Recent patch notes revealed a nerf for Holy Paladin’s Guardian of the Ancient Kings spell.
The word of this spell goes exactly like the following:
Summons a Guardian of Ancient Kings to help you heal for 30 sec. The Guardian of Ancient Kings will heal the target of your next 5 single-target heals, and nearby friendly targets for 10% of the amount healed. Every time the Guardian heals, it increases your haste by 10%.
For at most 30 seconds, you will have a golden apparition like knight standing near you which will follow you if you run around. Notice I said “at most”. As per what the spell says, as soon as you use up your 5 single-target heals, the guardian will disappear. Thus you can have your Guardian for a variable amount of time depending on what spells you cast. Single-target spells commonly used by holy paladins are things such as Divine Light, Holy Shock, Holy Light, Flash of Light, Eternal Flame, Word of Glory (I don’t believe Holy Prism or Execution Sentence count as single target heals but I’m not 100% certain on this). The range of “nearby friendly targets” represents a distance of 10 yards around your healing target. Finally, the last sentence of the spell is just as important as the rest of it. Your guardian, as stated, will heal the same amount on the same target as 5 of your single-target heals. It will do this with a slight delay after your own cast. Each time it does this, you will gain a haste buff called “Light of the Ancient Kings”. This buff stacks and lasts for 8 seconds. As the wording states, after you’ve used up 5 single-target heals, you will finally gain a 50% haste buff for a period of 8 seconds.
Lets take an imaginary situation with 3 players around a target within 10 yards. I will illustrate to you two situations which essentially represent two extremes of how to use the spell. In other words, neither of these are likely what people are doing in realistic situation but provide good examples of how differently this spell can be used.
In the first situation, there’s a lot of heavy boss damage on the Beacon tank so the paladin chooses to cast sequential single target heals HS>DL>DL>HS>EF and ends up with 50% haste for 8 seconds. For simplicity’s sake, lets assume zero haste. Lets take a look at how much the healing buff portion of the spell helped him. In addition to the 2 HSs and 2 DLs and 1 EF which are all doubled, another 10% of all of the original 5 single target spells goes towards healing players around the target so essentially another 30% more healing. In the situation of bosses like Dark Animus and Horridon (mainly for more poorly geared tanks) who hit quite hard on one target, or raid mechanics such as frostbite, where you actually end up using spells more often such as Divine Light during certain phases of the fight, this spell can be fairly decent in keeping someone up for a short period of time. However, as Throne of Thunder and likely SoO will be primarily made up of heavy raid damage fights, the single target healing portion of this spell often goes mostly towards overhealing and the 30% additional healing to players around the target due to the small range is rarely useful in non-stacked situations. Furthermore, since the healing from the Guardian is not affected by mastery, it just means that you’re basically pumping your single target with overheals for very poor AOE healing. For these reasons, this talent is currently really not worth the 5 minute cooldown and would almost not be worth a 3 minute one.
Ok, but there’s still the haste component you say. It’s true and that is where this spell gets perhaps its one redeeming quality. The haste buff that the spell applies is non-trivial. You will of course get 8 seconds of the 50% haste buff no matter what you do. However, you can adjust your play style in a way such that you can get the most out of the 30% and 40% haste buffs as well. Since each stack of the buff will last a period of 8 seconds, what you can do is stop casting single-target spells after getting a stack for a few seconds and cast one just as the buff is about to expire to refresh and gain the next stack. Also note that while the buff only lasts 30 seconds, you can still have the Light of the Ancient Kings buff after your Guardian of the Ancient Kings buff disappears.
You should plan to go into the cooldown with your HS off CD and with 2-3 HS saved up. After your first cast of HS, you will gain the 10% haste buff. You should then cast HR around 2 times which does not count as a single-target skill. You will be doing this with a 10% haste boost. Following this you will nearly be capping your HP so you will cast EF. This will be your second single-target spell and following its cast you will get a 20% haste buff for 8 seconds. Here you can again use HR to get 3 HP for an EF your third single-target spell and gain a 30% haste buff. Repeat this sequence once more for a 40% haste buff. Finally sitting at full HP and with your 40% haste buff up, use your final EF. You should of course do this before the Guardian of the Ancient Kings buff disappears. After you gain the 50% haste buff, you should spam HR and include HS now till you get as close as you can to full HP and try to use two 2/3HP EFs before the 50% haste buff drops.
So as you may imagine, the mana needed to utilize this spell to its fullest potential is quite high so realistically the previous cast sequence is quite implausible. However, perhaps rather than using too many HRs on the first few Light of the Ancient Kings stacks, and using HS rather than EF, you can still attempt to make the most use out of the 30-50% haste buff range. Let the 8 second duration of the spell be useful to you rather than just sequentially casting single target spells. After a 30% haste buff and your own haste, you should have plenty of time to store up 3 HP in a period of 8 seconds as well as cast EF. That’s not so unrealistic is it? Many people greatly underestimate the utility of the spell in this haste aspect. I am actually OK with this spell in its current form (partially after seeing what’s been done to it on the PTR) apart from the 5 minute cooldown on the spell. Then again, spells like Heart of the Wild are also on 5 minute cooldowns and they don’t drastically increase your DPS above other DPS cooldowns. (I’m speaking specifically from the point of feral druids who don’t use this 5 minute cooldown because it’s a DPS decrease other spells on the same tier.)
But then people started complaining, me included.
GotAK has gone through several iterations for the duration of this PTR period. It started off as the following:
Guardian of the Ancient Kings (Holy version) has been redesigned. The ability is no longer limited to the next 5 single-target heals, and deals additional healing based on all healing spells cast by the Paladin for its duration. The ability also increases the Paladin’s haste by 10% while it’s active. However, the duration of the ability has been reduced to 15 seconds (down from 30 seconds).
The name is a little misleading because the additional healing is only the 10% healing that originally was stated. What it essentially means is now every spell you cast on a target will have 10% of its healing applied to any players within 10 yards of target. This as you can imagine caused a huge ruckus when it came to hitting multiple targets on your healing spells as each line of healing would also translate to mutliple additional lines. This was apparently causing an input lag issue (Blizzard server side) big enough to lead to this spell needing a change.
The two last builds released the following changes to the spell:
Summons a Guardian of Ancient Kings to help you heal for 15 sec. The Guardian of Ancient Kings will heal the targets of your heals for an additional 30% of the amount healed and grants you 10% haste for its duration. (5 -> 3 Minute Cooldown)
To be clear, this 30% healing is not a direct 30% buff to your healing. It’s an additional healing coming from your Guardian meaning similarly to live, the additional healing is not affected by mastery. This spell reminds me of another one of our buffs, oh yeah, it’s Avenging Wrath. But AV actually boosts your healing and hence your mastery shields. Avenging Wrath lasts 20 seconds not 15. So the spell no longer has any kind of an AOE healing component. The haste thing I was talking about earlier where you could make the most use out of Light of the Ancient Kings? Gone.
We wanted a change to this spell because it was causing too much overhealing and didn’t really benefit in a non-stack situation. So, they fixed the over healing by reducing the additional heal component by 70% and extending it to all healing spells and the duration of the spell by 50% and didn’t touch the range part of it, the AOE component of the spell was removed due to input lag (the first redeeming factor) and the haste component of the spell (which provided a degree of complexity that I guess people don’t want to leave in the game, and the second redeeming factor) were taken out.
Here’s a list of a number of ways they could’ve changed this spell to make it better than our live version, rather than worse:
- Increase the duration of the buff to at least 20 seconds
- Since the guardian follows the paladin around, have there be some kind of self healing component to the spell (kind of in the sense of binding heal)
- Instead of having the heal apply to ALL targets within 10 yards, add a target limit of 6 to reduce lag rather than removing the AOE component
- Increase the range of the spell, reduce the target limit to 3
- Restrict the heals to direct heals