Monday, November 10, 2008

Beacon of Light: Backwards?

As you may know, Beacon of Light is the new 51 point talent for the Paladin Holy tree. It's designed to allow the Paladin to better handle healing situations in which multiple targets are taking damage—a scenario in which Paladins were very ill-equipped to handle prior to patch 3.0.

Now, this post isn't so much about the talent's effectiveness or what I think about it (but if you must know, I'm not really a fan). It's about the divergence between the talent's design and name.

Generally speaking, Blizzard does a phenomenal job of making sure that spells and abilities fit well with the names they're given. Rohan, of Blessing of Kings, discusses this in the post Ability Names. Beacon of Light, in my opinion, is one exception. When I look at the nomenclature of Beacon of Light, I tend to divide it into two parts: "Beacon" and "of Light". The latter part is pretty self-explanitory, and I have no quarrel with it. My problem lies with the useage of the word "Beacon".

Think about it: a beacon is something which emits energy, usually in the form of light. However, Beacon of Light does not turn its target into something which emits the Light—it turns the target into something which mirrors the healing received by other targets. As a result, I always feel that the effect is somewhat backwards every time I use it.

So, what happened? Why did Blizzard's normally high standards of nomenclature break down in the case of Beacon of Light? I believe the primary reason for this is that the Beacon of Light which exists today is a completely redesigned spell from the original one (the one that properly fit the name). The Beacon of Light which first debuted in the Wrath of the Lich King beta was an area of effect heal over time spell, which read as follows:

Beacon of Light
Requires 50 points in Holy
The target becomes a Beacon of Light, healing all party or raid members within 10 yards for 2000 over 15 sec.

As you can probably guess, I think the old version fits the name much better than its successor. What do you think?


  1. Beacons are often used to bring things to them as well. Lighthouses serve as beacons to ships telling them were to go for docking. I believe this would be how blizzard saw it. Thus the healing spells on others hit the beacon because they see the beacon and also go to hit it after they hit the target.

  2. The name does seem a little odd.

    I think perhaps they intended the terminology as in the tank (I'm assuming the tank is the most likely focus of the spell) is this awe inspiring monolith of armour and righteousness, taking no damage and being healing miraculously and inexplicably (because he is copying all the healing effects in a radius).

    Might be what they where going for?

  3. While both of the above may be the case, the history of the spell seems to imply the meaning I discussed. While the idea of a guiding beacon does make sense, I still cannot help feeling that the spell remains somewhat backwards in nature.

    Also, while the "beacon of hope" terminology is possible, Beacon of Light is pretty underwhelming as a tank heal. Generally speaking, it has the tendency to transfer too little health to the tank (as an effect of its not transferring overheal), resulting in not enough healing, and therefore, tank death.

    In raiding situations, I think it's fairly accepted idea now that Beacon of Light is probably most effectively used to send some extra healing towards an off-tank (or some other target that you expect to take heavy damage) while you maintain heals on the main tank.

    Both are interesting ideas which I must admit didn't occur to me, but I don't feel that either really sits quite right. Though, perhaps I'm just being an old dog and refusing to learn new tricks. :P