The 4 Most Common Holy Priest Mistakes

15 Feb

Whenever I write a post about being a healing priest, or more specifically a holy priest, I try really hard not to tell people what to do.  I try not to make it seem as if there is only one right way to do things.  Most of the advice that I give is meant to be taken as a suggestion or as something that I know has worked for me and that could possibly work for you.  I have always been someone who is not afraid to try something new or break the mold when I can and I have always been really fortunate to be in guilds with great leadership that are as open minded as I am.

With that said, there are times where I see a holy priest doing something that goes so far against the grain that even I have to strain to see why such a decision or course of action would make sense.  Of course, I try to see where they might be coming from.  But more often than not I just can’t wrap my head around why a holy priest would do certain things.  Inspired by the recent trend of posts on WoWInsider that highlight common mistakes made amongst the various classes and specs of World of Warcraft, here are my selections for the most common mistakes that I see among holy priests.


They don’t take Heavenly Voice.
It is not completely unrealistic to say that holy priests have waited this entire expansion for a talent like Heavenly Voice.  I don’t think that we really noticed just how lackluster Divine Hymn was when compared to other cooldowns until Firelands came out.  Then we really started to feel it.  It’s not that holy priests were nerfed – it was more that we were not built to react to the encounters the same way that a discipline priest could or that our playstyle just didn’t mesh well with certain mechanics.  We watched our representation in raids fall to very depressing numbers and I was one of many holy priests who wondered if this trend would continue well into Dragon Soul or even beyond.

Then word got out that the developers were going to replace a completely useless talent, State of Mind, with one called Heavenly Voice and that this new talent would serve to compliment Divine Hymn and help make it a much more viable raid cooldown than it had been in the past.  Our proverbial prayers had been answered.  Priests from here to Kalimdor were pulling out their talent calculators and trying to figure out which talents they were going to take points from in order to make sure they had enough to max out on Heavenly Voice.  It was pretty unanimous that Heavenly Voice was going to be something that any holy priest worth their salt was not going to want to miss out on.

Unfortunately, there are still a number of holy priests out there who have not caught on to just how incredible Heavenly Voice is.  Now I know that in my recently released 4.3 guide that I indicated it was acceptable to not max out on Heavenly Voice if you had just turned 85 or were spending most of your time healing nothing but 5 man dungeons.  This is still true.  However, once you reach the point where you are ready to raid (even if it’s just LFR) you should most certainly have two points in Heavenly Voice.  If I inspect a fellow priest and I see that they are very clearly doing some sort of raid activity and they don’t have points in Heavenly Voice I really question how effective they are being in a raid setting.  Please do not make the same mistake and miss out on this amazing talent.


They spec for shields.
While Power Word: Shield is a spell that both holy and discipline priests have available to them, it’s a pretty well known fact that a discipline priest will get far more out of placing a shield on someone than we will.  I rarely cast it on a tank and I can’t even remember the last time I cast it on someone when I was raid healing (unless I wanted to give them a speed boost with Body and Soul).  We don’t cast Power Word: Shield for the same reason that discipline priests don’t cast Renew – because they don’t get as much out of it as the priest with the opposite spec would and they have other tools that can do the job better.  This is how it is and how it will most likely continue to be.

So I find it very strange when I see holy priests with talent points in things like Improved Power Word: Shield or Soul Warding and I see them using Glyph of Power Word: Shield.  If your chances of beating a certain encounter hinge upon you being proficient with shields, you’re not going to do this as well as you could be if you were discipline.  Even for fights where Body and Soul makes a noticeable difference (e.g. Atramedes or Warmaster Blackhorn), you’re not using the shield for the absorption effect.  You’re using it for the burst of speed to help you or someone else get out of something bad.  That doesn’t require any enhancements to your shields that could come from talent points or a glyph.  In short, it doesn’t make any sense to divert so much of your resources towards something that someone else could do with noticeably less effort.


They have excessive amounts of Spirit.
Healers of all stripes went into Cataclysm knowing that we weren’t going to be able to enjoy the infinite mana pools that we had come to know and love from the days of Wrath of the Lich King.  It was almost a necessity when we were leveling up and gearing up for that first initial bout of Heroics to enchant for Spirit and gem for it, etc.  Some people took really well to the idea of “triage healing” and having to put more thought into the spells that you cast and others really struggled with it.  Eventually we reached a point where we could afford to do without all of that regen and we could sacrifice some of that Spirit for throughput.  Then Firelands happened.

The pieces that many priests would have used until they had enough Valor Points to start purchasing their tier 12 armor or until they were lucky enough to win the tokens came with a noticeable loss of Spirit or sometimes no Spirit whatsoever.  This was very shocking to many priests, who basically felt like they had the rug pulled out from under them.  Many of us felt like we were getting mixed messages about just how important Spirit was supposed to be to us.  We went from needing it, to not needing it – but still having it around and on our gear just in case.  Now it was noticeably missing from several pieces of equipment and priests tended to react in one of two ways.  They either adapted and found better ways to manage their mana and to make the most out of their cooldowns or they overcompensated and started making Spirit more of a priority than it should have been.

The number one complaint that I hear from people who decide to level a holy priest is how much they feel like they are running out of mana so much faster than other healers do.  It’s tempting to try and fix this by pouring on the Spirit, thanks to talents like Meditation and Holy Concentration that have made us unusually dependent on it (or more so than other healers are).  But there is such a thing as too much Spirit.  It may not even have anything to do with your attributes.  You could be having to work harder because someone else on your healing roster isn’t bringing their A game every night or you may have people in the raid who aren’t reacting to environmental damage like they need to and so you’re having to heal more to keep up.  Adding more Spirit to the mix is not always the answer.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a set amount of Spirit that I can tell you to shoot for or that I can say is too much.  It really has to be something that you get a feel for and that you just know when you have reached that point.  I always compare it to those classic spy movies where someone is trying to come up with the combination to the safe by putting their ear up to the door while turning the dial.  They turn it ever so slowly and keep their ears open for that very subtle click that will let them know when they have found the right number or numbers to crack open the safe.  That’s what you need to do.  Watch closely how your mana bar goes up and down during an encounter and how your cooldowns and the cooldowns from others affect it.  Look at how much mana you have left over when the fight ends.  Eventually you will tap into that sixth sense of just knowing where your regen is at and whether or not you could stand to have more or less of it.


They don’t commit to using Lightwell.
Whether we like it or not, Lightwell has become one of the defining spells for a holy priest, if not the most defining spell for us.  It used to be Circle of Healing, then Guardian Spirit was our trademark for a while, and now it’s Lightwell.  Never has a spell been so misunderstood as Lightwell has.

The problem with Lightwell is that it is not only as good as the people who have to actively make the choice to click it, but it is also only as good as the priest who is responsible for dropping it.  I have come across very few people in my travels who actively dislike Lightwell or who try to go out of their way to not use it.  Most people would love to use it, if it was dropped anywhere remotely near them, or if they knew that you were dropping it in the first place.  This is where you come in.

The first thing I can suggest, with regards to how to get the most use out of your Lightwell is to know the fight ahead of time.  There are some fights where it will pay to drop a Lightwell at the start of the pull or slightly before it and then there are fights where you may not want to drop it until the middle or even close to the end of the encounter.  Knowing when your Lightwell will get used the most or when it will be most in demand is very important.  The people that you raid with have to feel a pressing need to click on it and if there isn’t enough damage going out to put them in danger they are not going to use it.

Second, you need to think about where you are going to drop it.  While you can click the Lightwell from a good bit of distance away, that doesn’t mean that you should drop it at the farthest point of the room.  You also don’t want to drop it on top of the raid, where it may be hard to target the Lightwell and click on it with a bunch of bodies and other graphics in the way.  If you notice that people aren’t using it, feel free to ask them where they would like it dropped or where it would be easier for them to use it. Try to meet them halfway on this one.

Like any cooldown, it helps if people know that you are using it.  I use a now out of date addon called Raeli’s Spell Announcer to let the raid know that I have dropped a Lightwell, but there are several other addons that do the same thing, or you can even make a simple macro that will do the trick.  Be careful not to make your announcement too obnoxious or people will equate your Lightwell with that and they may not click on it, simply just to spite you.

An acceptable Lightwell announcement would be:


“A wild [Lightwell] appears.”


An unacceptable one would be:


“This is George.  He is my Lightwell.  George is currently holding 15 charges of holy healing goodness for you and will be eagerly awaiting for you to use him for another 2 minutes and 41 seconds.”


You also want to make sure that you are not keeping track of who is using the Lightwell openly in raid.  There are some addons that will tell you how many charges are left, who is using them, etc.  It’s fine if you want to keep track of this information for yourself, but do not broadcast this in party or raid chat.  Remember, you have to make people associate the Lightwell with something positive and overbearing raid announcements will not help your cause any.

Along with creating a macro or using an addon to let people know that you have cast Lightwell, it helps to say in Vent or Mumble (or whichever program that you use) that you are doing this and where you have placed it.  For example, I may say “Lightwell on the left,” or “Lightwell in the back.”  Again, keep it short and sweet.

If at the end of the day you have truly done everything you can to train your raid how to use the Lightwell and they are still not meeting you halfway on this, then you can feel free to /spit on them and tell us how terrible they are in Trade chat or on the PlusHeal boards.  We’ll understand.



14 Responses to “The 4 Most Common Holy Priest Mistakes”

  1. Erinys February 15, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

    So tempted to “borrow” the unacceptable Lightwell macro right now.

    From a PvP perspective, I agree with four so much. I’ve lost count of the number of Holy Priests I’ve pvped with who when defending the flag carrier with 10 stacks of the debuff don’t put down a Lightwell despite having invested in the talent point. When asked, they tended to come out with the same response “but no one will use it”… “Well we can’t use it if you don’t put it down can we, grrr!”

    I’d also like to add a fifth one, again from a Pvp perspective but it’s driving me crazy. So many Priests pvping as Holy and yet it’s rare that anyone actually uses Chastise at 85. Yes, you have to drop Chakra but it’s so handy. People should be used to switching between states and making the most out of all their abilities and cc.

    • Oestrus February 16, 2012 at 8:38 am #

      I’ll admit that “Chakra dancing” is something that I have struggled with and that I continue to do so. It’s usually that my timing of when I choose to change Chakras is all wrong.

      For example, I’ll decide to go into Chakra: Chastise on a fight like Alsyrazor, to help out with the burn/get mana back phase. Then all the raid damage starts happening and Chakra is on cooldown, so I’m having to raid heal at slightly less efficiency.

      In terms of holy PVP, I would think Lightwell would be kind of useful in that setting – especially with all the ways that people can try to control your character (e.g. daze and stun). Most people don’t know that you can click the Lightwell when you are incapacitated. I can see where you are coming from on that one.

      Oh, and feel free to borrow my Lightwell macros anytime you would like. I use the first one religiously and people seem to really enjoy it.

  2. Mundae February 17, 2012 at 12:55 am #

    Ha! This is why you are awesome.

    I was in LFR TODAY and just happened to be checking out the other priests (3, ugh) I was healing with and noted all of these mistakes, but the one that threw me was: NO HEAVENLY VOICE!!? I considered whispering the priest in question to politely ask about it; now I really wish that I had. I didn’t because sometimes people can get touchy about that stuff, especially in already contentious LFR. I mentioned it in Gchat and a guildy tried to rationalize it (in a nonsensical way), but I’m going to chalk it up to inexperience. I think the old talent was so bad that no one ever took it, and there are still a few people that haven’t given their talents a look since 4.3, as scary as that sounds. There’s really no excuse tho.

    Personally, I am dealing with the Spirit issue right now, attempting to balance it properly. I’m certain I have too much, but it’s difficult to let go. I love casting casting casting & being this heal machine that just never runs dry. I’m around 2800 now and going to try to stick with that for the time being.

    I could go on, but suffice it to say great post & much appreciated! I tend feel like I’m just a middling priest, but then I read something like this and it reaffirms what I’m doing and that I may be a little better than I think. Thanks!

    • Oestrus February 17, 2012 at 7:47 am #

      Hi Mundae,

      Thank you for the compliment!

      I took a moment to stalk you on the Armory today and I think the amount of Spirit that you have is just fine. What I was referring to are people who gem specifically for Spirit (pure Spirit gems), they enchant for it, they reforge into it, they use two Spirit trinkets, – the whole nine yards.

      If you are someone who likes to constantly cast, you are probably going to have a much easier time with things once you get Heart of Unliving. It gives your regen a huge boost and paired with Windward Heart are your BiS trinkets.

      As a side note, I’m insanely jealous of you for even having Windward Heart. I can count on one hand the number of times that I have seen it drop, on LFR or otherwise, and needless to say that I haven’t won it yet.

      You are certainly better than you think. Thanks for stopping by!

      • claraa February 19, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

        I have a question about bis trinkets. says that Seal of Seven Signs is bis for holy priests (after Heart of Unliving) but there are other sources that say Windward Heart. I always felt that Seal was kind of meh because of the long icd. Is there any reason as to why there’s a difference in opinion? The only reason I see for me is I go for a haste build because I do mainly 10 mans.

        • Oestrus February 19, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

          Hi Claraa,

          The reason why the Seal is considered to be the lesser choice is because the internal cooldown is much higher than that of the Windward Heart and also because the Haste proc is less predictable. Yes, you could do really great things with an extra chunk of Haste like that – but there is also a chance that the proc may come and you don’t have anything to do with it. Then it gets wasted. With the Windward Heart so much of our healing is AOE healing that you are bound to get a critical heal from something and that will set off the proc from that. There are very few situations where *nobody* is going to need any healing, so the healing that comes from that will most likely not go to waste.

          Don’t get me wrong, the Seal isn’t bad and if you can replace something that is sort of average with that, by all means. But if you have a choice between the Seal and the Windward Heart, the Heart should be your trinket of choice.

          Hopefully this helps. Let me know if you have any more questions.

          • claraa February 20, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

            Ah ok that’s what I originally thought. I just won the LFR version and replaced Jaws of Defeat with it but I had some doubt over whether that was a good choice or not. But I guess it doesn’t matter too much since I’m not strapped for mana on any fight except for madness of dw. Thanks for the info :D!

  3. Chatmay February 20, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    I have a holy priest, so I am wondering- how much spirit is too much? I have been reforging spirit to other stats, but then I am having to pop shadowfiend and other CDs sometimes. Just checking.

    • Oestrus February 26, 2012 at 8:15 am #

      Hi Chatmay,

      Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. This week was kind of hectic for me. In regards to your question, I don’t think that having to pop shadowfiend and use other cooldowns is necessarily a bad thing. I know Derevka touched on this briefly in a recent post of his, but somewhere down the line we as priests started to base how effective we were on how few cooldowns we needed to use to get through a fight. It became sort of like a bragging point or a competition, to see if you could get through a fight without having to use a potion, or without having to use Hymn of Hope. I admit that I have judged my performance based on this and that it isn’t always the right thing to do. We have all of these tools for a reason and it doesn’t make you “bad” or a lesser priests if you have to use them all. In fact, one might argue that you are doing your job better because you are using all of the resources at your disposal.

      Like I said in the original post, I don’t have a set number, in terms of how much Spirit you should aim for. I took the liberty of trying to locate your priest on the Armory and if you are who I think you are, than you are geared just fine and I wouldn’t worry, too much. I think you could do without the 50 Spirit on your bracers, but otherwise you’re alright. It’s typically the people who are still enchanting for Spirit, or using pure Spirit gems, or even using two Spirit trinkets (like the Jar of Ancient Remedies and the Heart of Unliving) that I feel are going a bit overboard with things.

  4. Kiedra February 26, 2012 at 5:46 am #

    I personally use Raelis’ Spell Announcer to keep track of who clicks Lightwell & it’s remaining charges. I also use it to announce when I’ve dropped it with a short “Lightwell dropped. Use it well!”

    Being vocal in your group/raid about it also really helps. I was holy in T11 and then went disc until Spine of Deathwing. When I went back to Holy, I had to remind my guildies to use the lightwell and it’s paid off – I have a power-aura to tell me when I can place a new lightwell but my DKs will often tell me “Lightwell’s gone, Kiedra, give us a new one!” 🙂

    • Oestrus February 26, 2012 at 8:16 am #

      That’s fantastic! I don’t think I’ve ever had a guildie request another one, but it may happen someday. You have given me hope.


      • Miskatonic March 3, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

        My guildies do it all the time in mumble; “Where’s the lightwell!?” “Don’t forget to click the lightwell if you have the debuff!”, our holy priest is in 7th heaven ^_^

      • Kiedra March 10, 2012 at 9:41 am #

        I probably came across as naggy in the beginning but as our raid team gelled, they began to see the need to help keep themselves alive.

        It took some tough love from our raid leader and fellow healers – “I can see if you’re clicking it or not” and some sweet-talk (it helps that half my raid is female 🙂 ) – “I will love you long time if you click my lightwell! ❤ " but yes, do have hope. 😀

        Our DKs are very pro-active in death-striking etc to help keep themselves up, will be really helpful when we start progress on Hc Yosahj as Deathstrike doesn't add stacks! 🙂

  5. sheacat May 8, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

    I have a question for you… and while it isn’t directly related to the topic above, I hope it is at least pertinent in that I don’t want to be one of the mistakes, haha. Recently I have been having a hard time keeping up with chain pulling tanks (I am currently level 78). I am not sure if I am just not very good or they are just very bad, but its not something I had noticed before yesterday. I usually have my chakra state set at serenity so that I have a quick heal available should I need it. I admit I rarely use lightwell, but then again so far most of my groups in the last couple days seem to be comprised of tanks that want to break some sort of speed record. Is there anything I can be doing to give my healing a “boost”? I use renew on the tank and keep it up as soon as I think we are about to head into anything… after that it sometimes feels like I am mashing buttons. I notice that with some tanks it isn’t too bad, and its rare that I have too many (or any) “Oh Sh*t!” moments, but with some its more or less me mashing buttons while sweating and praying. Any advice would be so unbelievably welcome!

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