Monday, June 8, 2009

Paladin Healing 101

This is the third installment of our Healing 101 series! Holy this, light that? What's it all mean? Pallymar helps clear up any questions us trees have about the paladin healing class. For more info, check out his blog!

Healadin-ing 101

Averna challenged a guildie of each healing class to develop a guide for healing to serve as a resource to all healers in order that we can better work together as a team, rather than as competitors. I want to take this one step further and gear it towards both current Healadins and up-and-coming Healadins in addition to the general healing community.

The objective is to cover a few general points that Averna laid out, while shying away from "too much theorycrafting."

  • What's your general rotation - what spells do you use and what do they do? When do you use them?
  • What are your "oh shi-" buttons? How do they work?
  • What talents are absolutely necessary? If you spread talents between trees, why do you do that?
  • What stats are best for you and why? spirit? int? crit or haste?
  • How does beacon of light work exactly? What are those judgment things and which ones do you use?

Let's hop to it and see what we come up with!

1. The Arsenal

Healadins have a tremendous number of weapons in our arsenal. The best Healadins are the ones who know, understand, and can use all of them reflexively. Let's start with the baseline tools and then work our way to the talented tools from top to bottom. We'll leave Seals and Blessings for another section.

Holy Light - Our heal of choice, also probably the *biggest* heal in game (cooldown heals withstanding). With a cast time of 2.5 seconds (hasted down to 1.4 seconds in Naxx 25+ gear), this is also easily our highest HPS-yielding heal. Holy Light typically hits for 11-15k while critting in the 20-25k range.

Flash of Light - Our filler / smaller heal. We can spam this heal for almost eternity and beyond without running out of mana. The trouble is that it's not a very powerful heal and could *never* keep a tank up full time in Ulduar content. With a cast time of 1.5 seconds (hasted down to 1.0 in Naxx 25+ gear) It's a *great* tool for raid heals or for the in-between heals that don't require Holy Light bombs, but that's about all it is. These will hit in the 4-5k range with crits in the 6-7k range.

Lay on Hands - Our biggest "Oh Shi-" button. Lay on Hands is an instant cast spell that grants the target health equal to your maximum (buffed and topped off) health pool and some extra mana to boost. The downside? A 20 minute cooldown.

Cleanse - Our Swiss Army Knife of debuff removals. A single instant cast will remove a poison effect, magic effect, and a disease at the same time. It's important to keep Cleanse handy by way of a keybind or an easily accessible click.

Redemption - WTB Rez, PST!

Divine Plea - A *major* source of mana regeneration (25%) with a *huge* caveat: a 50% reduction in healing. When your mana pool reaches 30,000, a 25% return is 7,500 mana. Suffice to say, this is something that any Healadin has to be really careful before hitting. If you know your tank is going to be taking major damage really soon, then now is a *bad* time to hit it. Never put yourself in a position where you *have* to hit Divine Plea.

Avenging Wrath - This spell is typically used by Protadins to jump ahead on threat and by Retadins to blast some extra DPS. However, a Healadin uses this 3 minute cooldown to put out some extra healing. You know yourself better than anyone else. Learn the fight and try and time it for key moments. Alternatively, consider hitting it when you *need* to hit Divine Plea and you can't afford the loss of healing, as a counter to some of the loss.

Sacred Shield - This spell is effectively our *only* way of mitigating tank damage on a regular basis. In addtion to reducing tank damage, we receive a 50% bonus to our crit rate on Flashes of Light cast on our Sacred Shield's target. A *good* Healadin can and should maintain a 100% uptime of Sacred Shield on the tank taking the most damage.


Aura Mastery - A situationally useful spell that causes your Concentration Aura (yep, you have to have this one up to utilize Aura Mastery's full benefit) to make everyone affected by your Concentration Aura immune to silences and spell interrupts. Additionally it grants a 100% bonus to all *base* aura abilities (ie. It doubles the armor bonus from Devotion Aura but if a Protection Paladin put up Devotion Aura, it doesn't double the heal bonus.).

Divine Favor - An instant cast spell that prefaces any of your three main heals (HL, FoL, HS) that causes that heal to automatically crit. It's an excellent tool, especially when you know exactly when the target is going to take a massive chunk of damage.

Holy Shock (31 point talent) - Consider this one to be the crust to our bread and butter heal spells, especially with thanks to Infusion of Light which ensures that when we crit, we get bonuses to our bread and butter spells themselves.

Divine Illumination (41 point talent) - This spell was far less valuable in TBC than it is now. Modern day Healadin-ing dictates that we cast Holy Light. A lot. Any time you're about to spam holy Light for whatever reason, pop this spell if it's up. A 50% reduction in cost of spells is a MAJOR bonus.

Beacon of Light (51 point talent) - This tool happens to be *the* tool that allows us to effectively serve other roles than the dedicated "main tank healer" that never casts a spell on anyone else. The way it works is as follows: 1) The Healadin casts Beacon of Light on the main tank. 2) The Healadin now heals a raid member within 40 yards of the main tank. 3) All effective healing that Healadin did on this raid member gets duplicated on the main tank. The key phrase was "effective healing". If your main tank is the only one taking damage, then regardless of whether or not you have Beacon of Light up on the main tank, heal the main tank directly.

2. Talents

In this section we'll cover all of the talents that a PvE Healadin would likely pick up (at my discretion, of course).


Spiritual Focus (5/5) - A 70% pushback reduction on major heals? Yes please!
Healing Light (3/3) - A 14% bonus to our 3 primary healing spells? Yes please!
Divine Intellect (5/5) - With intellect being our PRIMARY stat (to be discussed in detail shortly), this is a MUST take!
Aura Mastery (*/1) - We covered this in our "arsenal" above.
Illumination (5/5) - This is easily one of our most critical talent in the entire tree. Without this critical source of mana return, we'd be out of mana in no time. Every crit returns us 60% of the base cost of the spell cast. When we crit 45-60% of the time, the returns on mana are invaluable. Bear in mind the key phrase *base cost*, as cost reduction items and talents do not count against the 60% return on mana, so in reality your return may be higher.
Improved Lay on Hands (*/2) - We've already covered Lay on Hands above, but the improved form comes with a 50% armor bonus for 15 seconds and a 4 minute reduction in cooldown. With Glyph of Divinity (we'll cover this later), it's also something to consider casting if you've already potted and you don't quite want to hit Divine Plea just yet. Casting it on yourself is actually a *double* bonus in mana, but be careful - then you're out on an "oh shi-" spell.
Improved Blessing of Wisdom (2/2) - As Blessing of Wisdom is our blessing of choice (supposing we only had one to choose from), it's important to make sure we have the most upgraded form of it available. If you have another dedicated Healadin who is picking this up, then feel free to pick up a side talent option.
Improved Concentration Aura (*/3) - I wouldn't call this a "must have" talent for you to do your job well, but it's a good idea to pick it up if you can afford the points. The extra 15% effectiveness and the 30% reduction in the duration of silences is nothing to laugh at.
Divine Favor (1/1) - We covered this in our "arsenal" above.
Sanctified Light (3/3) - Due to Illumination and the bonus effect to throughput, crit scales really well for us, so this is a "must have" talent.

At this point you need to put at least ONE talent point in one of the optional talents above in order to move on to the next tier.

Holy Power (5/5) - More crit? Yes please!
Light's Grace (3/3) - After casting Holy Light, you automatically get a bonus 0.5 cast time reduction on your next Holy Light for 15 seconds (bear in mind that you're casting Holy Light a lot, so this buff should actually be up most of the fight).
Holy Shock - We covered this in our "arsenal" above.

At this point you now need to put a SECOND talent point into one of the option talents above in order to move on to the next tier.

Holy Guidance (5/5) - Yet another reason why Intellect = Awesome for Healadins.
Divine Illumination (1/1) - We covered this in our "arsenal" above.
Judgements of the Pure (5/5) - This talent benefits us two-fold: 1) Judgements hit harder, so that's good for soloing/questing or loldpsing during easy stretches on boss fights. 2) Judgements increase your haste by 15% for 1 minute. The latter benefit is the *big* one. This talent alone brings down our haste soft cap (the point where our GCD = 1.0 seconds = 687 haste).
Infusion of Light (1/1) - This spell highlights one of the main benefits of casting Holy Shock, in either the instant cast Flash of Light or the increased crit chance on Holy Light.
Enlightened Judgements (2/2) - This talent increases the range on your judgements, which allows you to judge while healing from afar to trigger the Judgements of the Pure buff. Additionally, since Healadins have no +hit bonus, the 4% increased chance to hit with judgements go a long way.
Beacon of Light (1/1) - Last but not least, the star of the show (we covered this in our "arsenal" above).

At this point you should have 51 points in your Holy tree, which means you have 20 points remaining to put either in your Holy tree or in your Protection or Retribution trees.


Divinity (*/5) - A 5% bonus to throughput, plain and simple.

At this point you can either switch right over to the Retribution tree or you can fill in the points in the Protection tree to reach Divine Sacrifice and Divine Guardian. This would be a situational benefit that you'd have to determine the worth of. The in between points are typically PvP or further situational abilities, and are beyond the scope of this guide.


Benediction (*/5) - While a 10% reduction in cost on only a small percentage of your spells isn't a big deal, it's your only option to reach the 2nd tier.

The 2nd tier isn't much more impressive than the 1st tier but the 3rd tier is where you want to be so until then, your best fillers are Heart of the Crusader (*/3) and Improved Blessing of Might (*/2) for further raid utility.

Conviction (*/5) - A 5% crit bonus to *everything*? Yes please!

Pursuit of Justice (*/2) - The primary benefit of this talent is the 15% movement speed increase. This typically never makes or breaks a fight, but it can be found as situationally useful. If you're taking this talent then you're likely giving up 2% throughput on healing from Divinity, so be sure of it!

Sanctity of Battle (*/3) - A 3% crit bonus to *everything*? Yes please!

Your results may vary but it should resemble my preferred raid build (51/2/18) to some extent, perhaps with different optional talents taken.

3. Major Glyphs

Glyph of Beacon of Light - An extra 30 second duration is *nice* but the mana savings from only casting it half the time doesn't justify using this over Glyph of Divinity, for comparisons sake.

Glyph of Divinity - Double mana for your target (3,900 mana) when you cast Lay on Hands, and a return of the same amount of mana for you (also 3,900 mana). This is a *must* take. I should also add that if you cast Lay on Hands on yourself, that's a return of 7,800 mana.

Glyph of Flash of Light - The 5% crit bonus to Flash of Light is nice but is really situational only. If you're the type of healer that likes to throw in a lot of raid heals, you'll see more benefit from this than the typical Healadin who spams Holy Light. All in all, not a bad glyph but there are better options.

Glyph of Holy Light - This one is probably the most critical glyph we have. This is effectively a passive healing bonus that can easily comprise 15% of your overall healing in a raid.

Glyph of Holy Shock - Shockadin anyone? Stay away from this one.

Glyph of Seal of Light - You're going to have a seal up while healing at all times in order that you can judge, so you may as well take either the 5% healing bonus OR the next glyph:

Glyph of Seal of Wisdom - A 5% reduction in your spells cast. As a Healadin, you'll likely find yourself needing the extra mana reduction moreso than needing the extra throughput.

RECOMMENDATION: Glyph of Divinity, Glyph of Holy Light, and Glyph of Seal of Wisdom.

4. Gearing a Healadin

Paladins focus on 5 primary stats: Intellect, Critical Strike, Haste, Spell Power, and Mana Per 5 (MP5), typically in that order (more on this later). Any piece of plate or mail gear that has these stats will do you fine if you're just starting out. Do yourself a favor and shy away from cloth and leather. Wearing higher "armor class" gear is a part of what we can bring to the table (translate: we can take a few more hits before we go down).

A general rule of thumbs: The higher the item level, the better the piece. However, as you work your way up in progression, your numbers matter more and more and you need to figure out who you are as a Holy Paladin. Are you the type of Healadin who loves to spam Holy Light left and right? You probably want to put an emphasis on stacking intellect and haste. Are you the type of Healadin who prefers the Burning Crusades style of healing with primarily Flash of Light? You probably want to put an emphasis on stacking spell power and mp5. Let's figure out what each of these means.

Intellect - Our primary stat without exception. Endoscient posted in Elitist Jerks a really nice breakdown of what 100 intellect brings to the table:

  • 126.5 Intellect, with BoK and Divine Intellect
  • 1897 Mana at the start of the fight
  • 39.5mp5 from Divine Plea, if its used on CD.
  • 21.3mp5 from Replenishment, with 90% uptime.
  • 4.7mp5 from Arcane Torrent, if you are a Blood Elf.
  • 25.3 Spell Power
  • 0.759% Spell Crit
Crit - Every heal that we cast has the ability to crit which increases the amount healed by 50%. At first glance this benefits only our throughput. If you recall from earlier, the mandatory talent of Illumination enables us to earn a return of 60% of the *base* cost of the spell whenever one of our spells crits. Suffice to say, Healadins run around with *a lot* of crit. The 35%-45% unbuffed range isn't uncommon.

Haste - The definition of haste as it relates to Healadins is the ability to cast more spells in the same amount of time. Translated, haste reduces the cast time on our spells. Gryphonheart posted a detailed explanation on how haste works here.

The important thing to know is that our soft-cap is 676 haste. What this means is that with our talent Judgements of the Pure, a Wrath of Air Totem from a Shaman, and either Boomkin or Retadin form of the 3% haste buff, we can reduce our global cooldown to 1.0 seconds. This also means that our Flashes of Light are also cast in 1.0 seconds. At around this level of haste, Holy Light can be cast in 1.4 seconds.

MP5 - While this constant source of mana regeneration is good, it's easily our most inferior stat relative to its item budget. It's more favorable to increase your crit rating and intellect if you're in need of mana regeneration than it is to increase your MP5. This does *not* mean that MP5 is a BAD stat, merely an inferior stat. Don't gem or gear for it, but don't pass on upgrades just because it has MP5 on it.

Spell power - Last but certainly not least, this stat is *the* number that influences the size of our heals. The higher your spell power, the bigger your heals. There's nothing wrong with gemming for spell power but it's not as optimal as gemming for say, intellect. You're sure to acquire plenty of spell power through the gear stats alone. That said, don't hesitate to throw a spell power gem into a piece of gear to meet a *good* socket bonus.

5. Judgements

In the Burning Crusades, Holy Paladins *never* judged while healing. Nowadays, it's a fundamental part of our play. There are 2 reasons that a Holy Paladin should judge: 1) Our talent Judgements of the Pure increases our haste significantly, and 2) each judgement has a positive effect on the raid as a whole.

The 3 different types of judgements are:

1) Judgement of Wisdom - This judgment gives a return of 2% of the attacker's base mana on each attack, whether it be ranged or melee.

2) Judgement of Light - This judgement gives a return of a certain amount of health (determined by the stats on the Paladin judging) to the attacker on each attack, whether it be ranged or melee.

3) Judgement of Justice - This judgement prevents the target from fleeing and reduces the target's movement speed. This benefits of this judgement do *not* work on bosses, however the judgement hits like any other.

The tricky part of being a Paladin is knowing *which* judgement to judge. From a Healadin's perspective, we can't judge Judgement of Justice from ranged as Enlightened Judgements does not work on Judgement of Justice, so that one is eliminated from our options.

When you're the only Paladin in the raid, it's generally more favorable to use Judgement of Light for the added overall healing. If you're finding that the healing is really light, feel free to help your DPS'ers out with Judgement of Wisdom.

When it's just you and a Retadin, ALWAYS let the Retadin use Judgement of Light while you use Judgement of Wisdom. There are two reasons for this: 1) a Retadin will always generate larger heals due to their higher attack power / spell power combination, and 2) a Retadin will be able to maintain a much higher uptime than a Healadin on the more important judgement, as judging is a significant portion of their DPS.

When there's a Protadin AND a Retadin in the raid with you, let the Retadin use Judgement of Light, as usual. Since Healadins *can't* judge Justice from range, the ideal circumstance is that the Protadin uses Judgement of Justice so no one overwrites his debuff on the boss, and the Healadin uses Judgement of Wisdom.

6. Seals

The basic premise function of Seals are to allow you to judge. Without a Seal up, you can't judge ANYTHING. If you can't judge, then you can't attain your Judgements of the Pure buff. As for deciding *which* seal to put up, this one is easy! Of the six seals (Blood/Martyr, Corruption/Vengeance, Justice, Light, Wisdom, Righteousness) that are available to a Paladin, only two of them are affected by your glyphs in a positive manner for healing (see above section on Glyphs):

Seal of Light - When you melee the target, you gain x amount of healing based on your attack power and your spell power.

Seal of Wisdom - When you melee the target, you gain 4% of your maximum mana (translated: raid buffed). With 25,000 mana raid buffed, that's 1,000 mana per attack. With 30,000 mana raid buffed, that's 1,200 mana per attack. This is a fairly reliable and reasonable source of mana regen when there is down time from healing (ie. when Razorscale is grounded during phase I, or when the heart is out on XT-002).

Make sure you use whichever seal you're glpyhed for!

7. Auras

A Paladin can choose one of seven auras to use at any given time. Whichever aura is chosen will impact everyone in your raid group that is standing within 40 yards of you (which should typically be most of the raid).

Devotion Aura - Grants a bonus of 1,205 armor to anyone affected by this aura.
Retribution Aura - Causes 112 holy damage to any target who hits anyone affected by this aura.
Concentration Aura - Causes anyone affected by this aura to reduce the loss in cast/channeling time when damaged by 35%.
Shadow Resist Aura - Grants a bonus of 130 shadow resistance to anyone affected by this aura.
Frost Resist Aura - Grants a bonus of 130 frost resistance to anyone affected by this aura.
Fire Resist Aura - Grants a bonus of 130 fire resistance to anyone affected by this aura.
Crusader Aura - Increases the mounted speed of anyone affected by this aura by 20%.

Choose whichever aura is most likely to benefit you and the raid as a whole depending on the boss fight. When in doubt, the Healadin should put up Concentration Aura.

8. Blessings

Blessings are buffs that a Paladin can cast on any raid member that lasts for 10 minutes. Each blessing has a "greater" compontent that allows the Paladin to cast that particular blessing on *all* members of the class that they are buffing. There are only three blessings available to a Healadin (Tankadins get a fourth - Blessing of Sanctuary):

Blessing of Wisdom - This blessing grants a bonus of 92 mana per 5 seconds to all affected targets. When this blessing is blessed in its improved form (talented), the bonus is increased to 110 mana per 5 seconds.

Blessing of Might - This blessing grants a bonus of 550 attack power to all affected targets. When this blessing is blessed in its improved form (talented), the bonus is increased to 688 attack power.

Blessing of Kings - This blessing grants a flat 10% increase to all baseline stats (strength, agility, stamina, intellect, and spirit) to all affected targets. This is easily one of the most powerful buffs in the game and the buff most sorely missed when a raid lacks a Paladin.

Part of playing a Paladin is knowing whom to buff what. The addon PallyPower while isn't required to buff a raid effectively, can serve as a tremendous asset in doing so.

If you're the only Paladin in the raid then as a general rule, buff all tanks and warlocks with Blessing of Kings, all melee DPS and hunters with Blessing of Might, and all ranged DPS and healers with Blessing of Wisdom.

9. Hands

"Hand" spells are spells that used to be Blessings in the Burning Crusade that were given a new category in order to make accommodations for Blizzard's change in philosophy with raid buffs in Wrath of the Lich King. The only exception to this rule is Hand of Reckoning which is a new ability that was added in 3.0.8. These "hand" spells are now all situational usage type of spells. They are as follows:

Hand of Freedom - This hand has a 25 second cooldown and grants immunity to movement impairing effects to the target for 6 seconds. If you find yourself or fellow raid member limited by a movement impairing effect, hit them up with one of these.

Hand of Protection - This hand has a 5 minute cooldown and protects the target from all physical damage for 10 seconds. BE CAREFUL when using this hand, as it also limits the target from being able to attack during the duration of this hand. If you see a mob that accidentally got pulled by a healer or a DPS'er, hit them up with one of these.

Hand of Reckoning - This hand was recently added in 3.0.8 to give Tankadins a single target taunting ability, and this does exactly that. This hand doesn't have any real use for Healadins with the exception of a possible situation where the tank is overwhelmed with mobs and you see an add beating on another healer you can hit Divine Shield followed by Hand of Reckoning for a temporary reprieve until the tank can pick the mob up.

Hand of Sacrifice - This hand with a 2 minute cooldown is our best "oh shi-" type of abilities when coupled with a Divine Shield beforehand. This combination directs 30% of the damage taken by the target to yourself (whom is immune due to Divine Shield), effectively mitigating 30% damage. The downside is that this is really an "oh shi-" type of ability that is primarily prepped ahead of time when you know a big hit is coming.

Hand of Salvation - Your DPS'ers favorite hand! This hand has a 2 minute cooldown and will reduce your target's total threat by 2% every second for 10 seconds. If you see a DPS'er climbing the threat list a little bit too fast, don't hesitate to hit them up with one of these! (Just make sure you *never* hit the tank up with one of these!)

10. Conclusion

Here's what we learned in each section:

  • The Arsenal - We covered all of the Healadin's tools used to heal effectively.
  • Talents - We covered all of the talents that a Healadin would conceivably pick up in a PvE build and we made note of the mandatory versus the optional talents.
  • Glyphs - We covered the major and the minor glyphs that a Healadin should use and gave recommendations as to which to take.
  • Gearing a Healadin - We covered the primary stats that a Healadin looks for on gear and how they affect the Healadin.
  • Judgements - We covered the three judgements that are available to Paladins and we discussed how to determine which Judgement a Healadin should use.
  • Seals - We talked about the two *real* seals that a Healadin has available and explained that the Healadin should use the one that he/she glyphed for.
  • Auras - We discussed the seven auras that are available to a Paladin and gave a recommendation for which to use when in doubt.
  • Blessings - We covered the three blessings that are available to a Healadin and gave a general rule of thumbs as to how to decide which people get which buffs.
  • Hands - We covered the "hand" spells and explained what they were all about and suggested situations where each could be used.
Good luck!!!

And make sure you take the time to check out Pallymar's blog here!

6 remarks:

Anonymous said...

Fantastic post for increasing tree knowledge and for pally alts. Thanks!

Molsan said...

Great post! I just recently added Holy as my second/dual spec and am trying to run heroics to get better at healing.

David said...

When you said Divine Protection, did you mean Divine Shield? Not nitpickign, I really AM curious if that is what you meant.

Great Guide! Thank you!

AJ said...

100% I meant Divine Shield. I typed it once with the link and just copied/pasted it. My fault entirely! Maybe Averna will be so kind as to fix that for me! =D


jeffo said...

As a Holy Paladin I heartily endorse this guide! Nicely done.

Anonymous said...

You can't really say FoL isn't very good tbh,with right spec and and gear FoL pallies are as good as HL using ones. I myself have been healing with FoL only, it's just needs a lot of SP stacking and haste for even faster Flashes.
I've had no problem in healing 25-mans and been a good tank healer...just with FoLs :P
This page has a lot of posts about FoL pally healing :