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The Light and How to Swing It: New paladin heals in Cataclysm


Every Sunday, Chase Christian of The Light and How to Swing It invites you to discuss the finer side of the paladin class: the holy specialization. This week, we examine the cool new heals that paladins can look forward to.

If you've been playing a holy paladin for any period of time, you're familiar with the feeling of spamming one button. I pushed Cleanse so often in Molten Core that my mouse nearly broke, and the number 2 key on my keyboard has never forgiven me for the rough treatment it received in The Burning Crusade. Our ability selection has been a bit more flexible on Wrath, largely due to our potent mana pool, allowing us to cast any heal we want to. Holy Shock has found its way into our arsenal on a regular basis, and Flash of Light gets a fair amount of usage as a backup spell when Holy Light isn't necessary.

While Cataclysm is introducing us to an entirely revamped healing model and our new core heal, Divine Light, the spells look nearly the same as they do today. Our hands do the glowy-light thing, and then someone gets some sparkles raining down over their head. Meanwhile, restoration druids are covering the ground with more flowers than Cenarius' gardener, and resto shamans are literally making rain to water them. Luckily for us, Blizzard saved a few tricks for holy paladins, and our new abilities actually have some amazing animations and useful functions.

Guardian of Ancient Kings feels strangely familiar

Before I was able to test Holy Radiance and Light of Dawn, I was concerned about the state of our AoE healing capabilities. Blizzard removed the Glyph of Holy Light, which was basically our only source of multi-target healing. While the two aforementioned heals are very powerful, they're just not the same as our splash-healing standby. Luckily for us, the holy version of Guardian of Ancient Kings brings that splash healing back. Not only that, but GK doubles our single-target healing output, making it the perfect ability to offset our Divine Plea usage.

If you've ever played Diablo, you're familiar with Tyrael. You may have even seen the mini-Tyrael pet that was awarded to the lucky WoW players who attended Blizzard's Worldwide Invitational in Paris in 2008. The Guardian of Ancient Kings has a model that shares many features with Tyrael, including wings and angelic look. In terms of animations, it's one of the most detailed and complex spell abilities so far, and rightly so. Holy paladins have been lacking in the flair department for some time, and the GK is just what we needed to make healing look cool.

Light of Dawn makes mages cry

I am certain that after seeing the new animation for Light of Dawn and its conical goodness, Christian Belt wept. Cone of Cold has wished for such an amazing animation for years, although Light of Dawn isn't quite perfect. On the beta, when casting it from my female tauren paladin, it casts at a funny angle. The healing itself is a perfect front-facing cone, but the animation is a bit skewed. Hopefully this is fixed by Cataclysm's release, as otherwise, my plans of race-changing to a tauren will be shattered.

I found Light of Dawn to be fairly powerful, and considering that it also now heals us as well, it's an easy option to get some healing done on the run. Due to the lack of other potent glyph options, I'm also looking at the Glyph of Light of Dawn to lower its cooldown, although it lowers its effectiveness. One of the major changes in Cataclysm healing is that AoE heals can't do all of the healing by themselves anymore. However, Light of Dawn can help us avoid the dreaded situation in which we have multiple wounded targets and simply not enough GCDs to save them all. I'm thinking of all the Decimate-style attacks we've seen over the years, in which we've traditionally been pretty useless. Actually, all of our new heals are AoE-focused, including the next heal up for discussion.

Holy Radiance is the ultimate melee heal

While priests and druids get to suffer target caps on their most potent AoE heals, paladins get to enjoy the luxury of healing the entire melee pile at once. There's only one catch: We actually have to be in the melee pile ourselves. Holy Radiance (formerly known as Healing Hands) has what we call a point-blank area of effect, or PBAoE, which means its healing area is centered on the caster. The range is pretty significant, much better than something like Festergut's Gas Spores or the distance required to pass the Unbound Plague back and forth. You'll be able to cover all of the melee if you're swinging at the boss with our recently nerfed Seal of Insight.

Holy Radiance is important because it really provides us with our only method of continuous healing. We can cast Holy Radiance, use the speed boost from Speed of Light to get into melee range, and then keep healing the melee while we are healing the tanks and other players. Holy Radiance also heals us like Light of Dawn does, so we're safe from damage and we can focus on other things. While I wish it were available a bit more often, I'm hoping that the "constant aura damage" fights in Cataclysm are few and far between. A cool variation on Holy Radiance would be allowing it to stay up longer if we were hitting our target with melee swings, buffing the idea of a front-line healer.
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.

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