Log in

View Full Version : Paladin healing - what are we good for?

21-05-2010, 03:42 PM
Concerned that my first contributions to this forum were pretty negative (http://shadowsongeurope.com/forum/showthread.php?goto=newpost&t=23329), I thought it would be good to try to address the balance by posting this guide I wrote for Solstice. Unfortunately I haven't updated it since then but most of the information is still accurate (except notably the bit about BoL heals retaining the +heal modifiers of the original heal) and most of the examples will have parallels with current content.

Thus the wall of text begins:

Ever eager to show-off (if nothing else my ability to drone-on) I've written this guide concerning raid healing; not heroics or PvP but raid-situations where inter-class and inter-specialisation synergy is of great importance. It will give some general healing advice, identify the strengths of our class, note opportunities where we can work together for the good of the raid as well as offer specific tips, with examples, of how to get the most anti-pew out of our skills. Hopefully non-Paladin healers will also read it and have comments and suggestions to further areas for cooperative improvement and coordinated efforts.

Generic Advice

Unit Frames

There's lots of things relating to the rest of the raid you need to keep track of as a healer; player health, your buffs on others, debuffs you can cleanse, who has aggro etc. The best way to keep track of these things is to have the whole raid's unit frames setup and ready to display the relevant information. While this can be achieved with the default UI, I believe that the information it displays is cluttered. I use an addon called Grid2 allowing me to customise the information displayed for each unit in the raid. For each unit there is a bar that represents its health which can be adorned with different types of indicators which are used to display additional statues relating to the unit. For example, my currently selected target has a white border while the others are grey, the unit with my Sacred Shield on has a yellow mark in the unit's bottom right corner, a blue mark in the top right hand corner tells me where my Beacon of Light is, the bottom left corner has a red mark on it when the unit has aggro and in the centre of the bar is either the player's name or the icon of dispellable debuffs (or other raid-statuses such as 'Curse of the Nether' in hard-mode Jaraxxus).


One of the things I find to be a must-have displayed 'status' is incoming direct heals. As long as a healer has the LibHealComm addon installed a green bar representing how big their direct heals outgoing is displayed on the unit's health bar to whom the heal is being directed on all the other healer's UIs which are setup to display that information. For example, if both myself and Moeffe are casting Flash of Light and Nourish on a target the target will get a second, green bar estimating where their health will be when both heals land as well as telling me how much healing that is textually on both Moeffe's and my own unit frames as well as most other healers in the raid. This helps prevent wasted overhealing. LibHealComm is packaged with most healer-orientated unit-frame addons such as XPerl and Grid but can be installed seperately without you even noticing it's there if you wish to help your fellow healers but retain the default UI.

Click to Cast

This refers to an addon that allows you to assign clicks on unit frames which then cast spells, these clicks can and should include modifiers. For example, if I alt-left-click a unit I cast Flash of Light upon them. This is obviously an action fewer than selecting the unit with a click and then casting the heal using a key-bind. This can be a big improvement when healing as it is often very reactionary task where split second decisions need to be made. I use an excellent addon called Clique for this.


We bring a lot of different buffs to the raid, both out of combat and in-combat. You'll need PallyPower or ZOMGBuffs addons to help coordinate the out of combat buffs and ZOMGBuffs can also assist you while in-combat.

Fight Mechanics

Try to identify key areas of the fight and prepare an allocation of cooldowns to combat them. This includes times when damage, positioning, mana regeneration or crowd control become priorities. For example; in Koralon I save my Fire Aura Mastery Divine Sacrifice ability for his last two Burning Breaths where raid damage would other-wise be difficult to heal, my Divine Favor + Holy Shock + instant Flash of Light for times when I may need to reposition and heal on the move when targetted by a Flaming Cinder, my mana regeneration abilities for when there's healing down-time like the phase transitions at the Northrend Beasts (unless there isn't down-time) and my Holy Wrath for when multiple adds are up in phase 1 and 2 of Anub'arak.

Paladins, what are they good for?

Historically we've been labeled as a class destined for tank healing by spamming our heals on a single party member. This was, essentially, boring and not particularly rewarding for the skilled player so lately Blizzard have given us some key tools that have radically changed the way in which we can best help a raid. With our new skill set in mind the ultimate conclusion is that we can, and should, be (in some kind of lose pseudo-priority order):

* Keeping Beacon of Light up >90% of the time.
* Using Sacred Shield to its fullest incorporating maximum absorption and Flash of Light heal-over-time procs.
* Constantly healing with at least FLash of Light.
* Maintaining mana via Arcane Torrent, Divine Plea, Divine Illumination, Divine Favor, Potions and Seal/Judgement of Wisdom, Lay on Hands and Innervate.
* Holy Shocking people when a flash of light might not reach them in time in mana-intense fights or every cooldown to provoke Infusion of Light procs if you can spare the mana.
* Using Holy Light intelligently, it is no longer the best strategy to spam Holy Light.
* Avenging Wrath and trinkets in conjunction with Divine Plea or during moments of intense healing.
* Reducing incoming damage at key moments with Divine Sacrifice, Aura Mastery and Hand of Sacrifice.
* Saving lives with Hand of Protection and preemptively with Hand of Salvation.
* Cleansing, but not Unstable Affliction (Faction Champions) or when it's not your job.
* Helping to Crowd Control with Hammer of Justice, Holy Wrath, Turn Undead.

Beacon of Light

This now replicates any of your heals cast on any other raid member onto the targetted raid member as long as the initial heal landed in line of sight and within 50 yards of the beaconed player. There is, however, a small delay in the transfer so time-critical heals such as those that need to land immediately after a e.g. Fusion Punch should be cast directly regardless of where your beacon is. I keep it up at all times and glyph it so that on many fights I'm saved a global cooldown every minute that would hinder my throughput, offsets it from (talented) Sacred Shield's duration and saves some mana (up to ~40mp5 by my math). Usually it's the main-tank taking most damage so at least one beacon should go there and depending on the fight further beacons should go on off-tanks or moved as tanks switch. For example, in hard-mode Council of Iron the best tactic would be to beacon the Fusion Punch tank and heal either your assigned off-tank or the raid, changing who has your beacon every time a tank dies in phase 3. Often the best use of multiple beacons is to have them on seperate tanks and raid heal, there are fewer situations when it would be better to beacon two tanks and cross-heal them (each paladin heal a tank with someone else's beacon on them) but fights where there's minimal raid damage, such as Patchwerk or Anub'arak phase 1 are examples of these cases. All positive healing effects on the target of your heal are also transferred to the beacon in full, so if you're not healing damage but just spamming Flash of Light as suggested above it's best to do it on targets with some plus heal bonus, this includes yourself if you have Divinity (or ideally another tank with Divinity), warlocks with Demon Armor active or rogues with Quick Recovery.

Sacred Shield

This skill absorbs a hell of a lot of damage considering how easy it is to maintain and has a couple of other properties that make it very interesting and which engender a variety of uses. I recommend talenting it so that it's significantly better in both absorption and duration (the 100% duration increase affects both the duration of the skill you use and the shield it produces) and keeping it up somewhere all the time. For me, this is most often on the same person who's got my beacon and I try to maintain the flash of light HoT effect on this target when more urgent healing isn't needed elsewhere.

21-05-2010, 03:43 PM
Flash of Light

With replenishment you can chain cast this and not expect to go out of mana or even make a dent in it any time soon. Since it's spammable it provides a basic level of healing on two tanks or the raid and a tank (with beacon) that can keep a tank pretty topped up preemptively, I think of it largely as a very micro-managed heal over time! It's for this reason that I use the arena libram of which the furious variety only requires a couple of weeks points at 700 rating to obtain. When the raid takes damage and you're going to use flash to heal try to avoid healing healing priests who are likely to want to use Binding Heal on themselves.

Regaining Mana

There are some fights that are so trivial I disregard this aspect entirely, however, as we start beating hard-modes it becomes a hugely important part of your job. One of the best preparations you can make is to make sure that you have a decent amount of Intellect from your gear as a lot of regeneration is based upon it.
Divine Plea makes up the majority of our mana returns but at a large cost to healing done for its duration. If there's no 'down time' in a fight such as phase transitions or periods of light healing in which to safely use plea then cover the reduction in healing done with Avenging Wrath or trinkets where possible or cancel it if the window is small. For example, the time between phases in the first fight in Trial of the Crusader is just under 15 seconds but still some healing needs to be done, I plea as soon as the mob dies and cancel it if it gets too dangerous to keep it running. I use a simple macro to quickly cast or cancel Divine Plea:

/cancelaura Divine Plea
/cast Divine Plea

But be careful not to double-tap the button or it'll cancel as soon as it begins. If you can time Divine Plea with a priest's Hymn of Hope buff which increases your maximum mana so much the better, it'll increase your effective returned mana from this ability.
Arcane torrent should be used just after you're 6% of mana into the fight and then again as soon as it comes off cooldown in the future. It's off the global cooldown so there should be no break in healing in order to use it.
Some paladins use Divine Illumination on every cooldown and I can see why though it suits me better to try and time it with periods of high-activity as I can use lots of cooldowns at once making keeping track of them easier as well as getting the most effective mana return from it. I always try to refresh Beacon of Light during a Divine Illumination as it's very costly to reapply.
Divine Favor increases mana-retention as you're guaranteed an Illumination proc so it's best to use it on either Holy Shock or Holy Light in order to get the most mana returned. I always use it for Holy Shock because the guaranteed Infusion of Light proc will either make it very likely your next Holy Light will return mana too or you can heal on the move with an instant flash.
There's not much to say about potions anymore, you can use them at any time, however, as an alchemist I try to save my Crazy Alchemist's Potion for a moment when any beneficial buff I receive will be most useful i.e. some period of intense healing.
In fights where it's safe to be in melee range of something, such as XT-Deconstructor, a lot of mana can be regained by using Seal and Judgement of Wisdom. You should be able to get a lot of melee swings in during global cooldowns. Fights to avoid doing this are those that involve any 'chain lightning' like ability, targeted void zones where melee may have to move or when you may have to run away from an AoE. If in doubt I recommend you do without!
A lot of the time I forget that Lay on Hands also returns a substantial amount of mana to the target (~2k) and may be glyphed to provide double that to both the target and yourself. With the minor glyph (-5min cooldown and there's no competition for minor glyph slots) and the talent (-4min cooldown, +20% damage reduction for 15seconds) this is easily a spell to use every fight for a massive ~4k mana return for yourself (major glyphed) a huge, life saving heal and loads of mitigation for the target when they get into difficulty. If you don't have the major glyph and you're likely to run out of mana then you should use Lay on Hands on yourself as you'll do more healing overall with the extra mana than you would with the big heal, however, this can't be a rule as it's the best emergency heal we have and one thing about emergencies is you can't usually plan for them, they're.... emergent!
Rarely does anyone call for Innervate these days but I think we're going to need to get back into the habit of it for hard modes. Even using all of the above tricks perfectly I've been running dangerously low on mana during the Council hard-mode. The new Innervate isn't based on spirit and has a 3 minute cooldown meaning we don't just have to use it when desperate but can use it preemptively and several times during a fight, it returns 8740 mana.

Holy Shock

As this is our only on-the-move heal I try to save it for these moments in mana-intense fights but it's also a good emergency heal for when you don't think a flash will reach someone in time or when you're fishing for Infusion of Light procs during healing-intense periods of Holy Light chains.

Holy Light

When mana wasn't an issue and when Infusion of Light brought its cast time to ~0.5 seconds this was pretty much the be-all-and-end-all of paladin healing. It's still great situationally when multiple people are >12k down or when pre-cast against a big blow to the tank such as Fusion Punch. I don't think that the Light's Grace buff of 0.5sec casting time reduction is worth wasting a Holy Light for just to keep up the buff in any of the fights I've done so far. This is the spell that most craves every healer having LibHealComm installed, there's very little more consistent annoyance than having a ~15k Holy Light sniped by a couple of fast heals from elsewhere.

Avenging Wrath

Remember that it triggers a 30 second window where you can't bubble, this is 10 seconds longer than the wings last and equally it cannot be used 30seconds after being given the forbearance effect. I use a macro that makes a DBM timer for this like:

/cast Avenging Wrath
/dbm timer 30 Bubble

Some paladins advocate using Avenging Wrath and trinkets as soon as they're off cooldown. I use them during high damage.

Reducing Incoming Damage

This is one of our signature dishes and deserves a lot of mention. There are very few fights in which I don't use Aura Mastery combined with one of our auras and the difference it makes is usually massive. I was even surprised that during XT-Deconstructor's hard mode an Aura Mastery'd Devotion Aura perceptively did a lot to mitigate the incoming physical damage of the tantrum. Aura Mastery is off the global cool-down but Divine Sacrifice takes a global to achieve. If you're going to soak the damage from Divine Sacrifice with Divine Shield it will take two globals to achieve and so the shield should be cast a global cooldown in advance. With the redesign of Divine Sacrifice in 3.3 it is now much easier to use and need not be linked with Divine Shield every time in raids. I thoroughly recommend getting the Divine Guardian talent as this greatly increases the ease with which you can use Sacred Shield as well as providing a massive reduction in raid AoE damage every two minutes. If the damage is frost, fire, shadow or physical you can chain Aura Mastery and Divine Sacrifice together to get a fundamental reduction in damage every minute. Two paladins rotating their cool-downs should make critical healing moments smooth for a whole fight.
Hand of Sacrifice is most useful when the tank is due to take a burst that may otherwise kill him or when someone needs healing but has a healing reduction effect on them and where redirecting some damage to yourself will allow you to heal that 30% at full healing capacity. If you use it to prevent death I recommend playing safe by having beacon on the target and spam healing yourself to make sure that the 30% (along with other raid damage) doesn't kill you too.


Watch threat meters and dish out your hand to anyone who's running high on threat or anyone who calls for it on TS, this frees them from having to curb their damage and preempts an agro loss which often leads to the death of at least the aggro'd member.
If someone does end up pulling agro you can force them to drop it on most bosses (the exception being those that cast spells a lot) and make them immune to incoming physical damage with Hand of Protection. This is best used on classes other than hunters and mages who should regularly have aggro dropping abilities off cooldown (I exempt shadow priests from this as their dispersion ability is also used to regenerate mana and may not be available and rogues because they are probably too close to the boss to survive long enough to vanish).


I don't recommend paladins should cleanse as a priority, we don't have the heal over times to cover these global cooldowns.

21-05-2010, 03:44 PM
Crowd Control and Interrupts

If you're not doing any of the above you might be able to slip out a few crowd control abilities mostly on undead mobs with Turn Evil and Holy Wrath. Currently I've only noticed two opportunities for this and that's in Anub'arak and Freya. At Anub'arak I fear incoming adds in the spike phase and Hammer of Justice and Holy Wrath the adds in both the first two phases, try to hit multiple mobs when using Holy Wrath. At Freya I stun the storm add when it's the DPS target and it tries to charge.

Thanks for reading and please let me know of any thing I can improve upon with this guide or tips I haven't thought of,

21-05-2010, 03:53 PM
Arent you that guy with Panda aids ?

21-05-2010, 04:03 PM
Arent you that guy with Panda aids ?

You must the thinking of this guy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzRH3iTQPrk). Awww.

25-05-2010, 02:22 PM
For an exhaustive look at Holy Paladins, Elitist Jerks is a decent resource:
Holy Paladin Compendium (3.3 rewrite) (http://elitistjerks.com/f76/t84922-holy_paladin_compendium_3_3_a/)

Much of what you have posted is due for a major rewrite when Cata lands. The same site (http://elitistjerks.com/f76/t97232-cataclysm_paladin_changes/) has an ongoing thread on Blizz discussions re: the Holy Paladin build here (http://elitistjerks.com/f76/t97232-cataclysm_paladin_changes/)

Not sure I'm a big fan of many of the changes to healing classes as yet. Will have to wait and see.

15-07-2010, 09:02 AM
Wow, I find myself wondering why you would want to take your time personal time to write that? /salute :)

15-07-2010, 01:37 PM
Rokky, level 80 Dwarf Mage?! Win!

19-07-2010, 08:11 AM
I know it won't change to a paladin! ROFL! :P

23-07-2010, 11:04 PM
hail to hanni!

29-07-2010, 12:45 AM
Nice guide, though I disagree with your description of FoL and HL usage. If you can go away with casting mostly FoL then you either bring too many healers or overgear the content. I have yet to see a progress fight since ToC (when set bonus and gimmick gearing/spec made fol build sort of viable and sometimes even competitive) where you cast more FoL than HL.

30-07-2010, 03:53 PM
Most serious end game Holy Paladins are HL builds (it's better), but with enough Spell Powah, a FoL build isn't ridiculous.