Breaking Down a Paladin’s Efficient Heals

Breaking Down a Paladin’s Efficient Heals


This is a guest post by Hitty the Pally. Be prepared for heavy math towards the end of the post (well, at least, it was for me :D).

I recently went back to becoming a full time Holy Paladin for 3.1.0 for many reasons including having some of our healing raiders leaving the guild.  Just to give you a quick history lesson on Hitty the pally, I started as holy hybrid in 1.0 dispelling my way through MC and switched to protection spec in 2.0 to fill a large gap left by our MT taking some time off.  Eventually he came back and ended up being a ret paladin in the late stages of TBC and stuck with it for 3.0.  I’ve always enjoyed being a dependable raider filling in all three roles when needed.

So here I am, most of my core training was from healing lava packs in Molten Core and boy was I in for a holy shock.  There are so many new toys to play with outside of the simplistic trio of Holy Light, Flash of Light and Cleanse.  So here I am getting the crash course on healing by a fellow holy paladin teammate with all these fancy terms like Bacon, Sacred Shield and JotP.  My pally friend has this enact ability to top healing charts with his eyes closed.  Now I know and understand thoroughly that being a healer you are part of a team.  Everyone on this team plays a role in which if everyone succeeds the raid will have a good chance of winning (its NHL playoffs isn’t it Matticus?). 

Editor’s note: Playoffs ended when the Canucks were eliminated.

Not to take anything away from my counterpart.  He is just that good and dependable (except with buffing… I can win there!).  The common joke in our guild is he has a big red button that he presses when he wants to top the healing charts.  Anyways he plays a major part in our guilds progression and we love him for it. But there’s a dps fire inside of me   I want to become number 1!   Talk about ego and insecurity problems /sigh.

The goal is to beat my friend and wins the heal meters among pallys!  So with every raid night the past 3 weeks, I start by pumping myself up to prepare for the challenge.  I put on some classic energy songs before raids such as Welcome to the Jungle by Guns n Roses to “Remember the Name by Fort Minor to Crowd Chantby Joe Satriani.  Hungry like a dps machine to test myself against my competition I wait for the perfect opportunity.  The chance arrived in my lap, there was no danger to the raid and I went for it. FAIL.  Next boss to try again, FAIL.

It seems that I have a gear issue in that my mana isn’t as infinite as my counterpart.  This was to be expected as my gear is inferior to my opponent but there was a few interesting findings in Recount and WWS logs.  I was able to keep up my effective healing on three conditions.  1, the fight must be short as I am chaining holy lights till I’m oom or 2, there are enough ppl who required healing or 3, stand in the fire and selfishly heal myself.  The short story is I need to boast my mana regen capability which means I need more Cowbe- err Crits!!!

Mana regeneration for Paladins have always been interesting compared to the other healers.  The bread and butter of our mana regen are through Divine Plea and critical proc heals with the Illumination talent.  Generally speaking we are never out of the 5 second casting regen not to mention Spirit doesn’t do pally’s any good.  In combat mp5 regen isn’t much better as it is very hard stat to stack as most cases the preference would be to increase Int for divine plea, +spell, and +crit.  Illumination is a talent that has a 100% proc rate to gain 60% of the base cost of FoL, HL or HS.  Looking specifically at spell crit, I have a lot of work to do.  Generally speaking, my sworn enemy will have more crits than normal spell casts in every category with a crit rate of BLAH.  My numbers really show as I would be opposite with more normal spells than crits.  Alright!  Time for science.  Divine Favour allows me to crit one of my spells every 2 minutes, which spell would be optimal to use in conjunction with Divine Favour to return the most mana. 

Please keep in mind that all these numbers and calculations are very simple math equations without factoring many different buffs, procs, talents and environments. 

Illumination Rank 5

After getting a critical effect from your Flash of Light, Holy Light, or Holy Shock heal spell you have a 100% chance to gain mana equal to 60% of the base cost of the spell.

Divine Favour

3% of base mana

Instant cast                                         2 min cooldown

When activated, gives your next Flash of Light, Holy Light, or Holy Shock spell a 100% critical effect chance.

Holy Light Rank 13

29% of base mana

2.5 sec cast                                         40 yd range

Heals a friendly target for 4888 to 5444.

Flash of Light Rank 9

7% of base mana

1.5 sec cast                                         40 yd range

Heals a friendly target for 785 to 879.

Holy Shock Rank 7

18% of base mana

Instant cast 6 sec cooldown         20 – 40 yd range

Blasts the target with Holy energy, causing 1296 to 1402 Holy damage to an enemy, or 2401 to 2599 healing to an ally.

Okay, starting in 2.4 there were certain spells that required a percentage of the base mana.  With 3.0, it’s pretty much the norm.  Now this basically means the amount of mana a certain class has before any modifiers such as int, racial or buffs.  So I got nekked for the purpose of science and found that for a Paladin, your base mana will always be 4394 at level 80.  I tried to ask a blood elf to help me confirm my findings but all I got was a slap.

Divine Favour = 4394*3% = 132 mana to cast.

Holy Light = 4394*29% = 1275 mana to cast.

Flash of Light = 4394*7% = 308 mana to cast. 

Holy Shock = 791 mana to cast. 

With these values now, we can find out how much mana it cost to cast both spells plus how much mana is returned.

DF/HL 132+1275 = 1407 mana cost.  1275*60% = 765 mana return for 2.5 second cast. 

The net cost to cast a HL would be 1407-765 = 642

DF/FoL 132+308 = 440 mana cost. 308*60% = 185mana return for 1.5 second cast.

The net cost to cast a FoL would be 440-185 = 255.

DF/HS 132+791 = 923 mana cost. 923*60% = 475 mana return for 1.5 second cast. T

The net cost to cast a HS would be 923-554 = 448.

Woot! Let’s break this down to mana regen per second. 

HL would be 642/2.5 = 257/1,

FoL would be 255/1.5 = 170/1 and

HS would be 475/1.5 = 316/1. 

The winner is… Holy Shock! 

So here we go, I found a new trick to add to my trade and hope it’ll help me inch closer and closer to my formidable opponent.  Here’s a new trick for an old dog.  If anyone has any other tricks to share, please do!!  I can’t wait till the next opportunity I get.  Nothing’s wrong with a little competition, ya?

Post edited with updated values May 27, 09

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About Matticus

Matticus is the founder of World of Matticus and Plus Heal. Read more of his columns at WoW Insider. League of Legends player. Caffeine enthusiast.


  1. Nice to know, ive been doing that without knowing it to be the best combo 🙂

    I have had a macro – divine favor + holy shock – because i ALWAYS forget cooldowns like that if i dont macro them. This comes from the time where it used to give us real fast holy lights, i never even thought of the possibility that this would be the most mana-efficient!

    When you get familiar with fights, you know when the big damage blows are coming, so preamtively you pop beacon a few secs in advance, and as i macro’d beacon together with divine illumination, beacon is cheaper, and the few holy lights that follow are aswell. Divine plea + wings are also a good combo.

    I know how you feel tho.
    When we started 25naxx, i topped the meters on alot of fights, and after some time i became classleader. When ulduar hit, i kinda became raidleader, and it has gimped my healing so bad.

    At the end of alot of fights im 5th or even 6th – last! – on the meters, sometimes even surpassed by a ret paladin judging light. Even tho nobody died and we killed the boss, i feel bad. Because of this i even started passing on Fragments, as i am now convinced it is put to better use in someone else’s hands…. am i crazy?

  2. I’m not the best healer in the world, but I’m not too shabby either. In my experience I (and any other Holy Paladin) can easily top the healing meters by simply judging light and never casting another spell. Healing meters are like a screen door on a submarine, completely useless. The only instance I find a healing meter to be even kinda useful is if a particular healer always heals significantly less than everyone else in their class. If a Naxx geared Priest is always #7 on the list then that might call for further research as to why it’s happening.

    The real challenge for a Holy Palading in terms of healing meters is switching to judgment of Wisdom and then see who’s on top of the charts. It’s the Priests and Druids and Shammys. But I’m fine with that. As Holy Paladins we have a specific expertise: Main Tank healing. No one can heal a MT like we can, and I enjoy that responsibility.

  3. I’m a Holy Priest and though I sometimes top effective healing charts its not something I specifically strive for. Sometimes druid overtakes me, something the other holy priest, but very rarely our holy paladins.

    I remember one time ret pally topped the chart, wish I could find that parse now, twas fun 🙂

  4. @Shinhan: That’s exactly what I’m talking about. It’s judging Light that will push any Paladin to the top of the charts, not FoL, HL or HS. It’s not a complaint on my part, just an observation.

  5. =S i never get to judge light because our ret pally overrides it but i still top healing =P what gives? and i really only judge it once every minute for the haste buff.

  6. Maybe I’m wrong, I very well could be. What I find happening is that even if a ret pally’s light overrides mine, I still get a few seconds of healing from JoL each GCD because we rarely judge at the same time. At any rate, these are just my observations. Or maybe we run with too many AoE healers for me to snipe heals away from the druids and shammys 😉

  7. I agree with Ben, the easiest way to top the charts is by judging light. Meters are also less important a judge of healing ability than they used to be. The important thing is keeping our assignment(s) alive, not topping the meters.

  8. The easiest way to top the healing meters: Only run 5 mans 😉

    Something that most people don’t realize: The worse the group you’re with, the easier it is to top the healing meters without doing something you’re not really supposed to be doing.

    Anyway, even if you Judge Light, only a fool would count Judgment of Light as part of your healing in a raid group.

  9. While I really like the style of the blogger and appreciate the read – I gotta say that math is just completely wrong.

    First, the numbers used in the calculation don’t seem to correlate with the numbers you state (eg “DF/HL 132+1402 = 1534 mana cost” and “1402*60% = 841 mana return for 4 second cast” – however the very next line – “The net cost to cast a HL would be 1402-92 0 = 482”. Should this be 1534 – 841?)

    Second, divine favor doesn’t trigger the GCD (which is why you can macro it to HL). So you can knock 1.5 secs off those times. All except for HS. Since holy shock DOES trigger the GCD, you can’t heal for another 1.5 secs – this means that any meaningful analysis of HS must include the GCD it triggers.

    Third, you haven’t included a whole bunch of talents and abilities that drastically alter this equation. Lets start with Judgements of the Pure (15% haste) and Light’s Grace (0.5 sec off HLs) both of which should be up pretty much 100% of the time. You can add to that the Libram of Renewal (113 mana off HL) – which every pally should have. I can understand not including the 4pT7 bonus (5% off HL) here, though it is relevant, as not everyone will have that.

    To put this in context – raid buffed my HLs come in at 1.4 sec and I think my GCD is about 1.1 sec. Now I _haven’t_ done the math (elitist jerks have) but its pretty well accepted that HL is both more HPS and HPM than HS. Pre 3.1 infusion of light nerf there was a case for macroing divine favour to HS but not any more. There is simply much more benefit in using it for HL.

    Also, if there is one thing that I disagree with generally its the idea that paladins shouldn’t be putting out at least the same amount of heals as other healers. Forget judgement of light, if you want to top the meters just heal more aggressively.

    Read Matt’s post about the importance of healing throughput. Paladin healers have far and away the highest HPS of any healers (I averaged 8.9k HPS total healing in Ulduar 25 Saturday). I’d be the first to agree healing meters are basically meaningless, my concern is with the attitude that says its ok not to put out the strongest performance you can because “pallies can’t top the meters”.

  10. Hello everyone! Thank you for reading my guest post.

    @Tsaar: No I don’t think you’re crazy. The big factor here is that healing should be viewed as a team. At the end of the boss fight, the most important factor is the least amount of ppl died which allowed your raid to kill the boss. It doesn’t matter if you came in first, third, 6th or 8th. Without one member of the healing team, it changes everything. Sometimes there’s noone to heal, and that’s a better situation then not having enough heals to keep everyone alive. =;c)

    In my opinion gear allows you to do your job/roles easier. So passing on gear that you will make use of as well seems silly.

  11. Typically speaking in my guild runs, we don’t ask the holy pally’s to judge light. Instead we judge Wisdom and sometimes Just if there’s a lot of paladins. Ret pally’s will do Light and Tanks will do Wisdom. This gives the raid the chance to have close to 100% judgement of ligh and wisdom!

    I’m very sorry if I gave the impression that it’s all about the numbers. My intentions were to share with you how my competitive nature led to me learning that DF+HS was the best way to get the most mana back. =;c)~ Yes, I still want to beat him and no I won’t do it at the expense of the raid. Team comes first before personal achievements.

    Just for the record, I have yet to win.

  12. @Silk: You are correct about the misinformtion. The original numbers that were posted were incorrect and I apoligize for misleading everyone who had taken the time to read the post with the expection of solid numbers.

    I did preface the math that a lot of variables were not taken into account such as buffs, talents and procs. But lets take a look and add them in to see. If anyone notice I made a mistake or have forgotton anything, please let me know!!

    Lights Grace = knocks off 0.5seconds off HL before Haste is applied
    Judgement of the Pure = 15% Haste
    Gear haste = 15%
    Benediction = reduce instant spell costs by 10%
    Libram of Renewal = 113 mana off Holy Light
    Gylph of Seal of Wisdom = 5% less reduce healing spells

    New Casting Time
    Holy Light

    New Casting Time = (Base Casting Time)/(1+Haste%)
    New Casting Time = (2.5-0.5)/((1+15%)*(1+15%))
    New Casting Time = (2.0)/(1.15*1.15)
    New Casting Time = 2.0/1.3225
    New Casting Time = 1.5 secs

    Holy Shock/Flash of Light/GCD

    New Casting Time = (Base Casting Time)/(1+Haste%)
    New Casting Time = 1.5/1.3225
    New Casting Time = 1.1 secs

    Spell Costs
    Holy Light = 4394*29% = 1275
    Holy Light = 1275 – 113 – (1275*0.05)
    Holy Light = 1162 – (63)
    Holy Light = 1099

    Flash of Light = 4394*7% = 308
    Flash of Light = 308 – (308*0.05)
    Flash of Light = 308 – (15)
    Flash of Light = 293

    Holy Shock = 4394*18% = 791
    Holy Shock = 791 – (791*0.1) – (791*0.05)
    Holy Shock = 791 – (79) – (39)
    Holy Shock = 673

    Divine Favor = 4394*3% = 132
    Divine Favor = 132 – (132*0.1)
    Divine Favor = 132 – (13)
    Divine Favor = 119

    Holy Light 1099 mana, 1.5 sec
    Flash of Light 293 mana, 1.1 sec
    Holy Shock 673 mana, 1.1 sec
    Divine Favor 119 mana

    Lets plug it in with DF and Illumination.
    Mana Spent = (DF+HLnct) – (HL*Illumination)
    Mana Spent = (119+1099) – (1275*0.60)
    Mana Spent = (1218) – (765)
    Mana Spent = 453
    453/1.5 = 302/1

    Mana Spent = (DF+FoLnct) – (FoL*Illumination)
    Mana Spent = (119+293) – (308*0.60)
    Mana Spent = (412) – (185)
    Mana Spent = 227
    227/1.1 = 247/1

    Mana Spent = (DF+HSnct) – (HS*Illumination)
    Mana Spent = (119+673) – (791*0.60)
    Mana Spent = (792) – (475)
    Mana Spent = 317
    317/1.1 = 288/1

    So there ya go. The numbers are there. Please let me know if I made any mistakes.

  13. Hi Hitty – the new numbers look ok (I think the “real life” example in your comments for Flash you’ve multiplied by 1.1 and not divided but otherwise good).

    I did think more about this though and the more I think about it the more I think we might be missing a step in this analysis. Those numbers we now have show the mana cost per sec of a divine favour crit heal. I think we need to then compare then against the base cost to find out the % mana returned by using DF for that crit.

    So – Base Case

    HL (with DF – from your post) – 257/1
    HL (no DF non crit) – 1275 / 2.5 = 510/1

    Therefore % mana saved = (510-257) / 510 = 253 / 510 = 49.6%

    FoL (with DF – from your post) – 170/1
    FoL (no DF non crit) – 440 / 1.5 = 293/1

    Therefore % mana saved = (293-170) / 293 = 123 / 293 = 42.0%

    HS (with DF – from your post) – 316/1
    HS (no DF non crit) – 791 / 1.5 = 527

    Therefore % mana saved = (527-316) / 527 = 211 / 527 = 40.0%

    So the highest percentage saved is HL (where you save nearly 50% of the mana you would otherwise spend per second if you guarantee a crit). Which means without buffs HL is still the best macro bet (purely for mana savings).

    Lets look at the real world example

    HL (with DF – from your comment) – 302 / 1
    HL (no DF non crit) – 1099 / 1.5 = 733/1

    Therefore % mana saved = (733-302) / 733 = 431 / 733 = 58.8%

    FoL (with DF – from your comment) – 206/1
    FoL (no DF non crit) – 293 / 1.1 = 266/1

    Therefore % mana saved = (266-206) / 266 = 60 / 266 = 22.6%

    HS (with DF – from your comment) – 288/1
    HS (no DF non crit) – 673 / 1.1 = 612

    Therefore % mana saved = (288-612) / 612 = 324 / 612 = 52.9%

    Now math is definitely NOT my strong suit so would be happy for a correction or two (or 6 lol). I think it pretty conclusively shows HL as the best macro bet though 🙂

  14. I think your reasoning is off. It doesn’t really matter which spell is fastest; what matters is that that Divine Favor has a 2 minute cooldown. You’ll cast it just as often
    (2 minutes) no matter what spell you use: FL, HL, or HS.

    So its still the biggest win (in terms of mana) to cast it for HL, assuming you didn’t have to wait too long for it due to healing needs/rotations.

  15. Interesting breakdown of spell costs and efficiencies. Myself I macro DF to Holy Shock regardless, this is because Holy Shock is more of ‘panic’ spell for me. By that I mean if someone needs a Holy Shock heal, it means they are low and need the heal _now_, therefore a crit is more beneficial to get them out of the danger zone. I macro Divine Illumination to Holy Light so that once I start rolling big heals on the tank I get guaranteed efficiency.
    OT, but I have two Divine Plea buttons, one normal and one I macro to Avenging Wrath for when the fit hits the shan and I’m low on blue juice. That said I generally don’t have mana issues unless we are doing hard modes, I sit at a smidge under 30k mana unbuffed.

  16. I still have DF macro’d to Shock to help with panic raid healing on Tantrums and such. If several people are dropping fast, especially if they’re too spread to receive HL Glyph healing, I can DF-Shock one for well over 7k and then instant flash a second person with FoL.

    I’m also a shameless Beacon spammer with 80+% up time on most fights, usually on my tank healing assignment. This lets me help raid heal while the tank ends up receiving my Flash spam as well, only in light-to-moderate tank damage situations of course.

  17. I have to say I don’t understand why every Holy Pally doesn’t use HS as much as possible. It crits a ton, giving you mana back, and proccing IOL, giving you an instant FOL to use on a clothie or yourself or getting a practically guaranteed crit HL.

    My personal healing style is to beacon the MT, and I always keep an eye out on the other healers and caster dps. When they take about 7k or damage, BAM that HS hits them, and since its almost all effective healing, no worries about the tank going down, then if I have a insta-FOL that can go to another caster in need of a quick heal.
    This, combined with Judging Light as the only Pally, always leaves me at the top of the charts (although Judging Light is pretty negligible in 10mans).

  18. Thanks for srhaing. What a pleasure to read!

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