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:
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. :)