On Playing my Holy Paladin in 5.4

Alright. It’s a been a couple of weeks since 5.4 and I’ve had time to experiment with our shiny new features. I promised everyone I’d sum up my observations, so here it goes.

Note that these are just observations, not hard science. Your experiences may vary, so if you have something to share or advice to give your fellow holy pallies (especially if you raid 10s!), please! There’s a section at the bottom of the post for comments. Everyone will love you if you type useful stuff in there and press the “send” button!

My Healing Environment

This patch seem especially sensitive to raiding styles and healing team makeups, so for context purposes, here’s what healing in my raids is like.

I mainly heal 25s. Unless I count the odd annoying flex raid boss that everyone drops group for, I don’t have any recent experience with 10s and can’t offer a whole lot of tried-tested-true advice. I would imagine that for flex/normal/early heroics, anything that applies to 25 could be used in 10s and keep people alive just fine, though I suspect that cutting edge 10s raiding would require different specifics for optimal results.

Cadenza usually runs with 4 to 6 healers depending on the fights. Our complete healing team consists of a druid, a shaman, two priests and two paladins (including me!). Our guild culture emphasises perfect mechanics execution over raw numbers so we’re not pressured to max out our HPS potential. I mean, we’re encouraged to have good throughput, but meter padding should never interfere with proper movement, task execution and CD usage. On a personal level, our shaman loves his numbers (really, really loves them – I swear the only times I’ve heard him talk about something other than healing numbers, it was about his offspec dps numbers. And he talks a lot.) and I suspect one of our priests takes his HPS seriously as well (but uses a more silent approach). So no matter what the rest of us do, those two will usually (but not always!) dominate on our meters.

My Eternal Flame Build

Bouchbaguette has done a lot of theorycrafting with results supporting Haste as the emerging secondary stat for Eternal Flame users. So before my first 5.4 raid, I reforged and regemmed to get my Haste on.

Then I hated it and hated the results. I got on Skype with my Holy Pally guildie and off to World of Logs we went.

World of Logs (and the Armory) revealed this trend (at the time) among the top HPS Eternal Flame Holy Pallies: Mastery > Intellect/Haste > Spirit.

Orly” I thought. I gave it a try.

I slowly replaced my spirit gems and enchants (slowly, so I could see how spirit dependent I was). To my surprise, I was able to stray completely away from spirit for most fights. (I recently picked up Dysmorphic Samophlange of Discontinuity to assist with mana heavy fights.) It probably helps that my ilvl is fairly high – I suggest that if you want to try eliminating spirit, you go slowly as well. Experiment until you discover your mana comfort zone.

My healing improved considerably and I’m pretty satisfied with where I am. My throughput varies from fight to fight and my place on the meters is sometimes skewed from the combination of shaman and priests having higher HPS potential and of our shaman and priest actually caring about raw numbers performances, but I’m comfortable in my ability to keep the raid alive.

I spent a few hours on World of Logs and the Armory today to see what the current top HPS 25s Holy Paladins are doing. Interestingly, no two paladins are gemming exactly the same. Some go all out Mastery like me, some do a little Haste then go Mastery, some use the traditional Intellect/Spirit build and some are so inconsistent in their stat prioritization that I have no idea how they manage to heal at all. Prioritizing Haste beyond around 16% unbuffed, however, does not seem to be conducive to high HPS performance, at least not on 25s.

Spell choice-wise, I’ve been blanketing the raid with 1-Holy Power Eternal Flames, using Holy Shock and Holy Radiance, with constant use of CDs (Holy Avenger, Guardian of Ancient Kings, Divine Favor and Avenging Wrath – I also try to use Hand of Sacrifice whenever it’s available). When I want to and time it right, I could almost have one CD active at all times.

I compared my results with Holy Paladins who were performing better than I was, and it seems they were more inclined to use 2-Holy Power Eternal Flames (maximizing their use of Holy Radiance and Holy Shock), but it’s hard to say. It seems that each fight had different top Holy Paladins. And no matter what, on the overall meters, for all 25s fights, Holy Paladins rarely overtake the other classes in raw HPS.

My usual glyphs: Glyph of Sacrifice, Glyph of Beacon of Light, Glyph of Divinity
My usual talents: Speed of Light, Fist of Justice, Eternal Flame, Clemency, Holy Avenger, Light’s Hammer
My gems: Artful (Int/Mastery – Red), Zen (Mastery/Spirit – Blue), Fractured (Mastery – Yellow)

Acorn’s Selfless Healer

My copally has always hated Eternal Flame blanketing and jumped at the opportunity to do something different. This was very convenient to me, since it gave me the opportunity to familiarize myself with both styles and compare them.

I obviously have less experience with Selfless Healer, though, but here’s what I’ve picked up from watching my copally and reviewing lotsa lotsa logs with him.

1- Haste is the way to go. Intellect too I think. Spirit holds you back. Even if you have a low ilvl, you don’t need spirit.

2- Spell usage is along the lines of Judgement-Holy Radiance-Light of Dawn (one or two Holy Power, not three), with Holy Shocks thrown in whenever possible.

3- You have CDs too. They’re meant to be used.

And contrarily to what many theorycrafters predicted, Selfless Healer is totally okay when it comes to throughput, at least on 25. The top ranking HPS 25s Holy Paladins are a good mix of Eternal Flame and Selfless Healer users, so if you want to get away from HoTs and try a fast-paced, super fun healing style but are afraid to try, rest assured that you’ll do just fine with Selfless Healer.

As for our own performances, Acorn and I, despite our very different healing styles are usually pretty close to each other on the meters, with him passing me on some fights and me passing him on some fights.


When choosing between Selfless Healer and Eternal Flame, I suggest basing your decision on whichever healing style makes you happiest. The two kinda call for different stat prioritization and gemming, so I would not recommend going back and forth between the two on a single raid week. (If you really, really, really want to, perhaps running with a strong Haste/Int build would be ideal, but you’d probably find Eternal Flame in Haste gear will drain your mana pretty fast.)

Sadly, I have no experience whatsoever with Sacred Shield, and have never come across it on World of Logs for 25s Holy Pallies and can’t offer any advice.

Other than that, um, I guess Siege of Orgrimmar is a pretty fun raid. Lots of fight variety. Lots of trash though. Less fun. Also very little Orgrimmar. And very little siege. Almost makes me want to tweet “Siege of Orgrimmar is neither a siege nor Orgrimmar. Discuss.”

Anyway, I’ll stop rambling now. Happy healing!

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12 Comments on “On Playing my Holy Paladin in 5.4”

  1. Megacode Says:

    Great post as usual “O”. Like you I’ve been still loving EF healing however mix in LoD if grouped up with other players in range. I have 7170 Haste for extra EF tic then go Mastery. Love where I’m at. Generally rank #2 or #3 on logs because of our OP Druids but that’s never been my priority to top the charts. I’m doing primarily 25’s on a casual team mixed with Flex and am happy with where we are in this Tier. Just for the sake of things I experimented one night with Sacred Shield and was very unhappy with the results so I’ll be EF healing for the rest of this expansion.

    • Talarian Says:

      Yeah, I ended up trying Sacred Shield, and just, oh man, it felt awful. I primarily tank-heal in 10-man, and I always felt behind on healing, which given they’re absorbs is a little strange, but eh, how the fight *feels* is as important as how the numbers actually crunch, because in the heat of the moment you’ve only got your instincts to work from. Then I did the number crunching later and it turns out SS was actually behind numerically in practice on the first couple fights in SoO at least. Haven’t tried Selfless Healer, however, but AoE healing in 10-mans isn’t precisely efficient.

      I’ve started moving towards Haste, and my numbers have certainly gone up (though I heal with a Disc Priest and a Resto Druid), I think this is the first expansion I’ve actually had to actively fight to be top of the healing meters. I was already having issues keeping up with the Disco Priest because dirty, dirty absorbs πŸ˜› But with all the buffs the Resto Druid shot past us both by a large margin. It’s been humbling, because even though the meters don’t mean much once you have enough combined throughput to beat an encounter, it was still fun.

      • Ophelie Says:

        10s seem to have a holy paladin in the top 10 for some fights (and Holy Pallies seem to be doing ok on 10m Dark Shaman), but, yeah, on 25s, Holy Pallies in the top 10 are usually unheard of. Sometimes I have to got all the way to page 3 to find a paladin in the all-healer ranks. And page 5 to find a second. It’s a little discouraging since we’re so used to easily being on top, but, at least, we’re still very capable healers and unless we’re playing in, like, Blood Legion, healer max potential doesn’t really matter.

        Also, so happy to see you have a blog now! Eagerly added you to my reader!

    • Ophelie Says:

      I squeeze in LoDs once in awhile, if we’re in a grouped up phase and I need to get a lot of heals out really fast. It doesn’t crop up often on the logs I go through, but I did learn from Megaera in ToT that LoD is strong for those rampage-like phases!

      I randomly came across someone who did well with Sacred Shield today: http://www.worldoflogs.com/reports/rt-pgqkw0iqimf2nhou/details/1/?s=11977&e=12424 But that was the first and only time! There might be others out there, but I haven’t come across them yet!

      • Ophelie Says:

        I take back what I said about LoD in logs, I’m seeing it more and more among ranking Holy Paladins. On some fights it seems to be used even more than Eternal Flame, even for people who are specced EF.

  2. monplayswow Says:

    Thanks for the post, I have been tossing around the thought of reviving my holy pally again, but didn’t know where to start – it’s been a while since Wrath! I usually try checking out guides on MMO-Champ and Icy-Veins, but always get conflicting advice from people. Will give your ideas a go and see how that works out for me – I much prefer your advice of try as you go than the ‘do as we say’ guides that are sometimes out there! Thanks πŸ™‚

    • Ophelie Says:

      “Do as we say” certainly made things simpler, haha. There was a time not too long ago where there was only one way to get the most healing out your paladin, but the most performing results this patch come from all kinds of strategies.

      Good luck with your paladinning! Let me know how it works out!

  3. AliPally Says:

    It’s actually good to see different methods of healing being used. While Blizzard have mostly failed in their attempt to get Paladins using Sacred Shield (which I still equate to a tank shield and nothing else!), different gemming, different glyphs, different reforging strategies etc but all leading to effective healing is a good thing for our class.

    On the PvP front, however, I’m still feeling a distinct lack of love from Blizzard. QQ.

  4. Always nice to hear how you’re healing! I’m still Mastery-based, with Haste to the first EF breakpoint plus a chunk extra for extra spells during meta gem procs. I tried going up to the 7170 breakpoint and I didn’t really like it. I think it would be very nice for specific fights, but I wouldn’t want to use it all the time.

    Interestingly, the one time I’ve found Sacred Shield to be pretty nice is in battlegrounds! There’s rarely enough steady damage for EF to be useful, and Selfless Healer is okay…but I’ve found being able to SS just a few people is perfect for defending a node or accompanying a small flag-running team. πŸ™‚

    • Ophelie Says:

      I had been wondering about SS for PvP! It does seem to have some utility despite it’s lack of raw throughput.

      Out of the top-ranking paladins that I looked at, most didn’t even seem to bother with Haste breakpoints (though some did). Personally, after discovering that I don’t usually need all my spirit, I figured I might as well reforge it to Haste. No point in wasting it!

  5. Nicolause Says:

    Funny how things work out, Mentor. Back in the day, I used to be such a Haste fiend. Now I can barely stand it… Mastery is the one secondary stat I can’t seem to get enough of.

    I’ve also realized how much I have learned to love EF. I tried the Selfless Healer build, and simply could not get used to it. I guess my time with the Resto Shaman and Holy Priest have corrupted me to the point where I need some kind of HoT.

    Oh, and I am leaving Japan soon! It’s time to go back to the States, within about a month now (you had asked earlier if I was still overseas).

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