Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tips for Holy Paladins in Heroics

Through a combination of pugging, guild runs, and quasi-guild runs, I've managed to do all the heroics in Cataclysm. They're really good, and moderately hard. They really reward knowing the fight and executing correctly. Here are some tips that may help Holy paladins working on instances.

  1. Cleanse - Seriously, Cleanse early, Cleanse often. Cleanse is expensive, so you do have to watch for debuffs that stack faster than you can Cleanse. If you're doing heroics exclusively, I'd strongly suggest Glyph of Cleanse.

  2. Run First, Heal After - If you are ever presented with the choice of running to avoid a fight mechanic, or finishing your cast, choose to run. Fight mechanics are far more likely to kill people than straight up damage. As well, practice healing while moving with Holy Shock and Word of Glory.

  3. Use Cooldowns - Get into the habit of using your cooldowns religiously. We have 5 cooldowns, in addition to any trinkets: Lay On Hands, Blessing of Sacrifice, Divine Favor, Avenging Wrath, and Guardian of Ancient Kings.

    Hand of Sacrifice is pretty strong now. You get a lot of self-healing with Protector of the Innocent, so it usually does not hurt to use it on the tank liberally. I like using it at the start of trash pulls when it's up.

    Use the shorter cooldowns on trash. They'll come back up in time for the bosses. I generally like alternating Divine Favor and Avenging Wrath on trash pulls. Use cooldowns at the start of the pull, when you have the most mobs beating on the tank.

    Lay on Hands is very powerful. It essentially resets a tank's health to full, and gives you a chunk of mana with the Glyph. Use it aggressively on boss fights, especially when it feels like you've fallen behind.

    Guardian of the Ancient Kings casts the same single-target spell on the same target that you do. Ideally, you want to use Divine Light to maximize the healing done when your Guardian is up. I like popping GoAK at about 20%-ish, to stabilize the fight and bring it home. But use it aggressively and early if you need to.

    I also don't like overlapping cooldowns. Unlike DPS, it feels like you get more time with stronger heals if you spread them out.

    Use cooldowns aggressively, and don't be afraid to "waste" them.

  4. Resistance Aura - My aura of choice is Resistance Aura. Things just seem more stable when Resistance Aura is up. As well, you can use Aura Mastery as an extra cooldown during periods of mass damage. I do switch to Devotion Aura if there is no Fire, Shadow or Frost damage in the fight, but that's pretty rare. Raid damage tends to be magical.

  5. Judge Often - try and judge as often as you can, especially on adds. It's extra damage and helps keep your mana high.

  6. Use Holy Radiance to Move Faster - The talent Speed of Light increases your run speed when you cast Holy Radiance. A lot of times, the entire group will need to move because they are taking damage. If you pop Holy Radiance as you start moving, not only will you heal people as they take damage, but you will move out of the fire that much faster.

Those are some tips for paladin healing in heroics. The biggest thing though, is familiarity with the fights. Once you know what to do, they become a lot easier.

Any other tips for Holy Paladins?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Haste Versus Crit for Holy Paladins

In all the theorycraft for Holy paladins I've seen so far, everyone automatically values Haste above Critical Strike chance. I'm not really sure I follow this logic.

Haste improves your Healing-Per-Second (HpS). But it also hurts your Mana-Spent-Per-Second (MpS), and does not change your Healing-Per-Mana (HpM). Crit, on the other hand, improves your HpS and HpM, but does not change your MpS, at least not directly.

Right now, it seems to me that the real limit on healing is mana. Therefore we should be valuing stats which improve HpM above all else.

It's true that you can't count on crit in the short term, but you can count on it in the long run. In the current environment, one heal isn't enough to restore someone to full health. In that environment, crit helps a lot. It buys you time, and allows you to get away with casting less spells. If you need three casts to bring someone up to full, and one of the first two spells crit, maybe you don't need to cast that third spell.

If you need high HpS, that's Flash of Light and Divine Light are for. Haste was awesome for the world when you absolutely need the heal to hit right now or the tank dies. But I find that I don't really encounter that situation, at least in heroics. Or if it's close to that, Holy Shock, Word of Glory, and Flash of Light are fast enough already.

What I've found in heroics is that I really, really want to see spells crit. A crit spell usually means that I don't have to cast a follow-up spell on that target, and I can move onto the next target in triage faster.

So that's my view on crit versus haste. As of right now, I think I'd rather take crit gear over haste gear. I just don't think the advantages of haste gear are of real value in the current healing environment.

A couple of caveats, though. I haven't tried any raids, so I don't know if this changes. Second, this is just haste versus crit. Spirit is still the best secondary stat, while I think the jury is still deliberating over Mastery.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Twilight Highlands, Heroic Grim Batol

So it seems that no one cares about spoilers, so I'll just not worry about them. I will tag posts with info about what will be spoiled.

This post contains minor spoilers about Twilight Highlands.

So I finished Twilight Highlands, which was an outstanding zone. Quite honestly, it redeemed the rest of the expansion for me. The Wildhammer questline was superb, as was the Maw of Madness line and the initial questline. Oh, and the dragon line. Actually, pretty much everything was awesome.

As well, I think that [The Worldbreaker] may quite possibly be the single finest quest in the game. The only word to describe that quest is elegance. That was immersion on so many levels. For me, it evoked the exact reaction in myself that it was intended to invoke in my character. Seriously, this was utterly brilliant, and would be extra-ordinarily hard to replicate in another medium.

With respect to Roger Ebert, WoW approached art right there.

Also, I did my first heroic dungeon today. I signed up for regular Grim Batol, which I hadn't done before, intending to do the dungeon quests. We did the first trash pack, and I thought that Grim Batol seemed a bit harder than the other instances. Then the tank said he was in Holy gear, so I figured that explained it. He changed to tanking gear, we keep going and it doesn't seem to get easier. Then someone says something, and I realize I accidentally signed up for Heroic Grim Batol!

It wasn't that bad. We wiped a bunch on the first and third bosses, but one-shot the second and fourth. Really, once you learn how to do the fights, they're pretty straightforward. Mana is a bit of an issue, but using a core of Holy Shock, Word of Glory and Holy Light, then sprinkling in Divine Light and Holy Radiance as necessary worked pretty well for me.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cataclysm Impressions

So how was your first week of Cataclysm? I've hit 85 on Coriel, and have done Hyjal, Vashj'ir, Deepholm, and Uldum. I'm currently working on Twilight Highlands. I've done several of the normal dungeons, but haven't yet tried heroics.

For zones, Hyjal was pretty decent. There was one major story element I disliked, but other than that the zone was well done. I'll talk about that element in a future post. I did like that the "torture" quest in Hyjal introduced options, including the choice to kill or let the target go.

I didn't really like Vashj'ir. I'm not really sure why. Perhaps it was the pervasive "blueness". The Battlemaiden quests were very nice. Upcoming raid boss, hopefully. :)

Deepholm was okay, but rather middle-of-the-road. I do find it interesting how Blizzard is moving to differentiate shaman from druids, lore-wise. Especially with the introduction of goblin shamans, shamanism appears to be moving in a more "muscular" direction. More about controlling the elements, rather than working with them.

Uldum was ... almost amazing. That's probably an odd reaction to have. The thing is that there is this trend I've noticed with Cataclysm quests (will talk about it in another post), but that trend is making quests less enjoyable for me, and it was quite pronounced in this zone.

The dungeons are interesting. The bosses are well done, and becoming more and more like mini-raid bosses than ever before. I rather like the new emphasis on healer mana. It's not a big issue early on, but becomes much more obvious in the 85 dungeons. It's also amazing what a big difference "aware" DPS makes to healing now. It's like night and day.

Also, ranged dps, please stop moving behind the paladin healer. Try and stand in between the healer and the tank.

However, I'm not sure I like getting mana back on Judgement. I know I've argued for it in the past, but after seeing it in play, I think I was wrong. It creates this feeling that I *have* to judge on cooldown, when I'd rather focus on keeping my group up. Especially with the Judgement cooldown being 8s. I don't mind Judging once every 20 to 30 seconds or once a minute like in previous expansions. It didn't seem to play such a large role in the healing rotation. But at 8 seconds, it quite spoils the rhythm of healing.

Finally, what do you think of spoilers? I know I've been intentionally vague in some of the descriptions above to avoid spoiling things. Personally, I hate spoilers with a vengeance. But at the same time, it's really hard to discuss stories without discussing the ending.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

New Quest Mobs

The new "quest" mobs are rather interesting. Blizzard seems to have added a level in-between normal mobs and elite mobs. The new mobs are named, are the target of certain quests, and have a little exclamation mark beside their portrait.

So far, I've found that these mobs are reasonably challenging (at least for someone in quest greens, no heirlooms, and of roughly equal level). They aren't as hard as elites would be. The quest mobs generally have about twice as much health and one or two special moves. I don't think they do much more damage than a regular mob, the main difference I've noticed is that they last longer, which does make the fight more dangerous.

(Although my lowbie night elf mage got rocked hard by Ruuzel. Death grip + knockdowns on a short timer is harsh against a caster. I'll have to give it another try tonight.)

These quest mobs are clearly pitched as a small challenge for a solo player. A solo mini-boss, if you will, as opposed to elites which are aimed at groups. I think the new mob type is a good addition to the game.