My Paladin Changes page and the Holy Paladin spreadsheet linked therein are now fully updated for 5.3. Swing by there if you have any questions!
Patch 5.3 has brought some significant changes to the overall healing landscape. With some healers’ raid cooldowns becoming more potent in 25-player content, and some rebalancing done to other classes (notably Druid and Discipline Priest), you may find your healing meters looking a little more volatile than you’re used to. And Holy Paladins have not escaped the “nerf hammer”! So here’s a summary of what has changed for you in 5.3.
I’ll get the biggest change out of the way first: Holy Paladin Mastery base and scaling have been reduced by 20%; i.e., a naked level 90 Holy Paladin will have 10% base Mastery rather than 12%, and it will now take 480 Mastery Rating to achieve a 1% increase in Illuminated Healing. This works out to a little less than a 20% nerf to your Illuminated Healing throughput (because not all of your IH shields will be used up entirely in an encounter, although certainly most will). Since I believe most raiding Paladins are getting about 30-40% of their healing from their Mastery, this is a little less than a 6-8% reduction in your overall throughput.
This devalues Mastery a little bit, but I cannot imagine that it will actually shift your gearing away from it. Remember that absorption effects are more valuable than reactive healing effects. It’s nearly impossible to valuate this — any actuaries in the audience want to give it a go? (Hey, that’s not a bad idea! Hmm…) — but damage prevention is extremely powerful. Furthermore, your Illuminated Healing shields are usually small, meaning they will likely be the first absorption effects to be consumed when that player takes damage, and other players’ absorption effects may go partially or fully unused since your shields got in there first. And of course, Eternal Flame can keep Illuminated Healing rolling on its target for 45 seconds (30-second HoT duration + 15 second shield duration), so the shield is very likely to be there when it is needed. Given all these factors, as well as the fact that your shields are generated passively whenever you heal, whether it’s overhealing or effective healing, I hope you can see why your Mastery is still very strong.
Especially in a world with the Courageous Primal Diamond, I don’t see much reason to shift away from Mastery. I’ll be thinking about this a little bit more in a bit when I revisit Glyph of Illumination and calculate how low your Spirit can go if you have the legendary meta gem, but that’s another post for another day. 🙂
The next-largest issue? The Holy Paladin Tier 14 4-piece bonus has been nerfed. It now only provides a 1-second CD reduction on Holy Shock, instead of a 2-second CD reduction. At this point, it is probably best to abandon your Tier 14 – yes, even Heroic Tier 14 – for the pure stats of Throne of Thunder gear.
The third change is more general, but it does apply to spells like Light of Dawn (hah) and Holy Prism. Smart heal targeting in general has been vastly improved in the new patch. Smart heals will now follow more consistent rules when choosing their targets, and will weigh players more heavily than pets. This was a much-needed change, and I am excited to see it in action!
The final healing-specific change to Holy Paladins is in Daybreak’s behaviour. Daybreak now is a stacking effect, with each stack causing your next Holy Shock to deal 75% of its healing spread across all allies within 10 yards of the Holy Shock target, up to 2 stacks/150%. It will now also avoid healing the Holy Shock target, meaning that if you cast Daybreak-Holy Shock on someone standing all by themselves, you will see no benefit from the ability.
Now, Daybreak is not a terribly impressive portion of the Holy Paladin healing breakdown, but it’s essentially “free” healing in the sense that you were going to cast a Holy Shock on cooldown anyway. (You of course had to cast a Holy Radiance or two to generate the Daybreak, so Daybreak is really sort of “payback” for investing in Holy Radiance. However, Holy Radiance also generates a Holy Power, and that’s why you’re casting it – not for some fiddly Daybreak proc – so I still maintain that Daybreak is “free” healing.) So this “nerf” to it is really not a huge deal.
What this change does do is make your rotation a little more fluid between Holy Shocks. With the T14 4-pc nerf, if you switch away from that gear, your Holy Shock is going back to a 6-second cooldown, and you may find yourself casting Holy Radiance more than once between Holy Shocks (e.g. with Lucidity procs or just if you are starved for Holy Power). These Daybreak charges will stack so that you do not lose any of this “free” healing thanks to the extended Holy Shock cooldown. That’s really all it’s about – a nerf to the ability overall, but perhaps a boon for OCD people like me who hate wasting procs. 🙂
Miscellaneous Paladin changes that don’t really require much discussion:
- Glyph of the Battle Healer has been reduced to heal for 20% of damage dealt, rather than 30%. This is really a nerf to Protection Paladin raid utility, and I’m not certain it is enough of a nerf, but it doesn’t much concern healers other than that you’ll have a little less splash healing to compete with.
- The mana cost of our Blessings has been reduced, so it is cheaper to re-buff after battle-ressing players mid-encounter.
- Devotion Aura will clear silence effects when used. (Unclear whether this will work on abilities like Dark Animus’ Interrupting Jolt, since the silence protection does not.)
- Divine Protection can now be used while stunned.