Keeping Your Head Above Water in 4.0.1
Update Oct 19, 2010 – Looks like Blizzard gave in to our begging and gave us a boost. Pretty much everything here still holds true, although the “our output suuuuucks” jokes loose somewhat of their meaning. Because we’re still very much single target healers and mastery still isn’t recorded (I know a few people have found a trick to make Recount show mastery, but I tried it and all it did was crash Recount), we’re still low on the meters, but at least now our spells are smacking for amounts that seem reasonable.
Healing meters in 4.0.1:
Don’t be shocked. It sucks, but that’s the way it is. Keep in mind that the absorbs done by our Mastery, Illuminated Healing aren’t recorded by either Recount or World of Logs, so we aren’t doing quite as badly as we think.
After fooling around in-game, talking to other paladins (<3 Kurn, Anolaana and the paladin formally known as the hunter Grindin) and reading Elitist Jerks, blogs, Plus Heal and even the official forums (most of it is QQ, but there are a few early guides posted), I’ve compiled my notes for Holy, version 4.0.1.
At this point, there is very little agreed upon and most of the Big Thinkers are keeping their eyes on Cataclysm, so any arguing, criticizing, complaining and commiserating is totally welcome.
Spec and Seal
For the last two minor glyphs, take your pick. With the exception of Lay on Hands, our minor glyphs are really stupid.
Seal of Insight is the seal you’ll keep up.
Gemming and Stats
Keep your Brilliant Cardinal Rubies for now (+20 Intellect). Can’t go wrong with the more mana, spell power and crit they provide.
Head – Arcanum of Blissful Mending or Arcanum of Burning Mysteries
Shoulders – Greater Inscription of the Crag or Greater Inscription of the Pinnacle
Back – Greater Speed or Wisdom
Chest – Powerful Stats or Greater Mana Restoration (now gives 20 spirit)
Legs – Brilliant Spellthread
Wrists –Superior Spellpower or Exceptional Intellect or Major Spirit
Hands – Exceptional Spellpower
Feet – Tuskarr’s Vitality or Greater Spirit or Icewalker
Rings – Greater Spellpower
Weapon – Mighty Spellpower or Exceptional Spirit or Major Intellect
*Be sure to wear all plate gear (no more of that stinky mail) now, as Plate Specialization now gives us a 5% Intellect boost.
As for other stats beyond Intellect:
Spirit: Often listed as 2nd important stat after Int. Depends on your gear and playstyle. Reports vary from “my mana bar is stuck at 100%” to “I was OOM a few seconds into the first pull”. Personally, I go through my whole mana bar during an ICC 25 HM fight, but I’m not struggling, even after reforging my spirit to mastery. Adjust your spirit according to your mileage. Err on the side of caution: as long there is mana, there can be life.
Haste: Unknown. Soft cap (global cooldown reduced to 1 second) is reported to be 1019 (thanks Auracen) when raid buffed and Judgments of the Pure is up. Opinions vary on whether to bother reaching the soft cap, staying at the soft cap or going beyond. If you’re keeping an old fashion playstyle (big heal spamming) pump up the haste. Otherwise, you’ll be using a lot of instants with a few long casts (Holy Light and Divine Light) thrown in, so my recommendation is keep your haste, but don’t gem or reforge to it either.
Crit:Yes. With the exception of Divine Light (which is expensive and slow), all our heals are pathetic. Crit amplifies healing, triggers Conviction and makes for more Mastery absorbs. A Holy Shock crit triggers Infusion of Light. Embrace crit.
Mastery: Probably good. To my knowledge, the absorbs from Illuminated Healing (IH) aren’t tracked anywhere so I don’t know how it looks in practice. However, IH does trigger after every heal (except Protector of the Innocent, thanks Jeffo), which is good. The duration is too short to be used for raid healing, but on a tank or in PvP, it offers a free mini-heal in the form of an absorb between heals.
Buff, Proc and Cooldown Tracking
Procs: Have a notification for Infusion of Light. If you don’t like the default Holy Power tracker, consider finding an addon to notify you when you reach 3 stracks. Some paladins are also tracking Speed of Light, but since it procs every time you use Holy Shock, it seems a bit silly.
Holy Trinity: Tracks cooldowns and Holy Power. Not the overly useful for holy pallies, but awesome if you’re polyspectual.
Ristretto Power: Tracks Holy Power stacks.
clcInfo:Seems to keep track of anything you want. Not usable straight out of the box, unfortunately.
Pally Power: Not as essential as it was… Good if you like the buff timer and Righteous Fury reminder.
The idea of a rotation as a paladin healer disturbs me, but the way to wring the most out of our miserable state is this:
1- Any time you have 3 stacks of Holy Power, use Word of Glory.
2- Any time you do not have 3 stacks of Holy Power and Holy Shock is available, Holy Shock.
3- After every Holy Shock, can Divine Light, unless you’re in situation #1 or #2.
4- If Infusion of Light procs, cast Divine Light followed by Holy Light, unless you’re in situation #1 or #2.
5- When waiting for Holy Shock cooldowns and building Holy Power stacks, cast Divine Light.
6- If mana is an issue, swap Divine Light for Holy Light.
7- If time is of the essence, swap Divine Light for Flash of Light. (This shouldn’t happen often.)
8- Avenging Wrath can be used every time it comes off cooldown.
Basically, your rotation looks like HS->HS (if Daybreak prevented the CD)-> DL->HL/DL (depending on mana or Infusion of Light proc)->DL->HS->WoG->WoG (if you’re specced into Eternal Glory and it procs).
Alternatively, you can spam Divine Light/Holy Shock/Word of Glory on your assignment until you run out of mana. You’ll be far from your best, but it is possible to keep the tank up while fumbling with your spells.
Light of Dawn: If there’s a lot of AoE damage and people are closish together, have fun with it. (Also use when feeling the urge to admire new glowy sparkly spell effects -courtesy of @Alice_desu)
Beacon of Light: Keep on your assignment in most situations. To maximize the Holy Power you get, cast Divine Light and Holy Light on your beacon target. Depending on the fight, you may cast Holy Shock and Word of Glory on other targets, but remember that beacon has been seriously nerfed and under most circumstance, it’s not enough to keep a tank up.
Divine Favor: Haste and crit boosting cooldown, use on cooldown or during periods of heavy damage.
Divine Plea: Has been nerfed into the ground, sadly. Like before the patch, if you use it mid-combat try to pop a healing output boosting cooldown to take an edge off the 50% healing penalty.
Now, if you do everything perfectly and don’t waste a single global cooldown, you should be able to beat the shadow priest on the healing meters. Most of the time ;D.
Don’t get me wrong, healing as a paladin in 4.0.1 is really fun. It’s fast paced, it’s interactive, it keeps you on your toes. Unfortunately, as things are now, our healing style isn’t compatible with healing meters, which is discouraging. Despite what some believe, we are still very capable of keeping a tank up. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Shut off Recount (enjoy the lag reduction from that), take the “Healing Done” page on World of Logs with a grain of salt and just focus on having a good time. From what I’m told, in a couple of weeks we’ll get some better changes when a certain Cataclysm becomes available at a gaming store near you.