Your Holy Paladin Gear: Holy Light Builds vs Flash of Light Builds

Someday someone is going to wonder why I constantly take strange poses in the beer garden

Last updated March 25, 2010

I see the question of Holy Light versus Flash of Light builds asked a lot. As I’m getting used to a new healing style in a new guild, my own thoughts are pondering this topic. I’ve been sitting on this post for awhile, so I figured now would be a good time to finish it and give you all some Sunday reading material. Ferarro and both posted their own takes on FoL vs HL yesterday so it’s apparently a hot topic right now. I’ll hand out links their posts and to a recent Plus Heal thread at the end of this post. Happy exciting Sunday reading!

So, um, what are these Builds you speak of?

As the names imply, a Holy Light build revolves around using Holy Light (HL, big heal) as your primary spell and a Flash of Light revolves around using Flash of Light (FoL, little heal) as your primary spell. The Holy Light build is what you’ll see most often in PvE, with Int Gems in every socket save one to activate the meta gem. The key is to this build is to have enough mana to pump out a lot of strong, toe-curling, in yo’ face heals for the whole fight. You’ll still use the Flash of Light spell, but your gear is tuned towards using Holy Light as much as you need to. The Flash of Light build is one you’ll see occasionally, but not as often. Spell Power gems all over with some haste or crit (no point in having more than 676 haste for a FoL build) and mp5 gems to get every ounce of Spell Power socket bonuses. The point is to make Flash of Light a powerful, nearly instacast spell. It also gives Sacred Shield some extra oomph, as 75% (or 95% if you’re specced into Divine Guardian) of your spell power is added to the base absorption of the Shield.

Are there talent builds that are connected to each type?

Not exactly. There are two common specs for PvE as a paladin, the “crit spec” (holy/ret to get Conviction and sometimes Sanctity of Battle) and the “bubble spec” (holy/prot to get Divine Sacrifice). The crit spec has advantages for both types of play, maximum mana return due to crit (always good) and extra output for a FoL spec. Bubble spec, however, gives you the glorious Divine Sacrifice and delightful reduction on the hand of protection CD. Utility is important as a paladin, if you’re not making yourself useful, you fall into the paladin cliché who does nothing but spam 1-2 spells the entire time. Whats the fun in that?

Many holy paladins actually have both specs and swap between them depending on the fight. If you don’t have an offspec you frequently use, this is a great option.

Glyphs, on the other hand, change depending on whether you want to go FoL or HL:

Holy Light Glyphs
1- Glyph of Holy Light
2- Glyph of Seal of Wisdom
3- Glyph of Divinity, Glyph of Flash of Light, Glyph of Beacon of Light or Glyph of Holy Shock (all depending on your style and raid environment)

Flash of Light Glyphs
1- Glyph of Flash of Light
2- Glyph of Seal of Light
3- Personal Choice

Help! How do I choose?

If you’re looking for a PvE build and asking the question, go Holy Light. You can’t go wrong. If a Flash of Light build is better for you, you probably already know. Generally, a Flash of Light build is used when the tanks are geared enough for the content that they’re not taking a lot of damage per hit and the dps is both high and good at avoiding fires. That said, depending on your group makeup, having a Holy Light paladin team up with a Flash of Light paladin can be a very cool combo. The Holy Light paladin keeps the tank at full health while the FoL pally ensures that the tank has a reasonable heal hit about every second.

When in doubt, Holy Light. Out of the two builds, it’s the easiest to find information on and it allows the most flexibility. Maybe it’s not the most efficient build for every situation, but you can get by with it everywhere, as far as I know.

What about you, bossy blog person? What do you do?

I’m gemmed for int. I’m glyphed for a Holy Light build. And lately in raids I’ve been spamming…Flash of Light. Which is why I have builds on the mind. Switching teams has been an interesting experience to say the least. New raid makeup and new approach to raiding. I seem to be doing acceptably (I haven’t gotten in trouble for anything that matters yet!), but the question is, how do I bring out the best from my character?

With my previous raiding experience being a laid back setting, I’m amazed at how little damage there is now. I’ve also done all my 25 mans so far with 2 other holy paladins which means that there are more than enough big heals to go around. That, along with my own personal preferences, could justify a FoL build. However, I’m worried about the lack of flexibility of a FoL build. I’ve been pugging a lot and in pugs you want a Holy Light build. I’m also suspecting the 3 holy paladin runs aren’t a regular thing, plus I don’t know what Icecrown Citadel will bring in terms of pally healing. (Oh, I could find out about IC if I wanted to, but I’m a hands on learner.)

Conclusion, for now I’m sticking with HL and may reconsider once I’ve found some stability.

What about the pros? What are the pros doing?

I spied on a few pallies as I wrote this. The two pallies from Ensidia were HL, with one of them having a couple of gems that weren’t pure intellect. I found a paladin from Premonition that was FoL. That said, I suspect that the paladins in high end guilds swap gear sets based on fights.

Can I have two sets?

Good luck convincing your guild (especially other paladins gearing up) that you deserve two sets! In a perfect world, having two sets would be wonderful, but unless you’re a farmer extraordinaire and have no competition for drops, it’s not going to happen. I know tanks can collect multiple sets, but tanking gear has the advantage that different stats are good for different things so its easier for them to recycle. The low stam, high strength gear your tank is replacing on his effective health (boss) set can be used for a threat (trash/5 mans) set. Your low int, low SP gear will not become more useful than your new high int, high SP gear, no matter how you gem it. However, keep all your trinkets and librams nearby and swap them around according to the fight.

Can I mix and match HL and FoL stuff?

The blog/forum reader in me wants to say no, but in practice I’ve seen it done effectively. I’m not a theorycrafter so I’m not going to add much more. As said before, trinkets and librams can always be swapped around and if you don’t mind switching glyphs a lot, that can be an option as well.

Where else can I read about this fascinating topic?

Plus Heal Discussion
Ferarro does a pretty good job of explaining it in her own way did a response post to Ferarro’s on their site

Also, if any of you holy paladins passing by have some 2c or links to throw in, I can never have too much reading material.

EDIT: Note that this isn’t a response to Ferraro’s post. It was more or less coincidence that we posted about the same topic around the same time. I was also careful not to read her post until I had mine finished, purposely to avoid turning this into a response. We have different approaches to the discussion so if you’re interested in it, I definitely recommend reading her work if you haven’t done so already.

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13 Comments on “Your Holy Paladin Gear: Holy Light Builds vs Flash of Light Builds”

  1. … You used “toe-curling” to describe a big heal. And now I keep thinking of all big heals as “orgasm heals”.

    Just wanted to share that naughty thought with you. Healing will never be the same again.

    • Ophelie Says:

      Big heals just feel that good 🙂

      If I wasn’t concerned about keeping my blog at a PG rating, I would so use the term “orgasm heals” instead of big heals from now on.

  2. Almaster Says:

    Was an awesome read, and will link to it.

    a very well done article. 🙂

  3. Lloth Says:

    I gotta say, My gear is probably more set up for a HL build (I have alot of Int gems) but I am def more of a Flash spammer. I use the Conviction build and find myself never being low on mana. If you looked at a recount of my healing spells it would probably look like this:
    Flash 55%
    Beacon 20%
    Shock 13%
    HL 12%
    It is definitely something I have been pondering lately, the difference between Flash v. HL. I guess I need to play with it more 🙂 Great post though!

    • Ophelie Says:


      I find my spell breakdown really depends on the fight and who else is in my raid. When running with other holy paladins, I’m mostly using FoL, but when I’m the only holy pally, I suddenly find myself using HL again. As I see it, a HL build is made to let you use HL as much as you need, but you don’t have to cast it all the time.

      If you haven’t read Ferarro’s post, I highly recommend it. She takes a different approach to explaining it and, since her and I don’t agree on everything, you can get a broader perspective.

  4. Awryt Says:

    Nice write up.

    I started Wrath as a holy/ret (yummy, yummy crit) build and swapped to holy/prot when we headed to Ulduar because Divine Sacrifice is just that OP (which is why they are going to nerf it). Other than the standard “mandatory” points, there is some nice flexibility in both specs that will allow you to adjust to your raiding environment. [I am married to a high aggro mage, so yes, I have one point in Blessed Hands and he appreciates it very much.]

    I’d suggest thinking about how you like to play, your spell usage, what your raid needs, and try to coordinate with the other paladins that you raid with on a regular basis (all specs). Not everyone needs Aura Mastery or Divine Sacrifice or Improved Blessing of Wisdom, but it sure is nice to have those tools available on raids. Pallies bring a lot to a group, but you shouldn’t have to spec for it all alone (remembers BC build with imp wis, imp might, AND kings *sigh*).

    • Ophelie Says:

      Very true! And exactly why I avoided going into detail with talents or linking to specific talent builds. There’s so much to say that it would have taken away from the main topic. (Although I guess I show my bias towards bubble spec)

      You make a very good point about coordination with other pallies. I’ve never written about healing specs because it’s been done to death, but coordination would be something interesting to reflect on.

  5. […] Tags: builds, gear, healing, raiding, theory So, Ophelie over at the Bossy Pally has a great post about Healadins and their makeup. No, not which shade of lipstick best matches the t10 […]

  6. Skip Cocoa Says:

    Mmm, near instant-cast… Love it, love it! I’m such the impatient sort. Any caster I play has to be hasted to the gills, because when I push the button, I wanna see the pretty lights yesterday. I guess that makes me FoL! If, you know, I were to level a Paladin, I would be. But I leave that to you, because then you write all awesome about it.

    Now if gemming Shaman were so easy, I wouldn’t be so intimidated at the thought of leveling my healer. It seems we want it all.

    • Ophelie Says:

      Haha, it’s funny, but I do picture you FoL.

      I have no idea how to gem a shaman, but it’s true that us pallies have it kind of easy. Want to heal? Stack int or SP. Want to dps? Stack strength. Want to tank? Stack stamina. Ok, it’s not always THAT simple, but rule of thumb, it works.

  7. Taliesyn Says:

    I have two sets — a +int set for farm content and a +haste set for hard mode 25man Anub’arak. Otherwise it’s a pretty standard holy light build.

    This link:

    shows my current gear setup with the +int set. There are five pieces of gear (chest, legs, shoulders, boots and trinket) that get swapped out primarily for hard mode 25Anub that bump up my haste rating to 688 at the cost of approx. 2500 mana before consumables and raid buffs are taken into account.

    Depending on how our raid goes tonight, this set up might get further tweaked…hopefully we’ll either progress farther or get a kill.

    if anyone is curious, here is a sample WOL parse that can give you an idea of what a maximized HL build can do in endgame content:

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