Keeping Your Head Above Water in 4.0.1

Update Oct 19, 2010 – Looks like Blizzard gave in to our begging and gave us a boost. Pretty much everything here still holds true, although the “our output suuuuucks” jokes loose somewhat of their meaning. Because we’re still very much single target healers and mastery still isn’t recorded (I know a few people have found a trick to make Recount show mastery, but I tried it and all it did was crash Recount), we’re still low on the meters, but at least now our spells are smacking for amounts that seem reasonable.

Healing meters in 4.0.1:

Don’t be shocked. It sucks, but that’s the way it is. Keep in mind that the absorbs done by our Mastery, Illuminated Healing aren’t recorded by either Recount or World of Logs, so we aren’t doing quite as badly as we think.

After fooling around in-game, talking to other paladins (<3 Kurn, Anolaana and the paladin formally known as the hunter Grindin) and reading Elitist Jerks, blogs, Plus Heal and even the official forums (most of it is QQ, but there are a few early guides posted), I’ve compiled my notes for Holy, version 4.0.1.

At this point, there is very little agreed upon and most of the Big Thinkers are keeping their eyes on Cataclysm, so any arguing, criticizing, complaining and commiserating is totally welcome.

Spec and Seal

More challenging but probably more efficient: 31/2/3
If you don’t want to give up your old healing style: 31/3/2

For the last two minor glyphs, take your pick. With the exception of Lay on Hands, our minor glyphs are really stupid.

Seal of Insight is the seal you’ll keep up.

Gemming and Stats

Keep your Brilliant Cardinal Rubies for now (+20 Intellect). Can’t go wrong with the more mana, spell power and crit they provide.

Meta gem-wise, I’m having trouble giving up my Insightful Earthsiege Diamond, but Revitalizing Skyflare Diamond is good too.

Enchants are:
Head – Arcanum of Blissful Mending or Arcanum of Burning Mysteries
Shoulders – Greater Inscription of the Crag or Greater Inscription of the Pinnacle
Back – Greater Speed or Wisdom
Chest – Powerful Stats or Greater Mana Restoration (now gives 20 spirit)
Legs – Brilliant Spellthread
Wrists –Superior Spellpower or Exceptional Intellect or Major Spirit
Hands – Exceptional Spellpower
Feet – Tuskarr’s Vitality or Greater Spirit or Icewalker
Rings – Greater Spellpower
Weapon – Mighty Spellpower or Exceptional Spirit or Major Intellect

*Be sure to wear all plate gear (no more of that stinky mail) now, as Plate Specialization now gives us a 5% Intellect boost.

As for other stats beyond Intellect:

Spirit: Often listed as 2nd important stat after Int. Depends on your gear and playstyle. Reports vary from “my mana bar is stuck at 100%” to “I was OOM a few seconds into the first pull”. Personally, I go through my whole mana bar during an ICC 25 HM fight, but I’m not struggling, even after reforging my spirit to mastery. Adjust your spirit according to your mileage. Err on the side of caution: as long there is mana, there can be life.

Haste: Unknown. Soft cap (global cooldown reduced to 1 second) is reported to be 1019 (thanks Auracen) when raid buffed and Judgments of the Pure is up. Opinions vary on whether to bother reaching the soft cap, staying at the soft cap or going beyond. If you’re keeping an old fashion playstyle (big heal spamming) pump up the haste. Otherwise, you’ll be using a lot of instants with a few long casts (Holy Light and Divine Light) thrown in, so my recommendation is keep your haste, but don’t gem or reforge to it either.

Crit:Yes. With the exception of Divine Light (which is expensive and slow), all our heals are pathetic. Crit amplifies healing, triggers Conviction and makes for more Mastery absorbs. A Holy Shock crit triggers Infusion of Light. Embrace crit.

Mastery: Probably good. To my knowledge, the absorbs from Illuminated Healing (IH) aren’t tracked anywhere so I don’t know how it looks in practice. However, IH does trigger after every heal (except Protector of the Innocent, thanks Jeffo), which is good. The duration is too short to be used for raid healing, but on a tank or in PvP, it offers a free mini-heal in the form of an absorb between heals.

Buff, Proc and Cooldown Tracking

Buffs: Set your raid frames to track Beacon of Light and Illuminated Healing.

Procs: Have a notification for Infusion of Light. If you don’t like the default Holy Power tracker, consider finding an addon to notify you when you reach 3 stracks. Some paladins are also tracking Speed of Light, but since it procs every time you use Holy Shock, it seems a bit silly.

Cooldowns: Holy Shock. Keep an eye on Avenging Wrath, Divine Favor, Aura Mastery and Divine Plea as well.


Holy Trinity: Tracks cooldowns and Holy Power. Not the overly useful for holy pallies, but awesome if you’re polyspectual.

Ristretto Power: Tracks Holy Power stacks.

clcInfo:Seems to keep track of anything you want. Not usable straight out of the box, unfortunately.

Pally Power:
Not as essential as it was… Good if you like the buff timer and Righteous Fury reminder.


See Dreaming’s blog, A Touch of Arcane, for a quick explanation of the Tower of Radiance build.

The idea of a rotation as a paladin healer disturbs me, but the way to wring the most out of our miserable state is this:

1- Any time you have 3 stacks of Holy Power, use Word of Glory.
2- Any time you do not have 3 stacks of Holy Power and Holy Shock is available, Holy Shock.
3- After every Holy Shock, can Divine Light, unless you’re in situation #1 or #2.
4- If Infusion of Light procs, cast Divine Light followed by Holy Light, unless you’re in situation #1 or #2.
5- When waiting for Holy Shock cooldowns and building Holy Power stacks, cast Divine Light.
6- If mana is an issue, swap Divine Light for Holy Light.
7- If time is of the essence, swap Divine Light for Flash of Light. (This shouldn’t happen often.)
8- Avenging Wrath can be used every time it comes off cooldown.

Basically, your rotation looks like HS->HS (if Daybreak prevented the CD)-> DL->HL/DL (depending on mana or Infusion of Light proc)->DL->HS->WoG->WoG (if you’re specced into Eternal Glory and it procs).

Alternatively, you can spam Divine Light/Holy Shock/Word of Glory on your assignment until you run out of mana. You’ll be far from your best, but it is possible to keep the tank up while fumbling with your spells.

Light of Dawn: If there’s a lot of AoE damage and people are closish together, have fun with it. (Also use when feeling the urge to admire new glowy sparkly spell effects -courtesy of @Alice_desu)

Beacon of Light: Keep on your assignment in most situations. To maximize the Holy Power you get, cast Divine Light and Holy Light on your beacon target. Depending on the fight, you may cast Holy Shock and Word of Glory on other targets, but remember that beacon has been seriously nerfed and under most circumstance, it’s not enough to keep a tank up.

Divine Favor: Haste and crit boosting cooldown, use on cooldown or during periods of heavy damage.

Divine Plea: Has been nerfed into the ground, sadly. Like before the patch, if you use it mid-combat try to pop a healing output boosting cooldown to take an edge off the 50% healing penalty.


Now, if you do everything perfectly and don’t waste a single global cooldown, you should be able to beat the shadow priest on the healing meters. Most of the time ;D.

Don’t get me wrong, healing as a paladin in 4.0.1 is really fun. It’s fast paced, it’s interactive, it keeps you on your toes. Unfortunately, as things are now, our healing style isn’t compatible with healing meters, which is discouraging. Despite what some believe, we are still very capable of keeping a tank up. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Shut off Recount (enjoy the lag reduction from that), take the “Healing Done” page on World of Logs with a grain of salt and just focus on having a good time. From what I’m told, in a couple of weeks we’ll get some better changes when a certain Cataclysm becomes available at a gaming store near you.

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27 Comments on “Keeping Your Head Above Water in 4.0.1”

  1. Dreaming Says:

    I do like you post Ophelie 🙂 I feel a lot the same right now, and yes we are clearly the worst healers on the meters by far (with equal gear).
    Right now and when there is a lot of damage on the raid and you need to react to it (for whatever reason) I feel much more powerless than before when I could FoL spam + 100% Beacon.
    The gameplay is fun, much more than before, but the loss of the old HL glyph, FoL spam and old Beacon just removed our competitive tools on the meters.

    About shields, the last version of recount has a new option, you can now add its shields to a healer as you can add pets to a dps. Don’t do it though, it’ll just make you want to become a disc priest XD
    Our mastery is nice but way under the disc one right now, and not at all effective if tank healing.

    Anyway, as you say, close recount and have fun until Cataclysm. If they don’t nerf the ToR build too much it’ll be a very mana efficient build at 85, which then should be important.

    • Ophelie Says:

      The version of Recount that I have tracks absorbs, but not ours. I’ll check to see if there’s a better, more recent version. I haven’t been able to find a sign that the combat logs attributes our absorbs to us, so I’m thinking it might be a Blizzard combat log problem.

      I took the liberty to make a few modifications to the ToR rotation since I don’t feel using HL as the primary filler heal is necessary yet (unless someone is struggling with mana) but I can really see how it’ll fit in for Cataclysm. I’m hoping that its not too tough to understand, it took me forever to decide on a way to present it so someone can quickly get the gist of it. I’ve never seriously played a proc/CD based style before so it all seems crazy to me.

  2. jeffo Says:

    Funny thing: I spent more than half the expansion telling people ‘meters don’t matter, don’t worry about the meters.’ That was usually said to another healer who was seeing themselves hopelessly behind a Beacon-wielding, Holy Light bombing, glyph spattering Paladin (and, I’ll admit it, while I said that to them, I *did* get a certain satisfaction from being up on top of the mountain). Now I have to remind myself of that.

    The thing is, it’s not so much the meters, but the feeling that I have to work far harder than ever to do less. Maybe the biggest problem here is not the nerf to Paladins (and healing in general — our resto shaman who was leading the meters the other night said he felt like he wasn’t doing anything) but that it occurred in content we’re used to dominating.

    Regarding Illuminated Healing: It seems to be triggered by everything except Protector of the Innocent. Beacon transfers, Light of Dawn, even Seal of Insight has been triggering it, according to the combatlogs.

    • Ophelie Says:

      I’ve always been at the front of “meters aren’t everything!” activism, but when reviewing new healers, I do notice when someone is consistently and significantly below everyone else. And that’s our situation right now.

      I’m personally not too worried about my raid spot right now and my gear score keeps me in pugs, but I feel for the paladins who have healing leads who’re cutting our class or for those who get immediately booted from 5 mans for being a paladin.

      Good point about Illuminated Healing triggers. I had noticed Seal of Insight triggering it, but didn’t think of it while writing that section. I’ll do some more testing when I get home tonight and update that part.

  3. leah Says:

    thank god its not just me :/ reading your post really soothed my mind that no, I wasn’t doing it wrong, I was doing fine, its just state of pally healing in general.

    Light of dawn is very lovely on melee in VoA 😛 Still not as good as other AoE heals but it fills a bit of a gap.

    Incidentally, I used to use zomgbuffs to track my beacon (and at the time sacred shield as well as earth shield and fear ward) but it doesn’t look like its going to be updated anytime soon, so I was wondering if you new of any other addons that would create a separate button I could just click without switching targets? yes, I know I’m spoiled, but it was an incredibly convenient setup.

    • Ophelie Says:

      Nope, its not just you. The first thing I did when I saw my logs was pull up logs from some top guilds. Everyone’s in the same boat. That said, we’re still doing acceptably as healers, it just doesn’t translate well to parses.

      I’ve always cast BoL using Grid+Clique as I would any other spell, I didn’t find extra addons to be convenient for beacon target switching. There are some Grid plugins that will give you a timer too. Right now I’ve just been refreshing it when I notice it runs out- since I’m frequently directly healing my beacon target its easy to notice and its not a big deal if it does fall off, but I’m on a lookout for a timer I like. I believe clcInfo has that option but it’s a complicated addon and I haven’t had the chance to fiddle with it yet.

    • jeffo Says:

      For tracking I am using an add-on with the ungodly (but descriptive) name of Paladin Beacon of Light, Sacred Shield Tracker — abbreviated as ‘clcbpt’ for some bizarre reason. It used to track the FLoT, SS, Beacon, JotP. Now it’s just tracking Beacon. It works pretty nicely.

      I finally ditched PallyPower completely. It was buggy and wouldn’t let me cast anything but Kings, I couldn’t find how to configure it, and it seems kind of pointless nowadays. One less add-on!

      • Imak Says:

        Jeffo, blessings and seals can be changed by using your mouse wheel over the button; auras are changed with shift + mouse wheel. I planned ditching PP with the new patch but I still find it useful.
        clcbpt tracks JotP too; I’m using clcInfo to track beacon + jotp as I’m using clcInfo for my CDs and rotation when I’m ret. I tried using PowerAuras at first but I found it too difficult to learn so I had to go and find an addon that was even more so.

      • leah Says:

        thank you, I tried it, but its just one more bar obscuring the screen essentially without any added functionality, so I instead did what Ophelie does and created a tracker for beacon on my grid. and last night, I found an updated version of zomgbuffs on wowinterface and I’m now completely happy. you have no idea how amazingly lazy convenient that stuff is until you try it 🙂

  4. Dallanna Says:

    First off; I want to say thank you.

    I was planning on giving Holy a go, since the last time I willingly specced Holy was back in Vanilla, when I hated it with every fiber of my being, since I saw Paladins from WC3 and WC2 as Ret and nothing but.

    So, I’m going to be referring to this post as I get accustomed to equipping myself.

    Thank you, again.

    • Ophelie Says:

      I got a good chuckle out of your blog on the post where you said you believe that the holy tree has been holding us back all these years ;D I like your sense of humour.

      You’re probably the first person to want to switch to paladin healing right now, but it’s awesome to see someone making the jump. If you can ignore the meters, the healing style is really fun and probably more appealing to those accustomed to dpsing than it ever was.

      Good luck!!

      • Dallanna Says:

        Surprise, surprise. I was being serious. I wanted to be Uther or Turalyon during WC2 and 3, and needless to say, I was… agitated when I hit 60 to find out I was nothing more than a glorified priest in plate.

        I also wanted to give Holy a shot, since it seems to have actually gone as far as possible from the ‘spam Flash of Holy Light and occasionally cleanse’ nonsense we had to endure back in Vanilla.

  5. The Paladin formerly known as the Hunter, Grindin Says:

    Fantastic write up Ophelie! I enjoyed our theorycrafting sessions and anxiously await more of the mathematicians coming out of the woodwork to clarify all of this.

    The first thing is our mastery, Blizz or the addon makers really need to fix this, immediately. This is the key to finishing up the Holy Paladin 4.0.1 theorycrafting.

    The rotation here seems spot on. The HS immediately followed by DL strat went right over my head on patch day, but now that some time has passed, that seems to clearly be our rotation, regardless of the situation. So the key to our healing to me seems to be to make the right decision every 3rd gcd (after HS, then DL) Later in the rotation it gets more simple, we will have a 3 stack word of glory to fill this gap, but without IoL, and without a 3 stack WoG, we are kind of in trouble at this moment.

    HL is a long cast, for a small heal. FoL is a fast cast, for a decent heal at a huge cost, and DL in this spot is brutally long. I am opting to be more proactive about this third gcd. I will be moving to melee so that Crusader strike can be an option here (guaranteed holy power stack) I will of course not CS every time as someone’s health may force me to cast a heal (which i think may be FoL at this 3rd gcd moment, but this is in testing)

    Now because I am in melee, I am opting to skip the talent enlightened judgments. We already have enough heals incoming with the very silly required talent, protector of the innocent (which doesn’t even transfer to our beacon, wtf) and we certainly don’t need the range as I will be in melee. The hit may be a loss for CS and Judgment, but time will tell.

    In place of those 2 points, I am considering getting Blessed Life, to try and insure that I have more 3 stack WoG’s to fire off. I know this seems like more of a pvp talent, but with the amount of raid damage in ICC25H, I think this talent may provide a ton of Holy Power. Again, time will tell.

    The last thing I would add (thanks to Lylthe on the official forums) is the Daybreak cooldown…this buff is for 12 secs. So we do not have to fire off the 2 holy shocks as fast as humanly possible if it will disrupt our rotation. This second HS off Daybreak can also serve as that crucial 3rd GCD filler.

    And oh yeah, wall of text 😉

    • Ophelie Says:

      Sorry, I couldn’t remember what you changed your paladin’s name to! It was something confusing with a lot of vowels…

      Of Elightened Judgements and hit, I’m not sure know how much utility you’d lose if your judgement misses the first time. I know I get really annoyed when I don’t get my haste buff right away, but since you’re experimenting with major crit, you’re not as haste dependant as I am.

      I look forward to hearing whether Blessed Life has a noticeable effect on Holy Power building. I think I’ll stalk you on World of Logs ;D.

      The rotation I have here isn’t the pure ToR rotation they have on Elitist Jerks, I adapted it a bit to make it easier to explain and understand. I find this to be more applicable as well, since healing requires a lot more flexibility than dps and there’s no way for us to keep a perfect rotation in practice.

      About Daybreak, as I see it, the non-Speed of Light DLs and HLs are just fillers, so I don’t mind skipping them if I have a HS available. Infusion of Light also has a long duration, so I don’t bother getting my HL out pronto if there are more effecient spells available.

      I’ve heard some good reports about using FoL as a filler heal, as long as mana isn’t an issue. It’s a bit weak for my liking, but I think it is the highest HpS cast spell we have. I’ll experiment with it some tonight and update the post.

      Keep me posted on the results of your experiments!

      • Grindin Says:

        Please feel free to stalk my logs. The toon is Oriyune of Risen Anarchy on Lightbringer. Though after tonight..I’m not so sure how many more logs there will be…If something doesn’t change, I may need a break.

        Tonight was simply awful. I know I made a lot of mistakes, but the throughput is just not there. And the extreme proccy nature of our style is not conducive to healing imo. It is very difficult to not make a mistake when there are so many variables to monitor on every single cast. Not to mention in icc25 hard mode, you need to be very raid aware as well. Sure I did have some very nice 18k shocks and 27k WoG’s, but overall…brutal.

        • Ophelie Says:

          I don’t think its possible stand there and execute a perfect rotation. There’s too much usage of cooldowns, repositioning, etc. We’re not dps dammit! I even almost lost a tank once because I was so busy worrying about which spell came next that I didn’t use LoH. Felt like such a noob.

          Even on EJ some seem to be saying that while a ToR rotation is currently the highest hps, we’re not in Cataclysm yet and can’t heal like we’re in Cataclysm.

          It just doesn’t seem fair for us to have a class that has to wait for the expansion to be properly tuned =/

  6. jeffo Says:

    One additional note from cruising through my last WoL parse — Seal of Insight/Enlightened Judgment procs Illuminated Healing, but not Protector of the Innocent. Light of Dawn hits both. Also, LoD will currently transfer over to the Beacon target. I noticed 10 hits on LoD, followed by 10 Beacon hits on the tank.

    I’ve got a feeling that won’t last.

    • Ophelie Says:

      That’s pretty much what I noticed too. Well, except for the transfering ALL the hits from LoD to the Beacon target. I had noticed the LoD transfer, but hadn’t looked so closely into it.

      I can see them nerfing that too, but at the same time, it would be a shame because the LoD transfers can be very useful for strategic healing.

  7. Viktory Says:

    Very informative post. I played around with Holy on my alt pally last night, used Holy Shock and Word of Glory almost exclusively. Took me while to remember which spell did which and then to not think about my priest bindings while healing…. where’s my PoH!!

    Anyways, I’m Vik and I guess I’m “polyspectual”

  8. Kimboslice Says:

    I have been watching some videos from beta Cat raids and the ones from healer point of views all have paladins outhealing everyone else on the meters. Looks like Holy Light and Divine Light for tank healing and Word of Glory and the AOE Spray heal for grouping up

    • Ophelie Says:

      Yeah, I’ve heard good things about paladin healing in Cataclysm. From the sound of it, Blizzard was so excited to introduce the level 85 healadin that they didn’t bother tuning the level 80 paladin. Thing is, we still have 6 weeks or so to go and most of us want to be viable from until then.

      With the spell boosts, it’s a lot less stressful. I’m not performing as well on the meters as I did before the patch, but at least I feel like I’m fully contributing to the raid.

  9. jamman Says:

    Thanks for the info – it’s been hugely useful.
    Once thing that I was wondering – I have recently seen people trying to factor in the effect of latency on the amount of haste that you need. Khor over at has an article about the effects of latency on the amount of haste you need to hit the soft cap as ret.
    Based on this reasoning, doesn’t it bump our mastery higher up the scale i.e. if extra haste is being wasted due to latency then bumping up the size of the shields we create should be more important, particularly due to the raid wide damage we have to deal with in icecrown at the moment.

    • Ophelie Says:

      I’ll have to look more into that and get back to you!

      • jamman Says:

        I’ve just had a go at the LK with the new version of Recount (the one that now tracks illuminated healing).
        It came out at 16.6% of my total heals. Using skada to cross reference was around the same: both reported total absorbs of between 1.5 and 1.8 million for the night.
        I’ve currently reforged for 14.14% mastery. Looks like the stat to go for – which I guess was the idea.

        • jamman Says:

          forgot to add – unbuffed haste is currently 760. I use manta steaks and a speed elixir

        • Ophelie Says:

          That sounds pretty good! I had a feeling our mastery was pretty strong, but with no way to track numbers, it was impossible to know for sure.

          ALJGKLDSFJKSD I wish I had a computer right now =/ I’d be all over the new recount.

  10. […] to the party. While pouring over various blog post and resource sites (a big shoutout Opelie for this post) it became obvious to me that with the new pally healing spell priority I was going to need […]

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