3.2 and You - Holy Paladin changes
I'm going to start by listing the changes that will affect Holy Pallies (aside from what I mentioned yesterday) as currently stated over in the PTR patch notes.

  • Judgement of Light: Now heals for 2% of the attacker's maximum health instead of a variable amount based on the spell power and attack power of the judging paladin.
  • Lay on Hands: The buff from this ability now reduces the physical damage taken by the target by 10/20% instead of increasing the target's armor.
  • Sacred Shield: When a paladin casts Flash of Light on a target with this buff, they also now place a heal-over-time effect on the target, healing that target for 100% of the Flash of Light amount over 12 seconds
  • Beacon of Light: The healing amount on the Beacon of Light target is now based on the total healing done (including over-healing) instead of the effective healing done. Radius increased to 60 yards. Multiple Paladins can now have this active on the same target. Buff indicating a player is within range of the Beacon target is no longer displayed.
  • Divine Intellect: This talent now gives 2/4/6/8/10% increased intellect instead of 3/6/9/12/15%.
  • Illumination: This talent now returns 30% of the mana cost of the spell instead of 60%.

Well, the changes to Illumination we’ve been “promised” for some time now are finally incoming. There are quite a few changes in store for Holy Pallies, and the nerfs and buffs are intended to balance one another, according to developers. Below is a blue explanation from Eyonix (I have cut out irrelevant portions of the quote – to see the original in full, you can go here).

"We are making far fewer changes to class mechanics overall in 3.2, but paladins in particular have some issues we feel are in need of being addressed[…]

We like that Holy paladins have a niche as single-target healers. The problem is we think this niche is a little too narrow at the moment. Furthermore, paladins don’t have a wide arsenal of healing spells so it’s important that all of them are being used.

First, we are changing Flash of Light so that it places a heal-over-time effect on any target with Sacred Shield on them (the effect will be similar to Sheathe of Light). This should make Flash see a little more use.

Second, and more importantly, we are changing the way Beacon of Light works. Currently, it does not count over-healing on the target. We are changing that. In other words, if you place Holy Light on a rogue who is already at full health, it will still have the full effect on a tank with Beacon of Light on them. This is a huge buff, particularly when you consider the Holy Light glyph which allows for a small amount of “splash” healing. This effect isn’t common when you use Holy Light on a tank because the tank is often standing alone. But if you heal the melee, you are likely to get a lot more total healing from this effect (while still healing the tank through Beacon of Light). We are also going to try to allow a target to have more than one beacon (i.e. from different paladins) on them.

[…]With the Beacon of Light change, the paladin can provide a lot more raid or party healing. To adjust for this, we are going to reduce the amount of mana returned by Illumination…”

This “official” explanation from Blizz frames the changes in a perspective intended to convince us all that Pallies have been given some major buffs, and the teeny tiny little nerfs that go along with it are simply meant to keep them from being OP. I won’t bother contesting that. I suppose it all depends on how you look at it. Please keep in mind that the exact numbers in the changes may be different once the patch goes to live servers, but rest assured that these changes are inevitable.

This patch is going to seriously alter the way Holy Pallies heal. While we won’t exactly be AoE/Raid healers, we are moving more in the direction of being, at least, dual target healers.

Let’s take it from the top, shall we? First off, the Judgement of Light change needed to happen. With two pallies in a raid, too many were confused on what pally should be using which judgment. Since Light is currently based off of some magical mathematical combination of spellpower + attack power, it is much more beneficial for a ret or prot pally to judge it currently, since holy pallies have no need for silly attack power, pshaw. But, because we are in a healing mindset, we always want to judge holy to heal. The tooltip and function is now much clearer. If I am understanding the change correctly, it doesn't really matter which pally uses this judgement. The return on it will individually vary based on the different people attacking that target - not on the Pally who initially judged it. This is a good change, IMO. (edit - thanks to Fuubaar for forcing me to look at this change again!)

Lay on Hands change is in line with the Inspiration change for priests. I think it’s intended to be a PvP buff, to counteract recent armor penetration changes. Sacred Shield – zomg pally HoT? Say it ain’t so! This is a pretty awesome change, and encourages us not to abandon Flash of Light simply because of the changes to overhealing via Holy Light and Beacon of Light.

The Beacon of Light change is the most important buff of all. Since pallies have historically been stacking crit and int as our main regen stats, we have a serious problem with overhealing. Now, we don’t need to worry about it nearly as much. In fact, there’s little need to actually purposely heal the tank for the most part. Throw on a Beacon of Light, and heal someone else somewhat nearby, and even if that person takes no damage, even if your entire heal on them is pure overheal, the target of your BoL (usually the tank) gets the FULL benefit of your overheal. Totally win. Not to mention the huge increase in radius range. Not to mention that now multiple pallies will be able to have the same target of light. Rock.

And then… we have the changes to Illumination and Divine Intellect talents. Of course we couldn’t simply have an awesome change to BoL without a negative factor to balance it out. Can’t have everything, folks. You can still stack crit and int for even the reduced returns on Illumination, because at least you don’t have to be as concerned about crit heals doing wasteful overhealing via BoL.

I’m very interested to see how these changes, coupled with the Mp5 and Replenishment modifications noted yesterday, will affect Pally mana regen. I personally think it’s a pretty awesome change to healing methods for Pallies, and I can’t wait to try it out.

I was going to include a guide on how this will change the way we heal, but there’s no need. Someone else much smarter than myself has already done it, and I highly encourage all the holy pallies to go give it a quick read. Holypaladin.net lists and describes how to modify your healing style, so go there, but if you can’t access it from work, here’s a super quick barebones outline of what is explained in much better detail there.

1. No more solo tank healing – you’ll need a little help from your fellow healers.
2. Only do a direct heal on the tank every 12 seconds or so with Flash of Light to keep up the HoT.
3. Be prepared to use Holy Shock and Holy Light a lot less often.

All in all, I’m surprisingly pleased with the changes coming in. I try to keep an open mind about how developers change mechanics, and I think the pally changes are fairly well balanced. I will hold my final judgment until I get a chance to try it via PTR though. There are also quite a few interesting changes incoming for other Pally specs, and when I'm done with my 3.2 healing series, I may revisit some of them.

I have enlisted the aid of two fellow alliance members to help with explanation and discussion regarding 3.2 changes for druids and shammies. My plan is to provide posts from these two lovely folks beginning of next week, so stay tuned!

7 Responses
  1. Fuubaar Says:

    My biggest confusion now is:

    WTF do I judge? I've always judged holy because I feel that it helps the healers out by AoE healing the Melee and keeps me going :)

    Now, am I suppose to judge Wisdom? As a tank, I could give two poops about this because as long as I'm taking damage I'm atleast sitting on 75% mana. Do healers/ ranged casters using mana even feel the benefits of me Judging Wisdom?

    I guess I could just Judge Justice & help no one lol.

  2. Jessabelle Says:

    @ Fuu - Dude. Awesome question.

    I can't look at talents from work - do you have any talents that convert some of your stats, like strength or AP into spellpower? I know theres something like that for Ret, but what about Prot?

  3. Jessabelle Says:

    Actually, I'm dumb. I just read that change more closely, and I'm going to edit this post.

    The difference is really that they made the explanation of how JoL much simpler. It will always be best, if there is a pally tank, for the tank to judge light - you will have the most health.

    Ret and Holy are stuck with wisdom, dammit!

  4. *vlad* Says:

    You are right, Paladin tank should judge Holy.
    If there is no Paladin tank, then the Ret should judge Holy, as the chances are they have a lot more hp than you do.
    Finally, if you are all on your lonesome (Heroics, anyone?) then you get to judge Holy.Yippee!

    As far as Wisdom goes, I guess the Ret will get that before you do, as well. So that leaves you with Justice.

    Justice sucks. It has awful range, which means, unless you are prepared to run up close to the tank, you can't use it.
    It would be more ideal if the Ret used Justice, allowing you to use Wisdom. Whether you can convince them of that argument or not is another question.

  5. Jessabelle Says:

    @ Vlad - You can tell how often I use BoJ - I didn't realize it had a different range. Yay for paying attention!

    Actually, since BoJ is pretty much useless on boss fights at least, I would say ret and holy can both judge wisdom. Mainly this is because Ret needs to judge for dps, and a lot of times holy pallies have higher priorities than judging. If BoJ really is useless, or more effort than it's worth, than I suppose it's just as useful as two pallies judging wisdom anyway. Only reason I judge if there is a pally tank is to get my bonus haste.

  6. *vlad* Says:

    Ok, I have since heard that the healing you get from the Holy Judgement is not based on the Paladin's health, but on the health of whoever is hitting the mob.
    Therefore, it makes no difference who does the judging in this case.
    Misinformation ftw.

  7. Jessabelle Says:

    @ Vlad

    You know, I thought that was the case, but it seems like it's just tricky trying to clearly word the tooltip. So if I'm understanding it correctly, the health each individual received when they strike a mob judged with light is dependent on that particular individual's health.

    Somebody please make a more concise, clearly worded toolptip explaining that!

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