I realized that while my posts on heroics have been informative to some degree, a lot of the verditcts can be generalized to don't, unless you want to. Rest assured, I will be addressing this issue shortly, probably by going straight into 'Top Five Heroics' or something to that effect.
Now, however, I want to take some time and explain paladin healing in layman's terms. I have seen a plethora of posts on forums everywhere asking for advice in this regard, but not much of said advice. Same applies to questions regarding the retribution (dps) and protection (tanking) trees. Lots of theorycrafting, no genuine advice. But one thing at a time.
Paladin healing consists of only three healing spells (by contrast, priests have at least six without talents), one of which is rather situational, and consequently seldom used.
- Flash of Light is, by far, the paladin's best heal. For a measly 180 mana at max rank, with a decent amount of plus-healing gear, you can easily pump out 2000 crits every 1.5 seconds.
- Holy Light is a potent heal, but a little expensive with its 840 mana cost at max rank. 2.5 seconds means it gets a larger coefficient from your plus-healing.
- Holy Shock is generally too expensive for the amount it heals, but it is instant which lends it limited usefulness at times when you are on the move (among others).
Now lets look at some of the healing talents that are unique to paladins. Unique in the sense that increased healing or increased crit chance is not.
- Illumination returns 60% of the base cost of the heal when it crits. With a moderatly high crit rate, and a decent amount of gear with mana-per-five-seconds, this is the talent that makes paladins such effective endurance healers.
- Light's Grace lower's the cast time of the next Holy Light after casting one. Anyone can see the win-factor in 7000 Holy Light crits every 2 seconds, when druids need 3.5 seconds for their crits of the same magnitude (roughly speaking).
- Divine Favor guarantees a crit on the next healing spell, and is generally used on Holy Light for the biggest benefit. Note that it can also be used offensively with Holy Shock.
- Divine Illumination is one of the best 41-point talents in the game (second only to earth shield, perhaps, healing-wise) lowering mana cost of all spells by 50% for 15 seconds every 3 minutes (if you spam it, as you should). If a heal cast during this time crits, you actually gain mana, because Illumination takes into account base cost.
With the skills and talents covered, let's get into the healing. From my experience, there are three kinds of healadins.
- Those that heal with their face. These paladins have every button on their keyboard binded to Flash of Light, and spam their heals by smashing their face on their keyboard. Does not sound like much, but it is surprisingly effective. Such is the nature of a paladin's heals. With the right (crit and mana-per-five) gear, you'll probably never run out of mana either.
- Those that heal like a priest. These paladins wait for the tank (or whoever requires the heal) to get adequately low on life, before firing off a large heal, much like priests. This gives the paladin some time to melee the mob which helps in keeping judgements up (judgement of wisdom can help to counter the relatively-expensive mana cost of Holy Light). However, paladin gear does not consisit of much spirit, and this priest-esque healing requires a lot of spirit. You can wear cloth, but going into melee range of a mob in cloth is generally not recommended, neither is this method of healing. You are not a priest.
- Those that heal like a paladin. Spam flash of light, but remember your other spells as well. Use Holy Light rank 4 occassionally to get the Light's Grace buff (at a much lower mana cost than your max rank Holy Light) which is always handy in case someone receives a damage spike that requires a large 2-second heal. If you mob does not have any nasty cleaves, by all means, stay in melee range and keep those judgements up. If you ever have to move, Holy Shock can be your friend. And try to spam Divine Favor and Divine Illumination whenever they're up to stay on top of your mana pool.
If done well, healadins can easily heal through heroics and the like. We can also be mainhealers in raids in the absence of priests, but the utility priests provide (shackle, PW: shield, prayer of mending et al) is hard to ignore. In raids, ultimately, we exist to make a priest's job easier, a lot easier. Never feel inferior to a priest, though. Chances are, he's probably jealous of you: your mana-efficiency, plate armor, and not to mention a Godlike 41-point talent, when all they have is Circle of Healing.