With the 5.4 patch coming in under a week. Holy paladins everywhere are wondering what kind of changes they should make to their play, gearing and talents to make themselves more useful in Siege of Orgimmar. There are many parts to figuring this out including understanding what kind of healing SoO encounters require, how best to synergize with trinket and healing cloak buffs, a little bit of understand of some other classes and finally, understanding the changes to the holy paladin class. For a comprehensive list of changes in 5.4, check out this page.
A while ago, I briefly mentioned some kind of healing simulation that I was working on. The project has not been abandoned despite no evidence of any progress over the past few months. I thought with the new patch that I would kind of reveal some simple parts of it that is going to help me and hopefully some other paladins determine what’s the best for next tier. The algorithm is not really a simulation at this point but more like a set of variables that I will be able to use in a simulation later. Every single paladin healing spell has been coded in as kind of a function, taking inputs of primary and secondary stats and outputting healing from various sources. For example, if a Divine Light was called, then it would take inputs of spell power, haste, and mastery and output healing from the direct component, mastery component, if it crit (by a random roll) and healing to beacon. Remember also that some healing spells have a variable range of values and these functions will also account for that. Let me give you one example though to make things more clear.
By calling a function such as Divine Light, you will give it inputs including who the DL is cast on (beacon,non-beacon target), if the previous HS cast was a critical strike (for Infusion of Light procs) and any healing buff from a cooldown or trinket that is active at the time. I’ve learned to mess around a little bit with Blizzard’s API so I have downloaded my own character sheet as an example. All of my primary and secondary stats have already been saved to the program and are retrievable at any time. Also with some research, I’m easily able to calculate what additional primary or secondary ratings do in terms of percentages. By calling this DL function given the inputs above I receive an output of several numbers. For each spell I will receive similar values to this.
> 98445.498511 1.000000 41016.906765 49222.749255 -21600.000000 2.044146 0.000000
- The first value is the base heal component. This does not include whether the spell was a critical strike, or mastery or any healing buffs from CDs or trinkets that might be present. It is in itself the bare minimum heal. This will change with different iterations as each function rolls between the range of possible healing values. For example in DL’s case, the tooltip gives this range: A large heal that heals a friendly target for 15910 to 17725 [+ 149% of Spell power]. Good for periods of heavy damage. 36%. 82326.
- The second value of 1 indicates that the crit roll turned out negative, or this spell is not a crit.
- The third number of 41,015 is the amount of absorb from whatever mastery % that you have. In my case, my mastery is a little above 40%.
- The fourth number 49,223 is the amount of healing transferred to the beacon target. Since my input for DL was that the spell was not cast on the Beacon target, this value is > 0, otherwise it would be zero.
- The value of -21600 indicates the mana cost for this spell.
- The value of 2.044 is the number of seconds it takes to cast this spell (not including latency which I may or may not include at a later time, don’t really think it’s worth over-complicating things).
- The final value is the number of holy power generated from casting the spell. Given that my input was the spell was not cast on the Beacon target, this number ends up being 0 as you receive no benefit from Tower of Radiance.
In addition to healing spells, I have also coded things such as cooldowns or Tier 16 set bonuses or (soon) trinkets in and can combine these with the healing spells for any adjustments that are necessary. My ideal goal is to be able to incorporate all of these to seamlessly interact with every direct healing spell or heal over time tick to be able to simulate a World of Logs report or at least a healing overview for a certain period of time. I’m well aware that healing can not really be simulated, but I think at least figuring out a reasonable set of values and by perhaps placing different weights on different spells for the situation you may be figure out something reasonably similar. The main goal of this exercise right now is to figure out what kind of changes to gearing and play style are the most beneficial for SoO healing.
So, what talents are people using in SoO?
With all of the changes finally settling down, we can look more closely at the talent changes. Our tier 45 talents got a pretty large overhaul.
- Selfless Healer (Holy) Your successful Judgments generate a charge of Holy Power and reduce the cast time and mana cost of your next Holy Radiance, Flash of Light or Divine Light by 35% per stack and improves its effectiveness by 20% per stack when used to heal others.
Selfless Healer was useless back in 5.3. However, with the addition of Judgement to the spell for Holy, the reduction in Holy Shock and Sanctity of Battle also applying to Holy Shock, this spell has garnered some attention. This talent build makes a lot of use out of haste and mastery hence without spirit considerations, haste and mastery would be your best secondary stats if going this build. The part of this build that I didn’t really like is that using it in a sense requires you to have a healing rotation. Deviating from that healing rotation either in the sense of not using spells on CD or breaking rotation are damaging to your mana. In addition, since the build doesn’t require much mana you will be naturally sitting at a low spirit pool (if you actually want to use this build effectively). The typical selfless healer rotation is Judgement followed up with a Holy Radiance plus a HS either before or between the two spells followed with a holy power dump like LoD. You will always use Judgement before HR for HR to benefit from the one stack of Selfless Healer. While this build is interesting and new, it simply does not stand up to the buffed Eternal Flame. As mentioned, the healing rotation is full of spells that need to be cast on GCD and you don’t get the HoT power of EF. Despite not having illuminated healing, EF still trumps this build.
- Sacred Shield (Holy) 16% mana cost can be active on more than one player, 3 charges maximum with 10 second recharge time. Healing scaled down by 30%.
Blizzard attempted to reignite Sacred Shield’s popularity by changing how many players it can be used on. However, the talent has so far been fairly underused in 25 due to the target cat and even in 10 man, the amount of overhealing that the shield does, and the fact that the absorb does not carry over if it is not used up makes it pretty suboptimal to the other talents of the tier. In addition to this, Sacred Shield does not innately benefit from mastery or critical strike, only from haste and going a heavy haste build raises mana concerns. Furthermore, the talent does not contribute in the least bit to the legendary cloak proc which can take up a good chunk of your healing
- Eternal Flame additional healing (HoT portion) increased by 40%. The HoT portion of the spell no longer provides illuminated healing.
It seems like after all the hustle and bustle, this spell has still turned out to be top tier in 25 mans at least. In 10 mans, the situation is fairly similar with maybe Selfless Healer being a second alternative. In terms of stat priority, I have seen mainly two different builds. As in progression a lot of paladins will gem in to spirit much more so they will be sitting at higher mana regen. Instead of a 160 spirit/160 mastery or 80 int/160 mastery gem, they will instead socket 80 int/160 spirit. It may be the intellect is much more important to our build now, outweighing 160 mastery. I do still see some paladins going a heavy mastery build similar to 5.3. Some people opt to get a certain breakpoint in EF in haste because haste now benefits holy shock as well. I would rather socket full intellect/mastery and reforge out of spirit to haste if your spirit is in a good spot. You can view the haste breakpoint cards here from Totemspot. I have also seen some paladins go a full haste/spirit build and some even a full intellect. All in all, it appears the right method of gearing for EF is currently still up in the air but boils down to either staying with a 5.3 build or going with a haste breakpoint and putting the rest in to mastery. This is for 10 mans, 25 man may be a bit different…
I will use the program I described above in the next part of 5.4 Cometh. For normal modes, it’s a safe bet to go almost any kind of build to get through them. However in heroics, the situations should be different.