Posted tagged ‘healing’

The Suffering Inflicted on Holy Paladins by Heroic Thok 25

December 13, 2013

Raid: Your numbers suck on Thok. Make them not suck.
Me: /cry

We’ve been working on Heroic Thok for a few weeks now. The strategy has been worked and reworked, we’ve gotten into the flow of the fight and we’ll probably kill that big hungry (thirsty?) dinosaur on Saturday.

It was brought to my attention, frustratingly, that my healing numbers on that fight were, well, abysmal. I haven’t been looking at numbers lately – now that most of my cohealers consist of three disc priests and a shaman, looking at numbers is just asking for misery. (When all the disc priests are away or healing as holy, I can often squeeze into second place behind our shaman on the meters, but there’s no way I can get any impressive healing in with 3 disc priests in the raid. One cannot heal nonexistent damage and Illuminated Healing just doesn’t do the job.) But I’ll take their word for it. I’m silenced more often than not on that fight. I’ll believe any accusation of fail healing.

So. Paladin problem or player problem? And can I fix it?

Paladins and 25 Heroic Thock

The first thing I did was head over to World of Logs to see how the fight is going for everyone else. (See this post if you’re curious about my World of Logs searching procedure.)

I got rid of the Asian servers, because, well, their playing conditions are too different from ours and their logs are written funny. Then I had a look at how Holy Paladins measure up there in the US and EU.

As of today, Dec 13, 2013, in the top 800 parses, 22 were paladins (2.75%…If all healing specs were made equal, one would expect around 17% – 1 in 6 – representation). And here’s how the top 5 pallies did:

#363 with 326k hps, Dec 4.
#380 with 324k hps, Nov 27.
#561 with 299k hps, Dec 12.
#634 with 289k hps, Dec 3.
#645 with 288k hps, Dec 3.
.

If you look at the top 150 all pally ranks, HPS varies from 326k to 233k. Let’s have a look at other classes:

Disc Priests: 515k to 356k
Shaman: 458k to 314k
Druids: 380k to 278k
Holy Priests: 432k to 276k
Monks: 354k to 264k

It seems pretty clear to me that we are lagging behind, significantly when compared to Disc Priests and Shaman, and moderately when compared to the other specs. Which leads to the next question, what are the most performing Holy Paladins doing to avoid the bench?

Selfless Healer vs Eternal Flame

Out of those 22 paladins who made it to the top 800, 18 of those used the Selfless Healer style.

Honestly, having tried to heal the fight with Eternal Flame for a few weeks, I’m surprised any Eternal Flame users made it into the top. Silence much, anybody?

Quickly, I switched my talents. Then I was faced with another question. How, in the name of the light, do I heal like this?

I took the top 5 paladins (forever more known as “The Top 5″) and checked out their cast log. Thankfully, it was pretty unanimous and consistent throughout the fight:

[20:59:19.598] Light of Dawn (HoPo = 0)
[20:59:20.647] Judgment on Thok the Bloodthirsty (HoPo = 1, SH = 1)
[20:59:21.621] Holy Shock (HoPo = 2, SH = 1)
[20:59:22.644] Holy Radiance (HoPo = 3. SH = 0)
[20:59:23.506] Light of Dawn (HoPo = 0)
[20:59:24.444] Judgment on Thok the Bloodthirsty (HoPo = 1, SH = 1)
[20:59:25.454] Holy Shock (HoPo = 2, SH = 1)
[20:59:26.458] Holy Radiance (HoPo = 3. SH = 0)
[20:59:27.503] Holy Radiance (HoPo = 4. SH = 0)
[20:59:29.149] Light of Dawn (HoPo = 1)
[20:59:30.148] Judgment on Thok the Bloodthirsty (HoPo = 2, SH = 1)
[20:59:31.146] Holy Shock (HoPo = 3, SH = 1)
[20:59:32.289] Holy Radiance (HoPo = 4. SH = 0)
[20:59:33.269] Light of Dawn (HoPo = 1)

Regardless of whether the Jailer was up, or how far along they were in Thok’s screeching phase, each Light of Dawn was cast with 3 charges of Holy Power. The Judgement-Holy Shock-Holy Radiance rotation was flexible based on what was off CD (and possibly the needs of the raid). I noticed, as well, that Holy Radiance was usually cast with only one stack of Selfless Healer. (Two paladins, #2 and #3, I believe, were using two stacks of Selfless Healer during Holy Avenger. As far as I could tell, nobody else was doing that. #5 didn’t even use Judgement during his first Holy Avenger).

The Cooldown Usage

thokcds

I picked this particular screenshot because it illustrates pretty much every cooldown strategy I noticed among The Top 5.

1- Beacon of Light Swapping: 3 out of 5 moved their Beacon from tank to tank, although at different paces. Note, however, that all 5 were the only paladin healers in their raid.

2- Pre-potting: Two of them (and maybe others, WoL doesn’t always catch buffs that are cast before the fight starts) pre-potted with Int potions. 3 of them used Int potions later on, during the second or third Screech phase.

3- All the Throughput CDs, ALL OF THEM. After Heroism/Bloodlust/Timewarp (BHT): Everyone waited for HBT to wear off, then blew their Holy Avenger-Divine Favor-Guardian-Avenging Wrath combo. Based on how long their kite phase was, some (such as the paladin above) used all 4 again on the second Screech phase. Those who had shorter kite phases used only Holy Avenger and Divine Favor during the second Screech, and everyone used everything again for the third Screech. Note that all the top pallies killed Thok during or right after the third Screech phase.

Another note on the throughput CDs – my copally and I experimented with CD timing last week and it is essential to wait for BHT to wear off before popping everything. You won’t heal worth shit of you pop anything during BHT.

4- Selfless Healer Stacks: The paladin on the screenshot hit 3 stacks of Selfless Healer twice. Which, as I mentioned in the last section, seems typical among the top 5. No one seemed to really worry about SH stacks.

5- Devo Aura: I suck and forgot to show Devo Aura on the screenshot. If you wondering, this paladin used it for each Screech phase. As for everyone else, it seemed to depend how fast they moved through the fight. Those who phase changed too quickly used their Devo during First and Third, or during Second. This is something to be agreed upon among all the paladins in the raid since Devo Aura really makes or breaks this fight.

The Plan!

On the condition that I am not benched this week in favor of one shaman and six disc priests, here’s the improvement plan:

1- Selfless Healer with Light of Dawn cast at 3 charges of Holy Power. Judgement-Holy Shock-Holy Radiance-type rotation.
2- Pre-pot FTW!
3- Wait until AFTER HBT to cast ALL THE CDs.

Wish me luck!

On Playing my Holy Paladin in 5.4

October 6, 2013

Alright. It’s a been a couple of weeks since 5.4 and I’ve had time to experiment with our shiny new features. I promised everyone I’d sum up my observations, so here it goes.

Note that these are just observations, not hard science. Your experiences may vary, so if you have something to share or advice to give your fellow holy pallies (especially if you raid 10s!), please! There’s a section at the bottom of the post for comments. Everyone will love you if you type useful stuff in there and press the “send” button!

My Healing Environment

This patch seem especially sensitive to raiding styles and healing team makeups, so for context purposes, here’s what healing in my raids is like.

I mainly heal 25s. Unless I count the odd annoying flex raid boss that everyone drops group for, I don’t have any recent experience with 10s and can’t offer a whole lot of tried-tested-true advice. I would imagine that for flex/normal/early heroics, anything that applies to 25 could be used in 10s and keep people alive just fine, though I suspect that cutting edge 10s raiding would require different specifics for optimal results.

Cadenza usually runs with 4 to 6 healers depending on the fights. Our complete healing team consists of a druid, a shaman, two priests and two paladins (including me!). Our guild culture emphasises perfect mechanics execution over raw numbers so we’re not pressured to max out our HPS potential. I mean, we’re encouraged to have good throughput, but meter padding should never interfere with proper movement, task execution and CD usage. On a personal level, our shaman loves his numbers (really, really loves them – I swear the only times I’ve heard him talk about something other than healing numbers, it was about his offspec dps numbers. And he talks a lot.) and I suspect one of our priests takes his HPS seriously as well (but uses a more silent approach). So no matter what the rest of us do, those two will usually (but not always!) dominate on our meters.

My Eternal Flame Build

Bouchbaguette has done a lot of theorycrafting with results supporting Haste as the emerging secondary stat for Eternal Flame users. So before my first 5.4 raid, I reforged and regemmed to get my Haste on.

Then I hated it and hated the results. I got on Skype with my Holy Pally guildie and off to World of Logs we went.

World of Logs (and the Armory) revealed this trend (at the time) among the top HPS Eternal Flame Holy Pallies: Mastery > Intellect/Haste > Spirit.

Orly” I thought. I gave it a try.

I slowly replaced my spirit gems and enchants (slowly, so I could see how spirit dependent I was). To my surprise, I was able to stray completely away from spirit for most fights. (I recently picked up Dysmorphic Samophlange of Discontinuity to assist with mana heavy fights.) It probably helps that my ilvl is fairly high – I suggest that if you want to try eliminating spirit, you go slowly as well. Experiment until you discover your mana comfort zone.

My healing improved considerably and I’m pretty satisfied with where I am. My throughput varies from fight to fight and my place on the meters is sometimes skewed from the combination of shaman and priests having higher HPS potential and of our shaman and priest actually caring about raw numbers performances, but I’m comfortable in my ability to keep the raid alive.

I spent a few hours on World of Logs and the Armory today to see what the current top HPS 25s Holy Paladins are doing. Interestingly, no two paladins are gemming exactly the same. Some go all out Mastery like me, some do a little Haste then go Mastery, some use the traditional Intellect/Spirit build and some are so inconsistent in their stat prioritization that I have no idea how they manage to heal at all. Prioritizing Haste beyond around 16% unbuffed, however, does not seem to be conducive to high HPS performance, at least not on 25s.

Spell choice-wise, I’ve been blanketing the raid with 1-Holy Power Eternal Flames, using Holy Shock and Holy Radiance, with constant use of CDs (Holy Avenger, Guardian of Ancient Kings, Divine Favor and Avenging Wrath – I also try to use Hand of Sacrifice whenever it’s available). When I want to and time it right, I could almost have one CD active at all times.

I compared my results with Holy Paladins who were performing better than I was, and it seems they were more inclined to use 2-Holy Power Eternal Flames (maximizing their use of Holy Radiance and Holy Shock), but it’s hard to say. It seems that each fight had different top Holy Paladins. And no matter what, on the overall meters, for all 25s fights, Holy Paladins rarely overtake the other classes in raw HPS.

My usual glyphs: Glyph of Sacrifice, Glyph of Beacon of Light, Glyph of Divinity
My usual talents: Speed of Light, Fist of Justice, Eternal Flame, Clemency, Holy Avenger, Light’s Hammer
My gems: Artful (Int/Mastery – Red), Zen (Mastery/Spirit – Blue), Fractured (Mastery – Yellow)

Acorn’s Selfless Healer

My copally has always hated Eternal Flame blanketing and jumped at the opportunity to do something different. This was very convenient to me, since it gave me the opportunity to familiarize myself with both styles and compare them.

I obviously have less experience with Selfless Healer, though, but here’s what I’ve picked up from watching my copally and reviewing lotsa lotsa logs with him.

1- Haste is the way to go. Intellect too I think. Spirit holds you back. Even if you have a low ilvl, you don’t need spirit.

2- Spell usage is along the lines of Judgement-Holy Radiance-Light of Dawn (one or two Holy Power, not three), with Holy Shocks thrown in whenever possible.

3- You have CDs too. They’re meant to be used.

And contrarily to what many theorycrafters predicted, Selfless Healer is totally okay when it comes to throughput, at least on 25. The top ranking HPS 25s Holy Paladins are a good mix of Eternal Flame and Selfless Healer users, so if you want to get away from HoTs and try a fast-paced, super fun healing style but are afraid to try, rest assured that you’ll do just fine with Selfless Healer.

As for our own performances, Acorn and I, despite our very different healing styles are usually pretty close to each other on the meters, with him passing me on some fights and me passing him on some fights.

Conclusion

When choosing between Selfless Healer and Eternal Flame, I suggest basing your decision on whichever healing style makes you happiest. The two kinda call for different stat prioritization and gemming, so I would not recommend going back and forth between the two on a single raid week. (If you really, really, really want to, perhaps running with a strong Haste/Int build would be ideal, but you’d probably find Eternal Flame in Haste gear will drain your mana pretty fast.)

Sadly, I have no experience whatsoever with Sacred Shield, and have never come across it on World of Logs for 25s Holy Pallies and can’t offer any advice.

Other than that, um, I guess Siege of Orgrimmar is a pretty fun raid. Lots of fight variety. Lots of trash though. Less fun. Also very little Orgrimmar. And very little siege. Almost makes me want to tweet “Siege of Orgrimmar is neither a siege nor Orgrimmar. Discuss.”

Anyway, I’ll stop rambling now. Happy healing!

Long, Long Awaited Challenge Modes

July 23, 2013

A couple of weeks ago, this happened:

goldrun

That’s a Challenge Dungeon (or is it Dungeon Challenge?) Gold Run in case you’re wondering. My very first one.

At this point in the expansion, it’s probably a small feat. But to me, the little achievement was loaded in meaning. This (not exaggerated or overly dramatic at all) meaning:

Like my buddy Saif (though perhaps not as extreme as Saif), my early expansion sucked.

Challenge modes are exactly the kind of extracurricular WoW activities I love: small groups, an easy setting to display personalities, a not too straining mental exercise (but a mental exercise nonetheless) and an opportunity to heal a little differently. Normally I’d be all over this.

But Occasional Excellence was blown up by its leaders long before I had any time to turn my attention to non-raiding aspects of the game. Then I didn’t spend enough time in Conquest for it to be appropriate for me be all “Hei guys, make room for me in your Challenge Mode groups!

I suppose I could have sought out groups on open raid or something but, remember, this is me we’re talking about. I don’t talk to strangers. You have to twist my arm to get me to talk to non-strangers.

Since I don’t care about status (I was born awesome, no WoW achievement can improve on that! /modesty) or rewards (there are rewards for Challenge modes, right?) playing with non guildies kind of defeats the point anyway. What makes these kind of outside-of-raid activities fun for me is the opportunity to get to know some guidies, a small (non-scary) number at a time. The presence of a goal makes it all that much easier: mood gets awkward and you don’t know what to say? No problem! Just kill more things!

So when my fellow holy pally (who’s become a recurring character on this blog, readers of my WoL posts may remember him as “Copally”) asked me if I’d be interested in doing Challenge Modes, I felt like I’d hit the jackpot and was so excited I couldn’t sleep for a few nights (it’s a tad embarrassing how small of an exaggeration that is). Before I knew it, there were 5 of us dodging horde gankers in front of Niuzao Temple’s Summoning stone.

The first lesson we learned was that no NPC can compete, in terms of difficulty and complexity, with the Scheduler Boss. Especially with a half Australian-half North American team. I swear we spent more time with our calenders and maps open, calculating time zones, than we did watching videos and practicing pulls.

On our exploratory run, we wiped about 5 times, had a disconnect, had someone go afk and did a lot of pulls wrong. We got Bronze. Reassuring to know that, even if you do terribly, terribly, terribly bad, you still get a pretty flashy achievement and some bonus valour points.

It took us a few extra nights (I kinda lost count…a lot of our attempts were pretty short due to most of the team having exciting and demanding lives calling them away from the computer after 45-50 minutes), but eventually we got Gold (see above screenshot) and set a new guild record.

OF COURSE, our guild’s more experienced and mostly mainspecced (unlike us) Challenge mode team went to Niuzao Temple the following week and pretty much one-shot a Gold run (I didn’t check if they shattered our hard-earned guild record, but knowing them, they probably did), but hey, WE HAD FUN AND ITS THE FUN THAT COUNTS.

Since then, we put about an hour into learning Stormstout Brewery. On our exploratory run, we wiped just before the last boss and still won Silver, which was promising, but the Scheduler Boss wiped us before we could make another decent attempt, and every night we’ve planned since then has also been ruined by the same Scheduler Boss. I don’t know how many Golds we’ll manage before everyone gives up. I’m patient and can try forever, but apparently not everyone is like that, so I treasure my little Niuzao Temple Gold IN MY HEART.

Healing Challenge Modes a Holy Paladin

At this point, I’m far, faaaaaar from being a reference, but I did learn a few things about healing Challenge Modes from our (few) attempts.

A huge mistake I was making at first was trying to heal the 5 mans as I would heal a raid. You know, the Holy Shock-Holy Radiance-Eternal Flame trinity.

That’s bad. BAD!

I got flashbacks to my days of -just-dinged-90-when-MoP-was-young Heroic grinding where Holy Radiance did….not much.

So I stopped using Holy Radiance and looked up my long-forgotten key-bindings for Flash of Light. It was a bit more mana intensive but it did the trick. I didn’t think to Glyph Flash of Light at the time, but I’ll definitely do that on our next attempt.

I didn’t have too many issues with mana, but I did find that if I could run with or ahead of our tank, I could plop down and drink as she was pulling and get a good wack of mana back before heal spamming was needed. Whenever I could, I’d squeeze in the Shado Pan trinket on-use mana back as well as Divine Plea. (Mid-pull, Divine Plea should probably be only use in case of emergency, but while running between pulls, it is, well, Divine.)

Stack of potions (instant Mana, Potion of Focus, Intellect Potions – called Potions of the Jade Serpent or something) are always handy too. On one of our Niuzao attempts, where I was furiously Denouncing the last boss, we were a mere second away from a Gold. ONE SECOND. Had I remembered to use an Intellect Potion, we wouldn’t have set a (short lived) guild record, but we would have gotten our achievement much, much sooner.

I squeezed in DPS where I could, but I discovered pretty quickly that whenever I stopped healing to do damage, our ret pally (who, remember, is my fellow Holy Pally in raids) would give into his healer instinct and stop DPSing to cover for me. Still, a little Denounce goes a long way. Holy Shock, Denounce and Holy Prism all do a respectable amount of Holy damage. The damage of Judgement and Crusader Strike is neglectable, and I’d rather use Flash of Light to build Holy Power, UNLESS there’s time to switch to Seal of Truth and DoT up a target (sometimes possible on boss fights). Just don’t forget to switch Seals back to Insight.

As for Holy Prism vs Light’s Hammer, it’s hard to say which is better. Light’s Hammer was delightfully waaaaay lower maintenance, but was mostly wasted since we never stay in the same spot for twenty seconds. Holy Prism does sexy damage to mobs, makes for a good instant heal when needed and has a sweet, little, better than nothing, AoE effect, but I found I wasted a lot of time keeping an eye on its CD and making sure I had the right thing targeted whenever I cast it.

Other than that, any kind of damage mitigation CD is lovely. Hand of Purity, Hand of Sacrifice, Devotion Aura…they just can’t come off CD fast enough!

Speaking of CDs, you can usually only fit one Lay on Hands in. I found it helpful to just ask our tank when she’d prefer me to use it (bar any emergencies) since when I used it whenever, it would often go to waste.

Gear-wise, I’m told the Legendary Meta and Tier set bonuses don’t work, and that the only things helping you deal with the gear scaling down are sockets. So don’t use your raiding helm and pick up as many pieces with extra sockets as possible.

And yeah, that’s pretty much all I can think of.

Wish me luck next week for our Scheduler Boss encounter!

A Look at my Heroic Megaera Logs

June 29, 2013

Two weeks ago, I did a fun healing experiment comparing my performances with Divine Purpose vs Holy Avenger. While there could have been a few other factors affecting my throughput, I was confident enough with the results that Holy Avenger became permanently lit up on my talent thingy.

Two weeks later and I’m still satisfied.

The Curious Case of Megaera, the Many Headed Beast

In my experiment post, I wrote the following:

I purposely left out 4 fights, each for unique reasons.

[...]
3- Heroic Megaera: The end result wasn’t consistent with the other fights and I thought the reasons were interesting enough to merit their own blog post.
[...]

A little bit late, but here is that blog post.

I’m aiming to use it as an intermediate World of Logs exercise on comparing healing spell choices. I’m running on the assumption that you all already know how to find your healing spells on WoL because, for the last two weeks, you’ve been playing around with the parsings tool and spying on pros.

I’m using the Heroic version of the fight, but it’s similar enough to the regular version that anyone who’s vaguely familiar with the fight should understand the analysis.

So anyway, when I did my HA+EF (Holy Avenger and Eternal Flame) experiment, this is what happened on Heroic Megaera:

Before Holy Avenger

Week 1
magsbefore

ps. Look at Pally Tank Theck, sniping heals from the healers!

Week 2
magsbefore2

After Holy Avenger

magsafter

When you look at this, your heart sinks, your stomach feels a little queezy and a dark cloud of discouragement hangs over your head. (Or maybe that’s just me.)

But before we dismiss Holy Avenger on Megaera, let’s look a little closer. We’ll ignore CD usage since my CD usage between fights should be pretty similar, other than Holy Avenger, which we’ve already accounted for.

This is what happened during nerf week:

(If your browser makes the writing look all tiny, you can right click on the image to put a larger version in a separate tab.)

magsspellsbefore

See Diffusion?

Diffusion counted for 11.4% of my healing. 5 MILLION. Right after Mastery and Beacon, BAM! DIFFUSION!

Diffusion in a healing spell breakdown, in theory, means you healed someone who just got an Arcane Breath (only available on Heroic!) to the face. It’s supposed to take 10% of the effective healing on that person and redistribute it to others in range.

In practice, it’s pretty random. I spent hours with the log parser when drafting this post, trying to figure out how I ended up with so much Diffusion healing on that attempt and I have no idea. I didn’t even know about Diffusion healing at the time. (If there’s interest, I could write a post about Diffusion Log Parsing adventures but I’ll leave it out of this post since it’s pretty long and boring, and a tad more complex than I want to get into right now.)

Because Diffusion seems to only heal when it feels like it, without involving much control from the player, when analyzing logs and comparing my performances, I’d subtract Diffusion healing from my total healing count.

Next, notice Arcing Light (Light’s Hammer) as my 4th healing spell, for 4.8 million.

Then we see Eternal Flame for 4 million and Light of Dawn for almost 3 million. (Total Holy Power healing = Eternal Flame + Light of Dawn = 4 million + 3 million = 7 million)

Now, here’s my spell breakdown for week 2 of non-Holy Avenger:

magsspellsbefore2

In comparison, Mastery did a tad less healing, Beacon a tad more. Eternal Flame was about the same (4 million) and Light of Dawn a little less (2 million) for a decrease in Holy Power healing by one million.

A major difference would be Holy Prism instead of Arcing Light, which did 1.8 million healing…less than HALF of what Arcing Light did for me last time.

As for my “With Holy Avenger” Logs

magsspellsafter

If you counted the number of healers on the meters, you’d notice that we did this kill with 6 healers instead of 7. Which means more healing to go around, but also more dps and a resulting shorter fight (so we’re expecting a higher Healing per Second, HPS, but the total overall healing could be more or less).

Still, Mastery is my top heal, with comparable numbers to the two previous weeks, with Beacon as a second, again with comparable numbers.

Then Eternal Flame, doing more healing than the past two weeks, but no Light of Dawn, resulting in a lower overall heal from Holy Power (5.7 million).

What really sticks out, though, is the uselessness of Holy Prism here. (And I confess that the only reason I was using Holy Prism was because I had forgotten to respec for the fight.) While I’m sure Holy Prism could do the job if it were cast every 20 seconds, on schedule, I find this fight too busy for regular Prism casts. Besides, Light’s Hammer comes off CD just at the right time for Rampage where its little spidery light tangles shine to their full potential.

Comparing Two Paladins on a same attempt

On my “after Holy Avenger” attempt, my copally, who wasn’t using Holy Avenger kicked my butt on the meters. Solidly. So let’s look at what he was doing spellwise.

magscopally

Our two top spells, Mastery and Beacon, were fairly comparable and his Holy Radiance was only slightly less than mine.

Then his 5 million Arcing Light points and laughs at my 1.7 million Holy Prism.

He did 3.5 million healing with Light of Dawn and 2.3 million with Eternal Flame for a total of 5.8 million Holy Power healing (slightly more than me).

And he got lucky with 1.4 million more Diffusion than me.

The moral of this story is, I guess, don’t use Holy Prism on this fight.

Conclusion: A Lesson Learned

Last night I made sure Light’s Hammer was ready to go on the pull. And I also followed Aladya’s example in planning CDs for Rampage. (Obviously, I couldn’t execute it quite as perfectly as he does, but the general CD timing was there.)

The end result looked like this:

magsnew

Still below our meter whores Druid and Shaman who play meter topping games with each other, but still solid. Especially since I died near the end.

And in closing, my spell breakdown from last night, analyze it how you will.

magsspellsnew

Holy Avenger and EF Blanketing – The Results

June 15, 2013

As I was researching yesterday’s post (and by researching, I mean creepy stalking top Holy Pally parsers on World of Logs), I noticed that every one of them was using a healing technique I hadn’t tried:

Holy Avenger on CD, Holy Power built through Holy Radiance and Holy Shock and sunk via Eternal Flame blanketing over as much of the raid as possible.

I checked both 10s and 25s, under the Heroics tab. Both used this trick, though 25s players seemed more likely to blow Divine Favor and Avenging Wrath at the same time as Holy Avenger (time for a macro?) while 10s generally staggered their CDs out more.

So it seems I’m well behind the times (that’s what happens when WoW takes the backseat for months), but I’m sure I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE.

Plus before and after screenshots are always tons of fun.

The Changes

On top of using the Holy Avenger trick, I also started tracking Illuminated Healing (Mastery). I doubt it made a significant difference but it did lightly influence where I would cast my Holy Radiance/Holy Shock/Eternal Flame.

Our healing comp was a bit different than last week too. Last week my Copally was away, and this week we were missing our Monk and Druid S. This would have an effect on how each of us heal in comparison to one and other, but I really don’t think it would account for a drastic change. After all, we rarely use the same healing comp on a given fight from week to week anyway.

In terms of gear, if you look at the past few weeks, my gear will have improved, but between this week and last, the only differences were how I found two pieces that made me to think “I could have sworn I’d reforged these!“, and my weekly VP gear upgrading. So, some influence on my stats, but less than a clear change.

Notes on Throughput and Functionality

This is obviously a post on throughput. Throughput has its place. After all, if healers can’t keep up with the damage or with their teammates, they’re holding the raid back. Plus, guild and healing leads from all brackets (yes, I’ve seen leads from guilds who can’t kill normal Horridon obsess over healing meters) don’t see past meters and HPS. So meter milking is a good skill to have if you want some peace and quiet.

However, throughput is not a replacement for functionality.

A healer’s first priority is to keep the raid (or healing assignment, depending on the team and the fight) alive through every mechanic. Standing still and spamming heals isn’t a luxury most of us have access to. (And even if it were, it doesn’t sound very fun, you know?)

My poor copally, who ended up, without his knowledge (if this were real science, this experiment would never make it past the ethics committee) being a control subject, is by far a better healer than I am. I spend more energy looking up techniques, but he makes less mistakes than me, and doesn’t panic and freeze up the way I do. When it comes to choosing a paladin for exploratory fights, he is the obvious choice.

Once your priorities are covered, though, there’s nothing wrong with taking your art to the next level and squeezing extra out of your character.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend Holy Avenger to a freshly-pressed, new paladin. I’d like to see a new paladin healer master Beacon healing, Holy Power cycling and cooldown management before adding yet another CD. Once those are down, then by all means.

For your amusement, here is a list of my screw ups last night as I tried to fit the new technique into my routine:

1- On H-Jin’Rokh, dropped a fissure in the middle of raid.
2- On H-Horridon, almost got eaten by my pink dino (have really no idea how I survived that)
3- On H-Council, drowned in Quicksand
4- On H-Iron Council, got 3 stacks of flame lines, had to bubble, then had no bubble left to mask my inability to handle tornadoes. Also missed my pre-tornado Aura Mastery.

While on the average raid night, I earn no shortage of “that’s not good” and “Rykga, Rykga, Rykga“, the above aren’t mistakes I typically make (except for pre-tornado Aura Mastery. I always screw that one up.)

But enough chitchat. Here are the preliminary results of my healing with Holy Avenger experiement. (Also keep in mind that I was very clumsy with the technique. Imagine what this would look like if my CD timing were perfected!)

(more…)

WoW… Oh hei! I still play that!

June 14, 2013

You know you’ve fallen out of the loop when you come across lists of Holy Paladin bloggers… and your name is nowhere to be found. Which is fair enough – I haven’t written anything substantial since that guide from two patches ago, which I never even polished up. It’s just. That. Time. Goes by. So fast. SO FAST. Didn’t I write that last guide post YESTERDAY? OMG.

But have no fear! Newcomer bloggers Paladiner and Lucy have got you covered, especially when it comes to Heroic Mode info. Super busy Getsu also finds the time to post some Holy Paladin thoughts as well (I complain that I can’t update because I’m busy, but he’s like 200 times busier than me and still finds time for Holy Pally philosophy /shame).

And if Heroic raiding and patch notes aren’t your thing, the awesome Megacode is still going strong with his regular podcasts on Normal modes, basics and other must-knows. He’s also done some fantastic interviews with high profile players. (Speaking of Megacode’s podcasts, I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say it yet, but I wasn’t told not to say anything and I’m super super excited so I’m going to say it anyway: he has another round table coming up! I can’t wait! I think we should do like a holy paladin cafe once a month, where a bunch of us grab mics, a bunch more get into the chat channel and we just pally talk. No prep, no editing. Just glorious, glorious pally talk. Would anyone else be interested in that?)

So we’re digesting 5.3 sideways, 5.4 is on the horizon (already? WTF) yet all I want to talk about are Bioware games and nerd conventions. That’s just how I am. But still, I will not be left out during these kinda-difficult-but-we’ve-been-through-worse Holy Paladin times.

5.3 and The Great Mastery and T14 4-pc Nerf of 2013

Of Tier Gear 14 and 15

Unlike most, I made the switch from T14 4pc to T15 as soon as I had enough T15 to get a 2pc. The reasoning was that my T14 gear came from a mix of LFR and Normal mode while my T15 was nice and shiny Normal and Heroic stamped.

I experimented by switching back and forth, and once I got used to both, I could get roughly equal numbers. T14, for me, was all about the EF blanketing, while T15 lets me go crazy with Holy Radiance. (Holy Radiancing – something I know many of my fellows are ticked off about. But what can you do? Perhaps it’s just our overachieving tanks, but it seems like the only T15 fight where we need any kind of tank healing assignments is Heroic Mags and MAYBE SOMETIMES Heroic Council. For everything else, there’s Holy Radiance.) As I shifted toward T15 and got deeper in heroic content, I found that my old T14 set just didn’t have the mana regen necessary for today’s modern boss fights. So off to the vendor we went.

Paladiner suggests skipping the T15 4pc. His experience with specific fights doesn’t reflect my own, probably because he runs with a different healer team makeup, and, more likely, he does 10s while I do 25s. But! As stubborn as I am about keeping my shiny 4pc, I do agree that the extra stat bonus from an upgrade from normal-mode T15 piece to a heroic (or better, a Heroic THUNDERFORGED!) non-T15 piece would probably give your healing more oomph than a boost to Beacon.

There are some exceptions – my copally and I cross-beacon on Heroic Mags and we each get a lot of healing out of it. A lot. While we don’t seem to get the same kind of Beacon numbers on Heroic Council, I suspect that when we switch to direct healing Frostbite targets, our Beacons (again, cross-beaconing) have made other healers lives much easier. Otherwise, it seems the other fights in Throne are more raid damage typed, where extra Mastery and extra Spirit to support shiny Holy Radiances would go further than a boost to Beacon.

That said, I creepy stalked some of the highest HPS pallies in the US, and the vast majority (but not all!) were using T15 4pc. Note, though, their healing situations might not reflect that of the average raid. Plus they might swap gear around between fights.

And, what else? Oh yes, Mastery nerfs. Ouch.

Mastery Nerfs and healing styles

I checked my logs after the nerf and I half expected to find myself booted from my guild. It hurt my healing that bad. My copally was healing just fine, though, so I think the numbers may have had more to do with me than with the nerf. I tried harder the next week, and while I couldn’t get to where I was before the nerf, I did manage to not be rock bottom of the meters on every fight.

A couple of pallies asked me if they should change their stat priorities given the changes to Mastery. I don’t do much experimenting with things that extreme – but if anyone wants to give it a try, I’d be happy to look at the results.

I went to World of Logs again and went through a dozen of the highest ranking paladins (for 25 Heroic, mind you) and Mastery was a unanimous priority.

Another unanimous trait was the healing style of Holy Shock/Holy Radiance to generate Holy Power, followed by Eternal Flame blanketing. I swear most of them don’t even have Light of Dawn in their spell book.

(I try to heal like that, but apparently I fail pretty hard. In a fight 90 seconds shorter, Envy’s Finella gets more than twice the Holy Radiances and EFs out than I can!)

A strategy they use and that I hadn’t come across in discussions, is to take Holy Avenger (remember Holy Avenger, the level 75 talent?) and use it on CD. Combine with Divine Favor and Avenging Wrath for extra sexiness.

Simple and brilliant. For 18 seconds, you can get a lot of badass Eternal Flames out. Then you have 72 to 102 seconds to generate EFs the old fashion way.

I’m going to try this tonight.

As for meter rankings for the pros since the nerf, it seems that those pallies who were topping the meters before are now only slightly behind their Disc Priest buddies. Their healing environment is kinda different than the average raider (they have less healers, which spreads damage differently, and their healing aims more for numbers than functionality and bare survival), but the rest of us still have no excuse.

5.4, Flex Raiding, Minor Changes and Beyond

The Holy Paladin of the Future

I was happy to find no trace of those Eternal Flame nerfs everyone’s been panicking about. (Those aren’t hidden somewhere, are they? I’m scared!)

Our class changes are pretty minor. Paladiner’s wringed as much analysis out of our set bonuses as possible. Dedralie at Healiocentric has some discussion on our general changes on her blog as well.

If you want a TL;DR of our predicted changes, here it is: some wording on talents and some tiny number adjustments on Hand of Purity. At the time, I doubt anything will actually be noticeable in game. (Other than, obviously, T16 gear.)

And Flex Raiding!

Flex Raiding

Why is everyone so upset about Flex Raiding?

I think my guildy had the best reaction to the announcement: “Will I be getting an achievement for Flex Raiding?

I can see how a third lockout would be annoying to guilds in the upper-but-not-raiding-24-hours-a-day bracket. Even so, it only takes a couple of weeks for these guilds before everyone has everything they need from pre-normal raid lockouts, weeks where most of us are chained to our computers anyway. And adding a third lockout would probably reduce the number of weeks it takes to get saturated with pre-normal gear.

Personally, I’m super happy about this. I doubt, however, I’ll use it much. For me, I think, Flex raiding is coming too late. For the longest time, I wished there were some way I could help my off server friends with current tier fights without having to built a raiding alt. I also wished there was a way we could have scaling fights, so we didn’t spent more time looking for pugs than actually playing. By now, though, most of my off servers friends have scattered. I’ve lost touch with too many of them and don’t feel comfortable sending a “hey, wanna Flex Raid with me?“. But still, I’m happy the opportunity will be there, should I get the call.

It might also be a way for me to connect with my own guild. During regular raids, I still freeze up whenever someone talks to me (and with my fluttery attention span, it’s very hard for me to concentrate on the raid and chat to guildies at the same time). I tried running LFR with them, but it’s not the same with a bunch of a strangers in our group. So even though I’ve been in the guild for months and am quite happy (the raids are efficient, fair and entertaining, what more could I ask for?), I’m not as engaged as I usually am. Flex raiding would perfect for drunken, no stress guild fun.

What else is coming up in 5.4? Virtual realms?

Virtual Realms or Are we really just looking for an excuse to overreact?

I play on Tichondrius, which, I think, has become the most populated realm after last week’s character service discount. Why everyone wants to move to a server where there are up to 40 minute queues in the evening and where you have to get up at 5 am to do dailies if you don’t want to spend more time getting ganked than playing the game, I have no idea. But long story short, I don’t think I’ll be affected by virtual realms.

As for everyone else, it sounds like virtual realms will help somewhat with the challenges of playing on a low pop server, namely guild recruiting and finding fun things to do with strangers on offnights. Perhaps I’m missing something huge, but I can’t see where the problem is.

There! A WoW post at last!

I think that sums my recent thoughts on the game.

I do still play, I assure you. Cadenza is now 7/13H in 25s. Thankfully, Throne of Thunder calls for waaaay less twitchy movement than, um, that other dungeon who’s name I apparently blocked from my memory. I still die enough to worry about getting kicked. Every time I see an in-game mail from my GM I get all “oh noes!“. (It’s usually just a shipment of raid food, though. Why he does this, I’m not sure. I wonder if his food Auction House alt has a name similar to Rykga and I’m getting them by accident. Or perhaps it’s a quiet hint that I need more spirit. But, you know, I won’t turn down free raid food.)

The mic port on my desktop blew so now I can’t talk on Vent or Skype or Mumble. Not sure if there’s a way to fix that without having to change my whole motherboard. (While I did build this computer with my own two hands, I’m still pretty clueless about how everything fits together.) I’m quite sad about it but not enough yet to dare rip my tower apart. The laptop still works, anyway.

And, um, I’m really trying to find things to write about here. It feels like when I write to my mom: “Dear Mom, I am still alive. I work a lot. Sometimes I go hiking but not very often because it rains all the time. We got snow last week too. I went to the SPCA this morning and walked a dog. I made soup in my slow cooker overnight and it tasted funny. Do you know what I am doing wrong? My computer is being buggy again. You should try Granville Island Brewery’s Summer Mingler pack. It’s quite delicious. That’s all I can think of. Love, Jenn.”

Alright, time to shut off the computer so my eyes don’t hurt for raid. Talk to you all again in like a month!

Holy Paladin Notes for Throne of Thunder: Tortos

April 10, 2013

So. I’ve had the chance to see Throne of the Thunder a few more times since part 1. I started writing part 2, but got as far as Tortos before my blogging juice ran out. After sitting for 3 days on a Tortos write up, I figured I might as well post it. I can do the next fights, well, if I ever get a day off work or something.

(Also realized that April 7 was my fourth bloggiversary! 4 years since I wrote my first post here. It feels just like yesterday, yet like an eternity at the same time. So much has happened since then, so much, so fast! A huge heartfelt thank you to everyone who’s ever read this little corner of the internet, linked to my posts, commented, offered me advice, RTed me on Twitter, hung out with me, invited me to their blog or podscast, got drunk with me or put up with me in any way. And a special cheers to all the guildies and friends over the years who’ve been such good sports about being featured as characters on this blog. You guys are the best – whether it was by or against your will. Here’s to 4 more years of being big grown up kids.)

Tortos

Icy Veins overall strat: http://www.icy-veins.com/tortos-detailed-strategy-wow

Predominate damage type: Physical (Though the raid will smacked by Nature damage from Rockfall)

Suggested Spec and Glyphs: http://www.wowhead.com/talent#l!^N|cnr

Track on your frames: None!

CD timings:
Devotion Aura – If you use it right after the first Quake Stomp, you can probably fit it in again near the end.
Guardian of Ancient Kings – Might be able to fit in twice if you use it right away. You’ll definitely want it off CD for the end.
Divine Favor/Avenging Wrath – You can use them on CD, or right before (or after) a Quake Stomp.
Divine Shield/Hand of Protection – Can be used to evade the stun from Quake Stomp. Hand of Protection can be used on a co-healer while you have Forbearance. Nice for 10s groups who 2-heal.
Divine Protection – Can be use for Quake Stomp or in combination with Hand of Sacrifice on the tanks, if Glyphed. If not Glyphed, use after Quake Stomps.

Move if: You are standing in swirly circles (Rockfall) or a spinning turtle is heading toward you.

Positioning: Kinda spread out. You’ll be moving and dodging most of the fight.

Discussion:

Quake Stomp (physical damage) happens about every 50 seconds. Before Quake Stomp, Rockfall will hit about once every 10 seconds, after Quake Stomp, it’ll be twice per second for 8 seconds, hence all the post-Quake Stomp cooldown suggestions. Toward the very end of the fight, Tortos kind of goes nuts with his little turtles so you’ll like to have some CDs available for that.

For glyphs, I opted for Glyph of Divine Protection to use during Quake Stomp and to help with Hand of Sacrifice. If you’d prefer to use Divine Protection to ease Rockfall’s Nature damage, you can pick another favorite Glyph.

Talentwise, Pursuit of Justice seems the most logical speed increase since you’re constantly running short distances. I haven’t actually tried Burden of Guilt, but I’m told that it can help slow the spinning turtles. I prefer Eternal Flame for level 45, but if you always use Light of Dawn on this fight, you could consider Sacred Shield. Clemency is nice for extra Hands of Protection, though Unbreakable Spirit works well too for more selfish healers (like me). Since there is constant damage throughout the fight, I’d go with Divine Purpose. And, Holy Prism is helpful since most of the raid will be spread out (though on 25 Light’s Hammer still does pretty good healing when used on the melee).

Happy turtle hunting!

Preparing a Fight with World of Logs

January 28, 2013

When I want to really prepare for a fight, I don’t watch dozens of videos, I don’t compare various guides. Nope. When I want to go above and beyond to prepare for a fight, I go to World of Logs.

It can be more time consuming, but the depth of information is priceless. Plus, for those of us who need to apply knowledge in order to learn (if you were the kid who taught themselves math in high school by doing the exercises before reading the theory, WoL fight preparation is for you!), I find it’s the only way to get a solid idea of the fight before the pull.

Since I’ve been studying WoL a lot lately (and spamming posting my findings on my guild forums), I figured I’d share my approach, in case some of you would like to give this method a try.

Note that my strategy for tackling logs varies a bit from fight to fight depending on whether I want to observe general damage patterns, tank healing strategy or boss mechanics. It also depends on how much I already of the fight (learning the heroic version vs a completely new fight).

Together, you and I are going to prepare for Heroic Imperial Vizier Zor’lok.

1- Decide what we’re looking for

If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you won’t find it!

Let’s figure out our needs:

1) We (I) already know this fight on normal so we’re not too concerned about mechanics.
2) We know that this is a “heal through Force and Verve and don’t get hit by disks” fight so we’re not too interested in general healing strategies.
3) We do, however, want to get an idea of the overall damage patterns so we can choose our glyphs, talents and plan our cooldowns.

Now that we’ve figured out what we’re looking for, we’ll know not to waste time on individual healer spell breakdowns or incoming tank damage logs.

Instead, we’ll probably spend a lot of time looking at the “Total Damage Taken” graph and matching the spikes with the boss abilities from the Log Browser. We’ll probably also look at the “Deaths Overview” page to see what attacks tend to kill players. We might also want to compare a tank and a non-tank’s Damage Taken graphs with the Total Damage Taken graph.

If this is gibberish to you, don’t worry, I’ll explain it all in time.

2- Collect some background information

It does help to review a strat guide to get an idea of spell names (and general mechanics if this is a completely new fight) before perusing the logs. Even if you can’t understand general strat guides (I usually don’t), keep them opened in tabs for references.

Let’s open the Icy Veins strat and Pardeux’ strat.

3- Find some Logs

findinglogs

To find logs, select the fight (1), the size/difficulty (2) then the link to the kills (3).

To get a decent idea of what you’ll be facing, you’ll want to pick the logs of:

1) A recent kill (patches and hotfixes constantly change fights).
2) A kill in your language (it’s a lot of extra work to decode a foreign spell names).
3) A kill from a guild with comparable dps/healing strength.

findingguild

There are 106 pages of Vizier kills and I know my guild struggles a bit with dps performance, so I’m going straight to my URL bar (1) and to enter page 101 (if you’re not sure of the URL, go to the very bottom of the page and click on the “next” link on the far left. That will bring you to page 2. Then go back to your URL and replace “2″ with “101″.)

The “US Guild!” logs seem perfect – fairly recent, in my language and probably in my guild’s dps range.

I’m going to choose logs from another guild in the same range as well for comparison purposes. I’m also going to pull up logs of a recent kill by a top notch guild (in the first 10 pages of the kills list) so I can see how the fight looks when executed perfectly.

4- Note the Length of the Fight

Our “comparable” fights:

fightlength1
fightlength2

And our “top notch” fight:

fightlength3

Building our strat: Knowing the fight varies between 7 and 10.5 minutes is important for cooldown planning. Because the fights are long, we know we can use our “long” cooldowns like Guardian of Ancient Kings twice, and our “medium” cooldowns like Avenging Wrath or Divine Favor at least twice, preferably 3 times.

5- Look at Damage Taken

findingdmgtaken

If you choose Damage Taken from the dropdown bar, you’ll get a graph with a lot of lines. Scroll down to the list below the graphs and uncheck every box. You’ll end up with graphs like this:

dmgtaken1
dmgtaken2
dmgtaken3

The first two are our comparable guilds, the last is the top notch guild.

These graphs make me giddy because they are very much alike. Which means the damage patterns will look like this: spiky at first, then a lull with possible minor spikes, then several intense spikes for the last ~1/3 of the fight.

See the 5 buttons on the top right corner, just under “Total”? You can play with those to check who died to what and when, verify when adds die (not shown in the images I posted, but there are 2 adds in the fight) and show/hide heroism (heroism is shown in the images as the large blue bar).

Building our strat: This fits perfectly with our cooldowns! We’ll pop Guardian of the Ancient Kings and another cooldown for the first major spike. We can use other cooldowns if there are spikes during the “lull” phase, and all cooldowns should be ready for use by the time the final spiky phase comes along. As well, spikes mean we’ll probably want to spec into Holy Avenger for the yummy burst healing.

6- Match up Damage Spikes to Boss Abilities

findinglogbrowser

Open the log browser.

logquery

Once you’re in the log browser, remove the current query (1) (I’m not sure why “Show all events” comes up by default. It did take me a long time to figure out how to use the log browser because of that.) then hit “Add Query” (2). Once you’ve entered your query, hit “Run” (3).

addquery

When you hit “Add Query”, the “Add Query” window pops up. The log browser only shows a limited number of lines so you have to be specific in what you’re looking for. It does take a little practice to become good at finding what you’re looking for but once you figure it out, it’s simple.

For this analysis, I want to look at spells cast (1) by the Source Imperial Vizier Zor’lok (2) (note: spelling is important when using the log browser). Then I hit save.

zorlokcasts

After running the query, the log shows all of Zor’lok’s casts.

The rest is just matching up the spells to the Damage Taken graph. Note that there is often a 5-15 second difference between the timestamps on the log browser and the timestamps on the graph, which can be frustrating and confusing.

We can conclude that all the first minor spike is probably Pheromones of Zeal damage (I would guess comparable guild #2 started the fight on the first platform, hence why they only have one spike at the beginning while the other guilds have 2 spikes), the second is Force and Verve, small spikes in between are people getting hit during Attenuation, medium spikes are likely Converts and the major spikes at the end are Force and Verve during the final phase.

Building our strat: Force and Verve is going to hurt a lot, so we should be ready with our cooldowns as soon as he starts casting it. We also know that Force and Verve and Attenuation are physical damage so Devotion Aura will be useless against them (Devo Aura might be helpful would be during the transition between platforms or MAYBE during Convert, since those are the only times any Magic damage will be going out). Hand of Protection, however, might be nice making Clemency an interesting talent choice. We should glyph Divine Protection, and we could combine it with Unbreakable Spirit instead of choosing Clemency as well. Because Force and Verve is AoE damage while we’re grouped up, Light’s Hammer is a good talent choice too. Holy Prism may also be an option, though I’m feeling more Light’s Hammer.

7- Peak at the Deaths Overview

deathsoverview

The deathlog is probably my favorite part of logs because it shows you who dies to what and when. During post-raid analysis it quickly tells you who’s dying to avoidable damage. In a pre-raid analysis, it tells you which abilities to be ready for, and helps you differentiate deadly abilities from abilities that just hurt a lot.

In this kill, 10 players died to Attenuation, 10 died to Force and Verve and one tank died to normal melee damage.

Building our strat: This just re-enforces what we already know: Force and Verve is going to hurt (so all CDs, talents and Glyphs toward burst healing and reducing physical damage), and we should concentrate extra hard during Attenuation.

Conclusion!

There you have it! We’re set for Imperial Vizier Zor’lok!

And for your enjoyment, attached is a copy of what I posted on our guild forums. (more…)

How I’m healing in MoP – Holy Pally 4eva: Your Cooldowns. Use Them.

January 16, 2013

Second last post of the guide! (Not counting update notifications – of which should start, like, the day after I finish.)

You remember the three component of paladin healing?

1- Beacon Usage
2- Holy Power building and sinking
3- Cooldown management.

Even back when Holy Paladins were (wrongfully) accused of “one button healing”, proper use of cooldowns distinguished the decent Paladin healer from the good Paladin healer. Between mana buttons, output enhancing buttons and fight manipulation buttons, we had a lot of control over what happened during a fight.

Now that we have more healing buttons, we also have more cooldown buttons (including talents and excluding potions, I counted 17) and, more than ever, using cooldowns properly will take your playstyle to the next level.

What is a Cooldown?

Basics first!

A cooldown (or CD) is a spell or ability of considerable power which, when used, has a timer before it can be used again.

For the purpose of this post, the time between uses has to be at least 20 seconds (so Holy Prism can qualify). While Holy Shock does have a cooldown, I don’t think of it as a Cooldown Spell.

So how do I know to use a Cooldown?

First, make sure your UI clearly shows which cooldowns are ready to be used and how much time is left on those that are not.

Then, you’ve got two choice:

DPS Style: Use your CDs the second they’re ready, goals being to squeeze in as much healing as you can and to lower mana requirements for the fight.

Saviour Style: Save your CDs for specific moments, either to react to a predictable burst of damage, or to prevent a wipe in case of an emergency.

Both styles have their place and the wise Holy Paladin knows when to use each approach based on three elements:

1- The Nature of the Cooldown: There’s no point in using a specific damage reduction cooldown if that type of damage isn’t present, just like it’s silly to use a threat manipulation cooldown if threat isn’t a concern.

2- The Cooldown Timer: When a timer only allows one use per fight, the cooldown is best saved for an emergency or for the last minute of the fight. Abilities with very short cooldowns can be used more freely since they’re likely to be ready again by the time they’re really needed.

3- Knowledge of a Fight: If you know the types (magic vs physical) and patterns (burst vs periodic, single target vs raid-wide) of damage in a fight, you can plan your cooldown usage to get the most out of all your spells.

Cooldown use is also influenced by the strategy your raid or healing lead has in mind. It’s always a good idea to use your guild’s strategy threads to make sure you’re on the same page as your leaders when it comes to cooldown usage on specific fights. Prevents screaming matches.

I’ll also point out that on new progression fights, aka, fights where your team is just starting to learn the mechanics, aka, where you expect to wipe within the first 3-4 minutes, it makes sense to blow all your extra healing CDs early. They’ll help keep the team alive longer during the mechanics-learning process and they should be ready for use again by the time you recover from the wipe.

Output Enhancing Cooldowns

Divine Favor: (3 minutes) Increases haste and crit for 20 seconds.
Avenging Wrath: (3 minutes) Increases healing output. Can by modified with Sanctified Wrath (talent) and Glyphs of Avenging Wrath and the Falling Avenger.
Trinket with on-use Intellect: Empty Fruit Barrel was the only one I could find with an on-use Intellect boost.
Holy Avenger: (Talent only – 2 minutes) Increases healing output of certain spells and builds Holy Power.
Potion of the Jade Serpent: (Potion – Once per fight, may also use an extra one right before pull) Increases intellect for 25 seconds, which in turn increases healing output.

All of these cooldowns increase your throughput somehow.

I included a potion for completeness’ sake. You can only use one potion, total, per fight so only use a Potion of the Jade Serpent if you’re positive you won’t be needing a potion for mana later on. If a fight has a lot of damage right at the start, you can do like a dps player and pre-pot (drink a potion right before the pull to avoid triggering the once-per-fight restriction), however most fights in Tier 14 start off slowly damage wise, making pre-potting a waste. (However, as Talarian suggests in the comments, if a fight doesn’t start off with steep healing, you’re tight on the enrage timer and you don’t think mana will be an issue, you can pre-pot and use your damage spells for some smooth healer dps.)

All the other buttons (and the trinket), however, have a 2-3 minute cooldown, meaning you should use them at least twice on any fight longer than 6 minutes. On most fights they can be used DPS Style (as soon as they come up), but if a fight has conveniently spaced bursts of damage (think Empress in Heart of Fear), you can time your cooldowns to help you mop up after the bursts.

These throughput cooldowns also have a fantastic side effect: since they make your spells harder and/or faster, you can use lighter spells, saving mana. (Thank you Sol for the comment!)

Unless you need a biiiiig burst of healing, avoid having more than one cooldown active at a time. Hitting Divine Favor and Avenging Wrath together will, more often than not, result in 20 seconds of overheal. It’s much less of a waste to use one, wait for it to finish, then use another.

Extra Heals Cooldowns

Lay on Hands: (5-12 minutes) Heals the target for the amount of your maximum health. This is the tank saver. Can be modified with Glyph of Divinity for a bonus mana-return and with the Unbreakable Spirit talent for a cooldown reduction.
Guardian of Ancient Kings: (5 minutes) Adds to 5 of your single target heals and splashes healing onto nearby players.
Execution Sentence: (Talent only – 1 minute) Single target heal over time.
Holy Prism: (Talent only – 20 seconds) Can be used a cheap single target heal or as a small area of effect heal.
Light’s Hammer: (Talent only – 1 minute) Puts an area of healing on the ground for 17.5 seconds.

Lay on Hands and Guardian of Ancient Kings have fairly long CDs. On long, long, long fights they can be used twice (maybe three times if a fight goes over 15 minutes) but on most fights they can only be used once.

Lay on Hands is such a powerful tank savor that I like to save it for emergencies, regardless of fight length, unless I’m positive that our tanks won’t need it. As for Guardian of Ancient Kings, it’s nice to use twice on long fights, once early on and once at the end, unless you feel you might need to prevent a wipe halfway through. Never finish a fight with Guardian off CD. It’s such a great healing bonus that if the fight is almost over and you haven’t needed it yet, just use it. USE IT.

The other three are the level 90 talents. You pick one. They’re on short timers, so use them whenever they’re available, unless you have a perfect opportunity coming up within the next few seconds.

Raid-wide Cooldown

Devotion Aura:
(3 minutes) Reduces magic damage (AND ONLY MAGIC DAMAGE) for 6 seconds. Also prevents Silences and Interrupts for those 6 seconds, which is more useful in PvP than in Tier 14 raiding.

This time around, Devotion Aura (or, affectionately, Devo Aura) is our cooldown that affects the entire raid. It (only) lasts 6 seconds and is useless against physical damage.

There are still a lot of fights where Devotion Aura is lovely, though, so check the types of damage caused by different boss abilities. If there’s magic damage that affects more than 2-3 people at once, you’ve got a Devo Aura opportunity.

You can usually fit it in twice a fight, but check with your raid or healing lead – most teams like to coordinate raid-wide CDs for maximal benefit.

Fight Manipulation Cooldowns

Hand of Sacrifice: (2 minutes) Transfers some damage from the target over to you.
Hand of Purity: (talent only – 30 seconds) Reduces damage from (most) periodic effects on the target. Check out Gina’s list of HofPurity opportunities.
Hand of Protection: (5 minutes) Prevents all physical (AND ONLY PHYSICAL) damage on the target (also usually removes bleed effects) for 10 seconds, but prevents the target from using physical attacks (melee and hunters don’t like this). Has added affect that melee mobs will stop attacking the target and go elsewhere (squishies like this, tanks to do not).
Hand of Salvation: (2 minutes) Removes the targets threat. Hunters appreciate the thought. Tanks, not so much.
Hand of Freedom: (25 seconds) Removes/prevents movement impairing effects. Useful on the trash to Elegon.

Hand CDs are called Hands for a reason: they give you some control over fights.

Hand of Sacrifice can be used DPS-Style, however some teams like to coordinate usage for certain fights. Check with your leaders before keeping Hand of Sacrifice on CD. Same goes for Hand of Purity, on fights where HofPurity is helpful.

Note that while Hand of Sacrifice on its own should not be able to kill you, if you have Hand of Sacrifice active while intense raid damage is going out, your face might meet the floor. I speak from experience. Be wise when you use it, and if you think you might die, get a damage reduction CD on yourself (scroll down this post to read about Divine Protection and Divine Shield). Also note that damage transferred through HofSac keeps its type. So physical damage to your target means physical damage to you.

Hand of Protection is really handy (oh the bad pun!) during trash, or for fights with lots of adds, if your team is a little clumsy. I’ve also used it to clear nasty Wind Steps on Heroic Blade Lord. The CD timer is long, though, so you’ll rarely get to use it more than once a fight. Choose your opportunity wisely.

I’ve yet to use Hand of Salvation, but if your team is a little clumsy, some of your trigger-happy dps might appreciate a good Salv. As for Freedom, in PvE, it is very situation specific, but does have occasional uses. Both have a fairly short timer and can be used rather freely.

If you really like your Hands, look into the Clemency talent, which lets you use all Hands (except Purity) twice before triggering the CD.

Mana Cooldowns

Divine Plea: (2 minutes) Returns mana for 9 seconds but lowers healing output during that time. Can be modified via Glyph of Divine Plea to negate the healing penalty in exchange for a 5 second cast time.
Trinket with on-use Spirit or Mana: Scroll of Revered Ancestors, Jade Courtesan Figurine, Vial of Ichorous Blood, Price of Progress all have on-use Spirit or Mana return.
Master Mana Potion/Potion of Focus: (Potion – Once per fight) Potions that restores mana.

Unless you’re drowning in a pool of your own mana, Divine Plea can (and usually should) be used DPS-Style starting when you reach about 80% mana. Be smart about it though, if you’re approaching a point in the fight where the healing penalty (or cast time) might be a problem, wait a little bit. Same goes for if a point in the fight where the healing penalty or cast time doesn’t matter is coming up.

As for your on-use mana-returning trinkets, they have no penalty associated with them, so if you have a such a trinket, you’ll want to use it right after your first few casts, then whenever it makes itself available.

Again, I put some potions in for completeness. The Master Mana Potion only restores a little bit of mana, but can be used instantly. Potion of Focus, on the other hand, restores more mana but requires that you drop what you’re doing to sit and drink. You only get to use one potion per fight, so choose wisely.

Personal Damage Reduction Cooldown

Divine Protection: (30 seconds to 1 minute) In it’s original state, reduces magic (AND ONLY MAGIC!) damage for 10 seconds. You can add a physical damage reduction component via Glyph of Divine Protection, and you can reduce the CD via the Unbreakable Spirit talent.
Divine Shield: (2.5-5 minutes) Makes you invulnerable (with some exceptions) for 8 seconds and removes most debuffs. The CD can be reduced via the Unbreakable Spirit talent.

Divine Protection has such a cute little CD that it can be used DPS Style for fights with regular raid damage, unless there’s a big burst of damage coming up. Check damage types before each fight to know whether or not to add the physical damage reduction Glyph.

While Divine Shield coupled with Unbreakable Spirit can have a fairly short CD, this spell is such a powerful oopsy-fixer that you’ll want to almost exclusively use it Savior Style. If you screw up and are about to be killed (and humiliated) by avoidable damage, you want this spell to be available to save your face. I mean your life. You’ll probably only get to use it once per fight, but you’re a good pally who doesn’t make many mistakes, right?

AND THAT ENDS THE HOW-TO PORTION OF THIS GUIDE!

Oh yessssss.

Next post is the one I’ve been looking forward to since day one! I get to update my links and point all you avid pally-info readers to some awesome resources and fantastic members of the paladin community.

But for now I need to rest my sore fingers.

How I’m healing in MoP – Holy Pally 4eva: Healing with Beacon

January 7, 2013

That’s right! The end of this series is in sight and it’s time to talk about, you know, real healing spells!

As I see it, there are three components to paladin healing:

1- Beacon of Light Usage
2- Holy Power building and sinking
3- Cooldown Management

Since this is healing technique post #1, we’re going talk about Beacon.

beacon

The official description is rather clear. You put a buff, Beacon of Light, on a player of your strategic choosing, and the healing you do on other players transfers to your Beacon target.

The amount transferred varies based on spell used. So if Beacon is on Mary and you cast a Holy Light on Jack for 300 (numbers used in this post do not reflect actual in game averages), Mary would also receive a 300 heal. But if your Holy Radiance hits 5 people for 300, then Mary would be healed for 5 X (15% of 300) = 225.

You can move your Beacon of Light to different players during a fight, if you feel that’s the best strategy. If you plan on doing that often, consider Glyph of Beacon of Light to remove the global cooldown, making Beacon swapping faster.

Note as well the 60(!!!) yard radius on Beacon. Meaning Beacon can heal a player who’d be out of range by normal standards (40 yards), as long as they are within 60 yards of the person you’re direct healing.

Add Beacon to your frames

beacontracking

You’ll want to track your Beacon.

Since the Beacon buff doesn’t expire – the only ways to get rid of it is for the target to die, for the target to remove it (why would they want to do that?) and for you to cast it on a different target, Beacon tracking isn’t as crucial as it once was. However, since you, the player, are a human being, you sometimes make mistakes. Sometimes your target dies and you don’t put their Beacon back on. Sometimes your mouse slips a little and you cast Beacon on the wrong person. Sometimes you think you’re moving your Beacon to a new target but the cast doesn’t go off. Sometimes YOU EVEN FORGET TO CAST BEACON AT ALL! Tracking your Beacon is the fastest way to catch signs of your humanity and hide them before anyone else notices.

You’ll want to track the Beacons of other paladins in the raid.

But I run 10 man/don’t raid!” you say. You also look at me with that “I know you’re heavily biased toward 25 man raiding” eye. Yes, I do intend to be the last 25 man holy paladin standing. But! Even if you don’t typically run with other holy paladins, you still might run LFR, you might do some Battlegrounds, you might pug a raid.

Knowing what the other holy paladins are doing helps a lot with making strategic decisions as well as predicting where the fight is going. It only takes a second to set up your frames to track other Beacons and you’ll almost certainly discover that you enjoy spying on your fellows.

Choosing a Beacon Target

I wrote about Beacon strategies awhile back. The post is rather outdated, but you might find some ideas for creative Beacon use, if you’re into that sort of thing.

1- Beacon the Tank (or, your Assigned Tank): If you’re just getting started and are running 5 mans, Beacon the tank. In Mists, I believe the only time I Beacon a non-tank in a 5 man is if the tank dies and I decide to save the group. In a raid setting, Beaconing the tank, or the tank you’re assigned to heal, has been my strategy of choice this expansion. It allows for the most freedom, letting you choose between direct healing your Beacon target (which builds Holy Power as we’ll see next post), or healing around and letting those heals transfer through Beacon.

2- Beacon the other Tank: In a fight calling for 2 simultaneous tanks, you can either use strategy #1, or choose to Beacon the tank you’re not assigned to, and spam heal your tank. This is more mana consuming and doesn’t let you help out the raid healers as much, but in a fight that is high on tank damage and low on raid damage, this strategy makes it easy to keep both tanks alive if you don’t trust the person healing the other tank (and might help you climb the meters a little bit, if you’re into that). If you’re healing with another paladin, this choice allows for cross-beaconing (each paladin is assigned a tank, and gives Beacon to the other pally’s tank)

3- Switch from Tank to Tank: I’d only seriously use this strategy on fights where tanks alternate. Assisted by Glyph of Beacon of Light, plop Beacon on whichever tank is currently taking the most damage.

4- Beacon on Someone Else: I can only think of three occasions where I’d use this in Mists so far – healing kiters on Garalon, healing in Gara’jal’s spirit world (thank you Repgrind!) and extreme raid healing. Extreme raid healing was described to me by Cebrafin on my glyph post and involves Beaconing a player before casting Divine Light or Flash of Light on them to build Holy Power. While I’ve never come across this strategy (and I read A LOT of healing logs), and you would rarely use big heals when raid healing, this strategy could be used if you do need a big heal on a non-tank, or as a fun distraction in LFR or during a boring fight.

Next post: That Holy Power you keep hearing about.

Chibi Rykga says hi! (Thank you Rades for the link!)

Chibi Rykga says hi! (Thank you Rades for the link!)

Till next time!


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