DISCLAIMER: This guide is written with level 80 Holy Paladins in mind - I never leveled as a Holy Paladin (I much preferred Ret for questing as I leveled before the dungeon finder came out). This was written during the patch 3.3.5 and will be highly outdated come Cataclysm. The focus of this guide is PvE raiding-oriented paladin healing. This is not a guide for PvP healing nor casual 5 man healing.
So you have your Paladin, and you want to try out the Holy spec. I'm going to tell you right now, playing as a holy paladin is extremely simple and in ICC you're a very strong healer. You'll never be nearly as strong raid healing as you are tank healing, and if you plan to be a raiding Holy Pally, then plan on primarily tank healing. This may bore you, and if it does I suggest you roll a different healing class.
How do I spec for Holy?
There's a couple different ways you can spec. The spec I am currently using on Shreya has both Aura Mastery and Divine Sacrifice, which are both really nice tools to use during heavy AoE or damage fights. It is also specced down into Divine Guardian, which increases the amount absorbed by your Sacred Shield by 20% and increases it's duration by 100%, and it also reduces damage taken by the raid by 30% when you activate Divine Sacrifice - which is awesome. I've also picked up improved Concentration Aura.
Click here to see the spec I use. You may ask, why improved Righteous Fury? While it is something that was designed for tanking, taking 6% less damage in any situation is always a good thing - think heavy AoE damage fights. If you pull aggro as a healer, your tank is having severe issues and should probably be replaced. This doesn't count if there are adds that spawn away from the tank - Saurfang's blood beasts, Lich King's spirits, etc. You may want to turn off RF for those fights or let your tank know you're using it.
Elitist Jerks has a couple other spec's that you can check out:
52/17/2 PvE Holy (This is almost identical to my spec, however I decided to get improved Conc Aura instead of 2/2 Imp LoH and 2/5 Benediction)
51/5/14 PvE Holy with Ret (good spec to start heroics with, but you lose Divine Guardian)
54/17/0 PvP Holy - Sample Arena spec (I won't pretend to know anything about PvP Holy and this is first and foremost a PvE healing post.)
You can play around with the talent calculators and find something that fits your style of healing.
How do I play as Holy?
There are two different focuses you can choose when playing a Holy paladin - Holy Light and Flash of Light. I'm just going to post the comparison from ElitistJerks - green is a pro, red is a con.
Holy Light Focus
+ Big mana pool; 40k+ with 245+ gear if you use mostly Int gems (with buffs)
+ Spam Holy Light for 2-4+ minutes without outside help
+ Divine Plea restores a ton of mana, 10K+
+ Easier to play since you mostly focus on one heal and healing a tank via Beacon
- Slighter slower healing
- Sacred Shield absorbs less
- The FoL HoT isn't too useful for HL focus
Flash of Light Focus
+ All Heals are more sizable due to using more spell power gems
+ Sacred Shield absorbs more and FoL HoT is strong enough to be a useful tool
+ Flash of Light enables one to quickly top the raid's health off
- 10k+ less mana than the Holy Light build
- Mana pool will burn quickly if you don't mostly use FoL
- Divine Plea restores less mana
- Desire to keep 4/5 Tier 9 for the FoL HoT bonus
- This healing focus is a poor idea if you are the only Holy Pally in a your raid.
- Since you need to be constantly casting to deal with lower HPS, so Judgement debuff will have a lower up-time.
Generally you want to go the Holy Light focus unless you're rather casual and mostly do heroics.
Generally, you should always be casting. Your huge mana pool allows you to spam the hell out of Holy Light. You're going to have tons of overhealing, but with the current healing model in WotLK it doesn't really matter.
As a Holy Paladin, what abilities do I have?
Holy Light: This is your bread and butter. While it is an expensive spell, with the gigantic mana pools of ICC geared paladins, and mana reducing effects ([item]Libram of Renewel[/item] and [item]Glyph of Seal of Wisdom[/item]), this will be your main spam. Bind it to an easy access key.
Flash of Light: This is a very low mana cost and rather quick but small heal. It should be used when very little healing is needed or your mana is very low. It's a great heal in heroics, however.
Holy Shock: A nice instant cast heal. Good to use if you are on the move or the tank is about to die and you won't get a Holy Light off in time. Other than that, I rarely use it.
Beacon of Light: This ability essentially lets you heal two people for the cost of one. The general use is to cast it on one tank and heal the other, or cast on the tank and heal the raid.
Sacred Shield: This ability you'll want to keep up on a tank. If you have two tanks, and one is not a paladin, keep it on them as the pally tank can keep it up on themselves. It's a nice little absorption shield that absorbs more based on your spell power.
Divine Plea: This gives an absolutely insane amount of mana back, especially for a mostly intellect gemmed paladin. It will decrease your healing by 50% for the duration however, so it's best to use during low damage times if you can help it. I usually pop it at about 50-60% mana.
Avenging Wrath: Gives a 20% healing increase for 20 seconds but you won't be able to bubble yourself for 30 seconds. Nice to use to offset the 50% healing decrease when Divine Plea is active, or during a particularly hard hitting phase of a boss fight.
Divine Illumination: This is a very nice mana saver for those long fights. With 2 piece tier 10 bonus, it can also be used to counteract healing reduction during Divine Plea.
How should I gear for Holy?
You're looking for caster gear (obviously). However, just because you can wear plate doesn't mean that's the only gear you should wear. There's plenty of cloth, leather and mail items that are itemized just as well or better than holy plate items. As a healer, you're not worried about the armor, only stats. Obviously, you don't want hit items, and try not to take cloth, leather and mail over a cloth/leather/mail wearer as while you can wear anything, they cannot.
Let's do a stat breakdown:
Intellect: This is your best stat. You love intellect! Here's what 100 Intellect will give you:
121 Intellect, with Blessing of Kings and Divine Intellect
1815 Mana at the start of the fight
37.8Mp5 from Divine Plea, if used on CD.
18.1Mp5 from Replenishment.
4.54Mp5 from Arcane Torrent (Blood Elf)
24.2 Spell Power
0.726% Spell Crit
Stacking intellect will lead to a massive mana pool, easily reaching 35k and above without any buffs in the current ICC and RS gear. A Holy Light focused paladin is going to want as much intellect as they can get their greedy little paws on :]
Spell Power: Exactly what it says - it makes your heals bigger. Flash of Light focused paladins LIKE spell power - it will make your FoL very powerful for it's low mana cost. 100 spell power will add an extra 134 healing done to your FoL at level 80, and 223 healing done to your Holy Light.
Haste: Reduces the cast time of your spells. For Holy Light focused paladins, this will greatly increase the output of healing you do. Currently I have 600 haste from gear alone, which drops my Holy Light cast time to 2.1 seconds from 2.5. You're always going to want to keep Judgments of the Pure up, also, which gives you a lovely 15% increased haste. Using only that buff, I shave .3 seconds off my cast time for Holy Light, dropping it to 1.8. That, coupled with Light's Grace 3/3, which gives your Holy Light spell a 100% chance to reduce the cast time of your next Holy Light by .5 seconds. So 600 haste = 2.1 seconds. Light's Grace 3/3 = 1.7 seconds. Judgments of the Pure 15% haste = 1.5 seconds cast time for Holy Light. All that shaved a full second off the original cast time. You can stack more haste, which will obviously increase your output by even more by letting you get off more spells in less time. However, while an awesome stat for Holy Light focused paladins, the shorter cast time of Flash of Light makes haste a less valuable stat. The haste soft cap is 676 haste rating - FoL focused paladins shouldn't go past that.
Crit: Critical heals will heal for 50% more and actually cost 30% less mana assuming you are specced into Illumination (and if you're not, go respec). A holy paladin's spell are going to crit a lot just through talents. While nice, it's not something you should be actively gearing for.
Mana per 5: This is not a better mana regen stat than intellect, however it's usually better to go with mp5 than crit rating.
Libram of Renewal This is your best in slot libram. I'm completely serious. It reduces the cost of your Holy Light by nearly 10%, making it an invaluable mana saver.
Furious Gladiator's Libram of Justice This is outstanding for Flash of Light focus and you can get upgraded versions if you have the required Arena rating. Nice to use in heroics.
Libram of Veracity This libram is good to pick up for fights where your healing output outweighs mana saving, such as Valithria Dreamwalker if you're portal hopping.
Libram of Blinding Light This is a useless libram, don't waste your badges on it as you shouldn't be casting Holy Shock that much. Save your frost badges for tier 10.
In ascending order of usefulness to a Holy Light Focused Paladin (according to Rawr)
Tears of the Vanquished
Darkmoon Card: Greatness
Sliver of Pure Ice (nonheroic)
Purified Lunar Dust
Talisman of Resurgence The use can combined with Divine Plea to counter the penalty.
Sliver of Pure Ice (heroic)
Solace of the Defeated (nonheroic)
Solace of the Defeated (heroic)
This site has a current Best in Slot list you can use to get ideas about how you want to gear. It only utilizes 2 pieces of tier 10 as the t10 4 piece bonus is not especially spectacular. Don't use this as the ultimate BiS list as BiS gear will change per player style and per fight.
What glyphs should I use?
The current glyphs available to holy pallys are:
Glyph of Seal of Wisdom/Glyph of Seal of Light
You should be using one of these two glyphs. Generally a Holy Light focused paladin will use the Seal of Wisdom glyph as it's a good mana saver. Flash of Light focused paladins use the Glyph of Seal of Light.
Glyph of Holy Light
Extremely useful glyph, it allows you to effectively heal 5 nearby targets. Generally you're healing tanks, so you get to heal the melee at the same time.
Glyph of Beacon of Light
Extends the time your Beacon of Light is up. It can save you a global cooldown because you don't have to refresh it as often, and it won't fall off at the wrong time (hopefully).
Glyph of Divinity
This is a very situational glyph for fights where you really need to use that cooldown for mana. I haven't reached a fight yet where I've needed this glyph.
Glyph of Flash of Light
Good glyph for Flash of Light focused paladins, and a good bonus for the PvP healing paladin.
Glyph of Holy Shock
This is a powerful PvP glyph, not so much for an PvE.
I personally use the Glyph of Seal of Wisdom, Glyph of Beacon of Light, and Glyph of Holy Light.
Glyph of Lay on Hands - Very useful minor for Holy.
Glyph of Blessing of Kings - You might need to rebuff Kings on someone who gets a battle rez, so this will save mana.
Glyph of Blessing of Wisdom – If you ever cast single target Wisdom on yourself this is good to use.
How should I gem/enchant my gear?
Your best meta gem to use is Insightful Earthsiege Diamond (21 intellect/mana regen on cast)
Yellow - Brilliant King's Amber for Holy Light focus or Luminous Ametrine for Flash of Light focus.
Red - Luminous Ametrine for Holy Light focus only if you want the socket bonus/active meta or Runed Cardinal Ruby for Flash of Light focus.
Blue - Dazzling Eye of Zul for Holy Light paladin if they want the socket bonus/active meta or Royal Dreadstone for Flash of Light focus.
Another method for gemming is to fill every Brilliant King's Amber except one, where you use a Nightmare Tear to activate your meta gem. This is the method I use and recommend.
As for enchants, from head to toe:
Head - 50 sp 10 Mp5 or 50 Spell Power and 20 Critical Strike Rating
Shoulder - 24 sp 8 Mp5 or 24 sp and 15 Critical Strike Rating
Cloak – 23 Haste
Chest - 10 to all stats or 250 Mana
Bracers – 16 Intellect or 30 Spell Power
Gloves – 28 Spell Power
Legs – 50 Spell Power and 20 Stamina
Shield - 25 Intellect
Weapon - 30 Intellect or 63 Spell Power
Boots – Tuskarr's Vitality or Icewalker or 7mp5
Is there a certain profession I should get?
You don't have to have special professions to be a good holy paladin, but every profession gives some sort of bonus.
Mixology gives 47 Spell Power, 20 Intellect or 20 Mp5 depending on Flask used and you get double duration. Other conveniences: Endless Mana Potion, Crazy Alchemist's Potion which is the same mana as Runic along with health and a random potion affect, and the ability to make your own uncut epic gems. In addition, you can use Flask of the North to gain 47 spell power if you don't want to use a normal flask.
Socket Glove/Socket Bracer - Gives you 40 Int or whatever stat/ranting you want via two additional gem sockets.
Enchant Ring - Greater Spellpowerx2 - Gives you 46 Spell Power.
Hyperspeed Accelerators - This use effect can be used during Divine Plea to lessen the downside of Plea and for burst parts of encounter such as Phase 3 Festergut. Other useful tools: Nitro Boosts gives 24 crit rating and a 5s burst of speed and 27 spell power to cloak instead of Enchant Cloak - Greater Speed. Assuming you use a Mana Potion Injector, Engineers will get 25% more out of Runic Mana Potions used inside the Injector.
Special enhanced shoulder glyphs are a 46 Spell Power increase over The Sons of Hodir exalted versions.
Dragon's Eye Gems - Gives you 42 int or additional item points with the stats or rating of your choice via three dragon's eye gems.
Fur lining enchant is 76 spell power, an increase of 46 spell power over the normal enchant.
Darkglow Embroidery - gives 44 Mp5 over time Or Lightweave Embroidery - gives 73 sp over time instead of Enchant Cloak - Greater Speed.
Master of Anatomy - 40 crit rating.
Toughness - 60 stamina.
Lifeblood - Small self-only HoT that is off the GCD.
Personally, I think the best professions are JCing/BSing together, or JCing/Enchanting together. They seem to give the best bonuses when combined. I currently have mining and jewelcrafting because it made JCing easier to level :]
What about addons?
I highly recommend getting Pally Power. You can download it from Curse.com and it's extremely helpful to sort out auras and buffs in a raid.
As a healer you should have some sort of raid frames - I personally use Grid for mine, but I hear good things about Vuhdo too.
I also recommend Clique - it lets you bind spells to your mouse buttons to use when you hover over your raid frame. I use it to bind my cleanse spells to get them off my bar.
Tips and Tricks and Helpful Things:
When healing, I usually use Judgment of Light to get my haste buff up. With the JoL debuff on the mob, it heals anyone who damages it for a small amount. This can be extremely useful if you're judging every 20 seconds.
When choosing tanks to put Sacred Shield on, I'll either put on a non-paladin tank, or if all the tanks are paladins, I'll put it on the one with the least life to minimize the damage they take. Always let your pally tanks know if you plan one using your Sacred Shield on them so they don't replace yours with theirs. If there are multiple paladin healers in your group, make sure you work out who is using Sacred Shield on who.
Use http://www.tankspot.com to learn fights ahead of time. Also, this post on http://elitistjerks.com is extremely helpful and has strategies and tips for healing certain fights.
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