Welcome to our WoW Classic guide for holy priests! The restorative nature of the priest makes them perfect as a healer. When you think of a healer, a priest is often the first class that comes to mind. They can deal damage, but function much better healing with the holy specialization. To use the full potential of your holy priest, you’ll need to understand how best to design and optimize your character.
In this guide, we’ll cover all you’ll need to know to play a holy priest! We’ll cover the best talent options and racial bonuses. Optimization is also fully detailed, including sections for stat priorities, the best professions you can have, optimal enchants, and required consumables. Finally, we’ll also breakdown how a holy priest functions in a raid environment and the best rotation you can use to help your raid group!
Both the alliance and horde have some variety when it comes to priest race options. Deciding on a race is especially important for a priest, considering that each race offers unique abilities just for priests. Whether you’re interested in the horde or alliance, check out your favorite choice below or take a look at all racial abilities right here!
- Night Elf – Decent intellect and spirit base values, but no direct bonuses from night-elf specific racial abilities. For priest abilities they have Starshards, a channeled damage spell, and Elune’s Grace, a defensive cooldown that boosts dodge chance by 10% while also reducing range damage for 15 seconds on a 5 minute cooldown. Definitely the weakest choice for alliance.
- Human – Humans are an excellent choice, considering that they have The Human Spirit for +5% Spirit. Not only that, but their priest abilities feature Desperate Prayer, a great instant self-heal, and Feedback, a defensive aura that drains mana and deals damage. Humans would be the best choice, but Feedback isn’t very useful compared to what dwarves have.
- Dwarf – With that in mind, dwarves are the best choice. Stoneform is a nice small defensive racial cooldown that offers +10% Armor for 8 seconds on a 3 minute cooldown. The priest abilities are much more impactful though, seeing as they also have Desperate Prayer, but also Fear Ward, which grants immunity to fear on a 30 second cooldown. This combo makes them the best healing priest of any race!
- Undead – Undead are a fairly good choice thanks to the highest spirit base value in the game and higher intellect than trolls. Outside of that, Will of the Forsaken can occasionally be useful for removing fear, charm, or sleep. Priest abilities are Touch of Weakness, a buff that reduces the damage of melee attackers for 2 minutes, and Devouring Plague, a long-lasting damage-over-time spell that heals you. None of these are particularly helpful for a holy priest.
- Troll – This means a troll is your best horde option. They do have lower spirit and intellect base values than undead, but they do have the racial ability, Berserking for added casting speed based on missing health. Priest abilities include Hex of Weakness, which directly debuffs and reduces the damage an attacker deals, and Shadowguard, a powerful aura ability that deals damage. Priest abilities aren’t great, but Berserking puts trolls ahead.
When it comes to picking out your talents, there are two distinct holy builds that are generally used. Both have a healthy collection of discipline and holy talents, but one is centered around maximizing your healing output, while the other is good for boosting damage. If you aren’t sure what you’ll be needed for, a 21/30/0 deep holy build is generally going to be your best choice.
This is a fairly standard 21/30/0 deep holy build that makes great use of both the discipline and holy tree. You’ll notice that you don’t take the talents Spirit of Redemption or Lightwell, seeing as the effectiveness of both abilities is minimal within a raid setting. This does allow you to go deep enough to pick up 5 points in Spiritual Healing for a flat 10% boost to healing, while also allowing you to reach Divine Spirit for +40 Spirit in the discipline tree.
This is an alternative build better suited for priests that don’t need to heal as much. This 31/20/0 build definitely sacrifices healing ability by eliminating the Spiritual Guidance and Spiritual Healing talents in the holy tree. You gain Mental Agility for a 10% mana cost reduction to instant cast spells and Mental Strength for an additional 10% mana. More importantly, you’ll grab Power Infusion, which you’ll save to use on the strongest spell caster in your raid group.
If you thought reaching level 60 was the goal, that was simply the first step! Now you have the wonderful task of gearing up your holy priest, carefully optimizing your selections to maximize your healing potential. This will take quite a while to complete and will definitely cost your hundreds of gold, but taking the time to optimize is crucial if you’re serious about contributing to a raid group.
As a healer, your priority is always going to be boosting the power of your heals. Healing more with each heal effectively means that you’ll need to heal less overall, reducing the strain on your mana. While most of your optimization focuses on increasing your healing ability, increasing your mana regeneration is also critical to help you manage your mana pool.
You’ll want to prioritize these stats as a holy priest:
- Healing Power – The best of the best when it comes to healers. This is the healer equivalent of attack power, so prioritize it above anything else. Bigger heals mean greater flexibility and longer survivability.
- Spirit – Spirit is amazing for priests, especially if you’re using a deep holy build for the Spiritual Guidance talent, which gives a healing bonus relative to 25% of your total spirit. It also restores mana, making it fantastic all around.
- Mana per 5 (MP5) – Surprisingly, MP5 is the next best thing you can have. At a certain point, you may be able to avoid going out of mana from a combination of spirit and MP5, which will make having more mana less effective.
- Intellect – If you have enough spirit and MP5, intellect becomes less important. It does give you a slight critical chance and boosts your mana pool, but raw mana regeneration is just better overall.
- Spell Critical Chance – The last thing you want is spell critical chance. You’ll get some naturally through intellect, but you should really prioritize mana regeneration over crit chance.
Priests are another class that benefit from picking specific professions. Engineering is often the best choice for any class, but it becomes slightly less important for healers as they won’t often be focused on helping with damage. All four of the professions below are great choices, but tailoring and enchanting is definitely your best bet.
These professions serve you the greatest benefit as a holy priest:
- Tailoring – The reason why you want tailoring is because you’ll be able to craft Truefaith Vestments, an excellent healing chestpiece you’re likely to keep through most of raiding. It does bind on pickup, requiring you to be a tailor to craft and wear it.
- Enchanting – If you’re picking up tailoring, the best choice to go with it is enchanting. Enchanting doesn’t require a gathering profession, and it will also let you gather materials needed for costly enchants.
- Engineering – While it is less important, engineering is still a good option for a holy priest. Bombs will always be useful, although you might not remember to use them as a healer. Gadgets and tools are always helpful though, so you can’t go wrong with engineering.
- Mining – If you choose engineering, please pick up mining too. You can level it without it, but it will be prohibitively expensive. This will allow you to sustainably craft engineering goods without going broke.
One of the most important things for any class is making sure to gather good enchants. As a holy priest you’ll have several, all of which combine for a substantial boost to your healing output. Many of these are expensive, so make sure you’re not wasting them on blue pieces that you’re likely to soon replace.
These enchants will vastly increase your healing abilities as a holy priest:
- Helm – Prophetic Aura, +10 Stamina, +4 MP5, +24 Healing Power or Arcanum of Focus, +8 Spell/Healing Power
- Shoulders – Zandalar Signet of Serenity, +33 Healing Power
- Cloak – Subtlety, -2% Threat
- Chest – Greater Stats, +4 All Stats or Greater Resistance, +5 All Resistances
- Bracers – Healing, +24 Healing Power or Greater Intellect, +7 Intellect
- Gloves – Healing Power, +30 Healing Power
- Pants – Prophetic Aura, +10 Stamina, +4 MP5, +24 Healing Power or Arcanum of Focus, +8 Spell/Healing Power
- Boots – Minor Speed, + Movement Speed or Spirit, +5 Spirit
- Weapon – Healing Power, +55 Healing Power
Any healer worth their salt will make sure to have a healthy supply of consumables for each raid night. You won’t need as much as some tanks or damage dealers, but you’ll gain a lot of mana and mana regeneration that you’ll definitely notice if you don’t have it. Based on how successful your raid group and you personally are, you might not need as many consumables to fully clear a raid.
These are the most important consumables for a holy priest:
- Flask – Flask of Distilled Wisdom, +2000 Mana for 2 hours.
- Potions – Mageblood Potion for +12 MP5 for 1 hour, and Major Mana Potion for ~1800 mana every 2 minutes.
- Food – Nightfin Soup, +8 MP5 or Sagefish Delight, +6 MP5.
- Weapon Oil – Brilliant Mana Oil, +12 MP5 and +25 Healing Power for 1 hour.
- Others – Dark Rune / Demonic Rune for mana at the cost of health and Scroll of Spirit for +17 Spirit.
Rotation & Gameplay Tips
Choosing to raid as a holy priest will put you in high regards with your whole raid group. You offer some of the best healing in the entire game, while also having the flexibility to enhance a specific raid member if you play with the power infusion holy build. You do have several more spells than most other healers, so you’ll need to know when to properly use them.
Here are some of the best tips for playing as a holy priest:
- Both builds have access to Inner Focus, which makes your next spell free to cost and increases the critical chance by 25%. It has a 3 minute cooldown, and should be used whenever you’re in need of emergency healing, meaning it will typically be used with Greater Heal.
- (If you’re power infusion holy) then you’ll have access to Power Infusion. It infuses a target for 15 seconds, boosting their spell damage and healing output by 20%. This makes it both a useful healing and damage cooldown, but if you’re using a power infusion holy build then healing likely isn’t an issue. This means you should use it on whichever spell caster is doing the most damage, likely a mage.
- As a priest, you have two key buffs. Power Word: Fortitude, granting +54 Stamina, and Divine Spirit, granting +40 Spirit.
- In addition to healing, you may also need to remove diseases and harmful spells. Abolish Disease will cure one effect and attempt to cure four more for the next 20 seconds, while Dispel Magic removes 2 negative effects. Make sure you’re using either spell for abilities that are significantly impacting allies, prioritizing the tanks first.
- You won’t often use Power Word: Shield, but knowing when is crucial. Understanding the timing of boss abilities is quite helpful if you know there is unavoidable damage incoming, as you can mitigate some with PWS.
Holy priests don’t follow a typical rotation like damage dealers do, but they instead choose their spells based on what the situation requires. Additionally, whether you’re focusing on the tank or the raid group will alter what you choose to cast.
One thing you should definitely consider when playing a holy priest is the use of downranking. Downranking is the act of using a lower (than max rank) spell rank to benefit from a cheaper mana cost and sometimes a quicker cast time. This does mean that you’ll heal less with each cast, but it overall results in more healing across a raid encounter as you’ll be able to cast your spells more often because you are using less mana.
- The spells you’ll want to downrank are Greater Heal, Heal, and Flash Heal.
- Power Word: Shield, Renew, and Prayer of Healing should only be used at max rank.
- You can use rank 3 of Heal until you start acquiring gear, after which you can switch back to max rank.
- For Greater Heal, you’ll want to use rank 1, 3, or 5. Rank 1 is what you’ll use if you need to spam it, while rank 3 is better for a moderate heal. If you’re in a real pinch, then you should use max rank.
- Flash Heal will use either rank 4 or 7 depending on your situation. You should use rank 4 for most situations, but switch to rank 7 for periods of heavy damage.
Holy priests are definitely best suited to heal tanks, thanks to a wide variety of single-target healing spells. If your tank is taking minor damage, you can heal reliably using Heal. If there is heavier damage going out, you’ll want to switch to Greater Heal while also using Renew whenever it is safe.
If you run into an emergency situation where your tank’s health drastically drops, immediately use a Power Word: Shield followed by Flash Heal as many times as necessary. You can also use Power Word: Shield preemptively if you know a big attack is coming to help mitigate some damage. Make sure to switch back to using weaker heals as soon as incoming damage begins to subside.
While holy priests are better tank healers, they can also serve as raid healers. Holy priests have two main area-of-effect heals, Prayer of Healing and Holy Nova. Unfortunately both of these only affect your direct group, not your entire raid. This means that your rotation will depend on whether or not you need to heal outside your group.
If you’re only concerned about your own group, that makes things much simpler. Prayer of Healing is a great heal on all party members, but it costs a lot of mana to use and has a long cast time. Holy Nova heals for about a third as much of Prayer of Healing, while costing slightly less mana. This means that Holy Nova should virtually never be used.
Instead, you’ll want to use Flash Heal to keep party members (and various members of your raid if you have the freedom to help) alive. If your group in particular is taking heavy damage, don’t be afraid to use Prayer of Healing.