We love the unique identity of the Paladin healer and are modifying the gameplay to better support it. Single-target healing from Beacon of Light remains their marquee ability, but other abilities and talents have been adjusted to encourage Holy Paladins to be near the people they want to heal—including melee characters, when necessary. This is incentivized by Lightbringer, a new Mastery, which increases healing on allies near you. This is further reinforced by the addition of a row of Aura talents that provide a variety of localized beneficial effects, and refinements to some spells, such as Light of Dawn returning to being a cone.It looks like Paladin healing will remain roughly the same, but with a bit more emphasis on positioning. That's pretty good, I've always enjoyed spells like Light of Dawn and the old Holy Radiance. As well, Auras were a core part of the Vanilla paladin, and it's good to see them come back.
Of course, for this plan to work, holy paladins can't be targeted by range effects. We'll see if their encounter design team actually remembers this.
Talents will also provide players with options to incorporate offensive capabilities while healing. When allies are in need, Light of the Martyr allows the Holy Paladin to rapidly heal them by sacrificing personal health. Finally, we’re addressing gameplay restrictions caused by Holy Power—in which players often feel forced to use abilities in specific orders or ratios—by removing it in favor of making Mana the primary resource.That's good. Healing works best when it is fairly simple resource-wise. Holy Power didn't really add much to the healing experience.
To give you an idea of the Holy Paladin in action, here’s a basic look at their core combat abilities:
2.0% Mana, 40 yd range, 2.5 sec cast
A slow but efficient spell, healing a friendly target for a moderate amount.
Flash of Light
4.0% Mana, 40 yd range, 1.5 sec cast
A quick but expensive spell, healing a friendly target for a moderate amount.
Light of the MartyrLight of the Martyr is an interesting spell. Divine Intervention is always cited as a defining paladin ability, but it has proven too difficult to bring back. Light of the Martyr aims to get some of that same flavor back. It's should be especially interesting in PvP, as it is instant but with an important PvP cost. I'm not sure it will be much use in PvE, even though PvE damage is more predictable, making the spell safer to use.
2.5% Mana, 40 yd range, Instant
Sacrifices a moderate amount of your own health to instantly heal an ally for a moderate amount.
Cannot be cast on yourself.
Light of Dawn
4.0% Mana, 1.5 sec cast, 12 sec cooldown
Unleash a wave of healing energy before you, healing up to 5 injured allies within a 15 yd frontal cone for a moderate amount.
1.5% Mana, 40 yd range, Instant, 10 sec cooldown
Instantly trigger a burst of Light on the target, dealing moderate Holy damage to an enemy, or moderate healing to an ally.
Holy Shock has double the normal critical strike chance.
Infusion of Light
Your Holy Shock criticals reduce the cast time of your next Holy Light by 1.5 sec or increase the healing of your next Flash of Light by 50%.
Beacon of Light
0.5% Mana, 60 yd range, Instant, 3 sec cooldown
Place a Beacon of Light on a friendly target.
Your heals on other party or raid members will also heal the Beacon of Light target for up to 50% of the amount healed. Your Flash of Light and Holy Light on the Beacon of Light target will also refund 40% of their Mana cost.
Mastery: LightbringerThe mastery is pretty interesting. One suggestion I would make is to rename it to Devotion Aura and make sure there is a buff on affected parties. This makes it more like the Auras of old, and I think is a small cosmetic change that would make it a lot more appealing.
Proximity to your target causes your spells to heal for up to 30% (with Mastery from typical gear) more.
I'm not entirely sure if Blizzard intends the bonus to scale depending on the distance between you and the target. For example, 30% if you're right on top of each other, 15% at 5 yards, 0% at 10 yards. I hope they don't do this, and have a flat bonus for everyone within a certain range, especially as you will never be right on top of the tank.
Additionally, to provide a glimpse at how some talents may build upon this, here’s one example of a Holy-specific talent:
Beacon of the LightbringerAn interesting talent, allowing you to add a second Mastery circle to the raid, and compensate for positioning. Since Beacon will be on the tank, this Mastery circle should cover both the tank and the melee groups, if the Holy paladin does not want to stand in melee.
The maximum bonus from Mastery: Lightbringer is increased by 24%, and it now increases your healing based on the target's proximity to either you or your Beacon of Light, whichever is closer.
All in all, the changes to Holy Paladins look good. The changes for the other classes and specs are also looking very good, with some classes (Shadow Priests, for example) seeing significant overhauls.