Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ask Coriel: Holy Paladin Mastery?

Jeremy asks:
Maybe I am missing something but I feel like the way the game works right now, the designers intended Mastery to be a super great stat for Holy Pallies. However, as it’s been, stacking haste seems much more effective (maybe I am wrong on this). As I am sure you know, the next patch is (slightly?) increasing the effect of mastery for holy paladins. In your opinion is this going to mean we should start mastery instead of haste, or was mastery never something the game intended us to persue?

Even with the changes coming in 4.1, most theorycrafters seem to agree that the holy paladin mastery (Illuminated Healing) will not be as good as haste. Mastery rating might end up slightly better than crit rating, but will probably be more or less at the same level, and still below haste rating (and definitely below Spirit).

The problem with our mastery is two-fold. First, Protector of the Innocent, Holy Radiance, and Beacon of Light heals do not trigger it. And those three abilities comprise a significant portion of our total healing.

The second problem is that our mastery does not stack. Let's say you cast a heal on a target with a mastery shield already on it. If the new shield is larger than the remaining shield, the new shield replaces the old one. If the new shield is smaller than the old shield, the duration of the old shield is refreshed. Either way, you end up with less absorption than you would expect.

In my experience, Illuminated Healing accounts for a bit less than half of the number stated in the description. That is, if the description states that the shield is 10% of your healing, you can expect it to absorb 4-5%.

Now, I don't think Blizzard is entirely happy with our Mastery. I think they like the general idea of Illuminated Healing. To be honest, I like the general idea too. In theory, it's a nice complement to our direct healing style, providing a small buffer for the next bit of damage, and as a nod to our previous history of tank healing.

What I believe is happening is that Blizzard is trying to avoid an exploit with our Mastery. Let's say that the shields stacked. The obvious exploit is to cast a ton of heals on the tanks before the fight starts, or during lulls in the fight, and build up a giant shield. We would be spamming heals on the tank even if she was at full health, and that's not a healthy or desired play-style.

Ideally, shields would "roll" like Ignite does. The shields would stack, but 8 seconds after a shield is cast, whatever remains of that particular shield disappears. So the shield can't hang around forever, but they don't get wasted before their lifespan expires. However, there might be technical issues with this. I remember it took a long time for Ignite to roll correctly. Even recently Blizzard removed Ignite triggering on periodic spell ticks in order to keep it working properly. And Illuminated Healing is actually more complicated than Ignite, because the shield is reduced by damage in an unpredictable manner.

There are other options, including allowing the shields to stack but having a maximum shield size (maybe dependent on how much Mastery one has). But that still gets into the whole pre-healing in order to get a max shield up scenario.

Another alternative is having the shield only count on actual healing done, not over-healing. But we all remember how dicey that was when Beacon worked that way. It might work out better now, with the larger health bars, but it might not.

Or maybe have the shield stack, but lose 20% of its current value every second. Actually, this probably a bad idea, I think the math on it looks weird, and it's still vulnerable to pre-healing.

So as you can see, there's really no "nice" solution for our Mastery. Blizzard's current solution is as good--or as bad--as anything I can think of. In the end, eventually raising the value of mastery will get it to a point where we will use it.


  1. "In the end, eventually raising the value of mastery will get it to a point where we will use it."

    I really hope this is true... current stats on tier plate healing gear make me cry, i have never encountered a fight where mastery saved a life either. or at least made my life easier..

  2. I would hesitate to advocate for holy paladin mastery to work like ignite. Ignite mechanics have been bugged since it' inception and although they *kinda fixed it but ignite munching is still a huge problem, effectively taking mastery out of the equation with Fire mages.

  3. Mastery is only good for one thing: being reforged. And I'm sad we can't reforge it at its full count as it has a very little impact on raid encounters and the paladin healing gameplay.

    Each time I think of mastery traits for other classes/trees I kind of cry.

  4. I agree with Blockfire, comparing shield rolling to Ignite isn't accurate. Ignite has, and continues, to not cumulatively stack, but rather be refreshed or applied based upon the most recent crit - whether that be a 15k Scorch or a 45k Pyroblast.

    It'd be swell to have a paladin mastery that worked, but I likewise don't see much of a way to allow shields that build each other without exploitation.

  5. I don't understand why holy paladin mastery is what it is. For other classes and talent trees mastery affects abilities which are unique for that class and tree, and which separate them from others. When I think of a holy paladin, I think of instant heals and giant heals which can effectively tank heal in raids. I for one don't think to myself "oh, they're the one's that shield everyone and absorb incoming damage". So I don't understand why it is what it is. To me, holy pallies are about raw healing output with a few abilities for protecting people when things go wrong for someone, so to me it would make sense that mastery would affect raw healing output, similarly to holy priest mastery.

    And I do have a fire mage and while it does affect dots which are what set fire mages apart from other mages, I call mastery useless on her, and reforge out of it. But holy pally mastery seems to have taken useless to a whole new level if my understanding of what it does is correct. Why give a mastery to an ability which is so insignificant in most situations?

  6. I would have to disagree as a paladin who's stacks mastery I feel it to be very useful once you hit around %25 of your heals to the shield it is very decent and tends to be third on my healing for a's all for play style and the comp you have for a raid.