I’ve mentioned many times here on the blog that I’m somewhat of an alt-a-holic, and that I have generally been playing three main toons in WoW, with a few others for short periods here and there. Generally though, I spend the lion’s share of my time on my Death Knight, my Druid, and my Paladin. I raid on my Death Knight as a member of the core team, and spend the rest of my time on my other two toons for everything else. In fact I had planned on switching to my Druid as my raid toon and retiring my Death Knight but I saw very quickly that it was going to be excruciatingly difficult to catch up gear wise the way our loot system works. It would actually be easier for me to replace my Death Knight with my Paladin, and raid as Ret/Holy than to gear up my Druid with all the people currently in the raid that wear leather or want agility stacked weapons. In any event I’ve been pounding away for the past couple weeks trying to catch my Paladin up to my Druid and my Death Knight, and I’m having a blast doing it. Surprisingly so since I had thought I was completely burned out on achievements. Seems along with my strong push to gear up my Paladin I’ve come into something of a achievement revitalization.
I used to main tank on my Druid in BC up through Tempest Keep, and then healed as Resto through Black Temple and Mt. Hyjal. While I think I still do prefer tanking on my Druid, I greatly prefer Paladin healing for PVE content. I knew Paladins were terrific healers but I never realized just how nice they truly were until recently. My desire to start healing again was the reason that I rolled and leveled a Paladin in the first place. A friend recommended that I try out Paladin healing instead of continuing to heal on my Druid, and now that I’ve been doing it for some time I simply can not thank him enough for turning me onto this.
What is it that makes Paladin healing so enjoyable? Two things in my opinion. The extreme mana efficiency, with three ways of regenerating mana; and Beacon of light. Even after all the nerfs to Paladin mana efficiency that have taken place in WotLK, Paladins are still eminently mana efficient. I’m by no means an expert in the area (yet) but I have healed as Resto Druid, Resto Shaman, and Holy Paladin and I have far fewer mana issues as a Paladin than I ever did with either of the other two. Gear is obviously part of that, but of the three types of healers, Druid mechanics emphasize periodic mana regeneration via innervate which has a three minute cool down. And requires you to use that Innervate at precise times in order to maintain a full mana bar.
Resto Shamans are closer to the continuous mana regeneration style of the Paladin through use of their mana totems but I don’t think it can keep pace with a Paladin continuously judging and using Divine Plea. My own spec and glyphs emphasize Flash of Light spamming, so I really only begin to see any whittling down of my mana pool if I start to use Holy Light for the big heals. But I’ve yet to run into any trouble where I could not very easily regenerate my mana from judging and divine plea. Even after death and a battle rez, where I come out with little mana I can very quickly get back to healing and regenerating mana without the need for an innervate. It’s simply amazing and I find I enjoy it very much.
Then we have Beacon of Light. Lets face it, Paladin healers were not designed to be AOE healers. However Beacon of Light goes a good ways toward making Paladin healers viable as raid healers. Placing your Beacon on the MT and healing the OT or raid members as they take splash damage effectively means double healing as any healing you do to anyone also heals the person you put the Beacon on. A single Paladin can easily heal two tanks. Two Paladin healers on a typical two tank boss fight are pretty much everything you need. One spamming FoL and one spamming HL. Even healing an OT with my beacon on the MT, I’m able to assist with raid healing most of the time.
In as much as I truly enjoy Pally healing, I am even more taken with Retribution. I can remember thinking how amazing it was to be able to take on elites with impunity as I was leveling. Very very few elites gave me any problems what so ever, and it was something that Ret had in common with my DK as I leveled him in Blood spec. Leveling and playing a Ret Pally is the closest thing to “god like” I think you can have in WoW. There simply isn’t anything that you really have to sweat through, and out side of a few specific instances, you can easily solo anything and everything you come up against. The Ret Pally experience is remarkably like what I have experienced with my DK. Obviously mechanics and abilities are different, so it boils down to emphasis. DKs heal while doing damage, and depending on spec have a couple oh shit buttons to push to help with their self healing. Yet I prefer direct healing, which of course explains my love of and penchant for playing hybrid classes. Mileage may vary, but I definitely prefer being able to directly heal. And the Pallys Lay on Hands ability, bubble, cleanse, and insta-heals off Art of War procs only add value to the mix. To be quite honest the only ability from my DK that I miss when I’m playing on my Pally is Path of Frost. I can not tell you how handy PoF is, and if I could just bring one ability over from my DK to my Pally it would be that. I’d never play my DK again.