Welcome to my Holy How-To for PVE Paladins. This is the ninth of what I hope to be a great many posts aimed at helping holy paladins succeed at PVE content. I will focus primarily on max-level talent specs, glyphs, enchants, gems and the like, including tools, tips and tricks that I use, but I hope to touch on levelling content and advice as well.
Today’s post will focus primarily on the use of Righteous Fury. True, Righteous Fury is most often left to the domain of the protection paladin, who needs the extra holy threat on their abilities to gain and then maintain aggro.
“But Kurn,” you might say, “I thought this was a HOLY how-to?”
Indeed it is. We’re going to look at the use of Improved Righteous Fury while healing as a holy paladin through T10 (ICC/Ruby Sanctum) content.
Why you Should Get Improved Righteous Fury
More often than not, holy paladins who are raiding Tier 10 content should be specced at least 17 points into the protection tree in order to pick up Divine Sacrifice and Divine Guardian. One of the ways we can get there — maybe even should get there — includes dropping three of those points into Improved Righteous Fury.
“Kurn, what are you talking about? I don’t need 80% extra threat on my holy spells! That’s all I have! I don’t want to pull aggro!”
No. You don’t need an extra 80% threat on pretty much every single button you push. That would be a bad call, for the most part.
But sometimes, you should use it. Improved Righteous Fury means that when you turn on Righteous Fury, you gain 80% extra threat on all your holy spells and that you take 6% reduced damage. On certain fights, it can be very beneficial to take less damage and the threat won’t be a problem.
You probably should be spending 17 points into protection anyways. You have to drop points in the first three tiers to get to the fourth tier, for Divine Guardian. Why not drop three points into Improved Righteous Fury, which has some use, as opposed to Anticipation, for example? Anticipation gives you 1% dodge per point, up to 5 points. Newsflash: Icecrown Citadel has a persistent, zone-wide debuff called Chill of the Throne. Even if you had 5% dodge from Anticipation, you’d still be at 0% dodge, because of the debuff. So drop three of your points into Improved Righteous Fury instead.
Now that we’ve ascertained that you’re not wasting any points on the talent, merely re-allocating talents from elsewhere in the prot tree, let’s talk about when to use it.
When to Use Righteous Fury
The golden rule of Righteous Fury usage is as follows, in haiku form:
Never, ever use
Righteous Fury on trash or
on boss fights with adds.
You’ll get the most bang for your buck if there’s AOE damage going on as well or if there’s unpredictable damage that may target you, but that’s the basic rule.
In practical terms, here’s a guide for when to use RF or not. Note that this assumes you are, in fact, specced for Improved Righteous Fury, because otherwise, there’s no point in using it at all.
Marrowgar: Yes! AOE damage from Coldflame, Bone Spikes. There are no adds.
Lady Deathwhisper: No! Adds out the wazoo! You’ll end up tanking half of them.
Gunship: No! Adds everywhere, plus the enemy captain can totally kill you from range if you have aggro on him. (Trust me.)
Saurfang: No! Despite the damage from Boiling Blood or Mark of the Fallen Champion, you do not want to get hit by Blood Beasts who follow normal aggro rules. They are particularly dangerous on heroic.
Festergut: Yes! There’s all kinds of AOE damage like Vile Gas, the spore damage plus, hi, Pungent Blight. Even on heroic, when Putricide throws Malleable Goo out, these are RANDOM and not affected by regular aggro rules.
Rotface: No! The oozes are not tauntable. The last thing you want is for six oozes to come beat on you. A holy paladin I used to raid with ALWAYS forgot to take off his RF after Festergut and ALWAYS died here. Always.
Professor Putricide: Eh… The adds on Putricide do not follow standard aggro rules, so it’s safe to use it here. On regular, you shouldn’t need 6% extra damage reduction, but on heroic, it comes in handy on Phase 3 in particular. (Also handy for the Unbound Plague.) It’s safe to use, but isn’t spectacular on this fight except for P3 of heroic.
Blood Prince Council: No! Apart from the fact that you have three separate bosses, you also have the Dark Nuclei running around that DO follow normal aggro rules. Besides, if executed properly, there is very little raid damage that you will encounter, even on heroic.
Blood Queen Lana’thel: Yes! She has a persistent shadow aura, which gets worse the more people get bitten on heroic, plus a variety of attacks on the raid (Pact of the Darkfallen, Swarm of Shadows, Bloodbolt) and she’s a single mob with no adds. This is pretty much the perfect fight to use Improved Righteous Fury.
Valithria Dreamwalker: No! You are going to be putting out a STUPID amount of healing as a paladin, since you almost certainly get to go into the portals. All of that healing has threat. Add 80% threat to a 50k Holy Light on yourself that is then beaconed to the dragon and HEY, that’s a lot of freaking threat on everything in the room! Even though on heroic you will be taking damage from your Twisted Nightmares stacks, it’s not worth the damage reduction.
Sindragosa: Yes! Another fantastic example of when to use Improved Righteous Fury. There’s a persistent frost aura, there’s random Ice Tombs, there’s Instability… This is fan-freaking-tastic.
Lich King: No! Way too many adds throughout the fight. Shamblings Horrors, Drudge Ghouls, Val’kyrs, Raging Spirits and Vile Spirits. I’m not sure if the Val’kyrs and Vile Spirits follow regular aggro rules (pretty sure the Valks are random), but there are just way, way too many adds on this fight to risk using Righteous Fury.
Saviana Ragefire: Yes! Just your raid group and her, plus AOE damage from her Enrage and Conflag make this a good miniboss to use Righteous Fury on.
Baltharus the Warborn: No! He spawns one or two adds (depending on 10/25) and what’s the golden rule? Don’t use it on a boss fight with adds.
General Zarithrian: No! More adds on this miniboss means it would be a very bad idea.
Halion: Yes! Particularly if you’re in the twilight realm, as there is a persistent shadow aura down there. You can also use it up top to help prevent 6% of the fire damage you’ll almost certainly be taking.
How to Use Righteous Fury
“Kurn, seriously, I don’t need to know this. You hit your Righteous Fury button to turn it on. Duh.”
Yeah, but it’s not a good idea to have it on immediately, even on most of the fights you should be using it for. Why?
Well, let’s talk a bit about threat. Please note that I am Bad at math and I’m not exactly sure about the finer points of threat, but I’ve done a lot of reading and I kind of think I’m right. If I’m not, tell me and point me to resources showing me I’m not.
All healing spells have an innate threat-reduction modifier as compared to damage spells. Barring any talented threat-reduction, one damage point against a mob equals one point of aggro, or threat. Every healing point is worth 0.5 points of threat.
Further, paladins, for some reason, have even that threat modifier halved. So every time we cast a healing spell, we have 0.25 points of threat per point of healing done.
10,000 health spell * 0.5 (healing spell modifier) * 0.5 (paladin healing modifier) = 2500 threat.
If we then add Righteous Fury to the mix, it looks more like this:
10,000 health spell * 0.5 * 0.5 * 1.8 (Righteous Fury does 80% more threat) = 4500 threat.
Of course, back when Wrath came out and they got rid of Blessing of Salvation, Blizzard decided to “bake-in” extra threat with regards to the tanking classes. So when a DK hops into Frost Presence or a warrior into Defensive Stance or a druid into bear form, or when a paladin turns on Righteous Fury, an extra 43% threat is added.
So as soon as we add Righteous Fury, we not only get 80% extra threat on our holy spells, but an extra 43% of threat across the board, since every action we take should be causing extra threat. That should include healing spells, but is definitely where my theorycrafting comes up short. In the couple of small tests I conducted, which meant face-pulling something while at low health, with Righteous Fury on, then healing myself and noting the threat on Omen, a paladin does double-dip on threat modifiers.
10,000 health spell * 0.5 * 0.5 * 1.8 * 1.43 (baked-in threat) = 6435 threat.
Now consider the ICC buff. Assume that your Holy Light crits for a fairly reasonable 25,000 and you have Righteous Fury on as you attempt Sindragosa. Let us assume that you pre-cast that Holy Light just as, say, Sindragosa is landing, aiming to hit your tank with that Holy Light right after Sindragosa hits your tank for the first time.
25000 * 0.5 * 0.5 * 1.8 * 1.43 = 16,087.5 threat
Now, assuming I’ve done my math properly, here are the first two attacks that a bear tank in my guild had on Sindragosa and the resulting threat. This does not include any Misdirections or Tricks of the Trade and assumes that druids *do not* double-dip on the bear form/baked-in threat modifiers. Given that I took my feral druid out into the world and feral faerie fired things and watched Omen (1322 threat from an 862 hit of FFF), I can only assume that they do not double-dip on Bear Form and the 1.43x threat modifiers get, since 862 * 1.43 = 1232.66, which is as close to 1322 threat I can go without going over. (Adding the 1.3 from bear form gives 1602 threat.)
Faerie Fire 1437 * 1.43 (baked-in tank threat) = 2054 threat
Maul 5619 + 422 (Maul bonus) * 1.43 = 8638 threat
Total threat = 10692
Granted, overhealing does not count in terms of threat, but Sindragosa hits hard enough that you could theoretically out-threat the tank on the pull. This illustrates how Righteous Fury is still a tricky thing to use.
In an ideal situation, with an ideal tank and very little lag, this should not be a problem. You will likely encounter a time where it IS a problem.
So, here’s my advice:
Turn Righteous Fury on 10 seconds into the encounter.
There’s no longer a mana cost associated with it, so it won’t be an issue in terms of mana to pop it on after about 10 seconds. While it’s unlikely that you’ll pull threat, even if all of my math is correct, it IS possible to do so and so you’re better off giving your tank a head start, just like the DPS does. Believe me, I’ve stolen aggro from a tank on a Sindragosa pull more than once!
You can also turn it on and just not heal right off the bat, but the pull is a dangerous time in the fight, due to positioning, so you probably DO want to heal — just not with Righteous Fury on.
This includes being careful with Halion as soon as a phase changes. At the start of Phase 2 and at least up top in Phase 3, the tank will need to gain aggro on the dragon. I like to bubble in P3, pop Hand of Sacrifice on my tank and then heal while immune to basically everything. This gives my tank a good headstart on threat, particularly while it’s just me and them hanging out up top while we wait for the DPS to come back.
But is 6% Worth It?
Remember this image from a screenshot I posted a couple of weeks ago?
That was with Righteous Fury on. I clearly took something like 30k damage from the Ice Tomb and two others around me. Without the 6% damage reduction, do you think I would have lived?
Here’s the damage I took:
[20:59:10.819] Sindragosa Ice Tomb Madrana 11915 (R: 3169)
[20:59:11.242] Sindragosa Ice Tomb Madrana 12134 (R: 3227)
[20:59:11.242] Sindragosa Ice Tomb Madrana 10389 (R: 4737)
Now, let’s look at those numbers, assuming the same resist, and assuming no Righteous Fury, meaning 6% more damage on each hit.
[20:59:10.819] Sindragosa Ice Tomb Madrana 12676 (R: 3169) (761 more)
[20:59:11.242] Sindragosa Ice Tomb Madrana 12909 (R: 3227) (775 more)
[20:59:11.242] Sindragosa Ice Tomb Madrana 11052 (R: 4737) (663 more)
Assuming I was topped off, that would have been a 1740 overkill on that last Ice Tomb, since I had 34897 health total. So even the total of 2199 extra damage reduction came in very, very handy here.
One Thing To Note
Through Icecrown Citadel and Ruby Sanctum, there are no fights where the boss completely drops aggro and runs around, smacking everyone else down. (Although Lady Deathwhisper reduces the tank’s ability to build aggro, this is not an aggro wipe. Still, due to the adds, you should not use Righteous Fury here anyways, as previously noted.)
Long-time raiders may recall Supremus in Black Temple and Leotheras in Serpentshrine Cavern who, among others, will drop aggro either randomly or at specific points in the encounters. It is never recommended that you use Righteous Fury on any fight where the boss wipes aggro!
So there you go. You now know how and when to use Righteous Fury effectively to take full advantage of the 6% damage reduction Improved Righteous Fury brings you. Just don’t forget to turn it off while going from boss fight to boss fight. ;)
Do you make use of Righteous Fury differently? Do you even bother? Do you use it regularly? How do you feel about the fact that this talent does not appear to exist in Cataclysm?