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General advice

Healing basics

Paladin mana management works very differently from other healing classes, who mostly depend on spirit. A paladin's best mana return mechanic is [Illumination]. Additionally (and as of patch 3.0.2), most paladins rely on [Divine Plea]. These talents make intellect and critical strike rating much more attractive stats to paladin healers than the spirit and "mp5" other classes prioritize. The 50% healing reduction caused by Divine Plea makes Flash of Light very inefficient (in terms of HPS) while the spell is active, so it is generally better to stick to Holy Light, and in raid situations many paladins now use this as their primary heal. In raid situations, paladin healers also frequently use Lay on Hands (combined with certain glyphs and talents) to restore mana to themselves when they run out.

At lower gear levels and without the benefits of raid-wide mana regeneration buffs, your basic healing spell is more likely to be Flash of Light. With adequate gear (and assuming the tank you are probably healing is also adequately geared) for the situation, you can generally spam it in order to keep your assignement's health topped. In situations like this, Holy Light will generally be reserved for times when the HPS of FoL is not adequate to keep up with damage. Holy Light has a relatively long casting time, so it is important to use it before you fall too far behind or you may not be able to finish casting it in time.

In urgent situations, it may be wiser to use a combination of Divine Favor and Holy Shock to trigger Infusion of Light, which will give you another instant cast FoL or an increased critical chance on your next HL. This is highly mana inefficient, of course, so it should be reserved only for situations where you do not have enough time to complete a more efficient heal.

In dire situations, Lay on Hands will provide a very large, instantaneous burst heal to your target. This can be a potent tool when a battle starts to go downhill. This ability has a fairly long cooldown, so choosing when to use it can be difficult.

It is also important to consider your various damage mitigation abilities. Divine Shield will prevent you from taking any damage for 12 seconds, allowing you to focus on healing the other members of your party in peace, or giving you valuable time to restore your own health. Sacred Shield can absorb damage for your target while increasing your HPS output and mana regeneration. The amount of damage absorbed will scale with your own spell power, making this a highly effective tool for holy paladins. Hand of Sacrifice can also be used to transfer damage from your healing target to yourself.

Because paladin healers must use direct-healing spells, they cannot always wait to see how much damage their healing target has taken before deciding which heal to cast. This results in "spamming" (usually of Flash of Light), or chain-casting and in turn, paladin healers are sometimes criticised for "overhealing" (which is essentially wasting mana by healing a target for more than the amount of damage he has taken). Overhealing that doesn't make you run out of mana is fully acceptable. Remember — it is always better to overheal than underheal and suffer wipe after wipe.

Buffs

It is important to know whom to buff how.

Tanks will benefit most from the stamina and agility bonuses provided by Blessing of Kings. If another paladin has already used Blessing of Kings, Blessing of Might will help them maintain a high level of threat on their target.

Physical DPS classes will typically benefit most from the attack power granted by Blessing of Might, but there are some cases where the stat increases from Blessing of Kings can be more valuable. Mana users (like retribution paladins or hunters) will also benefit from Blessing of Wisdom.

Most magic-based DPS classes and healers should get Blessing of Wisdom to help them keep an adequate mana pool and decrease downtime, but there are certain cases (like warlocks with Life Tap) where Blessing of Kings will provide more benefit.

Note that DPS warriors and most shamans provide near-equivalent versions of Might and Wisdom, respectively, that do not stack, so if you are the only paladin in your group, you should avoid redundancy and use Kings instead.

The short duration of paladin blessings can be ideal for situations where players are likely to die quickly or have buffs dispelled from them, specifically in PvP battlegrounds. However, paladin buffs cannot be applied to an entire party or raid as many other class buffs can. The short duration blessings must be applied to each individual player, and the longer duration "greater" blessings must be applied to each individual class. While it is true that applying a 10 minute blessing to one character is generally more mana-efficient than applying another class's 30 minute buff, the cost of buffing a 40 player raid in Alterac Valley is significantly higher to paladins.

Raiding

In raid environments healers are often divided into group healers and tank healers. Paladins generally excell at healing tanks due to the high efficiency of Holy Light. They lack the party and raid healing abilities of some other classes, as well as multiple healing-over-time (HoT) effects and have only one low-efficiency instant-cast heal (Holy Shock), but they can serve adequately as raid healers, mostly by spamming Flash of Light and using Holy Shock in emergency situations.

An important buff/damage midigator to keep up on tanks at all times is Sacred Shield It gives holy paladins a hot to help with HPS, a 50% crit increase to flash of light, and provides a minor damage absorption.

With Beacon of Light paladins are now considered the best healing class for tanks. Often in raids the paladin with beacon the off tank and heal the main tank transferring the healing done. With two paladins they will beacon each off tank to maximize their healing.

Holy talents and builds

Main article: Paladin_builds#Holy

The Holy talent tree is very powerful and makes the paladin a very strong healer; Light's Grace allows you to quick-fire Holy Light heals for larger burst healing effectiveness, and Holy Guidance will increase your overall spell damage and healing based upon your current intellect.

There is relatively little flexibility in choosing Holy tree talents, as most are either obviously useful or strictly limited to PvP. The main decision to make is between Retribution or Protection for the off-tree. Retribution gives extra crit chance and faster run speed, while Protection gives a flat boost to healing with Divinity, Divine Guardian for longer Sacred Shields and raid utility as well as Improved Devotion Aura. Generally, Ret is recommended for lower gear levels and 5-mans, while Protection is best for raids.

Holy Light builds versus Flash of Light builds

There are two broad schools of thought on paladin healing at level 80: take a very powerful heal (Holy Light) and focus on being able to cast it for sustained periods without running out of mana, or take a very efficient heal (Flash of Light) and focus on making it more powerful. In general, the second option is only viable very high levels of gear, when paladins will have enough spellpower to make Flash quite strong.

Holy Light builds will want to gem for intellect, use Glyph of Seal of Wisdom, and use the humble [Libram of Renewal] (at just 15 Heroism emblems). When mana pools get large enough, haste also becomes desirable.

Flash of Light builds will gem for spellpower and haste, use Glyph of Seal of Light, and use a PvP libram like [Furious Gladiator's Libram of Justice].

Gear

Holy paladin healers benefit most from gear with spellpower, intellect, critical strike rating, haste rating, and mp5. Stamina and armor are also good to have for better survivability. Paladins use a one-handed weapon (mace or sword) and a shield with good healing stats. Some prefer a non-shield off-hand item with good healing stats (although keep in mind that shields can be enchanted and off-hands cannot). Paladin healers can use all types of armor (cloth, leather, mail or plate). While it is generally best to use plate when possible, for the extra armor and therefore survivability it provides, you should not neglect lower armor classes with better healing stats.

Intellect is by far the strongest stat for mana regeneration. It boosts initial mana, mana recovered through Divine Plea and Replenishment (as well as Arcane Torrent, for blood elves), and also increases critical strike chance and thus mana returned through Illumination. With 5/5 points in Holy Guidance it also increases your spell power by 2 points for every 10 intellect.

Another stat paladins will have to choose between on some gear is haste or crit. Both are highly beneficial to holy paladins. Based on talent setup some paladins are able to sacrifice crit gear for haste. It comes down to if you would rather the heal to hit hard or hit faster.

Unlike other healing classes, spirit is not an important stat for paladins. Because paladins lack healing-over-time effects, instant cast heals, and "clearcasting" or during-casting passive regeneration talents, most paladin healers will not be outside of the "5 second rule" for any significant periods of most fights and spirit does not provide meaningful regeneration for them. Furthermore, spirit gives paladins no side bonuses that some priests and druids have such as a bonus to healing; instead, Paladins get that bonus from intellect.

The other stat commonly found on caster gear that paladins do not need is hit rating. Thought not absolutely useless (because paladins will Judge enemies occasionally to proc Judgements of the Pure), gear with hit should be left to offensive casters, since it does not benefit heals at all. Of course, an item may still be an upgrade in spite of the fact that is has hit, and if there are no offensive casters interested in the item, it may be worth taking.

Gear Enhancement

A paladin's primary stats for healing are spell power, intellect, crit rating and haste rating. Spell power will increase the amount healed by every healing spell you cast. Intellect provides more mana as well as increasing your critical effect chance, having high intellect (and therefore more mana) also makes Divine Plea more effective. Crit rating also increases your critical effect chance, which increases the average amount healed and also restores mana (through Illumination). The enhancements listed below are generally considered the best available for high level holy paladins:

Most of the expensive enchantments have a slightly weaker version available very cheaply. For example, [Enchant Weapon - Mighty Spellpower] typically costs 200-300g, while [Enchant Weapon - Exceptional Spellpower] costs about 30g.

Gems

With all the benefits of intellect it makes intellect gems ideal. You will see most end game raiding paladins socket all of their gear with the Brilliant King's Amber reguardless of socket color, except for one [Nightmare Tear] to meet the Meta Gem Requirement.

PvE

  *Requires 1 Red gem, 1 Yellow gem, 1 Blue gem

Glyphs

Paladins focusing on Holy Light will want [Glyph of Holy Light] and [Glyph of Seal of Wisdom]. There is some flexibility on the third glyph. [Glyph of Beacon of Light] saves global cooldowns from having to be used to refresh that spell, as well as a significant amount of mana over the course of a long fight. [Glyph of Divinity] effectively turns Lay on Hands into a super-mana potion when self-cast.

Flash of Light paladins will use [Glyph of Flash of Light], [Glyph of Seal of Light], and another major glyph of their choice (often [Glyph of Holy Shock] to help compensate for Flash of Light's low output).

The only minor glyph relevant to paladin healing is [Glyph of Lay on Hands].

See also

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