The Holy Paladin : Your Beacon and You

EDIT: Reviewed for 3.3 and up to date!

I wrote this for my guild since we had a few new holy paladins that we’ve been trying to drag through Ulduar before they even got to heal their first 5 man. Everything in here is very basic, but I thought it might be helpful for other new holy paladins as well, or for other classes who’d like to know the basic mechanics of paladin healing.

As Holy Paladins, our healing technique revolves mainly around the appropriate use of Beacon of Light. Going through stats, watching grid (yes, I keep track of beacons, even when I’m not healing), I’m saddened to see Beacon mistreated and, more often, neglected. While healing is very situation-dependent, as a general rule, if you’re not keeping beacon up an entire fight, you’re only using about half of your potential.

Note that this concerns beacon in 3.2 and beyond. Beacon mechanics were different in the past, but since this isn’t a paladin history lesson, I’m not going to talk about pre-3.2 beacon.

Lets take a closer look at this beacon thingy:

The target becomes a Beacon of Light to all targets within a 60 yard radius. Any heals you cast on those targets will also heal the Beacon for 100% of the amount healed. Only one target can be the Beacon of Light at a time. Lasts 1 min.

If you’re not squealing right now, you didn’t read it properly.

60 yard radius : The typical range of a heal is 40 yards. This heals your target as long as you’re healing someone within 60 yards of them. Excited yet? Let me go over this again. We’re facing Hodir. The MT (your target) charges and is out of range long enough to be pounded into the ground. BUT! You had put beacon on MT, so you can just dump a heal on castery-guy-next-to-you, and MT is getting healed. Beacon just makes your arm so much longer! Other fights where this comes in handy are Emalon (as a holy pally you can pretty much solo heal it on 10 if the group is decent), Iron Council and the trash to Aury.

Will also heal the Beacon for 100% of the amount healed: One Hundred Percent. ONE HUNDRED. This counts overheal as well. If your heal lands on X for 16k, regardless of effective heal, your beacon is healed for 16k. Two heals for the price of one, always. This makes us disgustingly OP. On single tank fights (think Hodir), we tank heal while raid healing, on 2 tank fights (think Gormok), we’ve got them both covered. Note that if you directly heal your beacon target, he (or she) will only be healed once (not twice), which is why you should spread the Light’s love around.

So how does one choose a beacon?

Usually the person taking the most damage. The MT in a one tank fight, the lesser geared tank in a fight where both tanks are getting hit equally hard. There are exception, but this is the general rule.

Can I beacon myself?

Eehhhh. It’s usually not a good idea. Pre-3.2 it was great to beacon yourself when there was a lot of raid damage, but now, its really a waste of healing. Still, in fights like Iron Council where timing is crucial and being off by a second can mean a wipe, you can’t use beacon on the MT and can’t get close enough to the OTs to refresh beacon on them, so you might as well dump it on yourself. But thats the only situation I can think of.

What if I’m not the only paladin healer in the raid?

Luckily, beacons do not overwrite each other. I tested this with a guildy and if you are still unsure, feel free to test it yourself. There are some fights (Gormok for example) where it can be strategic to have a beacon on each tank, but I can’t think of any situation where it would be absolutely essential.

The technique

One tank fight: (Hodir, General, Dance Boss in Naxx) Beacon tank and spam heals on raid. Doesn’t matter of raid needs heals or not. Even overheals heal your tank.

One main tank and adds tank: (Decon, Freya, Kologarn) Beacon MT and heal OTs, toss some heals on raid if needed.

Two tanks taking lots of damage: (Phase 1 and 2 of Northrend beasts, Koralon in VoA) Beacon least geared tank and heal better geared tank.

My beacon heals seem delayed! Is this normal?

There is sometimes a short delay between a heal and beacon kicking in. This usually isn’t a problem: since we’re always spamming heals, the beacon target is still receiving heals at regular intervals. If, however, an emergency heal is needed, switch to your beacon target, dump a holy shock + holy light them, then go back to what you were doing.

But it only lasts one minute…

This is why it’s super important to keep track of your beacon! A beacon that doesn’t get refreshed can mean a wipe. Here’s how I keep track of mine:

gridbeacon On grid, a pink square in the top left corner shows up on any player who has beacon of light on them. It is possible to set your own beacon to show differently from other people’s beacons, but I don’t bother. There are also timers out there that show you exactly how many seconds are left on beacon. I don’t use any but I can look it up if needed.

I use scrolling battle text to monitor whether my beacon is working is not. The addon I use is Mik Scrolling Battle Text and it looks like this:


I see my Flash of Light on myself as shown by the green circle (it’s on the left side of my screen because I’m healing myself, but if I were healing someone else, it would be on the right). On the right side, in the purple circle, notice the Beacon of Light icon. This way, I always see whether beacon is hitting or not, plus I can also see if there’s something wrong with my heals as well as my overhealing.

Glyph of Beacon of Light

There is a glyph that extends BoL by another 30 seconds. Several paladins swear by it and it is a good mana and global cooldown saver. Now, Glyph of Holy Light and Glyph of Seal of Wisdom are pretty much required, but the third glyph is mostly up to personal preference. I don’t use the BoL glyph, but it’s certainly a respectable choice.

Knowing whether you’re getting the most out of it

Here’s how to look at your use of Beacon on WWL. Click on your name and hit the “healing by spell” tab. It should look like this (minus the paint drawings):

beacon of light

Now we go under the “direct heal” column and add up all the Holy Shocks, Flask of Lights and Holy Lights (orange circles on this picture). Here we have about 500 casts. Now add up all the Beacons of Light (yellow circles). We have about 300, making this a 5:3 ratio.

The numbers aren’t going to be identical: for emergency heals, the odd heal before refreshing BoL, very low raid damage, etc. you won’t be using your beacon. However, the closer the numbers, the more you are getting out of your beacon.

Note that these stats were taken from a few Hodir 25 attempts.

Overall, the take home message is have fun with your beacon. Keep track of it, keep on the tank and spam heal the raid. Then sit back and gloat about how OP you are ;D.

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