Cataclysm Tier List / Healer Rankings

Welcome to the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm healer tier list! We will be ranking each healing specialization available for the expansion, as well as explaining each spec’s position on the tier list.

  • Overall Performance: The amount of raw healing the spec can put out when single-target or AoE healing.
  • Utility: Any bonuses that the spec brings to a raid besides its healing, such as buffs, combat resses, cooldowns, etc.
  • Stackability: How many of this class you can bring to a raid without diminishing returns. For example, having more than 1 Holy Paladin is very appealing thanks to their non-unique buffs and utility, while Weakened Soul makes it less appealing to stack Priests.

Note that this Tier List covers classes and specs in their patch-4.3.4 state. This works just like in previous Classic expansions: although we’re doing content starting with the very first phase, our spells, talents, and equipment are already in their finalized states, which has great implications for the metagame. We will be discussing this in more detail in the sections below.

s tier dps rankings
WoW Paladin Icon
Holy Paladin

a tier dps rankings
WoW Priest Icon
Discipline Priest

b tier dps rankings
WoW Druid Icon
Restoration Druid
WoW Shaman Icon
Restoration Shaman
c tier dps rankings
WoW Priest Icon
Holy Priest

d tier dps rankings
  1. Holy Paladin (S-Tier)
  2. Discipline Priest (A-Tier)
  3. Restoration Druid (B-Tier)
  4. Restoration Shaman (B- Tier)
  5. Holy Priest (C-Tier)

The first phase of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm comes with four available raids that feature a good balance of single-target and area-of-effect healing. The most important factor to take into consideration is that each specialization’s performance heavily relies on the encounter itself, with some specializations that rank lower on the list outperforming higher-ranking tiers in certain specific scenarios.

This healer ranking list is a rough estimate based on previously available information from both retail and private servers’ healing logs as well as testing on the Cataclysm Beta. All five healing specs are competitive in Cataclysm and the differences are small enough that individual player skill will be a much bigger factor in high-end PvE content. Healing in Cataclysm is much more dynamic than it was in Wrath, when the optimal way to play was usually to spam your strongest spell. You’ll also find that gear makes a big difference, with healers at higher gear levels having the stats to pump out more heals without worrying as much about their mana supply. With that being said, let’s get into the rankings!


The S-tier represents the most powerful healing specs in the current meta – those with the best healing and utility. Nearly every 25-player raid team will want at least 1 of these specializations, and may in fact recruit multiple.

Holy Paladin

Holy Paladins were the dominant healers in Wrath of the Lich King Classic, and they will retain that title throughout Cataclysm Classic. Many 25-player teams will even opt to have two Holy Paladins on their core roster — they are just that strong. Having two means that you can have a Beacon of Light on both tanks, which generally frees up your other healers to focus on the raid. They also retain their excellent utility in the form of their Hand spells and their new interrupt, Rebuke.

But wait, there’s more! Holy Paladins now have an incredibly strong raid heal in Holy Radiance. In the patch we are getting, this ability has no cooldown, which means that Holy Paladins will be among the best raid healers as well as the best tank healers. You also get Light of Dawn, which heals in a frontal cone, although this ability can be a little awkward to use at times. Anytime their group is stacked, a Holy Paladin will be capable of putting out just as much AoE healing as a Resto Shaman. And if that all wasn’t enough, your Mastery causes your heals to leave an absorption shield on the target, soaking up even more damage.

Holy Paladins come with plenty of useful healing cooldowns, including Aura Mastery, Lay on Hands, Avenging Wrath, and Guardian of Ancient Kings. They’re also extremely tanky in full plate and a shield, and with Divine Protection and Divine Shield at their disposal, they’ll often be the last ones standing.

The spec is certainly more dynamic and interesting to play in Cataclysm than it was in Wrath, with a more flexible toolkit and the new Holy Power mechanic. The skill cap is a bit higher since you won’t be able to mindlessly spam Holy Light anymore. The payoff is that a skilled Holy Paladin will dominate the healing meters on most fights.

If all that wasn’t enough, the Speed of Light talent turns Divine Protection into a short-cooldown movement buff, largely resolving the build’s former mobility woes.

There are two downsides to playing a Holy Paladin. For one, positioning is much more important than on any other healer. You’ll need to stand in melee to use Crusader Strike for generating Holy Power. You also have to aim your Light of Dawn, since it’s a cone. The other downside is that the spec doesn’t share gear with its DPS offspec, so Holy Paladins don’t make good flex healers. Luckily you won’t have to, since a Holy Paladin is probably the last healer that your group will want to give up.


The A-tier represents strong healing specializations that offer a great amount of healing and utility, frequently having a unique trait that makes them worth bringing on their own. Most raid groups will have 1 of each of these specializations, and it won’t be extremely uncommon to see more than 1, either.

Discipline Priest

Discipline Priests occupy very much the same place they did in Wrath of the Lich King, but for slightly different reasons. Most raid teams will want to have a Discipline Priest as one of their core healing spots alongside their Holy Paladin(s). Stacking Discipline Priests still isn’t ideal, but it’s more feasible now that Power Word: Shield isn’t your primary spell.

While Holy Paladins have stronger direct heals, a skilled Discipline Priest can deny other healers of having anything to heal at all. Damage to the group will eat up the Disc Priest’s absorption effects before making a dent in anyone’s health. This makes the Disc Priest a very efficient healer since their absorbs are very rarely wasted. It can also mitigate damage that might otherwise kill your team. Groups without a Disc Priest will see a big difference in how low their health bars get after a big AoE goes out.

Discipline is also one of the most fun and challenging specs to play well in Cataclysm, with the most varied toolkit. You’re a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, capable of solid tank healing with Penance and Greater Heal as well as strong raid healing with Prayer of Healing. Although Power Word: Shield isn’t quite what it was in Wrath, it’s still valuable for preemptive or emergency defense. And now you have the unique Atonement/Archangel mechanic which can really elevate your overall contribution to the group if used appropriately.

Priests bring some very useful utility to the raid, including Mass Dispel, Fear Ward, Divine Hymn, and Hymn of Hope. Discipline adds some strong cooldowns to the list: Power Infusion, Pain Suppression, and Power Word Barrier.

Priest healers aren’t particularly sturdy, and you don’t have Spirit of Redemption to fall back on like a Holy Priest. You’ll also have a harder time with fights that require a lot of movement since most of your spells are hard-cast or channeled. The Discipline tree doesn’t offer anything to increase your movement speed either.


The B-tier represents healing specializations that are very much viable — you won’t ever wipe because your healers are “only” B-tier. However, they are generally not as powerful as the healing specializations in tiers above them; they typically have slightly lower healing throughput or weaker utility, and usually aren’t as stackable.

Restoration Druid

A Restoration Druid may not have a guaranteed raid spot like a Holy Paladin or a Discipline Priest, but most groups will have a place for one. One surefire way to secure that spot is to be willing to flex to Balance. Druids are a great option for a flex healer/DPS since their DPS offspec can use most of the same gear and Balance is a desirable DPS spec even on its own.

Druids continue to be the best healers for filling gaps and smoothing out damage with their HoTs. They can be effective in either a raid healing or a tank healing role, but they will shine the brightest as raid healers on fights where the group is spread out. Rejuvenation and Wild Growth will still be effective when other healers’ AoE heals don’t reach far enough. They also have a lot of mobility between their many instant-cast spells and Dash.

Druids of all flavors offer valuable utility to the raid, including Innervate and Rebirth, which a healer will know when to use since they are already watching their raid frames. A Druid can drop a Stampeding Roar to help everyone run away from an AoE. A Resto Druid can also maintain Faerie Fire if there’s no Feral Druid in the raid. They’re surprisingly tanky for leather wearers, and can even drop into Bear Form if things get really hairy.

Playing a Resto Druid well requires careful HoT management, which can be challenging. It also makes it hard to catch up with unexpected damage since the spec relies on stacking HoTs in advance. Druids are also lacking in useful healing downs, as Tranquility is very weak. You’re mainly limited to Tree of Life for raid healing and you don’t have any tank cooldowns to speak of.

Restoration Shaman

Restoration Shamans are in somewhat of the same boat as their Druid counterparts: they’re capable healers, but not quite as in demand as a Holy Paladin or Disc Priest. They make an even better option for a flex healer/DPS role than a Druid. A Resto/Elemental Shaman can use most of the same gear for both specs and can swap according to the needs of the group, providing a lot of the same utility in either role. Some 25-player raids will look to have both a flex Druid and a flex Shaman and swap them according to the fight – Resto Shaman for a stacked fight, and Resto Druid for when the group is spread out.

That’s because while Resto Shamans are okay healers in general, they will rise to the top of the healing meters on any fight where there are a lot of people packed close together. Healing Rain and Chain Heal are both incredibly effective when the group is stacked, much more so than the Restoration Druid’s Efflorescence or the Holy Priest’s Holy Word: Sanctuary. In these scenarios you will find yourself spamming your Chain Heals and laughing as you soak up all of the damage like in the good old days of Blackwing Lair.

Although Shamans are best suited to raid healing, their Earth Shield and Riptide have been improved to help them keep steady coverage on a tank when needed. Ancestral Healing has also been upgraded to be a step up from the Priest’s Inspiration, giving your tanks more health to work with.

In terms of utility, Shamans bring Spirit Link Totem, an extremely powerful raid healing cooldown. Equalizing everyone’s health can save your group a lot of deaths. And since no one will be at full health while it’s active, you won’t waste any of your Chain Heal bounces on overheal. Shamans also bring a ranged interrupt in Wind Shear.

Resto Shamans are a bit weak in the mana regeneration department compared with other healers, though they won’t struggle quite as much as Holy Priests. Totems aren’t as unique as they were before, and are used more for filling gaps in your raid buffs. That can be really useful for a 10-player team, but is not as needed in a 25.


The C-tier is comprised of healing specializations that are, frankly, a bit on the weaker side. It could be argued that they’re still viable, having acceptable healing throughput and some useful utility and other unique quirks, on top of being very fun to play. However, they will generally lag significantly behind S-tier and A-tier healing specializations, and you might struggle to find a raid spot with one of these specs, as they aren’t in high demand.

Holy Priest

Holy Priests are perfectly good healers in Cataclysm, with strong raid healing and a reasonably flexible toolkit. The spec’s biggest problem is that with limited healing spots, most groups will not be looking to stack Priests, and many teams will want to have a Discipline Priest as one of their core healers. Holy will often be relegated to an off-spec option for when a Shadow Priest is asked to heal or if a Disc Priest wants to trade their utility for a Guardian Spirit cooldown.

But don’t discount them altogether. As we said earlier in this guide, all of the healers are very close in terms of their raw healing capability in Cataclysm, and a skilled Holy Priest will still be a solid addition to any healing team. Guardian Spirit is an amazing tank cooldown, and a Holy Priests’s Divine Hymn is much stronger than a Discipline Priest’s. You still have your powerful raid healing tools in Circle of Healing, Prayer of Mending, Prayer of Healing, and Renew, plus Holy Word: Sanctuary providing even more throughput when the raid is stacked, and with all of it being enhanced by your new Chakra stances.

Holy is more mobile than Discipline as it makes more use of instant cast spells. You can also spec into Body and Soul to gain even more mobility, not only for you but for anyone else who needs it. Although you’re one of the squishier healers, you have Spirit of Redemption to fall back on, and if you can get a Soulstone or Rebirth lined up you can even use it as a mana and healing cooldown (spam your biggest heals for 15 seconds for free, and then resurrect with some of your mana restored).

Unfortunately, there is also a lot of unrealized potential in Holy’s toolkit in Cataclysm. Lightwell can be a highly efficient raid healing tool, but good luck getting your team to use it. Although you have Chakras to buff your tank healing, your raid healing, and your damage, it will almost never be worth dropping out of your raid healing stance for a full 30 seconds, so you can’t really use them to change your focus mid-fight. Holy’s cooldowns are much weaker overall than Discipline’s, and Holy Priests have the fewest mana regeneration tools of any healer.

On the flip side, if you enjoy playing an underdog class, the Holy Priest can be very rewarding. There will be fights where Holy will outperform Discipline for one reason or another. And as for any individual healer’s capabilities, well, you know what they say: “bring the player, not the class.”


Simply put, specs in the D-tier are considered to be not viable. They can be fun to play, but you will struggle to get invited to raids when playing one of these, and you may even find yourself getting kicked from groups, as your healing will be really bad.

Fortunately, no healer is so weak that we’d say they’re not at all viable in Cataclysm Classic.

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