There are two main holy specs: holy with a protection flair (holy-prot) and holy with retribution perks (holy-ret). Back when critical strike was our most desired mana regeneration stat, holy-pet took the cake as it provides 8% extra critical strike chance. Now, holy-prot has become very popular for its potent auras and defensive cooldowns.
7. Talent overview
Talents in italics are optional, and you can flex your build to pick up or drop these based on your particular healing environment. If a talent is struck out, avoid it, as it provides little or no benefit to a healer. I'll only be covering the protection and retribution talents that are relevant for a holy paladin to pursue.
- Spiritual Focus – This is the only tier 1 healing talent, and it allows us to heal consistently while getting beat on. If you couple this with Concentration Aura, your spells can't be interrupted by normal attacks.
Seals of the Pure– A DPS talent for tanks and ret paladins, avoid this one.
- Healing Light – A huge throughput boost, this talent is key to bringing your healing throughput up to the levels you'll need to keep a tank alive.
- Divine Intellect – Intellect is a holy paladin's primary stat, and this talent boosts it by a solid 10%. It was an awesome talent when it was 15% a few months ago, but it's still just as awesome at 10%.
Unyielding Faith– A PvP talent, UF can also see use in certain PvE encounters, but is typically skipped due to the glut of great holy talents that are useful in every fight.
- Aura Mastery – A brand new WotLK addition to our arsenal, Aura Mastery is useful in both PvE and PvP and shouldn't be passed up for any reason. This talent is so good, even retribution paladins put their remaining points into holy to pick it up.
- Illumination – Once the crux of our mana regeneration, its weakened form still accounts for a significant amount of our longevity. Because Illumination returns mana based on the spell's base cost, items that lower the cost of a spell actually buff Illumination, which makes our glyph and libram choices much easier.
- Improved Lay on Hands – This talent adds yet another survivability cooldown to a talented paladin's arsenal. 20% damage reduction can often be the difference between life and death, especially on fights where tank damage is scaling upward, on Festergut for example.
Improved Concentration Aura– A PvP-focused talent, this has almost no use in PvE.
- Improved Blessing of Wisdom – Useful for PvE, it can be skipped if you have a restoration shaman who is good about keeping a Mana Spring totem down.
- Blessed Hands – A useful talent, especially for high-end raiding guilds, where buffing Hand of Salvation is key to keeping their top threat producers from stealing aggro. It also buffs Hand of Sacrifice, although it makes it more dangerous as well by redirecting more incoming damage to the paladin.
Pure of Heart– I've never actually seen someone use this talent, as it can actually be detrimental in PvE where a debuff going off can cause a wipe.
- Divine Favor – A fairly simple but potent cooldown, most people tend to mix Divine Favor with Holy Shock to ensure a large instant heal and a guaranteed Infusion of Light proc.
- Sanctified Light – This scales well with Illumination, and adds crit to two of our three heals.
Purifying Power– The mana cost reduction to Cleanse is meaningless as Cleanse is functionally free, although the Holy Wrath cooldown reduction has been handy on certain fights with a ton of undead adds. This talent is typically passed unless included in a specialized encounter build like heroic Anub'arak.
- Holy Power – A simple 1% crit per point talent, I typically leave 4 points in here to fill out my Improved Lay on Hands talent.
- Light's Grace – Without this talent, Holy Light would lose a significant amount of throughput and reactiveness. This talent is the reason that a paladin will "spam" Holy Light, as you always want to maintain a Light's Grace stack. Even if you're just using Flash of Light during a low damage situation, make sure to add in one extra Holy Light every 15 seconds to maintain Light's Grace.
- Holy Shock – Our only instant heal: you'll find yourself relying on it often. It's not for regular inclusion as part of your rotation, and you want to avoid using it unless you need to move. While it may seem smart to Holy Shock to prop someone up so you can cast another heal, it is usually better to simply cast the big heal originally, since Holy Shock still activates the GCD.
Blessed Life– A PvP only talent, it can be fairly beneficial while being trained. Sacred Cleansing– Because no PvE encounter is balanced around having a resistance to debuffs, you can leave this one alone.
- Holy Guidance – Here is one of the core reasons that Intellect is a holy paladin's best friend. By stacking intellect, which is traditionally considered a longevity stat, you are actually improving your throughput.
- Divine Illumination – A huge mana-saver, Divine Illumination can get you out of a tight spot between Divine Plea cooldowns. Coupled with the new 2-piece Tier 10 set bonus, Divine Illumination can actually be used while Divine Plea is active to help counteract the healing reduction.
- Judgements of the Pure – This talent provides all holy paladins with a free 15% haste, lowering the amount it takes to reach our cap considerably. Resto shamans are stuck gemming all haste, while JotP lets us gem for intellect instead.
- Infusion of Light – While the 20% critical chance bonus to Holy Light is nice, this talent is far more valuable due to its interaction with Flash of Light. A Divine Favor'd Holy Shock will guarantee an IoL proc, giving you an instant Flash of Light for a second instant heal. It also allows our heals on Sacred Shielded targets to generate a decent HoT, regardless of who cast the Sacred Shield.
- Enlightened Judgements – EJ makes Judgements of the Pure that much better by allowing us to keep JotP up from 40 yards away, while also giving us enough hit to connect reliably with our judgements.
- Beacon of Light – The core of the holy paladin persona, this allows us to effectively double our throughput for only a minor cost. Beacon of Light usage is key to every single encounter you face, and keeping it up at all times on the right person will make a world of difference in how you heal.
- Divinity – While 5% more healing done sounds like fun, it is really only useful for Flash of Light and Holy Shock.
- Guardian's Favor – Reducing the CD of one of our great defensive cooldowns and increasing the duration of one of our signature abilities, Guardian's Favor is a favorite of holy-prot paladins.
- Stoicism – While it is largely a PvP talent, it can be useful for the occasional time you'll be stunned in PvE, and is required to proceed further.
- Divine Sacrifice – Our most potent cooldown, this talent allows us to absorb 30% of the damage that any of our party members take for 10 seconds. You can couple this with Divine Shield to "party wall" your group with no danger to yourself.
- Improved Righteous Fury – On any fight where threat is not a concern, you should keep Righteous Fury active with this talent to reduce your incoming damage.
- Divine Guardian – A boost to the already awesome Divine Sacrifice, this talent adds an additional "raid wall" component featuring 20% damage reduction for 6 seconds, and boosts our Sacred Shield's duration and potency.
- Improved Devotion Aura – This talent is useless if you play with a Protection Paladin and only half as effective if you play with a Tree of Life druid, but if you play with neither, enjoy 6% extra healing for your group and extra armor for your tanks.
- Benedicition – Paladins have quite a few instant cast spells (not necessarily heals), and some of them are fairly high cost. Benediction can help counter that, and definitely beats the alternative of 5% parry.
- Heart of the Crusader – A buff to your usefulness; targets of your judgements will be crit 3% more often.
- Improved Judgements – Judging on cooldown, when healing permits, is actually mana-positive due to Seal of Wisdom, so this lets you judge more often.
- Improved Blessing of Might – If there's no warrior or ret paladin to provide this buff, you can pick this talent up to make your physical DPS love you.
- Conviction – Another 1% crit for 1 point talent, this becomes the core of the holy-ret build.
- Pursuit of Justice – PoJ will make you more nimble in fights with heavy moment, which is great for paladins as we must reach our destination quickly so we can start casting again. It also opens up the enchant slot of your boots to a non-speed enchant.
- Sanctity of Battle – Why not, another 1% crit for 1 point talent, to give a holy-ret paladin an extra 8% crit all told.
I leveled my first paladin as holy, dreaming of the day when I would use Holy Shock to crush my enemies at a distance. It was slow, painful, and once I received Holy Shock, disappointing. You can play holy to heal instances as you're leveling up, but you will really want to have friends nearby to do all of the dirty work for you. I found that pairing with a tanking class can make leveling a breeze. Let the tank pick up several mobs, heal your friend while they destroy the group, rinse and repeat.