Friday, June 26, 2009

[Paladin] Illumination Nerf? Oddly It Doesn't Scare Me

After doing some reading I've come to the conclusion that not everyone is entirely happy with the changes to holy paladins in 3.2, mostly due to the changes to Illumination (which supposedly comes due to the change to Beacon of Light). With patch 3.2, Illumination will only return 30% mana from a spell that crits instead of 60%. Some paladins are very proud of their niche as the tank healer and fear that the nerf to Illumination will mean they won't have the mana to keep their tank up.

While tanking healing is an important assignment, and the expensive-to-cast Holy Light is extremely useful for it, I admit I've always been a little baffled by the philosophy of stacking int and crit and spamming the tank with Holy Light to no tomorrow. If the tank is already topped up an extra Holy Light isn't going to help him.

But then, I have never been a progression raid healer. I have never had the "optimum" PvE healing spec because prior to dual spec I wanted to support my PvP and PvE with the same spec, so I went 51/20/0. I healed 10- and 25-man Naxx just fine even though I was less than optimum and had what must've been considered a heinously low amount of crit. But I did well enough that once dual specs did come out I kept my holy/prot spec (now modified to 52/19/0) for my primary spec and nabbed prot as my secondary.

Even now, I hover around 20% crit unbuffed in my raid gear (and not counting talents that specifically increase holy spell crit). It is unspeakably low for a holy paladin. And yet I don't run out of mana. My healing is competitive (if one likes to look at meters) so my lack of crit is not resulting in a lack of output. I'm not even running dry. If I'm oom I either made a bad judgement call (forgot to use Divine Plea or Divine Illumination or both) or something terrible happened (pug VoA tank charged the boss while I still drinking after a wipe, good going).

When I hear that Illumination is getting nerfed I know it will affect me, I do have the talent after all, but it will not affect me nearly as much as the holy paladins who have come to take their mana regen from high crit for granted. I don't think it will be as reasonable to spam HL on the tank (or anyone really) as it used to be, but that's fine by me. I'm used to playing with a lower amount of regen than other paladins and truthfully, the high crit isn't necessary.

My guild master, who is an extremely fine paladin healer, respeced her raid spec from 51/5/15 to 51/20/0 in Ulduar because she decided she was never running out of mana so she didn't need the crit from the ret tree and the benefits of having Divine Sacrifice to mitigate raid damage in Ulduar were too good to ignore.

Both of us are huge fans of Beacon. Neither of us are consistent HL-spammers. Back when Naxx 10 first came out and most groups were running with three healers we managed to do our first Sapphiron kill with only two, one of which was her, which was possible because she's excellent at maximizing heals on both the raid and the tank through Beacon.

When we did our 8-man Malygos A Poke in the Eye achievement, she was the only healer, and she managed to keep everyone alive.

I'm pretty confident when I say she's good.

So when I want to see what I should be doing in a raid, I look at her performance in our guild's WWS or World of Logs report. And the funny thing is, when I look at her performance, the bulk of her healing is coming from Flash of Light. She's not slacking, she's high on the meters, she's often tank healing (her husband is our MT), and this is for Ulduar! She does cast Holy Light, don't get me wrong, but more of her healing comes from FoL than HL. Our wipes rarely come from lack of heals on the tank so obviously this works for her and our heal team.

My take on this is that continuous Holy Light spam isn't necessary to begin with. Generally large incoming damage comes at predicable intervals and so we can be ready to spam at those moments and then HL any other time as needed.

What this upcoming change to Illumination does is take away a paladin's ability to be wasteful with mana. Smart players will be relatively unaffected, or will be only for a short time. I might actually have to manage my resources more than I do, and paladins that currently do not may have an unpleasant learning curve in front of them.

But playing with a 30% return from Illumination isn't going to kill being a holy paladin or even being a tank healer. Regen has nothing to do with how big our heals hit for, and Holy Light is still one of the strongest single target heals in the game.

I decided to browse through one of my guild's recent 25-man raid logs to look at our holy paladins and how big of a hit the Illumination nerf would be for them.

My guild leader (51/20/0) would lose 16% percent of the mana she gained over the course of a 25-man run from Flame Leviathan to Hodir.

Our other holy paladin (51/5/15) would lose 22% of his mana regen from that same run. It's more, because he's specced for more crits, but it's not like he's losing half the mana he ever gets.

I don't have a comparable run for myself, having not taken my paladin to 25-man Ulduar, but a 10-man run shows that I would lose 14%. My biggest source of mana regen was Divine Plea, and 3.2 is not touching it.

Can I lose 14% of my mana regen?

Considering that I usually hover around 40-60% mana once I hit my rhythm, I think so. I already have a buffer of mana I can afford to "lose." Aside from that, I know I'm not the best player and there are things I could do better.

Sometimes I forget to use my Divine Plea when the opportunity presents itself. Sometimes I notice that Divine Illumination has never been touched and it's five minutes into a boss fight. I could also be better about cancelling unneeded heals if comes down to it and the fight allows for it (obviously not during an enrage). If the 14% loss presents a problem, there are things in my own play style that I can tighten up and it will make me a better player.

I'm cool with that.


Klepsacovic said...

Nerfed in an area that was apparently overpowered and buffed in an area which was weak. That sounds good to me. Then again, I'm usually not the sky is falling type.

Dorgol said...

Glad to see other Paladins bucking the "Spam Holy Light" trend. Maybe there are raids where that's necessary due to a lack of healing? In my raids I have a devil of a time trying to keep up with our Priests, Driuds, and Shaman. They put out so much group healing AND tank healing that I turn into a Flash of Light HoT that gets scattered into overheal.

I have serious doubts about Beacon of Light going live with the current PTR build, though. Something else will HAVE to change before they allow overhealing to transfer.


And I'm seriously impressed with a Holy Paladin single healing Malygos. :)

Hana said...

My guild leader is pretty insane. :) I don't know how she does it, but she's very good at it.

In my guild, the priests and druids generally throw hots and shields on the tank in addition to healing the raid, and I can't help wondering if maybe spammy paladin healers don't have that kind of support from their raid healers.

The hots and shields create a buffer so the tank shouldn't die between one heal and the next, but if there isn't that kind of a buffer a paladin may very well feel obligated to spam because they can't take the chance the tank will survive if they don't.

I think that's a teamwork limitation though, not a class one.

Ulduar is really rough as a paladin healer. We can't really win on the meters, but I think we do well on fights like Hodir and XT which can still require a lot of healing just because so much happens that it takes the raid healers a few seconds to get to it all.