Friday, April 4, 2014

Holy Paladin, Batman! WoD Alpha Patch Note Discussion

Blizzard dropped one hell of a set of patch notes for the Warlords of Draenor Alpha—33 pages of it! A lot of it goes over stuff about the squish, healing changes, PvP changes, etc. that we’ve already seen, but weaves it all together into a larger narrative for anyone who has the patience to read it all. Sadly, judging from the comment section on the blog post itself, that was hoping against hope, but I’m going to take a look at the changes for Holy Paladins in a holistic manner.

Do note that as always, all of this is preliminary. We’re working off limited information that is all subject to change. So let’s begin!

New Talents
Beacon of Faith – Mark a second target as a Beacon, mimicking the effects of Beacon of Light.
Beacon of Insight – Places a beacon of insight on an ally, increasing their healing received from your next direct single-target heal within 1 min by 30%. When consumed, or when the target reaches full health, it moves to the most injured ally within 40 yards. Limit 1.
Saved by the Light – When you or your Beacon of Light target drop below 30% health, you instantly grant the injured target a protective shield, absorbing up to 30% of their maximum health for 10 sec. You cannot shield the same person this way twice within 1 min.
The level 100 talents are all quite interesting from a healing perspective. Beacon of Faith gives us a strong option for when both tanks are taking a lot of damage (i.e.: Fallen Protectors in SoO), or perhaps if you're just bad at Beacon Swapping. Beacon of Insight has a bit of a Prayer of Mending feel to it, but seems like it could be neat for spot healing the raid as it is smart. I doubt we'll see much use out of it though, as guaranteed throughput on a single target (or two targets) that you know are taking damage seems stronger. Saved by the Light might be a fantastic option for fights where only a single tank is taking damage at a time, but tonnes of it (i.e.: Malkorok), or for progression to give yourself a second life, so to speak. I imagine it'll be a good default option for players who aren't good at managing Beacons in general.

Draenor Perks
Empowered Beacon of Light – Your single-target heals heal your Beacon of Light target for 10% more.
Improved Daybreak – Increases the healing from Daybreak by 100%.
Improved Holy Light – Increases the healing from Holy Light by 20%.
Improved Flash of Light – Increases the healing from Flash of Light by 20%.
Improved Denounce – Increases the damage done by Denounce by 20%.
Empowered Holy Shock – Increases the damage done by Holy Shock by 20%.
Enhanced Holy Shock – Your Holy Light and Flash of Light have a 10% chance to cause your next Holy Shock to not trigger a cooldown.
Improved Divine Protection – Divine Protection reduces magical damage taken by an additional 10%.
Improved Forbearance – Reduces the duration of Forbearance by 30 sec.
Most of these aren't terribly interesting. Simple buffs to our bread and butter abilities. The interesting bits are Enhanced Holy Shock and Improved Forbearance. The ability to once in a while weave in an extra Holy Shock is awesome, because it's our only instant heal now, and it generates Holy Power. 10% isn't high enough to rely on it, but it'll be a great bonus when it occurs. Improved Forbearance basically halves the debuff a target gets after Divine Shield, Lay on Hands, or Hand of Protection, which is amazing. We'll be able to perform even more stupid Paladin tricks with Hand of Protection and wiping out debuffs on tanks.

Intellect no longer provides an increased chance to critically strike with spells.
The base chance to critically strike is now 5% for all classes. There are no longer different chances to critically strike with melee, ranged, and spells.
Attack Power, Spell Power, or Weapon Damage now affect the entire healing or damage throughput of player spells.
All players now have a 100% chance to hit, 0% chance to be dodged, 3% chance to be parried, and 0% chance to glance, when fighting creatures up to 3 levels higher (bosses included).
Holy Insight no longer increases the chance to hit with spells.
As part of a push to combine the different types of Haste in the game as much as possible, we merged Spell Haste and Attack Speed into just Haste.
Blizzard continuing the trend of making each stat do one thing, and divesting crit from our stack stat, Intellect. It truly only provides more spell power now.

But more interestingly, weapon damage will now potentially contribute to healing throughput? If I'm reading that right, they're making WoW more like Diablo III. I wonder if that means they can just axe spell power as a special stat for weapons and it's just baked in. I could also be reading way too much into it, and it's just a confusing sentence. It was basically just an awkward way of saying no more base damage/healing. Abilities are now only the % scaling portion of Spell Power/Attack Power/Weapon Damage/Whatever appropriate.

Hit/Expertise are now gone, though, so hooray! Finally, Spell Haste and Melee Haste are no longer different things. Finally my raid will actually have spell haste. Excellent quality of life change.

Triage Healing
Smart heals will now randomly pick any injured target within range, instead of always picking the most injured target. Priority will still be given to players over pets.
Long-cast-time single-target heals, such as Greater Heal and Healing Touch, now cost roughly half as much as fast-cast-time single-target heals, such as Flash of Light or Healing Surge, and heal for roughly the same amount.
Every class has multiple area healing spells available, some low throughput and efficient, others high throughput and inefficient.
Area healing spells are tuned to be less efficient than single-target healing spells when they heal 2 or fewer targets, and more efficient when they heal 3 or more targets.
Spells with cooldowns or limitations may have higher efficiency than the no-cooldown equivalents.
Nothing really new here that we didn't discuss before in the triage healing post. I'm still a little iffy on the smart heal changes. The higher precision language around your bread and butter single-target heals is interesting, as they both will heal about the same amount, but one is faster and twice as expensive, making the snap-evaluation a lot easier.

Ability Pruning
Avenging Wrath is now only available to Retribution Paladins.
Devotion Aura is no longer available to Protection Paladins.
Divine Light has been renamed Holy Light.
Holy Light has been removed.
Divine Plea has been removed. Mana costs for Paladins have been adjusted accordingly.
Guardian of Ancient Kings is now only available to Protection Paladins.
Hand of Salvation has been removed.
Blinding Light has been removed.
All right! Now we're getting really fun. Holy Light/Divine Light we already knew, but losing Wings kind blows. I want my pretty wings. Losing Guardian of Ancient Kings wasn't unexpected either. Holy Paladins have so many throughput cooldowns right now it's completely silly. Losing Blinding Light is a bit annoying, as it was a good AoE "stun" (glyphed) option for some raid fights with lots of adds (like Galakras in SoO). Besides reducing our single-target heals by one, there's almost nothing to really change how Holy Paladins operate here.

On the other hand, Hand of Salvation being removed? Hahahahaha. Oh man, the poor melee in my raid are ALL going on BoP timeout anytime they pull aggro! No more aggro removal for you.

Ability Modifications
Divine Favor now also increases all of the Paladin’s healing by 100% for its duration.
Denounce's range has increased to 40 yards (up from 30 yards).
Hammer of the Righteous now deals 50% Physical weapon damage (up from 15%) to the primary target, but the primary target is no longer hit with the Holy damage.
Seals no longer cost any mana.
Stay of Execution (the Holy version of Execution Sentence) now deals its healing in a large burst at first, and then decreasing over time (reversed from before).
Eternal Flame now deals 100% of the direct healing of Word of Glory (up from 70%), but only 50% as much periodic healing as before. Additionally, Bastion of Glory no longer affects the periodic healing.
Repentance's cast time has been increased to 1.8 seconds.
Turn Evil's cast time has been increased to 1.8 seconds and now has a 6 second duration in PvP (down from 8 seconds).
Eternal Flame now has a 1.5-second cast time (up from instant cast) for Holy Paladins.
Light of Dawn now has a 1.5-second cast time (up from instant cast).
Word of Glory now has a 1.5-second cast time (up from instant cast).
Redemption now costs 4% of base mana (down from between 10% and 50%).
Our instant cast spells becoming 1.5 second cast times we already knew was coming, and as mentioned in my healing analysis, it really just makes it the full GCD, so throughput standing still shouldn't be affected, just our mobility. Increasing cast times on CC doesn't affect PvE really. Divine Favor also increasing healing throughput by 100% is amazingly powerful, though. Really, it's just shoving Guardian of Ancient Kings' effect into Divine Favor as if you stacked the two, but still, seeing the number laid out like that is still a bit of a jolt.

A lot of quality of life adjustments too, like seals not costing mana, Denounce's range moving to 40 yards, and Redemption getting much cheaper. Stay of Execution's healing burst being moved to the beginning of it makes it a lot more attractive. Moreso than Holy Prism/Light's Hammer? Not likely. Still, the thought is nice and the theory sound. Losing Divine Plea is mildly sad, but it really just became a button to hi whenever it came off cooldown, so I suppose there wasn't much gameplay there anymore once they got rid of the cleave effect.

Overall, there isn't a lot new that hasn't already been discussed about triage healing. We're not losing many abilities, and the ones we are losing we had an overabundance of them anyhow (CC, single-target heals, throughput cooldowns). The basic kit of Holy Paladins remains as is, and other than a few numbers tweaks and getting us back to triage healing, there's nothing special here. The talents are interesting, but I think it's pretty telling that the developers thought Holy Paladins were in a good place gameplay-wise at the end of MoP, and I do agree with that.
#WoW #HolyPaladin #DesignExperiment #WarlordsOfDraenor #Patch


  1. "Attack Power, Spell Power, or Weapon Damage now affect the entire healing or damage throughput of player spells."

    In that sentence I'm reading "spells" as "abilities", I wouldn't expect weapon damage to effect spell damage or healing. Still, the wording is vague enough that you could be right.

    I'm liking the changes in general. If anything, I think less is changing than I was expecting... mostly just sensible consolidations and cuts.

    1. Yeah, the wording is super vague. I tweeted Celestalon to see if he had more details on it, so I'll report back when I get it.

      I agree with the less changing than expected. Holy Paladins lost pretty close to nothing. Enhancement Shaman literally lost nothing: they just rejiggered damage so you'd have fewer damage sources, but literally still have the same number of buttons in your rotation.

      I think Hunters and DKs ended up getting pretty gutted relative to other classes, but at the same time it really felt like they were gearing up to Arcane Mage-ify more rotations, and they really didn't.

    2. Okay, another blog post I read clarified the statement. It was basically just an awkward way of saying no more base damage/healing. Abilities are now only the % scaling portion of Spell Power/Attack Power/Weapon Damage/Whatever appropriate.