Tag Archives: gear

Choosing Your Attributes

Hey folks, sorry it’s been so quiet around here lately — between family health woes and recovering from being sick myself, I haven’t had two brain cells to rub together! Things should be back to normal now, though.

There are plenty of guides around – my own, and other people’s – that tell you what gear goals you should set, how you should gem, what consumables you should use. The big problem with most of these guides is that they don’t tell you why. They don’t make the relationships between healer stats clear, so people wind up following a set of rules they don’t understand.

If comments on my posts are anything to go by, there are a lot of other-spec paladins learning the ins and outs of Holy, trying to make sense of all the advice. Knowledge is power, so let’s take a step back and look at first principles: your attributes.

1. Spellpower

This is your single most important stat, in the sense that if you don’t have enough of it, all the other stats in the world won’t help. There’s no point having a mana pool that will last for ten minutes of chain-casting if your heals aren’t big enough to keep your tank up.

Spellpower, obviously, increases the size of a number of your spells: Holy Light, Flash of Light, Holy Shock, Sacred Shield, Consecrate, Judgement of Light, and Exorcism. Healing spells have the following Spellpower coefficients:

  • Holy Light: 166%
  • Flash of Light: 100%
  • Holy Shock: 81%
  • Sacred Shield: 75%

What this means is if you have 1500 Spellpower, your Holy Lights will heal for an extra 2490 (1500 * 1.66), your Flashes of Light will heal for an extra 1500, and so on.

2. Intellect (and mana)

Intellect is the new black, as far as holy paladins are concerned. I’ve written about this before in detail, but to reiterate: all the important sources of mana regeneration are either based directly off the size of your mana pool (Divine Plea, Replenishment, Mana Tide Totem) or are affected by the amount of Intellect you have (Illumination-based mana return from heals that crit).

So Intellect has three main benefits:

  • It increases the size of your mana pool, thereby increasing your mana regen
  • It increases your crit chance, thereby increasing both your mana return and your throughput
  • It increases your spellpower (via Holy Guidance), thereby increasing your throughput

Great synergy; there’s nothing about Intellect that’s useless, and that’s why you’ll see holy paladins running around with a 30K mana pool in raids.

3. Crit rating

Crit rating increases your chance to crit, and that has three flow-on effects:

  • It increases your throughput; a crit heal does 50% more healing than a non-crit.
  • It returns 60% of the mana cost of the spell, from the Illumination Holy talent.
  • If it’s a Holy Shock that just crit, it will trigger the Infusion of Light effect, making your next Flash of Light instant or your next Holy Light very fast indeed. This is fantastic for healing-intensive moments and mobile fights. (Note that in 3.1, Infusion will still make FoL instant, but it will increase crit chance on HL instead of cutting 1 sec off its cast time.)

Obviously, crit is very popular with most paladins; including talents, you can get over 40% unbuffed Holy crit chance in Naxx-25 gear.

At level 80, 45.9 Crit Rating gives you 1% chance to crit.

4. Haste rating

Haste is something of the ‘new kid on the block’; it’s something that most paladins haven’t seen on their gear before (unless they were raiding Black Temple and Sunwell Plateau). It decreases the time required to cast a spell, but the way the mechanics work make a lot of people go crosseyed.

I read a fantastic guide to spell haste the other day, but stupidly I forgot to bookmark it, so I can’t link you all to it. So, I shall roll up my sleeves and attempt to explain it myself.

The way to make sense of Haste is in terms of how many spells it will allow you to cast in a given time period. 10% spell haste doesn’t knock 10% off the cast time of a spell, it means that in a given amount of time you can cast 10% more spells. In fifteen seconds, you could normally cast 10 Flashes of Light. 10% spell haste makes each FoL faster, so that you can fit 11 of them into those fifteen seconds.

The formula for calculating your cast time when you have Haste gear is:
[New Cast Time] = [Base Cast Time] / [1 + Spell Haste]

So the base cast time of Flash of Light is 1.5 seconds; if you have 10% Haste, it reduces the cast time to (1.5 / 1.1), or 1.36 seconds. If you have 20% Haste, FoL’s cast time is (1.5 / 1.2), or 1.25 seconds. And so on.

There are a few things to know about Haste:

  • It reduces the Global Cooldown as well, down to a minimum of 1 second.
  • It does nothing to affect your mana efficiency on a per-spell basis, so if you don’t have enough Intellect/mana, Haste just means “I can go out of mana even quicker!”
  • As your Haste rating increases, more Haste has less effect on the cast time of any one spell, but it still increases how many spells you can cast over a given time by the same amount.
  • Haste is multiplicative, so if you have 10% haste from gear and another 5% from buffs, you actually have 15.5% Haste, not 15%.
  • If you incorporate all the haste effects you might get in a raid (Wrath of Air Totem, a Ret paladin’s Retribution Aura, your own Judgements of the Pure talent, et cetera) 20.6% Haste from gear and consumables will get you to the ‘cap’ of 1.0 second Flashes of Light (and a 1.0 second GCD).

At level 80, 1% spell haste requires approximately 32.79 Haste Rating.

Bear in mind that haste has two effects on your healing: a) it increases your overall throughput, by allowing you to cast more spells in the same amount of time, and b) it increases your responsiveness by reducing your cast time, allowing you to get that emergency lifesaving heal off that much faster. As your Haste increases, the effect of more haste on the latter decreases – it still reduces your cast time, just not by as much.

5. Mana Per 5, aka mp5

mp5 does exactly what it says on the tin: you regain the listed amount of mana every five seconds, regardless of whether you’re in combat or not, casting or not, moving or not – the only requirement is for you to be alive. :)

mp5 used to be beloved of holy paladins, back when we were all Flash of Light spammers. Because Flash of Light is much more mana-efficient than Holy Light, crit-based mana return didn’t matter as much, whereas well-stacked mp5 let you cast Flash of Light til the cows came home.

That’s changed in WotLK however; for starters, we need to use Holy Light heavily to keep up with incoming damage, and the mp5 needed to keep up with that would be prohibitively high. Secondly, gearing for Int gives better mana regen and throughput than gearing for mp5.

mp5 is not a bad stat, and there’s no need to ignore an item just because it has mp5. However, taking mp5 at the expense of superior mana return stats – that is, Intellect and Crit – is generally a mistake.

There are a couple of limited situations where mp5 may beat Int and Crit: if you’re silenced a lot, and can’t cast (to cast Divine Plea or regen mana from spell crits), if you have to move a lot, or if you never have a Replenishment buffer in the raid, no access Mana Tide Totem, and are bearing a lot of the healing load so you can’t afford to Divine Plea often.

mp5 may also become more valuable in Ulduar, if the tanks are taking Ridiculous Amounts of Damage™ and we have to heal so hard that we can’t afford to Divine Plea on a regular basis. However, there’s still a dichotomy in that gearing for mp5 probably won’t provide enough regen to compensate for such heavy healing; at that stage, stacking crit is likely to be more valuable (although I haven’t done the maths yet to model that;

So, What Do You Pick?

Most paladin guides you read say “stack Intellect!” with no exceptions or explanations. However, I tend to believe that that’s overly simplistic and not terribly helpful advice without context – these are generally guides aimed at raiding paladins, and stat advice for a geared healer in a 25-man raid group is quite different from guidelines appropriate for a starting healer in 5-mans.

Assuming you’re starting from scratch as a fresh 80, you’ll be running 5-mans and heroics while you’re gearing up for raids. (If you’re swapping from ret or prot as a raider and you’ve picked up a fair bit of offspec healing gear already, you can probably jump to the last stages of this process.)

As a fresh 80, in 5-mans and heroics, people aren’t going to die because you ran out of mana after a ten-minute fight; if the fight’s long enough for you to OOM, your DPSers are probably underperforming. No, in my experience, people generally died in 5-mans and heroics because I couldn’t keep up with incoming damage, or I couldn’t get a heal onto them fast enough after a spike.

As such, you should be gearing for spellpower first; extra mana’s no good if your heals aren’t big or fast enough to keep the tank up. So focus on spellpower until you have a reasonable level of it – as a rule of thumb, I’d say you should stack spellpower until 1650 or so. (Within reason, of course; don’t equip green “of spellpower” gear that has no other stats on it.) You’ll get Crit and Haste as part of this process, as just about every piece of appropriate gear has one or the other on it – sometimes, if you’re lucky, both.

Once you have a reasonable level of spellpower, start diversifying. Make sure your crit and haste levels are up to scratch – 30% holy crit, unbuffed, is a reasonable target for crit, and somewhere around 250 haste rating (8% Haste). This is the point at which you can start stacking Intellect in your gem and enchant selection.

TL/DR! What’s the bottom line?

You need to gear for spellpower first, to make sure you can keep up with incoming damage, before you start stacking Intellect like all the other guides say.

Holy Paladin FAQ – v1.0 (Pre-3.1)

Credits: This FAQ was developed in response to a request from Josh of Eye For An Eye, and was created at the PlusHeal forums with input from the community there. I’m posting a modified version of it here as a number of readers don’t frequent PlusHeal (although you should! it’s great!). The format is based on Josh’s excellent Ret 3.0 FAQ.

Holy FAQ – WotLK – Pre 3.1

  • Current as of 27 Mar, WotLK 3.0.9 build 9551.
  • This FAQ includes details that will be not be relevant after 3.1 goes live. It will be updated ASAP.
  • Many answers are simplistic and don’t go into details about choices in gearing, consumables, et cetera. This is intended to be an all-in-one FAQ; detailed discussions are elsewhere.


0. What do I do?

More than any other healer, paladin healers have a clearly defined role: you excel at healing a single target (or two) for massive amounts. You have no Heal-over-Time spells and no AoE heals, but you can keep a tank up through tremendous spike damage.

Which is not to say you can never heal a 5-man, or raid heal successfully – you certainly can, but it’s not your speciality.


1. How should I spec?

For PvE: 51/0/20 or, if you can’t rely on having Kings from another paladin, 51/5/15.
Some paladins choose to take the two points out of Pursuit of Justice, and put them into the Holy tree, into Conc Aura and/or Aura Mastery for a 53/0/18 build.

For PvP: 51/20/0 is the most common build for pure healing and support, although there are popular Holy/Ret hybrids for PvP as well.

2. What Seal should I use?

Use Seal of Wisdom or Seal of Light, depending on which one you have Glyphed (see Q. 7 below). This is purely to activate your glyph, as you’ll rarely be swinging in melee.

3. What spells should I use?

There are no hard-and-fast rules about what spells to use in what order, as healing is fundamentally a reactive activity and your choice of spells should always be based on the situation.

Flash of Light is a low-throughput spell with very good mana efficiency. Use this for non-urgent raid heals, and topping off the tank if they’re not taking much damage.
Holy Light is a high-throughput spell and is often used as the core heal for tank healing.
Holy Shock is a talent-based spell; it heals for a little more than Flash of Light, but is instant (with a 6s CD). Use this for an urgent heal. A crit Holy Shock gives you the Infusion of Light buff, making your next Flash of Light instant or your next Holy Light very fast and is a good way to put out a lot of healing fast.

Beacon of Light is excellent in situations where a couple of people are taking heavy damage, and can allow you to toss some raid heals while still healing your tank. Keep it on your tank in 5-mans; in raids put it on your heal target (if you’re going to be doing a lot of raid healing as well) or on someone else taking heavy damage. It’s costly on mana, so don’t cast it if it won’t be any use.

Sacred Shield should be used on people who will be taking multiple sources of damage, as it only kicks in after the first damage is taken. It does scale with spellpower, so it can absorb a lot of damage when cast a holy paladin. Try and keep it up at all times on your heal target.

4. What Judgement should I cast?

This depends on the situation:

– If you are the only paladin, use whichever your raid needs. If they’re not short of mana, go with Judgement of Light as a default.
– If there are multiple specs of paladin, have the ret paladins judge Light and the prot paladins judge Wisdom. (If the ret paladins want to judge Wisdom, that’s okay too.) Do not overwrite the prot paladin’s Judgement.

For more information on the complexities of who judges what, see this PlusHeal thread, and my previous blog post on the subject.

5. What Blessings do I want?

Wisdom > Kings > Sanctuary > Might until you start getting well-geared, then Kings > Wisdom.

See this post by Gryphonheart for details.


6. What stats do I want?

There is no easy answer to this question. Gearing as a healer is a balancing act between stats that improve your throughput (Spellpower, Haste, Crit, Intellect) and stats that improve your mana longevity (Intellect, Crit, mp5).

Intellect is the primary stat for a paladin healer because it affects your mana longevity (via mana pool, mana return effects like Divine Plea, Replenishment and Mana Tide Totem, and increasing your crit chance) and it affects your throughput (via Holy Guidance and increasing your crit chance). However, stacking Intellect early in the gearing process means you’ll never run out of mana, but your heals won’t be big enough to keep your tank alive.

As a general rule, go with the following order of priority on stats:

1. Intellect
2. Spellpower (which should be #1 on this list until you reach about 1700-1800; after that, focus on Intellect and the Spellpower will come via upgrades anyway)
3. Crit
4. Haste (but don’t go over about 500; much more than that is wasted due to the extra haste from your Judgements)
5. mp5 (far less important than the first four, but not useless)
6. Stamina

Bear in mind that unlike priests or druids, you will rarely get any benefit from Spirit. Don’t throw gear away just because it has Spirit, but ignore it completely when assessing an item’s worth.

7. What glyphs should I use?


Minor: none of these are essential; feel free to change them.

8. What enchants should I use?

See this post for a full run-down. In brief:

Helm: Arcanum of Burning Mysteries, Revered with Kirin Tor
Shoulders: Greater Inscription of the Storm, Exalted with Sons of Hodir, or Master’s Inscription of the Storm if you’re a Scribe.
Cloak: Greater Speed
Chest: Powerful Stats or Exceptional Mana
Bracers: Superior Spellpower or Fur Lining – Spellpower if you’re a Leatherworker.
Gloves: Exceptional Spellpower
Belt: Eternal Belt Buckle
Legs: Sapphire Spellthread
Boots: Icewalker
Ring: Greater Spellpower if you’re an enchanter.
Weapon: Mighty Spellpower
Shield: Greater Intellect

9. What gems should I use?

The best gems for socket colors are:

Red sockets: Runed Scarlet Ruby

Yellow sockets: Brilliant Autumn’s Glow or Smooth Autumn’s Glow

Red or yellow sockets: Luminous Monarch Topaz or Potent Monarch Topaz

Blue sockets: Royal Twilight Opal or Dazzling Forest Emerald

Follow your order of priorities from Question 6. If you’re still in the stage of gearing up spellpower, use Runed gems in red sockets, and Luminous or Potent gems in yellow sockets. If you’ve hit your target for spellpower, use Luminous gems in red sockets, and Brilliant gems in yellow sockets.

For blue sockets, the gems are so weak (relatively speaking) that you should think long and hard about whether you really need that socket bonus; there’s nothing wrong with putting an orange gem in a blue socket if the socket bonus is only 2 mp5.

Meta socket: The Insightful Earthsiege Diamond is streets ahead of the competition. (See this Elitist Jerks thread for the maths.)

For more details see this post (although bear in mind it’s old and some of the advice could use an update for raiders).

10. Should I stack any melee stats?
Generally, no.

– Crit and Haste Rating are equally useful for spells.
– Stamina is always nice; don’t gear for it, but consider it a bonus.
– Hit Rating is useful for making sure you land your Judgement for the haste buff, but shouldn’t be taken over anything more healery.
– Strength, Attack Power and Armor Penetration are useless. Defense, Dodge, Parry, Block Rating and Block Value are nearly as useless.

When it comes to the ‘perfect storm’ of holy paladin stats – Spellpower, Crit, Haste and Intellect – you’ll often find similar stats on elemental shaman mail, and it can make a good stopgap while looking for plate alternatives. Resto shaman mail is decent too, although it often has mp5 instead of crit, making it much less attractive.

11. Does my weapon matter?

Only the caster stats on it. On the rare occasions you melee with it, your ‘white damage’ (the damage caused by the actual DPS of the weapon) is irrelevant.

12. What consumables should I use?

Potions: Runic Mana Potion or Potion of Speed depending on your needs.

Elixirs: Flask of the Frostwyrm as the baseline flask, or Spellpower Elixir and Elixir of Mighty Thoughts for Elixirs instead of a Flask.

Food: Fish Feast if your raid uses them; otherwise Firecracker Salmon or Tender Shoveltusk Steak

See this post for more options and alternatives.


13. What addons should I use?

This is very much a matter of personal choice, so I can’t give you a canonical list of ‘the best’.

Plus, of course, any normal addons you might want to use like boss mods, threat meters and so on.

14. What macros should I use?

Again, there are no hard-and-fast rules here. Commonly people will talk about two frequently-used macros:

Mouseover Macro

This macro is used where you float your mouse cursor over your raid frames and hit your macro keybind when you’re mousing over the heal target. It’s fast because you don’t have to select a target, and good for healing lots of people at once (eg raid healing) or decursing/cleansing.

#showtooltip Flash of Light
/cast [target=mouseover][help] Flash of Light

Replace with the spell of your choice.

Healthrough Macro

This macro is designed so that if you have a hostile mob targeted (like a boss), you can cast your heal spell and it will land on the hostile mob’s target. It’s great for healing where you need to save whoever the boss is targeting and change targets fast.

#showtooltip Flash of Light
/cast [button:2,target=player][target=target,help][target=targettarget,help][target=none] Flash of Light

In order, this macro:
– Casts FoL on myself if I right click. If I left click or use the keybinding, then:
– Casts FoL on my target if they’re friendly. If they’re not, then:
– Casts FoL on my target’s target if they’re friendly. If not, then:
– Gives me the glowy-hand spell targeting cursor.

Replace with the spell name of your choice.

Rez Macro

This is used if your healers don’t use addons with rez monitors, to help cut down time wasted by three people rezzing the same corpse.

#showtooltip Redemption
/cast Redemption
/stopmacro [combat,nohelp,nodead]
/say Upsadaisy, %t!

Change the /say to /raid or /# (where # is your healer channel number) if that suits your raid group better.

For more useful macros, see PlusHeal: thread 1, thread 2, and the Macros forum.


The Importance of Intellect, Redux

This is an update to this post, taking into account some factors I’d forgotten.

For people who don’t want to follow the math, here’s the conclusion up-front: Given items of equal quality, gearing for Intellect is better than gearing for mp5.

Read on to find out why!

Introduced in patch 3.0.2, there are a number of new/revised sources of mana regen that are based on your total mana, and therefore scale directly with Intellect:

Divine Plea
This is the new paladin spell at level 71; it restores 25% of your total mana over 15 seconds with a 1 minute cooldown (and a debuff to healing done).

This is the new raid regen buff granted by Shadow Priests, Retribution Paladins and Survival Hunters. It “causes up to 10 party or raid members to gain 0.25% of their maximum mana per second” whenever the priest, paladin or hunter uses a particular ability.

In addition, if you happen to raid regularly with a resto shaman, the Mana Tide Totem restores 24% of total mana over 12 seconds.

Doing the Math
To see how these balance out against mp5-based regen, let’s look at the value of 500 Intellect. (Note that I won’t be assuming the presence of Blessing of Kings, as you may not have access to it – and with current gearing levels it’s inferior to Blessing of Wisdom for regen anyway.)

500 Intellect on gear becomes 575 Intellect in play, thanks to Divine Intellect. 575 Int is worth 8625 mana. Assuming regen abilities are used on cooldown, on 8625 mana:

  • Divine Plea can return 2156 mana per minute, equivalent to about 180 mp5.
  • Replenishment can return up to 21.56 mana per second, equivalent to 107 mp5. This is dependent on uptime; 100% uptime is fairly unlikely.
  • Mana Tide Totem can restore 2070 mana every 5 minutes, equivalent to 34 mp5.

500 Intellect therefore gives anywhere from 180-321 mp5, depending on your group composition and the uptime of their regen abilities.

However, looking at the item value of Intellect vs mp5, 500 intellect costs you the same itemisation budget as 200 mp5, which is only 20 mp5 more than the mana return of Divine Plea alone.

Illumination and Crits
That increased intellect has another effect: it increases your crit chance, which increases your mana return from casting spells. This is a lot harder to model, because the mana returns from crit rating are very variable, depending on your spell choice and casting frequency. However, doing some rough napkin math:

500 Int on gear becomes 575 Int in play for a holy paladin; 575 Int equals about 3.45% spell crit, according to this Elitist Jerks post.

Using a very rough casting model (which assumes that you’re using about 60% Flashes of Light, 20% Holy Lights and 20% Holy Shocks; that you’re keeping up Sacred Shield on one target, Beacon of Light, and Judging once a minute for Seals of the Pure; and that your Haste compensates for time lost to positioning), 1% crit chance restores about the same amount of mana, over time, as 10 mp5. This assumes near-constant casting, which is typical of a paladin healer; however, even if you’re spending up to 40% of your time not casting, 3.45% spell crit still provides as much mana return as 20 mp5.

The Bottom Line

Assuming you use Divine Plea on every cooldown, and that you spend at least 60% of each fight casting, gearing for Intellect gives you as much mana return as gearing for mp5. In addition, gearing for intellect gives you extra mana return from Mana Tide Totems and Replenishment if you have access to them (up to 78% extra mana return, in fact). And, finally, gearing for intellect increases your healing output as well, by increasing your spellpower (via Holy Guidance) and your crit rate.

The Caveat

Don’t eschew mp5 completely.

Yes, gearing for intellect is better than gearing for mp5, assuming items of equal quality. However, you’re often not choosing between items of completely equal quality, and you shouldn’t disdain mp5 to the point where you’re discarding otherwise-excellent items just because they have mp5 on them. Mp5 is not a dirty word – it still does the same job it always did, it’s just that now Intellect does it better.

The Importance of Intellect

There’s one side-effect of the game mechanics changes in 3.0.2 and the new spells in Wrath that many people haven’t realised: Intellect is now the primary regen stat for raiding holy Paladins.

This comes from two sources of regen that are based on total mana:

Divine Plea
This is the new paladin spell at level 71; it restores 25% of your total mana over 15 seconds with a 1 minute cooldown (and a debuff to healing done).

This is the new raid regen buff granted by Shadow Priests, Retribution Paladins and Survival Hunters. It “causes up to 10 party or raid members to gain 0.25% of their maximum mana per second” whenever the priest, paladin or hunter uses a particular ability.

Doing the Math
To see how these balance out against mp5-based regen, let’s look at the value of 500 Intellect. 500 Intellect is worth 7500 mana, which means Divine Plea can return up to 1875 mana per minute, equivalent to 156.25 mp5. 7500 mana also allows Replenishment to return 18.75 mana per second, equivalent to 93.75 mp5.

500 Intellect therefore gives 250 mp5, assuming you have constant Replenishment uptime (which is not a given; it depends on the composition of your raids, and your Replenishment buffers’ ability rotations) and that you use Divine Plea on every cooldown.

However, looking at the item value of Intellect vs mp5, 500 intellect only costs you 80% of the itemisation budget of 250 mp5, meaning that if you have ready access to Replenishment, Intellect is ‘cheaper’ than equivalent mp5 for regen.

What if you don’t have ready access to Replenishment? What if your raid only has one shadow priest and no ret pallies or survival hunters, and you’re fighting with 15 other mana users for Replenishment? Well, most of the regen value of Intellect is from Divine Plea; as you can see from the numbers above, you only need a 47% uptime or better on Replenishment for Intellect to become better itemisation value than mp5.

This fact is even more true for Holy paladins, who get spellcrit-based mana return (when healing) from Intellect.

From combat ratings calculations by Whitetooth at Elitist Jerks, and using the example above, 500 Intellect at level 80 gives 3% Spell Crit. The value of this in terms of mp5 is hard to calculate, because it depends greatly on your spell rotations in a level 80 raid – but it’s certainly a significant boost to spell throughput and mana return, which just strengthens the value of itemising for Intellect rather than mp5.

In a very, very rough estimate of modelling the effect of spell crit at 80: assuming a ratio of 60% Flash of Light, 20% Holy Light and 20% Holy Shock, and that you’re chain-casting, 3% spell crit returns mana equivalent to approximately 33mp5. If you incorporated this into the numbers above, you’d only have to have Replenishment 12% of the time instead of 47%. Obviously, this is highly variable depending on your casting rotation and frequency.

The Bottom Line
Assuming you can use Divine Plea on every cooldown, and have at least some access to the Replenishment buff, gearing for Intellect is a stronger option than gearing for mp5.