The Grind: the period after the level cap when you do the same thing over and over in order to get ready for raiding, whether its farming resources, running instances for gear, or doing daily quests for faction reputation. So, my impressions of how the grind is going.
Five minute duration of Beacon of Light: every boss fight in a 5 man should be finished in less than 5 minutes (most seem to take 3-4 minutes, a far cry from durations in WotLK where we were down to sub-20 seconds for most and where I think early expansion fight durations where around 2 minutes), its when DPS die early that fight durations extend over 5 minutes.
Steady state attrition: minor amounts of damage (10-20k per tick), covered with Holy Light, or Holy Shock. In a relative sense, incoming damage is often much less than Wrath, often when a tank dies it takes a minute for the boss to wipe the survivors, compared to the 10-20 seconds to do so in Wrath. So its a change from hard and fast to hard and slow damage.
Standing in flames: (30k per tick) can be healed, but requires cooldowns, so cannot always be done or done for long periods of time. On a trash pull it means the healer has to waste a minute after the fight on mana regen. On a boss fight it means the healer may go OOm before the Boss dies.
Tank spike: (30-50k) can be healed, but requires mana inefficient nukes (Flash of Light, or Divine Light). This may make avoidance more useful than stamina, as a fat mana bar is just a big mana sponge. Tank hitting zero health is usually mechanic fail, tank pulling too many mobs or pulling too soon or healer incorrect decision on type of heal to use. I seem to start Divine Light casts too often when the Tank is low health, and Flash of Light might be better because its faster.
Insta-gib: attacks that do > full health bar, cannot be healed (use SS or Brez), attacks that do 500,000 will not be outgeared until the next expansion (at the earliest). There are not too many of these, but where they exist, you can’t carry someone who fails on the mechanic.
Soulstones are better on tank for learning new fights. Reason: lack of mana after a healer resurrects, means the fight may be a soft enrage wipe.
Mana management: the more things everyone else does right, the easier it is for a Paladin to judge, which makes for less downtime between pulls. When I have to Always-Be-Casting heals, mana regen stops. Ability to cope with AoE heals/damage spikes depends on part on ability to maintain stacks of 2-3 holy power for as long as possible (and this is pure RNG, can be 1 stack/18 seconds or a continuous stack for the same period).
Brainlock: all the healthbars are orange/red – use Holy Radiance, Lay on Hands or triage (having 1-2 DPS die makes all future healing decisions much simpler for a Paladin).
Midline concept: if a health bar is on 50+% mid-fight, that’s okay, as health bars dip below 50% the intensity of healing output needs to be scaled up with bigger/faster heals and cooldowns.
Problem: if holy power is zero and tank health redlines, there are very few options for healing – LoH or 2-3 quick FoLs followed by WoG.
Far more bottlenecks than in Wrath, which will drive up the cost of raiding, as people can extract rents from sitting on the bottleneck. Some crafting materials (Dreamcloth, Chaos Orbs) are bind on pickup, so a lot of gear is hard to acquire – you can’t just pick up the materials from the Auction House, you have to find a crafter with them who is willing to sell, and you have to take the price they want or walk away. Mat sinks for vendor patterns (means patterns currently cost several hundred gold, not 10g, also means people do not acquire all patterns at once, which reduces ability to supply, e.g. I can only craft a few patterns my healadin can use, plus belt buckles). Higher vendor value for mats, increases minimum price, which increases AH price, and gold lost to AH cut. Enchants: BIS require raid only mats (not obtainable from 5 mans like in Wrath.
Justice Points pile up fast, due to the 4k starting bank after less than ten heroics I am out of main spec JP gear that is a strong/BIS upgrade. In Wrath the Tier 7 shoulders took 60 kills to obtain, in Cataclysm the JP Shoulders only take 24 kills to obtain (but not equivalent Tier 11 equivalent, 13 iLevel difference). So faster grinding, but dual specs means acquiring two sets of gear, and being subject to two sets of RNG for slots that do not have JP purchase options.
Its not that bad really. If you do all the quests in the levelling zones, you should be able to enter directly into heroics. By the time you hit exalted with all the dungeon factions, combined with Tol Barad dailies and rewards, you should be more than ready to raid.