Yay it’s finally time for part 2!
For once I don’t feel like writing a really long general intro so I’m just going to skip to the really long specific intro.
Intro to MoP Talents
I was amused when MoP Talents were released and guide-writers painfully treated them like old fashioned talents, mapping them into “you should do this” cookie cutters. The new talents don’t work that way. The new talents are fluid.
In theory, this means you switch them around based on fights and strategy. In practice, this means you experiment with most of them and eventually settle on a combination that works for you 98% of the time.
Originally I was going to include Glyphs in this post, but it turns out there’s an awful lot to say about talents. Glyphs will have to wait for their own post.
Specialization VS Talents VS Glyphs
I’m writing this fairly late into Mists, so most of you know the difference between talents and specializations and can safely skip to the next section. But say you’re just coming back to the game after a hiatus. Or! You’re completely new to the game altogether (in which case, yay! We love you!). This section is for you.
Specialization or “spec”, as a paladin, defines your role. Holy is for healing, Retribution is for damage, Protection is for tanking. With me being primarily a Holy Paladin, I’m really only qualified to talk about that spec.
Talents are a completely different feature. At levels 15, 30, 45, 60, 75 and 90 you’re given the choice between three “talents” (if you’re using the default settings, use “N” to bring up talents). Talents can be either new abilities, or modifications on existing abilities. The difference between the old (and the more traditional RPG) talent system and this one is how every character in a given class (so in our case, all Paladins), regardless of spec, choose between the same talents (though some talents might behave differently based on spec).
Glyphs are a similar (but distinct) feature: extra abilities or ability modifications you can choose from. Again, all specs have access to all glyphs, but some glyphs may be useless to certain specs.
Glyphs and talents can be individually swapped around using Tome of the Clear Mind, which can be purchased from a variety of NPCs or made by Scribes. Gone are the days of spending 15 minutes mapping out your choices, only to have to start all over if you catch a mistake.
Level 15: Speed Boost
You get to choose between a running speed cooldown (Speed of Light), a speed boost after Judging (Long Arm of the Law) and a small speed boost that increases with Holy Power (Pursuit of Justice).
I played with all 3, using Long Arm of the Law when doing dailies in ret spec and Pursuit of Justice for long runs back after wipes. In the end, though, Speed of Light ended up being the most convenient, both for raiding and for wandering around Pandaria. Your mileage may vary.
Level 30: Your Crowd Control
Here you get a choice between a longer range and shorter cooldown to Hammer of Justice (Fist of Justice), a solid 1 minute crowd control (Repentance) and a debuff slowing enemies’ movement speed (Burden of Guilt).
As a PvE healer, I honestly don’t use any of these very much. I run with Fist of Justice most of the time but only really use it in 5s heroics when running with a clumsy tank.
When I’m doing my dailies in ret spec Repentance helps for “free the mind controlled guards” type quests and Burden of Guilt is nice for killing mobs who flee (think vermin during Tillers dailies)… I could see Burden of Guilt having use in PvP, but my knowledge of PvP too limited for this paragraph.
Level 45: The Interesting Level
Selfless Healer makes Flash of Light stronger and cheaper after you Judge, Eternal Flame adds a HoT (heal over time) component to Word of Glory and Sacred Shield adds an absorb shield to a target.
Understanding this level takes a good knowledge of our healing spells, so if you’re a brand new holy paladin, you might want to come back to this section after reading the (to-be-written) “basic healing technique” section.
Unless you have a weird Flash of Light based style, you won’t be giving Selfless Healer a test drive. (It could maybe have some use if you’re having trouble healing the Spirit World on Gara’jal, but as a general rule Eternal Flame is really nice on that fight.)
Eternal Flame is the preferred talent of most. It’s fantastic in small groups or for tank/single target healing, and it allows for a technique called “Eternal Flame blanketing” that I’ll cover later on.
Sacred Shield has less healing potential on its own than Eternal Flame, but it is sometimes used in 25s raids (or world bosses) in situations where you tend to use Light of Dawn over Word of Glory as your Holy Power sink.
If you’re a beginner and/or if you’re running 5s, go with Eternal Flame. If you’re running 10s, Eternal Flame will generally be your go-to talent (with maybe the occasional exception). If you’re running 25s, you can choose between Eternal Flame and Sacred Shield based on your healing style, your assignment and the fight.
Level 60: Damage mitigation Cooldowns
This level is a lot of fun because your choices really let you adapt to different situations.
Hand of Purity is ideal for bosses who put DoTs (damage over time) on your healing targets (think Heroic Stone Guard – this might also work during Titan Gas phase on Will of the Emperor though I haven’t tested it, note that it does NOT work for Garalon’s Pheromones as counter-intuitive as that seems. Thank you to @Miskat0nic for clarifying.). One of my favorite tanks once described it as “6 seconds of love”.
Unbreakable Spirit reduces the cooldown on Divine Shield, Divine Protection and Lay on Hands based on your Holy Power usage (which should be high). Since it’s a passive ability (in other words, you don’t have to think about it), it’s nice to have as a baseline talent, especially if you’re new to paladin healing and are already suffering from cooldown-induced ulcers.
Clemency lets you use your Hands of Sacrifice, Freedom, Protection and Salvation twice before triggering the cooldown. This is especially wonderful for dealing with bad tanks in random groups since your Hands help you manipulate tank damage and aggro. Otherwise it comes in handy for bosses who deal REALLY BIG HITS (Sacrifice), for dispelling on the trash before Elegon and Will of the Emperor (Freedom FTW!) and to flirt with Warriors, Death Knights, Rogues and Retribution Paladins (Protection always gets their attention).
Level 75: Your Healing Boosts
Your choices at 75 are between a Holy Power (and select heal) boosting cooldown (Holy Avenger), an added effect to Avenging Wrath reducing the cooldown to Holy Shock while Avenging Wrath is active and increasing the uptime of Avenging Wraths (Sanctified Wrath) and a passive ability that will sometimes give you a free full strength Light of Dawn or Word of Glory (Divine Purpose).
To beginners, I say start with Sanctified Wrath. Since it modifies an existing cooldown, it doesn’t add ANOTHER button to worry about. And you can’t go wrong with more Holy Shock casts and longer Avenging Wraths.
Holy Avenger is a somewhat complex talent (Kurn breaks it down here), and one I haven’t played much with. It’s an extra cooldown to think of, but it allows for strategic healing.
Divine Purpose would be lovely except that, like all random-proc abilities, it never procs when you need it too.
Personally, I primarily play with, as odd as it might sound, Divine Purpose. Because of my playstyle (which I’ll describe in a future post), the randomness generally doesn’t bother me and I like not having yet another cooldown to worry about. But, like I mentioned earlier, beginners should go with Sanctified Wrath. And if you’re an absolute control freak, you’ll probably enjoy Holy Avenger.
Level 90: Your Fun AoE Spell
Holy Prism, when cast on an ally will give you a cheap (but not free), instant single target heal. Strength-wise it’s about equivalent to a Divine Light. You also get a bit of AoE damage on nearby enemies. When cast on an enemy, you get some damage on the enemy (nice for challenge runs, scenarios, dps races and when you’re bored) and a moderate (between a Holy Shock and a Flash of Light in strength) heal on 5 nearby teammates. This is nice for fights with burst AoE damage (Elegon and Blade Lord Ta’yak come to mind), especially in 10s. It looses power in stationary fights with small, periodic damage. The 20 second cooldown can be inconvenient as well since you have to monitor it.
Light’s Hammer has a very cool graphic (always important) and provides a nice area of periodic healing on the ground for about 20 seconds. The spell is mana-free, can be cast every minute and will heal any teammate standing in the effect. As a 25s raider, I use this talent most of the time. On 10 man, it loses some of its potency, with perhaps the exception of stacking fights with small, periodic damage (think Titan Gas on Will of the Emperor). Fights with constant movement tend to take away from Light’s Hammer’s usefulness as well.
Execution Sentence, while great as an offensive spell for doing dailies, is less attractive than the other two options. As a single target heal over time with a burst at the end, it doesn’t compliment our already super-strong single target healing style the way the AoE-ish Holy Prism and Light’s Hammer do.
Go Forth and Experiment
The best thing about these talents is how much room there is for experimenting. If you don’t like your current setup, it only takes a second between fights to switch a talent. You can also jot down potential talent choices for individual fights while doing your pre-raid boss strat learning. For example:
– Massive DoT on the tank(s) (or on a various raid members): Think Hand of Purity (level 60)
– Need to help with crowd control: Repentance (level 30)
– Fight required sudden quick movement: Speed of Light (level 15)
– Small, but constant AoE damage on the raid: Consider Light’s Hammer (level 90)
– Massive, predictable damage spikes on the tanks: Clemency (level 60) and Eternal Flame (level 45)
– Need to run fast for extended periods of time: Pursuit of Justice (level 15)
Feel free to share your own and I’ll add them to the list (with credit given)!