I originally wrote this article before the Bossy Pally posted hers on a very similar subject. So I can pretty much summarize my entire point by: I agree wholeheartedly!
Ah, the Holy Light versus Flash of Light debate: tearing loving families asunder since 2004. In fact, I'm pretty sure this little disagreement is the real reason Arthas and Uther couldn’t see eye-to-eye.
Flash of Light
Back in vanilla, Flash of Light spam was all we had. It was so mana-efficient that casting Holy Light was, in most cases, vastly inferior to firing off a few quick Flash of Lights for less mana and more throughput in the same amount of time.
This remained largely true until Wrath, when the crit potential of Holy Light was boosted significantly, causing it to hit much harder than Flash of Light and, in many cases, return 30% of the spell’s base mana via Illumination.
But Flash of Light spam is far from extinct. In fact, it’s by and large the best build for a PvP-oriented holy paladin, and a solid choice for raiding paladins who are still gearing or playing a support role in 25s. As a fresh 80 you will most likely lack the mana pool and haste to facilitate heavy Holy Light use, so a Flash of Light build will give you the most healing power for your gear level. Likewise, even a well-geared 25-man holy paladin can benefit from a Flash of Light build, acting as a support healer to buffer the tanks and raid with quick, potent casts.
- Doesn’t require a massive mana pool
- Casts are quick; great for raid healing
- Excellent PvP healing power
- Doesn’t stack up as well on tank-healing duty
- Suffers when casting other heals due to lesser mana pool
- Generally sacrifices some of the Prot spec utility for the extra crit talents in Ret
A paladin spamming Holy Light can be quite the fearsome beast, with a near bottomless mana pool and a 1.5 second cast time on a 20k healbomb. It may seem like a no-brainer for the holy playstyle, but without a certain gear threshold to back it up, Holy Light spam becomes ineffective very quickly in a raid setting and is virtually useless in PvP.
Your top-geared, INT-stacking holy paladin will reach upwards of 40k mana buffed these days, with at least 687 haste rating to facilitate a 1 second GCD and 1.5 second Holy Light cast. Obviously if you’re just starting to gear your paladin, these numbers will be out of your reach, but if you are running as the primary tank healer in a 10 or 25-man raid, a Holy Light setup will allow you to do your job with mana to spare.
A Holy Light build has amazing potential on fights such as Marrowgar or Festergut 25 where the tanks are seeing a ton of damage, and a well-geared paladin can easily sustain two tanks via Beacon and Holy Light spam, but to make the most of this build you will want another healer with quicker spells to act as a buffer between your Holy Light casts.
- Excellent tank-healing capabilities
- At higher gear levels, mana pool is nearly bottomless
- Great for fights with large, predictable damage
- Suffers at lower gear levels; frequent mana issues and slow cast times
- Not ideal for PvP due to sheer cast time (even hasted) over FoL
- Lacking in synergy if there’s another HL-build paladin in the raid
The truth is, you should be your own buffer. Our class design has moved away from the spam model; our three healing spells are now designed to work in synergy with one another. A quick crit Holy Shock on the run, an instant cast Flash of Light on a Sacred Shield target for a decent HoT, and a couple hasted Holy Lights on the tank can carry you much farther than simply spamming one spell or the other.
When you recognize that Holy Light and Flash of Light are just two of the tools in our holy arsenal, you can utilize them intelligently and make the most of your mana pool regardless of your gear level or raid composition.
Either that, or we can just wait until the Bronze Dragonflight slips up and stops retconning the part where Arthas admits that he only has eyes for [Stop tampering with the delicate balance of time! – xoxoxo, Chromie].