SO YOU'VE DECIDED TO BECOME A HOLY PALADIN
The wet snow was still clinging to the young Dwarf's tattered and mismatched hand-me-down chainmail as he nervously stood in front of Azar Stronghammer, the Paladin who had been his mentor since leaving the comfort and safety of his home in Anvilmar. "Ye've done well, young Paladin, ta make it this far," Azar said, a stern, yet approving look on his weathered face. "But the dangers o' Dun Morogh are jus' the beginning of yer journeys. It's now time to choose which path of the Light ye're to follow. Choose wisely, young one, but choose quickly! Me ale needs me attention!"
|Kneel. Kneel before |
Putting the first Talent Point into the Holy Tree and choosing the life of a healer means that you are taking upon yourself the responsibility to keep those around you alive. It means that you are going to thrive in groups, and there will always be an insatiable demand for your services at every level and in every situation.
A Holy Paladin is one of the most powerful healers in the game. Equally at home in small groups or large raids, they bring lot of unique abilities and utility spells in addition to their healing. In a raid setting, a Paladin's natural niche is healing the Tanks, as the direct nature of the healing spells coupled with Beacon of Light are excellent for keeping up a single target taking extreme damage. A Holy Paladin is certainly capable of healing the Raid as well, but has fewer tools to do it than the other healing classes.
HOLY PALADIN ABILITIES
All Paladins get the following abilities as soon as they choose the Holy talent tree:
An instant cast, multi-use spell as it can be used as an attack or a heal. It generates one point of Holy Power upon use. As an attack it does a moderate amount of damage and is a very useful addition to the admittedly limited offensive potential of a Holy Paladin. This spell, when used in a Holy DPS build, gives that spec it's name: The Shockadin.
As a heal, it is an exceptional spell and forms the backbone of our healing arsenal. Healing for a decent amount and generating Holy Power, this is something that a Holy Paladin will want to cast as much as possible. It has a short 6 second cooldown, and because it is instant is one of the few heals that a Holy Paladin can cast while moving.
Allows 50% of your mana regeneration from Spirit to continue while in combat. This ability is a freebie that every healer gets, but it's absolutely crucial for a healer to be effective. Ignore all of the other abilities - this, more than anything, is why a Holy Paladin will be better at healing than a Retribution or Protection Paladin at the lower levels.
Walk in the Light
Increases the effectiveness of healing spells by 10% and removes the cooldown while increasing the effectiveness of Word of Glory by 30%. Another ability that makes a Holy Paladin a much stronger healer than the other specs.
Illuminated Healing (Mastery)
This ability places a shield on the target of each of your Direct Heals (as of 4.2: Flash of Light, Holy Light, Divine Light, Holy Shock, Word of Glory) for a fixed percentage of the heal. It is augmented by Mastery Rating, which can increase the size of each shield. Trained at level 80, this ability is not going to matter much to a levelling Holy Paladin.
LEVELLING AS A HOLY PALADIN
Regardless of your class, levelling as a healer is not a challenge for the faint of heart. Questing will be a lot slower and more difficult than with a Retribution or even a Protection talent specialization. Enemies of all sorts will chuckle as you tickle them for virtually no damage with your weapon. Holy Shock will be your best friend, but enemies will seem like they take forever to die and it's likely that you will become intimately familiar with each of the questing zones many graveyards. You'll probably know the Spirit Healers on a first name basis.
On the other hand, a low level Holy Paladin is a beast at healing in dungeons. As such, your best levelling path is through instances using the Random Dungeon Finder starting at level 15.
If your plan is to heal once you reach Level 85 (and I can't imagine there is a reason to level as Holy if it isn't), there are several advantages to levelling through Dungeons:
1) Low level dungeons are easy to heal and provide great experience and gear. Even without any guild perks or heirlooms to help boost Experience Point gain, a single dungeon run at low levels will provide a sizable chunk of a level, if not more. As well, the dungeoneering Paladin will almost certainly be clad in the best gear available for any particular level, which makes healing even easier.
2) Levelling as a healer will provide a greater understanding of the healing dynamics of the class. Rather than levelling as another spec and choosing Holy later, someone starting as a Holy Paladin will be able to spend time with each ability as they are learned, and will be able to see how each spell relates in function to the other spells in the toolbox. It is the best way to get an intuitive knowledge of all of the spells in a class's arsenal, and will ease the learning curve in the higher-end content.
GEAR & STATS FOR LEVELLING
Paladins have a great deal of flexibility when it comes to levelling gear as they are able to wear any type of armour available. Mail armour is preferred until level 40 when it's possible to train Plate. However, until level 50 when the Plate Armor Specialization ability becomes trainable (which gives an additional 5% mana when wearing all plate armour), a Holy Paladin can and should use any armour type that is an upgrade.
Holy Paladins are unique in that they are the only class to have an armour class all to themselves. Plate with Intellect (or Mail with Intellect below level 40) is not desired by any other class that can use it, consequently it can be somewhat harder to find. The advantage is that in a group or raid there will be less competition for that gear, giving you a better chance to get it.
Holy Paladins are also one of only two healing classes that can use Shields, although they can also equip any type of off-hand item other than weapons. Shields with healing stats (Intellect, see below) are rare and precious objects while levelling, and it's more than likely a shield will get replaced much less often than any other type of gear short of a Relic (which you won't see until around level 50).
INTELLECT is your highest priority stat, and should be on every single piece of your gear. Get used to stacking as much of this stat as you can, because it is your best friend from now on. This stat not only determines how much mana you have, but also your spell power which increases how big your heals are. In addition, Intellect factors into mana regeneration. More Intellect is always better.
While levelling, all the other stats are relatively meaningless and Intellect should be prioritized over everything else. My personal strategy is to equip any gear that has more Intellect, even if it is a lower item level or has worse secondary stats. Until you hit Northrend, no other stat matters.
However, since you're going to get secondary stats regardless, it is useful to know what they are and what they do.
SPIRIT is your regeneration stat. It allows you to increase the amount of mana you regenerate both in an out of combat. It's a very good stat to have if you are having problems with your mana when healing dungeons. Never, ever stack Spirit instead of Intellect as Intellect contributes to your regeneration as well.
HASTE is a throughput stat that increases the speed of your heals and lowers your Global Cooldown, allowing your to cast more spells in a given period of time. This is a great stat to have, but at low levels you will never be able to acquire enough of it to make a significant difference.
CRITICAL STRIKE RATING increases the chance that your heals will land as a critical strike which will make them heal for 100% more. This is nice to have, but it's unpredictable and most healers tend to favour the predictable healing increases that Haste provides instead.
MASTERY is a stat that you will start seeing on gear once you hit level 80 and move into the Cataclysm levelling zones. It increases the effectiveness of your Illuminated Healing shields. As such, it isn't something that you need to worry about for a while, but once you're at level 80 it's generally regarded as the least important of the secondary stats for a Holy Paladin.
Other stats, like STRENGTH, AGILITY, HIT RATING, SPELL PENETRATION or DODGE are stats that will not help your healing at all, and so have very little use for a Holy Paladin. STAMINA will increase your Hit Points, and therefore your survivability, but is not something that a Healer should go out of their way to gear for; your Tank should be taking the large majority of damage in an instance.
We will discuss the various different Secondary Stats from the level 85 perspective later in MASTERY CLASS: GEARING AND STATS FOR ENDGAME CONTENT (coming soon).
NEXT HOLY PALADIN BASICS CLASS:
The Holy Toolbox: Spells and Spell Selection