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The Light and How to Swing It: Holy 101

Every Sunday, Chase Christian of The Light and How to Swing It invites you to discuss the finer side of the paladin class: the holy specialization. This week, we examine the basics of a holy paladin, from gems and enchants to talents and spell usage.

I have always been of the belief that the paladin is a healer at heart, with their hybrid nature simply an extension of their healing capability. In vanilla WoW, paladins were the Alliance's healing all-star, with our tier sets and raid utility focusing on the restorative arts. Retribution and protection both have abilities that heal in some way, and their talent trees even have pro-healing options. If you want to experience the purest distilled essence of the paladin class, you have to try holy.

This is intended to be a guide to the holy paladin's basic principles and tenets, not an in-depth guide into high-end raid healing or specialized gearing choices. If you're new to the holy paladin or want to discover what the spec is all about, read on.

1. What is Holy?
Holy is the only healing talent tree available to the paladin class. You focus on healing and supporting your party, with a special focus on tank healing.

2. Holy Benefits
  • Simple playstyle with few buttons to push
  • Potent healing even at lower gear levels
  • Massive healing throughput is required on certain encounters and can allow you to "brute force" certain fight mechanics
  • Amazing buffs and cooldowns, including the only 60-yard heal
3. Holy Drawbacks
  • Incredibly repetitive healing style. You can heal most encounters with a single button.
  • Poor raid / AoE healing. This means that you must nearly always be paired with an AoE healer.
  • Cast-based healing means that you can do very little proactively or while moving.
  • Nearly no damage capacity, which means that you are just sitting idly any time there isn't healing to be done and can't contribute to the raid's DPS.
4. Stats to look for
Every piece of gear you'll find with have intellect and stamina, along with a mix of a few other caster-based stats. Paladin healers are lucky to have fairly well-defined gear ideals that can guide you to the best piece for you. Here are how the caster stats compare to each other:
  • Intellect.This is multiplied by talents and buffs, provides a ton of benefits including more mana, more spell power, more spell crit, and increased mana returns from Replenishment and Divine Plea. This is our primary stat, and so items like intellect trinkets are amazing for us.
  • Spell power. While it will obviously be on every piece of gear you acquire, spell power is actually an afterthought for most paladin healers. While it boosts our healing and certain buffs like Sacred Shield, paladin healers very rarely have problems with single-target throughput. Holy Light is so powerful that you will very rarely notice a 100 spell power difference while healing. Don't shy away from spell power, but don't focus on it either.
  • Haste. Haste boosts a paladin's throughput far faster than any other stat, and can allow you to react faster to incoming damage. Because we have very few instant cast heals, reducing the casting time of our main abilities becomes critical to keeping people alive. Haste also allows us to cast more spells by reducing our global cooldown. This makes the stat even more valuable, as being able to dispel you group in 5 seconds instead of 7.5 seconds gets you back to healing faster. I try to pick up haste on every piece of gear I get.
  • MP5. The best regen stat available for paladins, MP5 is actually the only regen stat you should specifically gear towards. If you're having mana issues, using pieces with more MP5 on them can help you stay casting for longer, though intellect usually gives you a better return. Because of our powerful Divine Plea ability, paladin mana is typically a non-issue, so a paladin will not typically use an MP5-only item like the Binding Stone.
  • Critical Strike. A mix of regeneration (via Illumination) and healing throughput, critical strike has fallen from its place as "best regen stat" to "okay if it's on your gear" after a few nerfs. While every single piece of our tier set has critical strike on it, as well as many of our other non-set options, we typically shy away from crit in favor of MP5 for regeneration. While a haste/crit piece isn't a bad choice, haste/MP5 of the same level will typically win.
5. Stats to avoid
  • Spirit: Because we have no Meditation-esque talents, spirit ends up being completely useless for us in every situation. While trying to factor it into your gearing choices, you can easily ignore any spirit you find.
  • Hit rating: While a holy paladin may be called in to battle to deal damage occasionally, hit is still a terrible stat for us. Heals can't miss, and so hit rating provides the minimal benefit of making sure our judgments hit more often. While you may be tempted to roll on a weapon like Seethe if you don't have any better options, pass it to any DPS class that can actually get some use out of it.


Filed under: Paladin, (Paladin) The Light and How to Swing It

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