Masterful Madrana?

So there’s been all this talk about mastery gemming, enchanting and stacking.

Given that I was in an awkward position for gear, having received gloves from Rhyolith and legs from Shannox, I felt limited in my choices for what I should pick up from the Valor Point vendor.

I could have gotten my tier 12 chest, which has nowhere the amount of haste as my heroic Breastplate of Avenging Flame, or I could have gotten my tier 12 gloves, which have no spirit and aren’t in my planned 4pc, or I could have gotten my T12 pants, except that I just got those pants from Shannox.

I was already pretty well below the 1859 breakpoint for Holy Radiance’s extra tick and my heals felt sluggish.

We were struggling with Alysrazor and part of the problem was tank deaths. I almost always assign myself to a tank anyway, and we have some amazing raid healers, so I was like… Fine. FOR SCIENCE, I would try out this mastery stuff.

So I bought my T12 chest (oh why is it a robe? Dear God, why?) and regemmed everything to Artful Ember Topazes except for my 3 Jewelcrafter’s gems, which I replaced with 3x Fractured Chimera’s Eye.

And then I went reforging.

Basically, I ripped out all my haste and a bit of crit (as opposed to some spirit) and got to 26% on my shields.

1737 mastery rating. No kidding. 722 haste rating. My very soul ached!

But, FOR SCIENCE, and based on a bit of my own experience with a bit more mastery than I normally run with, I decided to stick with it.

So what experience was that?

Well, I raid with Apotheosis of Eldre’Thalas on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and then on Mondays and Wednesdays, I play the baby paladin with Choice of Skywall. Both guilds are 4/7 in Firelands 25-man mode and though the baby pally didn’t have any heroic gear (and still only has a 353 helm, actually), a lot of the stats she had were just like the original Madrana’s, only a bit lesser. A little less haste, a little less crit, a little less spirit and a little less spellpower. But due to the nature of the drops and items I was able to acquire (and when you’re gearing up a new 85, you can’t always be picky!), I ended up with a lot more mastery than I wanted, even when it was reforged. 473 mastery rating was what the baby pally had, which was a far cry from the 100-some that Madrana had.

And yet, while healing Shannox with Choice, I realized that even that very little amount (473) I had was pretty freaking effective.

I literally stared at that for several minutes and went “what the hell is going on?”. I then compared it to a similar Shannox kill Apotheosis had done:

Yes, I had healed with Divine Light less on Madrana than the baby pally and that will absolutely make a difference in the Illuminated Healing. The fight was also shorter. But could it really explain away over 300,000 in absorption? Nope. That mastery was really working for me. Both my assignments were the same — heal the Shannox tank. And I played very similarly throughout those fights.

So when I got to the point with my gear that I didn’t have enough haste to be comfortable in my regular playstyle, despite having actually upgraded gear, I decided that I’d try out this mastery stuff, at least until I can get my haste back up.

It helped out on Alysrazor, or at least it felt like it. And we got Alysrazor down, by the skin of our teeth. So I stuck with it for last night’s Occu’thar, Shannox, Beth’tilac and Rhyolith kills. Here’s the result from Shannox, to keep things consistent:

Are you kidding me? Almost a million damage absorbed by Illuminated Healing? 34% of my “healing” was done by my MASTERY?

So, it’s effective. Quite effective.

However, I lost a lot of stats. I lost a TON of Intellect by virtue of gemming 20 mastery/20 int instead of 40 int, and the 67 mastery gems instead of intellect, too. I lost a LOT of haste. It’s just … gone. My casts take FOREVER and they don’t hit for as hard! But… they shield for a chunk.

[21:57:59.760] Madrana Word of Glory [Tank] +*0* (O: 48629)
[21:58:00.353] [Tank] gains Illuminated Healing from Madrana (Remaining: 12936)

Like, whoah. That’s significant.

However, I have effectively gimped myself for anything other than tank healing. Which shouldn’t be a big deal, because that’s almost all I tend to do anyway, but I felt weak and I felt gimped. I didn’t have the mana pool I was used to, so Divine Plea helped, but still felt less than I’m used to. Replenishment wasn’t hitting for as much. I keenly felt the smaller mana pool and I knew that I was relying more on the raid healers to spot heal people that I would normally toss a Holy Shock on or whatever.

In short, it hurt me, but it’s effective enough and I’m in a 25-man guild that can sustain a “specialized” tank healer. As soon as I can, I’m probably going to go back to stacking haste — but might come back to mastery for certain heroic fights.

I tell you, though, I felt absolutely useless in P2 of Beth’tilac and throughout the entire Rhyolith fight.

So, basically, I concur with Enlynn: it’s not fun and it gimps you, but it can be super effective if done correctly.

I much prefer having the possibility of being flexible and versatile to the reality of not being able to really deviate at all from my standard assignments. But my gear is essentially making me do this for a couple of weeks, so we’ll see how that goes, shall we?

Next up, Baleroc. Should be fun. I’ll keep you guys posted.

Healing Webring 2.0

So apparently Saunder is back and wants to take the community’s pulse on healing, the way Miss Medicina did back in the day. I was delightfully surprised to see that Beruthiel tagged me, so I now have a reason to do it immediately rather than “when I have time”. (Which, let’s face it, is pretty rare.)

1. What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer? Madrana, Holy Paladin

2. What is your primary group healing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans) 25-man raids

3. What is your favourite healing spell for your class and why? My favourite healing spell… uh. Hm. I said Holy Shock, previously. I’m not sure if that’s true anymore. I don’t like how it is THE SPELL you now get and all the emphasis on it. It’s like, I really enjoyed it and now they’ve made it our CENTRAL SPELL. So now I don’t like it as much? I still LOVE Lay on Hands, though, even though it can’t crit anymore.

4. What healing spell do you use least for your class and why? Probably a tie between Flash of Light and Light of Dawn. FoL is stupidly expensive and I never liked the idea of redirecting LoD’s heals to the beacon as a tank heal. If you want to heal the damn tank, heal the damn tank with your Holy Power. And they’ve made that not just possible but better with the buff to Word of Glory. That’s not to say I NEVER use LoD, but I don’t use it as a tank heal for the most part.

5. What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why? I think our biggest strength is our cooldowns. While we no longer have Divine Sacrifice/Divine Guardian, we still have Hand of Sacrifice, Lay on Hands, Aura Mastery, Hand of Protection, Hand of Salvation, Hand of Freedom… We have a huge toolkit.

6. What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why? I feel that they’ve diluted us rather than improved us, to be honest. In trying to allow everyone to “tank heal” and “raid heal”, we don’t really own the tank healing niche any longer, but there’s no way we can “compete” with resto druids or resto shaman or holy priests, if you look at it from a numbers perspective. I loved excelling at tank healing and now I feel clunky especially compared to a disc priest who leaves huge Divine Aegis’ on a tank after every crit.

7. In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you? Tank healing, or single-target healing. I think a good holy paladin can focus on the raid really well and be substantial support healing on a tank, too, but I don’t think most paladins can really do that regularly. I know I can’t.

8. What healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why? Hm. If on a single target, I like a disc priest or a resto shaman. I like the disc’s mitigation, but I love the resto shaman’s mastery translating into bigger heals. If in a raid setting, probably druids or holy priests.

9. What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why? I guess another holy paladin? Just because I’m aware of our limitations.

10. What is your worst habit as a healer? I know when I’m not playing to my fullest extent and it happens a lot. I think part of it is that I’m also trying to help lead the raids and watch things, call out for a BR, etc, but MAN, it sucks when I finish a fight (wipe or kill) and go “crap, I totally forgot to use (ability)!!”.

11. What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing? People expecting me to heal them through their mistakes. Like, FFS, people. Get out of the bad crap on the ground. Also, people not using personal defensive CDs.

12. Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing? Nope. I think they really missed the boat on this one this time around. It wasn’t balanced at the class level in Wrath, but if you took a step back, all five healing specs worked really nicely with each other, at least towards the end. Now, though, a single holy paladin can’t really do the same healing as a resto druid, resto shaman or holy priest (which we couldn’t do before), but neither can we really compete with a disc priest on single-target heals OR raid heals. Well, there’s assignments and such to take into consideration and player skill as well, but I don’t raid heal because there are others better suited for it. And I don’t feel we’re particularly strong at tank healing any longer, particularly with the change to Beacon of Light between Wrath and Cataclysm. I think we should all answer this question in Tier 13/Tier 14 and see how things are then.

13. What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer? Did my target live? Good. Then I berate myself while browsing through World of Logs looking at all the crap I didn’t do that I should have.

14. What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class? I’m not sure. If it’s still prevalent out there, the idea that we’re a one-button healer? We haven’t been, not since Vanilla. And it’s pretty hard to change people’s minds on that, I’ve found.

15. What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn? Cooldown usage. It’s one thing to know when to use Aura Mastery (fairly simple), but another thing to know how/when to BOP/HoFreedom your tank to remove stacks of a debuff, another thing to pair Hand of Sacrifice with Divine Protection, yet another thing to think to cast Salv on that arcane mage as soon as mirror images drop and yet another thing to toss Hand of Freedom on someone standing in ice.

16. If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see (i.e. lots of overhealing, low healing output, etc)? Overhealing, leading to low healing output and a decent use of cooldowns — just never quite enough use of them. (Must judge more!)

17. Haste or Crit and why? Haste is my best friend. There’s so much of it needed, though, that after… 1859, I think it is, I don’t really worry too much. 1859 means an extra tick of Holy Radiance. That said, I’ll still seek out more haste gear (but not worry if I can’t get it) so that I can continue to lower my GCD. With so many instant-cast spells (Holy Shock, Word of Glory, Light of Dawn, Beacon of Light, all our cooldowns, etc), it’s important to bring that as close to 1s as possible, IMHO.

18. What healing class do you feel you understand least? Probably druids at this point? I’ve tinkered with my shaman alt (who can do heroics at 85), messed around a bit with my level 80 priest but haven’t touched my level 80 druid. At all.

19. What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in healing? Grid/Clique. I think if I lost my Grid debuff settings, I would actually cry. Clique bindings are less panic-inducing if I think about losing them, but definitely Grid & Clique are the top addons I use to help me in healing. I use several macros as well, but most of them are just to get me to use various things more frequently.

20. Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why? My stat priority is: Intellect, then spirit/haste (I like to be around 2300 spirit and about 1859 haste), followed by crit and then mastery.

Now, who to tag? Well, first of all, feel free to do it if you want to do it. I’d love to see some more healers out there answering this!

That said, Saunder’s instructions said to pick three healers not of your class, so…

Druid: Jasyla of Cannot Be Tamed
Shaman: Darista of Daritos’ Food for Thought
Priest: Kaleri of Power Word: What?

And, like Beru, I’m going to cheat. I’d love to see Fannon, of Dwarven Battle Medic, fill this out, too!

4.2 & You: Holy OOM, Kurn!

I walked into Firelands on Tuesday, June 28th and proceeded to heal exactly as I usually do in a 25-man raid. In so doing, I discovered three things.

  • I was constantly out of mana.
  • Barring mana issues, I didn’t have much trouble solo-healing a tank on Shannox.
  • No, SERIOUSLY, I was really out of mana.

The thing was, I didn’t feel as though I was lacking mana, I just felt as though I wasn’t as efficient as I could have been. I felt as though I wasn’t using all the tools at my disposal.

Guess what? I wasn’t. Given the increase in the cost of our casted heals, given my overconfidence in not only my own abilities, but the level of content (hey, these are NORMALS!), I was playing poorly.

If you feel that you’re constantly out of mana too, are you sure that you were doing everything you could to maintain/regenerate mana?

Here’s what I am trying to do, and be aware of, to combat being out of mana, in a rough order of importance:

a) Judge more. Smart paladins will judge on cooldown. I got into the bad habit of not judging on cooldown. I was definitely judging more frequently than once a minute, since my Judgements of the Pure uptime was usually very good, but I freely admit that as soon as things get hairy, I stop judging as often as I should. So I walked back in there on Thursday and, while downing Shannox, proceeded to judge approximately four times as much as I did on our best attempt on Tuesday. And that was probably still half of what I COULD have judged. Granted, sometimes you just can’t use that GCD on a judgement, but every time you don’t judge, that’s 3513.1 mana you are losing out on. (Hilariously, when healing on my baby paladin, I judge ALL THE TIME because I know I’m not that well-geared and my mana regen is, how you say, “le crap“!)

b) Use Divine Plea more. On an 8 minute fight, I can reasonably expect to use Divine Plea three times (assuming I use it at the 1m mark or so, then again at 3m, 5m and 7m). I used it, uh, once on Tuesday. I used it twice on Thursday, so that’s an improvement, but not ideal.

c) Use the Jar of Ancient Remedies more. On our second-to-last heroic Maloriak kill, I picked up the Jar of Ancient Memories. So I’ve been playing around with it. While I don’t like not having the 321 intellect that the Darkmoon Card: Tsunami offers, I definitely get more spirit from the Jar versus the Card. My other trinket is too valuable for me to swap out at the moment, being the Vibrant Alchemist Stone. (The haste, the excellent amount of intellect and the 40% more mana from potions are all amazing.) So I ran with Jar + Stone on both Tuesday and Thursday. On Tuesday’s best attempt, I used it once. ONCE. Bad Kurn! No cookie! It has a 2m cooldown, so I really had zero excuses. On Thursday, I did better and used it four times in that 8m17s fight. Since it only gives back 7160 mana per use, it’s really easy to be missing that much (and more!) early in the fight to make sure you’re not losing out on mana back. Cast a Holy Radiance and a Divine Light or two and you’re down a chunk already.

d) Use Mythical Mana Potions or Potions of Concentration more. Well, by “more”, I mean once a fight. With my Vibrant Alchemist Stone equipped, I’m getting ~14k mana back from a Mythical Mana Potion and ~31k mana back from a Potion of Concentration. I took neither on Tuesday and then TRIED to take a Potion of Concentration on Thursday, but then Shannox dropped an Immolation Trap on my face and I had to move, thereby breaking the effect.

e) Use Word of Glory more. I’m a weird holy paladin. I strongly dislike using LoD on the raid to funnel heals to my beacon target. I MUCH prefer using Word of Glory. And it got buffed! And yet, I didn’t use it often enough either on Tuesday or Thursday. That means I’m not taking advantage of having full holy power and I really need to be aware of when I hit 3 HP and then USE it. (Because hey, I wasn’t using LoD either. Because I am apparently bad. /facepalm)

Basically, it’s all about using the tools available to us. That means regenerating mana (judging/Divine Plea/Jar/Potions) and making use of mana-efficient (or mana-free) spells are all important parts of our job, almost as important as healing. If we don’t do those things well enough, we run into trouble while healing and can’t continue healing for as long as we otherwise could.

(I didn’t even MENTION Angry!Man (er, Guardian of Ancient Kings), but don’t forget that he’s free healing, too, just on a longer cooldown.)

How’s YOUR mana pool holding up?

So much to say, so little time to write it all down.

As I write this, at 8am on Tuesday, June 21st, 2011, I have 18 drafts in my blog draft section.

Seriously.

I always start to write stuff down and then get interrupted or fall asleep (this has happened three times, no joke!) or something.

I’d like to get to those blog posts at some point, but before that, there’s other stuff to discuss, including a 4.2 loot list. (I hate loot lists, but I know they’re very popular.)

I also want to talk about the recent blue post about holy paladin healing.

But right now, I want to talk about something completely unrelated to any of that.

I want to talk about the legendary caster weapon, Dragonwrath, Tarecgosa’s Rest.

Ultimately, hammering out HOW to select any recipients of the staff was more difficult than actually selecting the person.

And yes, that does mean that we have a very good idea as to the first two recipients, as well as a potential third and fourth. (Guildies, you’ll find out after the raid tonight.)

We did not do the big, long, drawn-out process that I had suggested weeks ago. We used a trimmed-down version of it where four officers were put on the “selection team” and we ranked all 8 candidates from 1-8, where 1 was your first choice and 8 was your last choice.

A first-place candidate got 7 points, a second-place got 6, a third-place got 5, all the way down to 8, which got 0.

So four officers shared their thoughts and ideas in a separate area of the forums, neatly sequestered away, then the other three sent me their ranked list in a private message, which I then ignored until everyone’s PM was in AND I’d made my own selections.

Then I tallied up everyone’s results and posted them to the selection team along with the original selections, so they could see I wasn’t fixing the numbers.

It wasn’t a bad process at all. We looked at candidates based on performance (because a legendary will enhance what’s already there), attendance (gotta BE there in order to build it!), participation (teamwork and such!) and attitude (don’t be a douchecanoe!).

Honestly, it only took a few days of deliberations and such and we’re just about ready to make our announcement as to the top choices.

So that’s a huge responsibility taken care of. I call not it on the next legendary selection team. :P

While that’s been going on, I’ve still been doing a near-weekly podcast! Last week, Majik and I talked to Beruthiel of Falling Leaves and Wings during Episode 23 of Blessing of Frost and this week, we talked to Fog again with regards to the Midsummer Fire Festival.

In terms of raiding, Apotheosis is 6/13 with Heroic Halfus, Chimaeron, Maloriak, Magmaw, Atramedes and Conclave of Wind down and we’re working on H V&T for 7/13 before 4.2 drops, with any luck. So that’s always, well, entertaining? ;) I do love raiding with my guild and I do love doing all this stuff together. I do get tired of the leadershippy stuff on occasion, though. Still, it needs to be done.

Thankfully, Toga is going to be taking over the bank. Fog is stepping down, so I took the bank as an interim holder and now Toga’s going to take that from me, hooray! :)

Speaking of leadership stuff, I was curious as to how people felt we handled things during T11 content, so I decided to use my sociology background and I made up a survey.

The questions asked people to rate the officers in their primary roles on a scale of 1-10, where 1 was really bad and 10 was excellent, and I got a second question about my performance as GM, in particular. I asked people what they felt we’d not handled well and what we HAD handled well, which officer they might want to replace and with whom, how satisfied they are with our progression, if they like how loot/food/flasks/etc is done…

Out of about 33ish active raiders, we had 20 responses, which is great. I need to go through the results, but I’m going to learn a lot. I am kind of thinking about installing SPSS on my desktop and inputting the data so I can run stats equations on it… but that miiiiiight be taking things a bit far. ;)

The survey was anonymous (ostensibly, anyways. I’m fairly sure that if I allowed myself to make the connections, I could link about five respondents to those raiders) and I think that really helped the raiders to know that this was something I was taking seriously, at least. I made it clear on our forums that I would be the only one reading the responses, but that I would summarize the results and make sure the officers saw them. I think they liked the idea of me as a filter — so they could talk to me, without fear of retribution or whatever, through the survey and know that no one else will see what they said, but the overall idea will be conveyed to the other officers.

Overall, the survey seems to have been a success. :) I strongly recommend any guild go through the same thing. Google Docs does a great job for you. Look into it.

Yet other news: EPGP is normalizing values! So if a regular-mode pair of shoulders costs 750 GP in T11, a regular-mode pair of shoulders will cost that much in T12, while the T11 one will drop in price. This almost certainly means we don’t have to change how we do EP or GP! Yaaaaaay!

In still more news: Raiding on the baby pally is fun. I get to just heal. Heal through encounters I know the basics of. It’s lovely not to have to assign or organize people. It’s great to just be told where to stand on Al’Akir and NOT spend 45-60 minutes just planning out that one fight.

On Monday, I got: neck off Halfus, mace and tier shoulders off Cho’gall, legs off Al’Akir (fuck you mastery! Where was “of the Undertow” when I needed it?!) and then picked up a cloak from Valor Points. Still not up to the spirit, intellect and haste my “real” paladin has, but that’s a lot of gear and should help me hit harder. I’m also going to be JP capped so that I can … well, I can’t do a lot, really. My last blues are my helm (Ascendant Council or Nef), my bracers (Cho’gall) and my gloves (Maloriak or, if I’m feeling desperate, tier — but that’s a crapton of mastery!).

So, I’ve been busy.

This Friday is a holiday in Quebec — La Fête de la Saint-Jean Baptiste. While I am a die-hard Canadian and have not a drop of separatist blood in me, it’s always nice to have two long weekends back to back. St-Jean Baptiste has always been a holiday for me, which marked the very last possible day of the school year, back in high school, and while a lot of separatists have sort of adopted it as a “national” holiday, it’s a day where I can usually be proud to be Québécoise without feeling terribly guilty about it. ;) While growing up, my parents would always take me up north to the cottage for the long weekend, both St-Jean and the following week’s Canada Day. So, despite the fact that we will be right ahead of a patch, I’m going up north on Friday with my dad. If it rains, so help me God, Mother Nature is going to get an earful from me. I want to go up north, relax, read a book or two, go swimming in the lake, go canoeing on the lake, get some sun and the like. Maybe play some chess against my dad, play some cards, eat some barbecue… Man. It could be very awesome.

I will, therefore, endeavour to put WoW out of my mind for Friday through to Sunday. With any luck, it will be gloriously sunny and just warm enough to coax me to go swimming to cool off.

If it’s pouring rain, I’m gonna be cranky. :P

But yeah, that’s what I’ve been up to, that’s what I’m going to do this weekend.

This week:

– reaction post to blue post about paladin healing
– T12 loot list
– hopefully downing H V&T for 7/13
– do research on Firelands bosses >.>
– answer comments!

Whew.

On that note, time to grab a few winks. I have got to remember that editing the podcast EARLIER is better than LATER!

The Raiding Adventures of the "Baby" Paladin

Wednesday night was my first night raiding with Choice of Skywall again. The last time had been in late October, just before I brought Madrana home to Eldre’Thalas.

Well, Madrana II (or Saerani III, as a certain Football would put it), is back on Skywall and raided on Wednesday night.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my guild, Apotheosis. I really, really do. But at the same time, it’s SO NICE to be led by someone instead of leading people! Letting someone else organize the raid roster for the night rather than be the one to do it.

We blew through regular Bastion of Twilight in about an hour. My fellow holy paladin applicant got tons of loot (no Cho’gall bracers dropped… what a surprise…) and I’ll have to wait to be eligible until the next raid I attend, so I’m glad for him and glad for me.

It’s always interesting to acclimate to a new raiding environment. On the one hand, it’s a bit scary and nerve-wracking because you desperately do not want to screw up. And they do things differently than you’re used to, most of the time. I mean, sure, I know to hug people when I get Twilight Meteorite on Valiona and Theralion, but am I normally hugging people in melee anyways? In Apotheosis, yes, in Choice, no.

So Halfus was pretty simple and V&T went okay and Council was fine. Cho’gall was a little rough for me. I glyphed Cleansing for that fight and got 20 dispels, more than anyone — even the priest who was in the raid. /flex. But I was totally oom at the end of the fight. And I’d even taken a Potion of Concentration, too. Eesh.

Then, it was off to Blackwing Descent! And to Magmaw and Omnotron.

Magmaw was… entertaining. They were attempting to practice heroic positioning by virtue of having everyone clump up in melee and have a tank kite. The tank was… a prot warrior. I had never heard of a prot warrior tanking Magmaw parasites before, but by golly, it happened (albeit on normal, so there was no fire to dodge) and though there were some tank issues (mangle deaths — they happen everywhere, it seems!), Magmaw was still a one-shot.

On Omnotron, we had the person about to be fried to a crisp *not* moving in preparation for heroic mode, where they cannot move. A few people got nicked by the Flamethrower, but very nice positioning for the most part.

I was thinking maybe we’d poke around at heroic Chimaeron or something and I wondered if my gear could handle that or not, when all of a sudden we’re told to go to Uldum.

Okay. This was not something I had anticipated. The prospect of doing Throne of the Four Winds twice in a week with two different guilds is not cool. I don’t know WHY I hadn’t recognized this as a very real possibility, but apparently I am dumb. ;) No, seriously, it’s okay. I just dislike that instance intensely. And guess what Apotheosis is working on during Thursday’s raid? That’s right. Heroic Conclave.

So there I am on Conclave and I get to heal with Fugara, the GM. We had an easy job, staying on Anshal’s platform the whole time, so it was pretty chill and relaxed. Conclave was a one-shot. Beauty.

And then… Al’Akir.

Let it be known that I have killed that jackass just twice on Madrana (er, the original one) so it’s not like I’m a pro or anything. And they put me in a different spot than I’m usually in. On the bright side, I didn’t have to do the positions for Al’Akir!!!! Many commiserations to Zarethorn, Choice’s raid leader. He had planned that all out ahead of time.

So we wiped on him twice and called it a night. Having said that, I did NOT get blasted off the platform, I did NOT eat Squall Line and I totally used my CDs appropriately. All this from a brand-new (to me) spot, just one section to the right of the tank. (Normally, I’m at the tank’s spot but have also been two to the right.) I had one moment of panic as I saw the oncoming Squall Line and Wind Burst was casting. The moment of panic was not “how do I navigate this awful combination of elements” but rather “shitshitshitshit where is my bubble OH THANK GOD.”

(Madrana II has a different UI than Madrana I. It’s much less cluttered and yet I STILL had to search for my bubble.)

It was really fun to be back in that raid group. A lot of people have come and gone, but there were some familiar faces: Fugara, Ygg, Aidan, Zare, Acid, Baatezus, Banorind, Beezle, Cyber, Daemyn, Sane, Sham, Thorn. It was great to be back there with a lot of the same people.

A lot of people are worried I’m going to burn myself out with this crazy scheme of mine. I admit, that’s a possibility. But I feel energized by my night with Choice. I feel like going in to Throne tomorrow and handing Heroic Conclave their asses. I feel fired up and ready to kick ass with Apotheosis and then to go kick some more ass with Choice on Monday.

Also, I totally fixed my borked Raeli’s Spell Announcer on Madrana II. It refused to work at all throughout the raid, but I fixed it up afterwards. And then I realized I had enough Valor Points to buy an honest-to-goodness healing ring, so I did that, too.

All in all, a really productive night. A fun night.

Trolls and Gear and Paladins, Oh My!

On Friday, one of the tanks in my guild hinted rather strongly that he would like for my “baby paladin” (that is, the newly-dinged 85) to heal him and his friend through a Zul’Aman.

My first reaction was not only “no”, but “hell no”.

Then I realized I might as well. Apart from anything, there are epic bracers in that there jungle!

After completing the instance, I knew I had to write about the loot in the troll dungeons for a variety of reasons, but mostly because of Fetish Greaves. Let’s look at Zul’Aman, then Zul’Gurub.

Zul’Aman Holy Paladin Gear (4.1)

Before we look at the drops, there are two notable quest rewards. The first is a reward from Warlord of the Amani and it’s a pair of shoulders that are actually pretty sweet: Pauldrons of Ambition have spirit and crit and a red socket (10 crit bonus). The crit can be reforged to 59 haste.

The other quest reward is the Fetish Greaves, a reward from The Hex Lord’s Fetish, which requires you to kill Malacrass in Zul’Aman.

I hate these pants.

Yes, they are 353. Yes, they have two sockets. Yes, they have more intellect than any 346 legs.

They are still terrible.

Why, precisely, are they so terrible?

They have no spirit and no haste. As if that weren’t bad enough, they have a stupid amount of crit and mastery.

The person who created this item needs to be flogged. Its very existence insults me.

My top choice consists of the Greaves of the Misguided from Lord Godfrey in Heroic Shadowfang Keep. Spirit! Haste! Two sockets!

The Fetish Greaves have 21 intellect more than the Greaves of the Misguided, 209 crit, 171 mastery, 30 stamina and 60 more armor.

The Greaves of the Misguided, on the other hand, have 202 haste and 162 spirit.

But Kurn, you say, we can just reforge that nasty, nasty mastery off the Fetish Greaves, right?

Wrong. Assuming you want to reforge to spirit, you want as much of it as you can when you reforge. So because reforging is 40% of the stat, you want to reforge the larger stat to get more bang for your reforging buck.

40% of 171 mastery is 68.4, which the game will round down to 68.

40% of 209 crit is 83.6, which the game will round up to 84.

Thus, to optimize the pants by reforging towards a better secondary stat, like spirit, you would want to reforge the crit instead of the mastery, giving you an extra 16 spirit (or haste).

That leaves you with a massive 171 mastery. It makes me feel dirty not to reforge mastery, but reforging the crit here is the right call.

It’s also why those pants are complete garbage when compared with the Greaves of the Misguided. I would even choose the very lackluster Legguards of the Gentle from Justice Points over the Fetish Greaves. Like the Fetish Greaves and the Greaves of the Misguided, the Legguards of the Gentle have two sockets. Unlike the Fetish Greaves, they have 192 spirit and 172 mastery. That mastery can be safely reforged to haste, because we like spirit, so we don’t want to touch the 192 spirit at all. The mastery will end up being about 69 haste, which is still better than the Fetish Greaves, both in terms of spirit and haste.

So avoid the Fetish Greaves unless you are absolutely desperate and then keep running Heroic SFK anyways!

Okay, on to the drops!

Jan’alai drops Boots of Bad Mojo. Surprisingly, these are an outstanding option, what with the spirit, the haste and the gem socket. If you’re poor or don’t have the Valor Points (soon to be Justice Points in 4.2) to afford the Eternal Pathfinders, these are great. Even if you CAN afford the Eternal Pathfinders, these are still great boots.

I personally prefer the Eternal Pathfinders. It’s just a bit more intellect and you won’t find a better pair of boots in regular-mode Tier 11 raid content. Unlike the Eternal Pathfinders, the Fetish Greaves, which have more intellect than the Greaves of the Misguided, will be replaced in T11 raid content. The Eternal Pathfinders will not be, not until you get Heroic Omnotron Defense System down and you feel dirty and guilty for taking the heroic Life Force Chargers.

The spirit that exists on the Boots of Bad Mojo  is lovely, but after reforging the crit on the Valor Point boots, the ~92 spirit should not be terribly missed when using the Eternal Pathfinders, particularly once you’re gearing up in a raid.

The Boots of Bad Mojo are definitely a great piece, but only if you don’t have access to the Eternal Pathfinders or spirit is a serious issue for you.

Up next… Bracers of Hidden Purpose drop from Akil’zon. While gearing up Madrana, I had terrible luck in Grim Batol (both regular and heroic) and the Deadmines when trying to find bracers. Erudax was a stingy bastard for me on Madrana and I only ever saw the Gearbreaker bracers once. As if that weren’t bad enough, it took me nine kills to get the Shackles of the End of Days from Cho’gall. Surprisingly, also a stingy bastard.

Thus, I went from 316 bracers to 359 bracers on Madrana. No joke. (The baby pally was fortunate enough to get the bracers from Erudax on her first heroic Grim Batol after having run it on regular once.) That means that these would be GREAT, even if they sucked. Which they don’t, by the way. Bracers of Hidden Purpose can (and should) get the crit reforged to 48 spirit.

So definitely pick up the Bracers of Hidden Purpose until Cho’gall releases his grip on some sweet bracers for you.

How about rings? Do you need a ring? The Soul Drain Signet is perfect! It drops from Hex Lord Malacrass and is a fantastic ring to take with you into raid content.

Finally, what about a weapon? Daakara drops the Amani Scepter of Rites. A solid piece, despite the mastery. Grab it unless you have something of a higher ilvl.

And that’s about it of interest for us in Zul’Aman.

Zul’Gurub Holy Paladin Gear (4.1)

Ah, Zul’Gurub. My first raid instance outside of Upper Blackrock Spire! How I miss those bijous and coins and hilariously bad loot tables…

Ahem. Sorry. Right, on to holy paladin stuff in ZG!

While it’s not ideal, the Signet of Venoxis is a decent choice. The mastery can, and should be, reforged to  48 spirit. Rings are all over the place, to be honest — there are a lot of choices. This is a fairly cheap one in terms of in-game gold or Justice/Valor Points spent, so if it drops, from Venoxis, of course, snag it.

How about a shield? The Zulian Ward from Jin’do is okay, but it’s strictly okay. Why? No spirit. No gem socket. The Elementium Stormshield blows it away. If there’s no way you can get an Elementium Stormshield, this is a good runner up, but aim for the crafted shield.

Zanzil will drop a helm. The Plumed Medicine Helm is … well, it’s full of mastery is what it is. Sad panda. It’s still not awful, mostly due to the spirit and the fact that it has a meta socket. It’s only one of three pre-raid helms that have a meta socket. I still prefer Crown of the Blazing Sun from the Justice Point vendor, but if you’re short on points or this drops, grab it if you don’t have a 346 or higher helm with a meta socket.

If someone in your run has at least 225 Archaeology, you can summon an Edge of Madness boss. If you get Wushoolay, you have a chance at Troll Skull Chestplate. Given the plethora of choices at the 346 level, plus the fact that the Breastplate of Avenging Flame drops off of Magmaw in Blackwing Descent, the Troll Skull Chestplate is strictly “if you really can’t get lucky on a drop and can’t get to Revered with Earthen Ring” material.

Lastly, if you do ZG, you may come across the Spiritcaller Cloak as a trash drop. This is BOE (Bind on Equip) so even if you’re not in there as your healer, you can try to win it. No haste, but it’s a nice spirit option. Bear in mind that when 4.2 drops and you “need” a BOE, it will become soulbound to you, so watch out for that!

Don’t forget to read up on my pre-T11 loot list and my T11 loot list as well! (Bear in mind both are slightly out of date.) If you want to see what Madrana’s sporting these days, check it out here: http://www.chardev.org/?profile=5305

4.2 PTR Update – Word of Glory Buffed

While I have my own personal thoughts about how 4.2 will make T11 content easier by modifying a ton of encounters and the like, the major thing for holy paladins in this latest update from Blizzard is a single sentence long:

Walk in the Light now improves Word of Glory healing by 30% in addition to its current effects.

Walk in the Light is one of the passives we get for choosing the holy specialization, so all holy paladins will have this.

My first thought upon reading the update was “well, there goes LoD/Beacon healing!”

But then, I decided to do the math.

Of course, I ran into a snafu with the math, as is what usually happens to me when I attempt to do “math stuff”.

I wanted to go back in the logs and pull the numbers for a 3HP Light of Dawn cast on six targets and being redirected to the Beacon and add that up, then look at a 3HP Word of Glory heal and then look at what a 3HP Word of Glory heal + 30% would look like. (Bear in mind that the LoD is cast while glyphed, as is the WoG.)

Only, when I went to look at the logs, the numbers didn’t add up. There’s all kinds of math that is not making sense, primarily because of Divinity and Field Dressing. So bear in mind that although the transfer heals are NOT exactly 50% of the LoD heal, this is due to the tank’s talents and the amounts are correct, although I’m not sure why certain heals are double-dipping and certain heals are not.

[23:41:34.945] Madrana Protector of the Innocent Madrana +3992
[23:41:35.218] Madrana Light of Dawn Enhancement Shaman +6506
[23:41:35.218] Madrana Light of Dawn Feral Druid +7943
[23:41:35.218] Madrana Light of Dawn Resto Shaman +6670
[23:41:35.218] Madrana Light of Dawn Disc Priest +6608
[23:41:35.218] Madrana Light of Dawn Frost DK +*9951*
[23:41:35.218] Madrana Light of Dawn Frost DK +6506
[23:41:35.452] Madrana Beacon of Light Prot Warrior +0 (O: 1996)
[23:41:35.890] Madrana Beacon of Light Prot Warrior +0 (O: 3448)
[23:41:35.890] Madrana Beacon of Light Prot Warrior +0 (O: 3508)
[23:41:35.890] Madrana Beacon of Light Prot Warrior +0 (O: 3535)
[23:41:35.890] Madrana Beacon of Light Prot Warrior +0 (O: 3503)
[23:41:35.890] Madrana Beacon of Light Prot Warrior +0 (O: 5274)
[23:41:35.890] Madrana Beacon of Light Prot Warrior +0 (O: 3448)

So on that one Light of Dawn, the following healing went to the raid: 44,184

The following healing went to the tank, including Protector of the Innocent’s transfer: 24,712

Now a look at a 3HP Word of Glory on a target that also has a 6% buff to healing received:

[23:39:33.759] Madrana Word of Glory Prot Paladin +20306

So a 6-target, 3HP Light of Dawn heal will hit the beacon target for more than a single 3HP Word of Glory. This much, we already knew, and many people, including my buddy and fellow holy paladin, Walks, do this very well.

If, however, we add a flat 30% extra healing to Word of Glory (and this could be the way it’s calculated — but it may not be!) we get:

20306 x 0.3 = 6091.8

6091.8 + 20306 = 26397.8 = 26398 healing to the Word of Glory target.

This dwarfs that 24712 heal via Beacon transfer, even with the Protector of the Innocent thrown in. This is 26398 without factoring in another 2k (1996) from Protector of the Innocent.

For healing on your beacon target, assuming this change stays in the game through the PTR period into live, and assuming I’ve done my math right, Word of Glory will become the best way to get the most healing done to your Beacon target.

Word of Glory will not be the best way to get the most overall healing done, as you’ll still do a good amount of healing to your beacon target AND heal the raid, using Light of Dawn. If the raid is taking damage, that is.

So, a Word of Glory buff is almost certainly going to be viewed as a “nerf” to the LoD/Beacon style of healing. Leave it to paladins to see a buff as a nerf, eh? ;)

80! Again.

Ding! My baby paladin is now 80. (Actually, 81, but anyways…)

Regardless of whether or not I end up transferring my baby paladin to Skywall, to help out the fine people of Choice, I’m really glad I started a new paladin.

I know, you think I have a screw loose, but it’s given me some FANTASTIC perspective.

I tanked my way from 68-80, which was alternately amazing and failtastic. Getting Oculus about 9 times in two days, completing it only three times and having my drake bug out on me no less than seven times was pretty bad. By “bug out”, I mean that, at different times, I could not dismount or, shockingly, I could not use my abilities on the drake AND I couldn’t dismount.

The only thing that worked — and even then, it wasn’t guaranteed — was logging off and logging back in.

Only I would log back in and I wouldn’t be in The Oculus. Nope. Nor would I be in the location I was in when I accepted the LFG queue. No, all of that would make sense!

I would end up in the Sentinel Hill graveyard in Westfall. Alive.

Each and every time this happened, that’s where I would end up.

I maintain that Sentinel Hill is the black hole of Azeroth.

At any rate…

So I hit 80 in The Oculus, wherein my drake bugged out TWICE, and then finished up the group. I wasn’t going to abandon these poor people without a tank in Oculus. That’s just mean.

After the run, I race-changed from dwarf (as adorable as male dwarves are) and went human female, as I usually prefer to be, regardless of the class. There are a few reasons for it — Diplomacy, The Human Spirit, Every Man for Himself — but also because I don’t think I could get used to being that short as a dwarf in a raid situation…

Anyhow! Then I started scrambling for gear so that I could queue up as a healer for Cataclysm instances.

Problem 1) Heirlooms listed 1-80 do not work at 80 any longer. They might have, once upon a time, but that no longer works.

Problem 2) I had essentially nothing in a few spots and spent some cash here and there. My shoulders, sadly, are now the Ornate Saronite Pauldrons.

The ilvl requirement for Blackrock Caverns and Throne of the Tides is 226. I laughed. That’s 25-man Ulduar-level stuff! It’s kind of neat to see how much gear has changed so much. I did Ulduar two years ago and 226 ilvl stuff is now what your average should be in order to get into the entry level dungeons for Cataclysm.

I suppose it’s because it was just so easy to gear up to T10 at the end of Wrath but they also wanted to let those who maybe hadn’t done anything since Ulduar come in and get right into things.

I managed to get that ilvl up to 230 and finally, I could queue up. That was ALSO very strange to me. That I had to try to gear up for these starter dungeons? I walked straight into BRC, TotT, Stonecore and Vortex Pinnacle on Madrana without being challenged by the LFG tool. I guess being in mostly 277 gear will do that. Even Kurn, who was in mostly 251 gear, had zero issues queueing.

Things are blurring together for me. I dinged 80 and picked up the Patina-Coated Breastplate and the Bands of Fading Light. It seemed very weird to pick up those items to head towards Blackrock Caverns or Throne of the Tides instead of Naxxramas, let me tell you. I feel as though I’m skipping current content by skipping out on the WotLK raids, although I know I’m not. It just seems so strange to not raid those instances at 80. The disconnect between my “normal” pally and my “baby” pally is messing with my head.

I finally was ready to queue up for the entry-level Cataclysm dungeons and I looked, in horror, at my mana bar.

I had about 30,000 mana.

Do you know the last time I saw the number “30,000” next to my mana bar on Madrana? I was raid-buffed in Ulduar as we worked on Vezax. My raid thought that I had bribed a GM to give me extra mana.

So I queued up and was teleported to BRC and realized I was pulled in to a group that had lost their healer.

I took the portal that was up and found myself at the forge area.

The mage, who was the group leader, was an offensive jackass, whose first words are not “Hi, guys” or anything, but rather “dk i hope you know this fight cuz the last 3 tanks didnt.”

“I know all the fights,” he responds.

“we’ll see,” says the mage.

I’m like “wtf did I just walk into here?”

The DK pulls the boss, since the trash is done, and he, himself, stands on the grated outer ring. And the boss is, you know, nowhere near the center flame area.

After about 10 seconds of this, the mage says “lol might as well give up he will never die”

And I got pissed, because all of this could have been prevented if only the mage had said “please don’t forget to move the boss in and out of the fire in the middle so he gets the debuff.”

But he didn’t. Instead, he was like “I hope you know the fight” and the poor tank is then forced to be on the defensive.

So, while healing, I manage to type out “(tank’s name), please move him in and out of the central fire to debuff him.”

Instantly, the DK drags the boss into the central fire.

And proceeds to stand there.

And wipe us.

So I release and run and NO ONE ELSE IS. “Run back, please,” I say.

Two people (the tank and a DPS) release, one person goes offline and the obnoxious mage says “no i’m waiting for the tank to drop group because i’m not fucking running with him”

I tried to vote-kick the mage, but couldn’t initiate any more party kicks (I guess that means they vote-kicked people out before?). And when he still wouldn’t release after the rest of us got back to the instance, I dropped group.

LFG tool: 1, Kurn: 0.

My next queue took me to a partly-finished Throne of the Tides where the group was at Erunak. The paladin tank was all KINDS of vile, spouting profanity (which I don’t generally have an issue with) and teaming it up with perjorative terms against a variety of minorities, gay people in particular.

He pulled the boss and then, partway through the fight, dropped group. >.>

Not that I was upset to be rid of him or anything, but wow. What a champ.

The mage then remarked, “what a fuckin homo”.

I was about halfway through typing something along the lines of how equating “gay” and the like with “stupid” is not cool, but the rogue in the group beat me to it.

“Homophobic much?”

“yea,” responded the mage.

“Did you know that over 800 species on the planet can be gay, but only one can be homophobic?”

I LAUGHED. “Well-said. I’m with you, man.”

That effectively shut up the mage and the rogue and I chatted a bit in whispers about why homophobes are annoying mouth-breathers. Good times.

Finally, we get a new tank, a druid. And the group is suddenly awesome.

We had zero issues with Erunak or the last dude and then requeued for BRC specifically. Easy full clear, then randomed up again and got BRC again, whereupon I got a tanking shield and a healing shield. Then another requeue and we ran a full TotT run.

The fifth member of the group changed a bit — it was a DK, then it was a DPS warrior, then it was an enhancement shaman — but the druid, the rogue, myself and even that mage made a pretty good team, despite the earlier ugliness.

I went on one more BRC run later on, whereupon the tank pulled one of the fire elementals around Karsh and accidentally pulled Karsh, too. I was like “greaaaaaat, that’s going to be a wipe,” BUT NO.

The tank was superb. Not only did he make sure to get the boss debuffed, but he picked up the other add when it approached us and marked it with a skull. He used Divine Guardian, used all of his own cooldowns. I used Aura Mastery and HoSac (OH GOD, I have missed that spell!) and everything was fine. HORRIBLE pull. FANTASTIC execution.

The one major complaint I have about my experiences getting to 81 through the dungeon finder tool is this:

No one seems to know how the hell to interrupt.

Every conceivable BAD spell that could be cast DID get cast, without interruption, almost without exception.

I was that exception and Rebuke has a 10s cooldown.

Shadow Strikes on the Evolved Twilight guys in BRC? All me. Never could reach Corla to interrupt that Dark Command and, as a result, got feared and my worshipper evolved at one point, but anyways.

And that’s even asking them to do so. Like, “Hey guys, it’d be really useful if you could interrupt that Healing Wave on that mob, or Bore on this mob or Shadow Strike…”

Nothing.

Alas.

Still. Level 81. Getting there!

My ilvl is now 270, which is HILARIOUS, considering it’s all greens and some blues and my beautiful Vibrant Alchemist Stone. I keep looking at the ilvl and going “so that’s midway between ICC25 and ICC H25…” and wondering if I could heal heroic Dreamwalker. ;)

I’ve also been digging like a fool on Kurn (for the baby pally, for the Ring of the Boy Emperor and potentially Tyrande’s Favorite Doll. I’ll reforge the mastery to spirit on the ring and the doll will be useful while I wait to make/turn in a Tsunami deck.) and I am sad to report I got the More Skills to Pay the Bills achievement the other day. 525 in all four secondaries. I kind of hate myself.

There are guild updates, too. I need to boast about our heroic Magmaw kill and such, but we’ll see if we can nail heroic Atramedes tonight, too and then I’ll put it all in a single post.

It's Not Easy, Bein' a Baby Holy Paladin

When 4.0 hit and we got our new, smaller talent trees, it seemed to work out just fine.  There was an adjustment period, obviously, and we didn’t have all the talent points we’d have at 85, but we had 36 of them and could snag a lot of useful talents.

As I work on getting my baby paladin to 85, I’m realizing that the talents are horribly placed for a toon that’s not at least level 80, who is doing a lot of PVE healing and very little questing. The baby pally is level 75 and I’ve seen a plethora of issues with our tree as I’ve painstakingly put talent after talent into our Holy tree.

Let’s look at the first tier of the Holy tree.

Arbiter of the Light – a healer won’t take this.

Protector of the Innocent – Still a dumb talent, seven months after 4.01 dropped, despite the fact that I now have 3/3 points in this at 85. As I gained levels on the baby paladin, I ended up putting two points here just to advance to the second tier.

Judgements of the Pure – Haste? Really? At level 10, I need 3% more casting/melee speed? Nope, I really don’t think that I do.

None of this really helps healing in low-level dungeons. By the time I was 15, I had 3 points in JotP and 1 point in PotI and, honestly, it didn’t feel like those four talent points — points that are supposed to be meaningful, or else we’d have unlimited specs — were doing a lot for me at that level.

Anyways, I then added a second point into Protector of the Innocent at 17 to go with my 3 in Judgements of the Pure, so I could get to the second tier.

Clarity of Purpose – More haste stuff. I don’t know about you, but with Holy Light, Flash of Light, Holy Shock and Word of Glory as my only healing spells at level 17, I don’t need all that time off of Holy Light. Divine Light isn’t even in my spellbook at level 17, and it won’t be. Not until level 62, I discovered. Why give us access to a talent that helps out a spell you get 45 levels later? Still, I took 3/3. What else was I going to pick to get me to the third tier?

Last Word – Okay, this was actually a bit useful. 2/2 here, despite the fact that, at level 85, I typically only have one point here.

Blazing Light – As someone who quested very little and instanced quite a lot, I ignored Blazing Light.

On to the third tier at level 27!

Denounce – Ignored it.

Divine Favor – Well, I took it, but only because you never know what idiots you may be running with in random pugs.

Infusion of Light – Finally, something sort of useful. Increased chance of Holy Shock crits and… wait, what’s this? More cast time reduction on Holy Light. And Divine Light. Something that, at level 27, I still won’t get for another 35 levels! Left with Denounce as an option, I took IoL instead so I took 2/2.

Daybreak – Yummy. 2/2 here. So far, this is probably the best talent in the tree because we have two of the three spells that proc it and it’s a handy proc.

On to the fourth tier of our tree, meaning we should now be level 37.

Enlightened Judgements – Meh. We’ll come back to this.

Beacon of Light – Finally, we have our Beacon and actually can heal the tank via healing other people. I was quite pleased to pick this up in the middle of Uldaman when I dinged 37.

Speed of Light – Are you KIDDING me? More spell haste? Holy Radiance cooldown? I’m sorry, I can pick this up at level 37 and I won’t get Holy Radiance for another 48 levels! Still, you take it, because what ELSE are you going to take?

Sacred Cleansing – I got this right after Beacon, so at 39. Dispelling magic effects is win.

Level 47 means we can hit the fifth tier of our talents.

Conviction – Well, yeah. Pick this up.

Aura Mastery – So very, very useless at this level. Completely and totally useless for PVE scenarios. I can see where Aura Mastery + Concentration Aura would be nice for silence/interrupts in PVP, but AM+Devo or +Ret is pretty useless when you’re rolling through Scholomance. I always like being able to use Resistance Aura with AM, but… we don’t even have Resistance Aura for another 29 levels! Skip this for now.

Paragon of Virtue – Well, we HAVE Divine Protection, but we almost certainly don’t need to use it. And what’s that? Avenging Wrath? We only get that at level 72, 25 levels from now. How about Hand of Sacrifice, you ask? Wouldn’t that lowered cooldown be useful? Sure, if we didn’t get Hand of Sacrifice at level 80. What were the designers thinking, making PoV available when only one of the three spells affected by it are even trainable by level 47?

So I got 3/3 Conviction and then pondered what to do.

I decided on 1/2 Enlightened Judgements and, since I had Beacon of Light, I threw in that last 3/3 point for Protector of the Innocent. I still hate that, but I have to admit that PotI is more useful than PoV at this level.

Level 57 brings us to tier six in our talent tree.

Tower of Radiance – a no-brainer. Snag it!

Blessed Life – I skipped it. I wasn’t getting hit enough to justify putting points here.

I still needed two more points somewhere to get to Light of Dawn.

Eventually, I dropped them into Aura Mastery after all, and 1/2 into Paragon of Virtue, then picked up Light of Dawn at 67. Your mileage may vary. You may prefer 2/2 Enlightened Judgements or something else, butthat’swhat I decided on.

You see what I mean, though, right? From level 10 to 67, there are just so many awkward moments where you don’t know where to put your talents because the talents are aiding spells you don’t even HAVE yet a lot of the time.

You get Divine Light at 62. However: Judgements of the Pure, Clarity of Purpose, Infusion of Light, Daybreak and the first point of Tower of Radiance all involve or affect Divine Light use… when we don’t have it.

How about spell haste? We have: Judgements of the Pure, Clarity of Purpose, Divine Favor, Infusion of Light and Speed of Light that all have to do with improved our casting speed… but you don’t need your casting speed improved when you’re healing Deadmines. Or Zul’Farrak. Or even Hellfire Ramparts, really.

So what’s the real issue here? Well, the holy tree is clunky for someone who is using the dungeon finder, primarily, to heal and level.

I believe that the reason for it is so that prot and ret paladins cannot access talents that really improve healing, lest they become very imbalanced. (They have a 20-second cooldown on Word of Glory since 4.1 hit because it was deemed that both those specs were doing too much healing – likely prots in PVE and rets in PVP.)

So you can’t have anything that affects the baseline paladin healing spells in the first two tiers, lest you buff prot and ret. And you can’t spend 10 talents in the holy tree all buffing the one spell we have early on that is inaccessible to other paladin specs, Holy Shock, because, well, Holy Shock does not have 10 talent points worth of  modifications to undergo. It’s a simple heal, it’s an instant heal and while it would be nice to bring it to a 5 second cooldown with those three points in Clarity of Purpose, I don’t really see where else we could buff it substantially without us being too overpowered.

This, naturally, leaves all kinds of “useful” (I use that term loosely) talents to pick up in the first two tiers. It’s the utility stuff. Increase your self-healing. Increase your haste when you judge. A 3-second Divine Light cast time at 85 would suck so they put it in reach of the prots and rets, if they want to snag Clarity of Purpose for some reason, but it doesn’t do my level 19 holy paladin much good to drop a talent point in there and get .15 seconds off my Holy Light.

Having said that, I want to be clear that just because I understand why they do it that way doesn’t mean that I like it, nor does it make it any easier to tangibly feel as though I’m improving my character when I drop a point into Paragon of Virtue at level 59, without having two of the three spells affected by that talent. As if the fact I don’t have them yet isn’t enough, they’re not even within arm’s reach, either. These are spells that I won’t get for 13 levels, in the case of Avenging Wrath, and 21 levels in the case of Hand of Sacrifice.

Of course, when you’re 80, you don’t notice most of this. You just drop your 31 points into Holy and 5 points elsewhere and, at the Shattering, I was fine with that. I had absolutely no idea how clunky, awkward and just downright nonsensical the holy tree was for the paladin who was not max level at the end of Wrath of the Lich King.

The baby pally is now 75 and I’ve taken to tanking my way through Wrath content, after seeing far too many would-be tanks who are clearly incapable of understanding what a tank is and should do.

The prot tree, from what I can see, does not suffer from these issues. If it does, the issues are nowhere as serious as in the holy tree.

Prot Tier 1:

Divinity – All healing done by you and healing effects ON you by 2/4/6%. Well, gee. Tanks get healed. That’s certainly useful!

Seals of the Pure – more damage! Damage equals threat. True, we only have Seal of Righteousness at the time we can put points in here, but that’s just a damage modifier for basically all of your seals. It’s not like it’s a modifier for your casted spells or usable abilities, most of which you don’t have yet. It’s modifying something you always have up, regardless of which one you use most. (Well, apart from Seal of Insight.)

Eternal Glory – nummy, but we’ll come back to it.

Prot Tier 2:

Judgements of the Just – The thunderclap effect for paladins. Useful for tanks so you don’t need to rely on someone else to slow the attack speed of the boss. A USEFUL TALENT. (And useful to ret/holy PVPers  for the Seal of Justice modifier.)

Toughness – Increased armor up to 10%. These are all TANKING talents! In the tanking tree! Shocking!

Improved Hammer of Justice – whatever, any remotely knowledgeable tank is going to take the other talents for PVE situations.

You can see that ret and holy would both love Toughness, Improved HoJ, Eternal Glory and Divinity for PVP situations for sure, but these are all useful, right from when you get them, as a baby prot pally.

I still maintain that .15 seconds off my Holy Light is not useful at level 17. At level 85, I love it. But not at level 17.

The holy tree is unpleasantly broken for characters who aren’t 80 yet and does a great disservice to those who wish to immerse themselves in the spec so that they may feel more comfortable and competant in the holy spec at max level. However, because they can’t put talents that are useful to holy at level, due to possibly buffing the rets and prots among us, and because this isn’t an issue of balance or tuning for those who are at max level, I don’t think we’ll see any reorganization of the tree or even a change of when we get our various class abilities. (Seriously, Hand of Sacrifice at 80? What are these people on??)

Our old talent trees, as bloated as they could be, didn’t have this problem. Spiritual Focus, which is baked-in now, was useful to us, granting us 70% pushback protection on our casted healing spells, meaning that with Concentration Aura up, we were able to cast without fear of pushback. In a low-level dungeon, this is surprisingly useful, given that you will almost certainly get healing aggro since the chances are quite good that your tank will have no idea how to tank at all. Healing Light, which was extra +healing to our healing spells, was useful to us. Divine Intellect gave us 10% extra intellect towards the end of Wrath and was, shockingly, useful to us at level 16 or level 80. And now, we have Judgements of the Pure, Protector of the Innocent, Clarity of Purpose and Last Word for those 10 talent points. There’s just no comparison. The old talents buffed our healing and intellect. These talents buff our cast times, give us a silly self-heal in Protector of the Innocent that will transfer through beacon (which we won’t have for another 27 levels if we max out PotI as soon as we can) and gives us a situational healing buff if someone is under 35% health.

Underwhelming.

I don’t have statistics on  how many holy paladins are quirky enough (like me) to level primarily as holy, whether from 80-85 or 1-85 or some bunch of levels in there, but given that the dungeon finder is a viable alternative levelling method to questing, I feel strongly that my talents should mean something, even in the early levels. Right now, my talents feel like they might eventually pay off, and that’s only because I know what I want my holy spec to look like at 85. That’s why I eventually picked up 1/2 in  Paragon of Virtue. I still need to respec so that I drop to 1/2 in Last Word and put 2/2 in PoV, but it feels ridiculous to do so now because, even at 75, I still only have two of the three spells Paragon of Virtue modifies! I have to wait until 80 for Hand of Sacrifice before it feels as though a respec would make sense.

It’s a very frustrating experience and if this is meant to be this way, if we’re supposed to be frustrated that we’re not yet max-level and that’s why half our talents don’t do what they’re supposed to, yet, that’s a pretty poor incentive to level, if you ask me.

T12 Bonus Changes, Mana Costs

MMO-Champion has the new T12 set bonuses for us, as well as a post by the blues about why they’re raising our mana costs significantly.

Old set bonuses:

Paladin T12 Holy 2P Bonus: Casting Flash of Light, Holy Light, or Divine Light on your Beacon of Light target has a 40% chance to grant you 2% of your base mana.

Paladin T12 Holy 4P Bonus: Your Divine Light also heals a nearby injured target for 20% of the amount healed.

New set bonuses:

Holy Paladin 2-Piece: Old bonus removed and replaced — Healing with Holy Shock has a 40% chance to grant you 6% of your base mana.

Holy Paladin 4-Piece: Old bonus removed and replaced — Your Divine Light, Flash of Light, and Holy Light spells also heal an injured target within 8 yards for 10% of the amount healed.

My thoughts: (Edited May 14, 2011)

The 2pc is a lot better. 40% of the time you cast Holy Shock, you will only spend 1% 3% of your base mana instead of 9% (which is the current cost) or 7%, which is the new 4.2 cost (at least as of build  14107). Actually, you will probably need to have 7% mana (1640) in order to cast, but when this procs, you will probably get a refund of about 1406 since the real cost will be around 234 mana. Since Holy Shock is our cheapest heal that costs mana in 4.2 (Holy Light will be 12%) and is our primary method of Holy Power generation, this is a nice little bit of mana back. Remember, though, this could be on an internal cooldown, much the way Eternal Glory is!

With this bonus, it seems that they want to further emphasize the use of Holy Shock and so it is now taking Flash of Light’s place as an uber-cheap heal. In the old days, Flash of Light was stupidly cheap and even if you had pretty much no mana whatsoever, you could always afford a Flash of Light.

The 4pc is better, but not a ton, IMHO. They halved the healing of the splash heal to 10% from 20% but let us use more of our spells AND there’s no “you must heal the beacon” requirement. We still have to use a casted spell, but it can be any of the three casted spells. Even with the increase in mana to Holy Light, we’re still going to be using that quite a bit.

Mana Costs

Zarhym said:

We increased paladin mana costs because they were too efficient at healing. In raid encounters, for instance, paladins were sitting at 40% of their mana while the other healers were flat out of mana. Paladins were casting Divine Light as their main heal because they didn’t need the efficiency of Holy Light. You personally may not have been in that situation, but when looking at the overall picture, as well as running plenty of tests, this was our conclusion overall.

To which I say, “you know what? This is what you get when you design mana-free heals. You have now introduced Holy Power to the paladin class and the holy paladins now have two resources with which to heal.” But no other class has that. Blizzard now has the unenviable task of balancing holy paladins between the maximum amount of holy power one can possibly generate (through use of Holy Shock, Crusader Strike, Tower of Radiance and the Blessed Life talent), plus their mana costs and regen rates in current gear levels VERSUS everyone else’s mana costs and regen rates.

Essentially, they’ve screwed up by giving us Holy Power and we are forever going to be overpowered if they tune our mana to what other healers have, but forever underpowered if people don’t make smart use of Holy Power or, perhaps more importantly, don’t smartly generate Holy Power.

It’s still early in the expansion and I’m still trying to find what’s right for me. I like to tank heal. So I have Tower of Radiance. But on a fight like Chimaeron, where I am not tank healing, I don’t pick up Tower of Radiance. Instead, I take advantage of the crazy raid damage that fight has and I pick up two points in Blessed Life. The last time I killed Heroic Chimaeron, I picked up 12 Holy Power that way instead of the 0 Holy Power I would have generated since I am emphatically NOT healing my beacon target on that fight.

There are much better players than myself out there, much more progressed players than myself, who have probably figured out the balance as it works best for them and it’s probably also a very efficient way for them to heal, which is likely why they’re better players than I am. (Though I would challenge anyone to heal through heroic Maloriak, keeping their tank alive, at 3fps at some points, though. I would totally win.)

So my thoughts are that Blizzard has screwed up. We will never be tuned “properly” because of Holy Power, unless they specifically limit the rate at which Holy Power is generated. They’ve already taken steps to do so — Holy Light on the beaconed target no longer gives Holy Power, as it used to with Tower of Radiance. Blessed Life now has an internal cooldown and cannot occur more than once every eight seconds.

There’s already a limit on how often we can cast Holy Shock (6 seconds) and Crusader Strike (4.5 seconds) and there’s a less-tangible limit on how much Holy Power we can gain from Tower of Radiance, due to the exorbitant mana costs of Flash of Light and Divine Light — which are only going to get more expensive.

I don’t think the limits are firm enough, though, and it’s going to make balancing us a really difficult job for the next few major patches.

My two cents.