Monday, July 21, 2008

Holy Hell in practice

A few posts back I explained the changes I was going to make for my paladin which resulted in the following build

which I dubbed holy hell but is little more than some form of holy/prot hybrid (what's in a name).

Over the weekend I had extensive time to try it all out and see what it does.

With no healing gear on my pally I decided to go the expensive route and pick up a selection of +healing greens with which I was able to boost my +healing to a meager +550 healing (and some 250+ spell damage).
You'd be right if you pointed out the existence of honor based PVP gear, but I am fairly sure I'll be able to upgrade into merciless at a decent rate making the expenditure of time and money to get the full honor PVP set together greater than it's value (my paladin never bothered to instance much).

I also picked up the grid addon to help deal with the large amount of players at various stages of health and ranges. I wasn't able to fully configure grid right off the bat simply because I had no idea what to expect or what would be needed so I ran it with it's default settings.

It is well worth noting at this point that I had no previous experience as a healer so it took me a while to become holier than thou and stand in the back rather than wading into the thick of it right off the bat.

There were 2 basic strategies the build would allow me to follow:
1. Dive into combat sealing like crazy and spot healing myself
2. Stand in the back and heal my little heart out

Diving into combat straight away quickly reminded me about all the defense rating I had sacrificed and the fact that I had practically nil resilience didn't help to alleviate things. Still, this was to be expected and something that will solve itself in time and with gear. The following things were interesting to observe:

1. I am truly dissapointed with redoubt. While the proc rate was lackluster on my protection build it was clearly overshadowed by the heavy use of holy shield. In a build without holy shield you are all of a sudden faced with no block rate to start out with meaning that by the time redoubt actually bothers to proc you're half-dead. On top of that the mitigation is quickly lost because it doesn't take long for you to burn through your block charges.
2. SoR is impressively efficient. Even with my pathetic green +healing mace judging sor and resealing it does a good chunk of damage and benediction seems to help quite a bit in keeping the cost down. The only real problem is the same as I had with my protection build and that is actually keeping in range of your targets and for this I am definitely feeling the loss of pursuit of justice. I would've considered judging crusader if I had been able to stick to my targets more efficiently and maybe a boar speed enchant will help here.
3. I am not feeling Blessing of kings atm. Quite possibly because my stats are too low (greens will do that to you) but a 10% flat increase acros the board is nothing when you're out of mana. I resorted to starting most fights out with kings and then switching to wisdom once my mana hit the halfway mark.
4. Holy shock is evil. Being able to slap someone across the face with a 2k crit is a wonderful thing, add to that a nice SoR judging followed up you're looking at almost 3k damage in less than a second. The only disadvantage is that your target better be dead afterwards because they'll be very, very angry.
5. Self-healing in melee combat isn't a real winner. Even with concentration aura up you simply don't get the space to cast a full blown holy light. The only workaround I've found is to drop an engineering bomb / hammer or justice and use the stun period to heal myself to full health. If you have the space hitting yourself with a rank 1 holy light will give you .5secs off the next holy light which does help a little.

From the healer side of things I was wading into unknown territory. Still with grid in tow I could observe the following:

1. Despite my pathetic +healing I could holy light for 2k with crits going into the 4k HP range. My flash of light was able to pull about 1k hp heals (usually a bit less) which impressed me quite a bit.
2. That 1 point in purifying power really shines. There's plenty of things to cleanse in PVP and a good holy shock crit together with a sor judgement and an exorcism crit can spell doom for many a felhunter (incidentally the most common pet to have on me).
3. Crit clearly is king when it comes to healing. The more crit you have, the more refunds you get through illumination.
4. I am lacking some form of ranged attack and once again I am back to tossing engineering bombs. I am considering a death-ray or a rocket launcher or something along those lines so I can do something to stop those warriors and druids from constantly charging me. I think engineering will have the answer to this problem.

The only real downside I could detect for healing is whenever you heal you are essentially not using those 7 points in ret and another 8 in protection until someone comes and tries to stop you from healing.

On a side note: At this point I wouldn't even dream of tanking anything until I at the very least have 5-6 pieces worth of decent epics so it's hard to evaluate things like improved righteous fury.

Re-evaluating my talent choice: Redoubt in the protection tree is really bothering me at this point. Whilst I love precision and guardians favor I am wondering if it's worth 5 points in redoubt to get these two. Blessing of protection and blessing of freedom are good stuff in pvp but you don't lose the abilities by speccing out of guardians favor you just cut into their cooldown / duration.

Kings isn't going to make a huge difference whilst soloing, you can get it from someone else in PVP which leaves me looking at groups where you usually go with salv, might and wisdom anyway. Perhaps the days of blessing of kings are numbered for me; at least for now.

Finally while improved righteous fury is a must tanking skill I am starting to wonder if I can't do without. Preliminary testing shows that the threat generation of righteous fury with talents is huge, without a lot less. Toss in a few healing crits however (especially holy shock crits seem to do nicely for that) generates quite a bit of threat which might be enough to do some tanking in lower level instances.

So if the build doesn't pick up with gear I am considering taking the 13 points from prot (with the biggest loss being precision) and dropping them into ret and maybe a few points in holy.

The downside of that would be a forced choice between the 41 point holy talent divine illumination and the 21 point skill of sanctity aura. Cheaper mana cost across the board (but on a cooldown) or more damage across the board with the annoyance of more aura switching.

I'll have to hit the books on that one and figure out what's best for me. In the meantime my paladin will join my warlock in a slow honor grind towards the merciless set. At least he came out of the weekend with a nice new pair of shiny vindicator boots.

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