Holy Priest Healing Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (MoP 5.4)

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General Information

On this page, we list your Holy Priest core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft MoP 5.4. We also explain when to use your various cooldowns. Then, we go deeper and present all the subtleties that you will need to know if you want to excel at playing a Holy Priest.

The other pages of our Holy Priest guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the right.

About Our Reviewer

This guide has been reviewed and approved by Jhazrun, one of the best Holy Priests in the world, who raids in Paragon.

1. Rotation↑top

Healing is in great part based on your ability to react to the damage that the raid takes, and as such there is no set rotation. Rather, you must understand what spells are best suited to the different situations that can occur during a raid encounter.

Below, we provide you with the best actions to take in each situation.

There is a difference in healing style between 10-man and 25-man. We will begin by discussing 25-man healing (and within this category, we will begin with raid healing, which is your most likely role in 25-man), and we will then dedicate a separate section to 10-man peculiarities.

1.1. 25-man

1.1.1. Raid Healing

Whenever you are raid healing, you should be in Chakra: Sanctuary Icon Chakra: Sanctuary, as this increases your AoE healing and also lowers the cooldown of your Circle of Healing Icon Circle of Healing by 2 seconds. Additionally, it grants you the Holy Word: Sanctuary Icon Holy Word: Sanctuary ability.

Depending on what types of damage you are facing, you should use the following guidelines. Note that within a category of damage, the spells are not necessarily listed in order of importance.

  • Low damage or no damage
    • Cast Circle of Healing Icon Circle of Healing on cooldown, as long as it will heal at least 3 players.
    • Cast Heal Icon Heal on players who need topping off.
    • Place Renew Icon Renew on players who have sustained some damage or may sustain damage in the near future.
    • Cast Prayer of Healing Icon Prayer of Healing, assuming that it heals at least 3 players in the group you are casting it on (with minimal or no overhealing).
  • Low to moderate damage
    • Cast Circle of Healing Icon Circle of Healing on cooldown, as long as it will heal at least 3 players.
    • Keep up Prayer of Mending Icon Prayer of Mending, if the damage is at all sustained.
    • Keep Renew Icon Renew up on several targets, pre-casting it shortly before they take damage, if possible.
    • Cast Prayer of Healing Icon Prayer of Healing, assuming that it heals at least 3 players in the group you are casting it on (with minimal or no overhealing).
    • Place Holy Word: Sanctuary Icon Holy Word: Sanctuary on the ground, in an area where there are a lot of raid members. Ideally, cast this a few seconds before the damage begins.
  • Moderate to high damage
  • High sustained damage
  • Emergency situations
    • Cast Flash Heal Icon Flash Heal on a player that is really low on health and in imminent danger of dying.
    • Cast Binding Heal Icon Binding Heal on a player that is really low on health and in imminent danger of dying, if you yourself are also in need of healing.
    • If you have stacks of Serendipity Icon Serendipity (from having cast Flash Heal or Binding Heal), then you can use the hastened Greater Heal Icon Greater Heal or Prayer of Healing Icon Prayer of Healing for emergencies as well.

1.1.2. Tank and Single-Target Healing

Whenever you are tank or single-target healing, you should be in Chakra: Serenity Icon Chakra: Serenity. This increases the healing done by all your single-target spells by 25%, and causes them to refresh the duration of Renew Icon Renew on the target. Additionally, it offers you the Holy Word: Serenity Icon Holy Word: Serenity ability.

Depending on the types of damage you are facing, you should use the following guidelines. Note that within a category of damage, the spells are not necessarily listed in order of importance. Note also that when we refer to the tank, we always also mean "or the other single target you are healing".

  • Low damage or no damage
  • Low to moderate damage
  • Moderate to high damage
  • High sustained damage
  • Emergency situations
    • Cast Flash Heal Icon Flash Heal on the tank if they are in danger of dying.
    • Cast Binding Heal Icon Binding Heal on the tank if they are in danger of dying and you can also benefit from the healing.
    • Cast Guardian Spirit Icon Guardian Spirit on the tank if they are in imminent danger of dying. Note that you should not do this if you are assigned to use Guardian Spirit at another, specific time of the fight.

1.2. 10-man

In 10-man, you will spend the majority of the time in Chakra: Serenity Icon Chakra: Serenity, since you are required to be much more versatile and you cannot simply settle into a raid-healing role.

You should use Holy Word: Serenity Icon Holy Word: Serenity on cooldown, and you should make sure that Prayer of Mending Icon Prayer of Mending is always active.

2. Cooldown Usage↑top

As a Holy Priest, you have several cooldowns. Here is how you should use them:

  • Divine Hymn Icon Divine Hymn should be used during periods of very intense raid damage. Keep in mind, however, that your raid leader may instruct you to use it a very specific time.
  • Lightwell Icon Lightwell should be active whenever a period of high and sustained occurs. Excluding such situations, you should try to cast it as often as possible.
  • Guardian Spirit Icon Guardian Spirit should be used depending on many factors, including on your raid leader's instructions. If you do not have to save Guardian Spirit for a specific event, then just use it as a "life-saver" on the tank or another raid member who needs it.
  • Void Shift Icon Void Shift should be used to save the life of a raid member by trading health percentages with them. When doing this, be prepared to immediately use Desperate Prayer Icon Desperate Prayer (if you have taken this talent) and/or a Healthstone to ensure you do not die. Alternatively, it can be used to save your own life. Always be wary who you cast this spell on, especially if your own health is low.

You can read more about how to best use these cooldowns, and about the cooldowns and abilities granted by your talents, in our detailed cooldown section.

3. Optional Read: Mastering Your Holy Priest↑top

Playing a Holy Priest, and, indeed, any healer, cannot be easily boiled down into a "rotation" or "priority". There exists a multitude of factors that will affect how you use your spells. You can use the guidelines we listed above to great success, but in order to truly feel comfortable, there are other aspects you need to fully understand.

3.1. Spell Usage in Detail

In order to allow you to make the best possible choices with some of the spells you use, you need to better understand their advantages and drawbacks.

3.1.1. Prayer of Healing and Circle of Healing

Prayer of Healing Icon Prayer of Healing and Circle of Healing Icon Circle of Healing are your only reliable means of AoE healing, and they are both fantastic for that purpose. There are a few things to keep in mind regarding their continued usage:

  • They heal players who are within 30 yards or less of the player you have targeted (and, in the case of Prayer of Healing, only in the same party as that player). This means you need to make sure that you do not cast them on players who are separated from the rest of the raid.
  • They should only be used when 3 or more players will benefit from their healing in order to be a mana efficient means of healing.

During periods of low damage, you will generally not need to resort to them, although you can (keep in mind their rather high mana cost). During periods of higher damage, these spells are absolutely essential and you will often find yourself spamming them. Indeed, just to reiterate, during heavy, sustained raid-damage, spamming these two spells is what you should be doing.

3.1.2. Holy Word: Sanctuary

Holy Word: Sanctuary Icon Holy Word: Sanctuary places a healing zone on the ground, which heals the 6 most injured players inside it for 30 seconds.

This spell is extremely expensive, so, sadly, you cannot make free use of it. It should only be used when there is relatively high and sustained raid damage.

Ideally, you should cast the spell a few seconds before the actual damage begins (if the encounter allows it), so that you can cast other heals while it is active.

3.1.3. Renew

Even though Renew Icon Renew is an overall good spell for Holy Priests, you will not often find many uses for it in encounters where there is a lot of heavy raid damage. In these cases, you will only use Renew when the opportunity exists to apply it to several players before the actual damage begins, as this will essentially be "free healing" for you during the damage, while you cast other spells.

Renew is mostly useful in the following situations:

  • for using while moving (note that in addition to the HoT, it also heals for a small amount when it is applied);
  • for using on mildly damaged raid members whom you wish to heal up without great urgency;
  • for keeping active on one or both tanks (since refreshing it on one or two targets should not be too difficult) while you are raid healing and assisting on tanks, thus adding to the healing they receive and helping the other healers.

If you are tank or single-target healing, then keeping Renew up is both easy and important.

In 10-man, Renew should be kept up on as many raid members as possible, within reason with regard to the current situation (in other words, don't try to keep it up on 6 raid members if the damage taken by the raid does not call for it).

3.1.4. Power Word: Shield

Power Word: Shield Icon Power Word: Shield is a problematic spell to use as a Holy Priest. In general, your specialisation is not at all tailored to the use of this spell, so it is certainly not part of your main arsenal.

Discipline Priests will always have better and more potent shields than you. Because casting Power Word: Shield on a player applies the Weakened Soul Icon Weakened Soul debuff on them, preventing another shield from being applied for a short while, you should not use this spell if you have a Discipline Priest in your raid, since it will interfere negatively with their own healing.

That said, if the Discipline Priest will not or can not cast Power Word: Shield on a player (or if there is no Discipline Priest in your raid), there are a few situations where you can use it:

  • if the target (generally a tank) requires "extra health" to survive an incoming large attack (since the shield essentially increases their maximum health for a short time);
  • if someone is in imminent danger of dying and only an instant cast spell can save them;
  • if you are moving and someone is in danger of dying.

Note that Power Word: Shield has a large mana cost and you really cannot afford to use it frequently.

3.1.5. Greater Heal

You should only use Greater Heal Icon Greater Heal when trying to top up a damaged raid member quickly, or when the tank needs a lot of focus and healing.

3.1.6. Holy Word: Serenity

Holy Word: Serenity Icon Holy Word: Serenity is primarily used in 10-man healing or single-target (tank) healing in 25-man. It is a cheap, powerful, and fast heal. Additionally, the fact that the target has a 25% increased chance to be critically healed by you for 6 seconds makes this spell ideal for burst healing.

For example, the following combination performs a huge amount of burst healing.

  1. Holy Word: Serenity Icon Holy Word: Serenity.
  2. Flash Heal Icon Flash Heal.
  3. Flash Heal Icon Flash Heal.
  4. Greater Heal Icon Greater Heal.

3.2. Mana Regeneration

As for all healers, mana regeneration is a very important factor and it will often prove to be the determining factor in how much healing you can put out during an encounter.

As a Holy Priest, you have two abilities that you can use for mana regeneration: Hymn of Hope Icon Hymn of Hope and Shadowfiend Icon Shadowfiend.

3.2.1. Hymn of Hope

Hymn of Hope Icon Hymn of Hope is a channeled spell that restores mana in a "smart" way to several low-mana raid members and increases their maximum mana by 15% for 8 seconds. Hymn of Hope prefers to restore mana to healers over caster DPS players, and as long as there are healers who can benefit from it, they will do so ahead of casters (even if the casters are much lower on mana than the healers). It has a 6-minute cooldown.

Hymn of Hope will, most likely, be only used once or possibly twice during the encounter. The best time to use this ability is hard to determine ahead of time, as it depends on a great number of factors. Follow these guidelines:

  • Try to use Hymn of Hope Icon Hymn of Hope as many times during an encounter as possible.
  • Only use Hymn of Hope when you are not at maximum mana.
  • Do not use Hymn of Hope Icon Hymn of Hope if you will need to interrupt the cast before it finishes (8 second cast), because of having to move or heal.
  • Do not use Hymn of Hope Icon Hymn of Hope when there is a lot of raid damage. Your inability to heal while channeling Hymn of Hope will force other healers to compensate by using mana inefficient spells.
  • Remember that Hymn of Hope Icon Hymn of Hope benefits not only you, but also other low-mana healers. This means that you should use it when more healers can get the benefit from it, i.e. when their mana is low and they can use class-specific mana regeneration cooldowns, such as Divine Plea Icon Divine Plea for Holy Paladins. This is because the mana-pool increasing effect of Hymn of Hope increases the potency of mana regeneration cooldowns which are based on maximum mana.

Alternatively, if you are in a very healing-intensive moment in the fight and you are out of mana, you can channel Hymn of Hope for only one tick, and then cancel it. The mana pool-increasing effect will last for 8 seconds, during which time you can benefit from this extra mana to cast a few much-needed heals. This is not an efficient way to regenerate your mana, but it can allow you to cast a few more heals in an emergency when you are low on mana.

3.2.2. Shadowfiend

Shadowfiend Icon Shadowfiend will summon a pet that attacks the target, restoring some of your maximum mana to you each time it makes an attack. Shadowfiend has a lower cooldown than Hymn of Hope (3 minutes). It should be used as many times during an encounter as possible. Ideally, it should be used while Hymn of Hope is active, as this temporarily increases your maximum mana, and Shadowfiend grants you a percentage of your maximum mana with each attack it makes.

Lastly, it does not matter when your Shadowfiend is cast relative to Heroism Icon Heroism/Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust/Time Warp Icon Time Warp, since its stats update dynamically, so it is perfectly fine to cast Shadowfiend after Heroism/Bloodlust/Time Warp is already up.

3.3. Healing Cooldowns In Detail

Your healing cooldowns require a bit more explanation in order to ensure that you can make the best of them.

3.3.1. Divine Hymn

Divine Hymn Icon Divine Hymn will essentially put out a huge amount of "smart" healing on several raid members, while also increasing the healing that they receive for a short time.

Keep in mind that the spell is channeled, so you cannot perform other actions while casting it.

Generally, your raid leader will assign you to use this spell at a certain time in the fight, in order to counter a heavy burst of damage. If this is the case, make sure your spell is available at that time.

Otherwise, you should simply try to find a moment when using this spell is beneficial. Most often, this will happen during a period of very intense raid damage.

3.3.2. Lightwell

You should think of the Lightwell Icon Lightwell as "free healing" during periods of heavy raid damage (in much the same way as when you have pre-cast Renew Icon Renew or Holy Word: Sanctuary Icon Holy Word: Sanctuary). You should try to have the Lightwell up shortly before the raid damage begins, so that you can use your global cooldowns on other spells during that time.

3.3.3. Guardian Spirit

Guardian Spirit Icon Guardian Spirit is one of the most useful tools you can bring to a raid. Using it places a buff on the target, which lasts for 10 seconds and increases all healing received by the target by 60%. If the target receives a killing blow during this time, they will not die and instead be healed for 50% of their maximum health, consuming the Guardian Spirit effect.

While you can use this on any raid member who is about to die and whom you have no other means of saving, it is by far better used on a tank who is about to take a large amount of damage. You should make sure to communicate with the tank and other healers, in order to ensure that you do not use multiple powerful cooldowns at the same time.

You can also use this spell to allow tanks (or other players) to survive an ability that should have otherwise been avoided, either as part of your raid's strategy or to recover from a mistake.

Keep in mind that your raid leader may assign you to use this spell for a specific event in the encounter.

3.3.4. Void Shift

Void Shift Icon Void Shift has a straightforward usage. It is an emergency cooldown (although you can also use it to handle some pre-determined encounter mechanics). If you are at or near full health, you can cast this on a raid member who has low health and is likely to be damaged again. Conversely, you can use this on a full health raid member if you yourself are low health and you are about to take damage again shortly.

You should always be mindful of the surroundings of the person who will have their health lowered, so as to make sure that you are not endangering them.

3.3.5. Tier 3 Talents

If you have chosen From Darkness, Comes Light Icon From Darkness, Comes Light, then simply be prepared to use your procs, so that they do not overwrite each other.

Mindbender Icon Mindbender should be used on cooldown, to make use of its much lower cooldown. Trying to stack it with various cooldowns, as we mentioned regarding Shadowfiend Icon Shadowfiend, is still ideal.

Power Word: Solace Icon Power Word: Solace replaces Holy Fire Icon Holy Fire. It is essentially the same as Holy Fire, with a few key differences.

  • 100% of the damage that Power Word: Solace does is also done as healing to a nearby ally.
  • Power Word: Solace does not cost any mana.
  • Power Word: Solace restores 1% of maximum mana when cast.

It should be used whenever you have spare time to use it (that is to say, when you do not have to heal more intensely), and when you can use the mana return it provides.

3.3.6. Tier 5 Talents

Power Infusion Icon Power Infusion should be used whenever a period of intense healing is coming up, or simply when you want to conserve your mana. Exceptionally, you can use it to deal more damage, if the encounter calls for it.

Procs from Divine Insight Icon Divine Insight should be used as soon as possible. It is ideal to use them during times of raid damage (so that they do not overheal), but this is not always under your control.

3.3.7. Tier 6 Talents

Which ever of these talents you chose (Cascade Icon Cascade, Divine Star Icon Divine Star, or Halo Icon Halo), you should use it whenever it will not overheal. Obviously, all of these talents are suited for AoE healing.

4. Changelog↑top

  • 10 Sep. 2013: Patch 5.4 update.
    • Updated the description of Hymn of Hope Icon Hymn of Hope to specify that this spell now prefers restoring mana to healers over casters.
    • Updated the Shadowfiend Icon Shadowfiend section to accurately mention that it does not matter when Shadowfiend is cast relative to Heroism Icon Heroism/Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust/Time Warp Icon Time Warp, since its stats update dynamically.
    • Updated the Lightwell Icon Lightwell section to account for the fact that Lightwell now heals players automatically (in the way that the spell previously worked when using Glyph of Lightspring, which has since been removed.
    • Updated the description of Holy Word: Sanctuary Icon Holy Word: Sanctuary to account for the fact that it now no longer heals all players inside it, instead only healing the 6 most injured ones.
  • 20 May 2013: Patch 5.3 update: nothing to change.
  • 19 Apr. 2013: Made several updates.
    • Added a section explaining the healing rotation in 10-man.
    • Added mention of being quick to top yourself off after using Void Shift Icon Void Shift to save a raid member.
    • Added a tip for the usage of Hymn of Hope Icon Hymn of Hope (at the very end of the respective section).
    • Improved the Lightwell Icon Lightwell section to emphasise the importance of using Glyph of Lightspring.
  • 28 Mar. 2013: Added tank and single-target healing "rotation". Tweaked and improved raid healing "rotation". Removed the Chakra: Serenity section, since it had become redundant with the guide now going into detail about tank and single-target healing.
  • 04 Mar. 2013: Patch 5.2 update.