My Thoughts on Blizzcon…

At the risk of bombarding you with more information today, I just wanted to say a few words on what I saw with the Virtual Ticket.  A lot of sound issues.

All jokes aside, a ton of information was revealed at Blizzcon on a great number of exciting new games and the oldies.  Some of it good, some of it not so good, in relative terms of course.  As an avid Dota 2 player myself, I am super excited for Heroes of the Swarm.  Wow did those character models look awesome.  Blizz made a great move bringing back all those iconic Warcraft characters to the game!  I am super excited to play this game.  Also, as a D3 player, my voice was one in the chorus of jubilation when they announced the closing of the Auction House back a few weeks ago and all of the news at Blizzcon just made it feel like D3: RoS is going to be what the original game should have been.  In my impression, Blizz has always listened to the community however, just like the community differs on certain things, the same occurs within the Blizzard company.  Thus the outcome of their decisions is not always suited to the majority of the players.  In this tho, they certainly made the right move.  How about that costume contest?  I shed a sad tear when the Feral Druid costume didn’t win 😦  a sad and fluffy tear.  All in all, it’s great to see people who have a huge passion for Blizzard games and to see the people behind the games.  A true Blizzcon experience can not be conveyed through the Virtual Ticket.  Here’s to next year!

So on to WoW related news. The level 100 talents were revealed at Blizzcon and can be viewed on Wowhead.  I’ll just list them here for your convenience.

  • The Light Within: Beacon can now be places on two targets.
  • Seal of Faith: Fills you with Holy Light, causing you to gain Faith equal to all damage dealt. Faith acts as spell power toward the next healing spell you cast.  While Seal of Faith is active, all damage dealt is increased by 30%.
  • Divine Conviction: (Saved by the Light) When you or your Beacon of Light target drop below 30% health, you instantly grant the injured target a protective shield, absorbing up to 30% of their maximum health for 10 sec. You cannot shield the same person this way twice within 60 sec.

The Light Within

Despite how overpowered this looks, the spell deserves a second glance.  Lets assume that the placement of these two beacons is similar to that of the mage bomb, Living Bomb, which has a max limit of 3.  With the application of a 4th mage bomb, its always the first one that’s applied which drops off.  My guess is if this spell goes live, this will be how this spell will work.  One way to make this spell not have such a clunky application method is to have two separate spells for applying beacon (Beacon of Light, Anuthabeacon of Light) so that you can always keep one on active tanks while the other one is swapped around to players in the raid who are taking damage.  The other way is to have the spell be able to overlap on each other.  Either way, two beacons sounds nice but the application method must be worked out.
The other thing about this spell is that Beacon has always had a huge amount of overhealing (50+%).  In 25M the situation is most likely worse.  In 10M, the second beacon may be quite powerful if utilized correctly.  Since you don’t have to worry about removing that padding on the active tank, you can swap around the other beacon actively and get a lot of use out of it from placing it on members with DoTs or who are taking consistent damage.  However, in some situations where people are taking large nukes for example, swapping your beacon to them does not really provide a mitigation effect.  It may look better in terms of our HPS if we can swap it intelligently but I think this is a weird method of play especially if the the application method is clumsy.  You shouldn’t think of this second beacon as providing 2x the healing of your current beacon spell but more like 75% if not 50% of it or less.  Unless a majority of the fights in the next raid tier are dual tank fights, which doesn’t so far seem to be the case according to SoO, it may be quite situational when this spell is useful.  I’ve said before that beacon swapping is one aspect of holy paladin play which isn’t talked about enough.  It’s ideal and probably in most cases optimal to leave the beacon on tanks but with this new talent, it will be even more important how well we’re able to predict incoming damage and react to it by swapping our beacon around.

Seal of Faith

I’m not quite sure how the Faith spell will be accrued but basically this spell is a way for holy paladins to do DPS.  Now let me remind you of some ways holy paladins can do DPS because you and I probably don’t even remember.

  • Denounce -9.4% base mana, 1.5 second cast
  • Holy Shock – 8% base mana, instant cast
  • Judgment – 12% base mana, instant cast
  • Crusader Strike – 15% base mana, instant cast
  • Tier 6 talents – 5.4% mana in case of HP, else free, all instant cast
  • Glyph of Denounce – each cast of HS decreases next cast time of Denounce
  • Glyph of Word of Glory – increases your damage by 3% per HP spend on Word of Glory or Eternal Flame healing
  • Glyph of Holy Shock – decreases the healing of Holy Shock 50% but increases its damage by 50%
  • Glyph of Harsh Words – your Word of Glory can now be used on enemies, causing holy damage equal to the amount it would’ve healed

We have a decent amount of DPS spells and probably potential to deal out a lot of damage.  Faith seems like an interesting way to play a holy paladin but at this point, the translation from damage to healing doesn’t seem too great.  What is the purpose of doing a bunch of DPS for a super buff to a spell that will be overhealed?  What is the purpose of doing small increments of damage interspersed with healing unless the scaling of Faith is amazing and what would the purpose of that small 50K dps be when it could’ve been spent doing a lot more healing? This is an interesting concept and I think a lot of paladin community has long awaited the return of the shockadin but in this form, I don’t believe as a holy paladin I will be taking this spell.  I’m interested in seeing where this goes though.

Divine Conviction

This spell feels like something that belongs in the tier of talents with damage reduction purposes (lvl 60).  The spell kind of serves like a weird form of Ardent Defender.  With the Beacon of Light glyph, granted that you are quick enough, you can basically use it to put an Ardent Defender on anyone who is about to die.  With a 1 minute cooldown, this places this spell in a better position than Ardent Defender which has a 3 minute cooldown.  In its form this is a pretty powerful cooldown if someone in your raid is about to die all the the time.  Realistically, this spell may come in use around 1-2 times per fight if someone falls that low (and in those cases, a number of other classes have simple cooldowns which don’t take up the 100th tier of talents).  I think this spell could be buffed to something like putting a 30% absorb on a player once every minute rather than if they die.  This would be more preemptive and also serve practically the same purpose in addition to being useful for other hard hitting attacks.  I think this spell needs to be adjusted to be useful but in terms of choosing the lesser of three evils, this would probably be my choice.

After taking player input, the talents that the expansion releases will likely be very different from the current form but those are my thoughts on the current spells.  All three of these level 100 talents fall kind of in to a different class.  The first one being more of a healing throughput increase, the second being god knows what, and the third being a damage mitigation ability.  That fact is interesting to me because it provides different routes that all may be viable depending on the fight.  It’s a good idea but the spells need to be tweaked, especially compared to the tier 7 spells of other healing classes.

10M Heroic Raiding GONE

Well I think a large part of the community knew that this change was going to happen.  It does make sense from several points.
1. Blizzard has always spent a portion of its resources on providing as balanced a setting as they can between 25 and 10 man raids. By taking the portion spent on 10 man and applying it to make a 20 man raid better for all heroic raiders seems like a good thing to do.  Making 20 man raids easier to tune also allows developers to put their extra time in to bettering other areas of the game.
2. This also helps with class balance since 10 vs 25 man settings also affect this.  It’s easier to balance classes around one heroic setting.  Especially in the case of healers or tanks who in a 10 vs 25 man setting may have widely different spell and stat priorities due to the damage.
3. 10 man raids still have the opportunity to raid, just not do heroics.  It may seem like a quick and easy solution to just join up two 10 man raids at around the same progression for a 20 man heroic raid.
That’s all understandable.  But this 10 man change is a really large charge, and that’s an understatement.
It’s not so easy to join together two 10 man groups and make them work together. Hell I tried to do this back in BC for the same exact reason, Tempest Keep was 25 man only and most guilds were raiding Zul’Aman as 10 man.  That move was one of the main reasons I quit the game.  The two groups would just not cooperate and it’s even worse when it’s a one sided thing.  Here you are trying to work things out and one side or a group of people just don’t stand for it either because of skill difference or attitudes clashing.  The thing about 10 man groups, and maybe this is just my perspective, but the 10 mans I’ve been in are all close knit groups.  Not to say that in 25 mans there is no sense of companionship but it’s just not likely that you will connect on a higher level with 20 other people in your group.  By breaking 10 mans apart or forcing them in to  larger groups, it’s like breaking apart bonds that have been forged over months or even years, forcing them to socialize with players who they don’t know and don’t understand.  Of course the perfect scenario can occur where both guilds have highly tolerant attitudes and they just meld together perfectly.  To the 10 man groups out there, I hope that’s how it will go.  But if you’ve played this game long enough, you know that enjoyment from this game does not come purely out of the game itself, but the social networks that the game gives the opportunity to form.  People need to feel that they aren’t being forced to rip and reform those connections.  I personally have nothing against the 20 man form although it may likely mean that my guild will break apart since many members of our 10 man don’t enjoy raiding with people they don’t know.  But I felt that Blizzard handled this situation kind of poorly.  In the many questions that were asked at Blizzon, the answer was “we realize it’s a problem but you’ll just have to deal with it.”  How about a solution or an answer with more clarity of the reasons behind the change?  This is the thing, I’m betting a lot of Heroic raiders are intelligent people and realize that the change is for the better.  A part of them with the response at Blizzcon to the inquiries will simply see this as an act of screwing up WoW to be blunt.
Anyways, enough rambling.  For the 10 mans out there, I encourage you right now to start looking for those 10 mans out there looking to merge and run some practice 25 mans with them if you’ve got enough people.  You want to do trials before you sign on with it.  Just because the two groups are at the same skill level does not mean their guilds are at the same maturity level or have the same attitude.  I’m guessing more than a few members who raid 10 man heroics will simply quit the game.  Many people who raid 10 man aren’t extremely hard core players, they have other things they enjoy doing outside of the game more and sometimes raiding, is purely for enjoying the time with friends.  They will see this in effect as taking that away.  Warlords of Draenor has a lot of new content to give.  If you can look past the change to the raiding scene and the lack of a new class or race, then I’m sure you will find interesting things to do. New challenge modes? Yes please! New raid to kill Grommash Hellscream?  Don’t tell me you’re not interested in how that plays out.  A chance to see what Durotan was like?  Every expansion is not perfect and this is not an exception.  But my advice is don’t give up just because your raiding situation doesn’t work out.  Find a new group of people to tag along with that you like and you will make new friends.  You never know until you try it out 🙂
What do you guys think of the new changes?
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Website Update In Progress

Hello fellow paladins, time for a website update.  Theme feels much cleaner and easier to see.  I have cleaned up the menu for the site finally.  You can find all my previous challenge mode, ToT, and holy paladin guide under the dropdown at the top of the page.  Some idea of what’s coming in the next few weeks:

  • I will soon be getting in to SoO heroics and hopefully progressing quickly…so those should be coming…
  • I am planning to do some serious Proving Grounds madness and will probably write up a guide on that if I can get to at least Endless 30
  • I have been collecting data for both the multistrike and cleave trinkets as well as probably doing a comparison between Horridons and the DSD trinket and will write up some reports on those
  • Finally, I will be updating the Holy Paladin Guide in the next week or so to 5.4.  This will include changes in spells, gearing strategies, BIS lists, etc

In the spirit of that last point, for paladins who are wondering what to reforge and gem in 5.4, I’d advise you to check out these two links to a website called World of Wowgraphs.
Gems: http://www.worldofwargraphs.com/statspve-gem-2-1-0-0-0-0-0-0.html
Reforging: http://www.worldofwargraphs.com/statspve-items-2-1-0-0-0-0-0-0.html
This website compiles information from holy paladins who have killed 6/14 heroic bosses at least and their items, reforges, and gems.  It may give you an idea of what the better gearing strategies are out there now.  As always, the results from websites like this which don’t consider raid makeup, 10 vs 25 man, play skill, and a hundred other factors should be taken with a grain of salt.  All I’m saying is maybe take this one with a few grains 🙂

5.4 Cometh: Getting Ready with some Fun in R (Part 1)

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.

5.4 PTR: Ode to Guardian of the Ancient Kings (Part 8)

Recent patch notes revealed a nerf for Holy Paladin’s Guardian of the Ancient Kings spell.

Live
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.)

PTR
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

5.4 Siege of Orgrimmar Healing Trinkets Overview

Few words on PTR changes since there hasn’t really been any news…

5.4 PTR Release – August 27, 2013 (Source)

Confirmed Patch Release – September 10th, 2013

The period of mechanics changes to Holy Paladins seem to be over as Blizzard gets into more of the scaling changes period.  You can check out all of the 5.4 Holy Paladin changes here.  On the whole, holy paladins are looking fairly decent in 10-man situations but weaker in 25-man.  We’ll see what kind of scaling changes Blizzard will roll out to balance the healing classes in that scenario.  It seems like the patch is just on the horizon.  With the Arena season coming to a close on August 27th, the release of the new patch should be some time close to this, either on the same day or a week or two afterwards.

I’m pretty excited about this new raid involving Garrosh and this monster or hatred and fear that has brewed up inside him.  It’ll be really interesting to see how the storyline plays out in relation to the old world and some of his loyal soldiers, namely Nazgrim who is near and dear to our own hearts as the first NPC we interact with around almost all of level 85 in the Jade Forest, as well as the friendly and chubby pandas we’ve come to know well in Pandaria.  The first few raids MSV, HoF, and ToES were visually to me mediocre and the storyline behind them was not as strong considering our brand new introduction to the land of Pandaria.  The Throne of Thunder raid was in my opinion a lot better visually with some more interesting fights but the story line is still a bit removed from the standard World of Warcraft storyline.  Now that we’ve become more and more familiar with the mantid and Mogu story lines along with the Sha creatures, it’ll be really nice to see them meld in with characters we’ve known for many expansions.

I’m less impressed with the healing changes to Holy Paladins.  Understandably the class needed adjustments but in my opinion, it would’ve been better to put the changes off till an expansion when there’s more time to talk over and test changes and just roll the coefficient back on Mastery for 5.4.  No one in the holy paladin community debated the fact that EF was a crutch since it was the more efficient spell in 99.9% of situations and at least for me I’m not arguing to get IH back because I think it’s OK to have.  But apart from the developers I hardly see any holy paladin happy with the way things currently are.  We need to be left with something that is still engaging to play.  It’s fine to say that HoTs or absorbs weren’t a design consideration for holy paladins.  It’s not OK to leave the class in the dark about what their role is in a raid because we need to know our role, hell the whole community needs to know our strength as a class to bring us over other healing classes which have clear defined roles. Regardless of my disappointment, it won’t affect my decision to play a Holy Paladin and I’m hoping to explore some of the new things the class offers which I know will be there.

On the state of lvl 45 talents, EF still appears to be the go-to talent (even after weeks and weeks of PTR changes which I find amusing) for 25-man and possibly 10-man.  In 10-man SS may still be a viable talent as the absorb covers more of the raid.  People are still dancing around SH since the nerf to the mana efficiency of the talent build.  With tuning though, this priority could change around a great deal.

Stop. Trinket Time.

One thing I’ve been updating in the 5.4 PTR Patch Notes page is the difference trinkets available as well as the legendary healing cloak.  My goal here is to give you an overview of what the 4 new trinkets of the SoO raid are going to provide for you and some predictions as to what will be the best choice for Holy Paladins as well as get you off on a good start once the patch hits.

Legendary Cloak

For those of you unlucky individuals only able to get Titan Runestones off bosses with 100% chance to drop them, better hurry up and get yours soon because very quickly after 5.4 hits, you will be able to obtain an upgraded version of the Special Cloak from the quest line you’re currently able to obtain (ilvl 600) called Jina-Kang, Kindness of Chi-Ji. This cloak provides no additional stats compared to the one currently obtainable but comes with an additional Equip effect.  For healers it is the chance of a periodic buff called “Spirit of Chi-ji“.

  • Spirit of Chi-ji: Your healing spells have a chance to grant you Spirit of Chi-Ji, increasing all healing done by 5% and causing all overhealing to be redistributed to 5 nearby injured friends, for 10 sec. (0.54 PPM)

How to get the legendary cloak:

  1. You must have completed up to the quest to get your ilvl 600 cloak.
  2. Go meet up with your buddy ol’ pal Wrathion at the Tavern of the Mists in the Veiled Stair (his usual hang out place with his friend) (Quest)
  3. Wrathion’s like meet me at the Timeless Isle yo. Now on the PTR I was able to access this place by going to the Mogu’shan Palace entrance and talking to an NPC there but you can optionally also fly to it.  It’s located to the southest of the Jade Forest. (Quest)
  4. At the Timeless Isle, you will pick up two quests Secrets of the Timeless Isle and The Emperor’s Way.
    • Secrets of the Timeless Island is a quest to obtain 5000 Timeless Coins.  Timeless Coins are obtained through several things including doing dailies, killing mobs, treasure chests, the typical.  There are many articles out there about obtaining these.  The general consensus is that these are not hard to obtain so getting 5000 of them should be doable within 1 day.  (Quest)
    • The Emperor’s Way is a quest to defeat the 4 celestial legends in combat. This requires a full 25-man raid group to do.  Here is Wowhead’s amazing in-depth article about the Timeless Isle and includes a section describing these 4 bosses. (Quest)
  5. After turning these two in, you will meet Wrathion at the Seat of Knowledge which is basically the step in front of Mogu’shan Palace in the Vale.  You will then receive a cool item to use on your cloak.  Depending on what your cloak is, the item will upgrade that version of it.  (Quest)
  6. Finally, he will tell you to kill someone.

The cloak prioritizes healing people who are more injured.  I hear currently that the cloak is extremely overpowered for restoration shamans.  In Testing, the trinket contributes around 5-10% depending on the overhealing and the type of fight for holy paladins from the information I’ve thus far seen so it’s a fairly nice buff.

Siege of Orgrimmar Healing Trinkets

Four healing trinkets drop from the SoO raid, much like ToT.  These drop from Sha of Pride (4), General Nazgrim (8), Thok the Blood Thirsty (11), and Siegecrafter Blackfuse (12). Remember there are 14 bosses in SoO.  For all the trinkets, there will be 6 versions.

  • LFR (528)
  • Flexible Raid (540)
  • Normal (553)
  • Normal Warforged (559)
  • Heroic (566)
  • Heroic Warforged (572)

Item upgrades I believe will still be available so your highest possible ilvl gear will be 580.  Warforged is the same thing as Thunderforged.  Higher chance to drop in 25-man than 10-man and 6 levels above either the normal or heroic equivalent.  I’ll go in to the trinkets in a bit more detail.  It’s important to remember that these might change any time between now and August 27th and also what kind of healing spells the trinkets proc off of (direct healing or any type of HoT + direct healing) will affect their usefulness.

Contemplation of Chi-ji (Timeless Isle, Vendor Purchase): Increases your Spirit by 8281 for 15 sec. (1 Min, 30 Sec Cooldown)

  • 14020/1.5 Minutes (535), 14552/1.5 Minutes (539), 15104/1.5 Minutes ( 543)

This trinket is obtained through Timeless Isle items.  Just wanted to mention it so people were aware of it in case they wanted to go for a catch-up item.

Thok’s Acid-Grooved Tooth (SoO Drop, Thok the Bloodthirsty)
Equip: Your heals have a chance to Cleave, dealing the same healing to 5 nearby targets. Chance to do cleave healing based on item level.
Equip: Each time your spells heal you have a chance to gain Intellect for 20 sec. 115s internal cooldown. 15% chance for intellect proc regardless of item level, intellect proc value dependent on item level.

Item Level Chance to Cleave Intellect Buff
LFR (528) 2.46 9317
Flexible Raid (540) 2.75 10420
Normal (553) 3.11 11761
Normal Warforged (559) 3.29 12436
Heroic (566) 3.51 13274
Heroic Warforged (572) 3.71 14039

There’s not too much to say about this trinket in terms of its complexity.  Essentially, the spell will cause a certain percentage of your heals to heal nearby 5 targets for the same amount of healing. I’m not sure about the range on the trinket so if it is something standard like 10 or 8 yards, then it may not be as good for non-stack fights or for 10-man raids.  I believe this spell can only be activated by beneficial casts and so it won’t proc from HoTs.  I believe that currently the trinket is really buggy so it’s hard to test.  I’ve got my eye on this one though until I can confirm more details about it.  It seems like a decent trinket however due to its RNG nature, I’m not sure how much of it will go to overheal.  Granted overhealing with it would be beneficial with the legendary cloak. (Have I mentioned how ridiculous I think it is to have overhealing actually be more beneficial?)

Prismatic Prison of Pride (SoO Drop, Sha of Pride)
Amplifies your Critical Strike damage and healing, Haste, Mastery, and Spirit by a percentage.
Each time your spells heal you have a chance to gain Intellect for 20 sec. 115s internal cooldown. 15% chance for intellect proc regardless of item level. Effective for healer specializations only.

Item Level Amplify Percentage Intellect Buff
LFR (528) 6% 9317
Flexible Raid (540) 6% 10420
Normal (553) 7% 11761
Normal Warforged (559) 7% 12436
Heroic (566) 8% 13274
Heroic Warforged (572) 8% 14039

Similar intellect proc to some of the other trinkets with a base increase in stats.  I think this trinket is decent but it remains to be determined whether it’s better than the others.  an 8% increase on the heroic version for example would only translate to around a 5.6% increase in mastery for example or for with 15,000 spirit around 1,200 spirit.  My gut feeling is that this type of trinket is much better for DPS classes who have extremely high secondary stat priorities.  It could also be better for high item levels as the percentage increase will amplify a large value.  I especially don’t see much use in the trinket if spirit is not an issue for the fight as the spirit part of the trinket was just recently added on.

Dysmorphic Samophlange of Discontinuity (SoO Drop, Siegecrafter Blackfuse):
+ Static Intellect
Your heals have a chance to grant you Spirit for 10 sec. Every 0.5 sec, this effect is reduced by a portion. 0.92 PPM regardless of ilvl.

Item Level Static Intellect Beginning Spirit Spirit Decrement Every 0.5s Spirit to Mana Conversion Per Proc
LFR (528) 1552 18640 932 11022
Flexible Raid (540) 1735 20840 1042 12325
Normal (553) 1959 23520 1176 13925
Normal Warforged (559) 2072 24880 1244 14719
Heroic (566) 2211 26540 1327 15715
Heroic Warforged (572) 2339 28080 1404 16616

The last column in the table above shows the total amount of mana gained back for each proc.  The PPM of this trinket dictates that it procs approximately once every minute.  This is effectively a mana return trinket with a fancy mechanic.  It also benefits classes which stack more haste which Paladins are not turning out to do very much despite the sanctity of battle change.  However, even for a once per minute proc, on just a 8 minute fight this trinket will return 80,000 mana.  It may be that using this trinket would allow us to go more of our secondary stats (such as haste) and be beneficial that way.

Nazgrim’s Burnished Insignia (SoO Drop, Nazgrim)
Your heals have a chance to trigger Multistrike, which causes instant additional healing to your target equal to 33% of the original healing done.
Your helpful spells have a chance to grant intellect for 10 sec. 0.92 PPM for Intellect proc regardless of item level.  Chance to trigger changes based on item level.

Item Level Multistrike Chance
LFR (528) 11.1%
Flexible Raid (540) 12.4%
Normal (553) 14.0%
Normal Warforged (559) 14.8%
Heroic (566) 15.8%
Heroic Warforged (572) 16.7%

Apart from the intellect buff which we’ve already discussed, this trinket provides a chance to trigger an additional 33% heal off any heal you perform.  I’m wary of trinkets like this because a large part of our heals are already going to overhealing so I suspect that this trinket may result in mostly overhealing.  The chance to multistrike however is quite large so the sheer amount of procs may cause this trinket to pull ahead of the others.  Also, the legendary cloak mechanic will help with the overhealing.

What 5.4 trinkets are Holy Paladins using?

Based on my guesses which may be as wrong as they are right, I think the interplay with the trinkets and the overhealing buff will make either the cleave or multistrike trinket at least one of our best.  My gut feeling is the multistrike trinket and the cleave trinket are pretty close for 10-man groups with perhaps the cleave trinket pulling ahead a bit more on stacked fights and much farther ahead for 25-man.  I think the spirit trinket is a must have for progression with its static intellect buff and the spirit proc returning quite a lot of spirit.  It should be a decent competitor if not better than Horridon’s Last Gasp due to its reliability.

Revisiting the Golden Days: RPPM Mechanics Changes

Four months ago I started this blog at the onset of 5.2 with the introduction of the RPPM mechanic and the new healing trinkets.  It was a whole lot of fun going through and digesting each of the new trinkets and the in-depth analysis of RPPM mechanics that I found and I plan to do something similar when the new trinkets for 5.4 are finalized.

Just yesterday, Lore posted about changing the on proc percentages at the start of fights.  If you recall, Blizzard implemented an alteration improving on how the trinkets would proc after not proccing for a long time.  In short, your chance to proc on each attack would increase the longer you went without a proc.  This made sense.  But in short what happened was between pulls you would go with a 2 or 3 minute break in between and sometimes more and almost every single RPPM item in the game had at least a 0.5 RPPM (roughly 1 proc in 2 minutes) and right at the first hit, all of your trinkets would proc leading to frenzied DPS chaos at the beginning of fights.  This made people who perhaps didn’t have RPPM mechanic items or who capitalized on specific procs by changing their whole gearing strategy unhappy.  Raids were essentially forced to plan Bloodlust and strategies around it wait a certain time before pulling to insure trinket procs, etc.  All in all it was affecting how happy people were.

So they changed it. The new change to the trinket is that at the start of the pull (I’m assuming upon entering combat) the “time since last proc” variable is automatically set to 90 seconds no matter how long you’ve actually waiting.  This of course will affect trinkets differently depending on their RPPM.  Following is a list of items affected by RPPM proc mechanics, and their chance to proc on pull now compared to how long you would have to wait currently to get a 100% proc change on pull.

rppm_5.4changes

In effect, the new change to trinket procs did not actually buff the proc change of any classes who were complaining that they didn’t get an on pull proc but rather nerfed only a few of the classes who were more likely to get a proc (yellow times above).  For example, classes who use Rune of Reorigination with a wait time of about 3 minutes for a 100% chance to proc on pull now will be left with only a 1/5 of a chance.  These are the classes with a mediocre waiting time before 100% pull now have their proc on pull %s drastically reduced.  As you can imagine from numbers, the classes impacted most were the classes wearing items with a 100% proc on pull time around 1-2 minutes from 90 seconds.  Where previously, they could wait around for 2-3 minutes or how ever long it takes your raid to wipe and pull again and you can pretty much guarentee a proc on pull, now for these classes this is no longer the class.  An example of this above would be someone with Gaze of the Twins and 30% haste for example.  Your chance to proc on pull is quite low.

I realize all of this doesn’t affect healers so much but it’s still interesting to see what kind of effect the changes brought about and is a nice change from the endless whining that dominated my last few post.

And since no post can be complete with some whining, I’d just like to say the recent comments by all the Devs have left me in the dark.  I just said a few posts ago how I believed that they knew what the problem was and addressing the changes with the right solution was the problem but now I don’t even know if they realize what the problem is.  The whole PTR has felt like I’ve been testing out and analyzing a class completely different from what the devs are testing.  I’m not completely disheartened by the changes nor would I change classes or quit the game just because my class does poorly, but when someone comes out and says that the class is fine, we’re happy with it, it feels like I’ve been slapped in the temples.  There are so many examples of what kind of reduction in healing the nerf to EF will be.  I made a whole post on it with a farm log from real data a while ago.  No simulation bullshit.  No random fight mechanics skewing the data.  Primordius is a fairly typical tank and spank fight with increasing raid and tank damage.  5% reduction?

A few works on the judgement nerf.  The increase of 5% to 12% base mana for Judgement is a change of 4200 mana.  Considering a typical 6 minute fight and assuming a 5 second Judgement and 80% Judgement usage efficiency, you’ll use approximately 58 judgements.  The nerf brings a difference of 241,920 mana.  It’s no laughing matter and with more efficient Judgement usage, the nerf is actually more damaging.  Now the issue is that with the SH build, a heavy haste/mastery gearing strategy is practically necessary to keep it up and competitive with the playstyle.  With too much haste, we don’t heal enough with HR and our other general spells. With too much mastery we don’t get as many uses out of Judgement and that equates to less HPS from less buffed HR.  Spirit was not necessary because generating 3 HP required much lower mana due to the cost of Judgement.  The SH build as has been stated is less a HP generation increase and more a mana regen buff as I’ve stated before.  The nerfed Judgement will now even remove that aspect from the SH build.  Please don’t let this change go live.

BUT, bright side is at least they seem to be willing to see things differently so lets not get discouraged and keep trying to bring the right issues to light.  I’m sure if things were to go live today, we would find a way to make things work or be in such a terrible place that we’ll have to get a hotfix sometime in to the patch.  🙂

5.4 PTR: Go test the new raid they said. It will be fun they said. (Part 7)

No new changes for holy pallies this last build.

As per usual, doing LFR is a huge pain in the tush.  I personally had really no idea what I was doing, where I was going and pretty much just followed the trend of something’s under you, move out of it and don’t stand near the tank and it pretty much kept me alive through the whole thing.  Between keeping myself alive and playing with terrible add-ons I was able to do a few hours of PTR testing (did bosses 1 and 2).  If you want to do your own testing first and foremost, I’d advise copying over at least your basic raid addons. Lastly, make sure you copy you macros over (hopefully you’re using mouseover macros or something similar).  There are several possible builds I wanted to try out varying the amount of either mastery or haste mostly with the Selfless Healer talent.  Here are some I thought would be interesting to try out.  I only ended up really trying the third point.

Gearing Strategy -> Talents

  • Full Int/Spirit, Secondary Mastery -> EF, SS: Typical 10-man build currently with EF.  Would be interested in trying this gearing strategy out with SS as well.  Feel like this strategy doesn’t meld well with SH though, would probably drop spirit if going SH.
  • Full Mastery (Only Gemming/Enchants) -> SH, SS: Current 25-man gearing strategy. Don’t think this gearing strategy works well with EF as full on mastery doesn’t benefit use of EF.  Would however consider trying this with SH or SS as those don’t require as much spirit.
  • Balanced Haste/Mastery (Reforge out of spirit) -> SH, SS: I’m hesitant to say this but personally I believe at least some haste gearing is required for SH to be truly viable.  Otherwise, we would be forced to cast more HRs to keep our HP generation up.  This means less LoDs and more uses of a weakly buffed HR.  Casting more HRs also doesn’t work with this gearing strategy of low spirit as you will quickly run out.  I was especially interested in trying this build out with SH.
  • Full Int/Spirit, Secondary Haste -> SH, SS:  Not really optimistic of this one but worth giving it a shot.

Balanced Haste/Mastery (Reforge out of Spirit)

Disclaimer: I want to say something because I hate interpreting results from an incorrectly performed testing method.  I haven’t fully tried out the build in every way that I would like.  It’s possible that there are talents which I could’ve taken which would’ve made it better. Also I wasn’t used to the play and played sub-optimally which further decreased my numbers.

The idea of this strategy is to not use your HR without at least one stack of SH.  It’s not to wait for 3 stacks of SH to use HR.  You still want to try to get LoD off at 3 HP.  This means always using Judgement before HR (which as you can imagine provides a crutch).  To build 3 HP you would go:

  • HS + J + HR(1) + LoD
  • J + HS + HR(1) + LoD
  • J + HR(1) + HS + LoD

With my shoddy enchanting gemming, in the 496 scaled gear I was a little above 30% of each (haste/mastery) with 6.1K spirit.  For the major healing talents I chose to use Selfless Healer, Holy Avenger, and Light’s Hammer/Holy Prism depending on fight.

Immerseus

The first boss in SoO is this giant black water elemental sitting in the middle of a giant room.  This room is probably similar in size or larger than the Will of the Emperor room in Mogu’shan Vaults.  I think the art and everything looks pretty cool, the only visual or mechanics related issue I found was that the boss’s hitbox is humongous and the red circle on the ground when targeting him is entirely distracting and makes seeing things on the ground very difficult.  This fight is kind of similar to a fight like Viscidus where he progressively loses power or size as you take away more and more of his health.  Periodically when he “dies” he splits up into several globules which shoot out in an arc to the edges of the room which then progressively move towards the center and then combine to form the boss again.  For the phase where he’s in the middle of the room, the only things I noticed were tons of circle things on the ground and pillars of smoke which moved around the room.  Avoid these since you will either get damaged or punted in the air.  I think he will also do this breath in a circle around the room which I basically just stood through and didn’t notice a whole lot of damage taken.  I believe he also dos a frontal cone spell which means you can’t sit next to the tank as usual.  I don’t think there was much more to this.  After he “dies” and splits into the globs which move towards the center, there are two different types of globs.  One type is a dark blue globule which needs to be killed and one type is a light blue glob which needs to be healed to full.  When these globs reach the center, depending on how much damage they have been dealt or healed, they will explode for a certain amount of damage.  You can see what kind of globes they are when they shoot out towards the edges so you can be in position when they land.  The idea isn’t really that hard at all.  They can also be movement impared or CCed.  After a few phases of this he just dies.  Overall the fight doesn’t seem too hard once you know what to do.  After the first time he “dies” the globs moving back to the center cause him to reform again and he loses 20% of some type of power bar.  After 4 such intermission phases and 5 phases of him being alive, he dies.

Healing on this boss is weird because everyone is spread out.  The holy prism’s radius so enormous because of his hitbox and pretty much will hit anyone no matter where they are and it’s really epic seeing the beams shooting out to everywhere.  Even in 25 man, you rarely have two people within 8 or 10 yards of each other.  It might be possible and probably more intelligent to stand in one quadrant and move to the right or left as a group to keep the circles on the ground in one place.  With our current healing toolkit, it would be fairly easy to keep the EFs rolling on at least a few people however with the SH playstyle, I was just constantly using my HS and Judgement on cooldown and using LoD wherever I could since the radius on that is still decent.  More so because I think with the buff to LoD and nerf to EF it made LoD much stronger.  In fact for pretty much the whole time I would just use LoD instead of EF.  Eventually I looked at the dungeon notes which was where I found out about the healing globs and began to watch for the lighter blue adds flying in the air and being ready to heal them and we finally killed it.  Definitely choose Holy Prism for this fight.  Holy Avenger or Divine Purpose, not as important which one but personally go for Divine Purpose since I don’t see any periods for a lot of quick healing depending on how many globs I’ll have to heal.  As per usual the SH playstyle felt really weird to be spending one GCD every 4-5 seconds on no healing just generating holy power.  I was healing with another holy paladin on this fight and I noticed his healing breakdown was essentially 40% LoD, 40% IH and the rest was our usual random stuff and that he was healing more than I was pretty significantly.  After following more closely to the healing rotation I was eventually able to keep up with him.  The shaman in our group was just insane.

Protectors

So I never successfully killed this boss because apparently people don’t understand what “they all need to die around the same time means” (one at 80%, the other near 0%) but it still seemed like a fun fight.  I think this is kind of akin to the Council fight in ToT or Spirit Kings where each Protector has some special ability during a certain phase depending on how much life they have.  It will definitely be interesting to learn.  Two main things to prevent death is 1, if you get a red circle around you, stack up with other people, it’s kind of like a static shock mechanic.  The second is during certain parts of the fight, the whole floor except for the center of the room will light up with this black smokey thing which does damage.  Everyone needs to run to the center of the area and stand inside the bubble to prevent damage or something like that.  Also, one of the male pandas (maybe Softfoot?) does a frontal cone damage which was a whole lot of fun having people stacked in the dome and the tank pointing him at the raid.  Whole fight seems super chaotic but looks fun.  It’s also outside!

The damage on this fight is mostly I believe AOE while there are a few more heavy hitting damage abilities.  I saw a lot of DoTs on people so you’ll have to deal with that, and the black swirly cloud phase will need to be dealt with AOE stacked healing (which shamans are currently leaving everyone else out in the dust for).  I was just targeting one person the whole time and going through my rotation.  Not sure what’s better for this fight but I was using primarily LoD with SH.  I don’t see a clear benefit to taking SS over SH.  Probably use Light’s Hammer for this fight as there are periods of long duration raid damage.  On the longer attempts I was in the top but generally I’d take rankings in LFR with a huge block of salt.

General thoughts so far about holy paladin 5.4 PTR changes…

Just to get a general hopefully unbiased by my own comments opinion, please answer the following:

I got decent numbers on my healing after I reforged out of spirit to pure mastery and haste but I’m not convinced the changes made us better healers. The SH rotation is new and flashy and exciting and everything, but it’s revamping the whole style of healing we’ve used up to this point.  It’s something we need to tinker around with and get used to before determining what the best way to utilize it is and whether it’s better than what we’re doing currently.  I am really tired of seeing everywhere people complaining about the changes, saying nothing’s gonna happen or just in general insulting the people at Blizzard for doing a horrible job at everything.  Lets state that the changes are terrible and leave it at that, act like professional adults and don’t turn your discontent at a game into personal attacks.  It’s not worth it and quite frankly you just paint yourself in a bad light.

I dislike the mechanics changes just as much as the next person but do I think they don’t care about our class as a whole? Absolutely not.

Do I think they may be misguided in some of their choices for changes? Absolutely, but do I think that I’m slightly biased and that they’ve got the whole game in consideration rather than just one class? Yes.

But enough ranting (ironic I know). Things like the comment today from Lore are troubling to me.  The whole holy paladin forum at MMO is up in flames amount how the changes are poor.  Paladins on the Blizzard forums are stating (albeit in a more civilized manner) that they don’t think the changes will make up for the EF nerf, etc. etc.  Sure, the changes allow us to keep up with our current self but what about all the changes in 5.4 to other healing classes that boosted their healing?  From what kind of evidence did they draw the conclusion that the mechanics are fine or is it just a personal preference?  The whole post just kind of left me in the dark, as if I didn’t know what was going on or couldn’t see the whole picture.  I’m not a great player (hell I boosted my paladin to 80 with the Scroll and have only raided since MoP) but I’d like to think I know the basics mechanics of playing a paladin and that I have the sufficient mental capability to draw out logical predictions about changes.

I personally disagree with the statement he posted for several reasons.  I think the Judgement change is a crutch because casting Judgement 1, requires absolutely no thinking (just hit something) and 2, doesn’t provide any healing the instant it’s cast.  I’ve already talked about in previous posts about how the Selfless Healer change is fundamentally a mana-regen boost and doesn’t provide any more healing than our current set-up.  Does Blizzard really like the healing rotation of thoughtful spell – mindless spell – semi-mindless spell – mindless finisher?  That doesn’t really seem fun to me at least to me. I agree that Illuminated Healing on Eternal Flame was getting ridiculous but at least it requires some thought as to which targets to put it on (hello discipline priests?).  Nerfing the scaling of mastery or implementing some mastery proc only on effective healing would both have been easier changes to comprehend and possibly implement. I am also of the mind that paladins in a 25-man state are performing poorly. Every other class now has a 12-target spell and I can remind Blizzard of their mistake in introducing EF in the first place (gave it, it was too powerful, regretted it for a whole 4 patches before nerfing it).  Well now that they’ve done that, they should at least give something similar to a classes who has almost no spread healing utility after 5.4.  Not to mention that Paladin spells other than EF are terrible at spread healing spells in the first place (okay not talking to you holy prism).

Unlike restoration shamans who have great raid cooldowns despite low HPS this patch, holy paladins don’t have anything really specific to their class role which benefits the raid more than other heals.  The thing we had going for us was Illuminated Healing and shield stacking.  The other thing we had going for us in 5.3 was the fact that some bosses had certain mechanics which could be bypassed using Hand spells.  It’s silly to think that this would be the reason to bring paladins.  Boss mechanics change, our healing mechanics don’t.  The cooldown changes such as sacrifice are cool but they are things other classes also have some form of, with less of a penalty to using it (ever tried saccing someone on H Dark Animus?).

The root problem to all of this is that fixing the problem of taking away IH is hard.  I think that the team has put a lot of thought and probably had numerous ways to change the class to compensate it, some of which were too weak and some too strong.  I understand that looking at the meters is not a good way of gauging how good someone is but for some classes (like paladins) they are more accurate.  We don’t have mana return cooldowns or really nice damage reduction cooldowns that we could use which wouldn’t show up on the meters.  Furthermore, increasing our healing spells from a numbers standpoint is not going to fix our mindless play and make the class fun.  Fixing numbers is not going to make us better healers than absorb classes or classes with HoTs which don’t require a ramp-up time.  Fixing numbers it not going to give us a healing niche.

On the bright side, to try to understand fully the changes in place which is something as mentioned, the devs have been working on for weeks, is hard to do in just a few PTR tests.  I’m optimistic in trying to get the mechanics changes to work if indeed they are the final form and the devs are happy with it.  I can live with it whereas other may not be able to. The first few weeks are going to be rough because 80% of the people who try something new and have bad results attribute it to the fault of what they tried and rather than themselves but my hope is if there is indeed something drastically wrong with the playstyle (which I think there will be), a mechanics rather than numbers-based change will be in store.  I think a large number of the people like the PTR changes because they’re new, not because they work.

The question which hasn’t been answered throughout is what is the idea behind the design of the paladin changes.  Blizzard seems to have concrete goals behind other heal changes in the form of what they want certain classes to excel at. But what is that goal for holy paladins?  What is the idea behind the change to selfless healing and having judgement give holy power but not actually heal the raid?  Does it make sense for the spell to be part of our healing rotation and not do healing immediately? Does it make sense for the healing rotation at all that is necessary upon taking selfless healer?  Do they think eternal flame will live up to the other talents in the tier if it doesn’t apply the illuminated healing shield? What is the gearing strategy that they have in mind to work best with SH or SS and does it make sense for a healing class which relies heavily on spirit prioritize haste for instant class spells and not cast-time spells?

The comments today indicated that there will be no more changes to the current mechanics and simply numbers changes will be in place.  They can obviously come out with whatever kind of numbers to balance the healing and as long as our numbers are similar to other classes, we might complain less.  The fundamental problem is that if our class has mechanics problems (which I think we do) buffing the numbers is not going to increase HPS and only overhealing.  Unfortunately we’ll probably go live with something similar to our current state and will just have to find a way to make it work for the first few weeks.  Every healer is bound to take a lower spot on the totem pole at some time or another.  If you feel that since your class got nerfed and now you’re not longer performing as well as other healers and that in itself makes you want to quit the game then you can do so without making a scene about it.

This is the main source of concern though.  I raid in a really close knit group.  There’s really no one who will replace me other than if I voluntarily take myself out if my class is bad. But the majority of guilds out there are random people who’ve come together and formed some kind of online bond so lets consider someone in one of these.  In these guilds, their raid leaders will still replace classes who they think aren’t performing well.  There are raid leaders who will still take people who play poorer classes because they’re more competent.  In hard progression guilds though, everyone is competent.  There’s no reason to bring a poorer performing class.  They can ask you to leave really nicely and everything but at the end of the day, you’re still not raiding.  But you love how your class works, you just think the numbers should be increase in certain places so you don’t decide to reroll.  You get in on some of the bosses maybe and as expected you don’t do super well but it’s fine with you because you’re still playing something you love to play.

But the SH style of healing is not fun to play.  It’s not fun to work your butt off to be last on the meters and have other classes wondering if you’re doing it right and at the same time provide little to no raid utility a retribution or protection paladin can.  It’s not fun to not know what your class should excel at because you can’t tell from your spell toolkit.

Changes that fix these things needs to happen before the patch goes live not after.

But maybe I’m overreacting and not understanding the situation with my limited raid testing.  Have you guys looked at the PTR?  Have you found successful ways to play the class?  What are you thoughts?