Thursday, April 15, 2010

Beacon of Light and Cataclysm

Beacon of Light puts paladins in an odd place, power-wise. In my view, Beacon breaks down as follows:

No Beacon = Underpowered.
Beacon healing one tank and one non-tank = Balanced.
Beacon healing two tanks = Overpowered.

Right now, the only thing keeping Holy Paladins in check is that they are abysmal at raid healing.

Blizzard has posted that they want to do something with Beacon in Cataclysm:
Currently on live, Beacon of Light is a tool that allows paladins to target more than just the main tank. In Cataclysm if it just doubles their healing, it is going to be overpowered. We have two ways we might handle this and we’ll experiment to see which feels better. The first is that Beacon only works on some heals, such as Flash of Light or Holy Light (but not the big one). An alternative idea is that Beacon increases the mana cost of a heal cast on a beaconed target, since you’re essentially getting a double heal. Under this model, Beacon itself would cost no mana.

The thing is that--as I understand it--healing is supposed to slow down a lot. Healers won't be GCD-locked, but more constrained by mana.

But here's the problem: if you're not GCD-locked, why spend 1 GCD to heal 2 people at double the mana? Why not just heal Person A with the first GCD and person B with the second GCD? It's the same amount of mana, but it's much more flexible.

I suppose the only allowing FoL to transfer is another solution, but is it really going to be worth the mana cost of Beacon? Beacon is actually a fairly expensive spell.

Traditionally, AoE healing works not just because it is time-effective, but because it is also cost-effective. If you can get full use out of your AoE heal, it is usually more efficient than using multiple direct heals.

Basically, I'm not really sure that the current Beacon of Light makes sense in the Cataclysm healing world that Blizzard is aiming for. It's been a godsend in Wrath, don't get me wrong. If we didn't have Beacon, I'm pretty sure that Holy Paladins would not be taken to raids. But in a slower, more controlled healing world, Beacon becomes extremely niche, with a prohibitive mana cost.

It might be best for Blizzard to just rework Beacon of Light entirely. For example, the new Healing Hands spell1 would match the name "Beacon of Light" superbly. In fact, Beacon of Light is a far more appropriate name for that mechanic than the current one. In the current mechanic, the Beacon target is more of a black hole, sucking healing in from the rest of the raid. With Healing Hands, the paladin literally becomes a beacon of light, radiating heals outward.

My recommendation would be to get rid of the current Beacon mechanics, rename Healing Hands to Beacon of Light, and either make a new 51-pt talent or a new level 83 spell.

1. Healing Hands (level 83): Healing Hands is a new healing spell. The paladin radiates heals from him or herself, almost like a Healing Stream Totem. It has a short range, but a long enough duration that the paladin can cast other heals while Healing Hands remains active. 15-second cooldown. 6-second duration.


  1. I always wondered why they didn't just make it that when you heal the beacon, it also heals friendlies in the area around the beacon for a small amount. It would probably fix a lot of the issues with doubling up healing, increase raid healing capacity and decrease effectiveness of tank healing. Plus I imagine it would be easier to balance since it's an extra healing component rather than a heal hitting two targets simultaneously.

  2. I am sure if you dig back into the Wrath previews, the original Beacon of Light was described a lot like Healing Hands. The only difference was that you could beacon anyone and they would radiate heals.

    They will have to reveal a lot more detail to explain how any of these changes move Holy Paladins from the niche tank healers to on par raid healers. At least the current implementation of Beacon and Holy Light Glyph allows a paladin to bomb the raid with heals while keeping up a tank.

  3. @NegativeZero.. Like Big Heals stated. This was the original Beacon concept. People complained that AoE healing was not the Paladin Niche. Remember, back in the day each healer had a niche role to fill. Shamans/Priests were aoe healers while the druids and paladins were the tank healers. They have done their best to push us all out of these niche rolls. However, in doing so, they have pretty much left paladin's in the same place. Sure they can use the HL glyph to aoe heal a minor amount, but thats not enough in the day and age of Circle and WG. Hell, CH can't even keep up with these spells simply due to the cast time and a lower limit on targets.

    If healing hands does work like a Healing Stream Totem, is it going to be the same strength? If it is, is it going to be compatible with it. A lot of aura's are simply not compatible with each other these days, is this going to be the same thing. Even then, is a HST level spell going to be effective enough in aoe healing? HST with top gear is looking at ~500 a tick. Even if this spell ticked every second for 500, is that worth it?

  4. I don't know about you all, but the frantic whack-a-mole is what I love about end-game healing. It's hectic, exciting, a strain on the senses, and ultimately a whole lot of fun.

    From everything I'm reading about the changes to healing it sounds like they are slowing the whole process down. That sounds like a snooze-fest to me.

    Granted I don't know the new healing landscape with all the changes, but this could possibly herald the end of my WoW playing if all we are doing is 'minding our mana'.

    Here's to hoping the game is still frantic in Cata.

  5. They're slowing it down a little because they want you to think about what you cast a little more so that they can regain a certain amount of control over a boss fight that they don't have when you don't care about your mana and just hit your best heal as fast and as often as possible.

    Personally, I think the current preview suggests that Healing Hands will heal for substantially more than Healing Stream Totem (relatively) does today, that it will cost a good deal of mana, and it helps with mobility by encouraging the Paladin to stay as close to the rest of the raid as possible, so if the Paladin needs to move, he can hit Healing Hands and heal while moving.

  6. They clearly have a lot of adjusting to do for Holy Paladins. I have a feeling they rushed the announcement. As of right now, the way it looks, Pallies are set to lose their efficient single target healing niche but yet not gain a decent AOE heal. So basically they're set to turn into priests with bad AOE. It really makes no sense right now, so I expect many changes to come down the line.

  7. I've wondered about how the niche would be effected if the beacon only transferred overheals in Cat. It would be interesting, in that the other healers could concern themselves with only triage, and expect the pali to top everyone off, with the overheal going to the tank.

  8. Why not make beacon actually turn the pally into a beacon and have it work like the new healing hands spell? I.E. with beacon up, your spells would cost a certain amount more, but you could be radiating aoe heals, and anyone besides the tank who is low could run toward you to get topped off. Increasing the mana costs for spells cast while it is up would mean that you couldn't just keep it up all the time, but only when it is needed. It could be like the glyph of HL, except the splash would come from the paladin and could be turned off/on.

  9. The main issue to my mind is that paladin healing without Beacon is boring as heck. Even with the two new spells they're giving us, we're still going to be casting our most efficient heals on the tank and letting the raid healers use their much more efficient AoE heals do their thing. Oh, but we'll be hitting Healing Hands every 15 seconds. It will be just like TBC, only with us standing in the crowd hitting a new button 4 times a minute. So, so, -so- boring.

  10. But here's the problem: if you're not GCD-locked, why spend 1 GCD to heal 2 people at double the mana? Why not just heal Person A with the first GCD and person B with the second GCD? It's the same amount of mana, but it's much more flexible.

    You're making the assumption here that because he said "increased", it means "double". That's not necessarily the case, though. Increased could mean anything; maybe it's 25% more expensive, or 50% more expensive, or 500% more expensive and heals everyone in the area. Without knowing exactly how much more it'll cost, you can't -really- say that it's pointless to use it to save a GCD.

  11. @aaron speaking as someone who refuses to heal on my paladin but I have my resto shaman I will say ...

    The idea here is not to necessarily have the whack a mole go away, but the overall incoming damage to be much steadier with occasional large spikes. Lore over at tankspot put it quite well. Each class is getting what essentially is a "downranked" version of their big heal. Its the heal we would have used in TBC to heal a single target 90% of the time, Holy Light 7 for example. This is the heal we will use to maintain health while we will use our big heal for the huge spikes.

    We are still going to be active, and to a degree it will be whack a mole. Its just going to be more about choosing the right spell for the moment rather than just spamming Holy Light on the tank.

    As for beacon, in my opinion if they are going to change it, they just need to rip it up and start a new and give Paladins a bit of a chance at raid healing. Healing hands is an interesting concept, but its incredibly inflexible compared to Circle, WG, Chain Heal and Healing Rain.

  12. Am I the only Paladin left in the world who does not want to be a raid healer?

    I keep hearing Paladins talking about wanting to be raid healing/AoE healing and I look over the lore of the character class in relation to the current game state and I do not see where it fits in.

    The Paladin is and was always a warrior who had the ability to heal. I do not want to be a pansy tree/ancient, robe wearing sissy, or a totem carrying member. I want to be the warrior class who can heal. The guy who rides a shining armored plated warhorse into battle and when push comes to shove can either wield the powers of light to destroy or restore.

  13. I'm a tank healing Holy Paladin and I like my niche too. And FoL focus works fine for raid healing in 10 player raids. In 25s you should expect a bigger class spread anyway, so why does everyone have to be able to do everything?