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The role of holy paladins in 4.0.1

Posted on: Nov 11, 2010 | Author: Recrypt

This article introduces the logic behind the holy paladin changes in 4.0.1, it is worth reading if you want to get the max out of the class as there have been significant and fundamental changes to paladins in 4.0.1.  In order to see what spells/talents/glyphs and rotations to use at 80 see the 4.0.1 Holy Paladin guide that will be published on this site in the next few days.

The blizzard blue posts (forum posts on the blizzard forum by blizzard employees) represent the simplest way to get this information on the logic behind game changes however searching for these and understanding them in context can be time consuming as they are scattered far and wide on the forums.  For the interested reader, mmo-champion keeps a track of blue posts.  For those who want the information condensed and put into context, read on.


In Ghostcrawler’s blue post #40 he makes it clear that the role of the holy paladin is intended to change, the key points are as follows.

BC and WotLK saw the holy paladin as a main tank (MT) healer, using one or two spells together with associated support spells. The rotations were beacon of light, Sacred Shield, then spam Flash of Light (FoL) or Holy Light (HL) depending on situation together with a few Holy Shock (HS) for instant heals on specific needy targets. The MT never needed to be healed if he was the beacon target as beacon gave 100% of the healing to him anyway.

This resulted in a few specific trends that blizzard don’t seem to think were fun or didn’t intend,

  • The beaconed target never needed direct healing, this was probably not the intention of beacon of light but rather a side effect and it made the rotations somewhat headroll (i.e. to keep the beaconed target up just target anything and spam)
  • Only 3 healing spells were used (FoL, HL and HS)
  • Mana management was trivial, in fact you could gain mana while spamming FoL, with beacon up this meant you were using substantially less mana per hp healed (assuming no over-healing) than other class’s, again headroll.
  • Paladins were allways given MT duty, meaning all fights seemed rather self similar.
  • Boss damage on the MT was tuned to what a paladin could heal as they were seen as the only MT healing class. This meant that paladin healing was effectively overpowered (as admitted by Ghostcrawler in his blue post #40).
  • The talent trees for the paladin class were seen as being somewhat dull (again admitted by Ghostrcrawler in his blue post #40)
  • Paladin choices for gems/enchants were limited as we had no real mana issues and only one healing roll to fulfill.

Overall the paladin class was seen by blizzard as being two passive, Ghostcrawler sums it up perfectly as follows,

Ghostcrawler, blue post #40 “Paladins (all three specs really) were designed to be a really passive class, with Protection doing a lot of passive threat generation (e.g. Consecrate) and survivability (e.g. Ardent Defender), Ret doing a lot of passive damage (e.g. Seal damage, Vengeance) and Holy doing a lot of passive healing (e.g. Judgement of Light).”

This is interesting as it seems the paladin class was designed to be partly passive, however this isn’t too fun so changes were deemed necessary.

The same blue post goes on to outline that he talent tree for the Holy paladin was also seen as being dull and paladins were at the forefront of the reasons behind changes to talent trees in 4.0.1.

What this means for us

Holy paladins were seen as being overpowered, this is because we were when compared to other healers on single targets. This was intentional however is something blizzard have changed in 4.0.1. It is important to note that not everyone will have realised this and as a paladin healer you may get told to “MT heal because that’s all you can do”, watch out for this as it shows the raid leader (RL) does not understand your class as it is now. Its not that paladins cant heal the MT but they are not limited to doing only this, they may also not be the best class to choose any more depending on who else in is the raid. The bottom line, do not limit yourself to MT healing, we are not as good at it as we were, this is not a nerf as such, but a change of direction.

Two new AOE healing spells have been added, Holy Radiance (HR) and Light of Dawn (LoD), where LoD is reserved for healers (i.e. comes from choosing holy as your first talent tree rather from choosing a specific talent) as it is instant cast. This means you can heal more than two targets. Paladins have been given AOE healing because they are now intended to do more than single target healing, do not ignore these new spells.

Beacon of light has been changed dramatically (healing is 50% copied to the beaconed target down from 100%). Also the talent Tower of Radiance will build holy power if you heal the beaconed target, so you are intended to have the option to do this, this is a big change from pre 4.0.1 when there was no reason to directly heal the beaconed target (lay on hands not withstanding of course).

Holy power has been added, built by Holy shock’s or direct heals on the beaconed target if the Tower of Radiance talent has been taken. These stack to 3 charges and can be released as an instant direct heal with Word of Glory.

Mana efficiency is now a real issue if one continues to heal with flash of light, this is because flash of light as been changed to be an fast but inefficient heal however spirit is now a useful stat and mana regen actually requires thought. The change to Divine plea (CD now 2 mins and mana returned is down from 25% to 10%) is also important as is the fact that blizzard want paladins to have to think about when it is used i.e. it still reduces healing for its duration. When asked about this on the forums Ghostcrawler in his blue post #143 states that if there was no reduction on healing then it would be used on CD and may as well be a passive ability. It is not intended to be “just use it whenever you can”, blizzard are making the game fun for us by making us think “do I use it and take the hit on healing or not?”. Seal of wisdom is gone, replaced with seal of insight (returns 4% of base mana down from 4% of maximum mana).

Sacred shield is gone, this has been rolled into the mastery for the holy spec. You get Illuminated healing when you heal someone (a type of shield for x% of the heal, the more mastery the higher x, which is 8% at zero mastery).

There is some debate about paladin healing at 80, Ghostcrawler does touch on this in his blue post #139 and it seems that the spells are designed to come together at 85. This is to be expected as 85 is where most people will spend the most time compared to 80. I would expect minor changes to the numbers (exactly how much does a given spell heal etc etc) however the logic should remain the same through 4.0.3.

There are other specific changes, see the 4.0.1 Holy Paladin guide that will be published on this site in the next few days for details.

Healing in general

All healing class’s have been given (or spells changed to reflect) at least 3 specific healing spells in 4.0.1, Ghostcrawler referees to these in his blue posts #40 and #151 as follows,

  • Efficiency, the efficient heal.
  • Speed, the fast heal.
  • Throughput, the big heal.

This goes partly against blizzards intention to make all the class’s different to play however seems to be necessary in order to introduce balance and allow all class’s the same basic applicability (i.e. prevent certain fights being tilted too far toward or against a specific healing class).

Blizzard approach playing any class by assuming that it should not be headroll. This is good and having spells that are situational goes some why to allowing this.

Spirit now affects all healing class’s, mana regen is making a comeback and to a large extent Paladins are now in the healing mix in a way they were not prior to 4.0.1.

Final thought

When faced with the question

“make up ur mind do you want us as raid healers or single target healers?”

Ghostcrawler in his blue post #531 states

“We want you to be able to do whatever you need to do to help your group. We don’t think “I’m the best at AE damage” is a great role for dps or tanks, so why should it be for healers?”

Overall blizzard have noted that there are 5 healing specs (Holy Pala, Resto Druid, Resto Shammy, Holy Priest, Disc Priest). If there were two roles (MT healing and Raid healing) then only two could be “the best” at any one time, which would probably switch as skills were balanced. Having holy paladins as the only MT healers was both dull for holy paladins and other healers as holy paladins never got to do anything else and other healers never got to MT heal. The only down side is that holy paladin single target healing is no longer overpowered compared to other healers, this is in effect a nerf however it is one of the few nerfs that comes with a change of direction.

Learn to use the new spells, re-learn how to heal as a Paldin and play to our strengths,

  • We are the only healing class with plate armour.
  • We are one of only two healing class’s that can use a shield.
  • Beacon still means we have a nice dual target healing ability, but now have to think about who to cast it on.
  • We now have both AOE and single target heals.
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