Welcome to my Holy How-To for PVE Paladins. This is the seventh of what I hope to be a great many posts aimed at helping holy paladins succeed at PVE content. I will focus primarily on max-level talent specs, glyphs, enchants, gems and the like, including tools, tips and tricks that I use, but I hope to touch on levelling content and advice as well.
Some time ago, I talked a bit about healing instincts and how my paladin healing instincts consistently screwed me over when playing any other healing class. For example, forgetting about Penance on my disc priest. Don’t get me started on Nature’s Swiftness or Tranquility on my druid, much less Nature’s Swiftness and Tidal Force on my shaman. I’m a good enough healer that I can sort of “fake” my way through content with which I’m already familiar if I’m performing the same role, like healing. But I’m not going to think to use Pain Suppression or any of the other tricks of various healing classes the way I do when I’m on my paladin.
Why is this?
It’s not because I’m not aware of the possibilities, but it’s because the moment to use those abilities is usually a high-pressure, quick-thinking moment. “Tank’s gonna die!” is not usually followed up by “Pain Suppression!” or “Nature’s Swiftness/Healing Touch/Healing Wave!” in my head. It’s usually followed up by “Thank God I started casting Holy Light a second ago!” ;)
So today, we’re going to talk a bit about paladin healer-related cooldowns and the times you want to use them. This is so that when you’re faced with those situations, you can actually react to the situation without thinking “uh, okay, so I can do… shoot. There goes the tank.”
We’ll divide this into two types of cooldowns: Mitigation and Healing Help
What it is: A talent that gives you a six second boost to your currently active aura. That is to say that if you have Devotion Aura up, it’ll double the armor contribution. Ret aura? Double the holy damage your attackers receive. Concentration Aura? It’ll prevent silences. It’ll also double the resistance amount of your active resist aura, too. And yes, it’ll increase the speed boost Crusader Aura gives you, too. :)
When to use it: When not to, really? Frost Resist Aura + Aura Mastery for Bonestorm on Marrowgar or to help counteract the Frostbolt Volley on Lady Deathwhisper or the overall aura damage from Sindragosa. Shadow Resistance Aura + Aura Mastery on Festergut’s Pungent Blight or during a fear on Blood Queen Lana’thel or when you need to run on heroic Blood Prince Council… Lots of times, basically. But the key is that it has to be YOUR aura. It won’t improve anyone else’s aura.
What it is: This poor talent was introduced in Wrath of the Lich King and is woefully misunderstood by basically everyone. First of all, it’s not as powerful without two points in Divine Guardian. By itself, it transfers 30% of all *party member’s* damage to you, up to 40% of your maximum health. It lasts ten seconds.
With 2/2 Divine Guardian, it does that and reduces your whole raid’s damage by 20% as long as they’re within 30 yards of you. This portion lasts six seconds.
Now, if you bubble first and then cast this, you will continue to get damage redirected towards you for the full ten second duration of Divine Sacrifice (as bubble lasts 12 seconds). Here’s a few lines from a recent log:
[23:38:55.630] Madrana gains Divine Sacrifice from Madrana
[23:38:55.630] Madrana casts Divine Sacrifice
[23:38:55.646] Madrana gains Divine Guardian from Madrana
So I am included in the 20% damage reduction, although I’m also bubbled at this point. Still, always nice to know. ;)
[23:38:56.172] Druid1 gains Divine Sacrifice from Madrana
[23:38:56.172] Shammy gains Divine Sacrifice from Madrana
[23:38:56.175] Priest1 gains Divine Sacrifice from Madrana
[23:38:56.175] Druid2 gains Divine Sacrifice from Madrana
The two resto druids, the resto shaman and the disc priest who were in my party all gained Divine Sacrifice.
[23:38:56.175] Warlock gains Divine Guardian from Madrana
[23:38:56.175] Priest1 gains Divine Guardian from Madrana
[23:38:56.175] Druid1 gains Divine Guardian from Madrana
[23:38:56.175] Shammy gains Divine Guardian from Madrana
[23:38:56.175] Druid2 gains Divine Guardian from Madrana
[23:38:56.175] Priest2 gains Divine Guardian from Madrana
Other people, including those in my party, gain the effect of Divine Guardian from me. Divine Guardian fades after six seconds, but Divine Sacrifice keeps going, redirecting damage from my party to me.
[23:39:03.164] Madrana takes 0 damage from Shammy’s Divine Sacrifice
[23:39:03.565] Madrana takes 0 damage from Priest1’s Divine Sacrifice
[23:39:04.357] Shammy2’s Divine Guardian fades
[23:39:05.233] Madrana takes 0 damage from Priest1’s Divine Sacrifice
[23:39:05.629] Madrana takes 0 damage from Shammy’s Divine Sacrifice
[23:39:05.770] Madrana’s Divine Sacrifice fades
So, yeah. Divine Sacrifice, paired with Divine Guardian, is basically amazing. They changed how it worked for 3.3, including reducing the duration from 10 seconds to 6 seconds.
When to use it: Endless possibilities. Marrowgar’s Bonestorm, Deathwhisper’s Vengeful Shades, Saurfang’s Marks of the Fallen Champion, Festergut’s Pungent Blight, Rotface’s Unstable Ooze Explosion, P3 on Putricide, anytime you have to move on heroic Blood Prince Council, just before the fear on Blood Queen Lana’thel, P3 on Sindragosa and basically a whole bunch of times on Lich King.
What it is: Formerly known as Blessing of Protection (and still called “BOP” for short), is a beautiful thing that makes the target 100% immune to all physical damage for 10 seconds. Only physical damage, though.
When you want to use it: In a moment where you know someone is going to be taking a lot of physical-based damage when they do not have aggro from something they’re supposed to be tanking.
As such, this is not something you generally want to cast on the tank, unless he or she does NOT currently have aggro and DOES have some sort of bleed effect. A good example of this is the phase transition in Trial of the Crusader or Trial of the Grand Crusader when Gormok the Impaler is dead and Acidmaw and Dreadscale are coming out, one or both of your tanks may have some stacks of the Impale effect still on them. BOP! That evil bleed is all gone.
Other moments where BOP shines include, but are not limited to, the Garrotted person on Moroes, a non-active tank on Gurtogg Bloodboil to get rid of Acidic Wound, one of the Gormok tanks (as previously noted), during the kiting phases of Anub’arak (particularly in Trial of the Grand Crusader) and, most recently, Boiling Blood on Deathbringer Saurfang.
What it is: Formerly known as Blessing of Sacrifice (and still sometimes called BoSac or now HoSac for short), will transfer 30%, 35% or 40% of damage the person you cast it on is taking. It gets transferred to you. (35% and 40% require 1 or 2 points in Blessed Hands in the holy tree.) This lasts for 12 seconds or until you’ve transferred up to 100% of your maximum health’s worth of damage to you.
When you want to use it: Now this IS a spell you want to cast on your tanks. I’ve been out of practice on using it, since my last guild only required it on one fight in all of Trial of the Grand Crusader, but basically, if your tank is taking stupid amounts of damage, bubble yourself and cast this on them. Always bubble first, because if you cast BoSac on your target first, you can die very quickly.
This is useful on any kind of damage at all that your tank (or any other raid member) may be taking. Off the top of my head, this was used a lot as a tank cooldown for Sartharion with three drakes, throughout Ulduar (Hodir’s Frozen Blows comes to mind, as does Mimiron’s Plasma Blast) and there’s no reason you shouldn’t cast this on someone, anyone, any time you bubble. The effect does NOT stack with Divine Sacrifice, however. This is the main reason I don’t use it very often, because I rarely bubble without hitting Divine Sacrifice.
What it is: A baseline ability for all paladins that increases our damage and healing by 20% for 20 seconds. The catch is that it cannot be used within 30 seconds of using Divine Shield, Divine Protection, Hand of Protection (on yourself) or Lay on Hands (on yourself). May be referred to as “wings” or “popping [one’s] wings”, including many Red Bull references.
When to use it: Usually best used during an enrage period of the fight; Saurfang’s Frenzy, Patchwerk’s enrage. Anytime that there is constant, incoming damage that you need to heal. Also, see below with regards to Divine Plea.
What it is: It’s the 21 point holy talent for paladins. It is a relatively cheap spell, instant, not on the global cooldown and forces your next Flash of Light, Holy Light or Holy Shock spell to be a critical hit. That’s right; guaranteed crit. It has a two minute cooldown so this comes up often throughout a fight.
When to use it: Assuming you have two talents in Infusion of Light (and you should!), one of the best times to use it is on the pull. Pop this before the pull, chase your tank in, then hit Holy Shock right after your tank takes their first hit, then cast your instant Flash of Light for the second hit as you’re running into place.
Other times to use it include, but are not limited to; other times when you have to be moving to use the same Holy Shock and Flash of Light combo; when your target is taking stupid amounts of damage and you NEED that Holy Light to crit for 25k; when you’re running low on mana and you’re waiting for Divine Plea to pop but you can’t stop healing, since the crit will still give you back 30% of your mana.
Be creative with it! I do not use this as often as I should, but it’s always there and I know it’s there. It’s like an old friend.
What it is: Divine Illumination is a talent that is 41 points deep in the holy tree and was actually our 41-point talent back in The Burning Crusade. It reduces the mana cost of all your spells by 50% for 15 seconds, is instant, is free, is off the global cooldown and has a three-minute cooldown. If you have two pieces of tier 10, this also increases your healing output by 35% for its duration. In short, Divine Illumination is freaking AMAZING.
When to use it: Honestly, this used to be good at any point in a fight — when you were getting low on mana, it was a life-saver. I always liked to pop it relatively early so it would be available more than once in a fight. But now, it’s mostly relegated to using it with Divine Plea, since I have the two-piece Tier 10 bonus. That said, even without the T10 bonus, it’s a great ability to use once you get it, but it no longer becomes an offset for Divine Plea.
Some advice that I have trouble following myself is to use abilities with short (under five minutes) cooldowns early and often. This is amazing advice and you are far better off using Divine Illumination when you’re at about 70% mana rather than at 25% mana, because you should be able to use it again when you’re low on mana, three minutes into the fight.
It’s also useful to use when your Beacon of Light is wearing off. I like to pop Divine Illumination (and Divine Plea) and then heal for about 10 seconds before re-beaconing my Beacon target, timing it so I’m just refreshing it with less than five seconds left on Beacon, for maximum coverage.
What it is: Divine Plea is a baseline ability available to all paladins that is trained at level 71. It regenerates 25% of your maximum mana over 15 seconds. Prot paladins use this to regen their mana (along with Blessing of Sanctuary and Spiritual Attunement) so that they don’t have a resource problem in maintaining threat. Retribution paladins use this and Judgements of the Wise primarily to regain mana throughout a fight to maintain their DPS.
The catch is that it reduces all your healing done by 50% for its duration.
As such, holy paladins should be careful in its usage. Back in Ulduar, if I hit Divine Plea without something to boost my healing output at the same time, the tanks would die. This would happen regularly on Thorim in particular. Good times.
When to use it: Carefully! The best time is just as you know you don’t need to heal. Lots of fights have a sort of break or downtime during them, where you can safely sneak in a Divine Plea. Examples include, but are not limited to; phase transitions on Northrend Beasts (and just before Icehowl’s stomp and just after Icehowl’s crash), Anub’arak’s burrow phases, Marrowgar’s Bonestorm (on normal, anyways), Unstable Ooze Explosion on Rotface, just before phase changes on regular Professor Putricide, air phases on Sindragosa (especially if you’re Ice Tombed!), transition phases on regular Lich King.
Of course, if you have what I like to call an “offset” for Divine Plea, you can basically use Divine Plea when you like without too much worry about the tanks eating it.
I use three offsets for Divine Plea’s healing reduction.
1) Divine Illumination (2pc T10): I have this macroed to Shift-S which hits Divine Illumination (off the global cooldown) and Divine Plea at the same time.
2) Talisman of Resurgence (50 Emblems of Triumph): This trinket is basically amazing. Available for Emblems of Triumph, it gives you a solid 128 intellect AND increases your spellpower by 599 for 20 seconds. Hot.
3) Avenging Wrath: Honestly, I hate this ability. I hate not being able to use this without it interfering with my bubble. This hatred actually dates back to my days of the Illidari Council in Black Temple when they changed Avenging Wrath to give us FORBEARANCE. I rarely pop my wings (which is silly) but most of the time, I can get away without using it as a Divine Plea offset. Exceptions include heroic Blood Prince Council, heroic Blood Queen Lana’thel, regular Lich King.
Together, these three abilities allow me to use Divine Plea once a minute without too much of a healing loss. That said, there IS a big ol’ healing loss and it’s noticeable in the logs, if not in practice. These numbers are all factoring in the 20% buff, not the 25% buff, by the way, and include full raid buffs.
Holy Light: ~17500
Holy Light crit: ~25000-28000
Divine Plea/Divine Illumination Holy Light: ~13000
Divine Plea/Divine Illumination Holy Light crit: ~20000
Divine Plea/Talisman of Resurgence Holy Light: ~11000
Divine Plea/Talisman of Resurgence Holy Light crit: ~15000-17000
I can’t actually find a 20% log to compare the Avenging Wrath numbers (because I REALLY use it that infrequently, because I am silly), but you can figure it out.
Divine Plea/Avenging Wrath estimated Holy Light: ~12000
Divine Plea/Avenging Wrath estimated Holy Light crit: ~17500
Having done the math, I now recognize exactly how silly I am. I actually heal for a good deal more using Avenging Wrath than I do with the Talisman, although the numbers are close. What this means is that I have gotten lazy and have just hit Talisman of Resurgence whenever I need a second offset without even *considering* “Hey, I probably won’t need to use Divine Shield in the next 30 seconds, will I?”
And now, because I’ve discovered the error of my ways, you all get to benefit from my being silly. ;)
What is it: It’s a baseline ability for all paladins trained at level 10. Using it on someone heals them for the total of YOUR health. This ability is instant and costs NO MANA, although prior to Wrath of the Lich King, it would use all of your mana. It’s on a 20-minute cooldown, but a proper holy paladin should have this glyphed (minor glyph, reducing the CD by 5m) and talented (2/2 Improved Lay on Hands) which shaves another four minutes off the cooldown, so it’s usable every 11 minutes. It can also crit, but Divine Favor does not force a Lay on Hands crit.
The catch is that it causes Forbearance if you use it on yourself. Bastards.
When to use it: Any time someone absolutely key to your raid is about to bite the big one. This is the Hail Mary of your toolbox. You can cast it on someone else (or even yourself, though I’m not a fan of that) to also give them 1950 mana. If you’ve got the major glyph for it (again, I’m not a fan, but I can see situational use for it) and you cast it on yourself, you get nearly 8k mana back, since you get as much mana as it gives your target, which is doubled by the glyph.
But basically, this is your raid-saving cooldown. And it can crit. (15k crit Lay on Hands on my sole-remaining tank on the Vashj encounter gave us the extra time we needed to down her on our first-ever guild kill of her.)
So, there you go. That about sums up the majority of our cooldowns. I didn’t touch on Divine Shield or Divine Protection much, because those aren’t really related to the raid so much as just dealing with your own damage intake, but bear in mind that anywhere I said to use Divine Shield, Divine Protection is not a bad substitute. Forbearance only lasts two minutes and while the cooldown on Divine Shield is five minutes, Divine Protection’s only three.
I also didn’t talk about utility-related spells like Hand of Salvation or Hand of Freedom. They’re sort of self-explanatory, I find, and I don’t see too much HoFreedom use these days in PVE content, although I can think of two hardmodes (Rotface, slime kiter and Sindragosa, active tank pre-air phase) where Hand of Freedom comes in, er, handy. ;)
What I always do before facing a new fight is read up on it, watch the TankSpot video if I can, and pre-determine when my best time to use any of these abilities might be. That way, when I walk into the fight, I already know that, say, in Phase 4, something is going to beat the tank to within an inch of his life. Use a cooldown there. Or maybe there’s a transition phase where I can sneak in a Divine Plea without an offset. Or maybe there’s a point where it would be super beneficial for me to bubble and hit Divine Sacrifice.
Alternatively, after fights, looking through the logs, is when I can determine when people (and which people) are taking the most damage and what I can do about it. Having Divine Shield/Divine Sacrifice up for P3 of Sindragosa is great! Ditto for Timpanic Tantrums on XT-002. But do I need to use cooldowns in P1 of the Lich King? Eh, probably not, assuming all goes well.
So it’s about looking at the fight (before or after) and determining what YOU can do to help out on the attempt. Oh, and something that really helps is to bind or macro these abilities to easy-to-reach buttons or click combinations so you don’t forget to use them!
Hope that was helpful and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. :)