Wednesday, May 6, 2009

3.1 Holy Healing Specs

I wrote this post right after 31. hit, and after seeing some posts from World of Matticus and A Touch of Arcane , I figured I would throw my hat into the ring and give me perspective on speccing your Holy Pally in 3.1. At this point in the game, there seems like there is no “best” spec, simply ones that are more useful to some raids than others, depending on what your raid expects out of you.


First off is the 51/5/15 build. This build is the most popular build around Azeroth post-3.1 according to (in fact, six out of the top ten builds are some iteration of 51/5/15). The reason for the multitude of 51/5/15 builds is the fact that a there are several different points which can be allocated differently, depending on what your raid expects from you. For most Holy Paladins, some iteration of this spec will get the job done, while going deep into the Retribution tree with a 51/0/20 or going deep into the Protection tree with a 51/20/0 build can work depending on your raid needs. We are going to deal in generalities here, and some iteration 51/5/15 seems to have the most flexibility for most Holy Paladins.

Starting out, you are going to put full points into Spiritual Focus, Divine Intellect, and Healing Light. The first point of contention arises in tier 3. You are going to put five points into Illumination, but you have a decision about whether to put points in Aura Mastery or Improved Lay on Hands. The increase in raid-wide damage in 25-man Ulduar becomes much more manageable with the 100% increase in resistance to fire, frost, and shadow damage from Aura Mastery, and can take a lot of pressure of you and your fellow healers on some of the tougher fights. For one point, this seems like a steal, and I would keep a point in Improved Lay on Hands, with the possibility of putting another point in by passing on a few talents deeper in the tree.

The talents choices are pretty obvious from tier 4 to 9, and you are going to put full points into Divine Favor, Sanctified Light, Holy Power, Holy Shock, Light’s Grace, and Holy Guidance.

Patch 3.1 broke a lot of things, and unfortunately for Holy Paladins, one of those things was Infusion of Light. It was no secret that Holy Pallies were overpowered in PvP, thanks mainly to .5 second Holy Lights coming from the Infusion of Light proc. Yes, they were awesome, and alas, for Paladin’s of all persuasions, they are no more. Infusion of Light will still give you an instant Flash of Light, but now will only increase the crit chance of your Holy Light, saving you no time, and more than likely contributing to your overheals. What was once a staple for Paladins now becomes almost optional, depending on your playstyle. If you still use Holy Shock+instant FoL combo for raid heals, this could be worth picking up. If you focus exclusively on tanks, Infusion of Light loses much of its usefulness, and could be passed up entirely. Here is where you can go back and put points in Improved Lay on Hands, Improved Blessing of Wisdom, or Improved Concentration Aura.

If you need to move a few more talent points to increase your raid utility, sacrificing one or two points from Judgements of the Pure in tier 9 seems to be your best bet. As it becomes easier and easier for Paladins to approach the soft haste “cap,” the 15% haste increase is superfluous and points can be re-arranged into either Aura Mastery, Blessed Hands, Improved Blessing of Wisdom, Improved Concentration Aura, or Improved Lay on Hands.

In the protection tree, most people are putting 5 points in Divinity. At first look the 5% healing increase seems as if it would simply increase your overhealing, a bane for the Holy Light spammers. But, the reliability of the spell power increase (and its utility with Sacred Shield) led to my taking full points in Divinity. Those points are coming out of Sanctity of Battle, so unless that increased crit is exceptionally important to you for regen reasons, putat least two points in Divinity.

The Retribution tree holds fewer options for Holy builds, and full points in Benediction, Improved Judgements, Heart of the Crusader, and Conviction are the best use of the rest of your talent points.

Personally, my spec ended up being 51/5/15, taking a point from Judgements of the Pure and putting it into Aura Mastery. Again, the expectations of your raid leader could lead you in moving points from Infusion of Light or more points from Judgements of the Pure into tier three or tier four.


Secrets of Ulduar brought us some new glyphs, and Holy Paladins are especially spoiled for choice when choosing their Major Glyphs.

Major: Some great options out there, with some flexibility as well depending on your raid composition.

  • Glyph of Holy Light – The one must-have glyph for Holy Paladins. Seeing all the little green numbers scroll up from my melee DPS makes me a very happy healer.

  • Glyph of Seal of Wisdom or Glyph of Seal of Light – Take Wisdom if you need to conserve mana, take Light if you want to increase your healing.

  • Glyph of Flash of Light – Makes the Holy Shock+FoL combo much more powerful, if you are stuck raid healing for some reason, definitely worth it.

  • Glyph of Divinity – If you’re raiding with warriors or druids this glyph loses much of its utility, but if your tanks are Paladins, this becomes an awesome way to quickly regenerate mana.

  • Glyph of Beacon of Light – This glyph will save you mana overall, and is useful if you forget to reapply beacon or never seem to have the time to reapply.

  • Glyph of Holy Shock – more Holy Shocks in less time means more Infusion of Light procs which would have been amazing before 3.1. Excuse me while I wipe away my tears.

Minor: not as many options here, and these are pretty interchangeable, but two are worth noting.

Do you run with some version of 51/5/15? Or have you found more utility going deeper into Protection of Retribution? Let me know in the comments.


  1. Hello here.
    First of all welcome to you among the holy paladins blog community.
    Interesting post and analysis of the holy state after 3.1.1(2+). It's always good to have the views of fellow paladins on that topic.
    I don't completely agree with you though, as you know from my own posts about the holy spec posted on Matticus site ( and a new one about a discussion of the Divinity talent from Celton and me (

    First, you're telling Enlightened Judgements and Judgements of the Pure aren't worth as much as before (read tier 7 arc). I respectfully disagree, the spell haste soft raid cap (fully raid 25 buffed) is of 625 haste, with full Judgements of the Pure proc, you'd need more than 300 haste to compensate for just one less point there ... please keep it and put your item points elsewhere.
    On a same line, Enlightened Jugements is a safe investment, even if you feel confident with your ability to stay near the boss and don't need the distance, you need the hit bonus (2% is more than 70 hits rating) to ensure that your judgements land and don't miss.

    I personally don't see much use for the new Aura Mastery, sure +100% resist is nice, but it's only for 10s ... once each 2mn ... if it's uber in pvp, I see it as extremely situational in pve.
    Improved concentration aura isn't bad even in pve, but I prefer the points elsewhere.

    I don't know how much Ulduar raid experience you have (no criticism intended) but raid damage and spike damage are what you'll have to cope with there. Combined with a lot of imposed movement. These are *not* easy to deal with for a paladin, and the instant FoL proc from Infusion of Light is a very nice tool to manage raid healing/spike damage and healing while moving, it saved my life several times already (especially in 10-Man when you have fewer healers). The second part of the proc is a nerf, I agree with you on that, we all agree. But it's now a mana restore tool, roughly reducing the cost of your next HL by 12%. You'll have more mana issues in Ulduar than in Nax. I don't see Infusion of Light as something that you should pass on.

    To finish, Divinity or Sanctity of Battle isn't as a simple choice as you seem to think. Please read my post on that (link above) and you'll see that basic maths give about 50% more impact to 3% crit than 3% healing :)
    Even though I choce the 5 Divinity myself.

    thank you for your post, keep up the good work :)

  2. Hey Dreaming, just wanted to say thanks for checking in and all your kind words!