Lightsworn: Healing Warlords of Draenor Challenge Modes
Last week Blizzard told us that Warlords of Draenor Challenge Mode weapon appearances will be account-wide in Legion. This is exciting news, as these weapons are totally unique appearances, and most of them look amazing. There hasn’t really been any major Holy Paladin Legion news lately, so lets take a look this week at how Holy Paladins might tackle Warlords’ Challenge Modes, and what to expect. Challenge Modes aren’t easy, especially when going for the Gold times required to unlock the weapons, but the rewards are worth it!
Let’s get one thing very clear: Challenge Modes are mean. They’ll push you down the stairs, steal your lunch money, and make fun of your dog. If you step into a Challenge Mode without reading a guide or watching a video, with no advance knowledge of what difficulties the dungeon is going to throw your way, it’s going to be ugly. Challenge Modes are races, time trials, and speed runs. Your entire group needs to know the fastest, most efficient path through the dungeon, which trash packs will be pulled together, when you’ll be using Bloodlust/Heroism, when/if you’ll be using invisibility potions, etc. You don’t need to be the best players in the world to get Gold times, but you do need a solid strategy.
My group likes to prepare by first taking in some basic, solid guides — Wowhead’s Challenge Mode guides and videos are an excellent resource — before heading to Youtube to look up World #1 runs, to see what special strategies the most successful players in the game use. World #1 groups always have mind-boggling DPS, sure, but they also usually employ clever (sometimes bizarre) tricks to shave considerable time off their runs. Wall jumps, goblin gliders, Warlock teleport shenanigans — all of these are perfectly legal and basically expected in Challenge Modes. Do you need to use these tricks? Nope! But if you don’t take these extra measures to cut down your times, you’d better be capable of executing near-flawless runs with outstanding DPS numbers.
Before attempting a Challenge Mode dungeon, it’s definitely worth your time to run it on Mythic first, or even on Heroic or Normal, simply to familiarize yourselves with the layout, where the enemies are, and what certain trash/boss abilities look like. You can also set up raid markers on a lower difficulty, and they’ll still be there when you come back in on Challenge Mode difficulty.
We’ll be using our standard Greater Draenic Intellect Flask and Pickled Eel in Challenge Modes. (Savage Feasts or Blackrock Barbecues are cheaper and slightly less effective, but still acceptable.) We can also chug Draenic Intellect Potions on big pulls where we’ll need the healing help. Be careful with the intellect potions if you’re using Draenic Invisibility Potions to skip a portion of the dungeon, though — you really don’t want to reach for your invisibility only to discover that all your potions are on cooldown. You can safely ignore Augment Runes, as they don’t function in Challenge Modes.
Unlike in Mists of Pandaria, there’s no “super drink” for Warlords Challenge Modes, so Gorgrond Mineral Water, Saberfish Broth, or any equivalent drink will do just fine. (Technically Graccu’s Mince Meat Fruitcake is the fastest mana restoration food, but since you can only acquire this during Feast of Winter Veil, it’s not really a conventional option. Still, if you see a bunch of fruitcake cheap on the Auction House, you might want to grab them.)
You may notice the absence of mana potions in the above list. In Challenge Modes, stronger heals are more important than mana efficiency/longevity. Tank damage is constant and high, so you need the biggest, beefiest heals you can get, which means using intellect potions instead of mana potions. Remember that unlike a raid boss encounter, you’ll be leaving combat periodically in Challenge Modes, allowing you to take brief mana breaks when you need them!
Gear and statistics
Gearing for Challenge Modes is extremely straightforward in Warlords — only an item’s base statistics and its enchantments matter. You can completely ignore gem sockets, Warforged status, upgrade levels, and tertiary statistics. I like a Critical Strike/Haste setup, as big, fast heals are exactly what I’m looking for in Challenge Modes, but a Critical Strike/Mastery build will also work just fine, giving you slightly slower heals but stronger Illuminated Healing shields and mana efficiency. You definitely want Critical Strike for those Infusion of Light procs, though.
When it comes to Spirit versus other secondary stats, it’s the same debate as always — how much Spirit is enough, and how much is too much? I prefer a bare minimum amount of Spirit by using a caster DPS neck/cloak/rings, since I can drink and refill mana between trash pulls. However, if you prefer to have more Spirit (or if you simply don’t have any items without Spirit), then that’s fine too.
Trinkets are a different story, though. You can get a huge amount of extra Intellect/healing throughput from trinkets, and trinkets with on-use throughput effects also have the benefit of functioning as mini healing cooldowns, giving you that little extra oomph for troublesome pulls right when you need it. If you still have an Everburning Candle lying around, it’s a Challenge Mode beast (242 Intellect, plus mana regen), but there’s no shortage of other quality Challenge Mode trinkets. Shards of Nothing, Copeland’s Clarity, Quiescent Runestone, Goren Soul Repository, and Intuition’s Gift are all excellent options.
Challenge Mode fundamentals
As always, talents and glyphs are highly subjective to personal preference, group composition, and what dungeon you’re doing. Here are my build suggestions, as well as some other things to keep in mind. Of course, if you have a different build that you prefer, by all means, stick with what works for you! (An important aside: in Warlords, you cannot change talents or glyphs during a Challenge Mode run, so make sure your build is how you want it before you start the clock.)
- Movement speed: Speed of Light will typically be your best movement speed talent. You can use it to sprint ahead after a pull to sneak a few drinks and recover mana, or simply to maintain a fast pace, since speed is so important when chasing Golds. Additionally, the extra speed can be essential when using invisibility potions to skip annoying trash packs. Just remember to hit Speed of Light first, then pop your invisibility potion.
- Interrupts and stuns: Rebuke and Fist of Justice are crucial in Challenge Modes. I’ve mentioned before how interrupts and stuns are essentially proactive/preventative healing, and how we should be utilizing them whenever we can. Well, this is never more important than in Challenge Modes! A single uninterrupted spell can absolutely crush your entire team in a Challenge Mode, and with only five people in your group, you need every interrupt and stun you can get. One deadly example is the final trash pack before Ner’zhul in Shadowmoon Burial Grounds, which consists of two Void Spawns. If their Void Pulse casts aren’t interrupted consistently, your entire group will die. Don’t just heal damage; stop it before it even happens.
- Tank damage: If you’re aiming for Golds, your tank will need to pull trash very quickly and in massive amounts. To cope with this heavy tank damage, take talents that provide tank damage mitigation or burst healing. Clemency, Sanctified Wrath, Execution Sentence, and Saved by the Light are all excellent Challenge Mode choices, along with Glyph of Flash of Light and Glyph of Hand of Sacrifice, for obvious reasons. If you have a Libram of Vindication, Selfless Healer can also be a powerful tool, assuming you’re familiar with the playstyle.
- Merciful wrath: Glyph of Merciful Wrath presents an interesting conundrum. Having Avenging Wrath available every 90 seconds is certainly helpful, especially given how difficult trash can be in Challenge Modes. On the other hand, some dungeons have some truly brutal pulls, and in those situations having a full-power, unglyphed Avenging Wrath can really save the day. I switch this in and out depending on which dungeon I’m doing.
- Contributing damage: Your top priority in Challenge Modes is keeping everyone alive, but you should try to chip in a bit of Denounce or Hammer of Wrath DPS whenever you safely can. We don’t deal a lot of damage, but every little bit makes the run go faster. Hammer of Wrath does a decent amount and is instant-cast, and with the amount of trash you’ll be mowing down, you’ll have many opportunities to use it.
A challenging task
If this is your first time attempting Challenge Modes, they’ll likely take a few tries. Don’t get discouraged! They’re tough for a reason. Even if your first few runs are painful, keep at it — start with Bronzes, then go for Silvers, and finally, set your sights on Golds. Practice and experience make a significant difference, and your group’s execution, efficiency, and overall times will improve over time. We’ve got many months still before Legion arrives, so keep plugging away and you’ll have those shiny Challenge Mode weapons before you know it!
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