My thoughts on gaming and some creative writing pieces
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First of all, I want to apologize for not writing anything for the past two weeks. I was traveling from home to school and then went through RA training. It was definitely a fun experience and I’m glad to be back at school, but I had NO free time whatsoever. Days blended into each other and just kind of dragged on… But anyways…

As anyone who has been playing recently is aware, the Pre-MoP expansion dropped on Tuesday. With it came many of the changes that are a part of the Mists of Pandaria expansion such as account wide mounts (which by the way is the coolest thing that has happened in a long time). It also brought on the talent revamps that are a part of MoP and that bring sweeping changes to every class. The changes specific to Holy Paladins for this patch are outlined in my guide, so I’m not going to go into specifics here. I’m going to use this opportunity to talk about my take on the patch and then how it seems to have affected Holy Paladin healing.

General 5.0.4 Thoughts

I personally think that this is one of the best patches that has been released as long as I’ve been playing (Which for reference is late BC). The patch brought with it so many features that I found to be very interesting and fun.

As I stated already, account wide mounts and achievements are two of the best things ever implemented. EVER. I may be extremely biased because I switched mains and had all my fancy mounts and titles on my druid, but I have a lot of friends who feel the same way. It is really just awesome to have my rare mounts and titles available to me across all my characters. My level 20 characters have their choice of fancy mounts instead of running around on their basic racial mounts or Tyrael’s Charger. Consolidated achievements also did a lot for me since I had quite a few scattered achievements on all my characters. I think my druid (who formerly had most of my achievement points) jumped almost 1000 points just from me logging onto all my characters. I know it may not be that big of a deal to people who don’t like to play alts, but this is my favorite change that was brought by the patch.

I think that another huge thing for me was the talent revamp that changed up so many classes drastically. I haven’t had too much of a change to play because of my training, but the time that I have been able to play has been spent exploring all of my alts. Every class that I enjoyed playing seems to have changed

I raided on my druid through H DS on Wednesday and to my surprise was near the top of the damage for most of the fights. Balance has been changed up so much and given quite a few different mechanics that may not have changed general gameplay much, but that gave the class a serious single target damage boost. It was also fun to have some cooldowns to watch on a spec that never really had anything going on except the Eclipse rotation. I also got a chance to  set up my PvP gear and do a chain of BGs. I have to say, the mobility, survivability, and control mechanics that we got are amazing. I can literally kite any melee class until I can kill them off. It’s feels great to not have to sit and cast at someone to get into Eclipse as well. In general I’m going to say Balance is a success after this patch.

I’ve played through a few of my other characters, but since those are still leveling their way up to cap I don’t think there’s anything too important to say there. Warlocks and Hunters are definitely fun and play well at lower levels. I think that Priests area also very interesting, but I was mostly healing 5 mans so I didn’t get a decent look at questing on that character.

Holy Paladin Healing in 5.0.4

On Thursday I got the chance to get into H DS and heal through it. Before raid I went through and switched my gearing to try to get as much Spirit as possible. This meant gemming Ember for my Meta gem, straight Spirit in Prismatic and Blue sockets, Int/Spirit in Red sockets and Int/Mastery in Yellow sockets (to keep socket bonuses and Meta active). I also already ran with Heartsong, so I kept that the same. As far as trinkets go, I was running with Heart of the Unliving and the Jaws of Defeat for the sake of regen. I ended up using a feast (Int) and and Int flask because I forgot to get the Spirit versions of each before raid. With all this added up, in combat my regen was just about 5.2k mana per 5.

My spec changed a lot throughout the night. I ran with Speed of Light, Unbreakable Spirit, and Fist of Justice all night, but I switch around a lot for the other tiers. I tried to give SS/EF and HA/SW/DP each a decent amount of testing time to see how they worked for me. I will discuss in a bit how exactly I felt about each of them. As for my glyphs, I ran with Flash of Light, Divinity, and Light of Dawn on most fights. I did switch in Beacon of Light for Spine, but other than that I kept those three Glyphs the entire raid.

As for the raid, I think I should state what our plan for the night was as it sets some perspective. Our healers were myself and Fumsy (a Resto Druid), and our tanks were a Guardian Druid and a Protection Paladin. We two healed every fight except for Spine, which we also used a Discipline Priest for. We ran the raid on Heroic mode with the 35% debuff active.

Morchok: The fight seemed to be just about the same as it had been. Fumsy and I each healed a side with 5 people per side. We each had to soak shards, so there was a bit of running around. I found it a little hard to keep up at the beginning, but once I got a hang of healing the instance with my new abilities I had no issue keeping my side up. I felt like I could have done a better job with cooldowns here, but I was a little overwhelmed by new abilities and a new UI to really keep up with cooldowns that I really didn’t need.

Yorsaj: Also worked out just as it always had. During Purple phases Fumsy and I would each take a group to avoid stacking the debuff unnecessarily and my Beacon heals kept up the tank without me having to actually toss her a direct heal. I definitely loved using the my new cooldowns during the non-Purple phases on this fight. Holy Avenger’s burst healing is insane for AoE and when used with Jaws didn’t burn much mana at all. I also enjoyed trying to weave HRs between my DLs during GoAK. That mechanic is definitely one of the more interesting additions to our toolbox.

Zonozz: This fight was a little more difficult than I remember. Our strategy was to have two groups, a ranged and a melee group, to bounce the orb. Damage ramped up rather quickly here and I found myself having to pop cooldowns before Black phase to heal through the tank damage. It was a little surprising, but Black phases seemed to actually be easier than they were before. That may have just been due to our dps killing all the adds very quickly, but for the two Black phases I popped cooldowns out of habit and not really necessity.

Hagara: I was a bit surprised by this fight. I actually let the tank die when Fumsy was in an Ice tomb. The Focused Assault mechanic was doing more damage than I remember, so I was really surprised when it hit the tank so damn hard. Other than that it felt just like it usually does. We stacked in the center for Frost, and with a cooldown the damage was very manageable. I popped my Devotion Aura for Lightning Phase and that damage didn’t seem to bad either. The thing I do remember here is that I was specced into DP for this fight and felt a little underwhelmed by its procs. It procced very rarely for me, although when it did proc I seemed to get strings of procs all at once.

Ultraxion: We two healed so that fight felt a lot easier than it used to be. Between Fumsy and myself there wasn’t any difficulty in healing through the damage that was going out. We also managed to kill it before the Blue buff came out though, so that may contribute to the damage feeling so light. This fight definitely made me realize that I can’t spam HR anymore though. It made me HR>HS for a majority of the AoE ticks so that I didn’t feel strained on mana. Again, DP seemed to proc very poorly on this fight. It seems very unrealiable to me and I don’t like how it seems to happen in strings and not spread out over a fight.

Blackhorn: This fight also posed more of a challenge than I expected. The first phase wasn’t too bad as far as damage went, and it gave me a very good opportunity to make use of Fist of Justice. At times the fire got very out of hand, but the damage felt very limited even when it did. The second phase of the fight is what really ramped up the damage output. We didn’t have very many cooldowns that could help mitigate the Shout damage for the raid, and to me it seemed like the tanks were getting hit much worse than they ever did before. On this fight I also went back to Holy Avenger and the burst that it provided was amazing after Gariona’s attacks.

 

All in all I feel like Holy Paladins are in a very good place. My mana felt a little strained, but I was able to make it through every fight without going OOM. I also feel like all of our abilities have a place in our toolbox and a definite place that they can be used. I personally feel that we have a bright future ahead of us come MoP and all the opportunities that it will provide to test our class.

Can't you see how happy I am?

I am a huge fan of having choice in any game that I play. Whether that means having choice with how I play or how I look doesn’t matter to me. I just love not being forced into something that I didn’t pick myself. It’s one of the reasons that I am a huge fan of RP games and being able to create a character in my mind.

Based on all the information that has been coming out of the Beta, I think that Blizzard is trying very hard to allow players to choose in many different areas. They are trying to add more features, such as Challenge Modes, without making it necessary for “Hardcore” players to do them. The rewards are simply cosmetic or at the very best bragging rights. They even seem to have gone as far as giving long time players the ability to switch to a new character without losing rare items or titles. In my opinion, allowing as much choice as possible for players is an amazing thing that Blizzard does.

A huge part of choice for me are the aesthetic features that my character has. Transmogrification was great for me in allowing me to have my character look different than everyone else’s. Before that feature, my character always wore the current tier because I was a raider. If I was around other characters who wore the same armor type, chances were that I would look just like them. While this wasn’t a huge detriment to my enjoyment, having the ability to look unique is amazing. This isn’t to say that I’ve gone crazy with transmogging and have sets that I’ve farmed. I still go back to my favorite tier sets or a very simple set from questing, but having the choice to do so is what matters to me.

Dark Knight ain't got nothing on my shiny brooding

That said, I absolutely love many of the new glyphs that Blizzard is putting out in MoP. It seems to me that they learned from the Tree of Life model update that not everyone likes what may seem like simple aesthetic changes. Giving players the option to stay in a permanent Tree of Life form that has no benefits is just so cool. It does nothing but make the player happy if that’s what they want to see. Other glyph changes, like the updated Travel Form, add an extra benefit to the updated model as well, but they in no way make the glyph a necessity to have.

These changes just take small opportunities to make something otherwise normal into something flashier.
Paladin mounts not flashy enough? I better fix that with a glyph.
The more wings the better? Glyph it.
Smiting enemies with giant maces not cool enough? Well a little glyph can add some heavenly fire to that.

Flashier is better... Right?

 

As far as I can tell, all of the new minor glyphs are in some way aimed towards this new area of choice and changes that don’t break the game. While some, I’m looking at you Righteous Retreat, do change abilities in a way that may end up being a little overpowered or broken, most are just really fun in my opinion. These changes aren’t going to be as extraordinary as adding Pokemon into WoW, but they keep really simple things feeling fun. I’m not going to lie: I spent thirty minutes being amazed at my druid’s cat and bear forms changing colors because of Glyph of Chameleon.

Now, I don’t want to give the impression that I’m easily amused, but I was also really amazed at the glyphs that gave brand new abilities to toy around with. Contemplation will have a permanent spot on my paladin’s action bars as soon as these glyphs go live. I’m going to enjoy overlooking Stormwind as the Radiant Knight who is constantly brooding under some pesky flashlight. My druid is also going to have fun finding odd critters to tame with the Charm Woodland Creature ability.

I know that many people have been arguing that certain aspects of the game aren’t as good as they used to be, raiding being a prime target for this argument. Yet it is clear to me that Blizzard is working hard to keep this game going without catering to one specific group of people. They are paying a lot of attention to details in MoP, and these glyphs are clear evidence to that for me. There are issues that need to be resolved, but there is also so much new and fun content being added everywhere that gives players so much more. I think that instead of players taking all that is being added into the game for granted and then continuing to complain about X or Y, they should see how much of what we’ve been asking for has been added in.

I feel that to focus on my paladin I need to understand how it differs from my druid. To that end, I’m going to compare the two classes roughly and give some insight on where I think both classes shine. I’m going to start this off by giving my opinion on the two healing styles, but I’ll write up a more detailed side by side comparison of things after that.

Druids have been thought of as strict raid healers as long as I’ve played them. All of their instant cast  heal over time abilities made them perfect for fights where there was a lot of damage spread out over the entire raid. In ICC, Rejuvenation blanketing was a perfect way to keep the whole raid up. We weren’t doing a huge amount of healing on any one person, but our HoTs countered damage enough for other healers to be able to bring people up. This is still about the same way that we heal now as long as we have the mana regen for it. Our main spells have remained Rejuv and Wild Growth, with a Swiftmend and a direct heal tossed in for Harmony. Because of this the druid healing style is also very preemptive with a huge focus on throughput. It is best to put up HoTs before large damage phases so that you do not get behind on your healing.

Paladins on the other hand have been thought of as tank healers. Their huge single target heals and Beacon of Light have always made them good at keeping tanks up in most encounters. While they are currently being given abilities to be good at raid healing as well, they still have arguably the best single target healing in the game. I personally feel that the paladin play style feels much more reactive because of the way that it’s single target heals work. While it’s mastery is all about making the spec be more preemptive than reactive, it’s hard to keep shields on a large group of people without burning through mana. On a single person, say the tank, it is easy to continually heal with a cheap spell and keep a bubble on them. The class also has a lot more cooldowns to assist with mitigation of damage than druids do.

 

All the numbers I use here will come from the Wowhead MoP talent calculator.

Single Target Healing Spells

 Paladin  Druid
Holy Light
Heals for 9322 to 10385
14% of Base mana
Nourish
Heals for 6151 to 7148
Heals for an additional 20% if a Hot is present on the target.
10.2% of Base Mana
Flash of Light
Heals for 132031 to 14813
42% of Base mana
Regrowth
Heals for 9813 to 10954 and an additional (2361*) over 6 seconds
29.7% of Base Mana
Divine Light
Heals for 17678 to 19695
40% of Base Mana
Healing Touch
Heals for 18460 to 21800
28.9% of Base Mana
Eternal Flame *Level 45 Talent*
Heals for 1548 Per Holy Power consumed every 3 seconds for 30 seconds.
Lifebloom
Heals for (6210*1) over 10 seconds. When Lifebloom expires target is healed for ((8150*+SPN*.752)*).Stacks up to three times.
Can only be cast on one target. When cast on a new target all stacks are transferred.
5.9% of Base Mana
Holy Shock
Heals for 10016 to 10849
Generates 1 charge of Holy Power
6 second cooldown
16% of Base mana
Rejuvenation
Instanlty heals for 4234 and an additional 4234 every 3 seconds for 12 seconds.
16% Base mana.
Execution Sentence *Level 90 Talent*
Heals the target for (holy spell power*4566/1000+26.72716306*375) over 10 sec.
Swiftmend
Heals a target with Rejuvenation or Regrowth present on them for for 13966.
Also restores (13966*.12) health to three injured allies within 8 yards every 1 second for 7 seconds
8.5% of Base mana
15 second cooldown
Word of Glory
Heals for 4106 to 4574 per Holy Power consumed
Can consume up to three Holy Power
1.5 second cooldown

Paladin spells cost much more for the casted healing spells, but druids would also be putting HoTs up on a single target. It also seems to me that the raw numbers for each of the casted heals seems a bit odd. I will assume that this is due to Holy Insight and how the spells scale with spell power.
It doesn’t surprise me to see that Paladins have more options for single target healing. Some of their talented heals also seem very interesting. Execution Sentence seems like it will work out about the same as Lifebloom does now.  Having a long term HoT only seems like it can be interesting to work with on certain encounters.
Looking at the druid numbers, they will have the same single target healing spells in MoP that they currently do. The only real changes I see are that Nourish has had a bit of it’s HoT bonus added back in and that Efflorescence has been baked into Swiftmend.

Multiple Target Healing Spells

Paladin Druid
Holy Radiance
Heals a friendly target 3776 to 4614
All allies within 10 yards healed for 50% of that amount. Amount decreases for every target over
6
Generates one charge of Holy Power
40% of Base Mana
Swiftmend
Heals a target with Rejuvenation or Regrowth present on them for for 13966.
Also restores (13966*.12) health to three injured allies within 8 yards every 1 second for 7 seconds
8.5% of Base mana
15 second cooldown
Light of Dawn
Heals up to 6 targets for 2027 to 2257 for every Holy Power consumed.
Can consume up to three Holy Power
Wild Growth
Heals up to 5 allies for 6930 over 7 seconds
22.9% of base mana
8 second cooldown
Holy Prism *Level 90 Talent*
If an enemy is the prism, they take 11172 to 13654 Holy damage and radiate 8374 to 10234healing to 5 nearby allies within 15 yards.
6% of Base mana
20 second cooldown
Wild Mushroom: Bloom
Heals all allies within 12 yards for 6074 to 7348.
10.3% of Base mana per Wild Mushroom
10 second cooldown
Light’s Hammer *Level 90 Talent*
Hurl a Light-infused hammer into the ground, where it will blast a 10 yard area with Arcing Light for (16 sec.5) sec.
Deals 2513 to 3071 Holy damage to enemies within the area and 2513 to 3071 healing to allies within the area every 2 sec.
1 minute cooldown

I included Swiftmend here as well because of Efflorescence being combined with it.
Holy Radiance now has no HoT component and has all of it’s healing done by the initial heal. It no also procs Daybreak which makes your next Holy Shock have an AoE component though. There is some very nice synergy between those two spells for AoE, and Light of Dawn can easily be added in as a Holy Power dump.
Holy Prism and Light’s Hammer both seem like very interesting abilities. On fights where a large group of the raid will be near a boss/add, Holy Prism should be a very powerful option. Light’s Hammer provides more choice in placement though. Regardless of which one is used, it seems that these spells are geared towards giving paladins some prolonged AoE healing where the other AoE spells are geared much more towards burst healing.
The only change for druids is the Bloom spell for Wild Mushrooms. It gives druids a nice burst AoE heal that they had been missing before. It seems like the majority of druid AoE healing will still rely on having HoTs spread out and using Swiftmend on cooldown though.

Throughput Cooldowns

 Paladin  Druid
Avenging Wrath
Increases all damage and healing caused by 20% for 20 seconds.
3 minute cooldown
Tranquility
Heals 5 nearby lowest health party or raid targets within 40 yards with Tranquility every 2 sec for 8 sec. Tranquility heals for 3882 plus an additional343 every 2 sec over 8 sec. Stacks up to 3 times. The Druid must channel to maintain the spell.
3 minute cooldown
Guardian of Ancient Kings
GoaK will heal the target of your next 5 single target heals, and nearby allies for 10% of the amount healed. Every time the Guardian heals it increases your haste by 10%.
5 minute cooldown
Nature’s Swiftness *Level 30 Talent*
When activated, your next Nature spell with a base casting time less than 10 sec. becomes an instant cast spell.  If that spell is a healing spell, the amount healed will be increased by 50%.
1 minute cooldown
Lay on Hands
Heals a friendly target for an amount equal to your maximum health.
10 minute cooldown
Incarnation *Level 60 Talent*
Shapeshift into the tree of life, increasing healing done by 15% and increasing your armor by 120%. In addition, some of your spells are temporarly enhanced while shapeshifted.
3 minute cooldown
Holy Avenger *Level 75 Talent*
Abilities that generate Holy Power will generate 3 Holy Power for the next 15 seconds.
2 minute cooldown
Force of Nature *Level 60 Talent*
Summons three treants to assist in the druids combat role for 15 seconds.
1 minute cooldown
Nature’s Vigil *Level 90 Talent*
Increases all damage and healing done by 20% for 30 seconds.
3 minute cooldown

It seems that druids have much more option when it comes to throughput cooldowns. Excluding talents, do have more available to them, but druids are able to change things more for what suits their situation.

For Paladins, Avenging Wrath has stayed the same in that it provides a straight increases to healing done. Lay on Hands has also stayed the same and keeps the place of an emergency single target heal.
Guardian of Ancient Kings has had a nice bonus added to it in the form of stacking haste for every heal that the Guardian casts. On top of this, Paladins have access to a new cooldown: Holy Avenger. This spell works the same way that a Retribution Paladin’s current Zealotry works and allows the paladin to put out very strong healing through the use of either Word of Glory or Light of Dawn. Paladins also have the option of altering Avenging Wrath through another Level 75 talent so that it removes the cooldown of Holy Shock. This change would work very well during periods of high movement where healing is still required. Regardless of the situation, it seems that Paladins have quite a few divers tools to work through most situations.

Druids have their main throughput spell, Tranquility, without any changes. Through talents they have also gained access to four other throughput spells. Incarnation and Nature’s Swiftness are simply the old Tree of Life and Nature’s Swiftness made into talents. There is also the addition of Force of Nature and Nature’s Vigil to the druid’s tools.
It seems to me that as far as the level 60 talents go, Force of Nature will be better suited to situations where there are multiple rough patches in a fight and you need a small cooldown more often. In the same manner I think Incarnation will end up being a much stronger cooldown that is more suited to fights with a few very healing intensive portions.
Nature’s vigil seems to be a straight throughput cooldown similar to Avenging Wrath.

Damage Mitigation Spells

 

 Paladin  Druid
Hand of Sacrifice
Places a Hand on a party or raid member, transferring 30% damage taken to the Paladin.  Lasts 12 sec or until the Paladin has transferred 100% of their maximum health.  Players may only have one Hand on them per Paladin at any one time.
3 minute cooldown
Ironbark
The target’s skin becomes as tough as Ironwood, reducing all damage taken by 20%.  Lasts 12 sec.
2 minute cooldown
Devotion Aura
Inspire all party and raid members within 40 yards, granting them immunity to Silence and Interrupt effects and reducing all magic damage taken by 20%. Lasts 6 sec.
3 minute cooldown
Cenarion Ward *Level 30 Talent*
Protects a friendly target, causing any damage taken to heal the target for 6174 every 2 sec for 6 sec.  Gaining the healing effect consumes the Cenarion Ward.  Useable in all shapeshift forms.  Lasts 30 sec.
30 second cooldown
Sacred Shield *Level 45 Talent*
Protects the target with a shield of Holy Light for 30 sec, which increases the critical chance of your Flash of Light on the target by 30%. The shield also absorbs 5879+0.52*holy spell power damage when the target takes damage, but no more than once every 6 sec.
Can only be active on one target at a time

With this expansion, druids have finally been given a tank cooldown. It has less of a decrease of damage than Hand of Sacrifice, but also a shorter cooldown so they should work out to be about even.
Where paladins pull ahead is with a raid damage mitigation. Even if it is only magic damage, druids don’t have a real raid cooldown other than Tranquility.
I also included here Sacred Shield and Cenarion Ward although they aren’t really mitigation cooldowns. They both serve the purpose of extra healing/absorption on a single target that work automatically.

Mana Regeneration

 Paladin  Druid
Divine Plea
You gain 12% of your total mana over 9 sec, but the amount healed by your healing spells is reduced by 50%
2 minute cooldown
Innervate
Causes the target to regenerate 10% of the caster’s maximum mana over 10 sec.  If cast on self, the caster will regenerate an additional 10% of maximum mana over 10 sec.
3 minute cooldown

Divine Plea and Innervate both have a their pros and cons as for how they work. Divine Plea has a shorter cooldown but it also restores less mana. It also includes the added hindrance of 50% less healing over the duration, but it can be glyphed to change that to a 5 second cast. This spell is definitely provides more freedom.
Innervate on the other hand has the ability to be give to allies and provides slightly more mana per minute of cooldown if used on oneself.

Altogether I think that both classes have very unique feels to them. I’ve enjoyed the healing style that druids have to offer and absolutely loved the time I spent playing it, but I’m excited to really jump into raiding on my paladin. I’ll continue playing on the beta and writing up my opinions on the class from here.