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Holy Healing in a Post 4.0.1 World

4.0.1 has been out for a couple weeks now, and by now you’ve all had a chance to play with the new toys and spells we now have available. Then add in that we’ve all suffered through the “ZOMG MY ADDONS DON’T WORK ANYMORE!!”… I wanted to take a moment to sit back and really download what we’ve experienced as well as share some tips and tricks I’ve found handy from raiding as Holy in the 4.0.1 environment. Originally, I was planning on covering both spec’s in a single post… but there simply was too much information to cover! So, Avalonna will be covering the Disc point of view in the next couple of weeks.

First and foremost, I strongly encourage you to read the 4.0.1 Primer that was posted the day before the patch hit. That will give you a good starting point before you jump into the finer details of healing post 4.0.1.

I am a huge fanboy of Power Auras — there, I said it! Now that we’ve cleared the air, I wanted to share some Power Aura codes I’ve created. To go hand in hand with that, I wanted to let everyone know about a new page I have added to the site which will house all the Power Auras that Avalonna and I find handy for Priests; I will also be adding sub pages at a later date for Boss-Specific Auras but I will hold off on that until we start seeing some Cata bosses.

This first one is probably the most basic, but I like to have a “Heads up Display” with notification that my Holy Word: Chastise is off cooldown and I can reuse it reagless which Chakra state I am in. I have similar ones for POM, COH, and Serendipity.

Version:4.4; b:0.8824; g:0.9098; icon:Spell_Holy_Chastise; buffname:Holy Word; x:183; groupany:false; unitn:Only for raid/group.; bufftype:7; texture:13; alpha:0.7; owntex:true; sound:58; stacksOperator:=; exact:true; PowerType:0; combat:true; size:0.18; y:-32; texmode:2

Healing Mechanics

Overall our healing strategy, as holy, is pretty much the same: weave your spells in, watch your CDs and procs, burst AOE as needed. We have some new toys we need to get used to using, and using appropriately- this means using Chakra correctly, as well as learning to use Holy Nova, Lightwell (if spec’d) and yes… Greater Heal. Remember, healing at 80 will be different than healing at 85… however learning to use your full arsenal of spells now will make 85 Healing all the more easy of a transition.

Protip: Since Holy Nova (currently) is raidwide, and not limited on the number of people hit (just the total amount healed), you can use this in conjunction with Glowing Twilight Scale to buff your entire raid VERY quickly. (sometimes in one GCD… /cackle)


I’ve changed my holy spec (5/31/0) a bit since playing and raiding in a 4.0.1 world. Right now I am skipping Surge of Light. Don’t get me wrong, I like the concept of casting my efficient heal (Heal) and in return I have a chance to proc a free Flash Heal, and by proxy the Serendipity stack— however, right now I am not casting Heal often (if at all). Heal simply doesn’t cut it in a Level 80 world, we do not have the scaling nor mana issues to warrant using it with any real regularity. I am casting Flash Heal in situations, at level 85, would be appropriate for Heal.

So I have pulled those 2 points out and capped off Desperate Prayer, Spirit of Redemption (which isn’t worth much in my eyes without the 5% spirit bonus), and Lightwell.

Chakra States

These are tricky. Right now, Chakra is subject to a 60 second cooldown. Which leaves many Priests stuck in the mindset of “oh shit, I don’t want to be in the wrong state!!” The latest build that Blizzard has talked about is going to be changing Chakra to a 30 second cooldown. This reduction does help us swap states a bit easier, however, I am still against seeing Chakra with CD. Using druids as an example: they can use Efflorescence via Swiftmend in 1 GCD, while Priests have to activate Chakra, Cast POH, then HW:Sanctuary. I’d be a lot happier with a much shorter CD (say, 10 seconds) – enabling us TRUE versatility that Blizzard is trying to give us.

On live, the best way to manage the states is to know your encounter. I’ll say that again: know your encounter. If you know that you are going to be entering an encounter phase that lends itself well to Chakra: POH instead of Chakra: Renew— prepare for that ahead of time and you’ll be able to use your states and Holy Words to the best of your abilities.

Chakra: Heal
With the current mana situation, and the scaling of other spells and mana costs, there is very little need to use Chakra: Heal. You can usually cast Flash Heal, and while it is more expensive, many priest’s mana situation is not of concern at level 80. If you happen to get into a situation where you are running low on mana, you can switch to this state, and keep Renew up on your tank(s) while spamming Heal… you’ll likely net back more mana than the heal cost before you finish casting it through your innate regen and other sources. Once you reach 85, this will be your ‘tank healing state’.

Chakra: Renew
This is probably the state I am in most frequently. The reduced GCD is exceptionally handy and a 2nd HoT is always welcome on the MT. On top of the fact that my renews are beefier in this state than out, it is really easy to keep this state extended. You can cast your other heals, and easily extend it back via State of Mind. For those of us who were used to casting a lot of renews, and ‘weaved’ in our POMs, COHs, and other heals will find yourself in your comfort zone here.

Chakra: POH
Who doesn’t like putting big golden void zones of healing goodness on the ground? Certainly not me! I really like this state, even beyond the aesthetic. Certain fights really lend themselves to a buffed AOE healing mechanic as well as a ground-based heal. Phase 3 – HM Sindragosa comes to mind. Drop your Sanctuary on the ground where the group is standing and you’re golden– all the while you can hide behind a Ice Tomb while bombing groups with POH and COH.

Haste, Crit, and that Goofy Thing Called Mastery

Now lets go into breaking down these 3 stats and figure out what is “the right amount of haste, crit and mastery” you should have at 80. (Hint: a lot of this is really reliant to your personal comfort levels and what role you are playing in your raid!)

Holy priests still love their haste, not only because it reduces your cast time and GCD of your instants (See Also- Chakra: Renew) but also because your HoTs scale with Haste. You’ll want at least 1015 Haste at level 80 to be sure you are getting your two additional ticks from Renew. If you can’t get that high you should at least be aware of the breakpoints. Renew’s breakpoints are 12.5% and 37.5% Haste. 12.5% grants you an additional tick, and 37.5% grants you an additional one after that. In between those two points, haste still is valuable but just more valuable to your spells with long cast times (ie. POH) If you are at 37.4%– I would consider reforging/regemming for that bit of extra haste to get the next tick.

While valuable, it is of less value for Holy Priests than Disc, since we do not have Divine Aegis in our spec– on top of that Surge of Light has changed from a chance on crit to a flat out chance on Heal. However, Inspiration has changed, and can proc off of nearly all of our heals. As a healer, you never want to underestimate the power of Inspiration. Priest Theorycrafting Extraordinaire,  Zusterke, did a great post/write up at PlusHeal regarding crit. The short version is that, Holy Priests will easily be able to have a reliable uptime of Inspiration on the MT with ~25% crit rating.

Graph by Zusterke

While crit is more important to Holy Priests who will be tank healing, it still is a major player in our stats– if anything just for Inspiration.

Certainly a very confusing stat. My take on it is pretty simple– don’t worry about it until you start seeing gear with Mastery on it. Right now, for Holy, the lingering heal is a nice to have, but nothing you should really rely on. This is even magnified since we are healing iin a world where mana is still a non-issue and you rarely see tanks <100% HP for more than a second or so. This means that the Mastery HoT won’t provide much additional throughput.

That doesn’t mean you do not want to reforge for Mastery. Go ahead, give it a spin but I would reccommend only reforging for Mastery if you feel you are too heavy on Spirit and have no mana issues at all, or if you are sitting too high on unneeded crit. The added mastery at that point is just gravy.

Protip: Holy’s Mastery is borderline OP for healing Dreamwalker… Time to turn the tables! Holy Priests probably the best choice for Valithria in 4.0.x


Since we have free talent points in upper tiers to get down to the good stuff, many priests have picked up Lightwell. I picked it up… and I really do want to like Lightwell. I really do. However, the only people who seem to have any healing done by lightwell are either: a) me b) Other players who have a priest/priest-alt c) other healers. I would love to see a bit more diversity in the people using it… the heal is provides as well as the low low mana cost is amazing. I’ll have a Lightwell post probably in the next few weeks. Keep remembering to put it out pre-pull in locations that you know people will be able to use it and see it— if people see them out more, and are used to seeing them, I bet we’ll see usage increase.


Overall, I am really pleased with how priest healing feels in 4.0.x – I like the flow I like the concept of Chakra and how I can switch to a better ‘stance’ based on what the fight demands. HOWEVER, I do think we do have some throughput and numerical turning that must to be done for priests to be as competitive and as viable as we should be. (eg. Improve the healing done by our Holy Words, Spell Coefficients seem a bit low on our direct heals— not to mention the scaling issues at 85 on our AOEs). I expect some tuning to priest healing as we hit 85 and in 85 specific encounters… for now at 80 we should continue to be fine, provided we can get used to the changes we’ve been given.

Written By: on October 23, 2010
  1. Totally not a Renew priest, even playing Holy. >.> Anyway, Chakra states are fun, but the only one I personally have any real use for is Prayer of Healing at the moment. The only time I’d think of using Renew more often is probably either Lootship or Deathwhisper. Prayer of Healing seems a lot easier to control in encounters like Blood-Queen, Sindragosa, Festergut and Putricide (especially phase 3).

    Regarding Haste: I love me some haste. It’s by far the most fun stat as a healer, but also for Holy, one of the hardest stats to acquire at times. I’ve reforged a lot of my spirit into haste (I gained ~400 mana regen after the patch dropped), but the thing to keep in mind when you are getting more haste, is what your other healers are. As an example, most of our other healers are discipline priests or restoration druids (though, one of our Disc priests is switching to shaman for Cataclysm). Since we already have a lot of HoTs and bubbles going out, Renew is really overkill, and Echo of Light from Divine Touch is more or less piss poor. So, for those other Holy priests out there, consider what your raid composition is like, haste is still good if you’re forced into being reactive, or end up being a tank healer. ;)

    Regarding Lightwell, it’s going to be the same thing as Holy Word: Sanctuary: training your raid to know what it is, and how to use it. Right now, I’ve been spoiled with a guild that knows (well, about 1/3 of our raiders) how to use it. The big thing to keep in mind here is to remind them how big the click radius is, and there is literally no DPS loss to it, as it no longer removes your target. Another thing with Lightwell is, as you said, knowing your encounters. Sometimes Lightwell is really good; other times not so much. Plus, sometimes you just have to put the damn thing in front of your raiders’ faces to get them to do anything with it. The unfortunate thing, though, is that Lightwell is more likely to be used/usable by ranged, because for melee, sometimes the “click” part can be inside the boss’ hitbox (see, Sindragosa, Marrowgar).

    As for Mastery, it can be really good at times, too, especially on heavy AoE fights (the same ones that Chakra: PoH is good for), but other times, it’s not as great because there’s little AoE damage, or what there is, the HoT just isn’t significant enough to matter. I am overall not impressed with Holy’s Mastery, to be truthful, but it does make Holy pretty potent in terms of HoTs. Unfortunately, right now it doesn’t crit, so that’s also another downer for me.

    All in all, I really wish my raids would let me heal more; we’re overloaded on healers at the moment because our GM also decided to go from Hunter to Disc Priest (plus my DPS is stupidly good for whatever reason).

  2. Do you know if Inspiration stacks with demo shout/roar? Otherwise it seems way less important to have crit to keep that buff up since demo shout/roar would be much more reliable.

    1. Zinn – yes. They are not exclusive. One is a target debuff, the other is a defensive buff.

      Heres the full list:

    2. Inspiration/Ancestral Spirit is a buff to reduce physical damage dealt – Demoralizing Shout/Roar is a debuff to reduce physical damage dealt, and yes, they do stack. Whether it is additively or multiplicitavely, I can’t say (but I’m pretty sure it’s additive, to bring a total of 20% less physical damage taken). Even then, if you didn’t have a warrior or feral druid in the raid (very possible, especially in 10-mans), it’d still be that much more important.

  3. I have tons of mana problems as Holy right now. I don’t know if it is because my raid takes too much damage, or our DPS is too slow, but I find that a few bad eggs standing in fires will OOM me before the boss is at 75%. I stick with Renew Chakra for the most part. I like POH Chakra but if you think my mana’s bad in Renew Chakra POH Chakra is just ridiculous. I haven’t got a chance to try it on Sindi yet.

    As for having a lower CD on Chakra – well, we’ll still need to push an extra button (even if it is off the GCD) to access these abilities. I still think Chakra’s a bit too clunky.

    I’m not really enjoying the new Holy Priest. Its just – awkward.

    1. Mana issues? Hmmm— I wonder if you might have just a ton of Haste/Crit gear which is great, but too little spirit?

      Take a look at Zusterke’s 4.0 regen model. That might be a good starting point.

      1. I’m only wearing two pieces of gear without Spirit on them – my 264 Shadow Tier Chest and the Shadow DPS ring – only because my other options for those slots are pretty iffy (although I am probably going to go back to ring of maddening whispers).

        That said, I have about 1000 more Int than I do Spirit (!). That is mostly because of my gems.

        Looking at Z’s calculator I can’t tell which side is Int and which side is Spirit. I’m going to assume since when I click off Shadowfiend and Kings, that Int is the blue numbers on the X axis. At my point, Spirit is better – if I stack 200 more Spirit, I’ll get 30 more (mp5?) than if I stacked 200 more Int. Again, if I’m reading it right. I don’t think that’s such a huge difference that I should dump Int gems for Spirit gems (I have a few of those too, already, anyway).

        A part of it may have been that we were missing replenishment IIRC. I also switched my talents to 3/3 MA and 2/2 Veiled Shadows and I noticed some improvement there.

        Really, what it feels like now though is that I can’t respond to emergencies. My Disc Priest buddy can’t imagine ever running out of mana, but I’m stuck hoping people aren’t stupid. I think it is a bigger problem in 10 man HMs, because you are required to be much more flexible there. In 25s, you can stay in Renew Chakra and spam your same rotation from 3.3.5. Someone is low? Maybe toss them a flash heal, but really, there’s probably 4 or 5 others who took damage with him and COH is the right choice. In 10 mans, a healer might die, or get CC’d, or one or two people get in serious trouble, and you have to break out the big guns to save them. Only problem is, your big guns are square pegs of inefficient mana use to ICC’s round hole of heavy, spiky damage. Having to switch Chakras (o wait, still on CD!) doesn’t help much, either.

        What happened to my flexible healer? In 3.3.5 I could just *heal* someone, but now I’m *much less flexible* because of Chakra.

        1. Don’t you think it is more due to the changed mana cost of your spells?

          I mean, before you would “break out the big guns” and lose next to no mana, but you didn’t heal more with them then now*. Chakra, in that regard, is more an icing on the cake, empowering some of your spells sometimes.

          *And if you have the feeling that you do heal less with your spells, isn’t that more due to the fact that health pools have gotten quite a bit bigger (not so much on tanks as on the others I suppose)?

          I see holy priests burning through their mana quite quickly. That is undoubtebly true. What I doubt is that Chakra is to blame for this.

          Just my thoughts on it as a not-so-experienced priest

    2. Felade said
      “As for having a lower CD on Chakra – well, we’ll still need to push an extra button (even if it is off the GCD) to access these abilities. I still think Chakra’s a bit too clunky. ”

      So set up macros, that is what I’ve done. One for each state, then I’m instantly in the chakra state I need with out the extra button click needed.

      The only issue I have with Chakra is I feel ike I NEED to be in a chakra state at all times. Which isn’t really true, but for some reason I’ve picked up that mentality. So I’m actually forgetting my PoM all the time now, when I used to never forget to reapply it.

  4. I think you got my comment conflated. My mana problems are definitely due to increased mana cost, or rather, decreased HPM per spell. (and my gear, too, I”m still adjusting).

    My comment on Chakra is unrelated. I think it reduces our flexibility by putting another layer of rampup between us and spells outside the artificial boundaries set by the spell. I don’t feel that the benefits of Chakra outweigh this added rampup, at least not at 80. I’ve seriously contemplated just forgetting about my Chakra state and just healing without it. It just isn’t worth keeping up at 80.

    Sorry those two ideas got conflated. Yes, Chakra has nothing to do with my mana issues.

  5. With regards to the extra renew ticks..where are you getting the value of 1015 from? I currently have 1017 haste, which gives me just over 31% haste. Now with 5% extra in raids..thats 36% spell haste, not enough for that extra 6th tick of renew which needs 37.5%
    Am i stupidly missing another raid buff when I think about it, or is one of these numbers wrong?

    Thanks in advance for the help :)

    1. Edit – I currently hve 1 point in Darkness, which it doesnt seem to add on my character stats? So I’m at 32% haste.. I still don’t understand your 1015 number though? :)

      1. Ok, been playing.

        Naked (!!!) and therefore with 0 haste, renew ticks 4 times over 12 second, so obviously i want enough haste to get 6 ticks. I specced out of darkness as I reforged some crit to haste on my gear to get just over the amount you said of 1015. I currently have 1032 haste rating.

        With a spell haste totem down to gove 5% extra I get my 2 extra ticks..imba!

        but.. my haste with the extra from the totem is only 36.47% so where is your number of 37.5% coming from in the post?

        I’m just a confused priest and my head likes to know where the numbers come from, sorry for many replies to myself and thanks for you help in this!

        1. I’d rather people understand instead of just follow some blog blindly, so I appreciate the questions! Probably best to just quote Z, since he put it so eloquently, and why reinvent the wheel:

          “The amount of ‘bonus ticks’ you get on your HoT is rounded. In order to get a 5th tick, you need a 4.5*3s = 13.5s HoT crammed into 12s. Which means: 13.5s / 12s = 112.5% or a 12.5% Haste bonus. 12.5% Haste gives 1 more tick, which is a 25% increase in throughput. … [edit for clarity]…. Anything between 25% and 37.5% Haste will benefit PoH more than Renew does.”

          There is a LOT of discussion at PlusHeal regarding Priest Healing and Theorycrafting. (Frankly superior to that of EJ, IMO).

          Try that thread.

          1. Thankyou :D

  6. I love the new Power Auras Page, thank you! <3

  7. I think come cataclysm, Spirit of Redemption is going to become very handy to have. I have seen in some videos when the priest has gone oom and has no other way of getting mana back they kill them self so they can use Spirit of Redemption.

    1. I have seen in some videos when the priest has gone oom and has no other way of getting mana back they kill them self so they can use Spirit of Redemption.

      That’s really, really disturbing to me. I just don’t feel good about that.


  8. I’m really enjoying the patch as well! I’m very new to the game… (and thanks by the way I haven’t really said anything before but this is one of the most helpful sites I’ve stalked for my supporting-self) so I guess it’s a bit biased of me. But chakra: renew has definitely been very fun to play with! I still have a lot to get used to though…

  9. I know I may be jumping the gun and you are mostly referring to 4.0 in this post. But what are your thoughts on haste, once we hit 85? I made a premade on the Beta (after taking O to almost level 84 myself, thru questing) and I was well over 1500 haste and I could only get Heal down to as low as 2.15 seconds. That bothers me.

    I know I wasn’t using it much in the testing raids I did on the Beta, but I know it sees a lot more use in the 5 mans and possibly the Heroics (I still have yet to test those – but I mean to) or even if you see your tanks are getting low and you want to prop them back up.

    I just feel with all that haste it should be faster. Am I alone in this? What do you think?


    1. Well there are some things to keep in mind, Haste, like crit, requires more to scale as you level. That means, 1000 haste at level 80 isn’t the same as 1000 haste at level 81. For example, at Level 80, if I have 29.4% haste (964 Haste)– the second you reach 81 your haste dropped to 19.1%. Pretty dramatic.

      haste will continue to be of importance to Holy Priests in Cata– to reduce cast times, and to increase Renew’s HPM/HPS.

      1. So, it sounds like rather than taking so much haste to lower the cast time of a spell like Heal, we would be stacking it to speed up our HoTs and possibly lower our GCD for the instant casts that we are still going to be relying heavily upon?

        Would you say that’s fairly accurate, Dev?


        1. To a certain extent, yes. I wouldn’t want to discount shortening your Heal/Gheal casts. But, the biggest bang for your buck with haste is the added Hot ticks, and GCD reduction.

          I’d say at minimum you want enough for 1 extra Renew tick, ideally 2.

          TGFR – Thank God For Reforging :)

          1. Amen to that! I was pleased to find we didn’t need as much crit as I had thought, but I do enjoy our mastery and I was seeing it bring in a steady stream of numbers on recent logs.

            I wonder what priority that is going to have, in the hierarchy of stats we need.


  10. Many, many thanks for the new Power Auras page!

  11. I’m concerned about mana regen and how that will affect our stat and talent choices at 85.

  12. Hey, I read the topic and tbh I must say that, the same as Felade, I’ve gut huge mana issues atm.

    This is the link to my armory:
    I’ve got pvp gear on though at the moment, so prolly this link:
    will show my gear better. I’ve got new Trauma now (277), same with the cloak (277) and my spec is holy. As far as I remamber, with the buffs I’ve got round 4050 SP, 1k mana regen while in combat, 41k mana pool, crit 24%, don’t remamber the haste stats, 12 mastery (I have reforged some crit).

    I am at the moment using Shadowfiend first time when I drop to 50% of my mana, then on every cd (which basically means: once more at the end of the combat…). Hymn of Hope on situations when I don’t need to heal so much. Arcane Torrent on every cd.

    My healing style from Flash Heal style evolved more to Renew Spam style and I mostly continue on doing so. So Chakra: Renew is always up, I don’t let it run out almost ever, so for example Lord Marrogar looks for me like: PoM, Renew, Holy Word on the tank, CoH when bone spikes hit, Renew on bone spiked targets, spam renew, CoH, PoM on bone storm phase. Last raid I started to use Chakra: PoH state more with keeping Holy Word: Sanc on malee and putting another one on me and couple ranged who stay nearby (Queen Lanathiel, Rotface, Festergut) and I must say that if I don’t get at least one Innervate it’s incredibly hard on my mana and basically impossible to keep up with druids.

    I used to be top healer in my raids on almost every encounter and now… I’m not. On Sindragosa encounter I used to have around 12k hps w/o going oom and with having our 3 tanks as my top healing targets (basically I could hot everyone up and still throw Flash Heals on my tanks so I made sure that they’re fine) now after second air phase I’m basically on 20% with shadowfiend on cd, arcane torrent on cd, hymn on cd, potion on cd.

    I’m really frustrated. :(

  13. Hi Derevka,

    Great post… very informative. I actually no longer play WoW anymore due to my RL time constraints but I still read your blog nonetheless =).

    I also would like to bring your attention to the new revamped 4.0.3 talent tree and the Darkness skill in the first tier of the shadow tree. Unless I’m reading the talent wrong (or if Darkness has some kind of shadow spell-only effect that is not specified in the tooltip), the 3% spell haste imo seems rather OP for the throughput of a holy priest in Cata (assuming mana upkeep is ok). In light of this, I’m wondering how viable a 6/32/3 or 5/33/3 spec ( would be in Cata. Can you comment on this? Thanks!


  14. Darkness is great for both Disc and Holy, however with mana being a premium; there may be better options for those 3 points. Maybe we’ll need inner sanctums spell damage reduction. I like darkness — darkness is great for holy it just is “too soon” to opine finally in it.

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