There's a tool in my holy paladin "toolbox" that hasn't gotten much of my attention. For a class with two and a half heals and a whole lot of utility buttons, utility is king. That tool is called Hand of Sacrifice. I'm guilty of going most of the expansion without using it.
What's ironic is that once I went bubblespec (Divine Sacrifice), I fell in love with the ability as a tank-mitigation cooldown. And all this time I've been ignoring a similar ability I had baseline.
Perhaps it was fear. As a new holy paladin I was terribly guilty of not casting anything but healing spells. It's quite possible that I read the tooltip for the ability, and thought to myself: hey that might get me killed!, and ignored it. I was so afraid to use cooldowns and was awkward using them when I did try to add them into my playing. I did some limited playing in BC as a priest, a class with lots of spells and few cooldowns. Making the transition was slow for me. When WotLK came out, I was a new paladin and I was very bad. I could describe to you the depths of my badness, but instead I'll just say it nicely: I've come a long, long way. I have learned so much and even now I'm looking for ways to up my game. I've spent so much time talking about the new expansion but I'm still not even utilizing core abilities introduced in this one!
At some point I realized that cooldown management was key to loving life as a holy paladin. A well placed Hand of Protection on an overzealous mage (or if you want to win some brownie points, your healing lead) not only feels good, but saves a life. As paladins, we have a lot of emergency buttons like these, and it's hard to be able to use them all with enough fluid grace to use them well. My clickbindings for Holy Light, Beacon of Light, and Sacred Shield no longer require brainpower, they are firmly in my fingers. I don't have to reach for them, they are there.
The same can't be said for a lot of my other abilities. I might have them keybound or clickbound, but I don't use them often enough that my fingers alone can use them. They aren't instinctual, not yet. The tricky part, for me, is that these abilities do need to be instinctual, or it's too late. It's hard to work something into a routine, and it's hard to get used to doing something if it's not in your routine. At least for me (is that a Taurus thing?).
To break this cycle of spamming holy light and hoping for the best, I started going through all my abilities and defining good times to use them in each boss fight in current raiding. If I can't play instinctually, I might as well play prepared. For a while now I've been using Divine Sacrifice, Hand of Protection, Hand of Salvation, and Aura Mastery as circumstantially appropriate (mana regen cooldowns are their own beast and I've discussed them to boredom in earlier posts). This week in raiding, I'm adding Hand of Sacrifice boldly to my healing. It's always had a place on my clickbind reference chart but I'm going to use it until I can do it without thinking about it.
With a two minute cooldown, I'm aiming for two uses on each boss fight in ICC25 this week, with the exception of 3 on Rotface (I think that's the only fight that will last more than five minutes).
The damage-transfer aspect of the ability scares me a little but I have to remind myself it only transfers 100% - which means if I plan to Holy Shock myself soon after using it, that should be enough buffer to keep myself alive. I've had no problems using Divine Sacrifice thus far (although I'm always using it from the healing party), and I'm prepared to pop Divine Shield if things even start to look shaky. So what am I afraid of?
I'll follow up with the results of my "Hands" on training!