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The Light and How to Swing It: Evaluating Mists of Pandaria talents for holy paladins


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.

Speculating on talent choices that aren't even being publicly tested yet is risky business. Mists of Pandaria isn't in beta testing yet, which means that everything is still be up in the air. What if holy power gets scrapped between now and then? What if the developers decide that shockadins should actually be viable? There are simply too many unknowns when discussing an upcoming game that hasn't faced any public scrutiny.

At the same time, speculating on talent choices with no empirical evidence whatsoever is also fun, because we get to make it up as we go along. I am already imaging a build with the new Pursuit of Justice, where I stack up 5 holy power points via Boundless Conviction and run around with 60% bonus speed for an entire encounter. Will it work with 5 holy power points, or will the speed boost only count 3 of them? Only time will tell. Or Ghostcrawler. But mostly time.

I'm a right-wing paladin

With the new talent tree design, our old x/y/z nomenclature doesn't really make sense any more. Rather than trying to figure out some new format for describing the individual points in a particular build, I've decided to give various builds nicknames instead.

As an example, let me introduce the right-wing paladin. You simply always choose the talent point that's in the rightmost column, never reaching across the aisle. Or, if you like the right-wing build but you want to try out Eternal Flame, you'd be using The Bangles build. Want to fill out the center column, finishing with Light's Hammer? You're now MC Hammer. Get some parachute pants.

All right, maybe nicknames aren't the best idea for describing specific builds. The idea is that there will be a few talent points that we will use nearly full time, a couple of points that we flex for specific encounter mechanics or situations, and a couple of points that are up to you to decide. Identifying which points are mandatory is the first step in planning your build. My thoughts on the level 90 talent tier are pretty clear, but the rest of the tree is worth examining as well.

pursuit of justice
Pursuing justice

When we look at the first tier of our talent tree, it's clear that Pursuit of Justice is the best choice here. We don't need to be in melee range to do our work, so Long Arm of the Law is pointless. As healers, it's easy for us to sit on our holy power, as we don't need to burn it for DPS like retribution paladins do. We can save up a few holy power points when we need to, allowing us to sprint around the battlefield. The passive 10% speed bonus is simply icing on the cake. I am looking forward to being the most mobile healer for once.

Tier two blues

The level 30 talent tier doesn't contain a single talent that's going to help us heal. All three options are focused on controlling our opponents, which is typically not a factor for healers. Fist of Justice doubles Hammer of Justice's range and halves its cooldown. Repentance gives holy paladins the option to have a true crowd control ability. Burden of Guilt gives us our first snare, which would've sounded completely mad just a few months ago. All of these talents are valuable in PvP and dungeon situations, but none of them are very useful in a raid. Our talent choice in tier two will either be very specific to a particular raid encounter, or else we won't use it at all.

eternal flame
An old friend and a new ally

First of all, let's all agree that Selfless Healer is purely around to give retribution and protection paladins the option of helping out with healing every once in a while. Holy paladins will be choosing between the familiar Sacred Shield and the shiny Eternal Flame HoT. I love the idea of a long-term HoT, mostly because it's an option we've never had before. There was a time where Sacred Shield made sense, but with our mastery Illuminated Healing already providing our targets with bubbles, I don't see it as being very valuable. I personally can't wait to get out into the field to test both of these new heals out.

Preparation -- I mean, Clemency

As you might know, I also play a rogue in my spare time. Clemency is Preparation for paladins. It immediately clears the cooldowns on all of our "Hand of" spells, giving us the ability to use them back-to-back. The other options at this tier are pretty weak. Hand of Purity might be valuable once a tier for a boss that puts a big DoT on the tank, and could be useful for PvP against a caster. Unbreakable Spirit would be nice for lowering the CD on our Divine Shield and Lay on Hands, but it's not powerful enough to lower the CD on Divine Protection appreciably. Clemency will be the no-brainer choice here, unless you're progressing on an encounter that requires you to use LoH or DS on every single attempt.

divine purpose
A healer's delight

The level 75 talent tier has some very enticing options. Divine Purpose would essentially give us the current Eternal Glory mechanic, but it would also apply to our other holy power releases like Light of Dawn and either Sacred Shield or Eternal Flame. I have always liked Eternal Glory, and applying it to all of our holy power releases would rule. On top of that, the Divine Purpose mechanic actually allows us to delay casting our second holy power release instantly, letting us continue to use Holy Shock and build up holy power. Now, if you get an Eternal Glory proc, any holy power you generate before your next Word of Glory is a waste of a holy power point.

I would've immediately gone with Divine Purpose, if it weren't for how powerful the other two talent options are. Sanctified Wrath is amazing. Put simply, it removes the cooldown on Holy Shock while Avenging Wrath is active. It turns Avenging Wrath into a mana and mobility cooldown for holy paladins. We could pop Avenging Wrath and then run around as we please, spamming Holy Shock and Word of Glory. Those two heals in tandem cost essentially zero mana, and both of them are instant-cast. I can see Sanctified Wrath becoming nearly mandatory on an encounter with lots of movement. Today, this would be amazing for dealing with the blue ooze on Yor'sahj or to heal while running between Morchok and his crystals.

holy avenger
Emergency big heals

Holy Avenger is what you'll use when you need to pull out the big guns. One of my biggest regrets is that since I lead my holy paladin's raid group, I won't get the opportunity to announce to my raid leader that the massive tank-healing cannons have been deployed. While our Guardian of Ancient Kings is already very potent for increasing our single-target throughput, Holy Avenger insures our target simply can't die. It gives us up to five free Words of Glory during GoAK's duration. Notice that I said up to, because if we use other heals during GoAK, they'll consume GoAK charges and will cause the buff to expire early.

Not that you'd ever want to use a heal other than Word of Glory here. It's our biggest direct heal, it doesn't cost us any mana, and we can quick-fire five of them in merely five GCDs. Considering the fact that each of those instant WoGs would also be doubled in potency via our Guardian, your target is going to be completely invulnerable as long as you have a WoG left to cast.

Now, some of you will note that you could actually use five Light of Dawns here instead. That isn't a good idea. Light of Dawn isn't exactly potent, and you wouldn't want to waste both your Guardian cooldown and this talent point simply to get a bit of free AoE healing. Just cast a Holy Radiance if you need to handle the raid.

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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