The Light and How to Swing It: Patch 4.2 shakes up our heals

Chase Christian
C. Christian|05.23.11

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The Light and How to Swing It: Patch 4.2 shakes up our heals
Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. Every Sunday, Chase Christian invites you to discuss the finer side of the paladin class: the holy specialization. Feel free to email me with any questions you want answered, like why paladins are so awesome.

I wasn't very happy with the first round of notes for patch 4.2, as they contained several holy paladin nerfs. I had originally thought that Blizzard's developers were just trying to keep holy paladin mana in line, but it looks like they actually had a few other changes up their collective sleeves. We've learned about several new mechanics that shift the balance of power between our healing spells and even offset much of the expected loss of power.

Our new set bonuses help us recover some of that lost mana and also boost the effectiveness of our expensive heals. While Blizzard states that class power is not designed around set bonuses, our potency is still affected by them. In addition, some key talent adjustments have the potential to completely change the roles of our heals, including letting Flash of Light be instant-cast (with a proc) and significantly bolstering the effectiveness of Holy Light when used in a Beacon of Light environment (which is always). These are the type of exciting patch notes that I can get behind, as they are aimed at adding diversity to our relatively stale lineup of direct heals.

Holy Shock's mana cost is plummeting

The original version of the patch 4.2 notes called for Holy Shock's mana cost to be raised to 9% base mana, from its current cost of 8% base mana. The change was quickly reversed, and Holy Shock's mana cost was actually dropped to 7% mana. Holy Shock is one of my most-used heals, and so saving 1% base mana per cast is actually a pretty big deal. It doesn't offset the fact that Divine Light's mana cost went up by 5% base mana and Holy Light's cost increased by 2% base mana, but it does help somewhat.

Our new tier set, Immolation, has a two-piece bonus that reduces the cost of Holy Shock even further. When casting Holy Shock, we have a 40% chance to turn 6% of our base mana. Considering that Holy Shock will cost 7% of our base mana per cast in patch 4.2, that means that 40% of our Holy Shock casts will only consume 1% of our mana. If we cast five Holy Shocks with our two-piece bonus, we'll only spend 23% of our base mana, instead of the 35% we would've used before. Averaged out, it cuts the mana cost of Holy Shock by about a third, which is a pretty good deal. We'll definitely be leaning on Holy Shock to help offset the other mana cost nerfs.

Infusion of Light repurposes Flash of Light

The new version of Infusion of Light now affects Flash of Light, reducing its cast time by 1.5 seconds. If you're familiar with the spell, you know that Flash of Light's cast time is already less than 1.5 seconds with any amount of haste. The combination of IoL and FoL means that FoL becomes an instant-cast spell any time that IoL is active. Holy paladins now have another instant heal option, and I can already see the usefulness of such a spell. While it is crazy-expensive, I always like having a lot of options.

On a fight like heroic Chimaeron, we're tasked with healing a tank from 1 HP to full HP in literally seconds. Lay on Hands may get the job done, but if we wipe, I'm stuck waiting on a very long cooldown. I could easily save an Infusion of Light proc through the Massacre and then unleash an instant FoL while getting into position to help get the tank's life up quickly. The high mana cost of FoL will also keep us from abusing it all the time, so we need to save it for situations where our target simply can't wait for us to cast a heal. Keep IoL-boosted FoLs in your toolbox for fights with heavy movement, too.

Holy Light makes friends with Beacon of Light

Do you remember where you were when you found out that Beacon of Light was getting cut in half in Cataclysm? I was at the grocery store, and someone texted me the news. I almost dropped a jar of Nutella. I wasn't sure how we were going to function without the old Beacon, but clearly we've been able to adapt. The developers' current issue with holy paladins is that we can use Divine Light too often, neglecting our cheaper heals once we have great gear. In order to fix that, they're buffing Holy Light, to make our economical option more attractive.

The change means that 100% of our Holy Light healing is replayed through the Beacon, which boosts the effectiveness of Holy Light by something like 33%. Holy Light's mana cost is going up by 20% in the patch, but this change more than offsets it, as long as the Beacon target can use the healing. It also means that we can spam Holy Light on the raid and still have the tank receiving some serious healing at the same time. Holy Light spam still doesn't keep a tank alive, so we'll still need to reach into our toolbox and use Divine Light, but it means that we won't fall so far behind when we do use Holy Light. I'm a bit worried about what it means for PVP, but Holy Light doesn't see too much usage in arenas, so it may not be a significant issue.

Glyph of Holy Light returns, almost

Our new four-piece bonus allows our Holy Lights, Divine Lights, and Flash of Lights to splash 10% of their healing to a nearby target. While it's not quite as good as the old Glyph of Holy Light from the days of Wrath, it does have the potential to boost the throughput of our casted heals by 10%. We're still a long way away from having four pieces of the Immolation set, as we don't even have an official date for the patch, and there are still bosses to kill. The key is that our four-piece is starting out pretty awesome, which is a step up from our last set. In addition, there's no mastery on our tier at all, so we'll be able to enjoy more haste and spirit than usual.

The Light and How to Swing It: Holy helps holy paladins become the powerful healers we're destined to be. Learn the ropes in Cataclysm 101 for holy paladins, study the new balance between intellect and spirit and learn how to level your new Sunwalker. Tanking is a job, DPS is a craft -- but healing is truly an art.
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