For the future of this blog I eventually want to go more in-depth into theorycrafting aspects of playing a Holy Paladin, but seeing as this is the inaugural post I’ve decided to cover a simpler topic: Talents.
Blizzcon is still a few months away and that means that we probably won’t be seeing much more specific information about class changes for the new expansion until then. But before we get more details, I’d like to talk about which talents I think could be improved upon heading into Legion.
I don’t think much of this tier needs to change. Typically the only choice for a raiding Paladin is Speed of Light because on-demand movement speed is incredibly useful to a class without any other sort of movement speed increase. In that regard, this tier is a little stagnant, but I don’t think it necessarily warrants any changes. I think that Long Arm of the Law has potential with a build involving the Level 45 tier talent, Selfless Healer, but I’ll get to that later. Pursuit of Justice’s passive movement has its place for leveling and players who simply don’t want more buttons to push and I think that’s perfectly fine.
This tier of talents has largely only seen diversity in PvP and even then not all that much. If Blizzard decides to go back to a Vanilla/BC/Early Cataclysm dungeon style of crowd controlling all but one mob at a time, I could see Repentance actually being useful, but the player response to the Cataclysm dungeons tells me that probably won’t be the case. This talent has some desirability in PvP and should probably remain as a choice even if it isn’t that seductive of a choice.
The additional 2 seconds to stun duration and 30 second reduced cooldown from Fist of Justice is nice in almost any scenario and the reason it’s the chosen talent of this group. The real problem lies in Blinding Light and its 2 minute cooldown. Because Paladins already have a baseline 4 second stun in Hammer of Justice (albeit on a 1 minute cooldown), I can see why this talent is tricky to balance. I would like to see Blinding Light replaced with Rebuke and have Rebuke no longer be a baseline Paladin spell. This would at least create a real choice in this tier and reduce the overabundance of silences and interrupts in the game right now.
The (entirely rejoiced) decision to distinguish between PvE and PvP and the introduction of a PvP talent system may have a substantial impact on the PvE talent trees and this tier could potentially change as a result. However, the current design of the PvP talent tree is one where each talent modifies existing abilities or adds passive abilities instead of entirely new spells. This leads me to believe that we will still see some more PvP oriented talents in the PvE tree and this tier will likely stay the same.
First, let’s talk about Selfless Healer. As it is now, Selfless Healer is too clumsy be used effectively in a rotation for Holy Paladins. The problem is that the huge Flash of Light heals end up having too much overhealing and not enough effective healing. This used to be a good talent for Retribution Paladins in PvP, but has since received a nerf and is now a mediocre talent for them and a lesser option for Protection Paladins. However, I don’t want to give up on this talent. I think Selfless Healer (or more importantly, Judgment) would be a fantastic candidate for a tier set bonus. A set bonus that made your Judgments reduce the cooldown of a particular spell could make both Selfless Healer and Long Arm of the Law interesting choices.
Eternal Flame vs. Sacred Shield is an already interesting choice and one that I don’t think needs to be tampered with. Eternal Flame will usually win out due to Sacred Shield’s lack of synergy with Mastery, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful in certain situations. I think some slight tweaks to make Light of Dawn more attractive in low to moderate raid-wide damage would alleviate Eternal Flame from being the de facto Holy Power spender and make this a much more interesting choice as well.
All in all, this tier has (potentially) interesting choices and can be left alone.
The real problem with this tier is that Clemency is so incredibly good. One of the biggest perks of being a Paladin is the use of Hand abilities. Warlords of Draenor’s shift to Tanks’ dependence on regular external cooldowns makes having two Hand of Sacrifices almost invaluable, especially if you’re the only Paladin in the raid. On top of that, Hand of Protection has seen regular use in WoD to completely bypass specific mechanics in raids.
With that said, Unbreakable Spirit is still a very attractive option to have. Protection Paladins typically favor this talent whenever they can and there are a handful of fights where Clemency is less useful and this becomes a viable option. In the end, the talent tree is supposed to be made up of options and I think Unbreakable Spirit and Clemency achieve this goal.
Hand of Purity, on the other hand, is not such a great choice. The times when Hand of Purity is a better alternative to Clemency are far too few and too specific. There just aren’t many boss fights that have damage over time effects on a small number of players. The other issue with this ability is that buffing it comes at the risk of making it too powerful against Warlocks and other damage over time classes in PvP. If Blizzard chooses to keep PvE talents active in PvP, they may need to rethink this talent because its not useful enough in PvE and too hard to Balance against very specific classes in PvP.
Since this is the “utility” tier, I wouldn’t mind seeing Hand of Purity replaced with a new Blessing that had a similar but much more muted effect. Maybe a Blessing that reduced damage over time effects by 15-20%. This would still have usefulness in PvP and would be more appealing in raid encounters that make use of damage over time effects to the entire raid. I think this could be tinkered with to be an attractive option in this tier and yet still not be a required choice.
There’s really not a whole lot that needs to be changed in this tier. Sanctified Wrath is very strong for Holy Paladins and will probably remain that way heading into Legion. Even though the choice is a static one for Holy Paladins, this tier has better parity among Retribution and Protection Paladins. Also, Divine Purpose saw some light in conjunction with the Tier 17 4-piece bonus so I’m fine with this tier staying the way it is.
I would love for this row of talents to be changed to be unique for each spec similarly to how Shadow Priest’s level 90 talents had their healing components removed. I think that Light’s Hammer suffers the most from this problem. The fact that it heals and does damage pigeonholes it into being too little of both on too long of a cooldown. If the damage was removed, the duration or cooldown could be changed to make it a worthwhile option for specific encounters.
I think this could be really tricky though. In the scenario where Light’s Hammer is a healing oriented, buffed version of itself Holy Prism would have to remain the more burst-centric AoE option and Light’s Hammer would have to be the smaller heal over a longer duration. Currently Holy Prism does 1500% Spell power in healing (300% to 5 targets) on a 20 second cooldown while Light’s Hammer does 2814% Spell power in healing (67% to 6 targets every 2 seconds over 14 seconds) on a 60 second cooldown. Light’s Hammer’s duration would have to be increased to 24 seconds or the percentage per tick would have to be increased to 108% to even match Holy Prism’s throughput.
Equalizing the throughput for both of these abilities could make a slightly more interesting choice based on the positional requirements. Holy Prism still requires targets to be within 15 yards of the target and Light’s Hammer still requires players to be grouped in the AoE.
With all of that said, I’m not sold on Light’s Hammer being a spell I want in a Holy Paladin’s arsenal. I’m a huge proponent of dehomogenizing? heterogenizing? differentiating between classes/healers. I love the fact that Holy Paladins are a largely single target, direct healing class. The AoE focus in Mists of Pandaria was a big factor into why I didn’t return to healing until WoD. Making Light’s Hammer a viable option feels like it’s just another AoE healing ground effect. I want to keep that specific to Druids, Shaman, and the occasional Holy Priest.
Execution Sentence is a very useful ability in PvP and probably the reason it will stay the way it is, but I would love to see Execution Sentence change to see more use in PvE. Currently, Holy Prism’s raid utility and flexibility due to a lower cooldown make it a much more attractive choice. My suggestion would be to lower the healing and the cooldown, but that would also make it a fairly boring spell. In the end, this one probably needs to stay the same.
All talents are equal. Some talents are more equal than others. The two tank style of raid encounters isn’t likely to change any time soon and Beacon of Faith will continue to be a clear winner for raiding unless Beacon of Insight changes. I can commend Blizzard for the idea of this talent, but the execution ends up being clumsy. The prospect of having the Beacon of Insight target get healed to above 90% health and jump to a new target milliseconds before a heal goes off isn’t very appealing. Coupled with the fact that you are playing whack-a-mole with heals makes Beacon of Insight one of the least desirable talents in the entire tree.
Part of the problem with the implementation of Beacon of Insight is that it’s supposed to encourage a raid healing style of play, but Beacon of Faith already fills that role by allowing Holy Paladins to “set and forget” the Beacons on tanks and focus on the raid. I like the idea of making a Beacon that focuses on some aspect of damage. Maybe creating a Beacon that heals the Beacon of Light target for a portion of the Beacon of Insight’s damage dealt. That might be a very unique opportunity to link DPS to Healers to Tanks and fits well into the Battle Healer theme of Holy Paladin.
That’s all I have for now. Thanks for reading!