I have been sitting here for quite some time trying to get my thoughts together on the patch notes, specifically in regards to holy Paladins. So let's take a look at what I think is the biggest change for us that has some positives to it.
> Sacred Shield: When a paladin casts Flash of Light on a target with this buff, they also now place a heal-over-time effect on the target, healing that target for 100% of the Flash of Light amount over 12 seconds.
> Beacon of Light: The healing amount on the Beacon of Light target is now based on the total healing done (including over-healing) instead of the effective healing done. Radius increased to 60 yards. Multiple Paladins can now have this active on the same target. Buff indicating a player is within range of the Beacon target is no longer displayed
My first concern was how does this effect the actual Flash of Light? Would it allow the Flash of Light to heal normal and then also place a HoT or would it consume the Flash of Light and only place the HoT? Well, the word from the PTR is that you get the heal from Flash of Light and it will also then place the HoT on your target as well. That right there was my biggest concern, until I got to thinking a little more about this. So this sent me looking through the internet trying to find some more information as far as the limitations. I came across this post on HolyPaladin.net which had some great information in there about who to apply Sacred Shield onto; however, the real meat of what I was interested in came in the comments sections:
"How it currently works on the PTR is that if multiple paladins cast Flash of Light on a tank with any paladin’s sacred shield on it, the tank will get a HoT for each paladin’s Flash of Light. So, you can stack multiple HoTs on the tank with multiple paladins. Also, you don’t have to cast FoL on the tank with “your” Sacred Shield. The HoT is applied to anyone with Sacred Shield, even other paladin’s Sacred Shield. So, you can have multiple HoTs of your own running on multiple people, one for each Sacred Shield that’s up. So, if you have 4 paladins in the raid, you could have 4 HoTs on 4 different people at the same time (a total of 16 HoTs).
If healers are slacking or healers die, then it is much more likely that the tank will die. I believe that is working as intended."
The entire paragraph is pretty amazing in my opinion. In MAS, we run typically with three to four Paladins per ten man raid. So just like the illistration at the end of the paragraph, we can feasibly keep sixteen HoTs up during the course of an encounter. Does anyone see that Blizzard may take a look at this and decide that this may be too much in the way of healing? So my concern went from not having a HoT, to losing the HoT or having it nerfed shortly after it is introduced. [We can all look back at Devine Plea and see that sometimes they give us a great tool and then decide it was too over powered for what they were intending to do.] However, as of right now, there has been no change and nothing being reported differently from the PTR that I can find on the forums or in the blogworld, so we must assume it will go live.
As a Paladin healer I have accepted that my best role is in healing our tanks. We were made for this. Now we can place Sacred Shield on our tank and cast Flash of Light and have a HoT active for those moments when we lose LoS or the tank moves/is moved out of range. It use to be that when the tank and I became seperated I would race to the tank and hit my macro'd instant crit Holy Shock and follow it up with the instant Flash of Light that became available due to the Holy Shock macro. Now, I do not see changing this method at all, but with the HoT being refreshed it makes it that much better for us. Also take into consideration that there can now be multiple HoTs on our tanks and it definitely provides a lot more utility for all Paladins not just the holy ones.
Now take into consideration the fact that they are increasing the range on Beacon of Light to 60 yards and the possibilities for healing become that much greater. Now one thing we do know is that a player who has Sacred Shield will not get the HoT from a Flash of Light delivered through Beacon of Light; however, with the range increase, Beacon of Light gains more raid utility. In my experience raids always want the main tank or off tank to have Beacon of Light on them, which makes good sense; however, often times this just creates more overhealing than actual healing. Instead what I am interested in testing is the viability of placing the Beacon of Light on one of my top performing ranged DPS, such as a Hunter or Mage. This will help to relieve our raid healers and allow us, as a healing team, to provide more solid heals to more members than usual. Now this is all relative to Blizzard not switching anything as it currently stands and the fact that we raid with multiple Paladins who can keep the HoTs up on the tanks.
At the end of the day, I am definitely excited to see what the end result is. If left as is, then we have a legitimate HoT that allows us to utilize other abilities in different ways, which I believe will help us to expand our role as healers beyond the spamming of one particular spell. However, we must remember that just because it works this way in the PTR does not guarantee it will make it into the game the same way. I definitely do not plan on getting rid of my Forethought Talisman anytime soon.