Saturday, April 14, 2007

Illumination

Description

After getting a critical effect from your Flash of Light, Holy Shock or Holy Light spell, gives a 100% chance to gain mana equal to the base cost of the spell.

This talent is the heart of the paladin Holy tree. But there are a lot of misconceptions as to what it does, or its real effect on a paladin.

The best way to think about Illumination is that it reduces the average cost of Flash of Light, Holy Shock, or Holy Light by the paladin's spell crit. If you have 10% spell crit, your healing spells are essentially 10% cheaper.

This is a very powerful ability, especially as it is open ended.

Background

Before patch 1.9, Blizzard was very careful to keep Illumination in check. It was very hard to get spell crit for paladins. For example, the quest reward [Eye of the Beast] specifically excluded paladins from using it.

Paladins highly valued items such as [Azuresong Mageblade], because spell crit was much harder to come by for them than it was for the other classes.

Then, in patch 1.9 and the paladin review, Blizzard did an about-face. They decided to embrace spell crit as a "feature" of the paladin class. Other healers went for spirit or mp5, paladin healers would go for spell crit, and that the hallmark of paladin healing would be efficiency. We got talents that increased our spell crit, and our itemization began to feature spell crit.

I think that time has shown that this was a bad decision.

As a result of our new talents and itemization, we have been able to stack spell crit to significant levels. 30% or higher spell crit is not unheard of, and that translates into healing spells which are 30% cheaper, which makes our efficiency insane compared to the other healing classes.

Current situation

The proposed nerf to Illumination cuts the amount of mana returned in half. So if you have 10% spell crit, your healing spells are on average 5% cheaper.

The problem with Illumination isn't Illumination itself, it's that Blizzard let paladins have too easy access to spell crit. But cutting Illumination in half devalues all the items out there with spell crit. Which is pretty much all our healing gear (PvP, Tier gear).

To illustrate this, look at the paladin Holy tree. We have a talent Sanctified Light, which increases the crit strike chance of Holy Light by 6% for 3 points. That talent effectively reads "The cost of your Holy Light spell is reduced by 6%". Which is a pretty decent talent for 3 points, and more or less in line with other classes' cost reducing talents.

Under the nerf, it reads "The cost of your Holy Light spell is reduced by 3%". Which is not that good. I would say that is not worth 3 talent points. The same thing occurs with Holy Power. 5 points for 5% cost reduction is decent. 5 points for 2.5% cost reduction is not.

Conclusion

Paladin healing endurance needed to be reigned in. But I don't think nerfing Illumination is the correct way to do it. This problem is primarily a problem because of the changes wrought in 1.9, and the resulting itemization. Those are the problems that should be fixed. Hitting Illumination is a band-aid fix, and has many ramifications. One of them is that this change pretty much shatters the top part of the Holy tree.

To be honest, paladin healing needs a proper overhaul. It manages to simultaneously be too good, and not good enough. Once again, I chalk this up to a lack of vision on the part of the Blizzard devs, or a lack of being able to communicate that vision. Watching these changes, you get a real sense that Blizzard doesn't know what it wants the paladin to be, and is just running around slapping band-aids on the class, trying to keep it from breaking.

9 comments:

Chris said...

The problem is that it is easier for them to change one talent (Illumination) then change all the gear accessible to Paladins that boost spell crit.
Some good points that I hadn't thought of before - changing Illumination doesn't just affect that talent... it devalues several other key talents. Nice catch.

I get more glad I respecced Protection every day... now if only they made Retribution Paladins a worthwhile group addition...

Eridan said...

"We have a talent Sanctified Light, which increases the crit strike chance of Holy Light by 6% for 3 points. That talent effectively reads "The cost of your Holy Light spell is reduced by 6%"."

Remember that a spell crit also increases the healing output by 50 %. So it's not only cost reduction.

GSH said...

eridan, while that is true in theory, in practice most of that extra healing output burns up into overhealing, especially when dealing with larger heals.

Unlike extra damage, which always has an effect (unless it's the killing blow), you heal what there is to heal. If the tank is down 6K health, you drop a 6K heal. You don't drop a 4K heal and hope it crits.

So, in general, spell crit for healers is not a valued stat at all, because it can't be counted upon. Taking Holy Power without taking Illumination is a terrible idea.

Indeed, there's an argument that Illumination is not that good for PvP healing, since you cast fewer healing spells. This depends greatly on how many spells you will be able to cast before the fight is over. Remember that it is the "average" cost which is reduced, and you really only see that when you cast a great many spells.

Steve said...

"Remember that it is the "average" cost which is reduced, and you really only see that when you cast a great many spells."

Not if you have spell crit over 30%. You're going to be seeing the increased efficiency right away. In my limited high level PvP experience what ends my healing in PvP (at least in AV, may not be the case in WSG or Arena) has been running out of mana. I cast heals until my mana's drained, then suicide run to their npc's assuming we have a nearby graveyard. Alternatively, I drink.

There's no doubt that Paladin's will remain excellent raid healers post illumination nerf (although more may be inclined to wear cloth to achieve the +spell crit/healing the want!), but what IS getting nerfed is their ability to heal a 5 man instance.

As a level 64 pally healing outlands instances (which are full of multiple mob pulls), more often than not I find myself healing the main tank with holy light rather than flash of light. In these situations I would NOT say that most of the extra healing ouput from crits goes to overheal. My crits are the only thing keeping the tank alive.

The problem is that post illumination nerf, holy paladins are going to steer away from Holy Power and Sanctified light (or alternatively will choose them begrudgingly). Without my +11% crit on Holy Light from talents I'd be a useless 5 man healer. Nerfing Illumination nerfs 5-man healing prospects for the Holy Paladin, and as mentioned, absolutely shatters the holy tree.

My understanding is that nobody is worried about paladin's casting semi-efficient high crit percentage big heals (our Holy light is at face value less efficient than equivalent ranked Greater Heal). This type of healing doesnt happen in raids (or if it does it results in massive overheals).

The problem is paladins that can spam Flash of Light for literally 8 minutes before running out of mana. Raid healing. I agree that in this area the class IS overpowered. While I personally love the idea of trading priests for circle of healing, I don't think blizzard will jump at it. (Although I must congratulate you for thinking it up, it really is a great idea).

I think the solution is much simpler (although it may be even less popular).

Increase the mana cost of Flash of Light.

Steven said...

“Increase the mana cost of Flash of Light.” That is border line genius!
I completely agree with blizzard that we are currently broken as healers and are far to mana efficient as evident with bleeding edge guilds taking Paladins over priests to expose this strength in their raids.

The mana cost between Flash of Light and Holy Light is incredible at max rank you can cast four and ¾ non crit FoL’s for a single non crit HL. I’ve tried to spam HL in phase two of Prince and until I down graded to a lower rank I couldn’t sustain it so HL isn’t broken but Flash of Light sure seems to be:
10,000K mana @ 180 mana (with 25% crit) @ 1.5 second cast =

In the last couple of nights of raiding I’m starting to think that the nerf isn’t going to be the end all of Paladin healing that the masses (including myself) have subscripted too. My only real reserve from adjusting the Illumination talent is it hurts our uniqueness in healing itemisation. I like that we aren’t just wearing high armoured cloth healing gear and that spell crit has been included in its own unique way into our mana efficiency.

Any thoughts on what gear you fellow Holy Paladins will chase now? Will you double your efforts in spell crit to regain your former glory or turn you shoulder on supposed paladin healing mechanics and amp out Mp5?

hamish said...

I've played a paladin for 2+ years, I've been dedicated to the class. I'm halfway through my Arena PVP set solely for the spellcrit. I have about 30% spell crit and i still run out of mana regulaly in instances, it's totally a quick fix and sadly i'm done with the class if the nef goes through. I'm gonna roll a shadow priest or something.

Anonymous said...

Why the hell do paladins allways want to get themselfs nerfed? "HL isnt broken, FoL is, plx nerf!" rofl :D Keep on rocking!

Savaughn said...

The problem with your description of the problem is that you are missing the double dip that is really generating the crux of the problem. Because +crit itself gives +50% to the base heal, with illumination each +1% spell crit generates an effective +1.5% mana efficiency. Getting to +32% crit is fairly straightforward which means that you're looking at a staggering +48% mana efficiency for healing spells. This is an effective across the board boost. Mana pots are 48% better, BoW is 48% improved, mana/5 regen is 48% better, etc. - all of this because you can do so much more with the existing mana pool.

This is generates an class of healing that trivially outstrips the other healing classes, regardless of the holy light vs. flash of light discussion.

Bael said...

As Savaughn said, paladin healing with Illumination at full strength renders the other healing classes nearly obsolete in terms of mana efficiency. With a shadow-priest and Mana Tide as batteries, a pally with the full bonus from Illumination has, as you admit, absurd efficiency potential.

Changing the mechanics that those classes use to provide mana regeneration is not the answer; changing the way that Illumination works, is.

This change is necessary to prevent endless FoL spam on tanks, although 50% mana regain is still a decent amount. I don't see how this change will alter paladin healing in either 5-man or raid scenarios in any siginificant fashion; crit heals will still be crit heals, you may just find that its necessary to pop a mana potion or actually drink between pulls.

Attempting to heal by stacking +spell crit will gimp you; but utilising some more spirit and int will have you on par with the other healing classes in no time.