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Lightsworn: Examining the Holy Paladin artifact traits

With the Legion Alpha well underway, it seems like we’re seeing more and more information about our snazzy new artifact weapons every day. I’m sure most of us have been eagerly waiting to hear what special traits the Holy Paladin artifact, the Silver Hand, would have. Well, the wait is over! The traits — and more importantly, the actual artifact trees from the Alpha build that show us how the traits unlock — have been datamined over at Wowhead, so let’s take a look!

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Note: I’ve added trait names to Wowhead’s calculator for the purposes of this article, but you can check out their calculator for yourself here.

The Silver Hand’s trait tree is, appropriately enough, a simple rectangle in the shape of a warhammer head. While this isn’t really unexpected (all artifact trait trees are designed in the rough shape of the weapons themselves), I’m glad for it, as this layout makes its trait paths straightforward and easy to follow. Some of the other artifact weapons such as the Scythe of Elune or Fist of the Heavens may have trait trees that are more visually interesting, but their asymmetrical and erratic designs makes them harder (in my eyes, at least) to take in at a glance.

How artifact weapons work

Traits will be unlocked by spending Artifact Power, which we’ll be earning by doing “major activities” such as leveling, questing, doing arenas/battlegrounds, killing raid bosses, etc. There will also be Relics that we’ll be able to slot into the Silver Hand to increase its item level, and add ranks to multiple-rank traits. Additionally, Blizzard has said that we’ll eventually be able to unlock all artifact traits, as well as respec our trait choices (though doing so would come with a cost).

On unlocking every trait

I’m not thrilled that we will eventually be able to have every trait. To me, the major appeal of talent trees is the element of choice, and being able to customize your character to suit your specific playstyle. Ever wonder why no one cares about Draenor Perks anymore? Or even remembers they exist? Because every Holy Paladin got them all automatically, like all of our other class features.

I worry that once everyone is walking around with every single Silver Hand trait and we’re no longer making any choices about them, our awesome artifact will end up feeling like Draenor Perks 2.0 — generic and forgotten. We have to make difficult (and fun) choices when it comes to our talents, so it’s strange that Blizzard doesn’t want us to have the same level of engagement in our artifacts. What’s the point of designing these cool trees and branching trait paths when in just a few months, none of it will matter since we’ll have everything on the entire tree?

Anyway, onto the traits!

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Silver Hand Artifact Traits

Our starting trait is Lightburst, which seems like a Holy Paladin version of the Mage talent Rune of Power. Bonus healing triggered by one of our primary heals is always nice, but hearing endless complaints from frustrated Mages about Rune of Power’s stationary nature has me a little wary. Furthermore, we already know Holy Paladins will have to be keenly aware of our proximity to other players due to our various auras and Lightbringer mastery, so a trait that limits our ability to freely move around on the battlefield seems…less than ideal? I suppose we’ll have to wait and see how it works, and how big the column of light is.

Shock Treatment, 3 ranks. For a mandatory trait, we could certainly do worse than having our Holy Shock crits decrease the cooldown of Holy Shock by 1/2/3 seconds. A nice benefit, since we’ll be pursuing Infusion of Light procs anyway.

Become a Watcher

Templar of the Light, 3 ranks. Increasing the duration of Aura Mastery for 1/2/3 seconds will be a big help on encounters with heavy raid damage, especially when paired with one of our Major traits, Protection of Tyr.

Knight of the Silver Hand, 3 ranks. I wonder what the Blood Knights, Sunwalkers, and Vindicators think about being shoehorned into the Order of the Silver Hand? Anyway, this trait decreases our damage taken by 3%/6%/10%. Not exciting, but definitely solid.

Blessings of the Silver Hand, 3 ranks. Reduces the cooldown of our Blessings by 5%/10%/15%. We’ll no longer have Clemency in Legion, so this seems like a decent alternative. We’ll get more benefit out of this trait if we also invest points in Share the Burden.

Deliver the Light, 3 ranks. 3%/6%/10% increase to Holy Light and Flash of Light. Boring but effective. Blizzard, I thought we were getting away from these generic +X% options?

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The Light Saves, 1 rank. A powerful tank life insurance policy. It appears to have no cooldown? If so, that’s a pretty nice feature. 50% of maximum health is a generous threshold, so we’ll get a lot of mileage out of this trait. Synergizes nicely with Beacon of Faith, of course.

Aura of the Silver Hand, 1 rank. Required to unlock Boon of the Silver Hand. A bonus Haste aura? Intriguing! Won’t affect us, unfortunately, but seems like a nice boost for our friends. Like our other auras, this only has a 10 yard range, so good positional awareness will be required to make the most out of this trait.

Boon of the Silver Hand, 1 rank. Major trait. Thematically, this certainly sounds fun! Hard to say at this point how effective this will actually be, though. Will the orbs do a lot of healing on their own? Will they stay on the ground for a while and require players to run through them, like Monk Healing Spheres? More information is needed. For obvious reasons, this trait benefits greatly when you take Sanctified Wrath as a talent.

Protector of the Light, 1 rank. Required to unlock Protection of Tyr. I’m loving the synergy we’re starting to see between our artifact traits and Holy talents. Allowing our Divine Protection (which in Legion is a flat 20% damage reduction) to also affect our Beacon of Light target is a fantastic bit of versatility. At worst, we use Divine Protection for our own survival, and our Beacon target gets a decent chunk of bonus mitigation. But on fights where we don’t need the damage reduction for ourselves, Protector of the Light gives us a free, additional tank cooldown. And things only get better once we also throw in Unbreakable Spirit and Beacon of Faith. I’m a big fan of this one.

Protection of Tyr, 1 rank. Major trait. This “Super Aura Mastery” trait is going to get a lot of attention, and for good reason. Getting the benefits of both Devotion Aura and Aura of Light will be a huge benefit, and I’m confident that once Aura of Mercy is completed, we’ll be glad to have its benefits baked into Aura Mastery as well. As mentioned earlier, Protection of Tyr will synergize nicely with Templar of the Light.

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Expel the Darkness, 3 ranks. I wonder how often we’ll be using Light of Dawn in Legion, after two expansions of rather lackluster AOE heals. In any case, this trait buffs Light of Dawn by the now-customary 3%/6%/10%. This gives us some interesting options — we can fully load up on AOE heals with Expel the Darkness and Daybreak for a stronger, reduced-cooldown Light of Dawn, and also take Light’s Hammer and Holy Prism. Or we could take none of the choices and just have our standard-issue Light of Dawn as our lone AOE heal. Options!

Focused Healing, 3 ranks. Tower of Light is going to be a powerful tank survival option in our toolkit, allowing non-tank heals to also trickle in and keep our Beacon target(s) alive. Shaving 10/20/30 seconds off its cooldown is nothing to sneeze at! I do wonder how much of this tank healing will just end up as overheal, though.

Justice through Sacrifice, 3 ranks. Increase Light of the Martyr healing by 3%/6%/10%. I was planning on only using Light Tap when I was moving and couldn’t stop to cast, or in true emergency situations. 3 ranks for a 10% increase, the same as Deliver the Light‘s bonus to two of our primary healing spells, doesn’t seem like a great investment. Then again, you could pair this with Stoicism and have a strong, not-so-lethal Light Tap available for frequent use.

Share the Burden, 3 ranks. 5%/10%/15% damage mitigation on our primary tank cooldown. What’s not to like? Pairs well with Blessings of the Silver Hand.

Holy Paladin Gold Medal, 1 rank. Major trait. “Something cool.” Well, now we’ve got high expectations, Blizzard! Don’t let us down!

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Overall, I’m fairly excited about our traits. They’re not all super exciting, but there’s plenty of strong traits that will enhance our healing and give us some nice new options. There’s also numerous fun trait/talent combinations, so even if our trait choices won’t matter, which talents we pair them with will still be important. Let’s cross our fingers that our third and final Major trait is something great, and is indeed something cool!

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