This is Part II of a post I started last week detailing my experiences trying to add Hand of Sacrifice into my healing. It's long so if you want the TL;DR version here it is: HoS is still a work in progress for me, but there are some really good opportunities to use it in current tier raiding.
I had big dreams before we started raiding on Thursday nights. I thought I could work in this ability on cooldown through every fight in Icecrown. I did manage to get some uses out of the ability but not nearly as often as I had planned.
Let's just say that for Marrowgar and Lady Deathwhisper, I totally forgot. Because I did. I fell into the terrible habit of thinking that because this fight won't be hard, I don't need to be on my toes.
However, I had been prepared to use HoS on Marrowgar right after Bone Storm, but before Spike Graveyard. This ability could be dangerous to the user if you get spiked before the effect wears off, as you'd be unable to do anything and completely at the mercy of your other healers. A good time to use it would be right after a Spike (when it's still on cooldown).
Lady Deathwhisper doesn't have severe tank damage to the point where a paladin would find trouble keeping up. It brings up an interesting question for theorycrafting, since most discussions we have for paladin healing are for progression. When a fight is easy and situational-use cooldowns aren't necessary, is it bad play to not use them, or is it overkill?
For Deathwhisper, I wonder if the disadvantages of HoS outweigh the benefits. The tank isn't in danger from the damage he's taken, however, I am in danger from encounter specifics. DnD, Frostbolts and Ghosts all eat a decent chunk of health and could be fatal in combination with HoS, or even with each other.
For the Airship, I remembered to use HoS and I got in four uses. (If you just did the math of four uses every two minutes and are wondering how we managed to have an airship fight that long...). We had some serious lag. Everyone in the raid suffered five second delays for the first half of the fight. After the away team hopped over for the fourth time, I realized something was severely amiss. Both ships were at 50%! I shuddered in fear - how embarrassing to wipe on the airship, even if we could blame lag (but blaming lag is weak). Somehow, we all started lagging less and started killing more. The plus side is, I did manage to HoS the away tank as he flew over a few times. The downside? We lagged so bad I had no idea if it actually helped and I never really saw if what kind of damage I took from it. Bah!
(As an aside, the range on healing spells is forty yards, while the range on Hands is 30. To HoS your tank across the way, you'll need to pop it while he's in the air or fly over yourself. Sadly it means we won't be able to mitigate when the tank is taking more damage).
For Saurfang, I got in two uses of HoS and it worked just like I thought it would. Once on the tank, early, and one later in the fight on a Mark at Frenzy. We all lived!
For Festergut, I believe I snuck in two uses of HoS although the second one was the "we're at 5% like hell the tank is dying now" type of use during the second inhale phase (I did that, Divine Sacrifice, and bubbled). Otherwise, using HoS during Phase III (massive tank damage) works like a charm. I had the active tank Beaconed, HoS, and spammed myself twice with Holy Light before resuming HL spam on the tank.
Rotface was still a newer fight for us so there were more than one attempt. Our first attempt, the MT died due to some RNG (my very own pet ooze during ooze explosion). Anyways, HoS works pretty well for this fight especially later when there are more oozes out and the tank will be eating more than 5 oozes. Sometimes it seems like he takes no damage at all earlier in the fight, but later as Rotface is throwing out oozes faster and faster, HoS and DS are very handy tools and you'll have the opportunity to keep both on cooldown.
Our next attempts were on Valithria Dreamwalker. As I'm more focused on my orb stacks, I am less in touch with what's happening in the raid. I find I don't have time to do anything but spam holy light. I'll save that rant for another day.
Ophelie (one of my blogging paladin idols) commented on my first Hands post asking when I would consider using HoS in place of DS. Since I'm always in the healer party and no amount of begging/pleading/cajoling has been able to change the RL's mind, I've resorted to focusing on the raidwide mitigation aspect of the talent and using it during things like Bonestorm and Festergut Phase I. I still do use it as a tank mitigation cooldown but I rely on the 20% reduced damage (raid-wide) instead of the 30% damage transferred (party only). 20% reduced damage on tanks for six seconds is still not a bad cooldown, and saves me worrying about my dipping health. With this in mind, for fights with heavy tank damage, they can be used back to back. For example, Festergut. Each inhale phase lasts 30 seconds, which means the total cycle is one and a half minutes. The "OMG HEAL THE TANK" phase lasts thirty seconds. Divine Sacrifice lasts six. Hand of Sacrifice can last up to 12. For progression, I think there's enough time to use both.
Hand of Reckoning: I found a use for it!
In our ten man this week we had two new ranged who had never even seen ICC. For Saurfang, we had a couple of tense moments. Our feral tank had forgotten to unglyph Maul so he attracted the attention of a beast. He called it out on vent, I used HoR, and calmly replied "It's ok, I taunted." I found it extremely satisfying. From then on, I helped the ranged by taunting the beasts on the far side when I thought they might get hit. Being a paladin is fun!