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It didn’t take long to get from Thunder Bluff to the Echo Isles – Ankona took advantage of a wyvern so she could think and plan before getting to her destination. She had information to confirm with the spirits – was Gromnor dead? Was he really in the northern part of the Eastern Kingdoms, somewhere […]

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Ask Anna: Beyond Holy Light – Paladin Spells and Tricks
comment 4 Written by on June 24, 2009 – 9:18 am

This week’s Ask Anna comes from someone you may remember – Illi’s posted here before, and is currently leveling a little paladin. He’s opted for a holy second spec for that paladin, and – as a part-time druid healer at 80, ran into some trouble:

Dear Anna,

My “secondary” main is a Resto druid – she’s currently in (irregular) Naxxramas and Ulduar runs, usually providing “main raid healing” in ten-man runs. Now, one of the many, many alts I have is a blood elf paladin, a tankadin I have gotten to level 71. After patch 3.1 hit, I decided to spend the 1K gold and pick up dual talent specialisation on the paladin. The way I see it, being able to both tank and heal instances will give me double the opportunity to instance as I level. Now, the only problem is that aside from emergency instance healing I have /no idea/ how to heal as a paladin.

To use an analogy, if my Resto druid brings an entire toolkit to a fight, then it seems like the paladin brings two power-drills with a whole belt of attachments. To me, it looked like the game provided me with two core healing spells (Holy Light and Flash of Light, or Big Heal and Little Heal, or Big Bear and Little Bear, or Yogi and Bubu, or Simon and Garfunkle, or…), a talented “special case” healing/damage spell (Holy Shock), a Cleanse (otherwise known as “I Wish I Had A Decurse”), and a whole slew of various spells, cooldowns, procs and abilities that altered the various spells in various ways. At first glance, it looks simple – “Big Heal” when a lot of healing is needed, “Little Healing” when it’s not so much. Cleanse then comes in, adding a debuff-removal facet to the role. Then it starts getting more complicated.  Judgement – from range? Which one? Which seal do I use, and what aura? What about Aura Mastery?

So I guess my question is this: how would you advise and help a player who has recently respec’d a (near-) endgame paladin to Holy, who is familiar with endgame healing on another character class?


Oi! GREAT question.

First things first though – you’ve got the basic idea.

Holy Light for big heals.  Flash of Light for little heals.  Holy Shock for on the run heals – and because it frequently crits and is instant cast, it’s useful immediately after refreshing all those judgements and cooldowns. You’ll probably want to keep Holy Shock as part of your normal rotation – it’s great for smacking on a wayward DPSer when you can’t take your eyes off the tank for more than a GCD.

As for Seals – You’ll want to use Glyph of Seal of Wisdom with Seal of Wisdom for now – as you’re leveling, mana will be more of an issue than it is at true endgame.  Since you only have two major glyph slots, you’ll want Glyph of Seal of Wisdom and Glyph of Holy Light – and once you hit 80 you can pick up a third – usually either Divinity or Holy Shock.  I like Divinity, but your mileage may vary.

Judgements are a little different than you’d expect.  If you’re the only paladin in the group, judge light – unless you’re meleeing to get mana back, in which case judge wisdom temporarily.  If there are TWO paladins, let the other paladin judge light (especially if that pally is ret!) and you judge wisdom.  Particularly with Retribution, JoL gets buffs from their attackpower, making it more efficient than your spellpower.  Silly, yes – and likely changing in a few months, but stick with that for now.  The most important thing about Judgements is to make sure you keep Judgements of the Pure up – I use the addon Power Auras for this, but you can use any cooldown/buff monitor.

Auras are going to be more situational, and again will depend on whether you’re the only pally around.  If it’s just you, run whatever you think is best – concentration if you’re taking a lot of kickback from AoE, devotion if you’re not to help your tank, fire/frost/shadow resist if you need the extra oomph to get past something nasty.  This one leaves a lot up to your discretion, just don’t be caught with crusader aura up. 😀

Ok – now let’s take a closer look at some individual spells, combos, and cooldowns.

Beacon of Light –

1 min cooldown. Basically you put the beacon on a target, and any healing you do within 40 yards that /is not overheal/ will transfer to the beacon target. (In 3.2 overheal may transfer as well, but it’s still early on those changes.) You’ll usually want to  beacon either tank/offtank (for things like Tympanic Tantrum) or yourself (like phase 2 Mimiron) depending.  Beacon is dangerous, and frequently lags – but it has its benefits.  It’s also a high mana cost spell, so choose wisely on when to cast it.

If you use Bigwigs or Deadly Bossmods you can macro Beacon of Light to include a “local” countdown bar that will show up.

Macro for Deadly Bossmods:
/cast Beacon of Light
/dbm timer 60 Recast Beacon!

Macro for Bigwigs:
/cast Beacon of Light
/bwlcb 60 Recast Beacon!

In fact, this syntax will work with any spell you want a countdown bar for, like Judgement, just substitute in the spell name and the “length” of the bar – in this case 60 seconds.

Sacred Shield

You won’t get this spell until level 80, but I think it deserves a place here.  With few exceptions, this should be on a tank. Sometimes GCD doesn’t make instant refresh smart (obviously tank survival > sacred shield), but you want as much uptime as possible on this spell. Probably my greatest weakness as a Holy Paladin right now, as for some reason the 30 second refresh is harder to track than the 1 minute Beacon.

Aura Mastery

Particularly useful anytime you have OMGFIRE! This buffs any aura you or any paladin in your group has running, so even if you’ve got concentration up and the other paladin is running fire resist, it’ll still give you the extra burst of resist.  Frost Aura on Keristrasza’s enrage or Hodir’s Frozen Blows comes to mind, or Concentration Aura for Ignis’ Flame Jets. Much like with what aura you run, this will largely be a discretionary thing, unlikely to make or break a fight, but definitely can take the edge off.

Pally BubbleSac –

This is your “save the tank” button – with one caveat.  Hand of Sacrifice will only absorb 100% of your total health and then it will go away.  Sometimes it bugs and drops early, due to client lag – sometimes it bugs and lasts too long, due to server lag.  Either way though, this is the closest to a “win button” a holy paladin has for a tank.

There are two incarnations of this spell – one with Beacon of Light, and one without.  The basic idea is this (I don’t macro this, since both are on the GCD):

Cast Hand of Sacrifice on tank
Cast Divine Shield

Watch the tank take 30% less damage instantly.  I end up using this on most of the bosses that have a “nasty” component as the fight goes on – Thorim, Hodir during Frozen Blows, anything that has a “soft enrage” where the boss just hits harder and doesn’t oneshot everything.  This can be combined with beaconing the tank and healing the melee to help with aoe damage, though I generally already have a beacon going somewhere, and in a 25 man you may still have enough tank damage that (without overheal on beacon transferring) you need to heal the tank anyway – see Mimiron’s Plasma Blast or Vezax’s Surge.

You can, of course, use Hand of Sacrifice without Divine Shield. However, I’d be /very/ careful, since this can, and will, oneshot you if the tank gets hit hard or fast enough – particularly if you’re missing ANY of your total health.  Sometimes choosing your own death over the death of the tank is alright – but most of the time you’ll want to stay alive.

Divine Illumination –

This frequently forgotten cooldown reduces the mana cost of all your spells by 50% for 15 seconds, on a 3 minute cooldown.  I try to use this once per fight, especially if it’s got a “OH CRAP” spam section – phase 2 Mimiron comes to mind, as does Tympanic Tantrum, Gluth, any time you’re going to cast a fast chain of Holy Lights with no pause for anything else.

Put this spell somewhere you will SEE it – it’s easy to forget with all the other stuff going on!

Divine Favor/Holy Shock/FoL –

When you’ve got to run away and heal the tank at the same time, can’t afford to stop and cast a Holy Light, but the tank really needs some healin…

Cast Divine Favor
Cast Holy Shock – which crits, and causes
Instant Flash of Light

This little combo dumps a lot of healing on the target in a hurry without you having to worry about staying in one place.  You can definitely macro the Divine Favor/Holy Shock part of this, though I have that macro combined with a Divine Plea trick.

Lay on Hands

For this to be really useful, you need both Glyph of Divinity and the Improved Lay on Hands talent.  The result? Every 11 minutes, a free mana potion.  Obviously this is a great “save” button for a tank – and usually will be available once per fight in Ulduar.  However, I will hit a mana user that’s low on mana and has taken some damage if the tank is looking solid, just for the mana back for both myself and the target.  Can be used on yourself.  (costs no mana)

Divine Plea –

This is a blessing/curse type of spell.  It’s new to you at level 71, and gives you 25% of your mana back over 10 seconds… at a cost of 50% of your healing efficiency.  You’ll want to use this one – but carefully. Getting a feel for a particular tank will help, but PUGs don’t usually offer that kind of group synchronicity, so you’ll have to get used to the individual bosses and their abilities.

Because Plea is 15 seconds, it’s an excellent time to refresh Beacon of Light, Sacred Shield, and your Judgements of the Pure – you won’t have the healing “hit” on those abilities – but make sure you pay attention to your tank’s health while you’re doing so! There are some fights where you just won’t be able to use Plea and will end up chugging a mana potion.

However, half a heal is better than no heal at all, so if it’s really hairy, sometimes you’ll end up popping Plea and praying. Fortunately, there are a few tricks for Divine Plea:

Cancelaura/Holy Shock Macro
/cancelaura Divine Plea
/cast Divine Favor
/cast Holy Shock

Used when you thought you could get away with a Divine Plea and the boss decided that would be a good time to experiment with Winterfall Fire Water (make sure you have the tank – or whomever you want to heal – targeted).  You’ll lose your Divine Plea – but you won’t lose the tank. This will also proc an instant Flash of Light, since Holy Shock will crit – added bonus for the fast-healing you’ll need in this kind of situation.  The other trick involves making judicious use of yet another one of your many cooldowns.

Winged Divine Plea –

You’re going OOM faster than a rollercoaster off the first hill, the tank is getting beaten to a pulp, the DPS are struggling, you’ve already burned off a mana potion, and you need to Divine Plea… but you can’t take the healing hit.  What do you do?

Avenging Wrath/Divine Plea Macro
/cast Avenging Wrath
/cast Divine Plea
/bwlcb 60 Divine Plea Ready!

Poof, now a 50% healing reduction is now 20%, and you get the same mana regenned.  Only works once every 3 minutes, but it’s worth it in a pinch.  Using the Macro while Avenging Wrath is on cooldown just means you have to punch it twice (I just have the macro on my bars instead of a Divine Plea button by itself).  The last line is the cooldown bar to let me track visually my cooldown on Plea.

Remember that Avenging Wrath locks out Divine Shield for 30 seconds, but the majority of the time it’s worth it.

Whew!  That’s quite the list, eh?

Keep in mind that you don’t have to use all of these things on every fight (well, ok – SOME of them you want to), but that you should always have them mentally ready.  Unlike Druid or Priest healing, where you have a lot of options for which heal to use, and what kind, and for how long – Paladin healing is largely two buttons, or three if you include Holy Shock… what separates a good paladin healer from a mediocre one is not the ability to “push 2 harder”, but to have all the modifiers under control, to know and use cooldowns effectively and efficiently and seamlessly.

It’s not the easiest thing to master – and I’m certainly far from the best Holy Pally out there – but it’s worth striving for!

So good luck, have fun, and may the Loot-Fu be with you! (’cause we all know that good loots makes the healing better!)

If you have a question or conundrum you want Anna to answer, here’s how to send in your questions!

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4 Responses to “Ask Anna: Beyond Holy Light – Paladin Spells and Tricks”

  1. Illi’s are for DPS, screwed up Nelf RPs and SINKWHISKY. Now they are also for Heals? Damn.

    bricus last blog post..Wrathgate Wednesday: Dunnwanna Edition

  2. need moar lifebloom, imo

    Itanya Blades last blog post..New Raid Analysis Tool

  3. hand of protection and wipe recovery….

    By Jorani on Jun 25, 2009 | Reply
  4. tuff stuff. Thanks for the post Anna. Overwhelming, but just the kind of breakdown I needed.

    By Musti-Pally on Dec 29, 2009 | Reply

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