More details on why I don’t talk about FoL spec


Why the heck not, right?  It’s been a long couple of days and I don’t really feel like crunching any numbers right now.

– Introduction type part of the post –

(I’m having issues thinking of witty catch-phrases, can you tell?)  My first post on this was a quick explanation of why I don’t want to discuss Flash of Light specced paladins.  Of the five, albeit not terribly in-depth, points I made, the second one is the one that people really latched onto and tried to argue against.  To quote myself: “There is no way I could keep the tanks up with that on some fights.”  Notice the pronoun there?  I never said that it will never, ever keep the tanks up.  It was quite clear that it isn’t a viable spec for the sheer amount of healing I’m doing.  In this case, that means having 5 healers with only myself on the tanks, generally.  Rather curious is that no one actually latched onto my other points (ie. trading HPS for HPM, stat scaling issues) to refute, just the validity one.

It has also been said that I’m not writing about FoL spec because it doesn’t work for me.  Well… yes?  I also have no desire to do any real tanking on my paladin, so I refrain from writing about that, too.  The gist of my previous post was that I don’t write about it because I don’t like it.  That seems like a valid reason to me.

Let me note that I have used FoL spec before.  In fact, there was a time when I used nothing but!  There was also a time when I stacked MP5 through the roof and where I refused to spec into Divine Sacrifice because it would hurt my numbers.  Thankfully, those times have passed and I have moved on to min-maxing my play.

As per usual, if you want to prove me wrong about some of the factual reasons given in this post, please do so!  If you don’t feel comfortable posting your WoL data in the comments, you can also email it to me at leontheyal AT gmail DOT com.  Saying “I pull 7k HPS and keep both LK tanks up just fine with FoL spec” is all well and good, but please back it up with proof.  I rather like being proven wrong, but anecdotal claims aren’t true evidence.

– First the math-y reasons –

HPM vs. HPS:  I just spent some time doing some math, taking into account my current gear (shown here) and optimal FoL spec gear before hardmodes (shown here), calculating the average HPS for each taking into account both SoL/FoL glyphs and crit ratio.  I didn’t take into account the healing from the HL glyph because it would make things more complicated and I wanted to focus on the amount of pure tank healing that could be averaged for each spell for each appropriately geared healer.  In the end, the combination of the haste cap and the lower spellpower coefficient are really what did in FoL for HPS.  (HL has a 188.5% coefficient and FoL only has a 113% one.)  On average, FoL will net 5911.5714 HPS while HL will net 9629.1765 HPS.  On the HPM side, FoL costs 307.58 MPS, while HL costs 1019.408 MPS.  That gives FoL 19.21696 HPM per second and HL 9.4458 HPM per second.  That’s a -huge- difference for mana use, but also a -huge- difference in healing.  FoL spec leans heavily on the mana efficiency side of the equation and HL spec leans heavily on the throughput side of the equation.  The kicker comes in the fact that you don’t need the sort of HPM you get from FoL if you are using your mana regen skills effectively.  You end up having an over-abundance of mana and start coming in really short for potential throughput.

Ability to keep tanks alive:  This one is more math based that some might think.  I’m currently going through the parse from the Lich King encounter (shown here) and I’m seeing that Soul Reaper had an average initial hit of 30798.7 damage with an average tick of 27091.9 damage five seconds later, even with multiple cooldowns up at once.  This happens throughout phases two and three, in addition to the average 19905.6 damage melee swings.  Looking at the numbers I calculated above, how can HL spec be anything -but- better for keeping the tanks alive?  I’m trying to find the Lich King’s average DPS, but I don’t seem to see it.  What I can say is that, given the heavy damage in all the most difficult fights, FoL spec seems more a detriment than anything.  Couple this with the fact that nearly all fights have lulls where it is safe to regen your mana, the HPS loss for HPM is more than unnecessary.  Damage in WotLK has been incredibly spikey, something the developers are trying to move away from in the next expansion.  Spike damage of that nature means that your tank may go from 100% health to dead in 2 seconds.  Given that, logic dictates that fast, big heals are of more use than a steady stream of smaller ones.

Promoting the use of one spell:  Let’s face it, both specs do this.  The major difference is that FoL spec can’t support pure HL spam, whereas HL spec completely supports FoL spam.  There are fights where I almost cast nothing -but- FoL in my HL spec.  Going back to my average HPS calculations (taking into account my current gear and glyphs), I can pull about 5209.515 HPS using FoL.  That’s right, my average FoL HPS is only 702 less than what a fully geared/gemmed FoL user sees.  The main difference is that when the big hits start coming in, I can pump out a steady stream of big heals for much longer than a FoL specced user could.

Stat disparity:  This is an interesting problem, similar to the issues that Disc priests have.  What I mean by this is that there comes a point in gearing where only two stats will improve your healing for FoL specced paladins, those being critical strike and spellpower.  The other two stats found on gear are considered wasted, because they do no help improve your healing.  Haste beyond the 676 cap is considered wasted because you can’t cast faster than 1 second due to the GCD.  MP5 is considered wasted because FoL is so mana efficient and HL usage is sporadic, not constant.  HL spec, however, sees no stats as wasted so long as a healthy balance of MP5 to crit is maintained.  It makes gearing more mindful, rather than just “is it high ilevel with crit on it?”  It also means there is less waste in item budget, allowing paladins to get more bang for their buck.

– Less math based reasons –

FoL is boring:  It bores the life out of me!  It’s a slightly speedier version of Whack-a-Mole, only without the fun elements of getting to see huge crits and lots of little numbers from the splash.  It also reduces the amount of regen skills I need to use, meaning fewer Judgments and less general time spent looking at my mana bar.  Timing my Pleas well and often, running in to sneak melee swings between casts… these are all things that give me something to do that isn’t straight up heal spam.  Yes, I could still do them while hitting FoL, but the point is I don’t have to, so I’m liable to get lazy. I know, I’ve seen myself do it.  I want my big numbers and my need for tight mana control.  It’s the only way to keep myself interested with the repetitive nature of healing.

Spreading out responsibility for the tanks is bad:  This is another subjective one, but the last thing I want to do is to make more work for my team.  I want to know that I can keep the tank(s) up all by myself and help them out on raid healing at the same time, even if it’s only with HL splash.  They are busy enough as it is!  This is similar to my reasoning against 51/5/15 specs; Divine Sacrifice is good for the entire raid, even if you have to lose a bit of your personal bonuses.  My HL spec takes pressure off the raid healers, because they don’t have to worry about rolling on the tanks when they’re busy.  They know that during single tank fights, I’ll have the tank Beaconed and be spamming a combination of fast FoLs and hard-hitting HLs (with splash!) on the raid to help them out.  During two tank fights, they know I’ll have one tank Beaconed and be casting HLs (with splash!) on the tank closest to melee to give them some wiggle room in raid healing.  I can help -them- with their assignments, not the other way around.

– But in the end… –

I don’t think my reasoning is going to sway FoL specced healers away from their chosen role.  FoL spec isn’t for min-maxing healers, as I’ve shown with my numbers, but it is generally the non-math based reasons that sway most people towards that spec.  FoL spec is “good enough,” even if it isn’t optimal.

Before anyone starts telling me that it works just fine for 10-mans, HL spec works just as well for 10s with the added bonus of working best for 25-mans.  As always, my motto is “prepare for the hardest content and the rest will be just fine.”  I gear, spec, and write so that I can be the very best healer I can be.  That is why I don’t write about FoL spec and related tactics.  From a min-maxing point of view, it -isn’t- the best healer I be.



  1. I agree that FoL spec isn’t great in 10s, you just lose too many bonuses. I run both specs, and keep a set of SP gear and Int gear for this reason.

    I agree that there’s no way I could pump out the healing necessary at this stage – especially on say H-Saurfang or H-Sindragosa (even in the 10m version) running my FOL spec.

    I’ve even found the 4pc T10 to be useful in my HL spec, as I still have enough crit to get a good Holy Shock/FoL combo out on one target, and use the reduced cast time to push out the next HL on the tank.

    I think there’s still a place for the FoL Paladin – but push come to shove, I always roll back my sleeves in my tried and true HL/Int build.

    • I’ll never be a fan of using Holy Shock (I wrote HL at first! D’oh!) as anything but an “I’m moving, crap!” button, since it is so mana intensive for so little return on the HPS front. That’s a big part of why I don’t like the T10 bonus, especially as you have to sacrifice so much raw haste to get it.

      • But, and especially when you’re moving, a quick 1,2 punch of HS/FoL will keep someone up, and let your next HL roll out that much faster (with the 4pc T10). I’m not a huge fan of it by any means – and I think it’s definately inferior to the druid/shaman 4pc (maybe even the Priest) – but it’s still .2 or .3 seconds off that we didn’t have the first time around.

  2. I think Paragon holy paladins are both FoL or there was some high end guild that had FoL paladins. I may have remembered wrongly, sorry =T

    I do agree with you though, I really don’t like FoL and at most I have FoL gear. It seems to do well on fights like Heroic Loot ship and Saurfang normal but that’s about it so far in my experience.

  3. I did comment on your last post about the FoL spec. I just wanted to add to this that I do think your reasoning for not using FoL spec is just fine. Personal preference ftw. My personal preference is FoL, even though I know I could be doing a lot more healing using HL. For now at least, I’m sticking to FoL because I like it 🙂 but I may switch as soon as I need more, something better.

    I’m not exactly a number crunching person, and I have absolutely no experience with WoL, but then again, I haven’t even passed Saurfang normal yet. I did see some nice number last night I was pretty happy about though. I pushed 3.8k HPS on Saurfang 25 man and I saw mostly crit heals of about 11K from both FoL and HS and I’d like to think that was a lifesaver in more than one situation. No proof to back it up though, and the numbers may not be interesting enough to show anything, but for me this is just about a personal best.

    Sigh, all I’m saying is, I’m happy with my current spec and gear (http://eu.wowarmory.com/character-sheet.xml?r=Eonar&cn=Kaboomski) and if you are with your spec, everything’s fine right? 🙂

    • Not really – no. If you’re running something that is sub-par, and the slack is being picked up by someone else – that’s not ok (at least in my book). If you’re in a raid environment that is comfortable with that – then more power to you.

      As we push deeper into H ICC 10 (and 11/12 in 25) we’re definately gearing max throughput with max DPS – meaning I’m running HL almost exclusively at this point.

  4. Yep i agree FOL spec if FTL. I did an experiment of making a build focused around large mana pool, holy shock and infusion of light + flash of light. Using the holy shock libram and self buffed 2900SP and 26K mana…

    What a disaster that was… Holy Light build is a solid build, you have a very powerful heal, you can choose to use HS + FOL and you have a stronger shield and raid wall… What more do you need?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: