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Patch 3.0.2 primer for Holy Paladins

Zach Yonzon

This was supposed to go up before the servers did, but as you probably already know, Patch 3.0.2 wasn't quite what we all expected. Now that servers are starting to go back up online, I can better write up this handy guide for the brave new world. Let's try to get as much of this right as possible. If you were as excited as I am -- and you should be -- you probably logged on as soon as your Realm went up, picked out all those cool talents you've been drooling over these past months, and went off reveling in your newfound power.

Good for you. Even though Patch 3.0.2 had a few hiccups, most of the important class changes made it through. I had to delete a lot of my macros and change a few. For one thing, Judgement and a Seal can no longer be cast within the same macro. This is because Seals aren't consumed by Judgements anymore, so they now share the same GCD. If you have macros for your Blessings of Freedom, Protection, and Sacrifice, you should edit them to cast Hands instead of Blessings. Lots of little things. I'll probably talk about that in The Light and How to Swing It. For now, we'll take a look at the talent trees and how we'll settle into the 3.0.2 world.

A lot of people have been saying that Holy sucks now. Let me quash that idea before it gets blown out of proportion. Yes, Holy didn't get as much love as Protection or Retribution and yes, it still needs a little more tweaking. The developers admitted as much during the past weekend at BlizzCon. That said, Holy can heal incredibly well, better than any other class with single targets. Blizzard has said that they're looking into mobility and multiple targets, but even then Holy in its current state has a few tricks up its sleeve.

On the first tier, we get buffs right away as Spiritual Focus is moved up with a change in wording to reflect the new pushback mechanics. If we're looking at healing, we definitely want five points in that. There's the new Seals of the Pure, which is really a greatly buffed Improved Seal of Righteousness. While it's a greatly buffed talent, it's important to note that virtually all the Seals got a massive coefficient nerf. We can skip this one for now.

More buffs come in the form of a more accessible Healing Light, which was moved up unchanged to the second tier from the third. Divine Intellect was moved down from the first tier but now grants a 15% Intellect bonus. Both talents are essential for a healing build, so we're spending eight points here. Divine Intellect will yield dividends later on. Unyielding Faith was also moved up to this tier, reworked to reduce the durations of Fear and Disorient effects instead of conferring resistance. Two points here if you want to PvP.

Aura Mastery on tier three wasn't buffed in itself, but now becomes a more useful talent because of the change to Auras making it a raidwide effect. For a mere one point, it's an excellent investment. Improved Lay on Hands on the same tier had it's armor bonus buffed to 50%, and the base spell was improved greatly, as well. With a mere 20 minute cooldown and no longer draining any mana, it becomes a clutch spell in any situation. We'll drop two points here because a no-strings-attached uh-oh button every 16 minutes is freakishly awesome. Illumination was moved up to tier three, making it more accessible with the same effect. This is effectively a buff and five points here is mandatory.

On tier four we have Improved Concentration Aura and Improved Blessing of Wisdom. My rule of thumb is if I PvP more, I'd take three points in the former. For raiding, I prefer Improved Blessing of Wisdom because it's more useful and I hate having my Blessings overwritten by someone else. Why not take both? Because we want to conserve points going deeper into the tree but we'll need to open up the next tiers.

Divine Favor is the next mandatory spell, resting on tier five. Paladin healing relies on crit and this is the one controlled crit we've got. Speaking of crits, there's Sanctified Light right beside Divine Favor, and we'll want to put three points here, too. We'll skip Blessed Hands and Pure of Heart on this tier although both are excellent PvP abilities. See how things tend to bloat if you try too many things at once?

We'll take a second to note that Pure of Heart has been changed to duration reduction, which is in line with the move away from resistance. This means halved durations on Curse of Tongues or Exhaustion. Sounds cool, right? Well, no. Not really. Those curses don't have a cooldown. A good Warlock will have them right back on you as soon as they wear off. We don't need reduced durations on Diseases because we can Cleanse them, anyway. I mean, thanks for the mechanics change, Blizzard, but it doesn't really do us any good.

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