An introduction to the holy paladin's healset

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An introduction to the holy paladin's healset
Seasoned paladin Dan Desmond is here to answer your questions and provide you with your biweekly dose of retribution medicine, now with a strong hint of holy. Contact him at with any questions, concerns, or suggestions!

Some say that hell is other people. Still others claim that hell is repetition. As for myself, I ask, why not both? I recognize now that resolving to level this paladin solely through the Dungeon Finder was a decision fueled by the type of naïveté only afforded to the impetuous. "Surely it can't be that bad," I assured myself as I began my journey at the eager level of 15. Now, fifty five levels later, I can only shake my head at my own hubris and rock myself to sleep at night.

Granted, I may be waxing a bit melodramatic here, but don't judge me until you have spent as long as I have "randomly" queuing into the same section of Blackrock Depths.

There is a silver lining to all this, however; repetition, although tedious, helps reinforce muscle memory. I could map out every Clique binding I have while mumbling in my sleep. One thing that I made sure to do while making my way up the leveling ladder was to really get to know my heals: how they functioned and in what situations they would be most useful. Therefore, this week I'd like to touch on those most important of abilities to the holy flavor of paladin, our heals.
We've got the (holy) power

For those unacquainted with the paladin class, our secondary resource is holy power. Much like combo points, you build up charges by using certain abilities and then spend those charges on a "finishing move" such as Templar's Verdict or, as it applies to holy paladins, Word of Glory.

Since I've already introduced it, let's start our stroll through the spellbook with Word of Glory. An instant cast, mid-range heal that uses holy power instead of mana, I would consider it to be one of the pillars of the holy paladin playbook. If you take the eponymous talent, Word of Glory will transform into Eternal Flame, a slightly stronger WoG with a heal-over-time component tacked on. The HoT makes it very useful for raid healing and the like.

Holy Shock is another instant cast heal, but instead of costing holy power, Holy Shock generates it. This spell does use mana, but it is such a small amount that it is hardly worth mentioning. The real limiting factor for Holy Shock is its cooldown. Thanks to Sanctity of Battle haste reduces this cooldown, increasing the rate of holy power generation and, by extension, healing output.

In a similar vein to Holy Shock, Holy Radiance is another of our generators, though where Holy Shock is single-target (well, more or less), Holy Radiance is AoE. Also unlike its brother, Holy Radiance has a cast time in place of a cooldown, and costs a decent chunk of mana to cast.

To complement the Holy Shock / Holy Radiance duality, Word of Glory's counterpart is Light of Dawn, an AoE holy power consumer. Unlike previous iterations of this spell, Light of Dawn is a simple untargeted blast of holy energy that heals targets within your range automatically.

The jelly of the holy doughnut

If holy could be said to have a rotation, the above spells would comprise the heartbeat. Generating holy power and spending it is central to the playstyle, although like any other true rotation it needs some filling out with... well, filler spells.
  • Holy Light is truly the filler-est of the filler heals in our repertoire. With its long cast time and low mana cost, Holy Light is a spell that is best used when there are wounds to be healed with no real hurry to do so.
  • Divine Light doesn't appreciate the "filler" label and tries to push its way out of the category by having a strong healing effect and a large mana cost. This is your go-to during periods of high single-target damage (such as a tank getting driven into the pavement), though you should definitely keep an eye on your blue bar.
  • Flash of Light is like Divine Light's wide-eyed younger brother – not quite as strong, but much quicker on its feet (shorter cast time). As with Divine Light, this should be used during periods of heavy damage, though what separates Flash of Light from Divine Light is FoL's much shorter cast time. Again, mana usage should be monitored as this little guy has a ravenous appetite.
    • One important mechanic behind these heavy-hitting sibling heals is Tower of Radiance, which turns Divine Light and Flash of Light into holy power generators when used on the beaconed target.
  • Lay on Hands gets an honorable mention here, bookending the "this tank needs a heal, stat!" scale I've apparently been constructing. It's instant, free (as in, no mana cost), and heals for an amount equivalent to your max health, but it carries with it a considerable 10-minute cooldown. Use this wisely, or don't and curse yourself for wasting it on a hunter pet.
No discussion of paladin healing would be complete without going over Beacon of Light. Simply put, Beacon of Light is a buff that will duplicate a portion of heals from other sources and feed them into itself, enriching the beacon's target with the warm radioactive glow of the Light. This means that if you toss a Holy Shock at that aggro-hungry rogue, healing him for 5,000, your beaconed tank will receive a heal shortly thereafter for 2,500. Note the percentages in the tooltip – understanding how certain heals interact with your beacon will make your life as a healer much easier.

So there's your basic healing toolkit. However, having the tools is one thing, knowing how to use them is quite another. I won't pretend to be some incredibly talented and learned holy paladin, but I have certainly figured out a thing or two in my leveling spree. It pains me to admit that much of my experience with heavy damage came from healing faux-tanks and heirloom-laden, threat-chasing DPS.

Here are some tips for new paladins I've picked up from my journey:
  1. As previously mentioned, the generation and expenditure of holy power creates a basic rhythm to the whole playstyle. Holy Shock will typically be your most often used heal; it's a nice chunk of healing that gets you a third of the way to your next Word of Glory or Light of Dawn. Try to keep this on cooldown as much as possible.
  2. Speaking of, Word of Glory and Light of Dawn are both decent heals, and unshackled from the restraints of mana, so they should be used generously.
  3. Holy Light's usefulness shines through in its interaction with Beacon of Light; if a group member gets hit and your tank could use a spot heal, kill two birds with one stone with Holy Light.
    1. Or Holy Shock, or Word of Glory... the point is, put that beacon to good use.
  4. During heavy damage, weave in your non-mana using instants (Holy Shock, Word of Glory) to help keep your mana pool afloat. Tower of Radiance should definitely help you here.
  5. Unless your target is going to die within the next two seconds, Divine Light should be used over Flash of Light. You will feel the extra mana cost soon enough.
Although there are some basic tenets that you should follow while playing your holy paladin (some of which are reflected in the list above), your heals really are just tools to use to perform a job. Don't be afraid to experiment, especially if you're new. I went into this whole experience not really thinking I had what it takes to be a decent healer, but I find that I'm growing into it. And if I can heal my way through a dungeon where every player has aggro except the one with the shield, then so can you!
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