We are at a horrible point in between expansions where we have new mechanics and are forced to try them out in Wrath content, where there’s a ton of AOE damage, where tanks can, and will, be two-shotted…

Here, then, are five tips for healing through WotLK content with our fancy-shmancy new Cataclysm healing mechanics. Please bear in mind that this advice is valid only for 4.0.1 and will likely be rendered useless come 4.0.3.

1) Flash of Light is Good. After a lot of playing around in the limited raid content I’m doing at the moment, and some advice from Chase Christian and Felomena, both of whom commented on this post of mine, Flash of Light is my go-to spell. Kind of.

I abuse Holy Shock and I cast Holy Light when I have a lull (and whenever I get an Infusion of Light proc) and most of the rest of the time, I cast the hell out of Flash of Light.

It’s expensive. Unbuffed, I have 383 mp5 in combat. That’s not a whole lot, either, although my Solace of the Defeated with 8 stacks, with Blessing of Might, ends up bumping that up to 602. (607 with a Flask of Distilled Wisdom, FYI.) Flash of Light, however, costs 1186 mana. So without Replenishment or Kings/Mark, both of which should be present in a raid setting, I just barely regen half of the cost of Flash of Light every five seconds. I have a 1.04s cast time on Flash of Light with Judgements of the Pure up and no other haste buffs.

See the problem here? If I’m casting a lot of Flash of Light, say 3 times in a 5-second window, I am spending 1186 x 3 mana, which is 3558 mana and in that same window, my regen is about 600, not including procs from my Insightful Earthsiege Diamond (which procs 600 mana back on a 15-second internal cooldown and can be assumed to be about 75mp5).

So while I highly recommend lots of Flash of Light use, don’t forget that it costs an arm and a leg, now! Hasted Holy Lights and Holy Shocks are good alternatives, as is Word of Glory, of course.

Flash of Light is also the spell of choice for a holy paladin for Valithria Dreamwalker, given the quick cast and the fact that, with a lot of stacks of Emerald Vigor or Twisted Nightmares, mana doesn’t matter. (Divine Light probably wins out in the heroism/burn phase at the end of the fight, though, given enough haste, since Flash of Light will almost certainly be under a 1s cast, so you’ll lose casting time due to the hard cap of a 1s GCD.)

2) Glyphed Light of Dawn is for Infest. Again, thanks to Chase (and other paladins commenting on LoD these days in general), I’ve managed to be the Infest healer on two 10-man Lich King kills in the last week by virtue of glyphing Light of Dawn, which reduces its healing done, but also reduces it to a 20s cooldown from a 30s cooldown. Guess what else has a 20s cooldown? That’s right, Infest.

If you stand just behind your ranged groups as Infest gets cast and you’re watching your bars, you can get rid of the Infest on all of your ranged, including yourself, plus your beacon target, who is the beneficiary of all your Light of Dawn heals. Yes, that’s ridiculous, but yes, that’s happening right now.

[21:33:50.890] Madrana Light of Dawn Hunter +*5937*
[21:33:50.890] Madrana Light of Dawn Shammy 1 +4043
[21:33:50.890] Madrana Light of Dawn Shammy 2 +4162
[21:33:50.890] Madrana Light of Dawn Druid 1 +3822
[21:33:50.890] Madrana Light of Dawn Druid 2 +3466
[21:33:50.890] Madrana Light of Dawn Treant +*0* (O: 5650)
[21:33:50.890] Madrana Light of Dawn Treant +*0* (O: 5360)
[21:33:51.671] Madrana Beacon of Light Beaconed Tank +0 (O: 2968)
[21:33:51.671] Madrana Beacon of Light Beaconed Tank +0 (O: 1758)
[21:33:51.671] Madrana Beacon of Light Beaconed Tank +0 (O: 1810)
[21:33:51.671] Madrana Beacon of Light Beaconed Tank +0 (O: 1911)
[21:33:51.671] Madrana Beacon of Light Beaconed Tank +0 (O: 1733)
[21:33:51.671] Madrana Beacon of Light Beaconed Tank +0 (O: 2825)
[21:33:51.671] Madrana Beacon of Light Beaconed Tank +0 (O: 2680)

Of course, Light of Dawn is changing in a big way come Cataclysm, healing for much more than it currently does, but will be limited to 5 targets, 6 with the glyph. But for right now, boy, this is actually fun! :)

You can see this in action in our guild-first LK10 killing. I actually missed the first Infest, but at about the 30s mark, look at the tank’s Grid on the right. You’ll see every box get a debuff (the Infest one) and then you’ll see my shiny Holy Flashlight, er, Light of Dawn, and almost all of the debuffs vanish. Beautiful.

I highly recommend trying out being the Infest healer in a 10-man if you can manage it between now and Cataclysm. Make use of our 31-point talent before it’s changed forever!

I do not, however, recommend being the Infest healer when you’re also the designated cleanser of Necrotic Plague as I was on Sunday evening. That was more than a little stressful and I suddenly cursed myself for never actually having been the Necrotic Plague cleanser before. Still, it worked out all right, but messing with two new things on a fight I’ve done a couple dozen times was… interesting.

Anyways!

3) Beacon Smartly! In 3.3 content, we tended to do one of two things with our beacon:

a) Beacon the other tank and heal our tank.

b) Beacon our tank and heal the raid.

What you did depended primarily on the fight, if it was 10 or 25-man content and any healing assignments by your healing lead.

Now, due to Tower of Radiance, it’s less clear as to who gets our beacon in a raid setting. It might be hard to assign one holy paladin to two tanks due to the change in Beacon of Light (from 100% of a copied heal to 50% of a copied heal) but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be using our beacons on *something* to benefit from the increases in Holy Power.

So here are my suggestions, although I always recommend listening to your healing lead if they give you specific beacon instructions.

a) Beacon Your Tank: Do this in situations where your tank is taking a substantial amount of damage and you can really, really benefit from the extra charges of Holy Power for Word of Glory. Also, do this in situations where there’s just one active tank (whom you’re probably healing) so that you can sprinkle Word of Glory heals around as needed.

b) Beacon the Other Tank: Do this in situations where your tank isn’t taking a ton of damage and you don’t feel you particularly need Word of Glory to be used a ton. It can still be used for extra healing on, say, the Keleseth tank on the Blood Prince Council fight, too, which helps get extra heals on a tank that is running around the room and may run out of range of their healer’s heals. I most recently used my beacon on the tank tanking the Lich King on LK10 while I healed Infest, dealt with Necrotic Plague and healed the OT through Shambling Horrors and some Raging Spirits. That allowed my beacon target (the MT) to gain all my LoD heals, then allowed me to gain Holy Power by directly healing him when the OT wasn’t tanking anything.

Really, the decision depends on how often you want to be using Word of Glory and if another tank needs the extra healing.

4) Don’t Forget About Divine Plea. Okay, it’s been nerfed. 15% (glyphed) of mana back every two minutes instead of 25% every minute. That doesn’t mean that it’s not at all useful. We should all have slightly larger mana pools now and, unbuffed (with about 43k mana), I’m getting about 1300 mana back per tick for about 6500 mana back per use. It’s not fantastic, but it’s something, at least, and will keep you casting just a bit longer. Similarly, don’t forget about mana potions!

5) Don’t Get Married to These Tips! These tips will be outdated extremely soon, perhaps even as soon as this coming Tuesday, when MMO-Champion reports that Patch 4.0.3 will be released. When Cataclysm comes out, or perhaps in a patch before that, like 4.0.3, 4.0.3a or some other patch, Light of Dawn changes, judging Seal of Insight changes to give us 15% of maximum base mana back and a variety of other things will change. I stress, again, that this is a temporary thing that will be hopelessly out of date by December 7th, 2010 at the latest!

Still, I hope it helps you feel better about healing as a holy paladin for the next little while. While I was pretty depressed about how ineffective I was, switching up my spell use quite a bit basically solved most of my issues and, therefore, alleviated a lot of my concerns.