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The Light and How to Swing It: Throttling holy paladins in PVP


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.

Last year, Nethaera, a Blizzard community manager, informed us that the interaction between Protector of the Innocent and Beacon of Light was completely intentional. Holy paladins were still feeling out the new spells and talents that we received in Cataclysm, so it was nice to know that at least one thing was working as intended. Now, some ten months later, we're seeing Beacon of Light and Protector of the Innocent disconnected from each other on the patch 4.3 PTR. Why break a mechanic that's worked right since its inception?

The developers aren't happy with healers in PVP situations. The massive Holy Radiance changes were a nerf to PVP holy paladins, and the PotI nerf affects them more than raid healers. The devs are also buffing Mortal Strike effects to allow them to cut our healing down by 25%, up from the 10% healing debuff that we've been working with for months. The Seal of Insight/Judgement changes also affect us negatively in PVP environments. Removing Holy Radiance from our Speed of Light talent reduces holy's mobility.

Holy paladins aren't hybrids

When you think of hybrid classes, it's likely that paladins are the first thing that comes to your mind. Paladins have been tanking, applying DPS, and healing since the dawn of WoW. While a paladin is capable of handling all three major roles, holy paladins are locked into just one. Holy paladins only deal in one currency -- healing. We're nothing without our healing output. Holy paladins don't bring any significant form of DPS, our CC is the weakest amongst the healing classes, and our utility is geared towards healing. There's a reason we've been called "holy firehoses."

How can the developers nerf paladins in PVP without affecting them in PVE? When our only purpose is to heal, how can they nerf our healing output in the arena without nerfing it in a raid? It's quite obvious that they're trying to hit the problem from all possible angles. In patch 4.3, PVP-focused holy paladins are losing mobility, we're losing mana, we're losing throughput via Mortal Strike effects, and now we're also losing some of our multi-target throughput and survivability. The only buff we're seeing is the 10-second cooldown reduction on Divine Protection via Paragon of Virtue, but it's hardly an even trade.

Protector of the Innocent's real purpose

Protector of the Innocent has always been a PVP talent first and a PVE talent second. While PotI is what enabled us to use strategies like the two-heal method, the core self-heal is still present. The true difference is that the potency of our instant cast heals has been lessened. A Holy Shock previously resulted in one heal for our target, one heal for ourselves, and two heals for our Beacon of Light target. The change is that now our Beacon of Light target is only receives one heal.

It's not that drastic of a change for PVE holy paladins, to the tune of a couple of percentage points of our total healing. We can just sneak in an extra Divine Light or two and we won't even notice that the PotI Beacon transfer is missing. Paladins in PVP, on the other hand, will notice it immediately. Healing in PVP is about quick heals and casting time efficiency, and the PotI nerf will be affecting that negatively. The developers looked for a way to nerf PVP throughput without affecting PVE efficiency, and they found their target in PotI. They certainly could've done a lot worse.

Why the nerfs?

I don't know why the developers decided to target holy paladins for so many PVP nerfs, but it's clear that we're going to be far weaker than we are today once patch 4.3 goes live. None of the other healing classes saw direct PVP healing nerfs, though the buff to Mortal Strike effects does affect all of us. With the buffs to melee classes and the possibility of both casters and rogues with legendary weapons, the next arena season is going to be difficult for healers to say the least.

The changes affect holy paladins in PVE as well, but not to nearly the same degree. While Holy Radiance triggering Speed of Light was useful for getting places faster, it wasn't the lifesaver that it is in PVP. In fact, the new Holy Radiance actually represents a net improvement in our AOE healing. Raiding paladins tend to stack enough spirit for the new Seal of Insight/Judgements of the Pure change to actually result in a net buff in mana once we're in Dragon Soul gear. Finally, unless your arms warrior was getting Mind Controlled, your tank should be free from Mortal Strike effects. We're not going to notice a few lost points of healing. In fact, I actually like one aspect the removal of the PotI/Beacon interaction. PotI is one of those heals that doesn't scale well, weakening its value as we level up, similar to how Seal of Insight/Judgement didn't scale at all. Removing non-scaling effects is always a good thing for long-term balance.

The two-heal method still works

While the two-heal method has obviously been weakened due to the PotI/Beacon change, it's still valuable to continue using it. We still receive a PotI heal for each individual heal, and more heals results in more chances for our trinkets to proc. The difference is that the two-heal method doesn't increase our true throughput now, so the penalty for saving your holy power for a big Word of Glory is removed.

The Light and How to Swing It: Holy helps holy paladins become the powerful healers we're destined to be. Find out just how masterful mastery healing can be, gear up with the latest gear, and learn how to PVP as a holy paladin.

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