Or, in the perspective I’m going to take, how to make them want you (and your paladin) badly.
Here’s a Shared Topic that’s pretty timely for our class. It was suggested by death knight veteran Shop of Runeforge Gossip and you can see what bloggers from other classes had to say by checking out the grand collection of links thread at Blog Azeroth. Since this post isn’t being written at the last minute (yay!) you can even write about it yourself and post a link to it in that thread.
And while you’re in the Shared Topics forums, please do me a favor and suggest a Topic. PLEEEEEASE!
Right, so I still don’t have a computer. Which means no WoW for screenshots or facts checking. Also means no photo editing, so you’ll be stuck with recycled pictures. I’m sorry. I’ll try to compensate with more dirty jokes.
Meters are Backstabbing Jerks
The day after 4.0.1 dropped, a pally friend whispered me: “We’re still bad at raid healing, and now we’re bad at tank healing too. Anything we can do, every other class can do better. There’s just no point in bringing us to raids anymore.“
Even after the hotfix, it’s no secret paladins are looking terrible on the meters. This may or may not have improved since my forced vacation from WoW. In a guild with a strong, knowledgeable healing team this doesn’t matter (I’ve yet to receive a single negative comment from my guildies) but out in wild wild PuGs with under geared tanks and incompetent co-healers, our weaker output on paper (or is it on screen?) makes us the innocent target of much abuse.
Death to the Mediocre Paladin
It used to sadden me (ok, that’s an understatement, it sent me into a blind rage) when people would complain about paladin healing being too easy before 4.0.1.
What is more accurate is that pre-4.0.1, paladin healing was easy to be mediocre at. Any moron could spam holy light and keep a tank up while looking great on the meters. The good holy paladin, however, saved many teammates with the clever use of their Hands and Holy Shock. Prevented wipes with their cooldowns. Could compensate for dead or incapacitated co-healers by creatively adjusting Beacon and Sacred Shield targets. Being good, now, that took perfect reflexes, excellent judgment and a deep understanding of fight mechanics.
I’ve raided with many, many holy paladins in my time. I can count the good ones on the fingers of a single hand.
Ok, so enough about the past, you say. What about now? How do I make them love me now? And, well, more or less the same as before. Except now mediocrity isn’t enough.
How to Really Shine as a Healadin in 4.0.1
1) Expect the worst. Remember that girl at Blizzcon who said dps shouldn’t be taking damage? She wasn’t a healer. Unless you’re raiding with Ensidia or some other high end guild (and you’re probably not if you’re reading this blog), people are going to be stupid and terribad in every possible way. And you’re going to shut up and appreciate the challenge. After sweating buckets healing a tank standing in the fire (or healing a 5 man tanked by a mage), you’re going turn around and say “thank you, may I have another“. Always come prepared for the worst case scenario. It’s the rationale behind stacking mana you won’t use up, behind keeping a cooldown handy, behind watching everyone’s health bar, not only your assignments’. Your job comes first, but preventing a wipe is a close second and is everyone’s responsibility.
2) Gauge each player. The tank in blues will risk being two shotted and will struggle with aggro. The overgeared hunter will pull aggro all over the place. The priest with ungemmed gear will be dead weight. When you regularly run with the same group, notice patterns in their behaviour. The DK tank who often runs out of line of sight. The bear who forgets to use his cooldowns. The priest who gets tunnel vision. The rogue that always runs to the wrong side. Knowing each player’s individual flaws lets you act preemptively, whether it be positioning yourself strategically, hovering your finger over a cooldown at the right moment or being ready to yell “PERSON A! OTHER SIDE!”
3) Use Your Hands You’ve got four of them! Hand of Protection (which you can read about in depth if you click the link) will keep those clothies up all night. Or at least during trash and adds heavy fights. Hand of Salvation, or should I say Handjob of Salv, will earn you the undying love of at least one dps. (I’ve always wanted a macro that whispers my HoSalv target with “Handjob of Salv on you…enjoy the afterglow!“) Hand of Freedom will shut up many whiny tanks who complain they can’t move. Hand of Sacrifice, though inconveniently needing to be paired with Divine Protection or Divine Shield (depending on circumstances), is still a powerful single target damage reduction tool. You won’t use it often, but when everyone else’s cooldowns are used up and all hope is lost, you’ll learn to love it.
4) Use the right Aura. A common oversight that needed to be mentioned. Your raid will remind you if you forget to remove Crusader Aura, but no one will tell you if you leave Retribution Aura up. Resistance Aura for magic damage fights (you can use it for pretty much all of ICC) and Devotion Aura for physical damage fights. Since you’re now the only person with Aura Mastery, you’ll want to keep up the Aura most useful to the current fight.
5) Blizzard gave you cooldowns for a reason. I love cooldowns. I love cooldowns a lot. I keep pictures of cooldowns in my locker. I cried when they took Divine Sacrifice from me. It leaves us with Aura Mastery as our only real mass raid mitigation ability. If you’re expecting a period of major damage (or of mass stupidity), save it. Otherwise give everyone a break and use it on cooldown. Single target-wise, you’ve got your Hands and also your Lay on Hands. With the new short cooldown, you can use it about once a fight now. It’s perfect for those EEKINEEDASPELLBUTNOTIME moments. Save a tank, lay your hands on them.
6) Bubble for the cure Simultaneous need to move and cast Divine Light? Bubble, cast, move. Don’t abuse Divine Shield, but in a pinch, you’ve got an extra 8 seconds of reaction time.
7) Dispell, dispell, dispell What more do I have to say? If you can dispell it, do so. Unless it’s the abom on Putricide. Don’t dispell that unless a wipe is called.
8.) Remember it’s a healing TEAM. If you know you won’t be able to keep the tank up, get a druid to spare some HoTs. If another healer falters, spare an instant cast on their target while they recover. Notice damage patterns. Share your observations. In a PuG, your efforts won’t always be welcome, but more often than not, they will be.
Finally, remember that timing is everything. What holy paladins are currently missing in mitigation and raw output, we make up for in precision. With short but powerful abilities like Hand of Protection or Divine Shield, with several instant spells that can prevent a two-shot and with a mastery that allows a small buffer to cover casting periods, your timing can make or break your gameplay and be the difference between a kill and a run back.
Get the right spells out and the right times, and you’re a machine. You can’t fix meter-obsessed idiots, but you can prevent a wipe.