Monday, August 25, 2008

Wrath of the Lich King - The New Holy

Hi guys! Missed me? Before I get into this with my usual grovelling about how I'm always late *coughs* I just want to say thank you to the people who do stick around, and even more so to those who comment. You guys are what make me come back to write more, and I really need the inspiration!

Also, if anyone is going to Blizzcon in October (for those lucky people who got tickets), I will be there if you'd like to discuss anything or just hang out and be merry. Look for a short haired, glasses wearing, petite girl with the name Prettyboi on her badge. I'll probably be accompanied by a guildmate of mine, possibly another if he manages to get a ticket from the opt-in. *crossing my fingers for you, Darn!*

Also, the last poll I posted was the preference of people on Servers. The final response was 25% liked PvP servers, 50% like PvE, and 25% liked both. There were small numbers this time around on the actual people who voted, so all I can conclude is that there are more people who play on PvE servers than PvP servers who read my blog. Interesting, considering I only play on a PvP server.

With that out of the way, let me jump into the WotLK stuff (finally!).


I don't pretend to know anything about Holy, really. It is, admittedly, my weakest spec, and people who outgear Kara DIE when I'm a healer (partially because my gear sucks so bad, but mostly because I'm just that terrible). About the only time I've done well as a healer is as a 2v2 Arena healer with an MS Warrior partner. But being good at Holy is not something that has ever really interested me, since *most* of the time, a Holy Pally gets to hit one to three buttons repeatedly and very few people ever thank the healers. Why would I subjugate myself to a thankless, boring role? (Note: Take my opinion with a grain of salt, please! I mean no offense to any healers, I personally admire you guys for sticking with it - it's clearly something I could never do.)

Anyway, I am reasonably intrigued with some of the direction they are taking with the Holy spec in particular with the upcoming expansion. However, certain aspects of what they tweaked just don't sound right to me. First off, we'll start with the knowledge of the spec I DO have.

When I frequent the WoW forums, there's a list of things that I hear Holy Paladins complain about. Correct me if I'm wrong on any of these:

-Holy Shock is more or less a joke, and the cooldown prevents us from being able to heal on the run like every other healer can
-Lack of HoTs is debilitating
-No AOE heal, on top of lack of HoTs and a weak instant cast make us the least versatile healer
-We rely on downranking for mana conservation, rather than having spells that actually support mana conservation or an active way to regenerate mana (Seal/Judgement of Wisdom requires melee, something a healer should never be doing)

Now, these are some of the fixes seen so far to alleviate these issues:
-Holy Shock's damage ratio has been adjusted multiple times, its cooldown has been lowered. In addition, it's usefulness has increased from being an unreliable clutch heal to a supplemental heal that assists Holy Light.
-We have an AOE HoT as our 51 point talent.
-If specc'd into Retribution, our critical heals also provide a HoT
-We have an Evocation-like ability now.
-We have a shield somewhat similar to Power Word: Shield, only not as strong

Now there's a few problems with these fixes. First off, while we gained one new spell to alleviate some of the problems we have (Beacon of Light), it's very situational and very expensive to cast. Since it turns a specific target into the source of the healing, you have to make sure it's someone who isn't going anywhere and someone who will be affecting the most amount of people to make the spell cast worth its while (casting on the tank to heal all the melee is probably the best bet I can think of, but I'm hardly an expert). Right now, it's more advisable to spec deep enough into Retribution to get Sheath of Light for the HoT on Critical effect, which is much needed by Holy and not really needed at all by Retribution.

I appreciate what they were trying to do with that (make Retribution a somewhat viable back-up healer), but Retribution never asked for that while Holy did. In addition, many of the gimmicks that they want to give Holy, such as Judging to get benefits to their healing, is something that should have been intrinsic to the class design from day one. While I personally like the concept, I don't know how it will mechanically work out. I also doubt other people will go for it simply based on precedence - meaning that they're so used to being Priests in Plate and not being anywhere near the fight that many won't take the initiative to change their play style. After all, with an option much simpler by, ironically, speccing into Retribution, why would they have to?

I don't think the Evocation-like ability is all that helpful either, especially since the main reason you'd need it is if you were spamming AOE heals. You can only spam the AOE heal 3 times in a row before you're out of mana, and all that means is now you can do it 6 times before you're out of mana.

These are really just some basic observations from someone who knows very little of the matter at hand. I do not have a beta account, so I haven't experienced any of these changes, and my understanding of Holy as a spec is quite limited. But for what it's worth, I don't think the Holy Paladin has been "ruined." I just think it's different now. Sufficient? Well, that I can't say without experience. I do think that they're likely lacking in certain areas, perhaps even to the point where they won't be one of the best single-target tank healers anymore. That doesn't leave much for them to be, or give them much use. I also dislike the idea that you have to have so many points in Retribution for the current optimal build. That's ridiculous.

Something needs to be changed. I don't really know what, and I don't know the fix, but I will concede that Holy Paladins had the worst "upgrade" in the Paladin class, and likely the worst upgrade as a healer, overall. I respectfully request that Blizzard take a look at what they did, and find out what works and what doesn't, and quickly. I understand it's a beta and there's time to fix things... but with their focus being spread all over the board, some things *will* be missed. And I wouldn't be surprised if Holy Paladins are one of the ones getting the shaft this time around.


Emory said...

Hey, it's Emory again.

Now, I'll tell you a bit about myself, to give some context. I've been playing WoW for some time, and I have a 70 paladin and a 70 priest, along with a slew of other characters that I'm too lazy to get to the level cap ^.^;

I've played both characters as all three of their specs, but I won't talk about my priest cause it's not relevant. As a holy paladin, probably the number one thing that you'd notice (something you mentioned in your post) is that it's... well, boring. I do it because I enjoy healing in general, and because my guild is short on healers, but if we had a sudden influx of healers, I'd go prot or maybe even ret. Spamming one button (sometimes as many as three!) for any length of time can and does get monotonous.

Now, they're addressing this in an interesting way. They're changing the mana/healing ratios of the spells, and Flash of Light is becoming less efficient, whereas holy light is going to stay at about the same level, and Holy Shock is going to become far more efficient than it is.

now, it is worth mentioning that Druids are getting a spam heal that is similar to flash of light... but under the current numbers, it has over twice as much healing for around the same mana cost. So, barring some weird twist in healing coefficients, druids will be the new best tank healer, spamming Nourish between lifebloom/rejuv.

While the cost of Beacon of Light is heavy, you have to weight that against it's potential. It costs 30% of your base mana (note, that means your mana -before- Int is applied), and so, at 70, that cost will be roughly 886 mana. The lvl 70 rank of the spell, currently heals for 1280 over 15 sec. Mind you, that's with no +healing (or spell power, rather).

That's per target of the spell. If five people are in the AoE, that becomes 6400 healing. Now, here's the real strength of the spell; it can hit as many people as are in it's AoE, unlike most area heals. Say, in a ten man raid, that everyone is in a tight area and you throw this down. That's 12800 healing for 886 mana, again, without +healing. I don't know the percent of spellpower that it gets, but I'm sure that with enough, it would be extremely potent in certain raid situations. Still, it is situational, due to the tight radius of the spell. Also, as a note, the healing from this spell counts as your target's, not yours. Thus, they get all the threat from it, and it can create -alot- of threat.

Now, on the healing talent in Retribution. As far as I know, this applies a buff to your target that heals them for 60% of the amount done, and if you crit with another heal, you override the buff. In a raid where you're possibly spamming heals, this talent will never get the full effect, seeing as how crit reliant holy paladins are. But a Ret pally, who should be focusing on killing their target, can't stop to spam heals, so they'll usually just throw one or two holy lights out and keep going. Since Melee crit and Spell crit are going to be the same, they won't even need to switch gear, especially since AP now gives spellpower, due to the same talent. It makes retribution paladins much tougher, and gives them some utility.

Now, about some of the other spells. Sacred Shield, a rather interesting ability, shields against 500 damage every six seconds for thirty seconds. Now, not much is known about this ability, due to it being a level 80 skill, and the level cap in beta being 77. It may or may not scale with spellpower, though I'd bet it will. Still, this is a boost, albeit small, to the survivability of the target. Over five minutes, this can provide roughly 25000 damage absorption, for only 175 mana. Not bad, and much better if it does end up scaling with gear.

Next, our evocation-esque ability, Divine Plea. The use of this is obvious, but it can be rather perilous to use in either PvE or PvP. In raids, six seconds of no healing from you, when you're tank healing, can result in the tank's death, and a wipe. In pvp, well... this ability only has two tics, each for 25% mana. That means the danger of being pummeled early and gaining no mana is greater than that of evocation, which has four tics at 2 sec intervals.

Another new ability, while not related to healing, is worth mentioning. Shield of Righteousness is an -amazing- ability for tanking, rivaling shield slam in it's effectiveness. It causes damage equal to 200% of your block value as holy damage, and it has a high threat component.

Now, with current (BC) gear, it's possible to get 1000 block value, so let's just take that and go with it. It does 2000 damage, which is not mitigated by armor, and is effected by Righteous Fury, for a threat factor of 1.9, before the high threat component of the spell. That's 3800 threat, every six seconds. Between this and the 51 point prot talent, Consecrate will not even be needed on pulls with three mobs or less.

Sorry for the number-crunching and longwindedness :P Hope I cleared up a few things.

Prettyboi said...

I'm very happy to have someone who's regularly reading my blog and providing good feedback. Just thought I'd say thanks. =)

Couple of counter-points:

I'm not sure I like the idea of druids becoming the better single-target healer, since it doesn't really leave much for the Paladin to do. Druids, correct me if I'm wrong, were previously the better overall raid healers (while Priests had AOE heals/most utility and Shamans the best Melee healers), since they could just hop from target to target applying HoTs to everyone. Fire and forget, so to speak. The new Paladin abilities don't really fill one niche or another, and seem the most lackluster in the end - they aren't the best single target healers anymore, they only have one expensive to cast AOE heal that's very dependent on raid positioning (and virtually useless in PvP), and their "HoT" ability is only available in the Retribution tree, meaning they spend more time casting on a single target before moving to the next to get a similar effect than a Priest tossing Renews or a Druid casting whichever insta-hot they have (I don't play druids, can you tell?).

Again, while I appreciate the fact they were addressing some issues with Holy Pallies, I honestly think they did more harm than help in this situation, taking away what we did do and providing us lackluster options instead.

As for our "evocation" spell, I'd have much preferred an "ennervate" instead, but then we'd be even more like druids, which it's apparent they were trying to avoid. Instead, my suggestion would be to up the benefit for holy paladins' Blessing of Wisdom or the effect of their Judgement of Wisdom on themselves, since they seem to want Holy Pallies to start judging as part of their rotation. I think that would have fit the class better and addressed the same issue.

As for your points on Protection, come back next week. =P You're getting ahead of me!


Emory said...

Heya, Emory again. I'd like to note that in the most recent Beta version, they've made major changes to Beacon of Light. Basically, you put the Beacon on one person, then, whenever you heal anyone else in the raid, you heal them for the same amount. It effectively doubles our healing abilities in group situations, and means that we can raid heal and tank heal at the -same time-.

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