5.4 Level 45 Talents

“Never before have so many said so much about so little to so few.”                         – not Winston Churchill


The forums have been busy discussing and rehashing this talent tier since the release of 5.4.  A couple changes to our talents and the way Illuminated Healing interacts with our spells made this talent tier far less clear cut than it had been prior to the patch.  Additionally there was a change to Sanctity of Battle that allowed haste effects to modify the cooldown on Holy Shock.

So functionally, what changed?  Well, that’s easy to answer.  Eternal Flame can no longer extend and refresh our Illuminated Healing shields since IH does not proc from the heal over time component anymore [nerf].  Sacred Shield has charges for holy and can be applied to up to three targets [buff].  Selfless Healer now gives a charge of Holy Power on Judgment and applies the buff to Holy Radiance [totally rewrites the script, buff].

In practice how big a change this makes to you, individually, in your raid will vary quite a bit.  There are very different approaches to talent selection and gearing based on your raid size and healing comp.  Before we get to that though, let’s look at how each one of these talents needs to be framed with secondary stats and what the playstyle really is.

Selfless Healer

Advantages:

Of the three talents in this tier, Selfless Healer is by far the most mana friendly.  By reducing the mana cost (and subsequently the spirit overhead) of our basic set of abilities we can spend a lot more itemization points on mastery (and haste) than with other talents.  Because of the mastery stacking potential, SH provides a really nice cushion of absorbs for your raid to mitigate incoming damage.  The majority of the spells you cast for maximum effectiveness are instant cast which also gives a lot of mobility to SH which is really nice during a raid tier that requires a lot of movement with damage going out.  Using Light of Dawn as the primary finisher means that it’s very likely to do effective healing since it’s a smart heal.

Disadvantages:

A downside to Selfless Healer is that Light of Dawn which is our preferred Holy Power spender only transfers 15% of its healing to the Beacon of Light target.  SH uses a blanket approach to healing and is weaker when it comes to single target healing overall but specifically is weak when it comes to the passive healing via Beacon.  The most obvious disadvantage, to me, is that SH is mindless and boring.

Playstyle:

The idea of having a rotation as a healer is appalling to me, but if you want to play Selfless Healer, repeat after me: Judgment, Holy Radiance, Holy Shock, Light of Dawn.  You’ll want to use your level 90 talents as they become available.

Judgment – Builds one stack of Selfless Healer buff, gives one charge of Holy Power
Holy Radiance – Consumes one stack of Selfless Healer buff and builds one Daybreak Stack, gives one charge of Holy Power
Holy Shock –  Consumes one Daybreak stack, gives one charge of Holy Power

(If you’re playing along you know we now have three Holy Power.)

LIGHT OF DAWN!! – consumes three Holy Power

Use Selfless Healer When…

Selfless Healer is much stronger in 25m than in 10m.  In 25m raiding there are a lot of smart heals being applied to the raid, you’re going to have a mix of absorb healers (Discipline Priests, Holy Paladins) and direct healers (Restoration Druids, Restoration Shaman, Mistweaver Monks, Holy Priests) and given that our direct heals are weak compared to those of the classes mentioned above, it is advantageous to play to our strength as an absorb healer.

Thok the Bloodthirsty’s Acceleration makes casting extremely tricky (and annoying) at high stacks and having access to the instant casts of Selfless Healer makes it the preferred talent for many Paladins in both 10m and 25m formats.

Glyph Synergy:

Yes, I know Glyph of Light of Dawn exists and with a Light of Dawn heavy rotation it might seem like a good choice.  Let’s do some quick math though…  If Light of Dawn hits six players for 100 each for a total of 600, and the glyph modifies this to hit 4 for 125, you get total healing of 500.  The glyph is bad and an overall healing loss.  If you’re in 10m and think you won’t have 6 in range, position yourself better and don’t use the glyph.

My glyph suggestions for Selfless Healer: Glyph of Hand of Sacrifice and Glyph of Beacon of Light are pretty much mandatory for all talent choices.  For the third spot you have an option. Glyph of Divine Protection is very good on fights with physical damage so but it’s terrible the rest of the time.  If the fight does not have physical damage you can take Glyph of Divinity for an extra mana cd (very helpful for the lesser geared player) or if nothing else seems remotely useful, I’ll go with Glyph of Flash of Light just because it stands a chance of being something close to life saving if the stars align.

Stat Priorities:

Spirit to taste is a mainstay in the first position.  When I’m reforging I dump almost all I can, but don’t forget that you do need some to function.  Depending on the fight and Mana Tide Totems, I’m safe with around 10.5k but can do fine getting rid of every last bit I can which puts me around 9.7k  You can go out of mana with this build even though it’s the easiest on your mana pool so keep your eyes open.

Mastery is undisputed as your primary stat for Selfless Healer.  After you’ve figured out how much (little) spirit you need, you want to dump every bit you can into mastery.  This means full reforging and ignoring socket bonuses unless you’re getting MORE THAN 80 int per non-mastery gem in an item.  What this means is that you don’t use Artful to pick up +80 int but you do use one Artful and one Fractured to pick up a +120 int bonus (Greatbelt of Living Waters) as an example.

Haste is now better than just offering a small reduction in cast speed with the Sanctity of Battle change and stacking haste will speed up the number of cycles of the rotation I posted above you can do in a given period of time.  Realistically, Selfless Healer is based mostly on instant spells so the benefit to faster cast times is less important than the cooldown reduction of Holy Shock and Judgment.

Crit isn’t bad.  It’s really not.  You may hear people talk about it being garbage if you wander around the forums but that’s a massive exaggeration.  Crit just isn’t as good as the other options we have so it’s put in last place.  Your raid won’t die if you have a little bit of crit on your gear.

tl:dr Stat Priorities for Selfless Healer

Mastery>Haste>Spirit>=Crit

Gems pure Fractured unless you can get more than +80 int per non-Fractured gem.

Eternal Flame

Advantages:

Eternal Flame is a lot stronger when it comes to real healing instead of the blanket absorb style of Selfless Healer.   It also transfers 50% of the direct heal and the HoT to the Beacon of Light target.  An often overlooked benefit to Eternal Flame as well is its increased effectiveness when cast on yourself with each HoT tick being 50% more effective and 50% of that transferring to the Beacon. It is far superior for tank healing than the other two options in this tier.

Disadvantages:

Taking Eternal Flame means you will burn through mana like crazy.  It is very hard to be effective without a pretty substantial mana pool.  I’ve heard of people running 14-14.5k spirit but I’m a lot happier with 16k or more even with legendary meta gem.  Without the meta gem you may need to go higher.

With the 5.4 changes to Illuminated Healing, Eternal Flame lost a lot of its power since the HoT no longer adds to nor refreshes the duration of the shield.  What this has led to is a lot more overheal with no upside.  Prior to 5.4 we accepted the overheal because it made the likelihood of the shield being consumed much higher.  With that interaction gone, we just get the overheal with no upside.

You are hard casting a lot more with Eternal Flame than with Selfless Healer or Sacred Shield so you do suffer from reduced mobility as well.

Playstyle:

Your holy power builders are going to be Holy Radiance and Holy Shock and you’re likely going to have an HS/HR/HR/EF type rotation for much of the fight, weaving in your level 90 talents as available.  EF’s playstyle is less rigid feeling that SH and allows for excellent spot heals.  You want to make sure to always have full 3 pt EF on your tanks, yourself, and anyone else that’s taking predictable damage due to a debuff or because you know (and love!) your raid members that thinks fire is a buff.

Using your cooldowns slightly ahead of damage will allow you to get EF HoTs up on as many people as possible for the shield from the initial heal and have the HoT rolling on them and feeding into the Beacon target.

You should be using EF as your primary finisher and using Light of Dawn sparingly or not at all even during times of raid wide damage.

Use Eternal Flame When:

In general Eternal Flame is stronger in 10m raiding than in 25m raiding because you can keep it up on a higher percentage of your raid, you have fewer healers working to keep your tanks alive, and you’re less likely to be competing with lots of smart heals that will beat you to the heal in a 25m environment so you get to be the smart healer instead.

The one fight in Siege of Orgrimmar that is mandatory for Eternal Flame is Malkorok.  The Ancient Barrier mechanic allows Eternal Flame to function much as it did prior to 5.4 by enhancing and refreshing the fight specific shield the way it used to effect Illuminated Healing.  Discipline Priest shielding and our shields are not useless in this fight as they are consumed, but being able to utilize our true heals is much stronger.

In 25m, you can also feel pretty comfortable using Eternal Flame on Spoils of Pandaria since that environment is closer to a 10m than a 25m because of the split raid, but I wouldn’t consider the talent mandatory here.

Glyph Synergy:

For Eternal Flame you should use Glyph of Hand of Sacrifice and swap the other spots between Glyph of Protector of the InnocentGlyph of Divinity for the mana return, Glyph of Beacon of Light, and Glyph of Divine Protection depending on the situation.  I would strongly recommend keeping the Beacon glyph as much as possible since it allows such fluid Beacon swapping, but with the increased mana needs from EF, Divinity becomes almost mandatory as well.  Working out which combination works best with which encounter is something that might require some forethought and experimentation.

Stat Priorities:

Spirit is still going to be your first priority as with any healing spec, you’ll want to take spirit into consideration first but as I mentioned above you need a really deep mana pool to make EF work well.

Haste is probably the most highly controversial stat as it applies to paladins this tier.  The theorycrafting world put the haste breakpoint charts together last year. The most quoted comes from Totem Spot and is a great list of all applicable breakpoints for all healing specs.  The one for Holy Paladins looks like this:

TotemSpot Haste Breakpoints

What this says is that with the 5% raid haste buff, the Eternal Flame hot portion gains an extra tick of healing at 3506, two at 7170, and three at 10,867 haste rating.  Early in the expansion it was possible to get the 3506 breakpoint but mastery was so strong that most people ignored it since the itemization was better spent on mastery.

With the current tier and the relative devaluing of mastery, and the increase in haste’s value due to the Sanctity of Battle changes and the overabundance of secondary stats because of the increase in item level, attaining these higher breakpoints has become more feasible prompting the discussion about stat balance.

Mathematically, haste is a very good stat and given a healing environment where every tick of each EF is effective healing it pulls ahead of everything substantially in terms of raw output.  Because haste also allows you to cycle through your rotation faster it also consumes mana at an accelerated rate.

At the breakpoints it is a HPS (heals per second) increase and the HPM (heal per mana) remains constant.  Your mana consumption per minute in combat increases however.  This leads to potentially needing to sacrifice something to feed the spirit needs of the spec. In this case you have to sacrifice mastery since the haste breakpoints are fixed haste ratings.

On its face this seems like a simple decision to go for the highest haste breakpoint you can get and go crazy with millions of EF ticks and fast as heck heals.  The real raiding world is not so simple.  Realistically we’re already healing in a very high overheal environment.  It is not at all unusual in 25m to see overhealing numbers over 75% overall.  When you’re in an environment like that all those delicious extra EF ticks go to waste and all those itemization points you took to reach for whichever haste breakpoint you went for and if you had to sacrifice mastery to feed the mana monster you’re not necessarily doing your raid any good.

Mastery is the answer to the problems of haste stacking.  While extra ticks of EF can go straight to overheal and not do anyone any good, more mastery will create larger shields on targets to absorb incoming damage.  Although mastery shields can go unused and contribute to overheal as well, they’re far more likely to be consumed and protect the raid from incoming damage.

Crit is still good with EF but not as good as the other options.

tl:dr Stat Priorities for Eternal Flame

Spirit > Haste (to the closest breakpoint you will get without going out of your way to get any of them) > Mastery > Crit

Sacred Shield

Advantages:

Sacred Shield can be used when you have a very few people taking very predictable damage.  On a fight like General Nazgrim you could put Sacred Shield on the Sniper’s or Assassin’s targets.  It’s use in Siege of Orgrimmar has been extremely limited to non-existent, however.

Disadvantages:

When looking at an overall toolkit, it is important to have a package that works well together and Sacred Shield just doesn’t seem to fit.  It doesn’t use our mastery at all and all of our gear this tier has a ton of mastery on it.

The 6 second proc refresh makes it awkward even in situations when it should be good.  If a minor tick of damage consumes the shield it could very likely be down when the big damage is incoming and it’s needed.

Lastly, we’re left with not much to spend our Holy Power on.  It seems senseless to use Word of Glory just to consume Holy Power, but Light of Dawn is pretty lackluster without mastery and if we’re using Sacred Shield we want as little mastery as possible.

Use Sacred Shield When:

I can think of no situations when you would want to take Sacred Shield over Selfless Healer or Eternal Flame as a Holy Paladin.

Wrapping it up…

I hope that answers some of the questions you might have had about how to approach the Level 45 talents as a Holy Paladin.  As always I’m happy to discuss, amend, rethink any of this so tweet me @IntPlate or leave a comment here!

Holy Paladin 5.4 by Lifespark

Because I don’t mess around when I’m not messing around, I give you the guide I promised you!  Lifespark has been an occasionally outspoken and always passionate member of the Holy Paladin community and it is my pleasure to give him voice here at IntPlate.  Without any further fluffery, Lifespark’s Guide to Holy Paladining.  

- Lucy


Hello, and welcome to the Holy Paladin Guide for Patch 5.4. As a veteran raider but first time blogger, I’m extremely excited to be presenting this guide, and I hope that you can find it extremely valuable.

State of Paladins

In Mists of Pandaria, Holy Paladins are extremely versatile healers. Long past our days of being relegated to “tank healer” only, paladins are strong at spread, stacked, and single-target healing with a toolkit combining direct heals, HoTs, and absorbs. We have almost no shortcomings when it comes to any type of healing demanded – whether it be blanketed raid-wide healing, or targeted spot healing. Paladin utility is second to none in the game, with unique abilities such as our Hands, and powerful immunity abilities.

About the Guide

As with most guides, beginning players are the primary target audience. If you are starting out as a Holy Paladin, whether you are a new raider, an alt player, or a reroll, I highly suggest reading all sections of the guide in order. First I’ll go over our toolkit, then how to play, and finally look at how to gear.

However, even for beginners, I truly believe success begins at the top. While easy to apply, the knowledge and concepts presented here will carry over into normal and into heroic raids. There is no disclaimer here, everything presented here is intended for raiders of all difficulties, from LFR to Heroic, 10 man to 25 man, and everything in between.

Finally, in addition to this guide, also, Int Plate will be featuring frequent articles on advanced healing concepts for the hardest content, and I highly recommend players check them out.

Author

Currently my main is Lifespark, and I’ve been raiding at Something Wicked, a 25 heroic guild on Whisperwind (US) for just over a year now. After a history as a semi-accomplished raider on several other classes, I switched to my Paladin near the start of Mists of Pandaria and have never looked back. While my main area of expertise is 25 man raids, I am also experienced in 10 heroic raiding on my alts, and also frequently enjoy healing other types of content, such as Challenge Modes and PvP.

Read the Rest! →

Zero to Hero: Coming Back to Raiding After a Break

It’s not ALWAYS all about me!  Nyler has been a Death Knight, a Tiny Bear, a Tree and most recently is enjoying his Holy Paladin.  As one of the premier raiding 10m Heroic Holy Paladins and a long time friend of mine I’m pleased he’s decided to share his thoughts on returning to the game after a hiatus.  You can catch him streaming at http://www.twitch.tv/nylerblit from 8-12am EST Tuesday through Thursday or on Twitter @NylerGaming.  -Lucy

Hello there my fellow wielders of the light. My name is Nyler and I’m a top 10 U.S. raider formerly of <TM> and <Duality>, and currently of <Topped Off>. As someone who recently returned from an extended hiatus after Heroic Sha of Fear and Throne of Thunder PTR burnout, I decided to blog a little about the grind back to greatness, since the new patch is just around the corner.  Everyone needs a break from time to time and though the duration and reasons behinds the breaks are different for everyone, the “I’m so far behind” grind shares the same daunting weight. Things change every patch and getting back into the swing of things is difficult. Continue reading

I need something that will… WeakAuras.

This is the second installment in the user interface series, the first one covers VuhDo but this time I’m talking about WeakAuras.  This is one of the most powerful add ons available and again I’ll be giving Holy Paladin specific tips, tricks and strings.  I did not do this on my own, big thank yous to:   Affiniti from Blood Legion who did an amazing monk package that I stole for my first set of holy pally auras. Touchymcfeel has a great video series that I’ve watched for some tricks especially dealing with Clemency charges which will also factor heavily in the new 5.4 Sacred Shield.  Lovecraft in Angry who wrote virtually all of our T15 enounter WA,  Revvo from the MMO-C forums who I stole stuff from,and innumerable people I’ve harassed over time to help with problems, testing and just listening to me whine (Sparky, Endule, Sinner, and the rest of you peoples).

“I’m looking for something that will show me a cooldown on my abilities.” – WeakAuras
“I want something that will show me when my trinket procs.” – WeakAuras
“When the boss puts that debuff on me, I want to know.” – WeakAuras
“Is there something that will show duration of a buff?” –WeakAuras
“I keep forgetting to put up a seal.” –WeakAuras
“Is there a way to remind me if I don’t have a beacon on anyone?” –WeakAuras
“I hate the Blizzard default Holy Power bar.” –WeakAuras

Are you seeing a pattern?  WeakAuras is probably the most game changing add on ever released.  Well, probably since AVR but we all know what happened to that .  At the moment we’re in no danger of losing WeakAuras since it doesn’t do anything that a host of other add ons don’t also do, it’s just a lot more user friendly (loosely defined in some cases) and allows mere mortals to create reasonably sophisticated notifications quickly and ahead of the boss mods since they can be done on the fly and instantly shared with the raid.  It also allows for UI customization that is dizzying when you first grasp the full potential. Continue reading

Lucy’s Ridiculously Premature and Probably Wrong T16 BiS List!


I blame Endule for anything that happens here.  Were it not for him doing all the legwork to get all this started I wouldn’t have been tempted to write about it.  So really, it’s not my fault, it’s his.

If anyone is interested in the numbers for next patch and how to determine what stats and rotations are good for us, I’m gonna send you to Bouchbagette over at Full Spectrum Holy Pally since he’s done an amazing job crunching the numbers.  Good stuff!

I shouldn’t even go there yet, but I’m bored and was putting my spreadsheets together for next tier and figured it’s never the wrong time to be horribly misguided!

There’s been some conversation over the MMO-C Forums about our stat priorities considering the relative mana efficiency of Selfless Healer and the likelihood that we’ll be using that almost exclusively next tier.  The agreement over there seems to be that we’re looking at a dropping a ton of spirit and because of the changes to Sanctity of Battle, reducing the cooldown on Holy Shock, haste is now pretty attractive.  What this means is that mastery will remain our number one secondary stat but haste will jump ahead of spirit and crit so that our final stat priority looks like mastery > haste > spirit >= crit (the order of the last two may vary depending on who you talk to but it’s largely irrelevant).

Our gear for T16 is absolutely soaked in mastery and spirt like it’s not even funny how many pieces have them both.  Every slot can have both on it with the exception of one ring if that’s how we want to gear.  We also have a lot of red sockets.  I’m not actually a huge fan of red sockets with intellect bonuses, but it’s what we’ve got to work with at this point.  My co-pally, Endule, ran some gear sims and it’s looking like we can hit 70% mastery with the amplification trinket and ignoring all our socket bonuses in heroic gear next tier as well.  Once the heroic pieces are put into the database I’ll be happy to look at that again and see where we are with the real numbers.

On to the list!

Slot Item Stat 1 Stat 2 Sockets
Head Headguard of Winged Triumph Mastery Spirit 1 meta 1 red (+180 int)
Neck Lost Necklace of the Mogu Empress Mastery Spirit
Shoulders Mantle of Winged Triumph Mastery Spirit 2 red (+120 int)
Cloak Jina-Kang Kindness of Chi-Ji Mastery Haste 1 red (+60 int)
Chest Chestplate of Fallen Passion Mastery Spirit 2 red 1 yellow (+180 int)
Bracers Smoldering Drakescale Bracers Mastery Spirit
Gloves Gloves of Winged Triumph Mastery Spirit 2 red (+120 int)
Waist Greatbelt of Living Waters Mastery Spirit 1 red 1 yellow (+120 int)
Legs Greaves of Winged Triumph Mastery Spirit 2 yellow (+120 int)
Boots Mogu Mindbender's Greaves Mastery Haste 1 blue (+60 spi)
Ring 1 Signet of the Dinomancers Mastery Haste 1 red (+60 spi)
Ring 2 Seal of Eternal Sorrow Mastery Spirit 1 blue (+60 spi)
Trinket 1 Prismatic Prison of Pride Intellect Amplify
Trinket 2 Dysmorphic Samophlange of Discontinuity Intellect Spirit Proc
Main Hand Kardris' Scepter Mastery Spirit 1 red (+60 int)
Off Hand Norushen's Enigmatic Barrier Mastery Spirit 1 red (+60 int)

salt_lick

Now, take this with all the appropriate grains of salt.  The gear isn’t finalized yet and there are plenty of reasons to think that there may be some changes to trinkets.  The amplify trinket specifically is going to be troublesome in the extreme with some classes benefiting so heavily that double equipping could prove game-breaking.  We’re also going to be fighting with shadow priests and likely warlocks for our bis ring even though it has a spirit socket bonus.

I went ahead and did some rough calculations to see where we’re sitting with our stats with a full normal mode set of gear.  I ignored most socket bonuses and stacked fractured in almost everything.  The exceptions being the helm where I traded 160 mastery for 260 intellect, the belt where I took 200 intellect over 160 mastery, and the chest loses 320 mastery for  340 intellect.  I ignored blue sockets and spirit bonuses entirely.  I’m not 100% sure this is what I’ll do when 5.4 goes live, but until I get more testing in on the PTR I’m faking it.  The end result gives us 24k intellect, 11.8k spirit (none of this has been reforged off), and 17k mastery, which puts us around 45.8% mastery unbuffed (52% with Blessing of Might).  To put this in a little bit of perspective as far as the amplification trinket goes, this gives us just over 58% mastery with an normal mode, non-upgraded trinket.  You can see now why I have my doubts that it will go live.

The good news is our current set bonuses are pretty mediocre so it will probably be fine to break whenever we get anything that looks remotely like an upgrade even if we replace it with tier not too far down the line.  I really don’t think our 2pc set bonus is bad for T16 but it may not be worth dkp dumping to get either.  As far as our 2pc/4pc in T16 we’ll end up with it no matter what since the itemization is good on all our tier minus the chest unless you go crazy haste which isn’t looking like the right thing to do at this point anyway.  Plus we get a snazzy chest with better sockets as our off piece!

Hooray for being wrong on the weekends!  Thanks for tuning in and I’ll likely be wrong about some other stuff soon!

Addendum:

If you’re feeling crazy, here’s the spreadsheet I used to tally things up.  It’s not that clean but should give a general idea.

Who Do VuhDo?

This is the first article in what will be a series detailing how to build a healing user interface (UI).  In my wanderings around the internet one of the themes that keeps repeating is that everyone, healers included, is always looking for a way to maximize their performance and many times UI improvements can go a long way toward that goal. 

Begin at the beginning…

Health_BarsThe core of any healer’s interface is the connection between the person behind the keyboard and the heath bars of our raid. Every decision that a healer makes need to be directed at how to make the bars stay happy.  I would say the biggest one, but also the most forgiving, is deciding which unit frames to use.  Gone are the days of the mythical HealBot that legitimately healed for you.  Current choices include standard Blizzard unit frames, Grid, Grid2, VuhDo, Healbot … Any of these will work and there are people playing at very high levels with them all.  The basic premise remains the same throughout, you have a little box that turns funny colors when people get hurt, or have a bad debuff, or a buff.  You can show role, class, name, health in absolute numbers or percentages, your hots/buffs on players, their own hots/buffs, the other healers’ hots/buffs and the list goes on.  The core of a functional set of raid frames is displaying the information that you feel is important in a way that is easily interpreted and can be quickly acted upon if necessary.  It is immensely easy to clutter up your raid frames so that they’re too busy to be useful so a lot of what gets done is streamlining.

After you’ve grabbed the raid frames of your choice, you need to set up how you interact with your frames to heal the peoples.  Some of the raid frames come with integrated spell tools that allow you to use right and left click with modifiers to cast healing spells as you mouseover the player unit frames, some rely on external input that can be mouseover macros set up through the Blizzard macro tool or through an external macro tool like Clique, or you can select a frame by clicking on it and casting a spell from a normal keybind (or clicking something on your action bar, but I promise you that’s a terrible way to do things).

Since this is all about how I do things, we’re going to look at VuhDo and have since I started my first healer back in Wrath.  It’s not that I’m being stubborn and haven’t tried other options.  I’ve dabbled with Grid and Grid2 (yes, these are completely different things) and was forced into Healbot during MoP beta since it was the only thing that worked in the early days but I’ve always come back to VuhDo.

Continue reading

Glyph of Beacon of Light’s Unseen Value

A lot of paladins are aware that Glyph of Divinity and Protector of the Innocent are rather solid choices but one that gets over looked every now and then is the Glyph of Beacon of Light. This is the glyph that removes the global cooldown (gcd) from the beacon of light spell. If you don’t know, a gcd is the small delay before you’re allowed to use another instant spell or begin casting/channeling again. Typically a holy pally’s gcd this tier is anywhere from 1.2 to 1.3 seconds (it matches your Flash of Light cast time).

What this means for the play style is typically two scenarios that are similar to one another. First is you finish casting a spell, change your beacon target and immediately cast another spell. The 2nd is you use an instant spell and then change your beacon target while you’re still in the middle of the gcd from your instant spell cast. Both of these would pretty much cause you to have no delay or time lost at all from changing your beacon target. an uncommon situation is also if the tanks are not taking boss hits but the raid needs healing then you can rapidly switch beacon to various dps who need healing while spamming the raid to lower beacon overheal.

“But why should I even care to micro manage this as after all 1.2x seconds is hardly anything?” This isn’t an uncommon thought but is wrong. Managing gcds is still an important task especially this expansion with how our instant cast spells are our top healing abilities. What removing the gcd realistically means is after you cast beacon of light, rather then standing still for 1.2x seconds you instead cast an extra heal. Think about how you could cast a holy shock for 45-50k+, or an eternal flames 80-90k healing (plus the hot) during the time that you would otherwise be waiting on the beacon gcd. Now consider a fight with 5-10 beacon swaps and all of a sudden being able to use that many more instants or partial cast-time spells adds up quite well in healing value gained (especially since those rough numbers didn’t include absorb and beacon transfer values).

Another important gain is tank swaps on hard hitting bosses. This expansion has already had several of those where cooldowns and fast reactions are a must. In this case being able to change beacon on the taunt swap and immediately use an instant or cast Divine Light on them with no delay from the beacon cast can be invaluable.

 

What are these logs of which you speak?

I think like most of you when I first started playing World of Warcraft I was blissfully unaware of the enormous support network of resources available on the internet to help with every aspect of character creation and development.  One of the best tools for raiders is World of Logs.  Very simply it takes a combat log and reorganizes the data into a more friendly format so that the initiated can use the information to get better as players, to analyse raid performance from the perspective of a guild master or guild leader, to compare against other players of your class, and to see how other players are doing in similar progression content.

Combat Logging and Parses

Navigating World of Logs

The combat log is the core of all external analysis tools and is not automatically created but instead must be triggered either by hand (/combatlog starts and stops logging) or by using an add on such as Loggerhead or Autolog, both of which are available through the Curse Client or from other popular add on sites.  Many guilds log their raids and have an established guild on World of Logs but if you’re not in a guild or if your guild is not logging, it’s very simple to set up a guild on the World of Logs website and start logging for yourself.  The instructions are front and center at the top of the home page.

If you’re not sure if there are any logs that feature you then a sneaky way to check is to go to WoW Heroes and look up your character.  In addition to showing armoury and boss progression there is a section that shows current World of Logs ranks and recent parses. (This is my WoW Heroes page for reference)

So, now that we’ve figured out how find or create logs to look at, there is still the little matter of figuring out what exactly to do with them and I think this is where people get a little lost.  The reality is that there is a lot of information contained in WoL parses and although much of it is useful, there are a few key places to look to find out what’s going on and what might need improvement or adjustment.

Log Analysis

Then you can look through various boss kills or wipes to try to analyse your performance.  I think that a lot of people get to a boss kill and figure out how to look at overall healing done and they see an order of the various healers and then get stuck.  You hear it all the time if you visit various forums; that raw HPS doesn’t matter.  If the raid lives and the boss dies you win.  That doing your job is more important than topping the meters.  But if topping the meters isn’t important and all you have to look at is the rank order on the Healing Done page, then what good are the logs?  What is this nebulous “job” that people are talking about?

The “job” we do as healers is to push our healing buttons in a way that has the best chance of keeping the raid alive and being efficient in our healing.  We’re also responsible for keeping ourselves alive and not being a burden to our fellow healers by avoiding avoidable damage and generally not dying.

Spell Selection and Comparebots

Spell selection is one of the playstyle areas where we can look at whether or not we’re playing in a way that maximized our healing potential.  We have a good variety of healing spells and looking at how we use them and what percentage of our healing comes from each one gives us a picture of what our healing looks like through a fight.

DashboardIt’s easy to look at any individual healer from any attempt or kill on a boss and see what spells are being used on the Healing by Spell tab but, as you know, the spells you use vary by fight based on the damage patterns and how the raid is organized.  So how do you know if you’re doing it right?  The easiest way to compare is if you have another holy paladin in your raid you can sort of flip back and forth and see who did what.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to compare the two of you side by side?  Behold the wonder that is Comparebot!  About midway down the page is a Bookmarklet that will allow you to pull parses directly from the World of Logs pages without having to copy and paste to the Comparebot.  I’ve used this very successfully in Google Chrome.  I would anticipate that it works similarly well in other browsers.  The instructions are pretty straightforward; you take the individual player page from any fight or group of fights and paste it in to the ParseURL or click the Bookmarklet and hit Compare!  What you get as a result is something that looks like this: http://raidbots.com/comparebot/51af156574254eff1a000165#healing.  I used the Comparebot to compare myself and Endule on our Council of Elders kill from this week.

This is a great example of what to look at since there are a couple to things to note for when you’re looking at similar compares.  The first is to look at the top bar and just see who did more healing, you’ll see that I’m ahead by a little bit.  If you look at how much healing we did with each ability going down the list you can see that more or less our spell breakdown is about the same.  The only real discrepancies are in Light of Dawn usage, Daybreak healing and Holy Shock healing.

Since this is my parse I know that I’ve been experimenting more with using Light of Dawn since the patch so I can look at how much healing I did with Light of Dawn plus Eternal Flame versus Endule’s Eternal Flame healing (this is a whole other thing that hopefully we can talk about another time).

My Daybreak healing is higher by a pretty significant margin where I had fewer ticks but each hit for more so that likely means I’m doing better with managing Daybreak stacks since the patch.  This is somewhat curious but it’s explained a little better if you look at Holy Shock.

Holy Shock is a core ability and it cannot be stressed enough how important it is to our ability to heal.  It is hammered over and over again in all forums that using it as close to on cooldown as possible is the way to play the class.  I don’t disagree with that at all but if you’re sacrificing a cast time heal or an instant Holy Power spender to make sure you use Holy Shock “on cooldown” then you’re actually missing effective healing as well.  For myself I like to see my Holy Shocks average at or above eight per minute.  The absolute maximum is ten per minute if you’re perfect.  I’m not perfect.  Ok, what was the point of that digression?  The point is that if you look at the side by side of heals per minute for Holy Shock, you can see that mine is 8.2 so that lines up with my personal ‘more than eight per minute’ goal, but Endule’s is 10.3 per minute.  “But Lucy, you just said that the absolute maximum is ten Holy Shocks per minute if someone is perfect!  Is Endule better than perfect?”  I will admit to Endule being very very good, but he’s not better than perfect.  In fact, the only way that can happen is if he’s still using the T14 4pc set and getting the five second Holy Shock cooldown.  Now, I know this to be true because we’re in the same guild and we’re friends, but even if that was not the case, I would know by looking at this that’s he’s still benefiting from last tier’s set bonus.  He has more Holy Shocks to spend therefore he’s going to do more healing with that spell than me.  He also has a lower overheal than I do which means he’s picking better targets than I am.  It also follows that he has more Holy Power to spend which lines up with doing more Eternal Flame healing which in a distributive sense he did since used Holy Power on Light of Dawn and he didn’t.

Ranks

So what if you don’t have another paladin in your raid to compare to?  Well, you want to be good at the game so you want to look at good players!  There are a couple tricks to picking out a good Comparebot buddy.  The guy in the neighbour guild might be good but he might not be that amazing either on a world scale (no offense to the guy in the neighbour guild).  I go to the World of Logs rankings to find someone.  I don’t look at the front page of rankings.  Very often to get the very high ranks, especially during farm content, concessions have been made to rank players.  Look in the top 50 to 100. Make sure that you’re comparing to someone doing the same raid size and difficulty.  You also want fight length to be as close as possible so that you’re able to use your cooldowns the same number of times.  It’s best if you look up the armory as well since gear disparity can make the numbers look a little out of whack even though distributions should be the same.  Just for fun I went and grabbed a random log to look at in addition to mine and Endule’s logs from this week.  This is Darnus from ScrubBusters with a parse rank 33rd from April.  http://raidbots.com/comparebot/51af1e3674254e0c5b000192 Using your newfound detective skills, see if you can deduce what tier set he was wearing when this parse was recorded.

Cooldown Usage

In any holy paladin guide, and Kerfax has written a very good one over on the MMO-Champion website, there is an emphasis on using all of our cooldowns both the short duration CDs like Holy Shock and Holy Prism and long duration CDs such as Avenging Wrath or Guardian of Ancient Kings.  We’re also responsible for using our personal CDs like Divine Protection and Divine Shield and I’d go as far as including Healthstones in that category as well.  So, how do we know if we’re doing that well?

If you flipped through the tabs in the Comparebots from the last section then you can see that there are compares for cooldowns and power generation but I didn’t really talk about those tabs.  They can be useful in context as a point of comparison, but really should stand as an independent discussion point. The basic reason for taking them out of a raw number context is that the timing and stacking or chaining of cooldowns can be very informative when it comes to how well you’re faring against a given encounter.

I already talked about what to look at for Holy Shock specifically since that’s by far our most important short duration cooldown.   There’s really not much more to it other than the obvious “use it a lot” mantra that you’ve probably been hearing.  You want to aim to do better than 80% efficiency with Holy Shock usage.  You can calculate this by dividing number of Holy Shocks cast during the fight by the number of minutes in the fight so if I cast 59 Holy Shocks in a 7.2 minute fight, my HS/minute is ~8.2.  You don’t have to be super precise here; you’re just looking for a round way to talk about how well you’re shocking. Your numbers should be bigger than the ones in this handy table.

Maximum Holy Shocks per Minute 80% Efficiency
Without T14 4pc 10 8
Pre-5.3 T14 4pc 15 12
Post-5.3 T14 4pc 13 10.4

One caveat about looking at Holy Shock numbers: if you look at the Buffs Cast tab and the Holy Shocks in the Power Gains section, that includes Holy Power gained through Holy Avenger.  The correct number of Holy Shocks cast as an independent spell is found on the Healing by Spell tab as the number of Direct Heals.

I didn’t really talk about Holy Prism but it’s easy to do the math to figure out how many Holy Prisms could be cast during a fight and how many actually were cast.  The cooldown on Holy Prism is 20 seconds and it heals five targets per cast as long as you have an enemy targeted and not like, yourself by accident, not that I’ve EVER done that.  So according to the logs you can hit a maximum of fifteen targets per minute, assuming you hit five in the first second of the fight and going up from there.  In fact Holy Prism probably shouldn’t be used precisely on cooldown although delaying for more than about five seconds or so is probably wasting it.  You want to actually heal as many targets as possible so if the only possible smart thing for it to do is zap the tank then it’s probably worth holding unless just nothing is going to happen until it could be off cooldown again.  I don’t get too fussed about Holy Prism unless it’s clearly just going unused for long periods of time.  In the Council fight we’ve been looking at I had 80 direct heals out of a possible maximum of 105 so I missed five possible casts.  I should probably aim for better.

That pretty much covers the short duration cooldowns.  So now we get to talk about the fun stuff.  Realistically we’re pretty weak outside our cooldowns and our unbuffed sustained healing is nothing really to get excited about.  The good news is we have a number of throughput cooldowns that we can use!  This includes Avenging Wrath, Divine Favor, Guardian of Ancient Kings and Holy Avenger.

Figuring out if we’re hitting the button the appropriate number of times is pretty easy.  You look at the fight length, the length of the various cooldowns and do some basic math.  A three minute cooldown can be used twice in a five minute fight; a five minute cooldown once; and a two minute cooldown three times.  That’s super.  Hitting those numbers tells us nothing about using them effectively.  We’re not dps in that we shouldn’t aim to use our healing cooldowns the absolute maximum number of times in all fights.  There are fights when you do want to use them as many times as possible (Heroic Tortos comes to mind) but more often there are good times to use them that may end up sniping a possible maximum number of uses in favour of optimal usage.

If you’re looking at your own logs then you sort of know what you did but what if you’re looking at someone else’s logs and trying to figure out how they’re using their cooldowns?  Are they stacking cooldowns and bursting or spreading them out?  What abilities are they using their own personal defensive cooldowns to combat?

Buffs

Well, the first thing to do is to show cooldown usage on the fight timeline.  Luckily this is pretty easy to do if you know the super-secret trick.  Next to all the buffs and debuffs is a pound sign.  If you click that it will put an encounter timeline up for you and color the time the buff/debuff is active.  Tricky, yeah?   So let’s look at what happens if you use that to see how I use my cooldowns on Megeara.  This fight has very distinct high damage phases so for someone who’s new to it, it might be worth seeing how paladins that have already killed the fight are approaching it.

Output CDs

So looking at this Megeara fight, you can see that I made sure I had cooldowns for each Rampage.  Knowing that each one is roughly a minute after the last you can see that I held my GoaK for the last Rampage.  What you can’t tell from looking at this is why but even knowing that I’ve stacked a bunch at the end is worth noting if you’re just starting the fight.

Now what about defensive cooldowns?  How are they being used?  In the Buffs Gained tab you can add in encounter debuffs in addition to personal cooldowns or output cooldowns which carry over if you’ve clicked them on the Buffs Cast tab but also show up here as well.  Using this we can see how someone like Bobina from Blood Legion  used Divine Protection to mitigate Huddle in Terror damage on Heroic Sha of Fear.

Huddle

In addition to personals like Divine Protection, Divine Shield and Lay on Hands, we have all of our hand spells like Hand of Sacrifice, Hand of Protection, Hand of Purity (which is amazing on a lot of Throne of Thunder mechanics), Hand of Salvation and Hand of Freedom.  These are mostly situational but when used properly can make a huge difference in the outcome of a raid.  As you look at other Holy Paladin logs, it’s good to see what’s being used and if it looks like one or more is getting more use than seems normal try to figure out why.

Hand of Purity is used to counter specific mechanics so digging through logs to find out what it’s being used on can be extremely helpful when you’re progressing on a new boss.  Here you can see how Fashionstar from Dread is using Hand of Purity to soak Feed Pools on Ji-Kun.

Ji-Kun

Well, I’ve gone from talking about how to set up a log to how to analyse your performance against other Holy Paladins and what to look for in your own logs to see if you’re maximizing your performance.  We’ve also looked at ways to see what other players are doing to deal with encounter mechanics so that if you and your guild are getting ready to start a new fight you can look ahead to try and figure out what you might need to do to be as prepared as possible to live up to your potential.  There is even more you can do with your logs but this should give a good place to get started.

Hopefully you’ve found something here to take away and use to better yourself.  Feel free to comment or ask any questions!