The Light And How To Swing It.

Posted: 2 January, 2009 in Paladin, Wrath of the Lich King
Tags: , , , ,


Anyone tried getting a group for a normal, non-heroic instance at level 80 lately?

Not easy is it?

Some explantion is probably due to explain where this is relevant.  Galadan hit 80 before Christmas, and was pretty much still wearing his 100 Badge Holy Paladin Legs and Chest from level 70.  Now these are still decent pieces of gear at level 80, but they’re no longer anything even remotely special.  Worse, he was still wearing his plate healing shoulders from Karazahn, which is frankly embarassing.

So as a fresh level 80 Holy Paladin you immediately jump into the non heroic instances to gear up for the Heroics and the Naxxramas raids, right?  Er..  not really, no.  Well, ideally you would, but no-one is running normal versions of the instances!  Seriously, with around 1400 spellpower buffed, Galadan jumped right into healing heroics, mostly with guild groups.  The problem here is that Galadan is physically incapable of healing some of those heroic instances due to two reasons:

1. Gear.
2. He’s a Paladin.

Ok, some explanation of those points is in order.  In a 5 man group, Galadan had around 14,500 health.  The last boss in Heroic Gun’drak essentially one-shots him if he gets charged and impaled, so Galadan cannot heal heroic Gun’drak.  He’s not the only boss who pretty much has a “You must have this much health to enter” requirement, but he’s the most brutal.

Secondly, Holy Paladins have no Area of Effect heals.  Shut up, Beacon of Light is not an AoE heal.  It’s a two-target heal, and it’s great, but it’s not AoE.  So on those exceptionally rare occasions where everyone in the group takes damage at once, Holy Paladins have a very tough time.  Oh sorry, did I say “exceptionally rare”?  I meant every damn boss fight in the game!

Yeah, so I’m exaggerating, but not by much.  The combination of those two factors makes it really hard for a fresh level 80 Holy Paladin to get along.  There is some great Healing Plate gear in the normal-mode level 80 dungeons, but no-one’s bothering to run them because the loot in heroics is so much better, and with any other healer but a paladin you can comfortably do them, so everyone expects to be able to do nothing but heroics.

Note, I’m not saying that you can’t do certain instances with a Paladin healer, because that would be rubbish.  There are some exceptionally talented holy pallies out there, and the quality of the group as a whole can be the major factor.  If your dps and tank won’t move out of Sjonnir The Iron Shaper’s lightning rings, your healers’ class isn’t going to make any difference to the outcome – you’re wiping anyway.  What I am saying is that unless your paladin has already has the great gear and unless your group has a good tank and smart dps, it’s going to be much harder for your Holy Paladin to keep everyone alive.  Let’s see what your average healadin has in their arsenal…


Flash of Light.  Previously known as “Flash of Doesn’t Heal For Enough”.  This is a great spell.  A 1.5 second cast but at level 80 in a dungeon, this is pretty much as close to a 1-second cast as you’re ever going to get.  Depending on your gear levels, this is going to pump out at least 2000 health per second or better, and it’s going to crit a LOT if you’re smart about it.  More on that later.

Holy Light.  Previously known as “Holy Heals For Far Too Much”.  Our second heal, and it’s a big one.  Typically heals for 8k or more, with a base casting time of 2.5 seconds.  However it’s never going to take that long to cast if you use your Judgements wisely.

Holy Shock.  Our first instant cast “oh crap!” button.  It’s on a 6 second cooldown which isn’t bad.  Where it becomes awesome is with the talent Infusion of Light, which causes Holy Shock crits to give our next Holy Light a 1 sec reduction on casting time and our next Flash of Light a 1.5 second reduction.  Yes, that means an instant Flash of Light and a 1.5 second Holy Light.

All seems a bit random though, doesn’t it?  Indeed it does, but you can tip the odds in your favour with:

Divine Favour.  This Holy talent is also instant cast and makes our next healing spell an automatic crit.  You can use this to great advantage by guaranteeing a crit on your next Holy Shock, which makes your next Flash of Light an instant cast, and if Sacred Shield is also up, that Flash of Light is about 75% going to be a crit as well.  Note the heavy use of the phrase instant cast here.  Yes, Paladins can heal on the move.  Alternatively, you can use it as another “Oh crap!” button for when your Lay on Hands is on cooldown and you need a BIG heal on the tank right now!

Light’s Grace. This talent gives you a 0.5 second reduction in casting time on your next Holy Light for 15 seconds after casting a Holy Light.

Sacred Shield You put this on your Main Tank and keep it there.  This spell means that not only is your Flash of Light the most mana efficient heal in the game, it’s going to crit like a mofo too.  Damage mitigation and bonus crits?  Yes please!

Beacon of Light.  Or Bacon of Light, as Ghostcrawler christened it.  This spell is a band aid.  It does not give Paladins the AoE healing that we’ve been begging for and every other healing class has, but without it we would simply not be able to heal anything other than the Main Tank in a raid.  Without this spell, we would never be able to find a spot as a healer in a 5 man.  Ever.  So I’m not about to criticise it too much.  You cast it on your Tank, and then whenever your dps (or you) take a hit, you ignore the tank and heal the dps, and through the magic of Beacon of Light, the Tank gets the same heal as the dps.

Next we have Judgements of the Pure and Enlightened Judgements also Holy Talents.  One gives you a 15% casting speed increase after you Judge a target, the other extends the range of your Judgements to 40 yards and increases their chance to hit by 4%.

And finally we have the Glyph of Holy Light which gives 10% of the amount healed by your Holy Light to anyone within 5 yards of the heal target.

So, taking ALL of the above into consideration, no, we may still be the only healing class to not have any Area of Effect heals, but despite that we’re still pretty capable group and raid healers.  Let’s look at the anatomy of a Boss fight in a 5 man to see how it all hangs together.

1.  Beacon of Light and Sacred Shield on the tank.
2. Throw up your Seal of choice.
3. Tank engages boss, Judge Light on the boss so melee can trickle heal themselves with their melee hits.  Gain 15% spell haste from Judgements of the Pure.
4.  Tank takes a big hit, cast Holy Light, your next Holy Light, taking into account Light’s Grace, Judgements of the Pure and your haste from gear is now almost a 1 second cast.
5.  Boss does AoE, tank and dps health starts dropping.  1 sec Holy Light on the dps with the lowest health, which also heals the tank for the same amount.  Spam 1 second Flashes of Light on remaining dps, also healing the tank for the same amount too.
6.  You have to move to avoid some AoE, pop Divine Favour to make your next Holy Shock 100% crit, zap a dps with it for a 4k+ heal, which makes your next Flash of Light also instant cast, top your selfoff for another 4k instant heal.  Thanks to Beacon of Light, all these heals also hit the tank.
7.  Kill boss, pick up loot.

Easy?  Hell no.  I’d argue that a Holy Paladin in a 5 man has to work harder and faster than any other healing class to get the same result, especially given how much group damage Blizzard are keen to toss about in their boss and trash encounters.  There are certain instances that are hard for any class to heal, not just paladins, it’s just harder for us.  Whole group took damage at once?  For every other healer you fix that with one button press.  Not for us, not by a long shot.  We do on the other hand have the fastest and most efficient single target heals in the game, and unlike most other healers, we have more armour than the USS Missouri, so we can take a beating if stuff goes wrong without getting instantly gibbed.

Am I glad I levelled a Holy Paladin as my second level 80?  Yes, on the whole I am.  I wish in retrospect I’d levelled Aluriel (priest) or Shinano (druid) first, but now that Galadan’s starting to gear up from those tough heroics and I’m becoming better at playing him, it’s infinitely more rewarding.

And we do look good in pink. 🙂


How YOU doin'?

  1. Drazmor says:

    I love pallys, but I have absolutly no desire for Holy. Healing seems so…

  2. pewpewlazerz says:

    I’m the kind of masochist who levelled 70-80 as Holy. It’s actually not bad, you level like a cockroach, impossible to kill. 🙂

  3. Aelinna says:

    It’s uh… not quite that simple for the rest of us. Priests maybe, even shaman have to worry about range. Wild Growth is really not CoH. Generally I’ll put hots up beforehand, pop a WG then spam regrowth/CDs until we’re in the clear.

    Pallies do have my sympathy though. Their theme doesn’t jive very well with modern encounter design.

  4. DW says:

    Well this is gonna be a tad bitter, first off because i was the tank in which Mr pewpew states “won’t move out of Sjonnir The Iron Shaper’s lightning rings” and secondly because i personally do think that Galadin is suffering from what we in the healing buisness call “the grass is greener and *his* wifes boobs are bigger”-syndrom.
    Every other healer has it way better than paladins, says the paladin. Funny how i’ve never heard a shaman, priest or druid say that “well at least we arent paladins hur-hur”.
    Odd, isnt it?
    What i have heard however is our own guild paladins saying, ‘we are fine, just very very different than we where in tbc.’ I guess that is what you are getting at at the end of this post.
    One issue that you do not mention, and one that it seems that druids and holy paladins share is the ability to never go OOm. This was an non-issue in tbc, it is no more.. well except if you roll pally or have Innervate. So yea Pallys have it great, nau give Kings plx, kkthxbb

  5. pewpewlazerz says:

    Well the point of the article wasn’t to point a finger at any particular tank or incident, but since that was the most immediate example of the problem that’s what I used. And even if there was any reason why a tank must stay in aoe and take a beating (and there are situations where exactly that happens) a paladin healer can deal with that by using beacon of light. Where things rapidly go to hell is when the entire group starts taking a kicking at once, and if the reason for that is because they’re too dumb to get out of the fire or simply because that’s the way the encounter is designed, then paladins ARE going to have a harder time dealing with it. It’s just a fact, regardless of whether or not any other healing class is laughing at paladins or not.

    Where Paladins do shine, as I hope I pointed out, is that they’re a lot harder to kill than any other healer so whereas a priest would have to risk dying themselves while trying to keep the group up, or concentrate on saving themselves and the tank and letting one of the dps die, the paladin can shrug off personal damage and concentrate on the tank and whoever has the lowest health.

    And while we’re on the subject of Sjonnir the Ironshaper, I’d like to see a priest, shaman or druid pop a bubble after the rest of the group dies and finish the boss off themselves. I know a Paladin who did that, though. 🙂

  6. pewpewlazerz says:

    @ Aelinna: I must confess I’ve not raided on Shinano (my Tree) since before Wild Growth was introduced, so my knowledge of current druid healing strategy is limited. I do love Tranquility, though. The greatest “Oh shit!” button in the game!

  7. Kurnak says:

    I should be also a masochist because I’m leveling Turnak as holy too… and as you I like it! Yeah our dps is not that great, but as you pointed out, survivality is the name of the game. Let them come! Ma big shiny hamma’s waiting!
    One question: do you think it’s better to keep Bacon on tank at all times? I usually place it on a melee so he also gets healing while I’m healing the tank. Also avoids changing target (as you I’m not using any healing plugin, just XPerl). So when everyone takes damage, with tank having priority I just pop the heal on tank and that melee gets the healing too. But since I’m not a healer specialist (all my other 9 chars are dps) I prefer to ask why tank gets the bacon 😉

  8. pewpewlazerz says:

    Well I’ve heard of Pallies who pop the Bacon on themselves and heal that way. I guess it depends where you’re healing. For myself, in 5 mans I tend to spend as much time healing myself and the dps as the tank. So it just made sense for me to Bacon on the tank, that way when I have to spam a heal on someone else the tank still gets healing too. It depends who you find yourself healing the most, really.

    I’m using Clique now btw. Shift-Left click for Flash, Shift-Right click for Holy Light. No need to waste time clicking on peoples’ raid or party frames… just mouseover, hold down shift and click, my heal is casting at the same time I previously would have just selected the target.

  9. Gilleion says:

    All the things that have been said here are true, but you’re forgetting something… PALADINS ARE LEET. You just /shrug when you see a whole group get hit and spam that heal button like there’s no tomorrow 😀 But i still feel your pain and hopefully blizzard will finally make paladins the OP healers they were destined to be and give them an AoE *hint* priests are one step away from that too… if only they weren’t so squishy *hint*

  10. DW says:

    Just a little heads up calli. Ive totally qouted a part of this in my latest blog.

    Got a problem with that? Too bad, nau go heal me kk? 😉

    • Elandiro says:

      DW, you said Druids and Paladins never go OOM but I’ve also never seen a Resto Shaman go OOM. But for Paladins that’s only if you’re well geared. Galadin here is saying how hard it is to start gathering gear as a holy paladin and I personally agree with him after having to go trough that myself. Without any epics we DO run out of mana and the lack of an AoE heal or even a HoT is really annoying. (Just think of Vortex at EoE).

      It was a hard trip getting my paladin geared up to even be able to go heal Naxx but it was worth every second I spend doing it. Every raid now I top the healing meter thanks to 2.5 sec casts for 30k+ crits. (BoL + Holy Light crit for 15-16k) I love healing with him and I wouldn’t trade it for retri or prot anytime soon. And for those still trying to gear up; just keep trying, you’ll get there eventually and then it gets way more fun.

  11. pewpewlazerz says:


  12. Tcherno says:

    As a fellow paladin (prot, holy and then ret in that order) I’d like to throw a few comments

    At 1500 spellpower, judgement of light “trickles” are ~300 health per hit, and almost 600 at 2k spellpower. That means rogues and kitty druids are healing themselves at 300-500hps for 12 seconds without you doing anything. Hunters, warriors, DW and 2H DK’s are healing themselves slightly slower but still appreciable amounts. This is a paladin AOE heal, and should have approximately 100% uptime in most fights if you are doing your job properly. In any 5 man, this is “the” most mana efficient healing spell in the game, and scales with your +SP to ridiculous proportions. In a 25 man raid this spell stomps all over every other healing spell like.. well I don’t have any suitable analogy unless Jupiter came and swallowed the earth. However, it may be more suitable for a well geared retribution paladin to be judging this, or even a well geared prot, as I think the proc scale is 15% AP + 15% SP. Usually this choice doesn’t happen in 5 mans though.

    Also, beacon on the tank 100% of the time EXCEPT Loken has been my experience. Almost always I heal myself with holy shock and a flash of light (instant or not) when I take AOE damage.

    Everybody has a different play style, priests are very much a fire and forget (renew on the tank, PoM on the group… and stop until you need to recast,) druids cast a little more often in my experience (roll lifebloom on the tank, rejuv on raid damage, nourish here and there or wild growth,) shamans cast lesser/greater, chain heal quite often, and paladins spam FoL like it is their job.

    But, Paladins can also not have to “spam” heal, if you are judicious in applying sacred shield and beacon and judgement of light, for all but the most demanding encounters you end up being more toward the
    “fire and forget” as the other guys are capable of. Go into your next heroic under the impression that shield absorbs quite a bit of group damage and JoL heals for quite a bit more than you expect and the tanks health *doesn’t have to stay at 100% all the time, Mr. I can heal 30k in 2 fast casts,* and you may find yourself enjoying holy more. Also you may feel a bit more accomplished because you are using the tools at hand to their best. Holy develops a flow just like the others and once you have it down, you cast the most often but it’s not as crazy as it is the first few heroics you start with. Especially as your SP scales.

    Also, gearing your paladin right really makes a difference on how easy it is to heal. +SP, +int, +crit, +haste, +mp5. No other stats.

    Lest I sound too high and mighty, I think healing is “easier” on my priest than my paladin, but if was going into something with an undergeared tank or a really hard hitting boss, paladin would be the first choice.

  13. pewpewlazerz says:

    In the while since I made this post I’d have to agree with everything you’ve said. Stick with it, get the gear, trust your abilities and things do get significantly easier. I still feel for those poor sods who just dinged 80 and have 1500 spellpower and little crit and haste to speak of, though. The quality of your group makes a big difference, but those first heroics are going to be pretty harsh.

  14. […] The Light and How To Swing It is also easily the single most popular post on the blog, which is a bit wierd since it was written in January 2009 and wasn’t even cutting edge blogging content when I wrote it, let alone now.  I guess I can infer from this that people who want to read about paladins are a) very easy to impress, b) Paladins are very, very popular and c) and I should probably write about Galadan more.  What I can tell you is that in September 2009, eight months after that post was first written, it generated 721 page counts all on its lonesome.  It’s doing 450 hits per month even today.  What’s up with you people?  Shoo!  Go read Paladin, Schmaladin or Forbearance or something instead! […]

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