Good morning everyone!
It’s April Fools day, and the pranks are rampant (even a bit here at Illumination). Anyway, on a serious note, I wanted to talk about the viability of Paladins as raid healers. It is often the norm that Paladins are placed in the tank healing position, simply because of their ability to drop the bomb heals on single targets like no tomorrow, as well as their lack of instant heals (outside of the longish cooldown Holy Shock) and AoE heals (except for Glyphed Holy Light).
I have personally been assigned to heal a raid before during a regular Sartharion 10 man run. It was an interesting choice by the raid leader, but I took it with stride, and did my best. We didn’t wipe, on ly one death from somebody who couldn’t move out of the lava wall, and the only other healer was on the tank. This got me to feel that I do believe that it is possible. That one experience was spur of the moment, but it was also something that I thought that I would look further into since, well, it was fun.
The glyphs chosen can be important to this build, as they will provide the needed throughput and utility to heal larger groups.
Glyph of Holy Light
This is a default Glyph that nearly all healing paladins should have. The utility is incredible, and very helpful with AoE splash damage.
Glyph of Seal of Light
A bit controversial, as some others would rather use Glyph of Seal of Wisdom; however, using Seal of Light will give that boost of 5% healing to increase our throughput further, and with proper mana management, it shouldn’t be an issue.
Glyph of Flash of Light
Since this is going to be one of our primary heals, the extra crit provided will be handy, and provide that extra umph when cast.
I began to look at stat allocations, and what could be stacked to allow for a Paladin to provide more heals over more targets, at a faster pace. It has become a balancing act, and I hope to provide calculations in future posts to back me up, but right now, it seems more theoretical.
Here’s that I’m thinking of balancing out.
Currently, the going trend is to stack Int, Haste, and Crit (this is mostly for Holy Light builds). However, with my healing style, as well as experience thus far, I have allocated stats slightly differently (goodbye bag space, hello multiple same spec gearsets). What I believe can be done is to stack slightly differently:
Simply put, a raid healing paladin will be using Flash of Light and Holy Shock far more often then Holy Light. Because of this, you want to provide as much possible throughput to those spells. Flash of Light, currently has a spell power coefficient of 42.8%. Because of this, it does not take as much of an advantage of the Spell Power as we’d like, but the more spell power we have, the better the throughput.
Next we will be working with Haste. The reason for this is because of the fact that you will be wanting to use Flash of Light as often as possible. Normally Haste is used to shorten the cast time of Holy Light, allowing for more heals to hit the tank faster. In our case, we’re wanting to use it to shorten the cast time of Flash of Light, and allow us to tag several targets one right after the other in quick succession. This is a very simple example, but it has been successful in practice, as I have been able to heal nearly the entire raid (10 man) in short order. Obviously not as fast as a Priest, Druid, or Shaman can (bloody AoE heals), but it still provides potent heals to several targets.
Next up is Crit. We will want a good bit of crit, simply for the increased throughput from critted FoLs, but also so that your Holy Shocks crit more often. With Infusion of Light, your Holy Shock crits will provide you with an instant FoL. It’s obvious how helpful this is, as spoken before, you are going to want to hit as many targets in a short period of time as possible. Also, with Glyph of Holy Light when you heal a target, five party/raid members around that target are healed for 10% of that heal. If that heal is a crit, then 10% of a crit’d heal is great. So a 20,000 Holy Light bomb would provide a nice 2,000 HP heal to the melee around him.
Lastly is the ever beautiful Intellect. I have moved it slightly down the list as getting more throughput quicker will come at a higher need than duration. Though, Intellect will definitely be needed, since the larger the mana pool, the more you can heal everybody, just common sense. In addition, Intellect will provide a smidgen of crit.
Depending on the situation, I will either Beacon one of the tanks, myself, or another healer. In situations where I can anticipate damage ahead of time, I will either Sacred Shield myself, or a vulnerable target and begin precasting a Holy Light on someone in the melee group, and making sure it lands as the damage lands. This provides that target with a large heal, also healing the Beacon, but also healing 5 friendly targets around him. Once this has been cast, I will quickly shift targets to ranged, and use Divine Favor/Holy Shock. Using this combo will provide a guaranteed Holy Shock crit, in turn turning on Infusion of Light, and providing an instant Flash of Light heal. Once these are cast, it is now up to keeping an eye on your surroundings, and using FoL spam to top off everybody else. If your fellow healer is doing his/her job correctly, then you shouldn’t be worrying about the tank’s health, as it should be topped by them.
With this strategy, you can provide quick burst healing to nearly the entire raid. It makes it much more complicated, but fun then casting a single AoE heal. Following that combination of casts you would have healed as any as 8 potential targets in the timespan of 3 global cooldowns for at least 2,000+. Not bad for a class that is not built for the raid healing niche.
However, it is also situational, as you may not be able to do all of these things. An example being the Vortex for Malygos. Sure, not many people do that anymore, but with weekly raids, it could be possible. With the Vortex, you are limited to precasted heals that land as the damage hits, and instant casts. But these are a very limited breed of heal for the paladin. Plus with a 6 sec cooldown on Holy Shock, and only one guaranteed crit, it can get a bit dicey as you fly through the air. It may require the use of a Lay on Hands cooldown to keep everybody up as needed.
I still believe that we paladins have a chance to fill that niche, though it will always be dominated by the other healing classes. It just takes dedication, focus, and quick thinking to get the right heals out at the right time.
Now, if only we can get Blizzard to give us more heals to use in Cataclysm. Time will tell.
Do you think it is possible to be a Paladin raid healer? Is the niche too full with the other healing classes? Let me know what you think in the comments.