Monday, January 25, 2010

Healing 5 mans as a Holy Paladin

I think that playing a holy paladin for as long as I have, I take for granted how new holy paladins have to deal with 5 man dungeons. If I think back on it, when I was first leveling to 80 and trying to heal dungeons with 16k mana and 1500 SP, it was difficult to say the least.


For a freshly dinged 80 paladin, it's even harder to heal heroics especially since you are more vulnerable to any fail/noob players in the group. Yet, what can you do? With patch 3.3, heroics are a necessity to grind for Emblem of Triumph so you can buy the gear you need to be able to get a start on raiding.

I'm assuming that your glyphs/spec are right for the task at hand. With that in mind, here are some tips for healing 5 man heroics.


Always, always beacon the tank.

In a heroic dungeon, you will be expected to heal the other party members as well as the tank. By keeping beacon on the tank constantly, you ensure that the tank is always receiving heals. Keep in mind that there is a known lag delay with beacon so if your tank needs that heal right damn now, you'll be better off healing them directly rather than relying on beacon to transmit the heal.

As an aside, you can set the tank as your focus. As a bonus, if you also set up a key as your modifier for your focus target within the default Blizzard UI (no add ons necessary), you can go modifer + Beacon, all without switching targets (mine is SHIFT). Also, you can set up a modifier to cast on yourself without switching your current target, Blizzard default is set as ALT (mine is also ALT).

In addition, if you need to refresh Beacon and you know you need to heal aggressively, pop Divine Illumination before you refresh Beacon and start healing.

Sacred Shield

If the tank is really that squishy, throw SS on him too and make sure to keep up the FoL hot. SS is really powerful in heroics because it scales with your SP and thus, the better gear you have, the more SS can absorb when the shield effect procs. (To be exact, SS will absorb for 500 + 75% of your SP) Just keep in mind that just because you have SS on someone, it doesn't mean the absorption effect is up.

You might not want to throw SS on a paladin tank since paladin tanks usually rely on Spiritual Attunement for their mana "rage" bar to be full. Hence, having damage absorbed rather then healed up will hurt their threat generation if they are already not taking enough damage in the first place. Only throw SS on a paladin tank that sorely needs the extra mitigation.

Once again, keep up the FoL hot! Before pulls, you can FoL hot and then drink if you want to save yourself some mana. Keep in mind that you can overwrite your own hot even if the pre-existing hot was stronger.

Mana Regen

Odds are at your paladin's point of development as a fresh 80, you will need to Divine Plea every 1 minute. Be proactive about it. Don't wait when you are at 50% mana to use it. Pop it even when you are at 90% mana, especially if you are currently using a lot of mana (i.e. HL spamming).

Keep in mind that DP has an MS effect (50% healing debuff), so you can try to mitigate that by either popping on-use trinkets that give you more SP or timing usage when your trinket procs if it is a random proc trinket.

As a newly dinged 80, it is normal not to have those trinkets available to offset the healing done. Another option is to pop Avenging Wrath with Divine Plea. Keep in mind that means you won't be able to bubble for 30 seconds after you do so, making you vulnerable in that time period. Another consideration is the fact that Avenging Wrath is on a 2 min CD so you can't pop it for every single DP usage assuming you leave it off CD.

For Horde as belf pallies, besides DP, we get Arcane Torrent as additional regen. The best thing about Arcane Torrent is that it scales with total mana so the more gear you get (and thus, int), the more Arcane Torrent will give back.

Using Divine Illumination often and when you need to refresh Beacon will help you use less mana. I especially like using Divine Illumination when I have to HL bomb and Light's Grace is already up.

If you still are running on fumes, try to stock up on consumables like mana pots or use a flask/elixir in dungeons. Another option for consumables are food buffs for mana regen.


Finally, as a last measure you can always have Seal of Wisdom up and melee. This is definitely not recommended when the party is taking damage!


Generally, I like to have Devo up as it will mitigate the amount of physical damage a tank takes. You can even spec into Improved Devo as there will definitely not be a tree in your 5 man heroic group.

Usually, Retribution and Conc aura are not necessary as retribution only marginally helps with the tank's threat and casters should not be getting hit often to justify Conc aura being up. However if there is a paladin tank in the group, devo is usually used by them so switch to Ret or Conc at this point.

However if you find yourself in a fight where more magical damage is done, it can be beneficial to switch to either frost, fire or shadow depending on the type of damage. If the fight calls for nature resist, you will need a shaman or hunter in the group. Make sure that if you have a resistance aura up that a shaman is not taking care of it already because you are wasting a totem if that is the case.

Lastly, don't be a nub and leave up crusader! I have definitely done this before on multiple occasions, oops =X


Paladins are known for our buffs, especially Kings. However, pally buffs can definitely get tricky if people want certain buffs. Make sure you can guarantee your buffs won't fall off. Usually an add on like PallyPower or ZomgBuffs will help you keep track of your buffs and the time left on them.

Additionally, shaman's mana spring will overwrite a BoW but not if it is improved BoW. A shaman's improved mana spring will overwrite a BoW but be wasted in the presence of improved BoW. Confusing, much? Just make sure that if you must use BoW that a shaman's totems are not interfering with the buff. Make sure to ask them to drop healing stream instead so you don't need to keep rebuffing.

Sometimes you may have to do combination buffs on 1 class. Know that you can always do 30 min Greater Blessings and then overwrite that with a different 10 min buff if different players need different buffs but are the same class.

If you have another pally in the group, buffing becomes more complicated. Prot pallies will want Sanc on themselves but make sure that if they Sanc that they also do 10 min kings on you because sanc will not increase your int by 10% and that will lower your stats for healing!

If there is a ret pally in the group, they generally want to might themselves as they usually have improved might. Make sure that they give you BoW if that is the case.

However if you have improved BoW, that will make buffing even more complicated since you will want to BoW yourself. For example, a ret pally with improved might will have to greater might then you have to greater kings. Only then can you BoW yourself and finally, the ret can 10 min kings you. Exhausting to follow!

Finally, should you BoW or kings yourself? It is really based on your gear level. If your gear level is really low (especially if you have low int) then a flat mana regen buff like BoW is probably best but as your gear level improves, kings will look better and better since it will scale with gear (i.e. more int). Also consider that if you tend to use FoL more, BoW will help more compared to if you tend to use HL more.

Whatever you decide, make sure your buffs are always up!

Edit 1/29/10: Going to clean this section up since there were a lot of comments about that.


As a holy pally, you should be judging at least once every minute to keep up your JotP buff. Make sure this is the first thing you do before you start healing. Get used to how fast you cast when JotP is up so you can better predict the timing of your heals.

Best of all if you judge JoL, it will help your healing out by a bit though more for melee than for caster dps.

Do not use JoJ, the talented extended range for judgments does not apply to JoJ. You shouldn't have to run just to get in range to judge JoJ as it will leave yourself open to burst damage and having to play catch up in healing.

If a prot pally is in your group, make sure you are not overwriting his judgments if he has Judgments of the Just. If he is doing JoL, use JoW but usually prot pallies should be judging JoW or JoJ. Making sure this debuff is on the mobs will make your life easier too.


So you understand how to buff, judging, and putting SS/Beacon on people but how to heal?!

It really depends on your gear and your timing.

Are your heals landing in time? If they are but people are still dying, your SP is probably too low. If they aren't, get more haste! (Btw, 676 haste is optimal because with JotP buff, your FoL are 1 second and haste beyond that will cause your FoL casts to trip up into your GCD, which can only be shortened at most to 1 second.)

Well, what happens if your heals are landing on time and people are surviving but your mana is down in the pits even though you are using all the mana regen tools at your disposal? That probably means you need more int but that comes with gear and you don't have that luxury right now.

One way to help conserve mana is to make sure you are using your mana efficiently. Are you just HL bombing all over the place? That is going to be a huge mana hog, stop it! In a 5 man heroic, if you have high enough SP, you can actually get by with just using HS and FoL. There's really no need to keep up Light's Grace constantly though that first HL cast will be made with a prayer.

For 5 man heroics (excluding the ToC/ICC ones), you should try to have at least 2k SP with 3-500 haste, 1-200 mp5 ooc and at least 20k mana. Try to keep your stats balanced, there's no point for you to have 25k mana but with 0 haste and 1500 SP. It just makes things harder for you!

Also, don't forget to cleanse! Sometimes cleansing a dot or debuff will save you tons of healing. Use some common sense and don't try to cleanse if someone is about to die. Try to prioritize.

In the end, practice makes perfect!

Utility Cooldowns

So you're healing your holy ass off but it's just not enough! Now it's time for CD usage! Though all pallies have these CDs, only holy pallies are in the best position to utilize them I feel.

Our renamed "hand" spells are very useful. There are many different scenarios you can use them.

A DPS is pulling threat? Salve that sucker. Do not salve the tank!

AoE happy mage is going to get smacked hard? BoP them before they can even iceblock. BoP is best used on casters but on physical damage DPS, you effectively stop their DPS. It can be a funny or mean trick to play on warriors, hunters, rogues, etc. BoP also causes forbearance so keep that in mind before you BoP a pally or yourself. Again, do not BoP the tank!

Someone taking a lot of damage? You can HoSac them if you can heal through the damage (can be in combo with bubble for magical damage or BoP for physical damage only on yourself).

Tank needs to run but is slowed? Freedom! I especially freedom the tank or non pally DPS when that stupid monk casts his immunity bubble during the trash before 2nd boss in 5 man ToC. (Warriors, you can break that bubble and priest, mass dispel!)

Not only the "hand" spells (I hate how they got renamed) but we have other spells in our arsenal.

If the tank is about to die and you know you can't get a heal off in time or HS just won't cut it, LoH quick! Even better if you have talented LoH. You can even use LoH on yourself for when you just need mana, especially if you have the glyph for it. I just like to use it for big heals rather than the mana regen part of it. However after 3.3, you will cause forebearance if you LoH yourself so be sure you do not need to bubble!

There are also other CDs available via talents, namely DSac and AM.

It used to be that holy pallies had to bubble in conjunction with DSac but with Dsac being split up into 2 components via talents, you can use this CD without bubbling. This means that DSac can be used every 2 min rather than every 5 min as before it was tied to bubble's CD.

If you are going to take too much damage on top of the absorbed damage from the party, you can click off Divine Sacrifice from your buffs so you stop absorbing all the damage but Divine Guardian should still be in effect. You can also macro this if you can't click it off fast enough:

/cast Divine Sacrifice
/cancelaura Divine Sacrifice

Edit 1/29/10: Another macro suggested by timedeluxe, who attributed it to MainTankadin's Theck:

/cast Divine Sacrifice
/in 0.5 /script cancelUnitBuff("player","Divine Sacrifice")

As for AM, I find it more useful in raiding and less so in 5 man heroics but I can't live without my pally NO2! (Crusader + AM, try it! So much fun! =D)

Also if you don't think the tank will need a LoH, you can use Divine Favor + HS and follow up with an instant FoL due to infusion for some quick burst healing.

Finally, we have a number of buttons that you definitely don't want to use recklessly.

I know you didn't!

Do not use Hand of Reckoning, that is a taunt! Do not use Righteous Defense, that is an AoE taunt! Don't DI someone if you are not trying to save a wipe! Don't have Righteous Fury up without a reason!

So I hope this was helpful to any newbie holy pallies out there struggling in dungeons. I'm sure there are other guides out there but this is mine in my little corner of the web. I didn't talk about gear because there is just so much gear out there that it will really all rain down on you once you start doing heroics. There are also more little tricks here and there but they will come with experience.

till next time

Feedback is appreciated! Till next time!

Updated 1/29/10


  1. on the Blessing side of things. If you have a ret pally in the group, have the ret pally do greater kings, then you do greater might, you should probably have the minor glyph for BoW making the regular one a 30min self buff. Cast BoW on yourself (overwriting the might you casted) now you have 30 min kings and 30 min Wis while the ret pally has 30 min kings and 30 min might!

    You might have said this above ... I will admit it is very confusing!

  2. @Vailladin: There's no point to buff might because the Ret pally wants to buff might on himself because he has improved might. Then if you have improved BoW, you're going to want that on yourself but you'll be out a kings unless you just let the ret pally buff wis on you and forego improved BoW. That's why the buffing can be so convoluted.

  3. Paladin tanks do not rely overmuch on Spiritual Attunement for mana gain these days (except at lower gear levels, a maximum of 1 talent point in it is recommended), we can make up most of it with our constant Divine Plea and Judgement of Wisdom. Feel free to Sacred Shield us!

  4. What Vailladin is saying is for Holy Paladins who have Improved Might and Improved Wisdom. It's best to let the Ret paladin do Kings since we have the improved versions of both Might/Wisdom.

  5. Seal of wisdom: when to use it.

    -1 You need mana (duuuuh)
    -2 Know how to avoid whirlwind effects
    -3 Heroics aren't a skill check for you (see above)

    If all of those are true, USE IT. It's a insanely powerful regeneration skill, unique to the class.

  6. "Always, always beacon the tank." ... I have to disagree, here.

    Yes, 90% of the time or more you want to beacon the tank, but just as with every other ability in your arsenal you want to use this with careful judgment (no pun intended). For example, if your tank is undergeared and there's a fair amount of splash damage that causes you to keep healing yourself, consider placing beacon on yourself. This allows you to heal yourself passively while throwing big heals on the tank to keep them alive (and if you use a glyphed HL, you're healing the rest of the party at the same time).

    As for using JoW for mana, never do this. I used to in places like VH... then I sat down and thought about it. The mana savings you get from judging light is far more attractive, especially in terms of healing splash damage which almost always results in large overheals, and won't require you to walk into melee range.

  7. You do not need 2000 spell power to heal the earlier 5 man heroics. You can do it with as low as 1500 easily. That's like asking for a minimum of 3k DPS for Heroic Nexus. Sure, it's nice and makes it easy mode. Needed? Not even close.

  8. Thanks a lot for this post. Too many blogs and sites these days are focused solely on end-game raiding and min/maxing. I have a newly 80 pally I've been wanting to get started healing and this has given me quite a few good tips.

  9. Agree with Lothiradan.

    A prot pally who can't manage their mana with sanctuary and divine plea, regardless of gear, doesn't know what they're doing.

  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. @Loth: Good to know! I have horrible luck with pug tanks so I usually SS them anyway.

    @Amanda: It wasn't obvious that that's what Vail meant but not all holy paladins will have improved might AND wisdom such as holy/prot pallies.

    @Durkon: Thanks for adding your input =)

    @Aaron: If you are taking enough splash damage to warrant beacon on yourself, your tank is at fault here or you for your placement. Beacon is always on the tank because that is the guy that should always be taking damage. You are in a 5 man, there shouldn't be an OT in any form. If you want to mitigate damage taken heavily by someone else, I would recommend switching SS around as the relatively low cost of the spell makes it easy to switch on different targets compared to the mana intensive Beacon.

    Also, I do recommend judging JoL but it is also a possibility that another pally has that covered already and that's when you want to do JoW. It doesn't matter who judges JoL because it heals for the same amount as it is based on target HP.

    @Anonymous: Are you anonymous for a reason? Can't back up your tough words with a name?

    You will note that this is meant for people that don't really know how to heal in 5 mans aka beginners. I give a general idea of what stats you want and it also depends on your healing style. If you have 1500 SP means you are going to HL bomb and going to need more mana to support that.

    Think before you speak because you just sound stupid/shallow/elitist.

    @Bengo: Glad that this helps =)

    @Anonymous: Ty for your comment, I don't know too much about prot pallies I must admit

    @Ferraro: See my disclaimer for why I deleted your comment. Usually I would delete the entire comment but I left the fact that you commented on this post. I appreciate any comment except trolling and self publicity comments that don't add any input.

  12. I regret to inform you that my link was neither "trolling" or "self-publicity". The entire post I created was enforcing your current article. The other alternative would have been to copy-paste the entire thing to this comment section, resulting in a massive wall-of-text, which is what I was attempting to avoid for your readers.

    But to each their own, I suppose.

  13. @Ferraro: No I did not mean to say you were trolling but I believe you fell into the latter category of the 2 that I listed. There's no need to copy paste something. You can write a simple comment rather than just a link as it adds to the dialogue.

    Also, your link to your blog post doesn't really say anything about what you actually thought about this guide. Your 2nd comment is what actually contained your opinion and thoughts. That is why I deleted the 1st comment and am going to keep your new comment.

  14. Theck @ maintankadin worked out that this macro works better for cancelling Divine Sacrifice due to lag between client and server

    /cast Divine Sacrifice
    /in 0.5 /script cancelUnitBuff("player","Divine Sacrifice")

    really good post mate, thanks for that

  15. I would like to say that the buffing section of this gets very complicated even to read...

    My quick solution to 1 part when running with a ret pally:

    You as a holy paladin should have Glyph of Blessing of Wisdom (its minor), and if your critadin spec might as well take Imp BoM...therefore you can do Greater Blessing of Might on the both of you and replace your own with Blessing of Wis that still lasts 30 minutes.

    Therefore, it is simply left up to the Ret pally to do Kings and no one is missing anything!

    Running with a prot "I want sanc" paladin is still a PITA though.

  16. As an old healing pally from TBC days who has ended up tanking thru WOTLK and is just now getting back into healing this was a very useful guide - ta very much

    Hairy Palms - Pally - Turalyon EU

  17. nice post extremely full of alot of info i didnt realize i do on a daily basis. lol keep up the good work, and i'd love to see some ideas on hybrid healing (i know its off topic)

    (Holy Pally on Borean Tundra US)

  18. A very excellent guide, good job! Without coming across as elitist like Anonymous above (trust me, I'm not), I too might say that 2k SP, 3-500 haste, 1-200 mp5, and 20k mana is a bit high of a bar to set for healing heroics. To aspiring holy pallies: if you're eager to heal and willing to take on a challenge, go for it, don't worry too much that your gear isn't good enough--just try it and if you're having trouble, then go farm emblems for a while as ret, gear up a little more, and try again.

    One thing you might consider adding to your guide is the discussion on the FoL/+sp vs. HL/+int techniques. Since becoming aware of this distinction and switching to HL/+int, I bomb away and healing has been so much more enjoyable.

  19. Great Guide! I wish more palas would take the time to get a better understanding of their class ;)

    I also like that it's viable both for beginner and more experiences holys. Many blogs are either too complex for noobs or too simple for pros.

    One last thing: Your blog design is GREAT. It's perfect for blood elf palas :P I don't say that very often...


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