We’ve largely left Naxxramas and the days of bottomless mana behind, tackling the harder challenges of Ulduar and the taint of an Old God. In that light, I think it’s largely time that Blizzard took another look at Paladin healing. While we’ve come so very far from Molten Core, and Paladin healing has some amazing tools and abilities, we’re still facing some serious obstacles that are made painfully clear in Ulduar, especially in 10 man raids.
This is particularly directed at the Holy Paladin’s lack of raid healing abilities.
Flash of Light is now useless in 10 mans, and only usable in 25 mans as a method of regaining mana, when there’s not much going around so your other healers can pick up your slack. Mana efficient it may be, but it’s not effective as a raid healing tool, since it just doesn’t heal for enough – and, even with haste and Light’s Grace, Holy Light is just too slow. Which leaves Holy Shock – which is still on a 6 second cooldown for me, since the Glyph of Holy Shock isn’t available on my server yet.
Mana is continually an issue, since the entirety of 10 man Paladin healing is literal Holy Light spam, with an occasional Beacon or Sacred Shield refresh. In a 10 man, fighting XT-002 Deconstructor, every heart phase had me DPSing, with Divine Plea and Judgement of Wisdom, since every normal phase took me down to 10-20% mana. Fortunately, Deconstructor is set up for that to be possible. Kologarn… isn’t.
We’ll leave behind how entertaining it is to push one button for 4 hours, since I mind that less than most.
Obviously this is less bad in the 25 man setting, since a team of healers has a lot more support options between them, and since I can literally worry ONLY about the tank and myself, and ignore the raid, because I know my raid healers are that good. In a 10 man, they’re still that good, but there aren’t that many of us and we’re required to overlap sometimes, especially with the levels of damage in Ulduar.
Now, I’m sure I’m going to get accused of overindulging in QQ, and of ignoring the awesome raid healing that is Beacon of Light, and in not realizing how awesome Paladins are at being MT healers.
First – Beacon of Light is not a raid healing ability. A heal that heals only two people, and then only if the first person isn’t overhealed, is a heal with a splash component, just like Binding Heal isn’t a raid heal ability. No other raid healing ability is dependent on the first heal not being overheal (see: Chain Heal) – and even then, Beacon of Light hits a maximum of 2 people, while Chain Heal can (glyphed) hit 4, and Circle of Healing, Prayer of Healing, and Wild Growth hit up to 5. In addition, though this is touted as a mana saver, it’s extremely mana intensive to keep this spell activated all the time – as has been necessary in Ulduar – and Beacon healing does not count towards Illumination.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Beacon of Light is an awesome spell, and it saves my arse and my tank in 25 man situations frequently. It just doesn’t cut the mustard in 10 man raids.
Second – Paladins ARE awesome at being MT healers. /flex! When it comes to keeping a tank alive? That’s my job, and I’m fine with that – it’s what I do, and I don’t want to change that! I like being a tank healer, and I try pretty hard to be good at it!
However, *NO other healing class is so pigeonholed*. Priests can choose whether to be holy – and be able to do BOTH kinds of healing, but raid healing better – or Discipline – and be able to do BOTH kinds of healing, but MT healing better. Druids can, through their HoTness and choice of spec/focus/glyphs, be either raid healers or MT healers. Shamans can, through their chain-healing and choice of spec/focus/glyphs, be either raid healers or MT healers – though their raid healing is still stronger.
Holy Paladins can not do sufficient raid healing to be acceptable raid healers in Ulduar, even in a pinch when things hit the fan. This has been a problem for awhile (Heroic Loken as a Paladin is nearly impossible until a certain gear level – which for me was unobtainable outside of Naxxramas. Having healed it as a Resto Shaman in mostly blues, I find the dichotomy striking. Not to mention Ahn’Kahet and Azjol-Nerub. And remember Magister’s Terrace?), and I’m not the only one that’s noticed it.
Ok Anna, you say, that’s a lot of griping, and we get the point. So what about a solution and not just whining?
Well, I’d come up with one, but there’s already one out there that I would love to see implemented.
The wonderful Coriel of Blessing of Kings (if you are a pally and don’t read BoK, you should!) has proposed a simple solution, used through a Glyph, that would really help alleviate this – especially in the current situation where FoL is largely unusable as a tank-healing spell. The basic gist is a new glyph that would increase the cost of FoL by 100%, but make it hit two targets – or increase the cost by 50% and have it hit a second target for 50%. Having this as a glyph would allow Paladins that only raid 25-man content to skip it, where it is much less needed, but would let other Paladins pick up a little extra oomph to be more versatile in their 5 and 10-man groups.
Or even (gasp!) build this type of functionality into a talent, to encourage Paladins to Dual Spec for each role, as Druids and Priests (and to a lesser extent Shamans) are able to do.
I’m not asking for Paladins to be the end-all, be-all of every kind of healing.
Being a specialist in tank healing is a strong and viable role, much like Shamans are specialists in raid healing, and it’s one that I’ve come to be quite fond of (as I’m fond of raid healing with my shaman). I want to be able to survive in other roles if I have to – even if it’s not the best or most useful way to heal, because sometimes other healers die or have to be mobile. As yet there is not a fight in Ulduar that’s not had an insta-gib mechanic that you HAVE to move out of or run away from (Kologarn’s Eyebeams anyone?) and if your healers can’t trade off roles, at least keeping everyone alive while the others execute a Monty Python-esque RUN AWAY strategy, there’s a problem.
Paladins are lacking the appropriate tools to be able to handle those kinds of 10-man situations.
I would never to go to a 10 man Ulduar, Malygos, or Sartherion+ raid with two Holy Paladins, even if they were the only healers I had available.
If Wrath of the Lich King is about “bringing the person, not the class” – there needs to be an adjustment. Not an overhaul, not a total re-tooling of the class, not a negation of the strengths of Paladin MT healing. An adjustment that would allow enough flexibility to not be isolated on the basis of class, from healing roles. Being the best tank healers is great – but being the best tank healers at the expense of being able to back up your healing team isn’t so great. In a 25 man that matters a lot less, but in 5 and 10 man content, that’s a bitter pill to swallow.
TLDR Version: Healing Paladins are largely unprepared for the AOE damage of Ulduar for raid healing, and back to one-button spam for tank healing. This is particularly exacerbated in 10 mans, where healer over-specialization is detrimental to the survival of the raid.