Regional FlagWelcome to 4.0.1, paladins (guide)Source
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#0 - 2010/10/11 05:54:43 PM
Update 1: 12/10/10, added Aura and Blessing changes - cheers for reminding me everyone

They've announced the downtime on the US side, so I'd assume we're either this week or next week. As it is, it makes sense for someone to make a culmulative post which explains what has changed, what has not changed, and what people should expect from this brief period prior to the release of Cataclysm in two months.

This post assumes you know virtually nothing about the class, and so is intended for new players, returning players who perhaps have not kept up to date, or players that really do not know what the hell has just happened oh sweet fortune help me.

Why do this?

MMO Champion and other such resources are superb for hitting yourself with vast quantities are largely unverified information that has either been data mined or collected by the community. However, it both lacks organization (superb for talent trees, terrible for everything else) and frankly, is written by people who don't really understand what's going on. A key example is that the Cata talent Divine Purpose has changed to 20% total chance to proc FOUR TIMES despite never doing so once.

So it's important that communities pull real information together. Note – this deals purely with 4.0.1 and will contain no speculation on what Cataclysm itself will look like. There's two months until launch, so I'm going to deal with what is there now, rather than what might be there in two months. I will update this when Cata hits with the pertinent information.

What you will find here

    - What's happened to paladins in Cataclysm
    - What is Holy Power?
    - Stat changes including a brief discussion of what effects what for what spec
    - How our talent trees have changed and what has happened to them
    - What else has changed and why?
    - PvP mechanics changes and how they effect us

PvE I will leave mostly to Elitist Jerks and other, more PvE orientated paladins. It's not my interest, and the details there are mostly rotational and mechanical, and not of any interest to the layman.

What the hell just happened?

Okay, so for the fourth time running, Blizzard decided we weren't strong/complicated/irritating enough, delete as appropriate. So they decided to revamp us again.

Just as an aside, there is some evidence to suggest that the revamp began on the Retribution tree (ala Eclipse for balance druids) using the previous Vengeance mechanic as a basis (stacking buff), but when they felt it was a pretty good all round system, they just expanded it out to the other trees.

Several big changes have come to paladins.

The first is an introduction of a new resource bar called Holy Power. Holy Power is best described as personal, stacking combo points. A paladin uses abilities, and gains a non-visible buff called Holy Power, which stacks up to three times, represented by a bar on the unit frames. This fundamentally changes how Retribution and Protection paladins play, and provides some further tactical play to the Holy paladin. More on this later.

The second major change effects Holy. Blizzard have completely revamped the Holy paladin healing system. As many are aware, on live 3.3.5 paladins have two main heals: Holy Light and Flash of Light. Holy Light is a big throughput mana burning heal, Flash of Light casts relatively little mana and heals relatively little, but relies on its spell power coefficient to bump its healing per second up. Paladins tend to specialize in one or the other. They also have Holy Shock, an instant heal on a cooldown.

In 4.0.1, this model is removed completely. Paladins now have an expanded array of heals designed to all be used in a variety of situations. These are summarized best by the following:

    Holy Light has become a slow equivilent of the live Flash of Light. It takes a long time to cast, heals relatively little, but costs a small amount of mana.
    Flash of Light is now almost directly analagous to Flash Heal for priests.
    Divine Light takes on a Greater Heal role,
    Holy Radiance allows a paladin to heal their group with a healing over time aura.
    Light of Dawn (31 Holy talent) provides a cone heal ability on a cooldown, allowing paladins to heal groups.
    Word of Glory, a Holy Power using instant direct heal which I will cover in more detail later.

Finally, paladin abilities have almost been completely redesigned and redistributed. Exorcism and Holy Wrath for instance have completely different roles and mechanics from their WoTLK equivilents. Damage weightings have changed for both Prot and Ret, healing strengths have changed for Holy. There are very few abilities in 4.0.1 that resemble their live equivilents, from defensive abilities through to offensive abilities.

Okay, tell me about Holy Power

As I mentioned previously, Holy Power (HP) is a stacking non-visible, non-dispellable buff which is represented in game only by the Holy Power meter just below your unit frames. Most custom UI frames will support this by the release of 4.0.1 – they'd be stupid not to. The minimum base Holy Power you have is 0, and the maximum is 3. There is also a provision for 4 Holy Power incase you accidentally or randomly gather one while you have 3 Holy Power, but this provision is time limited and may not be implemented yet.

Holy Power is best described as personal combo points. Why combo points and not runes or rage? First, any ability that requires Holy Power is useable with any level of Holy Power, from 1 to 3. Runes and rage require a certain base level to use an ability, and very few abilities allow you to spend more of it to increase the power of an ability. Holy Power works like that by default. A 3HP inflicts more damage, lasts longer, or does more healing than a 1HP ability, often by more than a factor of 3.

Why personal combo points? The points persist from target to target. It is a buff generated on the paladin, not a debuff generated on the target. This means that you can switch from target to target, and use your abilities as you see fit. There is a decay time involved in them, but it's not that severe and they persist in combat.

How does it work?

You generate Holy Power through use of active abilities that produce Holy Power. An example would be Crusader Strike come Cataclysm:

    120% Weapon Damage, 4.5s cooldown, generates 1 Holy Power

If you follow the link above, you can see the Holy Power gain as Give Power (9), value 1. Similar abilities exist for all specs, with Protection sharing Crusader Strike as a HP gainer, and Holy also getting Holy Shock.

When you have 1 Holy Power, abilities that consume it can be used. An example would be Templar's Verdict, a Retribution damage strike.

    An instant weapon attack that causes a percentage of weapon damage.  Consumes all charges of Holy Power to increase damage dealt:

    1 Holy Power: 30% Weapon Damage
    2 Holy Power: 90% Weapon Damage
    3 Holy Power: 225% Weapon Damage

When you use the ability with 3HP, it does 225% weapon damage. At 1HP, it does 30%. As you can see, it is disadvantageous to use most Holy Power abilities at 1HP, with the possible exception of Inquisition in certain situations, and Word of Glory. I'll explain this particular little distinction later.

A couple of rules to Holy Power:

    - It does not require mana, cannot be sacrificed to gain mana, and is otherwise independant of mana. The only mana involved in HP generation is that spent on abilities. All currently implemented HP abilities do not require mana. It can be considered for all intents and purposes a completely seperate resource bar.

    - As previously mentioned, there is nothing short of keeping you out of combat that an opponent can do to stop you from using Holy Power in some form or another.

    - All HP abilities are mutually exclusive unless you have talented them otherwise. Use of a HP ability consumes all stored HP. There is one exception to this, the talent "Eternal Glory" which allows you to keep all your HP at random after using Word of Glory, but that is an isolated talent.

    - Generation of HP can come from multiple sources for all specs, and HP generation talents are splattered all over the trees. The main source of HP generation is active abilities, however.

The idea behind Holy Power is that there is a choice between powerful abilities. Holy Power is best demonstrated in the difference between Word of Glory, which is a fairly powerful single target heal reliant on HP, and Templar's Verdict, a single target melee strike. The damage/healing difference between these two abilities varies depending on situation, meaning that they will both get use with Retribution paladins depending on your talent choices and also your tactical situation.

There are a small number of situations where it is advantageous to use 1HP abilities. One might be Inquisition into Exorcism, to finish someone off at range with a huge Exorcism/Hammer of Wrath combo for Ret. Another would be Word of Glory, which combined with Protector of the Innocent can be used to heal a huge amount of damage for practically no cost (upwards of 6k healing).

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#57 - 2010/10/26 11:42:15 AM
Added this to the Paladin Guides & Useful Links sticky: