Recently, I read a great thread on the official healing forums. Ghostcrawler, the lead systems designer for WoW, posted several times with interesting information and a few explanations regarding the new healing model in Cataclysm. I've talked about the idea of triage healing before, but there were a few specific points that Ghostcrawler made that really resonated with me.
One of the commenters referred to the idea of "auto attack" heals, relating spells like our cheap Holy Light to the automatic attacks of the physical classes. It's a very succinct way to think about it, since we're used to raiding in environments where we never stop casting. It's true, most paladins on the beta have just been spamming Holy Light. I'm guilty of it as well. It almost feels like the old Flash of Light days back in TBC, where FoL was the only spell we used because we'd never run out of mana. Blizzard saw this as a problem, and so the latest Cataclysm beta build contains a major nerf to Holy Light. Ghostcrawler's statement that healers shouldn't be spamming one heal seems almost prescient now.
The future of Holy Light
The most major change for holy paladins is the nerf to Holy Light. It saw a 25 percent cut in its base healing, similar to what Holy Shock saw recently. In addition to that, its mana cost was increased by 50 percent. We'll have to see exactly how spammable the ability is at level 85, since our exact mana regeneration values are still up in the air.
Restoration druids have been spamming Rejuvenation for quite some time in Wrath, but it's still relatively new to them. Holy paladins have been spamming Flash of Light or Holy Light for years, and we're going to have to let that go. I'm going to miss the idea of "auto attack" healing, but there's simply no place for it in Blizzard's healing model in Cataclysm.
While the exact numbers are still waiting to be tuned, I am a bit concerned at how effective triage will be. If we have long enough to view a player's life, figure out how much damage they're likely to take and then choose the appropriate spell, healing won't be as fast-paced as it is today, at least initially. On a fight like heroic Marrowgar, I don't have time to figure out how near wounded players are to Marrowgar. I have to assume they're going to get hit hard, and I have to use my quick, powerful heals to make sure they stay alive. If healers start taking chances and using weaker heals just to save mana, we're going to end up with a lot of dead tanks until we're able to predict incoming damage accurately on the new encounters.
Light of Dawn no longer uses holy power
Light of Dawn, our 31-point holy talent, loses its ability to consume holy power charges for extra healing but is compensated with an extra 10 percent healing to help negate that change. This means that holy's only real holy power release will be Word of Glory, though we could theoretically use Inquisition to boost our damage output if there was something that really needed to die. With Exorcism's new lack of a cooldown and Crusader Strike in our base toolbox, we'll have several damage options as well.
Spiritual Focus grants hit from spirit
Holy regained up an old talent to replace Improved Concentration Aura, which disappeared, since all talents that buff buffs are going away. Spiritual Focus will grant us hit rating based on our current spirit, which should give us plenty of hit chance. It's important that our Judgement ability lands when we need it to, and the extra hit ensures that Blizzard will never have to itemize spellpower plate with hit rating on it. There's no competition for spellpower plate already, and adding more varieties of it to the loot tables would only be an insult to injury. The best part is that the old base of Spiritual Focus, the pushback reduction, has been built into the holy specialization for free.
Daybreak's new design is amazing
There's something fundamentally painful about abilities that reset the cooldowns on other abilities at random. Talents like Restless Blades slowly reduce your cooldowns without actually resetting them, but that idea only really works with longer cooldowns. For a spell like Holy Shock, with its meager 6-second cooldown, you need a different mechanic to allow it to be used more often.
Enter the new Daybreak, which gives our heals a chance to proc Daybreak, which makes your next Holy Shock not activate the cooldown. This is similar to survival hunters' old Lock and Load, or the Hand of Light mastery bonus that retribution paladins will be enjoying. We're able to get use out of the proc even without casting Holy Shock immediately, and we could potentially keep a Daybreak proc active for when we know we'll be moving to grant us two Holy Shocks.
The Light and How to Swing It (Holy Edition) helps holy paladins become the powerful healers we're destined to be. Learn the ropes in Holy 101. We can help you keep a tank alive, heal a raid when necessary and beat the global cooldown. Tanking is a job, DPS is a craft -- but healing is truly an art.