Friday, July 18, 2008

41/13/7 Holy Hell in concept

Inspired by the lacking damage of my protection paladin, some chats in-game and a few interesting reader comments I have decided to re-evaluate the position of my current protection paladin.

Again, and I can't state this enough, protection is great stuff. Superb tanking ability coupled with an easy time of AoE farming physical mobs makes a protection spec extremely fun to play and suprisingly fast to level (once you have holy shield + reckoning at least).

What it doesn't do is damage. Living off of reactive damage works wonders against brain-dead NPCs (and incidentally against not so clever rogues too) but anyone with the capacity to evaluate an opponent will simply take 2 steps back and ignore you alltogether leaving you with little to do other than /taunt /rude /spit to get them back to hitting your shield.

Since prot is very demanding with talent points without adding damage we are stuck looking at a holy build that makes an attempt at actually doing a little bit of damage consistently and a nice chunk of burst damage to help kill something at low health without tossing all our survivability overboard.

The general idea with this build is to cater to players that don't have infinite playtime and as a result have to be able to do halfway decently in groups, solo as well as PVP without worrying too much about living the life in sunwell or having to respec on a continual basis.

Since there will be 41 points in holy this is essentially a healer build which means your primary role should be healing but you should not have to be afraid to go in swinging with this one.

Conceptually what I have so far is the following:

The talent distribution looks a bit messy so lets see what the corner stones are for damage and survivability starting with damage:

Improved seal of righteousness is where most of our damage will come from. Whacking things with SoR up and judging it regularly will be our default damage output and to bring some utility to this bread and butter attack we take benediction and improved judgement from retribution. This not only lowers the mana cost of our constant judging and re-sealing but also to increase the amount of times we can actually judge SoR on a target. Precision from prot is taken to make sure we actually hit when we swing.

Ideally we'd want sanctity aura from retribution as well picking up crusade on the way but this would take a lot of talent points to achieve and would come at the cost of either some holy power or at the loss of blessing of kings one of the most requested and useful buffs currently available to pallies.

I opted to go with some protection talents instead but heading for sanctity aura + crusade in ret could be an equally interesting approach.

Back on the damage topic we see that the holy tree offers up holy shock (15 sec cooldown) with an interesting combo in divine favor that would make the next holy shock spell crit. Setting those two up in a single macro would allow for an almost guaranteed holy schock crit every 2 minutes.

Cleverly judging your improved SoR right after your holy shock crit combo should help in providing a decent amount of burst damage.

With illumination being a pre-requisite for both divine favor and holy shock and the potential to get some mana back from our costly spells when they crit means that crit becomes a very interesting thing to add to our talents which brings into play 5/5 holy power.

To maximize our damage further we go with holy guidance and pray that we can stack enough int for it to have some decent impact on our damage output which incidentally explains the choice of 5/5 divine intellect over divine strength (which does little to nothing for us).

From the survivability side of things we're highly dependand on being able to keep casting our heals when we're being slapped around bringing us to 5/5 spiritual focus. I would've preferred improved concentration from protection but this would take too many points out of holy draining points from holy guidance a very solid damage talent.
Healing light, light's grace and divine illumination will ensure that our heals hit hard, hit fast enough and are cheap enough to keep us up and running even when under pressure of going OOM or being otherwise attacked.

Blessing of kings is what we're heading for in protection to increase both our damage and survivability. 10% extra in all stats means more stamina to survive with, more int to hurt things with and the rest of the stat increases albeit unnecessary are gravy.

In order to up our survivability a bit more we take guardians favor to increase the rate we can bubble up against physical damage. The extension to blessing of freedom by 4 seconds is highly situational but very practical when it comes to helping out flag-runners in the battlegrounds or to avoid being snared in encounters where this is common.

Redoubt is favored over improved devotion aura. The extra block can be extremely convenient when stuck tanking for a group without a tank and improved devotion aura doesn't add significant amounts of mitigation even when compared to the somewhat lackluster proccing of redoubt.

To finish up our tanking capacity we drop 2 points in improved righteous fury. The damage reduction is convenient but primarily the skill allows you to succesfully tank / off-tank lower level instances whilst preventing DPS from taking aggro from you all the time. The usage of righteous fury is obviously to the discretion of the user and it should probably be turned off when you're just healing.

As you may have noticed by now there's two points in the Holy tree that are just kind of floating around with no specific purpose. I arbitrarily put one point in Sanctified light. The extra crit you'd get would be significantly more interesting if it applied to all holy spells or at the very least both Holy light and flash of light rather than just holy light. It does make you a better healer so you could argue to have both loose points in holy in there.

Instead I opted for the curious choice of purifying power. Cleansing and constant consecration costs quite a bit of mana. In groups where a lot of cleansing is needed cleansing alone can put you on the unhappy side of the mana bar.
The truth behind purifying power however is that it provides an amazing 10% extra crit chance for exorcism and holy wrath which is huge for a single point.
This gives you a significant edge when fighting of the undead and demons and moreover makes for an excellent tool to put a warlock pet out of it's misery.

So there we have it. A build that has all the key traits of a healer build making it a very suitable main/off healer but also grabs enough from protection and retribution to provide a modicum of tanking ability as well as helping out with the damage generation.

Healing stats are obviously favored but a healthy dose of resilience and stamina will help compensate for the underdeveloped tanking abilities. Conveniently all of these stats are easily obtained through battle ground gear.

Not as much of a hybrid build as I had expected to end up with (very much a holy build in fact) but in my opinion still a good attempt to bring back the mental image of a paladin that a lot of people had when they started playing wow:

Charge in, hammer in hand, shield in front and put the fear of holy hell into the hearts of the enemy.

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