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In the first few months of WotLK raiding, when I went holy for the first time, you would have had to pry crit from my cold dead hands. I went the way of the holy/ret build back then, because holy/prot hadn’t yet seen the changes of 3.1 that made it the viable (and my preferred) spec that it is now. I think I went insane over the fact that Soul of the Dead NEVER dropped for us from Sapphiron, week after week, and I’m pretty sure that when it finally did and I snatched it up, I let out my biggest happy squeal of all time. Torch of Holy Fire? Screw that, I’m snatching The Turning Tide away from our warlocks.
These days, I’m tooting a very different horn. I love haste and I can’t get enough of it, so much that I’m sitting well above the recommended 675 soft cap for haste rating from gear. Because we don’t always run with a boomkin in 10s and very rarely have a ret paladin, I don’t get the buffs from those classes in regards to haste, so I try to keep as much as possible on my gear, and I eat haste buff food.
Why the change? Well for one thing, crit just isn’t as good as it used to be. Critical strikes don’t return as much mana as they used to, so that benefit has gone a little out of the window, not to mention that improved gear from Naxx to Ice Cream Social and epic gems mean that mana pools are higher than ever. I can’t remember the last time that I felt truly strained for mana or felt that I would run dry with no chance to recover, even when chain casting Holy Light on fights like Marrowgar or Festergut or … everything else in ICC. Crit is nice for having those BIG NUMBERS heals, but in many cases the crits are just overheals for a class that has high overhealing anyway (not that there’s a problem with this – as long as you have mana and things don’t die, who cares about overheal?). Just sticking with the critical strike rating that’s on spell plate and other pieces, and the amount that you’ll naturally get from nom nom noming intellect gems should be sufficient – I just don’t see the benefit in gemming for crit rating when you can easily get to 30% or more holy crit from gear.
Haste on the other hand, while it has diminishing returns, is something that you can’t really go wrong with having a little more of. The more haste, the more spells you can cast. If you’re starting harder content, it can be a real life saver in terms of how much throughput you can manage. While you have a chance of getting critical strike heals that will top someone off, with haste there is a guarantee that you’ll be able to quickly put out a second heal. For me it’s a more reliable tool for OHCRAP moments, and probably the only thing that facilitates surviving fears in 5 mans (but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). I feel more secure with having plenty of haste and knowing that my heals have a higher probability of landing in time – our limitation is really speed rather than throughput or longevity. Also, this is what casting looks like when you’re hopped up on haste:
Of course, the exception to all of this is the FoL build, in which case you don’t want haste OR crit, you want MOAR SPELLPOWER. That’s a completely foreign territory for me, but maybe someday I’ll give it a try for fun and ~SCIENCE~.
Disclaimer: this is just how I do it, and I’m usually the only holy paladin in the group. If you have more than one, Beacon assignments and whatnot will probably be a bit different.
This is the OHMYGOD SO MUCH DAMAGE, WHYYY fight, and one where we holy paladins really shine. The damage comes fast and heavy, so you have to be on the ball about topping it off. What happens if you take a break to rest your poor Holy Light finger for a few GCDs (or worse, if you’re repeatedly boner spiked)? DEATH, that’s what.
Yeah, you did that. Anyway, you will probably be assigned to the MT for this fight, and you will want to put your sweet, delicious Bacon Beacon on the OT, who will be taking quite a lot of damage as well. Especially when he stands in the Coldflame. Stick yourself in with the caster dps group, who will probably all be standing within Marrowgar’s hitbox, because that makes things easier for everyone, especially when it comes to Bone Spikes, because if you have to count on dps to come find you in order to break you out, you’re probably gonna die.
Possibly the hardest part of this fight is the cat herding fest that is Bone Storm, because everyone is going to scatter, and they’re not all going to go in the same direction. Ideally you should stick on top of your tanks so that you can quickly get back to healing them ASAP when this part is over, but if you’re like me you probably just run to a corner while going OMG QUIT FOLLOWING MEEEE. We keep raid markers on the tanks so that we can quickly find them and stack back up. If you run a 51/20/0 build, Bone Storm might be a good time to pop your bubble and Divine Sacrifice, if you happen to notice a lot of people waltzing through Coldflame or trying to give Marrowgar hugs. Just … don’t sacrifice yourself without bubbling, unless you’re prepared to stand still and heal all that incoming damage to yourself, which will be hard. Bone Storm is also the best time to pop your Divine Plea, but because chain casting Holy Light is very draining, you’re probably going to have to just use it when you can.
Assuming that everything goes well, Marrowgar will keel over, you will cry because spell plate is a myth, and then move on! \o/
During Phase 1, I find it more useful to have your Beaconhax on your assigned tank so that you can help out the raid healers, because this is a fight where people will inevitably stand in things and take stray damage. Do remember to keep a close eye on your tank’s health though, because he will sometimes be hit mercilessly by empowered mobs, and you’ll need to give him extra attention. For the 25man version, you will want to stand roughly in the middle, so that you can help out the other tank healers when their targets are taking extra buttloads of damage. Curse of Torpor will be a big pain in your side for this fight, because it will lock you out of one of your spells (probably FoL or HL, depending on what you were casting when it hit you) for 15 seconds. It’s annoying, but shouldn’t be too hard on you.
In Phase 2, you’ll only need to focus on one tank at a time, but they will be trading off. I like to put Beacon on whichever tank currently has aggro, but if I’m having mana issues (LOL DOES NOT COMPUTE), I’ll just keep it on the MT. It’s nice to help out your raid healers with the Frostbolt damage when you can, and if it looks like everyone’s getting low, there’s always the bubblesac option.
This is the easiest Lower Spire fight, which means that BoO will always wipe on it once. Chances are that your raid leader will want you to stand on the ledge between the canons, toss Beacon on the tank who’s going over to the enemy ship (… we call them the Away Team), and keep the home and away tanks both healed. If you whine about being bored and getting cheated out of using your rocket pack, which I may or may not do, you might get to be the Away Team healer, YAY. In which case your major obstacle will be hearing when to go over and back on top of one of your guildies playing “I’m On A Boat” over vent. /facepalm
The Away Team tank will take a lot of damage when he goes over, so be sure that you keep an eye on him. Otherwise, this fight is mostly about keeping your eyes on Grid/Vudho/what have you and peppering around FoL where needed. If you get a lot of aggro from the Axethrowers, BUBBLE then yell at your tanks.
Another fight where everyone will be pleased to have your Beaconhax. Once again, you will probably be on the tanks. I heal the first tank to take Saurfang and put Beacon on the second. This means that when Tank 1 has him, I need to focus primarily on healing him, and when Tank 2 has him, I can help out the raid healers by keeping people with Boiling Blood topped off and healing anyone who gets hit by the blood beasts’ melee. As usual, if you don’t have mana issues and would like to, you can simply switch Beacon from tank to tank.
When Saurfang hits 100 Blood Power, that’s when you go FUUUU and things ramp up. You need to put your Beacon on the person who gets Mark of the Falling Champion, and then you need to heal the tank with the aggro for all you’re worth, to keep the Marked person up. If Blood Power management is Not So Good, you get to play YAY SOPHIE’S CHOICE and decide whether to stick with the original Marked player, or switch Beacon to the new one. If it’s a healer or a tank who gets the Mark, they also get the Beacon. If it’s between two dps players, I’d recommend keeping up a player who kites the blood beasts. If none of those are factors, just slap it on the person you like the most. That’s right, everyone be sure to lavish love on your paladin healers – it may save your life! I take bribes in the form of unicorns, rainbows, and hugs.
If you have a group that can successfully manage Blood Power and you don’t break out in a cold sweat from healing stress, then YAY TIEM FOR PLAGUEWORKS. Just uhm, maybe don’t forget to bubble if you’re the first one to zone into the next wing, because the mist wants to give you not so nice cuddlings.
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