4 major updates for holy paladins in Mists of Pandaria

Execution Sentence

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.

Blizzard recently promised to release a flurry of Mists of Pandaria information in March, but apparently it's opened the gates early. The Mists of Pandaria talent calculator and ability list received a massive update this week, giving us new info on the talents and spells that holy paladins can look forward to in Mists. In addition, the Blizzard community managers have been answering questions about the new data at a rapid-fire rate.

Holy paladins have a lot to look forward to in Mists. It's clear that the developers have been looking at our weaknesses as healers, as several of our long-standing issues have been addressed. While we've always had a wide variety of utility abilities, until recently, holy paladins really only had single-target heals at their disposal. With the introduction of the revamped Holy Radiance in late Cataclysm and now the new talent options we'll in Mists, our base healing toolbox is looking more and more complete.

eternal flame

A HoT in my spellbook?

The new Eternal Flame talent in our Mists of Pandaria holy tree introduces the first serious heal over time ability into our arsenal. We've had pseudo-HoTs before, such as the Glyph of the Long Word, but never a true HoT effect. With Eternal Flame's serious healing per second and long 30-second duration, it might be my new favorite holy power release. Holy paladins have always struggled with healing targets proactively, and Eternal Flame goes a long way toward accomplishing that goal. My only regret is that it's in the same tier as Sacred Shield, as the two would obviously give us an amazing proactive toolbox.

A 5-point holy power bank

Every paladin will pick up a new spell at level 85 called Boundless Conviction. Boundless Conviction will let us save up 2 extra holy power points, which we can use at any time. Our holy power releases, like Light of Dawn and the new Eternal Flame, will only consume 3 holy power points each, so we're not able to supercharge our spells. What we can do is line up powerful holy power combos, such as a 3-point Word of Glory into Holy Shock into 3-point Word of Glory, which results in a massive amount of healing in a short amount of time.

The ability to pool up extra holy power gives us more flexibility and allows us to continue to use Holy Shock on cooldown even if we want to save our holy power for an upcoming attack. More flexibility and more decision making is always a good thing for the health of a class, and I am glad to see that changes like this are making it into the game.

Intellect plate is here to stay

The new Holy Insight passive ability had some holy paladins thinking that intellect plate was on the way out. Holy Insight is slated to give us a 400% boost to our mana pool, which had some paladins assuming that meant we'd start using strength gear. The reasoning for HI is that intellect will no longer increase the size of our mana pool in Mists. In order to differentiate us from retribution and protection paladins, we're receiving HI. All of the other healing classes should be receiving a similar treatment. Kaivax, the community manager, also confirmed that intellect plate is still hanging around in Mists. As you probably know, I'm all about intellect plate being the gear of choice for holy paladins.

Level 90: Hammer time

Holy paladins are looking at three new ability choices for our level 90 talents. The signature of each of the three new moves is that they can affect both our allies and our enemies, by healing and dealing damage, respectively. While I'm always trying to craft the best holy DPS build possible, the healing aspects of these spells have me more excited.

holy prism

Holy Prism is something that holy paladins have suggested that Beacon of Light could do for years. We toss our Holy Prism on a target, and one of two things can happen. If we put Holy Prism onto a friendly target, that target gets some serious healing and the spell causes them to damage nearby enemies. If we put Holy Prism onto an enemy target, they get nuked and similarly radiate healing to all of our friends. I don't see Holy Prism to be very valuable for holy paladins due to our access to Holy Radiance, but the fact that it provides both damage and healing at the same time might create some interesting uses.

Our second option, Light's Hammer, is a combination of Holy Word: Sanctuary and Consecration. We light up a 10-yard circle on the ground by hurling a hammer at it, healing friendly targets and nuking enemy targets inside the circle. I don't like location-based heals, as they're pointless on movement-based encounters and rarely worth using. The exact healing numbers on Light's Hammer's tooltip are bugged, so I'm not even sure how powerful the spell is.

The final level 90 talent has me intrigued. The DPS version of this spell is called Execution Sentence, which I will probably ignore in favor of the healing version, Stay of Execution. Stay of Execution causes a giant hammer to fall from the sky, healing our target over 10 seconds for increasing amounts and finally culminating in a big heal as the hammer smashes down. I like the idea of coordinating a Stay of Execution to coincide with a big hit onto a tank, as it provides us allows us to pull off cool timing tricks. I will definitely be picking up this talent as my preferred first choice. I mean, come on -- giant hammer falling from the sky? It's a no-brainer.

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.