This guide was written Pre-Patch 5.0.4, watch for an update soon.
- Holy Power
- Stats and Gear
- Gems and Enchants
- Seals, Judgements, Auras
- Healing Priority and Mana Management
- Healing Spells
- Healing Rotations
- Things to Remember
How to play a Holy Paladin
So you want to be everyone's knight in shining armor and save the day? Well, you’ve come to the right place. This guide will walk you through the basics of playing a holy based Paladin, or Healadin as they are commonly called.
Playing a Holy Paladin can be a lot of fun if you are into being a support player. Be prepared for the role though as many players can not just sit back and not be directly involved in combat or damage dealing. As with playing a Priest, or any other healing class, you need to understand that while you rarely do anything to the enemy, you allow or enable your group to survive to do damage. This is not something everyone can cope with, so be warned. It is a critical role though and one that a group can not be without, it just takes a special kind of player to be able to fill the role.
If you are a support style player, Holy Paladins or Healadins as they are sometimes called, have a lot to offer. Paladins can throw some of the biggest heals around, have great group buffs and can take a quite a few hits if they accidentally draw aggro. These are not your cloth or leather healers that cringe when an enemy heads their way and starts yelling for help. A Paladin can heal effectively while being beaten on by an enemy and survive long enough for the group to finish off a different foe and then come and deal with the one attacking you.
Paladins do have less healing options than other healers though. They have only a single heal over time ability, only a single instant heal that is usable at any time, and only two AOE heals (one of which requires Holy Power to use), and many heals have relatively long casting times. All that only means is that you need to watch closely and be prepared. Know your healing priorities and you will be just fine.
As a Holy Paladin you will obviously be spending the majority of your talent points in the Holy tree. You need to spend at least 31 points there just to unlock the ability to spend in the other talent trees at all, and even then the other trees do not offer a whole lot for you.
By specing into the Holy Talent tree though you get access to some of the core Holy abilities such as Holy Shock, Walk in the Light, Meditation, and the Illuminated Healing Mastery ability.
Holy Shock offers you an instant cast heal to help save players at the last second, while Walk in the Light increases healing by 10%, and Meditation allows you keep 50% of your spirit based mana regeneration while in combat. All of these are critical healing abilities that help you as a Holy Paladin. Better yet is the Illuminated Healing Mastery ability which places a damage absorbing shield on anyone you heal with a single target heal that absorbs some of the incoming damage over the next 15 seconds. This ability helps smooth out healing and saves significant amounts of mana by not having to heal that target as much.
Talent wise there are several key talents in the Holy tree that greatly improve your healing ability, none more so than the 31 point talent Light of Dawn and the 16 point talent Beacon of Light. The Light of Dawn talent grants you a whole new healing spell that heals up to 5 players in a cone in front of you, better yet it is a smart heal and picks those that needs the healing most. Beacon of Light is an ability that lets you select one party or raid member and then any healing done to anyone else within 60 yards of them also heals them for 50% of the healing done.
This is the Holy Paladin Build that I use when Healing - 31/3/7 Holy Build.
This build has proven itself to me over time in many situations. Besides focusing on the Holy tree it dips into the Protection tree to pick up even more healing power with Divinity (+6% healing). It also goes into the Retribution tree to pick up Crusade to increase your Holy Shock ability, Improved Judgment for extra range, and Pursuit of Justice to be able to reposition faster when required.
There are a number of decent Glyphs for a Holy Paladin, and depending on your situation they may be different than these. The ones listed below are based on the requirement of Heroic Instance and Raid healers. If you PVP or just play very casually in groups in zones then you may want to examine other options. However if you plan on grouping to run instances or raids, you should use the following:
Glyph of Divine Favor - Increases the duration of Divine Favor by 10 seconds. This gives you 30 seconds of uptime every 3 minutes, or 16.66% uptime instead of 11.11% uptime. That is significant when you consider that that extra 5% of the time you will have 20% extra haste and crit.
Glyph of Seal of Insight - Grants 5% extra healing while Seal of Insight is active. Since it will always be active, you will always be granted 5% extra healing, how can you lose?
Glyph of Word of Glory - Boosts Word of Glory's healing by 10%. Word of Glory is one of your key healing spells since it costs no mana but instead consumes Holy Power, getting the most out of any free spell is key when you are talking about mana conservation.
Glyph of Divine Plea - Divine Plea returns an additional 6% of your mana pool. This adds 50% to the ability and is makes this one of the best major glyphs you can get.
Glyph of Cleansing - Cleansing costs 20% less mana. In almost any group situation Cleanse will be used very often to remove various debuffs from players rather than have to heal the extra damage that they will cause or allow to be caused. Since it will be used so often, saving 20% of it's mana cost is significant.
Glyph of Beacon of Light - Beacon of Light is now a free spell instead of costing 6% of your mana. You will always have Beacon up on a target and it is cast every 5 minutes, so it is a decent mana savings.
No real significant bonuses to be had. You can grab which blessing or seal glyphs that you use for some mana savings, however since you do not cast these abilities all that often, the mana savings are almost completely ineffective.
In Cataclysm Paladins now have what amounts to Rogue-like combo points called Holy Power. We earn Holy power by using different abilities depending on your spec. As a Holy Paladin most of out Holy Power is generated by casting Holy Shock, or by healing out Beacon of Light target with the talent Tower of Radiance. The points stack up to 3 and can be used at any time to trigger abilities such as Word of Glory for single target healing or Light of Dawn for an AOE heal.
Generally we should use our Holy Power only when it gets all the way to 3 stacks. However as soon as it does we should use it right away. How we use it is as follows:
Word of Glory is a great heal as it is both free from mana cost and an instant, the only draw back is you must have Holy Power to use it. The amount it heals is based on the Holy Power points you have available and it consumes all of them, because it will use a global cooldown it is best to wait for all 3 HP to be up. At level 85 the base amount healed is roughly 2,000 health per HP point.
Light of Dawn is an AOE heal that heals up to 5 players in a cone in front of you and it uses a smart healing mechanic to heal those that need it most. Again the healing is based on the number of Holy Power points that you have available and therefore you should wait for 3 to be up. At level 85 the amount healed is roughly 650 per person per HP point.
Both of these heals form critical parts of our healing rotation since they are essentially free, other than costing a global cooldown.
Paladins make solid healers that can take a lot of incoming damage as well due to their heavy armour.
Gear for a Healadin is a fairly easy when compared to many of the other Paladin build types. Your main concerns should be Spell Power, Intelligence as your two primary stats. After that comes Haste, Spirit, Mastery, and Spell Crit. Luckily all of these come in at least pairs on almost all healing items you will find.
Spell Power and Intelligence are by far the most important stats as they are considered primary stats and can not be reforged into or out of, but are only gained through the inherent item bonuses, enchants, or gems. Both allow you to cast more effective heals over a longer time than the other stats.
Intellect is king because it grants boosts to almost all of your other stats, and its benefit is multiplied by many of your bonuses and the buffs you will be granted by others in raids and groups. Even just self buffed you will gain a 10.25% boost to your intellect from the stacking 5% bonuses from Plate Specialization and Blessing of Kings. Intellect increases your maximum mana, spell power, spell crit, and your mana regeneration from mana of your abilities and spirit.
Spell Power provides extra healing to each spell that you cast in an amount based on the spell cast. The amount of healing that a spell gains from your spell power is based on a coefficient that is specific for each spell, which will be discussed later, but as a quick example every 100 spell power that you have grants your Flash of Light an extra 86 healing and your Holy Light an extra 43 healing.
Haste and Spirit are a Holy Paladins best friends once you are level 85. Haste allows you to lower the cast times of your spells and more importantly lower the Global Cooldown (GCD). You can get your GCD all the way down to 1 second which drastically increases your healing ability, however this requires almost 3500 haste, which is quite a bit. Every 100 Haste at level 85 grants roughly 0.8% spell haste. Spirit is your primary stat for mana regeneration, and because it scales with Intellect as well, it is hard to give an exact number when what it grants, as it shifts with your gear. It is important to stack a lot of it though to keep your mana up through a fight.
Mastery is useful since is raises the amount of damage blocked by our Illuminated Healing ability. However since Illuminated Healing is not generated from all of our healing spells, it is not as important as Haste and Spirit. At level 85 100 Mastery increases the amount of damage shielded by Illuminated Healing by roughly 0.7%.
The least effective healing stat for Holy Paladins is Crit. While crit is nice in theory, and we do need some of it to help keep Conviction active, it only heals for an additional 50%. In addition 100 crit at level 85 only grants a bit over 0.5% extra crit chance, meaning point for point it grants less benifit than our other key stats.
Gems and enchants will play a critical part in improving your gear and therefore the amount of healing that you can put out. The bonuses that you can add through enchants and gems at high levels are almost as much as you get on the item itself. Better yet they can be customized to be what you require, however keep in mind that you should focus mainly on Intellect as it is by far your best stat.
Starting with the easier topic of gems, in general you should be putting a red intellect gem in every single socket you have, red or not. The only time you will not follow this is when the socket bonus is +10 Intellect or more per socket on the gear that you have to not use a red gem in. The exception being the two sockets that you will need to put yellow or orange gems in to meet the requirement for your meta gem. These should be Reckless Ember Topaz's which grant haste and intellect so that you lose as little as possible.
As for Meta Gems the best you can get is the Ember Shadowspirit Diamond which grants 2% maximum mana and Intellect. This will be the best gem in most situations, however on very long fights the mana return proc from the Insightful Earthsiege Diamond does generate more mana over time, but you lose 33 Intellect.
Now onto the more difficult topic of enchants on your gear. Proper enchants can add a lot of stats to your already good gear. The most critical enchant will be to your weapon as they provides a huge boost to your overall healing ability, more than pretty much any other enchant. For the rest of the enchants I have included a table to outline the ones that are best on each slot.
|Slot||Bonus||Notes / Source (if not from an enchanter)|
|Head||+65 Intellect and +35 Crit
||Guardians of Hyjal - Revered|
|Shoulders||+50 Intellect and +25 Haste||Therazane - Exalted|
|Chest||+20 to all stats||May sub with +15 to all stats|
|Back||+50 Intellect||May sub with +30 Intellect|
|Legs||+95 Intellect and +55 Spirit||Powerful Ghostly Spellthread|
|Feet||+50 Haste||+35 Mastery and Increased Run Speed|
Spiritsong (+200 Spirit for 15 seconds after a spellcast with a fairly quick internal cooldown and about a 25% chance)
Power Torrent (+500 Intellect for 12 seconds after a spellcast, but has a longer internal cooldown and is much more expensive)
Most settle for Spiritsong, but Power Torrent is better, but very costly.
Reforging is a great way to adjust your stats to those that better suit your exact needs. For a complete guide on how to reforge check out our guide here: Reforge This - A Guide to Reforging in World of Warcraft. As for Holy Paladins you should adjust your stats so that you maximize your Spirit and Haste as a top priority.
When equipping healing gear, you will be limited on the stats that are available on it. The gear will only have Intellect, Stamina, Spell Power, Spirit, Haste, Crit, and Mastery. Since the first three on that list are primary stats and therefore can not be reforged, you are left with Spirit, Haste, Crit, and Mastery. Which is best though?
Your first priority is to reforge to Haste and Spirit in pretty equal amounts. If you are having mana issues in long fights then you should focus more on Spirit than Haste. On the flip side, if you are ending fights with full mana all the time then you should focus more on Haste to improve your healing output. Over time you will constantly be shifting points back and forth between these two stats.
Next up is Mastery to improve the amount of damage that your Illuminated Healing shields. After that you can look at Crit which is needed in some value, but is not nearly as important as the other stats.
As a Holy Paladin you really only have one seal that you will use with any regularity in PVE, which is Seal of Insight. When fighting in PVP situations you may look at Seal of Justice to slow enemies, however even then Seal of Insight is likely better due to the mana boost.Seal of Insight is our main seal due in large part to the extra healing that it grants by being active as long as you have the glyph for seal of insight, which obviously you should. In addition when you judge it on a target, which you can at distance with the improved judgment talent, you gain mana back. Judging in will also grant haste due to your talents. As you can see, no other seal would really have the same level of benefit for you as Holy since they are mainly about causing damage.
For complete details on all of the Seals we have as options read the guide: What are the Best Paladin Seals.
As for Blessings, you have two main choices Blessing of Kings of Blessing of Might. Blessing of Kings should be your priority as it grants 5% extra to Strength, Agility, Stamina and most importantly for us Intellect, however since it is the same as Mark of the Wild, if you have a Druid in the group you can then chose to Bless Might instead. Might grants attack power and mana regeneration. So Kings is priority, but if you have if from someone else, Might should be up as well.
Continue to the next page here: Holy Paladin Guide Page 2.
For general Paladin information, check out our complete Paladin Guide.
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