I feel like raiding in Wrath of the Lich King has started towards a slight lull in the past week or two. Many high-end guilds are stuck at 11/12 heroic kills in ICC, looking across the gaping chasm that is the Lich King fight on heroic, focusing on the few guilds who have managed to topple Arthas for good. I also find that most of the casual guilds have also settled into their niches, killing those Icecrown bosses that they have the time or raw numbers to defeat and being content with that. With only Ruby Sanctum to look forward to in terms of remaining raids and graduation season already started, I can already feel the post-expansion exodus ready to begin.
Guilds begin losing members faster than they can be replaced, and recruiting becomes a daily burden instead of a monthly chore. While all of this may sound like bad news, there is some hope in this transition period between the final tier of Wrath and the first tier of Cataclysm. Players will be using the free time to level alts, and I have already seen a deluge of newly minted toons appear in my guild this month. With any luck, there are future holy paladins in this mix, and in a few weeks' time, we'll have new brothers and sisters in arms. However, before they're truly ready to take up the mantle of keeping a tank alive through 3 stacks of Festergut's Inhaled Blight?, they're going to need some sweet gear to give them the throughput and longevity to pull it off.
The secret to gearing a holy paladin
I'm going to share with you my favorite trick when helping my friends and guildmates work on gearing their newly 80 holy paladins. You already have enough throughput. That's it. The scaling of Holy Light in a post-Blessing of Light world coupled with the ability of Beacon of Light to double our potency ensures that we'll never be caught without the HPS to keep our party alive. The spellpower that we pick up passively on all healing gear will be more than enough to boost our heals to an appropriate level. While other healers are forced to focus on mixing between regeneration and throughput, we're able to put all of our efforts into maximizing our mana pool. Due to the holy paladin love affair with intellect, we even have a super simple strategy for making sure we can chain-cast Holy Light for days.
Similarly to how tanks like advertise their total HP when trying to flaunt their skills, and how a PUG leader may only care about your GearScore, holy paladins are often weighted based on the sheer amount of mana we have in our pool. Because of spells like Divine Plea, Seal of Wisdom, and Replenishment, which all scale off of the total amount of mana we have, we can focus on stacking our intellect and letting Holy Light do all of the heavy lifting.
Where to start
The easiest way to start working on your holy paladin's gear is to start healing via the dungeon finder and simply picking up any spellpower gear that you find along the way. I recommend buying several Brilliant Autumn's Glow or Brilliant Sun Crystal gems and having them ready to put into any new gear that you acquire. While you might get lucky with a few chance drops in the random dungeons, I like to focus on the guaranteed gear that comes from the various factions' reputation awards and Emblems of Triumph. You should ensure you're friendly with every major Northrend faction, and that you wear their tabard while running dungeons. We'll be shooting for gear with haste on it first, which will allow us to decrease our Time Until Healed value. TUH is the key weakness of a holy paladin in a situation where multiple targets are taking damage, and so by trying to pick up haste gear first, we'll be able ensure that even the lowly rogues stay alive.
The first faction you'll want to work on is the Argent Crusade. Because the AC is very pro-paladin, they've got items of interest to a fledgling holy paladin at every single reputation level. Once you're honored, you'll be able to acquire the Standard Issue Legguards, which are very solid healing pants featuring both haste and a socket. While there is a mail helm you can acquire at revered, you're better off saving your gold until you're exalted and buying the Helm of Purified Thoughts. That's not all, though, the Argent Crusade vendor will also offer you a Signet of Hopeful Light, which means that there are actually two awesome epic items that you'll get for working for Tirion's crew.
Obviously, since the holy spec falls into the caster archetype, the two caster factions of the Kirin Tor and Wyrmrest Accord will be two of our favorite reputations to grind. At honored, they'll help us fill a very difficult cloak slot with the solid Shroud of Dedicated Research. At revered, they do have a nice belt, but again, we'll want to wait until exalted and pick up the Ghostflicker Waistband instead. However, as a perk for waiting for exalted, they'll also sell us the Robes of Crackling Flame, which are perfectly itemized for a newly 80 paladin.
The Wyrmrest Accord should be the last faction you focus on, and by the time you're getting around to working your way to WA exalted, you may be getting into some of the higher level gear from triumph emblems. At honored, you'll be able to score some seriously sweet bracers, with a yellow socket that will match the intellect gem you'll want to put in there. Once revered, the vendor will sell you the perfect helm enchant for holy paladins: the Arcanum of Blissful Mending. If you have another toon that is already revered with WA, this item is Bind on Account, so feel free to just mail yourself one from your main. Sometimes luck may be against you, and if you haven't scored a decent healing weapon yet, the WA will sell you the Gavel of the Brewing Storm at revered, though chances are you'll have picked up a superior weapon before that. Finally, at exalted, you can buy the Grips of Fierce Pronouncements and the Sandals of Crimson Fury, adding two more epic items to your mix of starter healer gear.
Craftable gear and Bind on Equip items
I wouldn't worry too much about trying to have any gear crafted for you, unless there is a particular slot of yours which is very weak and you can't find anything to replace it. The same would go for any BoE items you may see on the auction house: I wouldn't bother spending any money on your gear unless you have the gold to spend or you see a simply amazing deal on a high level piece. There's no point in buying item level 200 gear when you could be replacing it in a day with a triumph emblem piece. Speaking of Emblems of Triumph, next week I will be covering part 2 of this guide to gearing your holy paladin, by going over all of the items you can buy with your emblems and what order you should buy them in to maximize your effectiveness as a healer.
The Light and How to Swing It (Holy Edition) is dedicated to helping holy paladins become the powerful healers that we're destined to be. If you're new to the paladin's healing ways, you can learn the ropes with our Holy 101 article. We also have information on how to keep a tank alive, how to heal a raid when necessary and how to beat the GCD. Tanking is a job, DPS is a craft -- but healing is truly an art.