The Healing Not-a-meme: Paladin Edition

I’ve gone ahead an filled out the not-a-meme from a paladin’s perspective. Most of this is new ground but a few answers are pretty much the same as the priest version. I’ve tried not to be too bitter about this, but I wasn’t completely successful.

What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer?

Paladian, Holy Paladin

What is your primary group healing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)

Mostly select 5-mans. I shy away from anything with heavy AoE damage. AoE-heavy instances like ToC (even on regular) can be a nightmare to heal on a paladin, especially with a PUG, and doubly so while you’re still gearing up. Very rarely 10-mans. My sister is a Holy paladin and there is rarely a call for 2 in 10-mans so I only ever heal on him when I have to. Additionally, his gear is way behind the curve. I stopped gearing him around about Naxx, so he’s not geared enough to do big raids anyway.

Sometimes I’ll throw on some holy gear and hit a BG, because I can beacon myself and throw heals on random people. In this case, the massive heals on a single target can be a lifesaver, and beacon can keep me up and healing others, even while taking damage myself. Healers tend to get focused on in BGs and between plate armor, some nice CDs and beacon on myself, paladins can be a tough nut to crack in that sort of environment.

What is your favorite healing spell for your class and why?

I guess Beacon of Light, because it’s the only thing that gives me any semblance of viability in a group setting. Running 5-mans would be darn near impossible without it (and it’s no walk in the park even with it).

What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?

Lay on Hands, because it has a 20 minute CD. Not counting that, though, it would be Holy Shock for a similar reason: it has a 6 second CD and also it’s fairly expensive, mana-wise. I tend to save it for emergency “OMG Player X needs a heal RIGHT NOW!” moments.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why?

Tank healing. Paladins have excellent throughput, which makes them extraordinary tank healers, especially in any situation that allows them to just stand there and throw healing nukes.

What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why?

Anything that isn’t just standing there and nuke-healing. You name it, paladins have issues with it: versatility, group healing, mobility, mitigation, mana regen/conservation. Paladins may get an A+ in throughput, but that throughput comes at a very steep price.

In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you?

Tank healing. It’s really a waste to put a Holy Pally on anything other than tank healing unless you just don’t have another option. I include throwing beacon on a tank and throwing random single target heals as tank healing. This may help the raid healer but it isn’t the same as “raid healing.”

What healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why?

Anything other than another Holy Paladin. Any other class meshes well with a Holy pally, albeit in different ways, so I don’t much care what the raid healer is.

What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why?

Other paladins. Paladins tend to be very specialized (i.e tank heals). Having a second one along in a 10-man means that somebody is doing things the hard way (and possibly both of them). I’m not saying that 2 paladins can’t get the job done, but it takes far more effort for this set-up to work than for any other class combination.

What is your worst habit as a healer?

I tend to tunnel-vision in on the health bars and lose track of everything else, like my mana bar, the other healer’s mana bars, and the fact that I’ve been standing in fire for the last 10 minutes. Also, I don’t make as good of a use out of my CDs as I should. Paladins have a lot of nice utility spells (like the various “Hand of __” spells) that I tend to forget about until about 2 seconds after I should have used them.

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing?

The same as it is on any toon in any role: rude people. An unfortunate side effect of being the healer is that quite often people look at you to cover other people’s mistakes, which tends to lead to the idea that everything is the healer’s fault. If the rogue dies, it was the healer’s fault (never mind that he ate the heavily-telegraphed whirlwind move that he was supposed to back out of).  If the warlock dies, it’s the healer’s fault (nevermind the fact that he just lifetapped six times in a row while throwing off every spell in his arsenal at a mob with spell-reflect up). If the healer has to drink after the pull, he sucks. Nevermind that the reason he’s so low on mana is that everyone is taking tons of avoidable damage by standing in puddles of acid or that the tank has stacked stamina and only stamina to the point that he has half the avoidance expected for his class. I mean, it’s one thing to expect the healer to cover for your shortcomings, but it’s quite another to expect him to take abuse while doing it.

Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing?

No. As far as I’ve seen, paladins are the only healing class without a viable HoT or group healing option. It’s really hard to juggle health bars with the tools paladins have available to them. Paladins are currently a bit overpowered on tank healing and vastly underpowered on anything else, but this isn’t my idea of balance, either within the class or between the classes. In fact, paladins are so high up on the scale with throughput that we eschew spellpower (despite some very nice coefficients for our spells) in favor of intellect. In other words, paladins have so much throughput naturally that more would be a waste. We instead want more longevity. Can you imagine any other healer saying that spellpower is worthless because they don’t need bigger heals?

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer?

Well, obviously I prefer that nobody dies during the battle. If somebody does die, I check to see whether it was something I could have reasonably prevented. In a raid this pretty much translates into “did my tank(s) die?” If not, then overheal, mana efficiency, and all the rest can kiss my armor-plated posterior.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class?

That paladins are an overpowered healer. I often hear people talking about how overpowered healadins are, and how it’s silly to roll anything else. I think that these people fall into one of 2 categories: 1) those who have never played a paladin, and 2) those who have never played anything except a paladin. To be brutally honest, both groups are equally ignorant of how well paladins stack up against the other healers. Yes, it is tempting to look at a paladin’s tank healing and say, “they can do stuff that no other class can do.” This is true, but it’s also misleading, because every other class can do things that a paladin can’t do.

Likewise, most people who have seen paladins heal have no idea how difficult it really is to heal well on a paladin. The idea of paladins as a “faceroll” class is a serious travesty of justice. Holy Paladins are anything but simple. The limited spell selection available to them can make their job much harder. Think of it this way: you need to build a cabinet. One guy has a complete toolbox: screwdrivers, saws, hammers, a tape measure, a level, sandpaper, etc. The other guy has a sledge hammer, a normal hammer, and a little hammer. Whose job is easier? Is it the second, because he has fewer tools to choose from? Yeah, well, the “fewer tools” logic doesn’t apply to healing any better than it does to making furniture.

What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn?

Probably how to make the most out of Beacon. Now that overhealing is transferred, too, paladins have to resort to some unconventional (and counter-intuitive) methods for getting the most out of their mana. For example, it may well be better to throw a heal on a melee fighter at full health so that the tank (who actually needs the heal) gets some splash plus the mirrored heal from beacon. Casting directly on the tank would make him miss out on the secondary splash from the glyph. Alternately, picking members specced into improved healing buffs can give you more oomph. For example, a Warlock might have as much as 20-26% bonus to heals received if he’s using demon armor, or the paladin himself might get up to 10% bonus from Divinity. In dire situations, it may actually be better to cast on a target like these examples, even if they are at full health, because the tank will get a bigger heal and there’s a chance that the secondary target will take damage during the cast, making it equally mana efficient (or possibly more, if the secondary target does take damage), even though it often makes your overhealing soar.It’s hard for new paladins (especially ones that have played another healer) to understand that overheal is not necessarily wasted mana for a paladin.

Additionally, unlike most healers, paladins tend to have to be proactive or “offensive” healers. A paladin doesn’t have the HoTs, shields, or multi-target heals to buffer group-wide damage. These sorts of tools are needed to heal effectively in a defensive or reactive healing style. To heal most effectively a paladin has to anticipate who will need the heal and start casting before the attack lands, so that the battle becomes a series of moments that chain together like this: 1)paladin starts to cast, 2)target takes damage, 3)heal lands to heal damage. If a paladin waits for the target to take damage the long cast-times of his spells start to add up and it’s easy to get behind. Then the battle starts to look like this: 1)target takes damage, 2)paladin starts to cast, 3)target takes more damage, 4)heal lands, healing some of the damage. That is something you do not want, because a paladin’s ability to recover from a bad situation is limited.

If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see (i.e. lots of overhealing, low healing output, etc)?

The usual paladin caveats: massive overheal, but high throughput. Probably not as many cleanses as other healers if they’re doing their job. It’s much harder to cleanse on a paladin than on a class with HoTs because paladins typically have fewer global CDs to spare and tank healing usually has fewer pauses in damage to allow him to stop healing and cleanse. We’re usually spamming as fast as we can just trying to catch up with the damage. Additionally, some classes (like priests) might be glyphed to heal while cleansing, making it better to let them cleanse most debuffs, anyway. This is another area that is often the target of misunderstanding and misconceptions. People often view paladins as the primary cleansers or most powerful cleanser because they can remove three types of debuff compared to 2 for most classes. While it is true that paladins can cleanse more types, they are also the only healer without a cleanse over time (CoT) effect like Abolish Poison, Abolish Disease, or Cleansing Totem. Combined with the previously mentioned lack of HoTs, it can be much harder to get a cleanse off as a paladin.

Haste or Crit and why?

I still haven’t let go of crit. I hate that they’ve nerfed it so much, but I still like it. Haste is nice, too, if only because the bulk of a paladin’s healing arsenal is so slow that haste helps a ton. Nothing is more frustrating than just chaining/spamming heals on a target whose health is still dropping. Everyone is yelling that “X needs heals” or complaining that “so and so didn’t get heals” but usually, they did get heals and we’re still spamming heals on them when they die. Sorry, guys, but we’ve only got what speed our haste will allow us: we can’t make our big slow heals go any faster no matter how loud you yell at us.

What healing class do you feel you understand least?

I’ve never played a shaman (or, well, my shaman is level 17), so probably Resto Shaman. My druid is still little (67, now – woot!), and he’s feral, but I’ve played around with the spells enough to get an understanding of how they work. Between that and the large number of resto druids in my circle of friends, I feel a have a basic grasp of them, even if not as firm as the two healers that I have played at 80 (Holy Priest, Holy Pally).

What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in healing?

I use Healbot for healing and decursive for cleanses. Yes, I know that Healbot can handle cleansing, but I found it easier to just use decursive than to try and sneak in a key-modified click into an already pretty full set-up. I only use one macro for healing on my paladin: a raid warning that I’m low/out of mana.

Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?

I try to stack intellect as high as possible because this has become the paladin’s new “one-size fits all” stat to replace crit. Intellect gives us throughput and regen, much like crit used to. I don’t turn my nose up at spellpower, crit, or mp5 as much as many paladins do, though. I guess I just have a weakness for stat balance and socket bonuses. I do so love socket bonuses. *grins sheepishly*

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