Before we begin, let me toss out a couple of disclaimers.
First – someone will probably disagree and post something awesome from EJ. Personally, I’d love to see it and I welcome any discussion on this. Second – I really hope someone points Mr. Christian at this (or one of the other blogs like it), as it seems he still needs to learn that we have more than one button to push. Finally – this is some napkin math done during lunch, so if I miss something, please point it out.
The basic debate
There is a big section of Paladin healers out there who think that a) we should only be spamming Holy Light, and b) that Intellect is the only gem for us. While this is certainly a safe bet (make sure you get enough ‘off’ gems to make your meta work), it’s definitely not the only game in town.
A growing collection of Paladins are making the shift to Spell Power, relying on the faster (and more efficient) Flash of Light to carry the load. This is a perfectly fine way to set yourself up, though it can lead to some issues if higher throughput is required.
I’ve found that a balanced approach works better, but here’s a look at the numbers.
Since Spell Power, Crit, MP5, etc. are all static stats, we need to break down Intellect to see what benefits we receive from it. I pulled this info out last year, and the only thing that has changed is the return from Replenishment.
100 Intellect will net us
· 126 Int (with Divine Intellect and BoK)
· 1897 Mana at the start of the fight
· 39.5 mp5 from Divine Plea
· 18.97 mp5 from Replenishment
· 4.7 mp5 from Arcane Torrent
· 25.3 Spell Power
· 0.759% Crit
Because of these returns, it’s easy to see why many Paladins simply stack Intellect over everything else. Much like Reaganomic’s post regarding Christmas Tree gemming, it’s easy to get caught up in searching for those ‘perfect’ gems to match set bonuses. In addition, because of our high spell coefficients, it may not always be necessary.
Cost plus coefficients
As a Paladin, our three main healing spells are Holy Light, Flash of Light, and Holy Shock. Even though we have an arsenal of supporting spells (Beacon, Sacred Shield, various Hands of XYZ), those aren’t spells that we spam. We put them out as needed, and refresh BoL and SS when they expire.
Touted as our “Big Gun”, Holy Light has the following properties.
· Cost: 29% of base mana, or 1275 mana
· Coefficient: 166% of our Spell Power
· Base Healing: 4888 – 5444
· Cast Time: 2.5 seconds
Flash of Light
Our faster, spammable, heal.
· Cost: 7% of base mana, or 307 mana
· Coefficient: 100% of our Spell Power
· Base Healing: 785 – 879
· Cast Time: 1.5 seconds
Our only true instant, this also has a 6sec CD (5sec with Glyph).
· Cost: 18% of base mana, or 791 mana
· Coefficient: 0.81% of our Spell Power
· Base Healing: 2401 – 2599
· Cast Time: N/A – Instant
Armed with these numbers, we can determine HPS and throughput – though there are still many variables concerning mana return (Judging every 8/10 seconds? Getting JoW procs?) which cannot be considered.
In my current un-buffed raid gear, I have the following stats to work with.
· 2805 Spell Power,
· 30.86% crit (without Holy Talents)
· 770 Haste (over the softcap of 680)
· 216 mp5
This means my highest (non-crit) spells will hit for the following (not counting the bonus healing from Healing Light or any other talents/effects). Holy Light – 10,100, Flash of Light – 3684, Holy Shock – 4871. A point per cost shows Holy Light at 8 points per mana, Flash at 12 points per mana, and Holy Shock at 6 points per mana.
Now none of this will come as a surprise to any raiding Paladin. It’s been known for a long time that FoL is by far the most efficient spell in our arsenal, its only drawback has been a lower throughput vs. HL. With the expectation that Paladins act as “tank healers”, and the perception that we have infinite mana pools, it’s easy to see how we fell into the “Spam Holy Light” trap.
Break free of the chains!
Over at Holypaladin.net there is a great post talking about gemming for SP over Int, and using FoL as your mainstay. He essentially covers the finer aspects of this build - mine has more math.
Before we look at gear, let’s look at what we gain by swapping gems. Assuming you don’t go for the Christmas Tree effect, and instead swap each +20Int gem (Brilliant Kings Amber – BKA) for +23SP (Runed Cardinal Ruby – RCR), you can see a marginal increase in SP at the cost of mana and longevity. As I listed above, 100 mana (five BKA) will give you 25 SP, effectively reducing your swap by one SP gem. So for a gain of 92 SP, you will lose 1900 mana and .75% crit (plus the mp5 from DP and Replenishment).
In my current gear I have twenty BKA, so I could gain 360 SP at the cost of 7600 mana, 3% crit, plus 233 mp5 (from DP and Replenishment). That 360 extra spell power will simply raise my top non-crit FoL to 4044 (about 4400 with talents, 8800 crits). While that is a big boost to your FoL hits, you are sacrificing the gas in your tank that you will need if you have to switch to HL spam. Swapping out your INT trinkets for SP will bump you up quite a bit more, again at the cost of longevity.
But you said I could be free
This is where smart playstyle, knowing your healing team, and keeping multiple gear sets comes in handy. When we’re 2 healing 10man ICC, I know that I can’t afford to be caught short on the HL output. My heal partner is a Disc Priest, so I’m counting on him to mitigate and offset a lot of the incoming damage, but I have to be there for the big heals when they’re needed. On the flip side of that coin, in 25 mans I have a larger healing team to work with, so there’s always someone who can assist on the tanks. By putting a BoL on the tank taking damage, I can literally spam FoL on the raid and keep the tank from folding.
The problem only comes into play when I have to kick it into overdrive. Being down 7600 mana (just from the gems) means I don’t have the horses in the stable when I need them. Sure, my FoLs are hitting like trucks every second, but that oftentimes isn’t enough. This is where having a good synergy with your other healers really has to come into play. Being able to lean on each other, and trust that jobs are covered (plus snagging an Innervate if you need it) is a great help. Let’s face it, Divine Plea’d Holy Light’s are less effective than regular Flash of Lights.
You also will need to glyph and spec for a heavy FoL build, picking up Glyph of Seal of Light, Glyph of Flash of Light, and using the 51/0/18+2 build. It certainly can be done, and you can put up some impressive numbers with it – it’s just not for the faint of heart.
Finding a middle ground
Personally, I hold a solid middle ground between a full FoL build (with tons of SP gems, trinkets, etc) and a HL build. I swap out my trinkets for SP over Int, and my libram for the PvP FoL bonus. I use my PvP gloves for an extra 2% FoL crit, and use the 51/2/18+2 build and glyphs. I don’t regem for two reasons. One, I do 10 mans where having the HL heavy Int build is beneficial and two, because I want that extra Int as a cushion in case I need some extra healing legs.
This method may be frowned upon by some – I mean why not go full hog wild with the SP gems as well? Honestly, as soon as I have an effective 2nd set of gear, I will. I certainly don’t have a problem with keeping multiple sets of gear around to play with, and it’s not like I need the triumph badges for anything else.
In the end (or TLDR for those folks so inclined) either build will work for you – if you let it. Don’t be afraid to try new things, but don’t gimp your raid in the process. Far better for you to be a reliable HL nuke machine than an erratic FoL bomber. Work with your other healers to see if this playstyle will mesh with your current setup, and be prepared to catch some flak from uneducated raiders in PuGs. Remember, in order to get the most from the FoL build you pretty much have to go all in – trinkets, libram, glyphs, spec, etc. If you’re not getting 8-10k crits regularly, your HPS will suffer and your tanks will as well.
Go big, or go home.