How To Improve As Holy Priest — Shadowlands 9.1
On this page, you will find out how you can improve at playing Holy Priest in World of Warcraft — Shadowlands 9.1. We list the common mistakes that you should try to avoid and the small details that can greatly improve your performance.
Common Holy Priest Mistakes
While Holy Priest has tools to fit nearly every situation, the obvious choice may not always be the optimal one.
Please note that Mana costs in dungeon content are less of a problem because of the ability to drink between pulls, so any mentions below regarding Mana issues are mostly focused on raids.
Mana: Casting Renew Too Much
Casting Renew frequently is likely the number one cause of Mana issues. While Renew on the surface looks like it would be a good spell to keep on people who are regularly taking damage, such as tanks or debuff targets, it is in fact quite inefficient compared to some of our other options. Even in periods of heavy movement, if the healing requirements during it are not high, you are often better conserving your Mana for later usage on Prayer of Healing and the AoE healing talents, like Divine Star or Halo.
Performance: Not Planning For Movement
Movement in encounters is unavoidable. Thankfully though most encounters are scripted in a reasonably predictable manner, allowing you to not only plan your positioning to minimise movement when required, but sometimes with smart positioning, eliminate movement entirely. This is important for Holy Priest as a large portion of our healing toolkit requires standing still while casting. Planning ahead and maximising the amount of time you can stand still, particularly during periods that have a heavy healing requirement, can be the difference between being an average or a great healer.
Mana: Running Out of Mana Early
One of the most difficult and most important aspects of playing any healer is proper Mana management. Being able to pace your spell usage throughout an encounter, so you have Mana when you need it, can be difficult and varies from boss to boss. A good general rule of thumb while you are learning a new encounter and trying to figure out when to burst and when to conserve, is to try and keep your Mana pool roughly equal to the bosses hitpoints. It is important you use a Mana potion and cast Symbol of Hope each encounter as well.
Holy Priest gameplay involves trying to use the efficient cooldown based abilities as often as possible, such as spells or talents like Holy Word: Sanctify, Holy Word: Serenity, Circle of Healing and Divine Star. When these abilities are off cooldown, we use what are often referred to as filler spells to continue healing our allies. Which filler spell is used and when can greatly impact your Mana consumption and conservation.
- Flash Heal — Single target quick but inefficient healing.
- Prayer of Healing — AoE burst but inefficient healing.
- Renew — Single target, heavy movement sustained healing.
- Heal — Single target efficient healing.
- Binding Heal (talent) — Multi target efficient healing.
- Smite — Very low Mana cost for periods with no healing required.
More detailed descriptions of these spells can be found on the spells page.
Mana: Casting During Raid Cooldowns
Typically in a raid environment, the raid cooldowns used primarily by healers to keep the group alive are cast during periods of heavy or life threatening damage. Because these cooldowns do so much healing and often apply that healing over a short period of time, casting high healing or inefficient spells of your own during these can be a waste of your Mana. Where possible during raid cooldown usage, try to limit your spellcasting to triage of people that are in danger, and allow the raid cooldowns to do their work on the rest of your group.
Your priority as a healer and a healing team should be to collectively keep everyone alive for the length of the encounter, not focused on individual healing throughput and healing meters.
Performance: Not Effectively Using Cooldowns
Raid healing cooldowns can have a huge impact on your group, if used at the correct time. Typically your raid leader or healing lead will assign specific mechanics during an encounter to cast these. Unfortunately, our primary raid cooldown, Divine Hymn, requires standing still, so you may need to work with others in your group to find the most suitable time to cast it that keeps your group alive through dangerous mechanics, but also allows you to get the most out of the channelled cast.
Holy Priest also has an array of other abilities with cooldowns which should be cast as regularly as possible. Common mistakes are not casting these spells often enough and casting them without ensuring they will do effective healing. It can be a difficult balance to strike, but so long as you are not taking too many healers to your raid, it should be fairly easy to use them regularly. These spells are all core parts of our toolkit and should be used as regularly as they will do effective healing.
- Prayer of Mending - Use on cooldown where possible regardless of incoming damage.
- Holy Word: Serenity - Time this spell is not on cooldown is wasted cooldown reduction from your filler spells.
- Holy Word: Sanctify - Time this spell is not on cooldown is wasted cooldown reduction from your filler spells
- Circle of Healing - Short cooldown, use as regularly as it will do effective healing.
- Divine Star (talent) - Short cooldown, use as regularly as it will do effective healing.
- Halo (talent) - Use as regularly as it will do effective healing.
Further Holy Priest Performance Improvement
Analysing Logs Yourself
If you or someone in your raid is uploading logs of your raids to WarcraftLogs, then you can look deeper into how you performed on a particular encounter. To do this, open the report then select the encounter you are interested in. Finally, select your name from the list and start looking through the tabs to show your relevant statistics.
While there is a lot of data and information contained in these log reports, below are some of the key areas you can focus on initially to improve.
Look at the Overheal column to try and pinpoint occasions you were wasting spellcasts. Particularly for spells like Flash Heal, which is supposed to be an emergency heal, having high overheal of 30% or more indicates you are picking poor targets for your Flash Heal casts. Having higher overheal for spells you have less control over, such as Mastery: Echo of Light, Renews from Benediction or Holy Word: Salvation, and the talent Cosmic Ripple typically does not indicate any problem.
Change the dropdown menu at the top left from Hit Points to Mana and look at how your Mana went down in comparison to the length of the encounter. Running out of Mana mid-way through the encounter indicates poor Mana management and that you should maybe swap to more efficient spells over the more expensive ones to slow the rate at which your run out of Mana.
This tab is great at easily comparing how you have been spending your time healing. You can also use it to see where you may have gaps in your core rotational abilities, such as Prayer of Mending, Circle of Healing, and Holy Word: Serenity/ Holy Word: Sanctify. To check this, click the "+" symbol on the right hand side of the table and it will show a graph above the table displaying a vertical line for each time you cast the spell. Getting on top of casting these spells as regularly as possible is key to making the most of your Mana and doing as much effective healing as possible.
Below is an example where we have selected the "+" besides Prayer of Mending in the table below, and you can see in the new graph that appears at the top where the gaps are in our Prayer of Mending casts.
You can also use the Casts Tab to ensure you are using at least one potion per fight. For a list of desired potions you should be using, see the Gems, Enchants and Consumables page.
Analysing Logs With WoWAnalyzer
Another useful tool which can help provide insight into your logs is WoWAnalyzer, which allows you to paste in the link to a Warcraft Logs report and it will analyse your playstyle and give you some pointers on where you can improve. Of particular value is the Checklist tab found at the top. By expanding out each of those sections, you can ensure you are focusing on the core abilities to succeed as a Holy Priest.
Log Analysis From Others
The final option for log analysis is approaching knowledgeable Holy Priests who are happy to look over your logs for you. While this can be daunting to do at first, the rewards are more than worth putting yourself out there for and absorbing the constructive criticism that comes your way. For having others review your logs, we suggest visiting the #holy channel on the Warcraft Priests Discord.
- 29 Jun. 2021: Reviewed and approved for Patch 9.1.
- 23 Nov. 2020: Updated for Shadowlands.
- 12 Oct. 2020: Page updated for the Shadowlands pre-patch.
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