Sunday, October 5, 2008

End of BC Healing Roundup: The Paladin

Or: FoL is Great, Holy Shock Sucks

So here I come to the end of the healing roundup. I’ve saved the best class for last. OK, so I just went in order of armor class, but I still think that Paladins are the best just by virtue of having healed my way through the entirety of BC on my Holy Paladin Naelum. (Note to self, never lvl from 62-70 as Holy again).

More than any other healing spec, the Holy Paladin generates a lot of controversy. As an example, let’s look at each healing tree’s 41 point talent.
Priest: Circle of Healing – Completely invaluable and potentially spec defining spell.
Druid: Tree of Life – Once again, very valuable and spec defining.
Shaman: Earth Shield – While not spec defining, it is certainly a great spell.
Paladin: Divine Illumination – BORING!

Sadly, boring is perhaps the most apt description of Paladin healing. I personally have a choice of three spells: Flash of Light, max rank Holy Light (which I avoid because it destroys my mana pool), and a downranked Holy Light (usually rank 7 or 8).

It is the complete lack of variety and options that defines Paladin healing. And, although we kick butt at single target healing, there are a number of weaknesses that we must constantly strive to overcome.

Arsenal of Healing/Utility Spells:
Flash of Light
Holy Light
Cleanse
Holy Shock
Divine Favor
Divine Illumination
Devotion Aura
Concentration Aura
Various resist auras
Lay on Hands
Blessing of Freedom
Blessing of Sacrifice
Blessing of Protection
Divine Shield

Strengths:
Single target healing: So let’s just say what everyone is thinking. Paladin’s are excellent single target healers. Because Flash of Light is so efficient and has a very short cast time it can be spammed near indefinitely to keep a tank up.
Hard to kill: Just like BRK says, Paladins are the cockroaches of the Warcraft world. We are damn near impossible to kill between our Plate armor, Improved Righteous Fury talent, and a damn invincibility shield.
Buffs: Paladins have a number of very useful Blessings to choose from that will help any class deal more damage, heal for longer, or not die when being beat in the face by a boss.

Weaknesses:
Multi-target/AOE healing: Paladins lack any type of AOE heal, multi-target heal, or even a hot that we can drop on a dps and go back to focusing on the tank. If you want proof of how much Paladins can’t AOE heal, head into MgT and try Kael’Thas with a Holy Paladin. Check his or her blood pressure before and after the fight. It is not fun.
Mobility: Paladins are not mobile healers. Only one of our heals is an instant cast, Holy Shock, and that’s on a 15 second cooldown, has a 20 yard range, and is incredibly inefficient.
Holy Shock: I made this a weakness all by itself because I feel that must emphasize. HOLY SHOCK SUCKS! Holy Shock is a terrible heal that should be smote from this Earth. Its 20 yard range alone makes it near useless since every other heal in the game is 40 yards and we usually try to stay far away from the boss. In addition, it has a 15 second cooldown, which, when you have to be running around and can’t stop to cast Flash of Light or Holy Light, is a near crippling length of time. Finally, it heals for a pathetic amount, usually about 1700 in my gear, and costs a crazy amount of mana.
Longevity: Believe it or not, the class that used to be known for its longevity back in the early days of BC is now the healing class that goes oom the easiest. Even beyond the Illumination nerf, Paladins have no FSR to use/abuse and no Water Shield to provide an excellent source of Mp5. Thus, Paladins are completely dependent on passive Mp5 and our mana return from Spell Crit.
HoTs: We don’t have them. Even Shamans get Earth Shield. Paladins get nothing.
Oh shit buttons: Paladin’s do have Divine Favor, which can be used to throw a bit ol’ max rank Holy Light crit out, but that’s about it. Oh, and Lay on Hands drains 100% of our mana, so it usually hurts more than it helps.

What’s Coming?
Holy Paladins have received perhaps more changes than any other healing class/spec in the WotLK beta. With Blessing of Kings moved to Tier One of the Prot tree we Holy Paladins can now dip into the improved Ret tree for 5%-8% more spell crit, cheaper instant cast spells, and raid buffing.

The Holy tree has gotten some nifty additions as well. Enlightened Judgements and Judgements of the Pure give Holy Paladins the option of Judging from 30 yards for spell haste, while Beacon of Light is a way of letting Holy Paladin’s throw a heal out to the raid without having to freak out because we took our eyes of the tank for 1.5 seconds. However, while I don’t want to be a negative Nancy, since I really do like the current incarnation of Beacon of Light, I still feel that the Paladin’s AOE healing will be lacking.

Oh, and as a final comment, HOLY SHOCK DOESN’T COMPLETELY SUCK ANYMORE! That’s right boys and girls, the spell that we’ve all learned to hate because of its complete lack of usefulness is getting a huge buff via an increased range, shorter cooldown, and buffed healing/efficiency. Thank you Blizzard!
Oh, and Lay on Hands is getting buffed to not suck as well.

Part 1: The Priest
Part 2: The Druid
Part 3: The Shaman

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