So, I am sure that a lot of bloggers in the Paladin community have posted their thoughts about the changes in the recent patch. I know I have read some that were not too pleasant. There was complaints about mana running out and that we are not able to heal now because we cannot cast the unlimitted Holy Light. The list went on and on, but unfortunately I did not see much in the way of explaining why anyone felt these were bad changes or even speaking very positively about the changes. Now granted, I have not sat here and read every blog out there. I have a hard enough time reading the ones on my blog list. However, being responsible and true to the spirit here at Holy Shock I have ran the new instance on both regular and heroic, as well as ran some raid content. I have also tested the changes in world PVP, BGs, and ofcourse Arena. It has been expensive to respec and try several different techniques out with different glyphs, but I wanted a good thorough feel of how it all works. So let's start talking shop!
Beacon of Light
I have nothing bad to say here. The changes made to this spell has made such a difference to how I heal. Prior to the patch when I ran Naxx with a serious group, I was always the number two healer behind Druids. I use to tease everyone that once I topped a Druid healer in a raid that I would quit healing. Well, I could quit healing now if that was the requirements. To me, it feels like I am more versatile of a healer. A good example is on Gluth. I do not make it a secret that my guild has struggled with this little doggy and his Zombie Chow, but in my last Naxx run I was able to direct the healing efforts as follows: Myself and my wife were both healing along with a Druid. A typical fight myself and my wife will focus our heals on the tanks up front with Gluth. Our preferred method is to place Sacred Shield on our assigned tank and bubble the other tank. This provides maximum healing to the tanks. We then put the third healer in the back to keep the kiter up. We utilized the same method and we had our regular kiter (Edy) in back with the Druid. When the fight initally began I informed Edy of what I planned to do. I switched the Pali healing so that we would switch to the tank who was actively holding agro. I had my wife Beacon the off tank and I placed my Beacon on Edy. The results amazed me. I hit so hard with my healing rotation that Edy had perfect health throughout the fight. The Druid took more damage than Edy and had very little healing to show from the fight. It was absolutely mind boggling how much more effective this ability is with the increase in range.
Another trial I put the Beacon through was in Arena. I Beacon'd my partner and equipped a glyph which reduced my cool down time to five seonds on Holy Shock. We got lucky and ended up with Nagrand as our very first arena. There was plenty of LoS objects there for me to break site with my partner. I then placed Beacon on him and began casting my heal rotation on myself. I litteraly was able to use the terrain of the arena as an advantage while healing him. While we still did lose matches, the test was in seeing the utility of the Beacon for Arena and to my surprise it made my job easier and allowed me more room to roam the field. Sure that seems like a common idea, but when combined with the fact that we can heal ourself and our partner gets the full benefit of the heal (including overheal) that makes it a serious weapon for us. In the past Beacon only healed through what the target was healed for. That placed a very limitted application for it as we needed to see our taget to heal and then hope that they whoever we healed had taken damage, otheriwse it was a useless waste of mana. Now we can Beacon and even if we heal someone who has very little damage, the Beacon will still reap full rewards. A very good and positive change in my opinion.
Sacred Shield Heal Over Time From Application of Flash of Light
So this is the one that got all the attention! And it deserved every bit of that attention. I cannot even begin to tell you how great this combination is. Especially if you have a Paladin tank or Paladin DPS. I made sure and tried a couple runs with a Paladin tank and DPS. I informed them of the changes and asked them to keep Sacred Shield up during the course of the fights. This then freed me to place my Sacred Shield on a party/raid member who was not a Paladin. I am so happy with the results. This has provided us with a solid healing rotation. We simply need to keep Sacred Shield up and active on our groups. The healing tics are absolutely just what I need when I lose line of site on my tanks. It is a life saver! Those few seconds where it tics a little extra life is the difference between success and wiping. There really is nothing to go over here. If you are a Holy Paladin make sure and keep Sacred Shield up in your rotation and consider playing around with it. We will discuss some of the ideas a little later on since we have one other thing to review.
Alright so I read some articles from some individuals who were upset over the changes here. The short version is that they no longer can cast unlimited number of Holy Lights while healing. I really feel that these same folks are the ones who became irritated at the changes to Devine Plea in a previous patch. They do not like that they had an easy mode button that has been removed. I wanted to test this and see for myself the difference. To be honest I felt no difference in how I healed. Was I short on mana? There were moments where I had issues, but I quickly adapted the fights where I needed to use Holy Light and worked out a slightly different rotation other than /cast Holy Light, /cast Holy Light, /cast Holy Light, /cast Holy Light.......
I actually went against the main stream belief that you had to bomb Holy Light. I had kept my MP5 from BC and so much the same as when they complained about the Devin Plea "nerf", this has not really managed to bother me at all. If anything, I think Blizzard is wanting to make the Paladin a better healer, but first has to reign in the crazy overhealing that we are doing and the limitless mana that we once possessed.
I am absolutely 100% happy with the changes to the holy build. After having run through every situation and encounter there was no loss of effectiveness to my abilities. I suppose if I was a happy Holy Light bomber I may be disgusted, but this is not the case. I start my healing rotation with Sacred Shield on my non-Pali tanks or highest DPS if I have a Pali tank. I then cast Beacon of Light on either my tank or second highest DPS. I then begin to cast Flash of Light on all members of the party/raid who have Sacred Shield active. Upon completing the Flash of Light I will drop my Judgement of Light on the main tank's target, unleashing my Seal of Wisdom and granting myself a nice little crit bonus. I will then cast Holy Light on my main tank. I follow this with two to three additonal Flash of Light spells. At this point it should be time to refresh either Beacon, Sacred Shield, or my Judgement. I then cast Holy Light again on the tank followed by Flash of Light to all Sacred Shields. I continue this method to ensure that my HoT will remain active throughout the course of the encounter. Ofcourse, if it is an easy run (meaning either overgeared group or very skilled group), then I will not need to worry about so many of the extra Flash of Light spells. I do tend to keep them up though just as a form of practice. Now for the fights that "required" the exclusive use of bombing Holy Light, I rotate now with Holy Light then Flash of Light. I just continue revolving the two spells back and forth so I can keep the HoT active and provide those extremely large heals that are needed.
I honestly believe that when utilize the tools Blizzard gave us that we can now be looked at as true raid healers and not just tank healers. On a side note, remember to utilize Holy Shock, but you can macro it for the instant crit and hold it in reserve for the moment when you need around 10 - 15k healing done (remember that when macro the crit, to also macro the instant Flash of Light to it as well). Another tool that is often ignored is Avenging Wrath. Even I am guilty of not utilizing this spell effectively. Ret Paladins learn to use this as their great equalizer where often times we holy and even prot Paladins completely ignore it. Do not forget that it gives you 20% increase to healing power for 20 seconds. That is an enrage healing button my friends. When the baddie grows all big and garbles out stuff we can't understand, hit that Avenging Wrath and start handing out those 15k heals. Your party/raid will thank you for it.
I hope this may have helped some of you out there who were like me and beginning to dread the thought of the changes. What Paladin wants to run out of mana? Well, I have taken a lot of time today, but I think it was well worth it to tell you how I came up with this thinking and also explain the way I utilize these tools to show you that these are good changes and have only made us better healers than we already were!
PS: On the loss of mana, between every mob, when Devine Plea and Arcane Torrent are available, use them! I never run out of mana even now. Even in H ToC, and that is a nightmare for healers.