PvE Holy Paladin Rotation & Cooldowns

pve holy paladin rotation & cooldowns

On its surface, Holy Paladins appear to be spamming Holy Light mindlessly. However, as you delve deeper into Holy Paladin theorycrafting, you’ll come to find massive amount of optimizations and a near-infinite skill cap. 

Holy Paladin Basics

At its core, Holy Paladin is deceptively simply. You are spamming Holy Light while maintaining the following buffs:

Beacon of Light should be kept on the target who will need the most consistent healing. This is usually the main tank, but not always. This overpowered ability essentially doubles our effective output, mirroring the healing done to anyone on your Beacon target. Once you’ve beaconed a target, never heal them directly. Instead, you should focus your sights on another raid member, even if the entire raid is at full health.

Looking for an addon to help you track Beacon of Light uptime? Check out the addons and macros portion of the guide!

Sacred Shield puts a shield (that scales with spellpower) on the target every time they take damage. This effect can only occur every 6 seconds, meaning every 2-3 boss swings will automatically be mitigated by an amount that scales with spellpower. Lasting 60 seconds, this is by far the most mana efficient spell in our toolkit.

Looking for an addon to help you track Sacred Shield uptime? Check out the addons and macros portion of the guide!

Judgements of the Pure increases your haste by 15%. No, that’s not a typo– FIFTEEN PERCENT HASTE! This is the equivalent of 492 haste rating. Needless to say, don’t let this fall off. It lasts 60 seconds, so simply use Judgement of Light or Judgement of Wisdom once per minute to maintain this.

Looking for an addon to help you track Judgements of the Pure uptime? Check out the addons and macros portion of the guide!

Light’s Grace is another haste increase, similar to Judgements of the Pure. This should naturally have 100% uptime, as the way to trigger it is simply casting Holy Light! To make the most of this talent, be sure to cast a Holy Light before the pull so you have it up for the very first Holy Light of the encounter.

Looking for an addon to help you track Light’s Grace uptime? Check out the addons and macros portion of the guide!

Now that we understand the fundamentals, let’s delve into some more advanced topics.

Before the Pull

  1. Use Divine Plea
  2. Cast Beacon of Light on the tank
  3. Cast Sacred Shield on the tank
  4. Cast Holy Light on anyone to grant Light’s Grace
  5. Cast Holy Shock on anyone for a chance to proc Infusion of Light
  6. Drink if there’s time
  7. Pre-pot a Potion of Speed
  8. Begin pre-casting Holy Light
  9. Cancel Divine Plea before the Holy Light cast finishes
  10. Immediately cast Judgement of Light or Judgement of Wisdom on the boss to grant Judgements of the Pure

In Combat

First and foremost, you’re going to want to maintain 100% uptime on Beacon of Light, Sacred Shield, Judgements of the Pure and Light’s Grace. If there is a period of healing downtime, consider refreshing any or all of these buffs early.

Once your four buffs have been applied, start spamming Holy Light. There is great nuance to this, as a proper Holy Paladin will attempt to time some or all Holy Light casts with the bosses swing timer. You can weave in Holy Shock, Flash of Lights, or melee swings in order to align your Holy Light casts with the bosses attacks. This concept is what takes our spec from mindless, to having one of the highest skill-caps of any healer.
Read the addons and macros portion of this guide to find my swing timer Weakaura.

Cooldowns and Philosophy

Unlike most DPS classes, using cooldowns as a healer is far more nuanced than just “use them as much as possible.” Healing is spikey. Meaning that in many encounters, there will be one or several periods of intense healing. You will almost always see an increase in HPS if you save cooldowns for these moments, even if that means that you wait so long that you miss out on an extra cooldown cycle.

The exception would be fights that have high consistent damage on top of a burst window i.e. Patchwerk, or no burst window at all. These types of encounters are an exception to the rule, and using cooldowns as much as possible is likely the correct answer. 

How to Plan Your Cooldowns

One of the biggest conceptual errors that I find healers making is not planning out their Cooldown Usage beforehand. To do this, go on Warcraftlogs and find how long it took your guild to kill the boss last week. Subtract a few seconds if you anticipate the gear your team acquired in the past week will speed up the encounter.

Next, look at the ‘Damage Taken’ chart in search of high damage windows that you would like to have cooldowns ready for. Make sure you have a complete understanding of the encounter beforehand, specifically with all the mechanics that deal damage.

This is the easiest cooldown to plan. In literally every scenario you will want to maximize the amount of times you cast this in a fight, but that does not mean you should mindlessly use this off cooldown. Let’s say you’re anticipating a fight to last 4 minutes. You can cast Divine Illumination at most 2 times, but have the luxury of holding it for up to 45 seconds before losing any potential uses, or uptime on it. Using this 45 second leeway, we can ensure that both of our Divine Illumination casts are combined with a haste cooldown i.e. Bloodlust, Hyperspeed Accelerators or Potion of Speed in order to maximize the amount of casts we squeeze into the 15 second duration.

This is a pure, percentage based, output cooldown. Like any healing output cooldown, using this correctly will require planning and a deep understanding of the encounter, its length, and where & when the damage is coming from. As I mentioned above, holding CDs to align with high damage windows of a fight is often the correct answer. Be sure to know when these windows are going to happen, so you don’t hold Avenging Wrath for too long, needlessly wasting a potential use.

In the fight that you are planning, does stacking Avenging Wrath with a large damage window ensure that you will lose a theoretical cast of it? Go into Warcraft Logs and compare the damage taken during the desired window, and throughout the rest of the fight. If the damage taken within the window is at least 50% higher than outside of it, holding Wings for this is almost certainly the correct answer. 

Note: This is impossible to model. 50% is not the correct answer, just a hyperbolic example.

Always attempt to align Hyperspeed Accelerators with every Avenging Wrath. Other than this rule, you will usually want to use this off-cooldown to maximize usage, but be sure to understand how much leeway you have by knowing the fight length ahead of time. This will allow you to hold one or several uses, to align with a high damage window.

For example, on a 4.5 minute fight you will have 30 seconds of leeway to play around with, so each Hyperspeed Accelerators use can be delayed by an average of 7.5 seconds, if necessary.

Go back and look at your guild’s last kill of this boss, and note how much mana you had remaining at the end of the encounter. Consider whether using Divine Plea is worth it at all, and if it is, math out precisely how many ticks of Divine Plea you need, to determine if/when you should cancel a Plea early.

Consider adding more Intellect and/or Mp5 on gear to avoid having to use Divine Plea during the fight. Read the Stats section of the guide to learn more.

Divine Plea is a percentage based mana cooldown. As such, any spell that increases the size of your mana pool should be used prior to Divine Plea to maximize its effect. Such spells include the proc from Darkmoon Card: Greatness and the priest ability Hymn of Hope.

Attempt to use this in a scenario in which no other cooldowns are active (except maybe Divine Illumination) and both your beacon target and a raid member are missing significant amounts of health.

Ideally you don’t cast Lay on Hands during a cooldown window, since any haste will lose value when using an instant cast vs Holy Light, and any increase in output (like from Avenging Wrath) will just result in greater overhealing. That being said, don’t be afraid to use LoH at any point if someone is about to die!

Similar to Lay on Hands, the ideal scenario for this ability is when both your beacon target and a raid member are missing a lot of HP. Unlike Lay on Hands, however, its 2-minute CD allows us to use it far more often. Remember that this is also a mana cooldown of sorts due to Illumination, so don’t hold it for so long that you miss out on potential uses, particularly on long, mana-intensive encounters.

Hint: Macro Divine favor with Holy Light to use them both simultaneously. If you don’t do this, Divine Favor will do you more harm than good.

Hint2: Macro Divine favor with Holy Shock, as a super effective instant cast heal you can use on the move. This will not net you as much healing as combining Divine Favor with Holy Light, but it’s an effective “oh crap!” heal.

Since it is typically foolish to base Blood Lust usage around what is optimal for healers, we must accept Lust timing as it is. In Tier 7, this is usually at the start of a fight. While it may seem correct on paper to stack additional cooldowns with Blood Lust, it is often suboptimal to do so. Reason being that every healer will also be benefiting from Lust simultaneously, leaving far less healing on the table for you. Consider holding other output cooldowns like Avenging Wrath until after Blood Lust ends, while weighing the fact that this may result in less cooldown usage overall. 


About the Author


World of Warcraft veteran of 18 years. Ex world first raider and rank 1 healer. Slayer of dragons. Lover of cats.
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1 year ago

Thank you for the guide I am a first time pala healer and also lover of cats. So here starts my journey of healing 🙂 Will let you know how it goes.

7 months ago

1 mês de paladina, ainda não acostumei com a rotação, sempre aprendendo alguma coisa nova e voltando aqui para ler e ler :3

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