Updated Wed, Nov 19, 2008 by Messiah
In this second article covering the new Wrath of the Lich King Paladin Talent trees we look at the Holy tree. This is the tree that Paladins look to if they want to spend their time healing. It has traditionally been a very strong talent tree, which lead to Paladins viewed as nothing more than raid healers for a very long time. When the other trees got improved, it allowed them to fulfil other roles as well, but for many players this tree is what a Paladin is all about.
This is based off of the talents as of Beta 3.0.1 and are in no way finalized. Keep this in mind as many things will change before Blizzard releases the game.
The holy tree has always been fairly strong, but suffered from a few talents in it that had little to do with healing. The new tree seems to focus a little more, and flow better from one talent to another. A prime example of this is a core ability being moved to tier one for easy access, as below.
Tier one has had Spiritual Focus moved up to it, which is great for all specs that want to grab it for off healing. This no longer requires getting to the second tier, and still offers the 70% chance to avoid interruption for 5 points. This is a great move, and one that most players will take advantage of.
Also found in tier one is the replacement for Improved Seal of Righteousness called Seal of the Pure. It now increases damage by up to 15% on the seal and judgments of Righteousness, Vengeance and Corruption. This is a nice ability for other talent specs such as Protection or Retribution that may need it for damage or threat, and having it available in tier one makes it very easy to grab. I could see Paladins that are trying to be spec'ed for general utility spending 5 in each of their tier one talents.
Unyielding Faith and Healing Light are now found in tier two as is the improved Divine Intellect. It now boosts Intellect by up to 15% instead of the old 10%. This is a big bump as it was already well worth the points. It scales with your gear making this a must have ability, as it was for only 10% previously.
Improved Blessing of Wisdom and Improved Concentration Aura are now found in this tier, other than their change of location though there are no changes to the talents themselves.
Tier five changes slightly with the addition of a new talent called Blessed Hands. This effects all hands and reduces the mana cost by up to 20% and reduces the chance to dispel them by up to 30%. This could be a cool little talent since it effects all hands, which now include Salvation, Freedom and others. How much it effects them and is useful, I'm not sure. As more information on Hands and their usefulness becomes apparent it will determine whether this talent is useful or not.
Unchanged from before.
Tier five changes slightly with the addition of a new talent called Infusion of Light. This talent reduces the cast time of Holy Light by up to 2.5 seconds after casting a Holy Shock. This talent has the potential to make Holy Shock very useful. Normally it has not been a commonly used spell due to it's mana cost, however it could be useful now as a last resort spell. You will now be able to cast it for a small heal, and then another immediately after the global cooldown (GCD), cast a big heal using Holy Light. This would let you get two heals off with just the GCD in between them. As a last minute save this could really help if you are behind in healing.
Tier nine now has three talents, one of which is the existing Divine Illumination.
The first of the new talents is Sacred Cleansing. It applies a second effect to your cleanse spell 30% of the time, making the target up to 30% more resistant to disease, magic and poison for 10 seconds. Since Paladins spend a lot of time cleansing in certain fights and in PvP, this could be a nice boost. A 30% increased resistance would be huge in the arenas for example, and could bring more Paladins into the fight in larger scale Arenas and PvP.
The other new talent at this level is Enlightened Judgments and it raises your judgment distance by up to 20 yards. With the changes to judgments where they only take effect when judged, this makes it possible for a Paladin to sit back at a distance and still hit the target for damage, health or mana using the various judgments. It may make it possible for a healing Paladin to contribute a little more in a fight when they have downtime between healing.
Being a new tier there is a new talent here, and it is a must have one at that. It is called Judgments of the Pure and it allows your judgment spells to increase your melee and casting haste by up to 30%.
This seems like it could be a great ability, but it will also burn through mana faster. Stacked with Enlightened Judgments from tier 9, it will allow a Holy Paladin to judge someone at range and then get of several more spells quicker. This brings Holy Light drown from 2 seconds (with talents) to a mere 1.4 seconds! When behind on healing this could be a life saver! Imagine the mana you can burn through though.
This is the one you have all been waiting for, the new end tree talent. It is called Beacon of Light and is cast on a player lighting them up with holy power. All party members around them are healed over time for the next 15 seconds. The rank 1 version heals 990 to anyone within 10 yards over that time.
This is a much needed AOE heal for paladins, and many will be very happy. At this time it gains the full +healing coefficient as well, making it very effective. At +2,000 healing that means it would heal everyone around the target for 3000 health over 15 seconds. Even better is that the aggro for the healing is apparently being applied to the Beacon of Light. This means that you could cast it on the tank, have everyone run towards them to be healed, and have the tank gain a huge threat boost. This almost seems to good to be true when cast on a tank though, so we will have to wait and see if it stays this way for release. On the flip side, if you accidentally use it on someone who has pulled aggro, like an AOE Mage, it would essentially aggro lock them until they die, as no tank would be able to pull aggro off of them short of a taunt.
The changes to the Holy tree are subtle in general, but have the chance to be drastic in effect. I see a huge increase in healing ability through the addition of instant cast Holy Lights and an AOE healing ability. Team that up with an extra 5% mana, when Paladins already rarely run out of mana, and a haste effect if you run behind.
Paladins complained about the lack of AOE and instant cast heals, and these changes effectively provide both. While both are situational, they are now there. This allows Paladins to effectively heal on the run for a split second while repositioning in a fight. They can not heal while moving like a Druid can, but neither are they useless.
Overall I really like the changes and think that most players will be quite happy with them.