not think AOE effects count, as I stood in Quakes and Blast Waves and such to no effect. It only granted me 61 charges over the run.

Tier 7

Light of Dawn: 1/1. Still has a crappy animation, but you should definitely take it.


Take no talents here.


Tier 1

Eye for an Eye: 0/2. Worthless to us as healers.

Crusade: 3/3. Holy Shock’s healing increased by 30% is all we care about.

Improved Judgement: 2/2. It’s not quite as far as in Wrath (30yd as opposed to 40), but it’s well-worth taking anyways.

Tier 2

Eternal Glory: 2/2. What a freaking lifesaver this thing is. I gained 176 charges of Holy Power over the course of the run because of this talent.

Rule of Law: 3/3. Well, I can only get 1/3 at the moment, since I’m only 83, but we’ll want to fill this up to increase crit chance on Word of Glory and Holy Shock.

And that’s about it for talents. About the only wiggle room I see is dropping Conc Aura for Blessed Life or Enlightened Judgements, but if Spiritual Focus is really dead, I can’t advise that for any reason in PVE healing.

Blackrock Caverns

So I did a Blackrock Caverns run last night with a fairly decently geared tank from my live realm. As a healer/tank combo, we still waited about 15 minutes for a queue, probably due to the late hour.

After some initial lag issues relating to using addons, I turned them all off and just healed the way I always have in Beta — terrified because I can’t properly see things on my laughable version of raid frames.

It went reasonably well. The first boss wasn’t a problem. Even the second boss wasn’t too bad. The third boss was okay. That’s as far as I’d previously gotten, so everything beyond that was new to me. There’s a Core Hound fight, it’s AWESOME. haha. It was actually the one fight that I felt was tuned well for our group. It was annoying to be feared and have fire show up, etc, but I finished the fight with just about no mana and everyone alive. The damage wasn’t horrible, but it was challenging, particularly with a movement aspect.

The last boss is ridiculous. As near as I can figure, you have the boss and he has two adds. The adds are elementals. The adds do not go after whoever has the highest aggro on them, but rather, WHOEVER HIT THEM LAST.

Sounds like a fun mechanic, right?


These little bastards, if you’re close enough to them, inflict a debuff on you.

Would you like to know what this non-dispellable debuff looks like?

It’s called Crepuscular Veil. And it reduces healing done on its target by 99% for four seconds. It only gets cast when they’re in range, mind you, so you basically have to kite them. They are immune to stuns, but Entangling Roots work just fine. It wouldn’t have been quite so bad if we had had a shaman for Bind Elemental or a warlock for Banish, but we didn’t. Our group was, I kid you not, four paladins and a feral druid.

Repentence doesn’t work on elementals. And they’re immune to stuns, so Hammer of Justice is worthless.

It’s clear that what you’re supposed to do is CC one of them and kite the other while you bring down the boss. A hunter would have been great. Anything with a pet would have been great, too — just stick the pet on one for a good 15 seconds or so, then pull the add off the pet, heal the pet, put the pet back on the add.

We couldn’t get it done with our group composition, although we got the feral druid to go resto and basically cast roots and then he and I were going to ping-pong the remaining add. It actually didn’t go that badly, but we’d tried 3-4 times or so and X (not xmolder, but the tank from my live guild) had to go, so we called it.

During one of the attempts, I noticed the druid dropped this green thing on the ground. “OH MY GOD,” I said out loud, to myself, “EFFLORESCENCE!!!!” So I went and stood in it! (Click for the larger version.)

Apart from that healing debuff, the Grievous Whirl and the Gravity Strike, things weren’t too bad. It was important that our tank be aware of his debuffs (charging into the alloys with 48 stacks of a “take more fire damage” debuff is bad!) and that the DPS watch the floor and not stand in front of mobs who cleave. But it wasn’t terrible.

What is surprising is the healing breakdown. (Yes, I logged the run. I love World of Logs.)

Here’s my healing by spell:

1) Holy Shock: 1,603,147 healing, 20.4%, 165 hits, 63 crits, 228 total. 21.7% overheal.

2) Beacon of Light: 1,186,292 healing, 15.1%, 357 hits/total. 29.2% overheal.

3) Word of Glory: 1,158,982 healing, 14.8%, 75 hits, 105 crits, 180 total. 10.3% overheal.

4) Flash of Light: 1,143,394 healing, 14.6%, 106 hits, 36 crits, 142 total. 14.7% overheal.

5) Divine Light: 1,124, 898 healing, 14.3%, 69 hits, 24 crits, 93 total. 9.2% overheal.

6) Holy Radiance: 561,679 healing, 7.2 %, 525 hits, 177 crits, 702 total. 36.1% overheal.

7) Holy Light: 494,658 healing, 6.3%, 66 hits, 16 crits, 82 total. 17.4% overheal.

8) Light of Dawn: 331,583 healing, 4.2%, 96 hits, 26 crits, 122 total. 37.5% overheal.

9) Lay on Hands: 144,643 healing, 1.8%, 4 hits, 1 crit, 5 total. 24.8% overheal.

10) Enlightened Judgements: 93,592 healing, 1.2%, 38 hits, 8 crits, 46 total. 58.4% overheal.

First of all, that’s probably the most I have EVER used Holy Shock in my life. Daybreak procced 93 times, which is nice, but it’ll also proc even if Holy Shock isn’t on cooldown, oddly, so that might or might not have had anything to do with it.

Second of all, look at the next few spells I used. Look at the percentages. 15%, 14%, 14%, 14%. With Holy Shock at 20% and my next four spells at 14-15%, that’s a pretty even distribution, particularly considering where holy paladins are at right now. I also could have used Light of Dawn and Holy Radiance a LOT more frequently.

And if I had used Holy Light every time Infusion of Light procced (63 times), then I probably would have had more Holy Lights used. It’s so difficult to think that the sound effect for IoL means I should cast HL instead of FoL. It’s a very different mindset, especially considering I’m still healing on live and can’t get used to the new way without screwing myself over on live.

What This Means

It seems to me that this is what they probably want — healers of all kinds to use different spells as appropriate instead of relying on one or two spells. But part of why I used such a variety of spells is because I wasn’t sure what to use next.

They say that Holy Light is our go-to spell. Well, it doesn’t heal for much. It’s okay that Holy Light heals for next to nothing IF you basically pair it with an Infusion of Light proc. If you don’t, it’s next to worthless. Like I’ve said before, I have 50k health in my HOLY GEAR. My tank last night had 75k health in a regular dungeon, not, you know, ICC. Do you know what a 6-7k heal does to a tank who has lost 70% of his existing health due to Gravity Strike? It as though you didn’t actually cast a damn thing. And it took you about 2.2 seconds to do it, with over 1000 haste, at level 83. If it took you .7 seconds to do it, which it does, after an Infusion of Light proc, that’s fine.

In my experience, Holy Shock is our go-to heal. I’m pretty sure I don’t like that. I’m also pretty sure that this is how Blizzard can justify the loss of Spiritual Focus. “But you’re NOT always casting spells with a cast time! Holy Shock! Word of Glory! Light of Dawn! Holy Radiance!”

And maybe they’re right. Maybe paladins are supposed to be the new mobile healing class. Except that Light of Dawn and Holy Radiance are on 30 seconds cooldowns, Holy Shock is on a 6 second cooldown and Word of Glory is dependent on a whole other resource that is, as I’m sure Walks will mention, strongly linked to none other than Holy Shock. And Holy Light, a spell with a stupidly long cast time, is supposed to be our go-to spell.

I just don’t understand what they’re doing. Usually, I can see the method to the madness, even if I loathe the method with all my being. But I just can’t see what they’re trying to do here. It feels as though Blizzard is all over the place with holy paladins right now. “No, don’t cast!” “But a casted spell is your go-to spell!” And then they throw things like Gravity Strike at us. The content is telling us to do one thing (Divine Light and Flash of Light fairly frequently) but our talents are telling us to do another (Cast Holy Shock ALL OF THE TIME!).

I’ve been thinking a lot since my run last night, while writing up this post and doing regular, everyday stuff. I don’t see what direction they want us to go in. Maybe that’s okay. Maybe it’s too early in the beta to see that.

What I can see, though, is the death of the spec I have loved playing since July of 2006. That’s when I started really trying to level my paladin as holy and I’ve basically been holy ever since. I keep trying to make sure my emotions don’t overly inform my posts, but I can’t help but be disappointed. There is very little that is at all familiar about holy paladins right now. Illumination gone. Divine Favor changed. Divine Illumination gone. Divine Plea changed. Spiritual Focus gone. Sacred Shield gone. Flash of Light’s HoT gone.

The only thing I remotely recognize about paladins in Cataclysm is Holy Shock. Everything else is completely different or gone. The talent trees are dumbed down and you can now almost happen upon the optimal spec by chance, just by allocating 5 points per tier. And yet, the content is challenging to people in ICC gear?

I know. Tuning of the encounters, of the abilities, of the talents, of the glyphs, of everything. I know.

But I do think that this Trifecta of Doom build has turned a corner for holy paladins and I’m not quite sure we can ever go back.

17 Replies to “Cataclysm Build 12857 – The "Trifecta of Doom" Build”

  1. Fantastic writeup as always. We’ll see where holy pallies go I guess, but I admit I’m starting to work seriously on “Plan B”.

  2. Thanks for the detailed write up. I’m happy that holy paladins are getting changed so that we use a variety of spells, but at the same time all the reasons I wanted to be a holy paladins are being peeled away.

  3. I come to your site for the best info on Holy Pally. EJ and MMO champ just ignore and hardly say anything at all. The EJ posts sound like a cheerleader girl squad for Blizzard. I enjoy your down to earth look at Holy Pally.
    Blizzard should pay attention to you and should have listened to Longwriter.

  4. I have to admit that all this makes me nervous for my plan to raid as holy when Cata hits. I’m hoping that it gets tweaked enough that I can enjoy it, but if I can’t… Well, I’ll have to make due and start power-levelling another healing class, I guess.

    I’m hoping, vaguely, that I don’t have time to get attached to a lot of the current-endgame abilities that I don’t have yet, but honestly, I like healing as a Paladin. Even in the early-20s range, it was more fun than my disc priest and less panic-inducing than my resto druid. If it loses the feeling of being a Paladin (to me), I’m sure I’ll find that I can enjoy resto (shaman or druid) or priest healing just fine, but it won’t be the same.

    Still! I am ever the optimistic one and will not lose hope until it’s gone live and I’ve had a chance to get used to it.

  5. I feel your pain. I’m not exactly thrilled with the Disc changes…and lack thereof. But somehow, I’m having trouble being terribly sympathetic.

    Yeah, Paladin healers are going to be different. You’re loosing your massive throughput spam that made you (in very many cases) the only tank healer people would respect/use in raids…and gaining a wide variety of other talents to give you different heals to use in different ways and in different roles. A very fun looking toolbox, I might add.

    For Blizzard to really fulfill their idea to “bring the player not the class”, the Paladin tank healing pwnage had to get broken somehow. Do you really not think that’s fair? Is your go-to heal not in line with other classes? (I don’t have the numbers since I’m not in Beta and there’s been a lack of posts on certain classes.)

    Is it going to be a hard adjustment for Pallies? Oh yeah. Do I completely understand that so many of the reasons one might be drawn to Pally healing over the last few years are getting broken? Sure.

    I just think it might be better for the game this way.

    Besides, you’re stealing my monopoly on absorbs. :)

  6. Things may look bleak at the moment but I think that it’s important to concentrate on the positives: a balanced, fun toolkit. The numbers aren’t final; if we need a little more oomph for certain spells, I’m sure Blizz will tweak them upwards.

  7. Awhile back I think it was Ghostcrawler who was relating the story of a tester who was trying to heal and was going crazy and when they finally learned what the “triage” style meant it was understood a lot better. I think the way we heal now with trying to keep everyone at 100% is going to not be possible and we’ll just have to learn to be ok not seeing full green bars.

    With lots of talents in the healing classes that buff healing with dps spells or give healing bonuses when the target is under a % of health I believe we’ll see health bars slowly decline throught the fights because our mindset will not be to keep everyone at full health the way it is now but to simply make sure everyone is alive at the end…even if they are are sitting below 35%. It will definitely keep us healers on our toes until we adapt to the new style of conserving mana vs. healing the most important targets when it is necessary, not whenever you have a free GCD.

  8. ithilyn – Thanks. I’m starting to give serious thoughts to the hunter or maybe even… tanking. There’s still time for stuff to change, but it feels like a very, very different class. It feels more like a priest, to be honest. Not a Cataclysm priest, but a priest in Wrath, in that I have some instants, some casted spells, some group heals. I’m not saying that more tools is a bad thing, mind you, but more that it’s not remotely clear as to what kind of healer they want us to be.

    Wasselin – Glad to be of service. :) I do like the variety of spells, as I just mentioned above, but it’s radically changing the class. Without a firm idea of what Blizzard has in mind for us, it’s more than a little disconcerting.

    Richard – Well thank you, I’m glad that you enjoy what I have to say. :) I have to admit that I don’t know who Longwriter is. Can you give me a link to what he or she had to say? Thanks. :)

    Apple – I think you bring up a valid point in that waiting for it to go live and adjusting to it is a big part of how to view this. I think you’re lucky, since you won’t have four years of habits to break! The newer paladins, in my opinion, will love the extended toolbox. It’s us older pallies who will be all cantankerous about things, I think. I’ve often been amazed at how well some people adjust to the new reality of an expansion until I realize that they didn’t play much in previous expansions.

    ecclesiastical discipline – I’m not at all complaining about the loss of massive throughput spam. It’s not fun to lose it, but we were just so very dominant in that niche that it was ridiculous for us to be put on the raid and have another healer healing the tanks. It was coming sooner or later and that is most emphatically not a problem. I’ve been a raid healer (MC/ZG/AQ20). I’ve been a strong overall healer in BC: still lacking group heals, but still able to help out on the raid and still able to heal tanks. And now I’ve been an exceptionally strong, to the point of being broken, tank healer.

    I’ve been a reactive healer in older content. Prior to Wrath, EVERYTHING that I experienced was based on reactive healing. That’s most of MC, all of ZG, half of AQ20, every raid encounter in every instance from Kara to BT, plus attempts on Kalecgos. The one exception in all of that content was Morogrim Tidewalker in Serpentshrine Cavern. We had three healers chain-casting on our tanks there because he hit like a truck AND parry-thrashed AND, back in the day, bosses could still crush people. In Wrath, I am a spamadin, absolutely. I just throw the heals because the mana does not matter, 95% of the time, due to my spec, my glyphs, my gems/enchants and my constant use of Divine Plea. So I’ve experienced reactive and constant healing and, to be honest, I miss being a reactive healer and I miss the days when overhealing wasn’t a given, but rather a sign that perhaps your healer was expending too much mana. You know, when mana mattered. Which it will again.

    Whether or not Holy Light is in line with the go-to heal of other classes is not my complaint; my complaint is that it doesn’t work in any kind of content environment without a proc (that was just recently fixed) and that it still won’t be the “go-to” heal without some tuning. 7k is less than a drop in the bucket in anyone’s health pool at the moment. 7k is a reasonable heal in Wrath, maybe, but almost everything and everyone has 50k+ health. That’s just over 10% of a healer’s health (mine, at least) and is just under 10% of a tank’s health. 10% per 2.2 seconds is not viable in any current content situation. I have healed Throne of the Tides, Blackrock Caverns and the Stonecore, all to the last boss, if not to completion. Holy Light just doesn’t have a place right now. The mana cost is great, obviously — it’s our only constantly castable ability that costs less than 1000 mana at 83 — but if you spend 2.2 seconds (and that’s with 1066 haste) healing someone for 7k, maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll crit, people are going to die.

    If people were drawn to paladin healing because of the absurdity of getting 30k Holy Light crits in Icecrown Citadel with the 30% buff, then they are playing a paladin for the wrong reason. The primary reason for playing a paladin, in my mind, is because we are a utility class. Our utilities are what make us the most different from our fellow healers. Disc priests, much as their shields are awesome, don’t have Hand of Protection. Nothing you do will ever make a target truly immune to physical damage, or wipe off a bleed effect. This is our niche, this is our strength as an overall class.

    Our versatility (healing/tanking/DPSing) is why I was drawn to the paladin and I just fell in love with the healing. Back in the day, it was a 1.5s FoL, a 2.5 second HL and Holy Shock, which was instant, but on a 15 second cooldown. Oh, and Lay on Hands, which was on a 1-hour cooldown AND drained all your mana. That’s what I started with. We’ve added other buffs and other tricks, but that’s what I used and that’s what I enjoyed, so my reasons for healing with a paladin are very different from anyone who rolled one in BC or in Wrath.

    The reason I’m talking about the death of the spec that I loved is because we are honestly unrecognizable. There is nothing left from the original days APART from the utility spells (which all paladins have) and Holy Shock. The other heals have changed so much just from Wrath to Cataclysm. They haven’t changed much since the early days of WoW and all of a sudden, everything we know about them is ripped out in an effort to move us to a 3-heal system.

    Here’s what Nethaera had to say in the Cataclysm Class Preview: Paladin post on April 14th:

    We want to add to the Holy tree a nice big heal to correspond with Greater Heal. Flash of Light remains a fast heal, but will be more expensive to justify the cast speed. Holy Light will be the go-to heal that has average efficiency and throughput.

    Is it the three-heal system I have a problem with? No. I actually think that, on paper, it works well.

    Flash of Light: fast and expensive. The implication is also that it’s not a “big” heal.
    Holy Light: Go-to heal with average efficiency and throughput, which to me says middle of the road mana cost, casting speed and throughput.
    Divine Light: nice, big heal, corresponding with the new Greater Heal (longer, bigger, etc)

    But in practice, what we have right now is NOT what they’ve laid out for us and, therefore, doesn’t work.

    We have:

    – fast medium heal that costs an absurd amount of mana (Flash of Light – 1.5 sec cast, 27% of base mana, 4830-5418 base heal)
    – slow small heal that costs virtually no mana (Holy Light – 3 sec cast, 6% of base mana, 3881-4323 base heal)
    – slow big heal that costs an absurd amount of mana (Divine Light – 3 sec cast, 30% of base mana, 7762-8648 base heal)

    (all those ranges are from Wowhead’s Cataclysm database and are for the level 85 versions of the spells. Note that the cast-time reduction on Holy Light and Divine Light is .5 seconds, bringing them to 2.5 seconds each, for three talents in the second tier of the holy tree.)

    There’s something wrong there. The go-to heal needs to be useful beyond a proc from another spell that isn’t even part of the “three-heal system”. The only time I want to be casting Holy Light right now is after a Holy Shock crit that procs Infusion of Light, making it the ONLY time I can reasonably cast Holy Light at a speed with which I will hopefully not let someone die. If I’m going to be taking 2.2 seconds to cast something, it should at least hit them for something halfway decent, in this current dungeon environment.

    Further, there is a huge reliance on Holy Shock. Everything is now about Holy Shock. I am not a shockadin. I am a holy paladin. I should not have to use Holy Shock on cooldown, which I basically currently am, because it actually hits for something worth a damn and is instant, unlike my “go-to heal”. I should not be praying for an Eternal Glory proc every time I hit Word of Glory on someone. I should not be praying for a Daybreak proc within six seconds of using Holy Shock so I can use it even sooner.

    This is the major issue — proc this, proc that, OMG the tank is dead. And it’s all based off of Holy Shock.

    This is not a fun mechanic. To have Holy Power coming primarily from Holy Shock, followed by the reliance on procs (Infusion of Light, Eternal Glory, bonus healing only coming from crits through Conviction) is not fun. Making sure my Holy Power bar is full BEFORE a pull? Not fun. Waiting on a cooldown for an instant-cast spell instead of casting a heal because the cooldown is SHORTER at that point than the casting? Not fun.

    I don’t have a problem with not being dominant at something. I don’t have a problem with a varied toolbox. I have a problem with the tools not being adequate for the job and I have a problem with being relegated to having to primarily heal with a heal that has a cooldown on it and another heal that uses a resource that is primarily based on the heal with the cooldown on it.

    That’s not holy paladin healing. It never has been. This is healing, sure, but there is nothing recognizable about it to me from Vanilla, BC or Wrath that makes me feel like I’m still a paladin.

    prenden2 – Our toolkit is balanced in that we should use many of the spells instead of relying on one above all (like 90% Holy Light in current content), but it’s not fun. Standing there, with 2 seconds left on your HS cooldown, with no Holy Power, Lay on Hands on cooldown and your tank about to die is not fun. Anything you cast either is going to take too long to hit or is going to cost you upwards of 3000 mana at level 83.

    The numbers are not final, but they have remained at this level for five builds at least. They have not tweaked my numbers at all since I’ve been in the beta. I have used the feedback tool to suggest tweaking, but your tank is still taking 40k damage here and there and your Holy Light is still hitting for 7k, maybe 10k on a crit, if you’re lucky, and you’re using so many abilities, regardless of mana cost, that sometimes you just don’t HAVE the 3000+ mana to cast a Divine Light or a Holy Radiance. And I’m not even talking about pulls in dungeons where CC isn’t being used!

    Curiosly – There are two problems with your comment about triage.

    1) You underestimate the amount of damage output in dungeons, which have not appreciably changed over the last five builds. There are a LOT of AOE-heavy fights that, even with AOE tools, doesn’t help that much. Light of Dawn heals for 4k per person it hits. Holy Radiance is great, but is very dependent on location. It’ll hit for about 14k total over 10 seconds or so, but you have to be in range of the people. If it were JUST a matter of people standing fire or eating a cleave, I wouldn’t be so concerned, but it’s not just that. It’s not even mostly that. Flame Buffets, healing through Mortal Strikes, crazy debuffs… The dungeon mechanics are challenging, which is fine, but combined with a toolkit that is NOT designed to throw out fast heals or AOE more than a couple of times a minute, it makes it less “challenging” and more “why the hell am I putting myself through this torture?”

    2) You perhaps assume that I am not in full-on triage mode when I’m healing. I learned to heal in Vanilla. I suffered through Burning Crusade heroics. I am a fairly accomplished healer and have been through all editions of WoW at this point and it’s not because I top meters or care about meters. I care about keeping my targets alive. The only person I strive to keep at full health is the tank in beta dungeons.

    Occasionally, in current content, you will run into a problem with GCDs. You don’t have enough. Sometimes I can’t stop healing the tank on Festergut to pop Aura Mastery for Pungent Blight. Sometimes I can’t even stop healing the tank to go get my spore. But these moments are infrequent enough that when they happen, they are a minor inconvenience.

    It happens ALL THE TIME to me in Cataclysm dungeons. Constantly. Almost every single pull results in more than just the tank taking damage, even if it’s just due to player stupidity (and there is an awful lot of that around, I do admit), but here’s a great example. Watch from 11m30 ’till the end of this video I took a few builds ago in Throne of the Tides.

    There just aren’t enough GCDs to heal everyone. (Granted, this is pre-Word of Glory, but trust me when I say that my recent Blackrock Caverns run had similar issues.) You’ll see that I had to leave one of the mages alone while healing someone else and he died due to environmental damage or the disease debuff, which I simply didn’t have time to Cleanse.

  9. After some heavy thought on the topic, the problems I have with our current tree design boil down to the fact that we are entirely too dependent on Holy Shock.

    This is something that is unsecured by Kurn’s parses. The problem with relying upon an instant, sizable heal (and its direct clone, Word of Glory) is that it makes gameplay too twitchy. Eternal Glory and Daybreak use the same idea: you should be using Holy Shock/Word of Glory at any given time for healing efficiency. The spells fill the same niche in our healing arsenal, and this style of healing leaves us too little room to dealing with bursty incoming damage.

    In fact, this healing model is more based around procs than our actual spells. In Wrath, we rely on three procs:
    Light’s Grace — Your Holy Light makes your next Holy Light caster faster.
    Infusion of Light — Holy Shock crits reward an instant Flash of Light or higher crit chance on Holy Light.
    Judgements of the Pure — Judgements increase haste by 15%.

    In Cataclysm, we need to watch out for/consider eight:
    Infusion of Light — Holy Shock crits reward a faster Holy Light.
    Judgements of the Pure — Judgements increase haste by 10%.
    Speed of Light — Holy Shock crits reward 5% haste to all casted heals.
    Speed of Light w/ Holy Radiance — 4 second sprint (see Body and Soul)
    Daybreak — Casted heals have a chance to reset the Cooldown on Holy Shock
    Holy Power — Crusader strike or Holy Shock uses accumulate this resource.
    Word of Glory — Instant. 3/3 Holy Power Word of Glory heals the same as a Holy Shock. Costs no mana
    Conviction — Healing increased by 3% (a Grace Clone, essentially, except that grace increases healing by 8%)
    Illuminated Healing — Critical heals absorb damage based upon mastery rating.

    Five out of eight of these procs involve Holy Shock. It is inefficient to not cast Holy Shock on cooldown due to the fact that it is instant and sizable—our casted spells are either not efficient enough or too costly (from a time and mana perspective) to rely on. Word of Glory, while a clickable spell, relies upon a stacking resource accumulated via Holy Shock.

    In addition, we have lost the majority of our abilities to stabilize low risk targets and enable party/raid machine gun healing. In Wrath:
    Sacred Shield — Powerful absorption on hit shield, single target.
    Flash of Light HoT — Flashes are mirrored onto Sacred Shield target to heal over time
    Aura Mastery — Bolsters Resistance Schools for 6 seconds.
    Divine Guardian — Mitigates 20% of incoming raid damage, 30% of party damage.
    Beacon of Light — 100% of party/raid heals are reflected back to the beacon target.
    Hand of Sacrifice — 40% (Talented) of damage taken transferred to Holy Paladin. Pain Suppression with a cost.

    In Cataclysm:
    Aura Mastery — Bolsters Resistance Schools for 6 seconds.
    Beacon of Light — 50% of party/raid heals are reflected back to the beacon target.
    Hand of Sacrifice — 30% of damage taken transferred to Holy Paladin. No talents to improve our hand spells.

    We have no hots (ala Rejuvenation, Renew, or Ancestral Healing). We have no abilities to bolster the tank (ala Sacred Shield, Power Word: Shield, Inspiration, Ancestral Awakening, or Living Seed). We have one mitigation ability that, much like Divine Aegis, is reactive and may not be relied upon to save a party/raid member. We have two AOE heals that heal for insignificant amounts when compared to their cooldowns.

    This is standard Paladin QQ, but warrants mentioning when compared with the abilities of other healing classes in this environment. We are suddenly the Instant Heal class without any ways to stabilize the group. Our Power Aura/proc bar is going to be crazy. It is unclear what role we are now intended for if we are to make the most out of our abilities.

    Possible suggestions?
    Bring back Sacred Shield.
    Add a talent to remove the health cost of Hand of Sacrifice.
    Lower the cooldown or increase the healing of Light of Dawn.
    Make Conviction more appealing (3% for a three point tier 6 talent? Really?)

  10. *resurfaces a million years later*

    I’ve been mucking around when I have time (and so little of it lately!) on the beta, and I’ve noticed how poorly Holy Light heals for..

    And I’m wondering if it’s still code-dependant on the old talents relating to int-to-spellpower, and the increase in healing depending on how much SP you have. This is the only thing I can think of as to why I keep getting appaulingly small heal numbers when I cast this spell that makes any sort of sense: since only your weapon has a spellpower stat of any kind anymore, the numbers are quite miniscule.


    And I miss sacred shield :(


    (PS do you know if there a dedicated pally channel on the beta? if not, we should make one!)

  11. PS I hope you’re leaving some of this commentary on the beta forums too, I’d love to see some responses from GC on this. :)

  12. Walks – You hit the nail on the head when you said this:

    In fact, this healing model is more based around procs than our actual spells.

    And that is the short version of my longer comment, saying that paladin healing is currently unrecognizable.

    One thing I wanted to point out is that Conviction doesn’t actually suck (actually, it currently does, due to lack of crit, but will improve as an investment with more crit and better gear) because it stacks up to 3, so it’s not a 3% bonus to healing (and damage), but ultimately up to 9%. If it were just 3 points for 3%, I’d say that was BS. :) As it stands, it’s yet another proc we’re reliant on in Cataclysm.

    Alfimi – Since there’s virtually no items left with spellpower in the game at this point, I tried regemming spellpower. But it does seem that int to spellpower is active, since I have about 3600 spellpower in my healing gear on beta and my heals do hit for a little less when I take some gear off.

    What is most troubling to me about the amount our heals actually hit for is that it’s barely more than what a prot or ret’s heals hit for. A tank from my live guild hit himself for 13k with Divine Light and Avenging Wrath popped. I get that regularly in my holy gear/spec. This tells me that prot heals are about 20% less effective than holy heals. From experience, my ret heals aren’t that terrible, either. Holy just doesn’t give us enough of a boost to healing, although it DOES allow us to cast a wider variety of heals, given the same gear. (And lowers the cooldown on Holy Radiance.)

    I miss Sacred Shield a lot, but our mastery is … a shield. I need to go looking through that parse of mine to see how the shield’s working out.

    I haven’t left feedback on the forums yet, because I wanted (among other things) the Infusion of Light proc to work as advertised in reducing the Holy Light cast speed by 1.5 seconds. I felt that since I had such issues with how Holy Light was working, that I needed to have the talents affecting it work properly.

    I expect to be posting a well thought out, detailed, polite post on the beta forums this weekend.

  13. @Kurn: Holy Blog post within a Blog post, Batman!

    It would be interesting to find out what the other classes “go-to” spells are hitting for, and if they’re having the same problems.

    The concept of Holy Light as our “go-to” heal was put forth in the initial class preview, before Holy Power was conceived. I wonder if that mechanic has altered Blizzard’s thinking about what they want our “go-to” heal to be.

    It will be interesting to see how this shakes out and what role the Holy Paladin is going to eventually fill. But isn’t it interesting how Blizz seems to blow up and reinvent the Paladin with every expansion (if not every patch)?

  14. Fannon – Yeah, that was definitely me being long-winded. Again. ;) I have more to say after healing a Grim Batol run, but that’ll have to wait ’till Monday-Tuesdayish.

    Joe Ego – er, thanks for the reminder? :P Honestly, they may as well kill off holy paladins and create a new class and call it “not paladins”, that’s how much we’re changing.

    These changes are so radical and drastic that I do not recognize the class I chose more than four years ago and have raided with extensively in Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King.

    Throwing out random Ghostcrawler quotes when I’m analyzing all the changes and putting information out there on these changes that are game-changing enough to make me seriously consider no longer healing — at all, on any character — isn’t terribly helpful. Please do feel free to add to the conversation, but being all “but GC told us we’re going to change, so there!” isn’t adding a whole lot, at least not without context. :)

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