Hi everyone, Ophelie here from Bossy Pally. The team here at Top Rosters asked me to get the Holy Pally ball rolling with a Holy Paladin PvE 101 post. I’m just a guest, though, so if you’re a holy paladin with the desire to share your knowledge on a regular basis, Top Rosters is looking for a class blogger to join the team and would love to hear from you!

I’ve been tossing and turning, thinking about how to go about this post. The problem with Holy Paladin PvE 101 is that there is no Holy Paladin PvE 101. Not because Holy Paladin healing is an exclusive and complex sport reserved only to the elitest of elite players. Quite the contrary, Holy Paladin healing is very accessible, versatile and adaptable. And there’s the issue: it’s versatile and adaptable. Any “this is how you do it” statement will immediately be shot down by “I do it differently“.

So here’s what I’m doing to do. I’m going to, as clearly as I can, lay out information helpful to building your own healing style, a style compatible with your gear, with the content you’re playing and with the team you’re playing with.

What to expect in 5s vs 10s vs 25s

Chances are, you’ll be starting off in 5 man dungeons with a makeshift healing set, just barely meeting the gear level requirement. You’ll be pressed for mana and you’ll find that your pitiful heals don’t contribute much to making everyone’s health bars bigger. You’ll place a Beacon of Light on the tank and you’ll use a mix of group (Light of Dawn, Holy Radiance, Aura Mastery) and single target heals and cooldowns.

If you find yourself parachuted into a 10 man raid, you’ll probably also find yourself scrambling for mana and concentrating on healing single targets. Your choice of gear stats and talents should reflect this. You’ll want your multi-target heals nearby, but you won’t rely on them as much as in other content formats. Your Beacon will almost invariably be on a tank, either on the tank you’re assigned to heal (if they’re receiving a lot of damage, or if there’s only one tank) or on the tank you’re not healing for maximum healing output.

As for 25 man raids, on normal modes, you might find yourself comfortable with your mana fairly early on in the gearing process and you’ll be itching to boost your output to keep up with the other healers. You’re also likely to be using multi-target heals like Light of Dawn and Holy Radiance whenever you get the chance. Choosing a Beacon target will usually depend on the fight, on whether you’re healing with other paladins and on your or your healing lead’s judgment.

Talents

Holy paladin specs are extremely fluid, meant to be changed as your needs change. Your team size, level of play and, in some circumstances, the specific fight you’re facing will call for a respec. Be prepared to spend a lot of gold at the trainer.

For your first spec, consider this versatile build:

33/5/3

This is the spec I use for 5s and 10s. It’s tuned towards single target healing but can be used in 25s as well. It also maximizes passive self healing and healing through Beacon for that extra oomph.

It’s a good starting spec that you can temper with as you discover your holy paladin needs.

Debatable talents:

Blessed Life vs Tower of Radiance: Tower of Radiance (ToR) charges a point of holy power every time you cast Divine Light and Flash of Light on your Beacon target. So if you frequently heal your Beacon target (notably in 5s and 10s) you’ll want to fill this square up with points. Blessed Life (BL) charges holy power when you take damage. Certain creature abilities will trigger it, but not all. BL is a nice talent to go for if you have the points to spare, and especially if you’re a 25s raider who chose not to opt for ToR.

Enlightened Judgments: You’ll need to put at least one point in here for the hit, to ensure that your judgment never misses and to give you more range leeway. Whether you put two points here is up to you. The self-heal (and subsequent transfer through Beacon) every time you judge has a minor impact on your overall healing, but at the same time, every little bit counts.

Protector of the Innocent: You’ll need to put at least 2 points here to move to the next tier in the tree. Like Enlightened Judgments, the extra healing you’d get from completely filling out this talent is minimal, but every bit counts.

Paragon of Virtue: Choosing and using cooldowns is a huge part of paladin healing and Paragon of Virtue is a talent that allows you to use your cooldowns more frequently. If you’re struggling with remembering to use your cooldowns, you can put points elsewhere until you’re more familiar with paladin healing, but if you’re struggling with mana or output, then this talent is a necessity.

Light of Dawn: I wouldn’t recommend dropping this talent, even if you rarely use Light of Dawn. However, if you feel like experimenting, it’s an option.

Eternal Glory: I don’t bother with Eternal Glory in 25s since my meager Word of Glory usage doesn’t justify 2 points. (Note, your mileage may vary, especially if you’re eyeing hard modes.) This talent is a must in 10s, though, and you’ll miss it in 5s if you try running without it.

Pursuit of Justice: You’ll have to sacrifice a lot to get this talent, but I sometimes go for it in 25s when I have points to spare.

Glyphs

I included some glyph suggestions in with the spec above, but here’s the magic behind choosing glyphs.

Prime
Seal of Insight is required.

Glyph of Holy Shock is debatable, but I always go with it.
Glyph of Word of Glory is almost essential in 5s and 10s, not so much in 25s.
Glyph of Divine Favor is really nice if you can fit it in.

Major
There are no must-haves.

Glyph of Divine Plea is almost required, especially when starting out, and in 10 mans.
Glyph of Divinity is debatable, but I can’t live without it.
Glyph of Lay on Hands is nice and I almost always use it. However, even with shaving the 3 minutes off the cooldown, you’ll rarely use it more than once per fight in raids. During 5 mans, though, this glyph really shines.
Glyph of Light of Dawn is great for 25 mans, not so much in 5s and 10s.
Glyph of Cleansing can be helpful if you’re the only dispeller.
Glyph of Beacon of Light isn’t used very often since the mana saved while using it, even in a long fight is significantly less than the other major glyphs. Unless you’re someone who constantly switches their Beacon target.

Minor Glyphs
They’re all useless, pick whichever fit your fancy.

Stats:

As a general rule, as of 4.0.6:

Intellect > Spirit > Critical Strike > Mastery

Intellect is your wonder stat. You want lots and lots of it.

Spirit is the next best stat for most and your best mana regen stat. However, sometimes in 25s (or if you have a really disciplined group, not matter the size), you’ll have an abundance of mana and might prefer Haste over Spirit.

Between of Haste and Critical Strike, Haste is the more reliable throughput stat. Given the choice, most holy paladins will opt for Haste.

Mastery isn’t a very strong stat at the moment, and can be safely neglected in favour of more throughput boosting stats. If you’re reading this after patch 4.1 has dropped, Mastery may have gained some value, but as I’m writing this in 4.0.6, it’s difficult for me to make predictions.

Gemming:

Meta: Ember Shadowspirit Diamond or Revitalizing Shadowspirit Diamond
All other sockets: Brilliant Inferno Ruby
If blue gem needed: Purified Demonseye
If yellow gem need: Reckless Ember Topaz

Buffing Thyself

Seal of Choice: Insight
Aura of Choice: Resistance if the majority of the damage is Fire, Shadow or Frost. Otherwise, Devotion to reduce physical damage or Concentration to minimize spell pushbacks. Coordinate with other paladins in the raid to have as many different Auras up as possible. But remember! Your Aura Mastery only affects your current Aura.
Blessing: Kings. Unless you need more mana regen, or there’s a druid in the party (Mark of the Wild is the same as Kings), then Might.
Food: Severed Sagefish Head (or Seafood Magnifique Feast if your team has the achievement)
Flask: Flask of the Draconic Mind
Potions: Mythical Mana Potion, Potion of Concentration (use wisely), Volcanic Potion

Beacon of Light Strategies

Choosing a Beacon of Light (BoL) target is an art in itself, especially in a 25 man raid. Beacon targets are often a point of contention between paladin healers and their healing leads, so make a point to ask your healing lead about the Beacon strategy they have in mind.

Essentially, Beacon of Light is a 5 minute buff you place on a target, which will transfer 50% of your heals to that target. When you directly heal your target, though, Beacon doesn’t trigger.

In a one tank fight (including 5 mans), you’ll almost always Beacon the tank.

In a two tank fight, in a 10 man raid, you get the most healing out of Beaconing the tank you’re not assigned to heal. If you’re assigned to raid healing, you’ll usually want to Beacon the tank most likely to get squished, but you can consider using Beacon on a DPS if you feel you really need to.

If you’re healing with other holy paladins (which typically happens more often in 25s than in 10s), you can “Cross Beacon” (Pally 1 Beacons Tank A and heals Tank B, Pally 2 Beacons Tank B and heals Tank A) or “Beacon Stack” (All Pallies Beacon Tank A and heal someone or something else) based on which strategy seems more fitting for the situation. Cross Beaconning is the standard when you have two paladins and two tanks, Beacon Stacking is sometimes used in 3 tank fights, or when one tank takes intense, rapid damage.

Your Routine Spells and How to Use Them

Judgement : This is a damage spell, but you’ll still want to start every fight with it, then use is whenever it comes off cooldown, if you can fit it in. Judging increases your haste by 9% and returns a fixed amount of your mana.

Holy Shock: Instant heal. Not overly powerful, but cheap. And instant. You’ll want to use this pretty much whenever it comes off cooldown.

Holy Light: Cheap, weak, slow heal. I like to use this as my baseline heal, when damage is minimal.

Divine Light: Expensive, big heal. Just as slow as Holy Light, but will provide the biggest heal per mana point. Use this to get someone from low health back to full health.

Flash of Light: Expensive and medium strength heal, but very fast. This restores the most health per second, but using it too much will drain you. Use it for emergencies, when you need to get someone up to full health in a rush and your cooldowns aren’t available.

Holy Radiance: Multi-target heal that radiates from you. Powerful when the group is stacked and in 25s, but also very mana taxing. In 25s, I use it frequently, in 10s I use whenever the group stats. Tip: Pair Holy Radiance with an Output Boosting Cooldown like Avenging Wrath.

Holy Power: How it works and what to do with it

Holy Power is an extra, 3 point bar (as if health and mana bars were enough). Certain actions give you points, and those points in turn fuel two spells: Word of Glory and Light of Dawn.

Charging Holy Power

You can get points of holy power from the following sources:

Holy Shock: Every time you use it, whether you’re healing or damaging with it.

Crusader Strike: Every time you use it. This is a melee spell with a cooldown so you’re not likely to use it often, but if you’re in melee range and need a holy power point, it’s an option.

Tower of Radiance talent: When specced into ToR, you’ll get a point of Holy Power whenever you use Divine Light or Flash of Light on your Beacon Target.

Blessed Life talent: When specced into BL, you’ll get a point of Holy Power from certain (but not all!) damaging effects from mobs.

Using your Holy Power

You get the choice between a single target heal (Word of Glory) and a multi-target heal (Light of Dawn) that transfers through Beacon for a nice fat heal on your Beacon target. The more holy power you have, the stronger the heals.

Word of Glory: This is a powerful, single target heal. Best used in small groups, at times when everyone is spread out.

Light of Dawn: A relatively weak heal that hits 5 (or 6 if glyphed) targets standing in front you. However, an LoD that hits enough players will transfer through Beacon for total heal on your Beacon target that will be roughly similar to or stronger than Word of Glory. As a result, in 25s (where you’re almost certain to have at least 5-6 people standing in front of you at any given time), LoD is usually the Holy Power sink of choice.

Your Cooldowns

Holy Paladin healing is all about choosing the right cooldown for the right occasion. What we may lack in routine spell diversity, we make up for with our incredible cooldown selections. The most challenging part of paladin healing? Figuring out how to have enough hot keys everything.

Mana Returning and/or Healing Throughput Cooldowns

Divine Plea: Returns mana for a few seconds, but reduces healing output while it’s active. For ultimate benefit, use during phase changes (or periods of minor damage) or compensate with simultaneous use of a throughput boosting cooldown like Avenging Wrath.

Lay On Hands: Heals a target to full health and, when glyphed, returns a good chunk of mana. The cooldown is long, so you’ll probably only get to use it once per fight. Pick your moment wisely.

Divine Favor: Boosts your critical strike and your haste for a few seconds. The cooldown on this one is short, so use it to your heart’s content.

Avenging Wrath: Boosts your healing for 30 seconds. I like to combine this one with Holy Radiance or, if needed, with Divine Plea. It lasts a long time and has a short cooldown, so this is another one to use as much as you want.

Divine Guardian: Summons a guardian that re-heals the targets of your heals and slashes heals to nearby players. Essentially, this cooldown can take a nearly dead group and restore it to full. It has a long cooldown, so I like to save it for the end of a fight, when all the healers are running low on mana.

Damage Mitigation or Prevention Cooldowns

Aura Mastery: Boosts of the effectiveness of your current Aura for 6 seconds or, if you have Concentration Aura up, makes the raid immune to silence. Can saved for certain boss abilities (a flame spray, for example) or used whenever it comes off cooldown, depending on the fight. Make sure you have the desired Aura active when using this spell.

Hand of Protection: Protects the target from all incoming physical damage for a few seconds and removes physical damage debuffs, but prevents the target from dealing physical damage while HoP is active on them. Also causes the target to loose aggro on any mobs currently dealing physical damage to them. Great for protecting clothies. Not to be used on tanks!

Divine Protection: Reduce damage dealt to you for a few seconds. A nice spell for times of intense damage. Pairs well with Hand of Sacrifice or Holy Radiance.

Divine Shield: Reduces all damage dealth to you for 6 seconds and causes you to lose aggro.

Hand of Sacrifice: Transfers 20% of the damage taken from your target to you. Due to Cataclysm granting us massive health pools, this spell shouldn’t kill you. Use during periods of high tank damage or if you want to save some mana.

Utility Cooldowns

Hand of Salvation: Reduces a target’s threat. Eager DPS love receiving Hands of Salvation. Use it freely.

Hand of Freedom: Removes or prevents movement limiting effects. Situational, but very helpful on fights with a lot of slowing effects.

Conclusion: Learn, one step at a time

With this, you’ll be happily on your way to developing a healing style that fits the environment you play in. The sheer number of paladin buttons might seem overwhelming, especially to someone who is completely new to the class.

The trick to learning is to practice with regular 5 man dungeons, starting off with becoming familiar with the routine healing spells. Then integrate cooldowns, one at a time, into your play. In no time, you’ll be healing your way to greatness!

Thanks for the amazing in depth guest post Ophelie! Check out all of Ophelie’s fantastic paladin posts at Bossy Pally.

*featured image courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment