Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Paladin heroic healing

I'm a bit confused. Some time ago I read that in some major raid guilds paladins heal and priests do damage. I never played a paladin beyond level 30, so I have no first-hand experience in pally healing. But I wasn't too worried when last night we formed a group to Blood Furnace heroic, with my warrior as tank and a paladin as healer. The guys had a 50/11/0 healing spec, and was wearing healing gear, so what could go wrong? Well, everything. The harder hitting trash mobs hit me for 3k of damage, while the fast heals of the paladin healed me for 1.2k (1.9k crit), and his slow heals for 3k (5k crit). What gives? My priest in equivalent gear has fast heals for 2k (3k crit) and slow heals for 4.5k (7k crit). Plus the priest has a heal-over-time, plus the instant Prayer of Mending, not to mention minor stuff like Lightwell. Is a priest really healing over 50% better than a healadin? What are the healing paladins among you healing for, and what variety of healing spells do you have?

It was a bit annoying, because my tank kept dying, and we didn't manage to complete the event before the second boss. Now my warrior is certainly not the world's best equipped (12k armor, 12k health, 480 def unbuffed), but that's the kind of gear you get from normal difficulty dungeons. Without heroics I can't get better gear, so I don't know what to do if that gear isn't good enough to tank in heroics. I looked for PvP reward gear, but there isn't anything useful for a tank, except for a shield without defense bonus. Am I just out of luck, or do I just need a priest for heroics?
Paladins have a grand total of three healing spells.

-Flash of light: Very mana efficent, heals for about a quarter I believe of our bigger heal (Holy Light). Has a 1.5 second cast
-Holy Light: Our Bigger heal, not mana efficent to cast the highest ranked Holy Light more than a handful of times, you'll soon be out of mana. Has a 2.5 second cast that utilising a talent from the Holy tree can be lowered by .5 seconds each successive cast, unless I've read wrong and that only means it will drop to 2 seconds and not (theoretically) an instant cast after a while. Sadly, as mentioned before spamming your best rank of Holy Light just isn't mana efficient.
-Holy Shock: Costs a chunk of mana in between that of the two other heals from memory, instant cast, 15 second cool down. Can also be cast as an offensive spell. This is a 41 point talent for the Holy Tree and is being buffed in 2.4, but you won't find yourself using this too much.

That's it really, 2 (3 if you count your 15 second Cooldown Holy Shock) heals, one big, one small, both single target.

As for other spells gained in the tree, I do believe that there's one that reduces mana cost or something when cast on a 2-min cooldown.

I'm only level 41, but I tend to read a lot and I think that most of this is accurate (and no doubt anything not accurate will soon be corrected by those better informed).

-Another fact: Paladins were the only healing-capable class to not gain in any shape or form, a new healing spell in BC.

As for the Pallies low healing though, I can't give any explanations. Paladins are good healers for what they have and are more than capable. Either it was a bad player behind the Paladin... or well, as I said I'm not very experienced, but not being able to heal a heroic certainly isn't in the job description
Oh and the post you linked to regarding Pallies healing and the DPS Priests was in early 2007. 2.3 Heralded some major buffs to the Retribution (DPS) tree of the Paladin and they're pretty viable in a melee dps group during a raid. Not only will they provide an extra aura and set of blessings for all, but they'll give 2% extra dmg to their melee dps group through their Imp. Sancitity Aura and along with fairly decent dps can provide seals such as Imp. Seal of the crusader (judged) to give the raid 3% extra crit, or judge Seal of Wisdom for mana regen, or judge Seal of Light for HP Regen, etc. They're also able to keep the judged seals of other Paladins in the raid who can't melee to keep their own up(ie. Holy Paladins ironically) This is done by simply casting Crusader Strike which is an essential part of a Ret Pally's rotation anyway.

I realise this wasn't really about Ret DPS and the article wasn't a source of any real info or anything but I just figured I'd add it in response to the article regardless.
The guys had a 50/11/0 healing spec, and was wearing healing gear, so what could go wrong?

Perhaps his healing gear didn't give enough +healing, or perhaps the player wasn't familiar with heroics and how hard enemies hit.

One nuisance of end-game WoW is the dramatic difficulty change between normal dungeons and heroic dungeons. There is no gradual path to take, no training grounds. Just sudden immersion into a hard-hitting and unforgiving dungeon. You die a lot as you struggle to gear yourself enough to be able to cope with it. Tanks and healers have it worst, because of how much damage enemies do in heroic dungeons.

If it's any consolation, you got stuck on the spot that most people will get stuck at. The waves of orcs before the second boss in Blood Furnace is probably the hardest encounter of that dungeon.

Sometimes I don't think Blizzard could decide who do design or tune heroics for. Should they be tuned for players who have just recently outgrown regular 5-man dungeons? Or should they be tuned for elite raiders who are looking for a change of pace on non-raiding days? Blizzard seems to have split the difference, which leaves the elite raiders grumbling about how easy heroics are, and the people moving up from normal 5-mans gasping at how brutally hard heroics are.
the second event in heroic BF is one of the hardest healing fights in the game (IMO). I don't know if you have tried it on your priest but if your healer was having trouble, it might just mean that you need an off-healer or more crowd control.
As far as I've understood, Holy paladins are specialized in single-target healing. They don't have the all-around versatility of a Holy priest, but they can spam that Flash of Light essentially forever. This makes them quite valuable as baseline main tank healers. They are sub-optimal at offhealing and raid healing, where druids and shamans do better.

On our latest Mother Shahraz kill, our three healadins healed our main tank more than 90% of the time. Flash of Light hit for around 1.7k (2.6k crit heal at 23% rate), and Holy Light for 3.5k (7.4k crit heal at 33% rate).
And yes, our resident Ret paladin does quite well in the DPS charts. However, he'll do emergency healing if needed and serves as our AoE tank in Hyjal.
Don't Paladins have a higher healing crit rate on average too (due to talents giving +crit as well), and talents that give them special benefits for healing crits?

And then there' mana efficiency to keep in mind as well.
You vastly underestimate the power of the PvP gear for a tanking warrior. You get about 12k armor witout a shield, probably more if you use a prot spec. With the Season 2 gear including the shield you'll be at maybe 18k AC unbuffed, and with plenty enough HP to boot. Good enough to tank Gruul if you happen to lose the real tanks, even with some pure dps gear switched in on some slots.
Mana efficiency and crit chance are certainly good for raid healing and long fights. In heroics I'd prefer more "healing per second" and emergency heal abilities like prayer of mending or the priest bubble.
As a healadin myself I find my strengths in heroics are very different from a holy priest.

When I'm in a "good tank" situation where all mobs are hitting him, as they're supposed to be, I can heal him forever with the quick heal and if it's a high stress situation I can unload the slowish heal with auto crit and the 41 point talent to split the cost of these heals in half so that I don't run out of mana.

When we're in a "bad tank" situation or simply chaos breaks and mobs are loose, I can take a beating for much much longer than a priest as mobs don't interrupt my heals and I mitigate far more damage than clothies.

I've healed all heroics at this point so it can be done. As always each healer has their different strenghts and flaws, as they should, but all are viable as 5-man healers (even for heroics)
1. Paladins specialize in MT healing, due to their high mana effectiveness.
2. Paladins are good for heroics, due to their innate 50% threat reduction for heals, and high armor class.
3. Paladins are NOT good in healing during mobility fights. They don't have a single HoT spell, so they cannot heal while running.
4. Paladins are NOT good when the whole group is taking AoE damage. Someone will eventually die.

Finally, my holy paladin has a long heal of 5k (crit 7.5). I'm rather good geared at the moment, but I can't believe one can have crits less than 6k. There's a chance your groupmate didn't use Blessing of Light, which was a mistake then.
There is no finese to paladin healing. It is raw numbers. You have X healing so your spam FOL will heal for this much therefore you can endure this much damage per second.

There is no tricks, and much less interaction.
I don't want to diss you or your kit, but you can get considerably higher armour than that without going into heroics.

Basically, get the PvP shield. It's the best shield you'll likely ever see, and it'll boost your armour 2k. Also, get a gyro-balanced khorium destroyer if you don't have one already.

My prot warrior has just started doing Heroics - he's wearing one Heroic blue ring and one purple belt which is really meant to be Pallie kit - and he's on 12.5k health, 13.75k armour, 510 def.
I am a holy priest in a raiding guild and have 2050 plus heals unbuffed. I am usually healing the main tank with a couple of paladins. We did hydross, tidewalker and Vashj last night. I was well above the paladins in the healing stats. My greater heal crits for 8500 on a warrior tank. Pallies are great single targtet healers but priests have so many more heals to use in different situations. Elvenmoon
I've done loads of heroics with a pally healing...and its no problem at all, in fact there are some fights where I would much rather have a pally over a priest...for example Bladefist in Shattered Halls, a pally can take quite a few hits from the blade dance with no big issue, a priest on the other hand has more problems with this
I'm not saying a priest cant be a good healer too btw, with the right gear and the right person behiund the keyboard, any healing class can solo heal any heroic

I agree with what others have said that that fight in heroic BF is pretty hard without enough CC, and also that your own gear wont be helping all that much "480 def unbuffed" isnt making things easy for your healer.....490 is easily achieveable with normal 5 mans, you can get that without goin gto a heroic or raid

Ond of the issues I faced in the past is that the difference in gear level between healer and tank made a big difference.
If the tank is a bit undergeared but the healer overgeard, it works ok, and if the healer is undergeared, but the tank is overgeared, that works too, however, put an undergeard tank with an undergeared healer and you have problems....
This was a real problem for my guild a while ago (and was a major factor in picking teams) but isnt a problem now as we're all geared enough
490 defense is what you have to have, no more no less. get the pvp shield too.

this is something that drives me up the wall - the heroics are just too hard for the gear that drops out of them/the effort required.

my tank gear is kind of at a standstill atm. i can barely tank heroics but don't have the badges to get gear nor tank for raids. so i work on my dps set and try to get in groups for badges.

The guy above that said he had 510 defense is wasting points, drop to 490 and work on hp or avoidance.
I had a level 60 priest pre-BC that I used to heal raids such as MC and BWL. I really enjoyed healing, and with the addition of Paladins to the Horde side, I figured I'd try that out.

I really enjoy the paladin class due to it's hybrid nature. I'm currently level 63 and I've healed the first couple of normal BC instances. It's a totally different experience from healing as a priest. As noted above, you have far fewer healing spells, no group heals, and no heal-over-time spells. You also have no decent instant heals.

Normally, the tank is getting all the damage. When something goes wrong, a DPS class takes damage, but in a good group this lasts only long enough for the tank to realize and then pick up the mob. For a priest, you can throw a quick renew on the DPS class and go back to working on the tank. the renew is instant cast and requires no additional attention.

As a paladin, you can cast flash of light on the dps class, but that takes 1.5 seconds of cast time. Unfortunately, that's when you don't want to stop healing the tank, as if he's good he just picked up that mob that was attacking the dps and he's got even more damage incoming. At this point, you'll need a big heal on the tank (Holy Light at 2.5 seconds) and by the time that lands, we're hoping for a miracle.

This is not to say that it can't be done, or done well. What it does point out is that paladin healing has a totally different rhythm and flow than priest healing and requires constant vigilance.

I've done Blood Furnace once with my paladin and (on normal) we got through the orcs and wiped on the boss, but the orcs didn't respawn. It was tough.

Best of luck. Bad PuGs can be frustrating, but they make the good ones even more enjoyable.
I have a 70 Resto Shammy, and I have healed a few heroics. You didn't mention if this was the pally's first time in a heroic. I know my first time, I was overwhelmed. The mobs hit much harder than you are used to in regular instances, and for shammys and pallys, who don't have instant heals, you really have to anticipate heals in a heroic.

The other thing may have been his specific talents. My first heroic, I had a ~19/0/43 build optimized for soloing and PvP. Main healing regular instances with that build was no problem, but for the heroic I really needed the talents for healing a main tank. Now I generally run with a 0/0/61 build which is great for healing both PvP and PvE. Just don't ask me to solo farm.
Hey Tobold. As a holy Paladin, just wanted to drop in and let you know that us Pally healers are great at what we do. It sounds to me like you just got stuck with an undergeared Healadin. For myself, I had set a target of +1500 to heals before attempting dungeons on heroic mode, and I haven't had any problems. Well, beyond your normal learning curve =).(sometimes, it's wisest to start with Holy Light, cuz by the time you're done casting, the tank'll need every drop)

So I guess my bottom line is, don't throw out the class cuz you got stuck with one ill-geared player.
Some comments:

It sounds like your gear is sufficent for most heroics.

When I am healing a heroic, 12k health is about the minimum I'm looking for on the tank.

480 Defense is fine for heroic trash. The "490 Defense is God" is to be immune to crits from tanking level 73 bosses. Fighting lvl 70-71 mobs, 480 is fine.

Also, the comment from Jason about having to split heals as a paladin is spot on. On most pulls I have plenty of time to drop a fast heal on a DPS from AoE, but if the tank is holding 3+ mobs, I have to decide who lives and who dies.

It may be a case of your healer needing to practice more and learning when to ignore anyone who isn't a tank.
His gear may have been fine. You were undergeared as a tank. 490 defense is important. Those crushings are huge for your healers.

It also depends on how much experience your paladin has in heroics. Heroics marks a significant change to regular 5 mans. You can't reactively heal in a heroic. You have to be proactively healing. The damage is just too spikey to wait and see what kind of heal you need to cast. That's a tough mindset change for healers new to the raiding/heroic scene.
Normally, the tank is getting all the damage. When something goes wrong, a DPS class takes damage, but in a good group this lasts only long enough for the tank to realize and then pick up the mob. For a priest, you can throw a quick renew on the DPS class and go back to working on the tank. the renew is instant cast and requires no additional attention.

As a paladin, you can cast flash of light on the dps class, but that takes 1.5 seconds of cast time. Unfortunately, that's when you don't want to stop healing the tank, as if he's good he just picked up that mob that was attacking the dps and he's got even more damage incoming. At this point, you'll need a big heal on the tank (Holy Light at 2.5 seconds) and by the time that lands, we're hoping for a miracle.

You're forgetting the 1.5 second global cooldown that ALL classes have on their heals. With the right mods, I can easily drop heals on every single member in a heroic instance within the 1.5 second global cooldown. The key is, as others have mentioned, is to prioritize your heals. Know the instance, know the damage, know when to Cleanse or when to let it sit.

I have both a fully epic warrior tank and a fully epic paladin healer. Here's my suggestions, for what they're worth:

1. Get as close to 490 as you can. It's not the be all end all like it is in raiding, but it helps.

2. Make sure all of your gear is enchanted and gemmed. You may find very cheap "blue" level gems on the AH now, and it would be helpful to pick up some +12 stam gems. The +4 defense / +6 stam is an acceptable substitute. Pretty much NEVER bother matching for the useless gem bonuses. Enchants (also including your shoulder and head enchants) can make a difference, adding almost 1k health.

3. The paladin healer should ALWAYS be using Blessing of Light on the tank in a Heroic. My very base Flash of Light hits for 1500 unbuffed, without Blessing of Light.

4. Take more reliable CC. Hunters and Mages are quite useful if the tank and/or healer is undergeared or average-geared. I can run Heroic Ramparts with zero CC because I have an uber healer and uber tank, you may have to adjust for better group makeup.

5. Try the easier Heroics, such as Slave Pens, or Mechanar. Botanica is surprisingly easy as well, except for a few mobs here and there.
You don't say what classes the rest of your group was, but heroic BF? DID YOU HAVE A WARLOCK?!?!? I refuse to do heroic BF without a lock unless everyone is exceptionally geared (as in Kara+ gear) and trust them implicitly (as in I group with them all the time).

The pairs of Fel Annihilators (there are four pairs total, I believe) are really nasty. If you can't get a lock banish on one, it's almost impossible for a single healer to keep the group alive. They cleave for over 5,000 and are known to crit for 8,000 to 12,000 or so. That is, they are instant death on anyone not in plate.

For you to try to tank through that without reliable methods of CC for the second of the pair would have meant you doomed your group to its death. *YOU* should know that as the tank. Don't blame your healer.

Now... I have a +2,000 heal priest and I've done little healing competitions with my pally guildmate, and although they might not be able to crit for +8,000 heal on a big heal, they can keep spamming their heal spell and have such mana efficiency that you can draw out the encounters a big longer and the pally will never go OOM. Add the passive heals from a feral druid or shadow priest and they will NEVER go OOM, ever.

Sounds like a combo of your still being crushable (is your defense at 490 yet?), maybe the pally healer not spamming heals as fast (maybe he wasn't used to a heroic BF?), or maybe you didn't have adequate CC? Don't forget that in heroics, CC is half your battle right there.
As others have said, CC is key for certain blood furnace pulls unless you have extremely good tanking and healing.

The event before the second boss can be extremely challenging even for well geared groups as the mobs hit hard and the entire encounter can quickly devolve into mass chaos. There are two real methods to deal with this event for those not in top raid gear that I've seen - two tanks (works very well) or massive CC (requires excellent group coordination).

If you were stuck at some point before that in blood furnace then something is very wrong, as everything before the 2nd boss is quite easy with careful pulling (and the first boss is a joke).
As others have said, paladins can easily handle heroic healing, and often are better then other healers due to higher survivabilty and lower threat. We do require a different mix of stats then a priest, so while you might have thought your priest was geared equally to the paladin, he requires much higher spell crit then a priest, and this might have been the important missing stat on his gear. This stat is the key to mana efficency and increases the paladin's overall hps, especially in those situations where the tank is taking massive damage and is under 50%. For healing a heroic a paladin should have at least 20% spell crit (not counting the talent increases to crit for specific spells).
While any tank for heroics should be uncritable(490 defense) or they are endangering their group, you didn't appear to be having a problem on bosses where this would matter directly. I am wondering what your avoidance stats are and why you didn't quote them, as they effect the incoming dpm. If you are short important avoidance like dodge, parry, and block, you will be taking more damage then even a well geared healer can handle. Have you investigated all of the crafted plate tanking gear for upgrades?

The 2nd boss presents serious problems to undergeared groups or groups with out the proper mix of CC. I have only done that successfully once without a mage and two other CC classes, and that was with some very expert use of fear.

So I would say, paladins are a very strong heroic healer, and healer in general, but without more information we can just guess what the issue was in your case.
Most likely the paladin just didn't have enough +healing. While heroic blood furnace is a fairly difficult heroic, a pally healer should be able to keep up a tank geared like you are (at least, mine can). Paladins are very effective single-target healers. Oh, and yes, +healing and +crit are more important then mana per second for heroics because of the shorter fight time. He really should have been able to just spam holy light and keep you up no problem, even if that means he has to take a bit more downtime.
When heroics first came out, the preferred healer is not a priest. In fact, the holy priest was basically shunned when TBC came out because they kept getting aggro when it cames to multiple adds trash fight. And the paladin was the one that everyone was looking for.

Heroic BF is difficult. I don't have a druid but a feral druid that has cleared Kara. I still won't bring her to Heroic BF without a capable healer and geared DPS players as well.
Oppps. meant to say I don't have a warrior but I had a druid.

Time for some time away from the game.
As someone who plays a Holy Priest, I have to agree with all the Paladin comments regarding mana efficiency. Priests are good healers but we go OOM a lot faster.

As for your heroic BF run, I suspect it was a combination of a tough heroic for your gear level (12k unbuffed and no Priest stamina buff is marginal) and a so-so healer. For example, did he use the Holy Light (slow+big) or Flash of Light (fast+small)? If he used FoL, he doesn't know how to heal in Heroics...

One tip I have for you - try to get a group for the harder heroics that is composed of 2 healers. The fights will last longer but as long as you keep agro on all non-CC'd mobs you will stay alive for sure :) Before you go "are u nuts lol?" try it out, I've done it twice in the last week and all I can say is 2 healers in heroic = fun :)
He used FoL a lot.

My fault clearly was that I wasn't aware that BF is a "harder heroic". Does anyone know about a list which lists the heroics in order of difficulty? I made the wrong assumption that the lower level normal dungeons would be easier heroics, but that is clearly not true.
That is correct; lower level instances do not translate directly into easier heroics.
Here is a general order, but unless you have a paladin tank bringing the proper CC for the pulls you will face is key. Here is a general list from my own experience on a druid tank and pally healer. Mileage may vary.

Slave Pens - 2nd is healer check
Underbog - lock/hunter + mage
Sethekk Hall - Sethekk Ravenguard=ouch
Botanica - Long
Crypt - spawning adds
Mechanar - bring lock and mage
Steam Vaults - first boss hardest
Shadow Labs - big pulls
Blood Furnace - lock, 2nd boss hard
Shattered Halls - Huge pulls, last boss kills clothies.
Alcatraz - long, 1st boss is a mess
Mana Tomb - 1st boss offhealer, last boss hard
Black Morass - just bring a pally tank
Above list was in order of difficulty from easy to hard... didn't actually say that :)
I'm sorry if this upsets the paladin healer community, and maybe I'm just unlucky with the pallys I group with. But last night I was in Karazhan with my priest, with two pallys as the other healers. And my priest healed 45% of all heals from start to Nightbane, while the paladins each healed about 25%, according to recount. So yes, I can see the advantages of being more resistant to damage, and being more mana efficient. But in terms of "healing per second" I'm still not impressed by paladin healing.
I've said since before BC. Skill being equal a priest is the best overall healer hands down.

There are fights and instances where different classes are better for those special encounters.

But I think that Pally and Druid healers are in some ways simpler and thus average to bad players do better so the perception is that druids or pallies overall are better healers.

And for the record my first end game toon was an awesome Resto druid that used to really upset some of our raid priests because the tank would beg for me to be in his group. Several of those priests rolled resto druids so they could be as good as me. They were sadly dissapointed when they found out they weren't any better as druids.

The player is the biggest factor. And that being equal I again stand by the statement Priests are better more generally usefull healers.
"I'm sorry if this upsets the paladin healer community, and maybe I'm just unlucky with the pallys I group with. But last night I was in Karazhan with my priest, with two pallys as the other healers. And my priest healed 45% of all heals from start to Nightbane, while the paladins each healed about 25%, according to recount. So yes, I can see the advantages of being more resistant to damage, and being more mana efficient. But in terms of "healing per second" I'm still not impressed by paladin healing."

Your statement is your opinion, but if you are going to make a blanket statement about a whole class of healers then at least offer more proof then a healing meter. Healing meters mean very little and without the exact context they mean absolutely nothing. Looking at a meter for a whole instance means even less. The meter could indicate that you had two very effiecent healers who were healing the tanks, and a priest throwing heals to the whole raid. The player's gear, their healing assignments, how long healers lived on long fights and overhealing amount are some of the things that would need to be known in order to have any credibility with a statement like that. I generally respect your opinion, even if I disagree, because you generally present meaningful reasoning and evidence for your statements, this time you did not and you took a swing again at a whole class. Healing per second paladins are on par with other healers. If paladin healers were not viable then they would not be used, but at this point they are heavily represented in all raiding guilds.
I have a Heroic healing pally and an up-and-comer 69 priest. Both are great, for completely different different reasons. What one lacks, the other excels.

Pallys can take a few hits if aggro is lost on tank, whereas a priest would be a "SPIRIT" in no time.

Priests are decent single target healers. Pallys excel with single target healing.

Priests are excellent group healers. Pallys have it rough after and AOE hit, 1.5secs per group mate to get them back up, while losing touch with the TANK.

ALL in all, pick your poison.
But both can be great healers.
~harricat / mcwrath (llane)
I have a apladin healer and this guy must have hadcrap gear to fail on a heroic m8 it was just the player behind the paladin and u have plenty gear for a heroic.
i didnt read all the comments but i can explain for the paladins heals healing less then a priest.
paladins have a talent called illumination. it returns 60% of the mana cost of a heal that crits. so instead of stacking mana regen like most healers they stack spell crit to get there mana back.
due to this they benifit more from spamming heals instead of waiting in between heals like most healers who heal when the tank is lower on health
I'm a 40/0/21 Paladin and even does well in Kara with a mere 1397+ Healing.

Problem is, tank and paladin goes together. Good tank leaves paladin some breathing room, and vice versa.

Keep in mind the tank can't just stop and rest, he needs you as much as you need him.

I did heroicc BF Last night with a tank in PVP gear... Tank had ~15k HP though I could not keep him up with Mage and Hunter CC.

Then a week ago I had another tank for heroic BF with only ~11k HP but I kept him up no problem and we only had mage CC.

Tank 1 who died often had 410 DR, Tank 2 had more than 470.

If your Healer is in end gear, you could possibly get away with PVP tank, though to balance it out both needs to be PVE geared to make it easy.

I'm in Merciless gear, my resilience does not affect the group, if my healing is on target, though for a tank that changes the story as he'll prolly end up dying and insulting the healer...
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