Thursday, November 5, 2009

Haste or Crit? Not So Simple of a Question

Alright, so as promised I am going to attempt to explain my choosing of crit over haste, but before I can even begin to explain this we first have to understand how Ruhtra is built. This is actually a lot more comprehensive than I had originally planned and may be a bit longer of a post than even my usual wordy posts, so bare with me. In order to understand how Ruhtra is built we are going to be first looking at his talents and the glyphs that were selected. After we examine the talent build, we will then look at the gear that is equipped on Ruhtra and see how this fits in with his style of healing. Finally after we have reviewed his build and his gear, we will attempt to wrap this all up and, hopefully, explain the reasoning for my choices. However, before we even take a look at any of that I want to state what my opinion is on haste and on crit. I think there are some misconceptions regarding my thoughts overall.

My Thoughts Overall

So, I had an anonymous poster who got on and made a remark that they had built their character to be much like Ruhtra and that they too spammed Flash of Light. I need to point out the fact that while I have built Ruhtra around Flash of Light, I rarely stand there and do nothing but spam Flash of Light, except for when running basic heroics where quite frankly I could probably spam Holy Shock and not have anyone drop. I do not want anyone walking away from any post of mine ever assuming the only spell they need to cast is Flash of Light. If you are healing this way, then you are walking a really bad path. It will allow you to succeed probably 90% of the time, but you will in no way be an effective healer, or even more to the point a clutch healer. I will get more into how this all works in my approach to healing later on in this post, but please do not dismiss my healing as spamming Flash of Light because that would be an insult to me.

I have built Ruthra with a lot of consideration in regards to not ONLY being a tank healer, but instead being able to provide healing at the raid level. I hope that by the time you finish reading through this post, that you will understand that while the Paladin has three true healing spells (Flash of Light, Holy Shock, and Holy Light), there is a lot of depth as to how to heal with this class and I feel sometimes that we are all too happy to accept the status quo when we should be looking for ways to improve ourselves and our skills and show everyone else that we are capable of doing other things than standing in one spot and spamming any one healing spell. Because let's face it, everyone who thinks about a Paladin's healing, generally assumes we spam only one heal, regardless if it is Flash of Light or Holy Light and I cannot imagine that any Paladin really just stands there and can spam only one heal, and if you are doing this, then please level a new character and quit ruining it for the rest of us who care about the class. Sorry, I get aggrevated by that mentality really easily.

Now, in regards to haste and crit. I feel that you cannot have a successful Paladin without both of these. I think where the question becomes all chaotic is how much? That is a bit trickier to answer as you have to really decide what method of healing you want to do, which hopefully we will get a little bit clearer idea of later. In regards to haste, the easiest way I have found to understand it is simply that it litteraly allows you to cast your spell quicker. For instance, a player who chooses to have a Holy Light build is going to want alot of haste because it allows them the ability to cast that huge healing spell that much quicker. Typically they are looking to get it down to around 1.5 seconds (at least with most of the builds I have seen). This is casting it as quickly as the base Flash of Light spell, which means you are going to have a high output of healing on a target. Now haste works the same for Flash of Light except it is a shorter cast time and less powerful healing spell when compared to Holy Light. I think we all can understand haste, it is a pretty easy concept. If you are wanting a deeper number crunching type of post, then you are going to be disappointed as I leave that for some other folks. I like to talk simple since I think people get more out of this. So what is haste? The ability to cast your spells quicker, which in practice leads to a higher healing amount on your target.

So what about crit? Crit adds to your chance to land a more powerful healing spell. The key thing to remember here is that it is a chance. It is not guaranteed. You may crit your first heal and then not see another one the entire fight (depending on the length of the fight). I think the part that makes building with crit less attractive is the fact that it is not guaranteed. When you compare haste to crit, you can clearly see that haste is going to provide you with a guaranteed result; whereas crit, may give you a boost in your numbers or it may cause you to crit when you didn't need it, such as the crit on the first heal of the fight. So why would anyone want to use crit over haste? That is a good question. I do not think it is so much a question of which one is better as it is of how do you prefer to heal? If you are using large spells, then you need a guarantee that the spell will arrive before the target is dead. If you are using crit, then you need to make sure that you are putting out a lot of spell casts in order to get advantage of any crit rating you have. The trick is balancing between the two and that is what I ultimately hope to bring across in this lengthy post.

Ruhtra Talent Build

So let's take a look at how I have built my own talents in regards to focusing on flash of light with crit:

Holy Tree
  • Spiritual Focus 5/5 - Pretty self explanatory
  • Healing Light 3/3 - Increases Flash of Light (and Holy Light) by 12%
  • Divine Intelect 5/5 - Increases total Intellect which increases your spell power and larger mana pool.
  • Aura Mastery 1/1 - A good utility spell
  • Illumination 5/5 - Restores mana
  • Improved Concentration Aura 1/3 - Reduces push back (Not a necessity in my opinion)
  • Improved Blessing of Wisdom 2/2 - Increases mana regen
  • Divine Favor 1/1 - Auto crit ability (Macro this one to your healing spell of choice)
  • Sanctified Light 3/3 - Improves crit chance of Flash of Light (and Holy Light) by 6%
  • Holy Power 5/5 - Ups your crit chance of holy spells by 5%
  • Light's Grace 3/3 - Reduces casting time of Holy Light.
  • Holy Shock 1/1 - Not just an "oh shit" heal. This should be used in your rotation as often as possible in a Flash of Light build. If macro'd correctly, you should be able to instant crit with it and cause the next Flash of Light to be instant as well. This is a huge advantage because you are going to drop a HoT with your tiered set plus get an instant Flash immediately.
  • Holy Guidance 5/5 - Increase your spell power by 20% of intellect.
  • Divine Illumination 1/1 - Reduces mana cost by 50% for all spells for 15 seconds. If you are not using this, then you should start working it into your rotation, especially if you opted to go with a Holy Light build.
  • Judgements of the Pure 5/5 - We do not care about the judgement bonus, but we should care about that haste bonus. If you keep this up at all times by judging, then you get a free bump in your haste. Always take the free buffs, they were put there for a reason. Also, by building to optimize crit, a 15% bump in haste is nice.
  • Infusion of Light 2/2 - Regardless of build, this is a must in my opinion. Again, if you macro Holy Shock for the auto crit and work it into your rotation of healing, then you will reap a reward of instant Flash of Light for this build or 20% increase to crit rating for your Holy Light spell.
  • Enlightened Jusdgements 2/2 - Increases the range of your judgements. This is the key to making sure you have your free 15% haste bump. You can effectively judge from your maximum healing range, thus removing yourself from AoE damage.
  • Beacon of Light 1/1 - Any healing build needs this regardless.
Protection Tree
  • Divinity 5/5 - Increases your healing by 5%.
Retribution Tree
  • Benediction 5/5 - Reduces mana cost by 10% for all instant cast spells. This is a nice one to have for working in all your utility spells and Holy Shock.
  • Improved Judgements 2/2 - Reduces the judgements by 2 seconds.
  • Heart of the Crusader 3/3 - More utility for a party/raid. Increases the targets chance to be critically struck by 3%. Might as well get some utility for the three points we needed to spend.
  • Conviction 5/5 - Increase crit chance by 5%.
So there you go, that is my basic Holy build that I will use 90% of the time in raids. What is key to remember is that when I state I built for Flash of Light, what I am saying is that my preferred healing spell will be Flash of Light; however, I will be using both Holy Light and Holy Shock throughout, the course of a fight. Now, let's take a look at the glyphs that I will use. Something to note here is that I prefer to rotate my glyphs quite often. It really depends on the group I am with. I shall try to explain each glyph I like and the reason I will use it over another. I will list the three major glyphs that I currently use first. (I think minor glyphs are fairly easy to figure out for our class and will not go into detail on them in this post.)
  • Glyph of Divinity - Doubles the mana granted and also grants you the same amount of mana. I pretty much took this one for selfish reasons because of the mana it grants me back when I use it. I also run with my main tank being a Paladin probably 75% of the time, so it comes in handy when I have to use it. In all honesty I am probably going to be removing this glyph in favor of something else, since it is not nearly as effective as it was when I first turned 80. Yes, my one weakness in this game is that I rarely mess with my glyphs, but I am working on that.....really I am.
  • Glyph of Holy Light - 10% of Holy Light to surrounding party/raid members. You definitely want this regardless of what you build to because of its' usefulness. It is important to remember that even though you build for Flash of Light, you will use Holy Light and this provides a nice splash heal to your melee, which will make your raid healer's job a little easier.
  • Glyph of Flash of Light - 5% chance of crit. I hope you are seeing that even though I favor crit, there are ways to get it without dedicating all of your gear to it. Also, remember that when you build to Flash of Light, there are spells, talents, and even gear which cators to it. Sometimes you just have to look a little, but I promise that it is out there.
  • Glyph of Holy Shock - Reduces the cooldown of Holy Shock by one second. In all honesty, I need to replace Glyph of Divinity with this one on my main build. Being able to cast Holy Shock every five seconds is such a nice thing, especially on those mobile fights or even when you need to spot heal raid members.
  • Glyph of Beacon of Light - Increase Beacon by 30 seconds. This is another nice glyph and depending on the length of the boss fight (or the lack of DPS) this one here can save you some serious mana and it also makes it a little nicer to manage healing a raid as it is gives a little more breathing room for casting it.
I have all of these glyphs on at least one of my Holy builds and they really are important for me in the way that I heal, as I am sure they are important to all Holy Paladins. I did want to mention one minor glyph to consider taking and that is the Glyph of Lay on Hands, which decresses the cool down by 5 minutes.
The thing that I hope you take away from looking at my current build is that there is a lot of room to pick up crit rating in your build itself, which leaves you room to work your gear around your own style of healing. I also hope you see that you can grab some haste rating so long as you remember to keep the judegement up during fights. We will talk more about this at the end of the post where I shall try to tie everything up in one nice little package. Onward and upward!
Some Key Gear and Notes
Alright, I am not going to link every single piece of gear that I have. That would take way too long. I am not even going to list every single piece of gear that I have. I just want to hit on some highlights!
  • Conqueror's Aegis Headpiece and Tunic: Alright, so these should be easy enough for every Paladin to get a hold of, but they are highly desirable for a Paladin is building with Flash of Light in mind as we should definitely be utilizing Holy Shock in our healing and the two piece set bonus gives us a nice little HoT (heal over time) when we crit (remember our instant crit ability that I said to macro?).
  • Epaulettes of the Grieving Servant: It is not so much the item itself (although it is an extrmely nice piece), but rather the itemization of the stats. It contains both haste and crit. I have noticed that the gear you get from the raids like Naxxramas and Ulduar tend to be better itemized than that of the badge gear. Do not just look at the item number on something, but look at what it has on it actually.
  • Furious Gladiator's Librim of Justice: A librim from the PVP vendors that is made for the Flash of Light healers. If you can tolerate running arena and can find a good partner, you only need a rating of 700 for this one. I believe the previous seasons is available for simply honor at this point. Definitely worth picking up, especially if you are still carrying the Librim from Nagrand or Kara (which is not bad, but there are upgrades which can be obtained that are superior).
  • Forethought Talisman: If you can spare the stats, this is a nice trinket for any build really. It places a HoT when it procs on your target that you just healed. It is a little bit random, but it is another HoT that is going out for us Holy Paladins and it comes with 111 spell power.
  • The Egg of Mortal Essence: This is extremely important to have in a build where you have favored crit. This is some more free haste and the nice thing about this trinket is that it procs fairly often.
There is so much to go over with gear, but I really want to take a moment and talk about the second bullet point. I mentioned those shoulder, not as a must have, but because I want you to realize that there is gear out there that has both haste and crit. As a crit build we are reliant on casting a lot of heals to take advantage of the higher crit rating. How do we cast a lot of heals? A really long fight? Well, yes but then the whole issue of raid wiping because of enrage timers comes into play. You have to have haste on your gear and you need to use any abilities which will increase the haste. I think that everyone knows this and if for some reason you didn't, then now you do. The trick is that because we are casting Flash of Light, we are already on a shorter casting timer and therefor should not require as much haste. I understand that people feel that the near instant Flash of Light would be a great idea, but then you should really just be casting Holy Light because there will not be enough of a crit rating to make Flash of Light worth while. We will touch on this a little later.
If you went and looked up my armory then you are going to see that along with a modest crit rating that I have an insane amount of MP5. To cut to the chase and stop any sort of debate on this subject, the average Paladin will not need this much MP5. For one, if you are going Holy Light build, then you should have an unwordly amount of mana as you will need it to sustain the casting of Holy Light through an entire encounter. If you are building for Flash of Light, then you will need, in my opinion, a little more MP5 as you may end up overhealing other targets. As you begin to become more familiar with the build, then this should cut down and you should be able to add either haste or crit, depending on which you need more of. So why in the World (of Warcraft) do I have so much? Good question and a great lead into our next topic.
Wrapping It All Up
The truth be told, I have been going through this part in my mind for probably close to two hours now. I want to make sure that we are clear on a few things. The first thing is that as a Flash of Light healer you should never, ever, ever be standing there spamming nothing but Flash of Light. When I say that I am built for Flash of Light with crit, I mean that Flash of Light is my primary spell, but it is simply unable to keep a raid alive. The trick is that we must understand how it all works together. So let's take a look at everything and put all the parts together. The first thing to realize is that my Holy PVE build gives me around 32.98% critical strike rating, or every third heal works out to be a critical heal. My haste rating comes in at a base of 10.07%. Finally my MP5 (mana regenerated while casting) is at 289 unbuffed.
Looking at these numbers you would wonder how in the world I manage to put out solid numbers because it seems that my haste rating is way too low and my MP5 rating could definitely be lowered. However, we need to add in some important talents into the equation. The first one is my 6% boost to critical strike rating for my Flash of Light spell from Sanctified Light which is going to push me to 38.98% unbuffed. Also, remember that I stated it was imparative to keep your judgements up at all times. This has two reasons, the first is that it provides a great little boost in healing for all melee based party/raid members (which includes Hunters). You may not think it adds up to a whole lot, but there are many fights where my Judgement of Light will come in as my number three highest spell. This translates to providing some assistance to the raid healers. The second benefit is from the talent, Judgements of the Pure, which increases your haste rating by 15%. That is putting me to a 25.07% haste rating on fights (so long as I keep judging). However, we need to take a look at the trinket, Egg of Mortal Essence, which procs often and provides a solid boost to haste.
So, where conventional wisdom says stay away from this build, if we look at the gear and talents, we can see that the haste rating is no where near as bad as what it looks like at a glance. Finally, let's take a look at the MP5 rating of 289, when Greater Blessing of Wisdom is applied (with the talent), it pushes my MP5 to over 389 (sorry but I warned I wouldn't do a lot of number crunching). That does seem like a lot, but not when you think about the fact that I can sustain casting Holy Light on the fights that require this without having the large mana pool that is common among the Holy Light build. I rarely feel the need to use Devine Plea or Arcane Torrent and when I am pushed into overdrive, those are readily available, along with Runic Mana Potions, which then allows me to pump out the large Holy Light spells (and large is extremely large when you are receiving critical strikes on every third cast) that will more often than not, save the raid.
Now the trick to making this build work is to beacon your main assignment (most often MT/OT). I also cast my Sacred Shield on my assigned target (unless they are a Paladin, in which case they should be keeping their own Sacred Shields up) and begin the fight by casting a Flash of Light and triggering the HoT. I then have two specific groups of party/raid members I focus on. I watch, like a hawk, the health of my fellow healers and if they drop I am right there with either a Flash of Light or an auto-crit Holy Shock. The biggest weakness we healers have is tunnel vision of healing where we ignore our own health and I like to keep my healers up as it makes my job that much easier. If I am in a group where the other healers are keeping their own health up high, then my second group I am watching is the top two DPS (one melee and one ranged). I realize that along with a tank and healer, you must have a DPS up in order to down a boss and so I monitor recount DPS data during every encounter and make sure to keep my firepower up and firing. This is the point where Holy Light is going to come into play. I will more often than not drop a big heal on my DPS in order to top them off hopefully in one shot or at least by them time till the raid healer works their way to them. It is a lot of information to be watching, but it is what seperates a great healer from a good healer (and I am not claiming to be great/good/average/bad, I am just me). All of this is going on with Beacon keeping my assignement alive.
A couple other things that I will be watching while the encounter is in progress is going to be the timer on my judgements as this is a key to my healing. I have my JoL (Judgement of Light) hotkeyed to my equal button (as it is what equals success for me) and constantly can tap it as my judgement falls off of the boss. I always set my focus to display my tank at the bottom of my screen above a select group of buttons and macros for a couple of specific reasons. The first reason is that if something goes wrong and the tank is taking massive damage and my Lay on Hands has been burned, then I am going to be using Hand of Sacrifice with my Divine Shield to eat the damage while I bring their health (tank) back up to full. The second reason is to monitor my Beacon of Light spell, since that is the key to my healing. It also allows me to see the true timer on the Sacred Shield and its' HoT, which then allows me to refresh each of these as the need arises. Another key thing that all Paladins should be monitoring is any sort of dispellable debuff. I handle this by setting up my Healbot to display a certain color for what my cleanse ability is able to remove and set it as my middle mouse button so it is a one click and done. Another ability that you should use (but consider carefully when) is Avenging Wrath. This is a make-or-break ability. Once you use this you lock out Divine Shield (and vice-versa) for 30 seconds, so you have to really consider how you want to work this into a rotation. I prefer to use it more towards the beginning of a fight rather than the end where I may need Divine Shield to keep the main tank alive.
One big thing to remember is that when you build Flash of Light, you will be casting it often. After all, why build for it? However, do not become lame and rely only on it for healing. You need to use Holy Shock as often as possible (this means every 5-6 seconds depending on glyphed or not). Holy Shock is the one ability that you have that can provide solid heals to raid members who may be on the verge. Holy Light I reserve for my tanks and top rated DPS to get them back up full. If they drop to 50% health, you better bet that Holy Light is heading their way. Lay on Hands I tend to hit my tanks at 25% health and I will use it on either the main tank or off tank. One thing I noticed the other night and have not had a chance to try yet to confirm, but it appeared that when I hit Lay on Hands on the off tank and had the Beacon active on the main tank, the main tank received the heal as well. I have not had time to confirm this or not, so if someone has seen this as well, please share, but that only adds to the importance of using it.
Oh don't worry we have a few more things to discuss. Another big one that I do not see a lot of Holy Paladins use is Aura Mastry. It may not be such a huge boost if you are the only Paladin in a group, but we tend to run with at least three Paladins (typically at least one Prot and one Holy). The trick is in the little bit at the end, "and improve the effects of all other auras by 100%." Notice it is an "and" not an "or". It will buff the Prot Devotion Aura by 100% which will increase the armor thus causing a reduction in damage to the entire group. I am pretty sure that I have hit on this a lot, but make sure to use Divine Favor as often as it is up. I personally have it attached to Holy Shock via a macro. When it is not available, it just casts Holy Shock, when it is available, it will automatically be used. The same goes for Divine Illumination, make sure and use it as often as it is up.
Final Thoughts
I hope that after all of this, you all can see that there is a legitimate build for a Flash of Light that focuses on crit. The thing you have to remember is that if you go down this road you are going to have to learn to anticipate some damage and react very quickly. It is a very fine line for healing with little room for error. If you miss time one important Holy Light, then you could be the raid breaker instead of the boss. It requires you to be focused on a lot of numbers besides what is going on all around you. The thing I have found I like about this build is it allows you the flexibility to cover when your raid healer may go down or be otherwise unavailable (via some sort of CC). I have always loved the thrill and challenge of pushing myself to the limits and this build will do that. It will take you to the brink and it is up to your own skill if you can come back.
I have mentioned in the past that a hallmark of Paladin healers is overhealing. In this build I tend to have a much lower degree of overhealing verses what I had when I built for haste/Holy Light in the Wrath expansion and even compared against the old true spam of Flash of Light during the Burning Crusade expansion. It is an all or nothing build that relies on the gear such as Furious Gladiator's Librim of Justice (Flash of Light spell power only), utilizing your talents to obtain desired goals (both crit and haste), and learning to not just spam but create a true rotation where you are watching timers and abilities. In truth, I think a lot of people do not prefer a build like this because it requires much more focus than other healing builds that may be available. I realize that this build is not for everyone and I do not mean that based on a skill level, but simply that we all have certain things that we excel at, and the trick is to find what you excel at and then challenge yourself so as to not become complacent.
What about the other classes out there? Is there anyone else who has built against the "cookie cutter" and found success in their roles? I truly hope that this has shed some light on my particular build and maybe, just maybe, helped someone who may have had some questions about a build that incorportates crit as a focus based on a Flash of Light build.


moarhps said...

Your post crit me! :P LOL

You really should switch to the Seal of Wisdom glyph. It's worth tons and tons of mana, especially combined with judging on cooldown.

The rest I can't really comment on. I could give you numbers, but you don't really want those, so..

Ruhtra said...

Numbers are completely fine, but I have to deal with them non-stop at work. That is why I avoid them at home. I just wanted a clear set of information out there instead of the assumption of "spamming" anything.