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Holy Priest Healing Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (WoW 4.3.4)

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In this article, we list your Holy Priest (WoW 4.3) core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation). We also explain when to use your various cooldowns. Then, we go deeper and present all the subtleties that playing a Holy Priest will face you with. The other articles of our Holy Priest guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the left.

1. Basic Rotation↑top

Healing is in great part based on your ability to react to the damage that the raid takes, and as such there is no set rotation. Rather, you must understand what spells are best suited to the different situations that can occur during a raid encounter.

As a Holy Priest, your specialty is raid healing, and this is the role you will most likely be assigned to. Therefore, this is the part that we will give the most attention to. Additionally, you may need to assist healing the tank(s).

Below, we provide you with the best actions to take in each situation. Please note that:

  1. These may very and change depending on your own preferred healing style and your raid composition.
  2. These do not include several healing spells in your arsenal, because these spells are not ideal. Their situational uses will be covered in a subsequent section.

1.1. Raid Healing

Whenever you are raid healing, you should be in Chakra: Sanctuary Icon Chakra: Sanctuary, as this increases your AoE healing and also lowers the cooldown of your Circle of Healing Icon Circle of Healing by 2 seconds.

Depending on what types of damage you are facing, you should use the following guidelines (note that within a category of damage, the spells are not necessarily listed in order of importance):

1.2. Assisting on Tank Healing

Depending on the encounter and on the other healers in your raid, you may be assigned to also help keep one or both tanks alive during the encounter. We advise you to remain in Chakra: Sanctuary Icon Chakra: Sanctuary, since you will generally have to assist on the tank while still performing your main raid healing duties. Here is what you should do:

  • Low damage or no damage
    • Keep Renew Icon Renew up on the tank.
  • Low to moderate damage
  • Moderate to high (including sustained) damage
  • Emergency situations
    • Cast Flash Heal Icon Flash Heal on the tank if they are in danger of dying.
    • Cast Binding Heal Icon Binding Heal on the tank if they are in danger of dying and you can also benefit from the healing.
    • Cast Guardian Spirit Icon Guardian Spirit on the tank if they are in imminent danger of dying. Note that you should not do this if you are assigned to use Guardian Spirit at another, specific time of the fight.

2. Cooldown Usage↑top

As a Holy Priest you have 3 healing cooldowns.

Divine Hymn Icon Divine Hymn is your best raid healing cooldown, and an extremely powerful one at that. You should attempt to use during periods of very intense raid damage. Keep in mind, however, that your raid leader may instruct you to use it a very specific time.

Lightwell Icon Lightwell is a unique and very useful spell. It places a lightwell on the ground, which your raid members can click and thus receive a HoT from it. You should try to make sure that your Lightwell is active whenever a period of high and sustained damage occurs.

Guardian Spirit Icon Guardian Spirit is, again, a very useful spell. How you use it depends on many factors, including on your raid leader's instructions. If you do not have to save Guardian Spirit for a specific event, then just use it as a "life-saver" on the tank or another raid member who needs it.

You can read more about how to best use these cooldowns in our detailed cooldown section.

3. Optional Read: Mastering Your Holy Priest↑top

Playing a Holy Priest, and, indeed, any healer, cannot be easily boiled down into a "rotation" or "priority". There exists a multitude of factors that will affect how you use your spells. You can use the guidelines we listed above to great success, but in order to truly feel comfortable, there are other aspects you need to fully understand.

3.1. Spell Usage in Detail

In order to allow you to make the best possible choices with some of the spells you use, you need to better understand their advantages and drawbacks.

3.1.1. Prayer of Healing and Circle of Healing

Prayer of Healing Icon Prayer of Healing and Circle of Healing Icon Circle of Healing are your only reliable means of AoE healing, and they are both fantastic for that purpose. There are a few things to keep in mind regarding their continued usage:

  • They heal players who are within 30 yards or less of the player you have targeted (and, in the case of Prayer of Healing, only in the same party as that player). This means you need to make sure that you do not cast them on players who are separated from the rest of the raid.
  • They should only be used when 3 or more players will benefit from their healing in order to be a mana efficient means of healing.

During periods of low damage, you will generally not need to resort to them, although you can (keep in mind their rather high mana cost). During periods of higher damage, these spells are absolutely essential and you will often find yourself spamming them. Indeed, just to reiterate, during heavy, sustained raid-damage, spamming these two spells is what you should be doing.

3.1.2. Holy Word: Sanctuary

Holy Word: Sanctuary Icon Holy Word: Sanctuary places a healing zone on the ground, which heals all players inside it for 18 seconds. Despite the fact that the tooltip claims that when Holy Word: Sanctuary heals more than 6 players its healing is diminished, this is not the case and, thus, the spell becomes truly valuable in 25-man raids where many players are stacked together.

This spell is extremely expensive, so, sadly, you cannot make free use of it. It should only be used when there is relatively high and sustained raid damage.

Ideally, you should cast the spell a few seconds before the actual damage begins (if the encounter allows it), so that you can cast other heals while it is active.

3.1.3. Renew

Even though Renew Icon Renew is an overall good spell for Holy Priests, you will not often find many uses for it in encounters where there is a lot of heavy raid damage. In these cases, you will only use Renew when the opportunity exists to apply it to several players before the actual damage begins, as this will essentially be "free healing" for you during the damage, while you cast other spells.

Renew is mostly useful in the following situations:

  • For using while moving (note that in addition to the HoT, it also heals for a small amount when it is applied).
  • For using on mildly damaged raid members whom you wish to heal up without great urgency.
  • For keeping active on one or both tanks (since refreshing it on one or two targets should not be too difficult), thus adding to the healing they receive and helping the other healers.

3.1.4. Power Word: Shield

Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield is a problematic spell to use as a Holy Priest. In general, your specialisation is not at all tailored to the use of this spell, so it is certainly not part of your main arsenal.

Discipline Priests will always have better and more potent shields than you. Because casting Power Word: Shield on a player applies the Weakened Soul Icon Weakened Soul debuff on them, preventing another shield from being applied for a short while, you should not use this spell if you have a Discipline Priest in your raid, since it will interfere negatively with their own healing.

That said, if the Discipline Priest will not or can not cast Power Word: Shield on a player (or if there is no Discipline Priest in your raid), there are a few situations where you can use it:

  • If you wish to apply the Body and Soul Icon Body and Soul effect to the target, increasing their movement speed.
  • If the target (generally a tank) requires "extra health" to survive an incoming large attack (since the shield essentially increases their maximum health for a short time).
  • If someone is in imminent danger of dying and only an instant cast spell can save them.
  • If you are moving and someone is in danger of dying.

Note that Power Word: Shield has a large mana cost and you really cannot afford to use it frequently.

3.1.5. Greater Heal

We do not often make mention of Greater Heal Icon Greater Heal very much in the rotation at the start of the page. While the spell itself is powerful, it has no uses in AoE healing.

You should only use Greater Heal when trying to top up a damaged raid member quickly, or when the tank needs a lot of focus and healing.

3.1.6. Desperate Prayer

We feel that Desperate Prayer Icon Desperate Prayer requires a mention simply because it has no room in a "general rotation" part, but it is very important to you. This is a spell that you will have if you have taken the talent for it (something we strongly recommend). It is a very powerful self-heal, that is instant cast, off the global cooldown and free of mana cost.

You should feel free to make use of this extensively throughout encounters, during periods of heavy damage or when moving.

3.2. Chakra: Serenity

So far, you can see that we have only advised you to be in Chakra: Sanctuary Icon Chakra: Sanctuary. This is because, as a Holy Priest, you are best suited as a raid healer. We strongly advise against taking on the role of tank healer, since this will almost surely result in a net loss for your raid's performance as well as your own.

Even if you are assigned to helping on the tank(s) (which is perfectly reasonable), you should not switch to Chakra: Serenity Icon Chakra: Serenity for it, since this will severely diminish your raid-healing capabilities (which you should be keeping up with in parallel).

Other healers, such as Holy Paladins and Discipline Priests, are incomparably better suited to tank healing.

3.2.1. Lack of AoE raid damage

In case there is a distinct lack of AoE raid damage, so much that there is literally no point for you to be in Chakra: Sanctuary Icon Chakra: Sanctuary (meaning, if there is no use at all for Prayer of Healing Icon Prayer of Healing and Circle of Healing Icon Circle of Healing), then you can switch to Chakra: Serenity Icon Chakra: Serenity.

While in Chakra: Serenity, your single target heals will have a higher critical effect chance, and they will also automatically refresh the duration of your Renew Icon Renew on targets. This will help you better assist the other healers in single target damage.

Additionally, Chakra: Serenity grants you Holy Word: Serenity Icon Holy Word: Serenity, a useful single target, instant cast heal with a 10 second cooldown. Holy Word: Serenity also adds a buff to its target, causing your heals on that target for the next 6 seconds to have a 25% increased critical effect chance.

3.3. Healing Cooldowns In Detail

Your 3 healing cooldowns require a bit more explanation in order to ensure that you can make the best of them.

3.3.1. Divine Hymn

Divine Hymn Icon Divine Hymn is considerably better for Holy Priests than for Discipline or Shadow, thanks to your Heavenly Voice Icon Heavenly Voice talent. The spell will essentially put out a huge amount of "smart" healing on several raid members, while also increasing the healing that they receive for a short time.

Keep in mind that the spell is channeled, so you cannot perform other actions while casting it.

Generally, your raid leader will assign you to use this spell at a certain time in the fight, in order to counter a heavy burst of damage. If this is the case, make sure your spell is available at that time.

Otherwise, you should simply try to find a moment when using this spell is beneficial. Most often, this will happen during a period of very intense raid damage.

3.3.2. Lightwell

The healing from your Lightwell Icon Lightwell relies entirely on your fellow raid members clicking on the Lightwell. Therefore, it comes down to you (and your raid leader) to instruct your fellow raiders to use the Lightwell whenever there is heavy damage and they require additional healing.

Using the Lightwell simply requires players to right click it. This will place a HoT on them that heals for a good amount. There are various safeguards in place to make the Lightwell easy to use, such as the fact that it can be used from range, that it does not require you to select it and that using it does not interrupt your cast or cause a global cooldown.

Furthermore, it is fine for players to "spam" the Lightwell too, since they will not be able to receive a second charge from it until their current HoT has expired.

You should think of the Lightwell as "free healing" during periods of heavy raid damage (in much the same way as when you have pre-cast Renew Icon Renew or Holy Word: Sanctuary Icon Holy Word: Sanctuary). You should try to have the Lightwell up shortly before the raid damage begins, so that you can use your global cooldowns on other spells during that time.

Lastly, because Lightwell is fairly expensive to cast, you should abandon using it if you realise that your raid members are not making proper use of it (although you should continue to instruct them regarding this).

3.3.3. Guardian Spirit

Guardian Spirit Icon Guardian Spirit is one of the most useful tools you can bring to a raid. Using it places a buff on the target, which lasts for 10 seconds and increases all healing received by the target by 60%. If the target receives a killing blow during this time, they will not die and instead be healed for 50% of their maximum health, consuming the Guardian Spirit effect.

While you can use this on any raid member who is about to die and whom you have no other means of saving, it is by far better used on a tank who is about to take a large amount of damage. You should make sure to communicate with the tank and other healers, in order to ensure that you do not use multiple powerful cooldowns at the same time.

You can also use this spell to allow tanks (or other players) to survive an ability that should have otherwise been avoided, either as part of your raid's strategy or to recover from a mistake.

Keep in mind that your raid leader may assign you to use this spell for a specific event in the encounter.

3.4. Mana Regeneration

As for all healers, mana regeneration is a very important factor and it will often prove to be the determining factor in how much healing you can put out during an encounter.

As a Holy Priest, you have two abilities that you can use for mana regeneration: Hymn of Hope Icon Hymn of Hope and Shadowfiend Icon Shadowfiend.

3.4.1. Hymn of Home

Hymn of Hope Icon Hymn of Hope is a channeled spell that restores mana in a "smart" way to several low-mana raid members and increases their maximum mana by 15% for 8 seconds. It has a 6 minute cooldown.

Hymn of Hope will, most likely, be only used once or possibly twice during the encounter. The best time to use this ability is hard to determine ahead of time, as it depends on a great number of factors. Follow these guidelines:

  • Try to use Hymn of Hope Icon Hymn of Hope as many times during an encounter as possible.
  • Only use Hymn of Hope when you are not at maximum mana.
  • Do not use Hymn of Hope Icon Hymn of Hope if you will need to interrupt the cast before it finishes (8 second cast), because of having to move or heal.
  • Do not use Hymn of Hope Icon Hymn of Hope when there is a lot of raid damage. Your inability to heal while channeling Hymn of Hope will force other healers to compensate by using mana inefficient spells.
  • Remember that Hymn of Hope Icon Hymn of Hope benefits not only you, but also other low-mana players (generally, these will be healers). This means that you should use it when more healers can get the benefit from it, i.e. when their mana is low and they can use class-specific mana regeneration cooldowns, such as Divine Plea Icon Divine Plea for Holy Paladins. This is because the mana-pool increasing effect of Hymn of Hope increases the potency of mana regeneration cooldowns which are based on maximum mana. In order to ensure that mana goes to healers and not to DPS players, you can do some of the following:
    • Have DPS players (only those who generally run low on mana) use their own mana cooldowns first, ensuring that the healers are the lowest on mana.
    • Have the healers stack up together in an area far away from the DPS players, since Hymn of Hope seems to prefer closer players, despite its 40 yard range.

3.4.2. Shadowfiend

Shadowfiend Icon Shadowfiend will summon a pet that attacks the target, restoring some of your maximum mana to you each time it makes an attack. Shadowfiend has a slightly lower cooldown than Hymn of Hope (5 minutes, or 4 minutes with 2/2 Veiled Shadows Icon Veiled Shadows). It should be used as many times during an encounter as possible. Ideally, it should be used while Hymn of Hope or procs from Enchant Weapon - Power Torrent or Lightweave Embroidery are active, as these temporarily increase your maximum mana, and Shadowfiend grants you a percentage of your maximum mana with each attack it makes.

Lastly, it is ideal to have your Shadowfiend active just before Heroism Icon Heroism/Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust/Time Warp Icon Time Warp is used. This is because pets benefit from the increased attack speed, if they are active when the cast is made, but not if they are released after it has been cast. The extra attack speed will translate into more attacks and thus more mana returned to you.

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