In preparation for the updates to our guides for Mists of Pandaria Patch 5.0.4, we are releasing articles such as this one, explaining what has changed for a particular class and spec, and what the new rotation is likely to be.
Keep in mind that this is still a work in progress (both from Blizzard's side and from our own) and that this article assumes you are at least somewhat familiar with the Cataclysm version of the Holy Paladin rotation and playstyle (such as from reading our guide).
We will first list the most important changes to the Holy Paladin Cataclysm abilities, and then we will proceed to explaining the (likely to be) optimal rotation. Keep in mind that we do not document every single change or new ability, only those that impact the rotation.
Finally, we will give you some information about the most useful talents and glyphs you should choose.
- Boundless Conviction is a new passive ability granted to all Paladins. It increases Holy Power capacity to 5 (from 3). Abilities that cost Holy Power can still only consume a maximum of 3 Holy Power, so this change allows you to pool Holy Power and it will alter gameplay somewhat.
- Devotion Aura is a defensive raid cooldown. It is a combination of the old Divine Guardian (which was previously only available to Protection Paladins and has been removed from the game) and Aura Mastery abilities. The 20% magic damage reduction will probably be its most useful feature.
- Tier 3 talents offer you a choice between Sacred Shield and Eternal Flame (and Selfless Healer, but this is a passive talent). We discuss these talents in greater depth in the Talents section.
- Tier 5 talents offer you a choice between Holy Avenger and two passive talents, Sanctified Wrath and Divine Purpose. We discuss these talents in greater depth in the Talents section.
- Tier 6 talents offer you a choice between Holy Prism, Light's Hammer, and Execution Sentence. We discuss these talents in greater depth in the Talents section.
Changes to Existing Mechanics
- Daybreak has been redesigned. Following a Holy Radiance cast, the next Holy Shock will also heal all players within 10 yards of the target, for the same amount as the original heal, divided among them.
- The Beacon of Light target will now also be healed for 15% of the amount healed by Holy Radiance and Light of Dawn.
- Guardian of Ancient Kings has been redesigned. It now only heals the target of your heal for 10% of the amount healed. It heals nearby targets for 10% of the amount healed, as well. Moreover, for each heal you make while the Guardian is active (5 heals maximum), you gain a stacking buff that increases your haste by 10% per stack.
- Seal of Insight now also causes you to receive a charge of Holy Power each time you take damage or you are stunned, feared or immobilized. This effect has a 20 second internal cooldown. Moreover, Seal of Insight now increases your casting speed by 10%.
- Auras have been removed.
- Aura Mastery has been removed.
Rotation and Spell UsageSince healers do not have a rotation per se, it is hard to briefly list the rotation of Holy Paladins. The detailed explanations that we provide in our Cataclysm guide are beyond the scope of this article. Instead, we will just mention a few things that are interesting or relevant.
- The overall "rotation", or spell usage, does not change much from Cataclysm. None of the old healing spells have been removed or even changed.
- Being in melee range remains ideal, both for regenerating mana from Seal of Insight and for casting Crusader Strike to generate Holy Power.
- Holy Shock becomes usable in AoE healing situations, thanks to its new interaction with Daybreak and Holy Radiance, as we mention above.
- Holy Power can now be pooled, allowing you to use two Word of Glories or Light of Dawns in a row (you will need to generate 1 Holy Power in between the two casts, but this is just one global cooldown). The new pooling system will also make Holy Power easier to manage, ensuring that you do not end up wasting charges accidentally.
- Guardian of Ancient Kings' severely diminished single target healing potency means new ways to make use of this cooldown will have to be found. It still remains possible to use Guardian of Ancient Kings to spam Divine Light on a target, the haste buff allowing you to cast a large number of Divine Lights.
TalentsTier 1 talents offer a choice between 3 means of increasing your movement speed:
- Speed of Light, an active movement speed boost that lasts for 8 seconds;
- Long Arm of the Law, a passive ability that increases your movement speed by 45% for 3 seconds each time you judge;
- Pursuit of Justice, a passive talent that increases your movement speed by 15% at all times and grants you an additional 5% for each charge of Holy Power you currently have (up to a maximum of 3).
Tier 2 talents offer a choice between 3 utility spells:
- Fist of Justice, a 6 second stun on a 30 second cooldown. This is an improved version of Hammer of Justice (an ability granted to you by default), the improvement being the increased range at which it can be cast and the lower cooldown.
- Repentance, a 1 minute long form of crowd-control that is broken by damage. In Cataclysm, this ability was only available to Retribution Paladins.
- Burden of Guilt, a passive talent that slows the target of your Judgment by 50% for 12 seconds.
Tier 3 talents offer a choice between 3 healing spells: Sacred Shield provides an absorption shield that lasts for 30 seconds and absorbs a small amount of damage every 6 seconds. Sacred Shield can only be active on one target at once. The absorption amount scales with your gear.
Eternal Flame is a HoT that can be kept at 100% uptime. It costs Holy Power to use, and this ability replaces Word of Glory.
Selfless Healer grants you a stacking buff, each time you use Judgment, which reduces the mana cost of your next Flash of Light by 35% and increases its amount of healing by 35%. This effect stacks up to 3 times.
It is hard to say which of these abilities will be better, but the choice looks like it will come down to Sacred Shield or Eternal Flame, depending on the encounter and your role.
Tier 4 talents offer a choice between 3 talents that can have an impact on your gameplay:
- Hand of Purity is an active ability with a 30 second cooldown that reduces the damage the target takes from DoTs by 70% for 6 seconds. From the description, it sounds like this ability is quite strong. It remains to be seen, however, how many boss abilities are affected by this.
- Unbreakable Spirit is a passive talent that reduces the remaining cooldown of Divine Shield, Divine Protection, and Lay on Hands by 1% for each charge of Holy Power you use, up to a maximum of 50% of the cooldown's duration. The ability seems most useful in reducing the cooldown of Lay on Hands, for Holy Paladins.
- Clemency is a passive talent that essentially grants your Hand spells two charges. This allows you to use them twice before the cooldown is triggered. This will most likely be of use, for Holy Paladins, in conjunction with Hand of Sacrifice.
Tier 5 talents offer a choice between 3 spells that can improve your healing performance:
Sanctified Wrath reduces the cooldown of Holy Shock by 50% (although this does not currently seem to work on the Beta).
Divine Purpose gives you a chance, each time you use an ability that costs Holy Power, to have your next Holy Power-costing ability (cast within 8 seconds) cost no Holy Power and be cast as though you had 3 Holy Power.
We believe that Holy Avenger will be the best choice, due to the control it offers (allowing you to do great burst healing in times of need), but the other two talents could turn out to be more useful in some encounters (especially those where you do not need any burst healing).
Tier 6 talents offer a choice between 3 healing spells:
GlyphsThere are several Major Glyphs that can, in certain situations, be useful (Minor Glyphs are purely cosmetic):
- Glyph of Beacon of Light removes the global cooldown of Beacon of Light.
- Glyph of Divine Plea causes Divine Plea to restore 12% of your mana instantly, without any penalty to your healing. However, the spell now has a 5 second cast time. We believe that this glyph will prove useful in a large number of encounters.
- Glyph of Divinity increases the cooldown of Lay on Hands by 2 minutes, but causes it to return 10% of your maximum mana when used. If you know for sure that you will only be able to use Lay on Hands once per fight, then this glyph is probably entirely beneficial.
- Glyph of Illumination causes your Holy Shock critical hits to regenerate 1% of your maximum mana. The downside is that this talent reduces your mana regeneration from Spirit by 10%. Whether or not this glyph will be beneficial remains to be seen, but it probably depends on your critical strike chance with Holy Shock and your usage with the spell.
- Glyph of Light of Dawn causes Light of Dawn to heal 4 targets (instead of 6), but increases its healing by 25%. This glyph seems very useful for 10-man raiders, but may be useful in other situations as well.