Level 40! Time To Get That Healing Offspec

I recently received my first email asking for paladin advice. I was super excited! Strangely enough, I get quite a few emails on blogging and writing styles (which I find both flattering and amusing since I’m a noob to blogging and my English education comprises of a few English Second Language classes back in high school), but for whatever reason, I’m very rarely asked about paladin stuff.

The question was from Mike, who has recently hit level 40 on his retribution paladin and was considering grabbing a healing offspec. He was looking for some recommendations and, in my enthusiasm, I replied with a wall of text he’s probably not finished reading yet.

After I hit the “send” button, I thought it would make for a good blog post. With everyone and their cousin leveling healers in the LFD system these days, I’m sure many players would benefit from some pointers. Plus, the last time I leveled a holy paladin was 4 years ago, so I’m sure you guys have stuff to add that I wouldn’t even have thought of.

So, after the cut is how I would go about building a healer at level 40.

1- Spec/Glyphs

I assume that all healing will be done in instances/group quests. In other words, not PvP. I would love to offer PvP leveling advice, but that would land me my first very angry email.

Also assuming the spec won’t be used for solo questing/soloing, I’d recommend this kind of talent point spending at level 40:
with the next talent point to be put in holy power (to get 5/5 holy power).

If you find that you’re always using Blessing of Kings and not Blessing of Wisdom, you can take the two points from Improved Blessing of Wisdom and put them in Aura Mastery and/or Improved Concentration Aura.

Glyphs are flexible, but the ones in the link are the ones I’d start with. Obviously, you don’t have all your glyph spots open yet so feel free to switch them around based on whether you need more output or mana. I prefer Seal of Wisdom as a first Major and Lay on Hands as first Minor, but your mileage may vary.

As you move down the holy talent tree, you’ll want talents that increase your casting speed (Light’s Grace, Judgements of the Pure, Infusion of Light), your output (Holy Guidance, Beacon of Light) and reduce mana cost (Divine Illumination). Also take Enlightened Judgements to make judging easier. After you have the Judgement of the Pure talent, you’ll want to judge at least once a minute to keep up a haste buff.

Once you reach the bottom of the holy tree, you can either go down the Protection tree (Divinity is nice while you level) or the Retribution tree for the crit talents (nice for 5 mans, especially if you run out of mana a lot).

2- Spells/Healing style

Level 40 is a good time to start getting familiar with reading green health bars and practicing your basic healing spells since you won’t be getting the gimmicky spells until way later on. Right now, you’ll have Flash of Light (little heal), Holy Light (big heal) and, with the spec I suggested, Holy Shock (instant but mana expensive heal). The key is to experiment with them to see how much they heal for and how big a dent they put in your mana bar. At lower levels, your spell choice will really depend on who ends up in your group. Low level players are all over the skill/common sense map, so you’re in for a great healing workout.

Also don’t forget to Purify (remove poison/disease) or Cleanse (remove magic/poison/disease after level 42) whenever you can. Makes healing sooo much easier.

Other spells at your disposal that you should have hotkeyed are:

Hand of Protection – Makes someone immune to physical damage but prevents them from dealing physical damage. It’s good to use on mages/warlocks/priests the second they pull aggro on physical mobs. I tend to keep mine on CD. Never use it on a tank (there are a few raid exceptions, but general rule is never, ever use it on a tank) and only use it on melee if you’re trying to teach them a lesson.

Hand of Salvation – You can put it on someone to reduce their threat. Good for melee that pulls aggro as well as clothies if your hand of protection is on CD.

Another cooldown you can use is Divine Sacrifice to transfer some of the party’s damage to yourself. You’ll get the most effect from it if you cast it when you bubble, but you don’t need to bubble to use it. A single target version of the spell is Hand of Sacrifice, but you’ll want to bubble for that one!

I’m assuming that by level 40, all paladins are in touch with their Lay on Hands spell (I would have lost my mind levelling my ret pally without it). Just in case, though, Lay on Hands restores the targets health based on your maximum health. It’s lovely. Use it and rejoice.

3- Seals/Judgements/Auras

Keep a seal up at all times. Seal of Wisdom (especially if you’re using the glyph) will probably be your best bet, but if you find you never run out of mana, you can glyph for Seal of Light and keep that up instead. If you stand near mobs and melee them as you heal with Seal of Wisdom up, you’ll get some extra mana back. This is a controversial and often misunderstood trick, so expect some groups to protest. Also, play it smart, if on a specific fight being in melee range will hurt you, don’t stand there.

Try to judge as often as possible. Judgement of Light is the default judgement for a holy paladin, but if another paladin in the group is judging that, you can Judge Wisdom.

Adjust your aura as needed. Devotion Aura is the default. If your group isn’t taking much damage, you can use Retribution Aura. If the other auras are covered and/or the casters are getting beat on a lot, you can do Concentration Aura.

4- Building a UI

The most important part of a healer UI is your frames. In 5 mans, you can do fine with the default UI, but it’s a lot easier with addon frames. The most popular frames are:

I use Grid+Clique and I love it because I use it for my tanking abilities too, but others have had great experiences with Vuhdo or Healbot.

In a nutshell, Grid is just your frames, it tracks everything going on in the raid. You configure it so it shows what you want and how you want it. To cast spells by clicking/mousing+keying on someones name, you need to either make mouseover macros (my macros never work so I can’t help there!), or get the Clique addon which will let you can spells by simply clicking on someone’s name.

Whatever frames you use, you want to configure them to show the following:

  • Health (they’ll all do that automatically)
  • Aggro warning (super important, and good to have as a tank as well)
  • Dispellable debuffs: Disease, Poison and Magic (Magic is after level 42) (ideally you’ll want those as an icon)
  • Undispellable debuffs: Curses (just so you know to give a cursed person some extra attention)

Later on, when you get Beacon of Light (level 60 via talents) and Sacred Shield (trained at level 80), you’ll want to track those as well.

Grid in a 25 man raid, with pets

Dristanel wrote a guide to configuring Grid

You should hotkey your spells to however is more comfortable to you. You should have your 3 healing spells on hand, plus HoProtection and HoSalv. You can bind HoSacrifice too, I don’t use it much, but I probably should. Later on, you’ll want Beacon and Sacred Shield nearby as well.

Some paladins choose to have Lay on Hands bound. I have a bad habit of hitting it by accident so I don’t have it bound to my mouse. If you never fat figure your spells, keep it close too.

Pally Power is another must have
, but it’s not holy specific. If you don’t have it already, download it here:

Later on, it’s recommended to get a Beacon of Light/Sacred Shield timer (I use BOLT – http://wow.curse.com/downloads/wow-addons/details/bolt-beacon-light-timer/download/408351.aspx) but you won’t need it for a few more levels.

I’m also a huge fan of Scrolling Battle text
. It’s not necessary, but I personally can’t play well without it.

Layout wise, most healers like to have their raid frames at the bottom of the screen, below feet level, so they can watch their frames and the fight at the same time. I keep Power Power to the right of my screen, but you can put it anywhere, as long as its out of the way. I keep my BoL/SS timers next to my frames so I don’t have to move my eyes as much.

The rest is all practice

There’s only so much you can get out of a guide, the rest is exploring and experimenting. Healing is very much a personal thing. There are guidelines but every healer has their idiosyncrasies that make no sense to anyone else. Low level healing especially requires flexibility and willingness to adapt. No two groups are alike and you’re subject to the whims of the strangest players.

At any time, if you all alone and discouraged, I suggest you look to Vidyala at Pugging Pally to find a kindred spirit.

Explore posts in the same categories: Baby Paladining, Teh paladin

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11 Comments on “Level 40! Time To Get That Healing Offspec”

  1. Analogue Says:

    Fascinating. My pally alt is Prot/Ret and I feel I don’t understand Holy at all. It’s so different from healing as a Resto druid! I did not think of Hand of Sacrifice as a healer tool, probably because I keep using it ON my healer while tanking (I just pop the 50% less damage cooldown rather than bubble). I’m a Vuhdo user myself – my Resto druid, mage, and Prot pally all swear by it – so just wanted to note you can do tank-y things with it too and I like how it manages buffs better than PallyPower. But if another pally is in the group, PallyPower is mandatory as you say.

    • Ophelie Says:

      I don’t use Hand of Sacrifice often because if I’m going to bubble, I’d rather pair it with DS. But I know some paladins strongly support its use while healing so I had to put it in there.

      It’s good to know you can use Vuhdo for tank stuff too. I really depend on my frames for casting Righteous Defense. Sometime I should teach myself to use all three frames for blogging purposes. I hate being limited to talking about Grid.

  2. Jeff Says:

    Yay for Grid! The only issue with it is that is not practical to use for healing without extensive setup. Worth the trouble though, 100%. I use mouseover macros exclusively (but I get them wrong whenever I try to write them without researching). I did try Clique but I kept casting heals accidently. It was embarrassing.

    I keep my healing Grid at the bottom of the screen too but I haven’t found the perfect spot… it gets blocked by popups too often, especially when some fool loots mid-battle.

    • Ophelie Says:

      I do the accidental heals thing when I try to target people. I was careful to bind non-CDs to my left and right buttons so it doesn’t matter if I cast a few heals by mistake.

      I do end up having to move Grid a bit every raid, depending on the size of the raid. I have it configured to be wide and narrow instead of the horrible square shape, which helps a lot.

  3. puggingpally Says:

    Great post, and thanks for the mention! I can definitely commiserate even when I can’t advise. I was gratified that my spec is pretty much what you recommended, and in general, I am “not failing.” (I did accidentally BoP the tank last week – I apologized profusely! My clicker slipped!)

    • Ophelie Says:

      BoPping the tank happens to the best of us! It just shouldn’t happen on purpose! I actually have my BoP on a relatively complicated binding (ctrl+right is complicated for me) so I wouldn’t hit the wrong button.

      When I was asked about levelling holy, I thought of you right away and thought, I have to include you somewhere! Reading about someone’s hands on experience is often more beneficial than the most intricate of guides.

  4. Ryan G Says:

    Grid FTW. I know using Cliques on top of Grid supposedly imposes a latency-based delay in your casting, but I’ve had less problem with that than I ever had with other addons not telling me as much. I don’t want to have to remember that the blue square on the left side means X Debuff; I want the damn thing to do it’s job and tell me what Debuff it is.

    No, maybe for your next column you can tell me how to not get bored trying to level a pally.

    • Ophelie Says:

      I don’t find I get lag when I cast heals. I’ve noticed Grid being slow with updating information at times, but my heals go out the second I click.

      Hmm, what kind of pally are you levelling? I really had fun levelling my ret pally. It’s horrid until about level 40, then you suddenly become OP and can pull entire areas. Pulling entire areas is fun. I’m working on a new holy pally now to play in the LFD system (and I’ll have her dual spec prot at level 40), which I hope will break the pre-40 blas.

  5. goldstrike Says:

    Thanks Ophelie, I am just getting started with research about healing topics for my very first character, a 76 holy pally, and this, along with the Elitist Jerks compendium, and a few other sources, will be very helpful. Look forward to reading the followup comments too. I enjoy your writing tremendously, I am always laughing hilariously when I read a post!

    • Ophelie Says:

      Thanks! It always makes me happy when people appreciate my insane ramblings 🙂

      I wrote this post with level 40s in mind but hopefully some of it will be useful! By level 76, you’ll have Beacon of Light (rule of thumb, Beacon the tank and spam heals on the party, but don’t be afraid to think outside the box at times) and Divine Plea (figuring out when to use it is a question of experimenting and practice – I like to combine my first plea with Divine Illumination but different paladins have different opinions on this) as well as a bunch more talent points, but the gist of it should be similar.

      Hope you’re enjoying your paladin!

  6. Addon recommendation: Needtoknow. If you are a dual spec ret/holy not only can you use for Beacon and shield timers but you can also use it for retibution procs. ((OMG I LOVE THIS ADDON I CANT STOP REFERRING PEOPLE TO IT /end geekdom))

    This is a great post. I love seeing new people interested in the holiness (except someday that will mean I have to fight for gear lol) 🙂

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