Second last post of the guide! (Not counting update notifications – of which should start, like, the day after I finish.)
You remember the three component of paladin healing?
1- Beacon Usage
2- Holy Power building and sinking
3- Cooldown management.
Even back when Holy Paladins were (wrongfully) accused of “one button healing”, proper use of cooldowns distinguished the decent Paladin healer from the good Paladin healer. Between mana buttons, output enhancing buttons and fight manipulation buttons, we had a lot of control over what happened during a fight.
Now that we have more healing buttons, we also have more cooldown buttons (including talents and excluding potions, I counted 17) and, more than ever, using cooldowns properly will take your playstyle to the next level.
What is a Cooldown?
A cooldown (or CD) is a spell or ability of considerable power which, when used, has a timer before it can be used again.
For the purpose of this post, the time between uses has to be at least 20 seconds (so Holy Prism can qualify). While Holy Shock does have a cooldown, I don’t think of it as a Cooldown Spell.
So how do I know to use a Cooldown?
First, make sure your UI clearly shows which cooldowns are ready to be used and how much time is left on those that are not.
Then, you’ve got two choice:
DPS Style: Use your CDs the second they’re ready, goals being to squeeze in as much healing as you can and to lower mana requirements for the fight.
Saviour Style: Save your CDs for specific moments, either to react to a predictable burst of damage, or to prevent a wipe in case of an emergency.
Both styles have their place and the wise Holy Paladin knows when to use each approach based on three elements:
1- The Nature of the Cooldown: There’s no point in using a specific damage reduction cooldown if that type of damage isn’t present, just like it’s silly to use a threat manipulation cooldown if threat isn’t a concern.
2- The Cooldown Timer: When a timer only allows one use per fight, the cooldown is best saved for an emergency or for the last minute of the fight. Abilities with very short cooldowns can be used more freely since they’re likely to be ready again by the time they’re really needed.
3- Knowledge of a Fight: If you know the types (magic vs physical) and patterns (burst vs periodic, single target vs raid-wide) of damage in a fight, you can plan your cooldown usage to get the most out of all your spells.
Cooldown use is also influenced by the strategy your raid or healing lead has in mind. It’s always a good idea to use your guild’s strategy threads to make sure you’re on the same page as your leaders when it comes to cooldown usage on specific fights. Prevents screaming matches.
I’ll also point out that on new progression fights, aka, fights where your team is just starting to learn the mechanics, aka, where you expect to wipe within the first 3-4 minutes, it makes sense to blow all your extra healing CDs early. They’ll help keep the team alive longer during the mechanics-learning process and they should be ready for use again by the time you recover from the wipe.
Output Enhancing Cooldowns
Divine Favor: (3 minutes) Increases haste and crit for 20 seconds.
Avenging Wrath: (3 minutes) Increases healing output. Can by modified with Sanctified Wrath (talent) and Glyphs of Avenging Wrath and the Falling Avenger.
Trinket with on-use Intellect: Empty Fruit Barrel was the only one I could find with an on-use Intellect boost.
Holy Avenger: (Talent only – 2 minutes) Increases healing output of certain spells and builds Holy Power.
Potion of the Jade Serpent: (Potion – Once per fight, may also use an extra one right before pull) Increases intellect for 25 seconds, which in turn increases healing output.
All of these cooldowns increase your throughput somehow.
I included a potion for completeness’ sake. You can only use one potion, total, per fight so only use a Potion of the Jade Serpent if you’re positive you won’t be needing a potion for mana later on. If a fight has a lot of damage right at the start, you can do like a dps player and pre-pot (drink a potion right before the pull to avoid triggering the once-per-fight restriction), however most fights in Tier 14 start off slowly damage wise, making pre-potting a waste. (However, as Talarian suggests in the comments, if a fight doesn’t start off with steep healing, you’re tight on the enrage timer and you don’t think mana will be an issue, you can pre-pot and use your damage spells for some smooth healer dps.)
All the other buttons (and the trinket), however, have a 2-3 minute cooldown, meaning you should use them at least twice on any fight longer than 6 minutes. On most fights they can be used DPS Style (as soon as they come up), but if a fight has conveniently spaced bursts of damage (think Empress in Heart of Fear), you can time your cooldowns to help you mop up after the bursts.
These throughput cooldowns also have a fantastic side effect: since they make your spells harder and/or faster, you can use lighter spells, saving mana. (Thank you Sol for the comment!)
Unless you need a biiiiig burst of healing, avoid having more than one cooldown active at a time. Hitting Divine Favor and Avenging Wrath together will, more often than not, result in 20 seconds of overheal. It’s much less of a waste to use one, wait for it to finish, then use another.
Extra Heals Cooldowns
Lay on Hands: (5-12 minutes) Heals the target for the amount of your maximum health. This is the tank saver. Can be modified with Glyph of Divinity for a bonus mana-return and with the Unbreakable Spirit talent for a cooldown reduction.
Guardian of Ancient Kings: (5 minutes) Adds to 5 of your single target heals and splashes healing onto nearby players.
Execution Sentence: (Talent only – 1 minute) Single target heal over time.
Holy Prism: (Talent only – 20 seconds) Can be used a cheap single target heal or as a small area of effect heal.
Light’s Hammer: (Talent only – 1 minute) Puts an area of healing on the ground for 17.5 seconds.
Lay on Hands and Guardian of Ancient Kings have fairly long CDs. On long, long, long fights they can be used twice (maybe three times if a fight goes over 15 minutes) but on most fights they can only be used once.
Lay on Hands is such a powerful tank savor that I like to save it for emergencies, regardless of fight length, unless I’m positive that our tanks won’t need it. As for Guardian of Ancient Kings, it’s nice to use twice on long fights, once early on and once at the end, unless you feel you might need to prevent a wipe halfway through. Never finish a fight with Guardian off CD. It’s such a great healing bonus that if the fight is almost over and you haven’t needed it yet, just use it. USE IT.
The other three are the level 90 talents. You pick one. They’re on short timers, so use them whenever they’re available, unless you have a perfect opportunity coming up within the next few seconds.
Devotion Aura: (3 minutes) Reduces magic damage (AND ONLY MAGIC DAMAGE) for 6 seconds. Also prevents Silences and Interrupts for those 6 seconds, which is more useful in PvP than in Tier 14 raiding.
This time around, Devotion Aura (or, affectionately, Devo Aura) is our cooldown that affects the entire raid. It (only) lasts 6 seconds and is useless against physical damage.
There are still a lot of fights where Devotion Aura is lovely, though, so check the types of damage caused by different boss abilities. If there’s magic damage that affects more than 2-3 people at once, you’ve got a Devo Aura opportunity.
You can usually fit it in twice a fight, but check with your raid or healing lead – most teams like to coordinate raid-wide CDs for maximal benefit.
Fight Manipulation Cooldowns
Hand of Sacrifice: (2 minutes) Transfers some damage from the target over to you.
Hand of Purity: (talent only – 30 seconds) Reduces damage from (most) periodic effects on the target. Check out Gina’s list of HofPurity opportunities.
Hand of Protection: (5 minutes) Prevents all physical (AND ONLY PHYSICAL) damage on the target (also usually removes bleed effects) for 10 seconds, but prevents the target from using physical attacks (melee and hunters don’t like this). Has added affect that melee mobs will stop attacking the target and go elsewhere (squishies like this, tanks to do not).
Hand of Salvation: (2 minutes) Removes the targets threat. Hunters appreciate the thought. Tanks, not so much.
Hand of Freedom: (25 seconds) Removes/prevents movement impairing effects. Useful on the trash to Elegon.
Hand CDs are called Hands for a reason: they give you some control over fights.
Hand of Sacrifice can be used DPS-Style, however some teams like to coordinate usage for certain fights. Check with your leaders before keeping Hand of Sacrifice on CD. Same goes for Hand of Purity, on fights where HofPurity is helpful.
Note that while Hand of Sacrifice on its own should not be able to kill you, if you have Hand of Sacrifice active while intense raid damage is going out, your face might meet the floor. I speak from experience. Be wise when you use it, and if you think you might die, get a damage reduction CD on yourself (scroll down this post to read about Divine Protection and Divine Shield). Also note that damage transferred through HofSac keeps its type. So physical damage to your target means physical damage to you.
Hand of Protection is really handy (oh the bad pun!) during trash, or for fights with lots of adds, if your team is a little clumsy. I’ve also used it to clear nasty Wind Steps on Heroic Blade Lord. The CD timer is long, though, so you’ll rarely get to use it more than once a fight. Choose your opportunity wisely.
I’ve yet to use Hand of Salvation, but if your team is a little clumsy, some of your trigger-happy dps might appreciate a good Salv. As for Freedom, in PvE, it is very situation specific, but does have occasional uses. Both have a fairly short timer and can be used rather freely.
If you really like your Hands, look into the Clemency talent, which lets you use all Hands (except Purity) twice before triggering the CD.
Divine Plea: (2 minutes) Returns mana for 9 seconds but lowers healing output during that time. Can be modified via Glyph of Divine Plea to negate the healing penalty in exchange for a 5 second cast time.
Trinket with on-use Spirit or Mana: Scroll of Revered Ancestors, Jade Courtesan Figurine, Vial of Ichorous Blood, Price of Progress all have on-use Spirit or Mana return.
Master Mana Potion/Potion of Focus: (Potion – Once per fight) Potions that restores mana.
Unless you’re drowning in a pool of your own mana, Divine Plea can (and usually should) be used DPS-Style starting when you reach about 80% mana. Be smart about it though, if you’re approaching a point in the fight where the healing penalty (or cast time) might be a problem, wait a little bit. Same goes for if a point in the fight where the healing penalty or cast time doesn’t matter is coming up.
As for your on-use mana-returning trinkets, they have no penalty associated with them, so if you have a such a trinket, you’ll want to use it right after your first few casts, then whenever it makes itself available.
Again, I put some potions in for completeness. The Master Mana Potion only restores a little bit of mana, but can be used instantly. Potion of Focus, on the other hand, restores more mana but requires that you drop what you’re doing to sit and drink. You only get to use one potion per fight, so choose wisely.
Personal Damage Reduction Cooldown
Divine Protection: (30 seconds to 1 minute) In it’s original state, reduces magic (AND ONLY MAGIC!) damage for 10 seconds. You can add a physical damage reduction component via Glyph of Divine Protection, and you can reduce the CD via the Unbreakable Spirit talent.
Divine Shield: (2.5-5 minutes) Makes you invulnerable (with some exceptions) for 8 seconds and removes most debuffs. The CD can be reduced via the Unbreakable Spirit talent.
Divine Protection has such a cute little CD that it can be used DPS Style for fights with regular raid damage, unless there’s a big burst of damage coming up. Check damage types before each fight to know whether or not to add the physical damage reduction Glyph.
While Divine Shield coupled with Unbreakable Spirit can have a fairly short CD, this spell is such a powerful oopsy-fixer that you’ll want to almost exclusively use it Savior Style. If you screw up and are about to be killed (and humiliated) by avoidable damage, you want this spell to be available to save your face. I mean your life. You’ll probably only get to use it once per fight, but you’re a good pally who doesn’t make many mistakes, right?
AND THAT ENDS THE HOW-TO PORTION OF THIS GUIDE!
Next post is the one I’ve been looking forward to since day one! I get to update my links and point all you avid pally-info readers to some awesome resources and fantastic members of the paladin community.
But for now I need to rest my sore fingers.