Cataclysm Holy How-To #2: Spells and Abilities

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(Don’t forget to read my Cataclysm Holy How-To #1: Specs and Glyphs before reading this one!)

Once again, welcome to an updated article in my Holy How-To series! Today, we’ll be focusing on the spells and abilities holy paladins have at level 85 and we’ll talk a bit about how best to use each of these spells and abilities in a PVE setting. Please bear in mind that this was written during the time that 4.2.2 was on live realms and, as such, may become outdated with future patches.

In the Wrath-era version of this Holy How-To, I spent quite a few words talking about instincts and habits. I guarantee that you have bad habits when it comes to healing as a holy paladin. I know I do. I think everyone does. That said, if you’ve spent any amount of time healing as a holy paladin, you likely have some instincts as well. For example, you probably already have a decent idea as to when to use Holy Light versus Divine Light or Holy Shock versus Word of Glory. What I hope to do with this article is help you to refine your instincts and instill new habits because you’ll be better informed about what your spells and abilities can actually do.

Holy paladins are often mocked as one of the easier healers to play because we seem to have a smaller “toolbox” of spells and abilities than, say, priests. Don’t be fooled — we may have fewer spells that actually heal others, but we have a lot of tools available to us! Let’s take a look at all the spells and abilities a holy paladin in a PVE setting will probably end up using.

(in alphabetical order)

Aura Mastery
Avenging Wrath
Beacon of Light
Crusader Strike
Divine Favor
Divine Light
Divine Plea
Divine Protection
Divine Shield
Flash of Light
Guardian of Ancient Kings
Hand of Freedom
Hand of Protection
Hand of Reckoning
Hand of Sacrifice
Hand of Salvation
Holy Light
Holy Radiance
Holy Shock
Lay on Hands
Light of Dawn
Righteous Defense
Word of Glory

That’s, uh, 25 different abilities. Still feel like a priest offers more? And that doesn’t even take into account Blessing of Might, Blessing of Kings or things like Hammer of Justice, Holy Wrath, Exorcism and Hammer of Wrath. But I’ll touch on those later.

Let’s look at these spells and abilities as “heals” and “self-buffs” and “group buffs/utility”.

(in alphabetical order)

The first thing you actually need to know about our heals is that most of them will use mana, but two of them will use Holy Power. This makes us unique among healers as no other healer has two resources to manage. We can have a maximum of 3 Holy Power at a time and our Holy Power heals (Light of Dawn and Word of Glory) can both be used with 1, 2 or 3 charges of Holy Power. They are more powerful the more Holy Power we have, however, so it’s not usually recommended to use these abilities unless you have 3 Holy Power.

All right, on to describing our heals!

Divine Light – One of our most powerful healing spells, Divine Light is also one of the most expensive, clocking in at 35% of our base mana. Base mana for a level 85 paladin is 23,422 mana so Divine Light costs a staggering 8197 mana per cast. If you played WoW before Cataclysm, this is the “new” Holy Light — the longer, slower-casting spell that’s more expensive than your other alternatives, but hits for a good chunk.

When to use it: This really depends on the situation, but it’s typically supposed to be used when your target is low on health. If you’re tank-healing, it should be used whenever you anticipate your tank will take a large burst of damage and should be used to help stabilize your tank, so if they’re under 60-70% health is a good time to use it.

What to remember: Very potent but very expensive! Will also grant one charge of Holy Power if cast on your beacon target if specced for Tower of Radiance.

Flash of Light – This is not a hugely powerful spell like Divine Light, but it’s fast! A baseline 1.5 second cast-time, this spell costs us 31% of our base mana (7260!) and all of that combined means that Flash of Light is essentially an emergency heal. This is most emphatically not the Flash of Light of pre-Cataclysm! It will typically heal for more than Holy Shock and Holy Light, but less than Divine Light. Divine Light will take longer to cast, but it’s more mana efficient due to the amount it heals for. Flash of Light is time efficient, but will consume mana faster than you thought possible.

When to use it: You really want to use it sparingly. No, really. Trust me! It’s best used if Holy Shock is on cooldown (or won’t heal for enough), if you don’t have enough Holy Power for a Word of Glory that will heal for enough. If time is really of the essence and you have an Infusion of Light proc, that’s also a decent time to use Flash of Light.

What to remember: Emergencies or special circumstances only, due to a prohibitively expensive mana cost. If cast on your Beacon of Light target, it will generate one charge of Holy Power if specced for Tower of Radiance.

Guardian of Ancient Kings – I wasn’t sure whether to put this under “heals” or under “buffs”, because it’s sort of both. Guardian of Ancient Kings, when you’re holy, will copy your next five heals over 30 seconds and will splash 10% of that healing to people 10 yards around the healed target. It costs 0 mana and is on a 5-minute cooldown. Note that this only works for Flash of Light, Holy Light, Divine Light, Holy Shock and Word of Glory, so not Light of Dawn or Holy Radiance. Remember how I was talking about bad habits? One of mine is that I do not use The Angry!Man, as I call him, often enough. You should be using him once per fight at a minimum. My issue is that I rarely find that I need to cast something like Divine Light five times in a row and so I feel as though I eat through the 5 heals very quickly with a combination of things like Divine Light, Holy Shock and Word of Glory. Still, a bit more extra healing for free is never a bad thing and this is something I really need to start using more frequently.

When to use it: My favourite time to use this dude was on clump phases on Chimaeron when I was assigned to a group. Divine Light on each of my five group members, plus the mirrored heals, plus the splash heals was downright amazing. But even if it’s not all that efficient elsewhere doesn’t mean it’s useless. Here’s a list of normal fights in Firelands that Guardian of Ancient Kings should be helpful:

Shannox: At the end of the fight, after both dogs are dead and the tank is taking increased damage from Shannox.

Beth’tilac: At the end of the fight, too. Probably near the tail end when you’re running out of mana and the whole raid is taking more damage.

Lord Rhyolith: I see a trend forming… Probably the best time to use it here is at the tail end of the fight as you pump out as much healing as possible.

Alysrazor: Any of the clump points when Alysrazor is on the ground is a good time to pop your Angry!Man.

Baleroc: I can confirm that the heals the Guardian of Ancient Kings copies from you do, indeed, take into consideration your Vital Spark and Vital Flame buffs. That means that if you cast a 78k heal on a tank with Blaze of Glory, your Angry!Man will also cast a 78k heal on that tank. As such, probably the BEST time for this is during a Decimating Strikes period when you’re on the tank taking those hits.

Majordomo Staghelm: Due to the ability for the heals to splash to nearby players, I would recommend using your Angry!Man in a Scorpion phase. Perhaps the second Scorpion phase, which will always be slightly more difficult to heal through due to people running out for their Searing Seeds. If not the second Scorpion, likely the third Scorpion is your best bet for being able to get the maximum use out of him.

Ragnaros: Almost certainly Phase 2, during the collapses for Molten Seeds. Any of the collapses would be a good spot for this. You’ll typically have 3 collapses in P2, so take your pick. Alternatively, at the very end when you’re running out of mana and Rag is somewhere under 20% total health, just to get that extra healing on the tanks while you dodge meteors.

What to remember: It’s 100% free to use and you can sneak two uses into any fights that last more than 5 minutes. Remember that it doubles up on your heals AND splashes heals to others nearby!

Holy Light – This is, ostensibly, our “bread and butter” spell, the one that we should be using in most circumstances, particularly where there’s not a lot of damage going out. Talented, it’s 2.5 seconds to cast without any haste at all, just like Divine Light, but it’s one of the cheapest spells we have. It costs 12% of base mana, which is 2810, and though it doesn’t hit for a chunk, a timely crit on a Holy Light is always a pleasant surprise. As well, since 4.2, 100% of any healing done with Holy Light will be mirrored to your Beacon of Light target.

When to use it: In most situations, Holy Light will be all you need to heal up damage. In Cataclysm, there’s less of an emphasis on keeping everyone topped off instantly than previously in WoW, so take advantage of this and take your time to heal people up who have taken light or moderate damage. With its interaction with Beacon of Light (more on that later), you can do this without sacrificing your tank’s health, so long as the damage isn’t a lot or happening too quickly for you to keep up.

What to remember: It’s cheap! It’s wonderfully cheap! And 100% of it goes to your Beacon target. This is even more reason to use it a lot.

Holy Radiance – This is the trained spell all paladins get at level 83. Holy Radiance is one of our two “AOE” spells and is a “set it and forget it” kind of spell. You literally hit the button and it activates, making you emit heals to any friendly target within 20 yards every second. It’s extremely expensive, costing 9368 mana, which is 40% of our base, and it really only is useful when you’re all clumped up nice and tight. Alternatively, when properly specced 3/3 into Speed of Light, you get a 4-second sprint, which is quite handy, but Divine Protection (more below) is a better plan for the sprint, based on mana cost alone. Something to note is that this spell can gain extra ticks of healing with enough haste. Given your 3/3 Speed of Light and an active Judgements of the Pure buff, plus a 5% haste buff from a Moonkin, Shadow Priest or a Wrath of Air totem, you can push to a 14th tick of Holy Radiance by virtue of 1859 haste. You can push to a 16th tick by having at least 1226 haste and using Divine Favor. And finally, you’ll be able to push to a 18th tick if you use it during Heroism/Blood Lust/Time Warp/Ancient Hysteria, as long as you have 1818 haste. (Yes, you can push it higher with Heroism and Divine Favor — 21 ticks with a moderate 1469 haste.)

In short, Holy Radiance benefits strongly from being tightly grouped and from haste.

When to use it: You get the most bang for your buck when you’re all grouped up together. You still don’t get a ton of bang for a single cast of it, but it’s something that’s better than nothing.

What to remember: Super expensive! But it also gives you a 4-second sprint. Best used in close quarters and with lots of haste!

Holy Shock – What can be said about Holy Shock? This spell has been with holy paladins forever, it seems like. Holy Shock is currently one of our “should use on cooldown” spells. That means you should probably hit it every 6 seconds if it’s at all reasonable to do so.

Using Holy Shock will give you a charge of Holy Power and this is generally going to be your primary method of gaining Holy Power, despite the fact that Flash of Light and Divine Light on your beacon target will also generate a charge (assuming 3/3 Tower of Radiance), as will Crusader Strike.

When to use it: Every six seconds if at all possible!

What to remember: To use it every six seconds! This is super-cheap, it’s instant and generates Holy Power, plus it can proc Infusion of Light.

Lay on Hands – Another iconic spell belonging to paladins. This isn’t limited to the holy variety, it can be used (and should be used!) by all paladins in a variety of situations. The earlier iterations of this spell had a whopping 60 minute cooldown on it and it also drained all your mana! Now, you can use it every 7-10 minutes (depending on the Glyph of Lay on Hands – use it in heroic dungeons, but not in raids, typically!) and it doesn’t cost any mana at all. It does cause Forbearance, though.

When to use it: Once a boss fight is a good aim, but sometimes your targets just aren’t in that much danger.

What to remember: It’s FREE! And also, using it does not mean you failed to keep up with incoming damage. Do not feel shame about using Lay on Hands, particularly if you have the Glyph of Divinity (this is the one to use in raids!), which will restore mana to you upon casting Lay on Hands.

Light of Dawn – Our new 31-point talent this expansion, Light of Dawn has been through more iterations than Lay on Hands. No, seriously. It used to cost mana, but now, it costs Holy Power. In its current (4.2.2) version, Light of Dawn is still primarily used as a tank heal. How? Beacon your tank, use the Glyph of Light of Dawn and use all your Holy Power firing off 3-stack Lights of Dawn, healing for a very small amount, but healing 6 units at once, each of them with a chance to crit. It’s also moderately helpful on AOE-heavy fights where you have to clump up, such as Majordomo Staghelm (when dealing with Flame Scythe) and used in combination with Holy Radiance, Light of Dawn can do a fair amount of healing. It’s one of our two AOE heals, but it’s still pretty lacklustre. Definitely use it with three Holy Power, because it’s so weak that using it with less than three means you basically shouldn’t have bothered casting it in the first place…

When to use it: A fairly simple checklist:

Are you grouped up with at least 4 or 5 (if glyphed) people in front of you with three Holy Power?
Yes: use Light of Dawn
No: don’t use Light of Dawn

Due to the grouped up requirement, Light of Dawn tends to see less use in 10-man raid situations, since you’ll usually get more bang for your buck by using 3 Holy Power on Word of Glory as a tank heal rather than only get 3-4 people with Light of Dawn. Bear in mind that since 4.2, Word of Glory was significantly buffed and, not counting crits, will usually out-heal Light of Dawn beacon transfers. As such, use more Light of Dawn when the raid is taking a lot of damage, otherwsie, stick to Word of Glory.

What to remember: It REALLY doesn’t heal for that much on the various individuals you hit with it. Seriously, with health pools over 100k and hitting 150k for a non-tank in raid gear, 3-6k from Light of Dawn really doesn’t make a big difference.

Word of GloryAnother new heal for us in Cataclysm, Word of Glory is the other spell that uses Holy Power. While Light of Dawn is a talent and is, ostensibly, for AOE healing, Word of Glory is available to all paladins and is a single-target heal. Prots and rets have a 20 second cooldown on Word of Glory, although retribution paladins specced 2/2 in Selfless Healer will have a 10 second cooldown. Holy has no cooldown on it, due to our Walk in the Light passive, which we get as soon as we spec into Holy. It works a lot like Holy Shock, to be honest, but is much more powerful than Holy Shock, healing for almost three times more than Holy Shock at maximum strength. It heals for about double when you use it with two Holy Power and it’s about equivalent to Holy Shock with just one charge of Holy Power.

When to use it: Use your Holy Power for this if you’re not using it on Light of Dawn. Use it as soon as you have three stacks of Holy Power so that your next Holy Shock cast will add to your Holy Power.

What to remember: This heals for almost three times what Holy Shock does! It’s free! It’s instant! Great little spell. Don’t forget to use the Prime Glyph for it, Glyph of Word of Glory, if you don’t use your Holy Power on Light of Dawn often. Also, consider the Eternal Glory talent!

(in alphabetical order)

Avenging Wrath – Trained at level 72, although originally something we got in Burning Crusade, this has also seen its fair share of tweaks. As of 4.2.2, though, this is a 3 minute cooldown ability for all paladins at level 72. All trees have a way to bring this down to a 2 minute cooldown, though. Holy’s is Paragon of Virtue. You should use this spell anytime you need to get 20% more healing out. Berserk phases at the end of fights (or burn phases) are great for this, but since it’s such a short cooldown when specced 2/2 Paragon of Virtue, you can generally pop this at least twice a fight. Use it early, use it often!

When to use it: Anytime you can use a bit more extra healing. Using this with Divine Favor (see below) and Holy Radiance and Light of Dawn will make for a really nice burst of AOE healing that doesn’t make you feel completely inadequate! ;)

Of course, it’s a REALLY short burst, but boy, it feels nice to pump out that much healing when you pop everything at once.

What to remember: Avenging Wrath is not on the global cooldown. That means you can sneak it into macros without delaying anything else. I have one that pops Avenging Wrath, Divine Favor and a trinket, followed by Holy Radiance. Unfortunately, Avenging Wrath is not free, but it’s cheap, just a bit more expensive than Holy Shock.

Crusader Strike – This ability is a melee attack and it’s given to all paladins at level 1. While not a self-buff, exactly, it will grant one Holy Power each time you use it. Bear in mind this is over 2000 mana at 85 and has a 4.5 second cooldown, so it is not the best way to gain Holy Power ever, but sometimes, if you’re stacked up on the boss, it can come in handy.

When to use it: When you REALLY need another Holy Power and you’re in melee range of the boss or adds.

What to remember: It’s not cheap!

Divine Favor – Holy paladin abilities changed a lot in this expansion. Previously, Divine Favor was a talent in the holy tree (as it is now) that forced a crit. Your next spell cast would absolutely be a critical. Now, it’s a self-buff that lasts 20 seconds and grants 20% extra crit and 20% extra haste. It’s on a 3-minute cooldown and is free to use. There’s a Prime glyph (Glyph of Divine Favor) that will extend the buff’s duration by 10 seconds to 30 seconds total. If you’re using Light of Dawn more than Word of Glory, this glyph is a great one to use, or if you foresee yourself using Divine Favor when things are rough for 30 full seconds.

When to use it: Whenever you need another burst of healing. 20% haste means more spells cast for however long your buff lasts (20 or 30 seconds) and 20% crit means a lot of those extra spells you’re casting are crits. While a 3-minute cooldown is usually short, this is definitely on the longer side of our cooldowns. You’ll want to think about smart usage for this spell.

What to remember: You can pair this with Avenging Wrath for some excellent burst healing or use it alone to just pump your throughput a bit. Try to make sure you use Holy Radiance with it, too, to get extra Holy Radiance ticks!

Divine Plea – Druids have Innervate, priests have their Shadowfiend, shaman have mana tide totem. We have Divine Plea. It is one of two major methods to regain mana. This is the one that’s on a 2-minute cooldown and requires the Glyph of Divine Plea to be as useful as it could be. If you don’t use Divine Plea in a fight very much, swap out the glyph, but if you’re using it even once, make sure you’re glyphed for it.

The one warning here is that, for the duration (9 seconds), your healing output will be reduced by 50%.

When to use it: When you have less than 80% mana and you can afford for your healing to be low for 9 seconds. You might want to use Raeli’s Spell Announcer or a macro to announce to your fellow healers that your healing is compromised for the next 9 seconds.

What to remember: Healing reduction! But it doesn’t last terribly long, so you can sneak in a Divine Plea just about any time.

Divine Protection – This has turned into a great little utility spell for us. It’s great as a tank cooldown for the 20% damage reduction, but retribution and holy paladins can use 20% extra damage reduction a lot in Cataclysm content. Any time the boss of any fight is about to let loose a ton of damage, pop Divine Protection. It’s on a 1 minute cooldown, but specced for 2/2 in Paragon of Virtue, that drops to 40 seconds for a holy paladin. If specced 3/3 Speed of Light, you also get a 4-second sprint. This is a much cheaper (~703 mana) way to get a quick sprint. Holy Radiance is up more frequently, but is super expensive compared to Divine Protection. And let’s not forget the Glyph of Divine Protection. It is absolutely fantastic for mitigating mostly magical damage. Nefarian’s Electrocute? No problem. Any kind of fire? No problem.

When to use it: This should be your first choice to avoid some damage that won’t kill you. It should also be your first choice for a quick sprint. Finally, because it’s not on the global cooldown, it is easily paired with Hand of Sacrifice in a macro to prevent you from taking too much damage from the HoSac.

What to remember: Glyphed, the magical damage reduction is fantastic and ridiculously awesome. Don’t forget about the sprint and don’t forget to use it with Hand of Sacrifice!

Divine Shield – Ah, the infamous bubble! This makes us immune to basically everything for 8 seconds (down from 12 seconds, before Cataclysm). It can be removed by a warrior’s Shattering Throw or a priest’s Mass Dispel. It will NOT get you out of a druid’s Cyclone! This is still extremely useful in PVE content as it’ll allow you to avoid just about any boss mechanic. For example, on Majordomo Staghelm, when he casts Searing Seeds on the raid, if you can hit your bubble before he stuns you, you’ll still get stunned, but you will not have the Searing Seeds debuff applied to you. (Note: do NOT bubble after he applies the debuff on you or you’ll set off your seed and probably kill your whole raid.)

When to use it: To get out of situations like the above or to avoid insane damage.

What to remember: You can’t bubble and hearth any longer (hearthstone cast is 10 seconds), but you can still bubble and then taunt (either Righteous Defense or Hand of Reckoning). Great to use when the tank is dead but the boss only has a couple percent of health left! (Read about me and a super-pro bubble taunt!)

Also to remember, your bubble causes Forbearance and that means you can’t use Lay on Hands or Hand of Protection within a minute of bubbling.

Judgement – Okay, Judgement, much like Crusader Strike, is not a buff. However, it is linked to Judgements of the Pure, so you need to judge a minimum of once a minute to keep that buff rolling. You’ll want to judge much more frequently than that, however. You essentially need to have Glyph of Seal of Insight to maximize your healing, so you’ll have Seal of Insight up. While you may not get a lot of chances in the way of beating on something with your weapon to get mana returns, every time you judge, you get 15% of your base mana back, which is approximately 3513 mana returned. Of course, Judgement is 5% of base mana, or 1171 mana. This is really a net increase of 2342 mana every time you judge — up to every 8 seconds. Melee attacks will occasionally return 4% of base mana (937 mana), but bank on the 2342 mana when you judge with Seal of Insight up. This is why it’s so important to judge as often as possible. It’s also really important for you to have one point in Enlightened Judgements so that you have enough melee hit rating (8%) to ensure your judgements never miss a mob or a boss. (Two points is overkill, but one is absolutely necessary.)

When to use it: Whenever it’s up!

What to remember: Your judgements are considered melee attacks, so make sure you have Enlightened Judgements and enough spirit to reach 8% melee hit (not spell hit!) on your character sheet. If you miss, you just spent 1171 mana and didn’t get the 3513 mana back from Seal of Insight’s effect!

(in alphabetical order. Mostly.)

Aura Mastery – This is our raid cooldown. Any time the boss throws damage at us, we can handle it. Physical damage? Well, it’s rare, but it can happen. Flip to Devotion Aura and hit Aura Mastery. Any frost, fire or shadow damage? Flip to Resistance Aura and hit Aura Mastery. Is there about to be a silence? Flip to Concentration Aura and hit Aura Mastery. More often than not, though, this is used as a raid cooldown to prevent frost, fire and shadow damage. It doesn’t negate it entirely, of course, but Resistance Aura gives you 195 resistance at base. Doubled, that’s 390. According to Elitist Jerks, popping Aura Mastery will bring us up from 20% chance to resist (which is what we have at 195 with resistance aura) to 35% chance to resist against a level 88 (boss-level) creature. This is not insignificant, particularly when higher damage is coming out.

Majordomo’s Flame Scythe with 0 stacks of Fury (Resistance Aura only):

[23:46:09.422] Majordomo Staghelm Flame Scythe Madrana 82777 (A: 1598, R: 9375)

So that is a hit for 93,750 and I absorbed a small portion of it and resisted a small portion of it.

And here is the damage I took on the very next Flame Scythe with Aura Mastery active with Resistance Aura on:

[23:46:16.755] Majordomo Staghelm Flame Scythe Madrana 52973 (A: 3277, R: 37500)

That’s the same hit value (93,750) but I resisted 37500 of it (more than a third) after hitting Aura Mastery.

This is not an optional talent for us. Pick it up. Learn when to use it effectively.

When to use it: Any time you’re about to take a crazy amount of fire, frost or shadow damage (paired with Resistance Aura). Any time you’re about to take a crazy amount of physical damage (paired with Devotion Aura — much less often). Any time you’re about to be silenced by a mechanic (paired with Concentration Aura — extremely rare).

What to remember: You need the right aura up and it only lasts six seconds! Your timing has to be pretty much spot on.

Beacon of Light – Beacon of Light, our old 31-point talent from Wrath, was retooled a lot in Cataclysm. It lasts 5 minutes, is relatively cheap to rebuff and transfers 50% of most of your heals to the person you have Beacon of Light on, so long as they’re within 60 yards of the person you’re healing.

It will mirror the following spells at 50%: Flash of Light, Divine Light, Holy Shock, Word of Glory, Light of Dawn, Protector of the Innocent self-heals, Enlightened Judgements self-heals.

It will mirror Holy Light at 100% (as of 4.2.2).

It will not mirror Lay on Hands or Holy Radiance healing.

None of the mirrored heals will add Illuminated Healing shields.

When to use it: You should always have a beacon target. Typically, this is a tank, but past content has had a variety of good targets — people with debuffs, yourself as well as tanks.

What to remember: Remember to keep it up and remember that Holy Light gets mirrored at 100%. If you are casting Holy Light on your beacon target, stop and go heal someone within 60 yards of your beacon target with Holy Light instead! Bear in mind there is a short (a couple tenths of a second) delay between the heal landing and being mirrored to the beacon target.

Cleanse – Not exactly a buff, but definitely a utility spell. Cleanse removes poison and disease debuffs and, if specced for Sacred Cleansing, magic debuffs as well. You should almost certainly be specced for Sacred Cleansing unless the fight offers absolutely no dispellable debuffs. We are one of two classes who can dispel diseases (priests being the other) and one of two classes who can dispel poisons (druids being the other). We are one of two classes who can dispell three things (druids being the other). The only thing we cannot cleanse is a curse.

When to use it: When someone has a debuff. Get rid of it!

What to remember: Cleanse is ridiculously expensive, clocking in at 3279 mana per cast. Use the Glyph of Cleansing in dungeons when you’re the only healer and there are a lot of debuffs. (This is typically not worth glyphing for raids because you are not solo-dispelling.) You can also cast this on someone who isn’t debuffed, unlike in the past (where you would get a “nothing to dispel” error), so watch for that!

A special note about the Hand spells

You can only have one Hand of something spell on one player at a time. I can cast Hand of Sacrifice on one person, Hand of Freedom on me and Hand of Salvation on a third, but I can’t pile all of them up on someone. The last Hand spell gets overwritten by the newest one. This can occasionally be used to our advantage. Also note, Hand of Reckoning is not a “real” Hand spell!

Hand of Freedom – Great to help avoid snares and slows, this doesn’t have a ton of use in PVE, but will occasionally come in handy. Its best use is probably helping to remove Hand of Protection quickly.

When to use it: When you (or someone else) is snared or slowed.

What to remember: Only one Hand spell per target!

Hand of Protection – The old Blessing of Protection! This is why this spell is usually called “BOP”. (HOP doesn’t have the same ring, sorry.) This will render the target immune to all physical (but not magical!) damage. If the mob(s) attacking the target are physical attackers, they’ll go attack the next person on their aggro list while BOP is active. The best thing about BOP is that it will remove most bleeds and some debuffs from its target. This is useful in many fights on a tank, such as Halfus Wyrmbreaker (BOP will remove Malevolent Strikes), but bear in mind that it does NOT remove Jagged Tear during the Shannox encounter.

When to use it: Best used on over-eager DPS who pull aggro or a healer to save them after adds chase them before getting picked up by the tank. Or on a tank with a bleed/debuff that needs to get dropped ASAP!

What to remember: Use Hand of Freedom right after using it on a tank so that your tank doesn’t have to fumble to cancel the buff themselves. Note that Hand of Protection WILL cause Forbearance.

Hand of Sacrifice – This is our single-target cooldown. Best paired with either Divine Protection or Divine Shield, this is something you’ll want to chuck on tanks in all likelihood. 90 second cooldown, thanks to Paragon of Virtue, so you can use this very frequently in a fight. And you should!

When to use it: Any time the tank (or a single target — but probably a tank) is taking a burst of damage or you just need to protect them for a bit.

What to remember: Don’t forget that you’re taking chunks of damage too! Don’t use it during huge AOE phases or you’ll likely kill yourself. Also, do NOT use this late in the fight on the tanks on Baleroc! You can use it on the pull but basically not again thereafter. You can use it on DPS later on, but not on the tanks — the damage transferred to you will 1-shot you.

Hand of Salvation – Not quite as useful since the threat buff in 4.2, but still occasionally useful. This will reduce the threat someone has by 20% (or thereabouts, since they’re probably still creating threat while Hand of Salvation is on them) over 10 seconds or instantly for a few seconds if you use the Glyph of Hand of Salvation, somewhat like a priest’s Fade.

Hand of Reckoning – Despite the name, this is not a normal Hand spell like the others, which buff the target. This is the paladin taunt.

Uh, hold on, Kurn. Why are you talking about taunts? Isn’t this a holy guide?

Believe it or not, taunting something is occasionally useful and not just when you bubble-taunt. Just the other night, our Spark tank on Rhyolith had two Fragments of Rhyolith on him. He called out about it to the other tank and I saw one get pulled off the Spark tank and head for the Fragment tank. Realizing that the Fragment tank’s taunt was probably on cooldown, I then taunted the Fragment off the Spark tank. One Fragment doesn’t hit a plate-wearer for very much, so it was fine for a few seconds until the Fragment tank taunted off of me.

[23:56:56.177] Madrana casts Hand of Reckoning on Fragment of Rhyolith
[23:56:56.578] Fragment of Rhyolith afflicted by Hand of Reckoning from Madrana
[23:56:58.916] Fragment of Rhyolith hits Madrana 10990 (B: 4710)
[23:56:59.546] Madrana’s Hand of Reckoning fades from Fragment of Rhyolith

It’s definitely one of the lesser-used spells we have, but never forget that you can force something to focus on you for a few short seconds!

When to use it: Mostly useful in helping to round up adds or bring them to a tank’s AOE or something.

What to remember: You’re not a tank. Don’t sit there and try to tank for a prolonged period of time.

Righteous Defense – It’s an AOE taunt! Up to three things will be pulled off your target and will come hang with you for a few seconds. Again, not something you’ll use all the time, but there are occasions for it, such as, well, Lord Rhyolith’s fragments, to be honest.

When to use it: At your own discretion, but be smart about it. Again, you’re not a tank! Should be used in emergency situations to save someone from a group of mobs.

What to remember: You’re still not a tank. Don’t do this often.

(for now.)

Well. That… was long, and I didn’t even include some of our other abilities whose primary uses are damaging.

Having said that, you now have the basics for each major spell we use as we heal (and a couple of minor ones). You’ve now learned the alphabet and can string some letters along into a few words. You’ve got a spec. You’ve got glyphs. You  know what your buttons do. Next time, gems and enchants!

*** All content copyright © Kurn’s Corner, 2011. Reproduction of this guide in full or in part without express permission from the author (“Kurn”), represents copyright infringement and violation of copyright law. Please, if you like this guide, link to it, do not copy it. ***

3 Replies to “Cataclysm Holy How-To #2: Spells and Abilities”

  1. I’m not going to make this a war about which class has the most skills to keep track off…. but yeah, I’m gonna do that ^^ Healing priests have like 30 skills baseline, not even counting any shadow skills or spec specific skills (add another 7 skills for holy and 6 for disc), so personally I still think priests win out big time on holydins regarding toolset, especially since I wouldn’t count skills like CS or RF that probably are used like once every tenth raid (RF is very useful on Beth though) ;)

    But do I think priests are more difficult? Definitely not, I actually think holydins are more difficult. Because a lot of the skill about holydin healing comes from properly managing cooldowns and skills that are on long cooldown and therefor not used often enough to be part of any standard “healing rotation” (if there is such a thing). The holydin toolset might be smaller, but instead extremely diverse, and learning exactly when to use each and one of those to the max is very challenging (and fun!). The biggest mistake I often see holydins do is forgetting about skills like Protection, Salvation, Sacrifice or knowing when to best use DP, DF, AW, just to mention a few. So a post like this is very welcome for me, so I can tweak my holydin skills!

  2. Actually, you might be better off without RF on Beth. That way you can use RD to taunt down Spinners.

    Slight note, since this is a how-to I’m guessing this doesn’t apply to heroic raiders entirely. On heroic you can’t use holy light as a bread and butter spell, the tank damage is too high on most fights. Unless I’m underestimating the cross healing on 25man of course. :>

  3. Holy Light still has its places in 25 heroics. Just got 6/7 last week and it still comprises a significant amount of my healing done. Remember, Holy Light crits combined with Beacon of Light now heal for 400% versus non crit, non beacon of light heals ;)

    I’ve done extensive trolling on my site detailing the merits of crit and Holy Light in 25s recently.

    With that said, yes, typically Divine Light makes up 25-30% or more of my healing done in heroic encounters.

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