Bubble Spec: the New Hotness

Ever since WotLK rolled melee and spell crit into one crit rating, Holy/Ret has been the spec of choice for the vast majority of holy paladins out there, with this 51/5/15 spec being the most popular choice. (Others choose to sacrifice 3 points in Divinity for an extra 3% crit from Sanctity of Battle, which is a reasonable choice.)

The classic Holy/Ret build synergises excellently with the current strength of Crit Rating as a holy paladin stat, but there’s a new contender on the scene: the 51/17/+3 Shield spec.

51/17/+3 Bubble Spec

This build sacrifices the extra 5-8% Crit chance from the Ret tree, which will be significantly less useful after 3.2. In exchange, it picks up Guardian’s Favor, for more frequent HoProtections, and two key talents:

Divine Sacrifice redirects 30% of all damage taken by raid members within 30 yards to you, for 10 seconds. Like Hand of Sacrifice, it’s capped at 150% of your health – but if you have Divine Shield up, that cap doesn’t trigger and it’ll mitigate the full 30% for 10 seconds. This is invaluable in situations where you’ve got big incoming damage on more than one target, or significant raid-wide damage (such as XT-002’s Tantrum, or Hodir’s Frozen Blows).

Edit: As a commenter pointed out, there are some indications that this will be “fixed” in 3.2 so that Bubble or No Bubble, it still caps at 150%. That definitely reduces the utility of the cooldown, although it doesn’t affect Divine Guardian.

Divine Guardian increases your Divine Sacrifice to 40%, which is a nice bonus, and it doubles the duration of your Sacred Shield and increases the amount your SS absorbs by 20%. That’s a hell of a lot of punch from two talent points.

This build really comes into its own when you’ve got 4 pieces of Tier 8 armor, for the set bonus: “Your Sacred Shield can now trigger its effect every 4 sec instead of every 6“. Effectively, this set bonus provides up to an extra 50% mitigation by letting Sacred Shield proc more often; when combined with the increase in absorption from Divine Guardian, your Sacred Shield can become a very powerful protective tool.

I know it’s hard to put aside the Crit Rating for something as unglamorous as a better shield, but I think every holy pally should at least take a look at this build when patch 3.2 hits, if they haven’t already.

25 thoughts on “Bubble Spec: the New Hotness”

  1. Actually Divine Guardian is “fixed” in 3.2 so I’m not sure anyone will want to take a look at this spec anymore.Even when you have Divine Shield up it’s capped at 150% of your health, which doesn’t add up to very much mitigation.

  2. I’ve been pushing the holy paladins I know to do this since Divine Guardian became a talent!

    A great place for some of those extra talent points is Blessed Hands – increases the absorb of Divine Sacrifice.

  3. I love my crit spec. I love seeing 24K Holy Lights, and the occasional 12K Holy Shock (those REALLY surprise me when they happen, must have wings popped when that happens). I love hearing our Holy Priest call that he’s almost out of mana, and seeing my own mana bar at 40%, even though I’ve been healing big. Still, as we delve deeper into Ulduar, I’ve been feeling the call of the Divine spec, and it’s getting harder to resist.

    Nice to see you back, btw.

  4. This is the spec I’m carrying as my dual spec, and will be using it this week in 25 man Ulduar, since I now have 4 pieces of Tier 8/8.5 armor.

    After which I will be re-crunching my mana numbers to see if they’re all that different from the 51/0/15 +5 spec I’d been using (as my raid’s buffbot, I have some talents most holies don’t usually have to pick up). While I don’t expect to see a whole lot of change, I’m hoping to see a little less doom in the calculator if I’m going more towards mitigation and throughput.

    Go go Disc Paladins!

  5. I am this spec already but instead of 3 points in ret, I put it in the Improved Devo since sometimes we don’t have a prot pally in our 10 mans. I haven’t had the privilege of getting 4 pc T8 but I don’t really miss the 51/5/15 spec much.

  6. My Pally has been the above spec with the 3 extra points in Imp Devo Aura (as we’re frequently without a Prot Pally or Resto Druid in her raids) since 3.1 hit.

    Divine Sacrifice is really awesome, and Divine Guardian makes HoSac good enough to use as a tank cooldown without the need of a backup.

  7. This is something the other Holy Paladin in our guild is proposing as well and it makes a certain amount of sense. Mitigation is becoming an increasing important healing strategy for fights, especially fights like General so enhancing our mitigation potential is not a bad thing; but at the sacrifice of our potential to product an extreme amount of throughput in a small window of time? This type of build boasts well with the 3.2 mana regen changes because more mitigation = more time between casts = more effective mp5 will be, but I will miss my 45% crit :(

    Btw, nice to see you posting again. I always enjoyed your posts in 3.1 and I’m glad to see you have returned.

  8. Re:

    [quote]but if you have Divine Shield up, that cap doesn’t trigger and it’ll mitigate the full 30% for 10 seconds[/quote]

    That isn’t true…or at least not 100% of the time. This has been talked about over on EJ as well. Some instances people see DG roll for the full 10 seconds, yet other times it’ll stop after 150%. And bubble is popped every time. I can say I’ve seen it happen both ways, so I’m in the camp convinced DG is bugged

  9. This is pretty much my spec, I swapped from a standard 51-0-20 for doing 10man hard modes and I’m really enjoying it. My regen is a little lower, but the extra raid utility is amazing. I wouldn’t bother putting points in to Righteous Fury though, the second you start spamming some big heals you’re going to pull aggro even off a geared tank, and any fights with adds (Freya) just forget about it. I put those points into Toughness for the reduced movement slowing.

  10. Interesting spec – I toyed around with a variation of that (I prefer to take aura mastery than max Infusion / enlightened judgments). Now I’ve got the 4pt8 (which I equivocated on taking for a long time) it might be worth another look. I am guilty of underutilising SS too.

    Would you take benediction or IDA?

  11. I have gone with this spec, and in 10 man Ulduar am really liking it. I DO put my points into Righteous Fury for the damage reduction and NO your threat from heals is not boosted, I’ve tested this a number of times. This does not mean, however, that your judgements will not be very threaty, but that’s still nothing in the grand scheme of things.

  12. @Silk
    Blessed Hands! Aura Mastery! Don’t take Benediction or Imp Devo!
    Aura Mastery is clutch on predictable magic burst fights for which you have an aura (Hodir, Yogg, Sapphiron, upcoming flame boss in VoA) and is good against silences (Yogg hard!)
    Blessed Hands improves the absorb of Divine Sacrifice and improves the performance of your Hand spells. You’re speccing holy/prot to get Divine Sacrifice, why not maximize it’s effectiveness?

  13. @Josh
    Um…blessed hands doesn’t improve the absorb of Divine Sac it only improves your Hand spells.

  14. @Josh

    I fear that Alex may indeed be correct. Of course the great limitation (on both DS and HoS) is that they are capped at a maximum of the paladin’s health. I don’t believe that blessed hands increases that cap, only the amount transferred (up to 40% from 30% on HoS).

    In any event, since in most raid situations where DS or HoS would be useful much more damage than 150% of max health is flying around, the effectiveness of blessed hands is probably pretty limited.

    Totally with you on aura mastery though – I have that instead of 2 points in enlightened judgements (I respecced to max infusion again just last night – we’ll see how this goes).

  15. D’oh. I’ve been reading Hand of Sacrifice as Divine Sacrifice for months.
    Regardless, still bumps up the absorb on Hand of Sac!

  16. This is indeed a very good spec. I have been running it since week two of 3.1 and am loving it.

    I kept a holy/ret build coupled with T7.5 as my offspec for certain 25m hardmodes(Thorim, IC), but after gaining some more ulduar gear I can MT heal through these fights with 54/17/0 wearing 4P 8.5 with no problems.

  17. The best choice is having both in dualspec and switching depending on boss needs. Bubble spec turns out better in bosses like deconstructor, hodir, thorim, vezaxx

  18. I’ve been using this spec on my paladin since 3.1 as well. Since most paladins use the Holy/Ret build this lets you add something more to the table instead of being just like everyone else.

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