Single Target Healing in a Multi Target World

Single Target Healing in a Multi Target World


This is a guest post by Holy Paladin and Disc Priest blogger Ambrosyne of For the Bubbles

By the time I dinged 80 with my paladin, I was about ready to throw in my hat.  "This is insane!" I huffed.  "I feel as if Blizzard hates holy paladins." 

This is likely an exaggeration, but I’m a dramatic soul.  Regardless, let’s take a look at what pushed me to this point.

Aoe damage.  Wrath instances seem to have a lot of it.  Sometimes it’s just masses of mobs, some of which inevitably peel off try to eat the overzealous mage.  There’s also cleaves and whirlwinds and poisons thrown everywhere and rain of fire and blizzards and mojo puddles… 

Sometimes it seemed as if taking heals off the tank for even a heartbeat resulted in a wipe.  Most instances ended up sending my mind into chaos.  Peeking into it you might have seen something like this:

“Aaaah! Poisons everywhere I need to cleanse them!”
*heals the tank”
*heals the DPS”

The only good thing to come out of this (aside from the fact that I decided to roll a priest) was that I learned very quickly to make the most out of a holy paladin’s limited arsenal.

How A Holy Paladin Can Cope

Beacon – Sweet, so I can heal TWO targets at once with a semi-expensive spell that only lasts a minute!  Sadly a group has five people in it, but we do what we can. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love beacon.  I just wish I could make it magically expand to the entire group.

In a five man you’ll often beacon the tank while topping off the DPS.  This works fine, except on longer fights where beacon seems to eat up your mana, and on fights where the tank is taking really heavy hits.  Beacon alone will not keep the tank up.

Sometimes I’ll beacon myself while healing the tank, if we’re talking something really not fun like the mojo puddles in Heroic Gundrak.  

Learn to predict incoming damage – This is easiest if you run with the same tanks all the time and come to know their gear and play style, but just being familiar with their class and the boss can be enough.  When I deemed it ‘safe’, I would judge for haste, toss a holy light on the tank so that he was at full, and then quickly throw Flashes at the DPS to keep them alive.  They might not have been at full health, but they were still alive.   If I guessed correctly, by the time I cycled back to the tank he was a bit lower on health but in no danger of dying before the next Holy Light.  If I had to, I let the rogue die.  Sorry man (I’m kidding!  I let the DPS warrior die).

Sacred Shield – In most cases, you don’t need to be afraid of rage or mana starving the tank.  The additional flash of light crits are great, and the damage absorption means you have less to heal!  Don’t be afraid to toss it on yourself, either, if you have the bad tendency to get healer tunnel vision.  Or if there are mojo puddles.  I hate mojo puddles, by the way.

Grab the Holy Light glyph – The splash heal sure as heck can’t hurt.

Holy shock – It’s expensive, it has a cool down, but as an "oh no!" button, it’s great.  I have an oh no macro set up for casting divine favor, holy shock, and then flash of light. 

Be adaptable – Don’t get your mind stuck on ‘spamming flash of light’ or ‘spamming holy light’.  Read the situation and use what’s best.  In a raid, forget the meters.  Healing meters suck.  You know what a holy paladin on top of the meters is a lot of the time?  OOM. 

Have patience.  A lot of my problems resolved once I started picking up some gear out of the very same heroics that were making me weep.  There seems to be a gear plateau for the holy paladin at 80, beyond which things become manageable again.  Trust me!  If you raid, that too will make your life easier.  You have someone else healing and as a single target healer this is where you shine.  I just love healing Patchwerk.  I look forward to it every week.  It’s like Blizzard gave me cookies for being a holy pally!

Discipline priests, I have not forgotten you!  You too are considered primarily single target healers, and hey, I have one too.  What, I was frustrated with single target healing so I rolled another one?  Yes!  Guess what: you are not as limited as you think. 

If the occasional tossed renew (no, they’re not that efficient for you; yes, they’re still useful in a pinch) and a bouncing prayer of mending isn’t enough, don’t forget prayer of healing.  If it’s on cooldown, use inner focus first!   I sometimes save inner focus just for PoH.  Use your bubbles and borrowed time to your advantage. 

Hopefully my experiences, as frustrating as they were at the time (and still are-I’m looking at you, mojo puddle), allowed me to share some useful information with you.  Stick with it.  All of Azeroth needs you!

Happy healing!

Image courtesy of barunpatro

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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. Beacon of Light is really not mana intensive when you consider how much healing you get out of it. One beacon of light < One Holy Light in terms of mana cost.

    Additionally, as far as tools in the paladin toolbox, please remember all your mana regen. Horde paladins have arcane torrent, everyone else has divine plea, divine illumination, and divine favor, all of which I pretty much use on cooldown for more mana.

    The healing debuff on plea is really not that bad, especially if you’re at holy light spam levels of gear (and even if not, you’re really just losing overheal)

    Finally, Razuvious is also a e-hearts to paladins sort of fight. Yay understudies~

  2. I’m afraid that arcane torrent completely slipped my mind, because Horde and I are like oil and water. I tried, but in the end, the Horde are just the people who gank my priest alt over and over to me. Sorry hordies!

    Regardless, it wasn’t so much a post about mana regen as it was a post about trying to heal everyone all at once with the tools a paladin has at hand. I just feel that beacon is something of a mana-expensive tool for healing 1 extra person, though it sure does make THE difference in some situations. By contrast, I can pop IF and then PoH on my disc priest and heal everybody for nothing.

    Ambrosines last blog post..So You Rolled A Priest…

  3. Interesting to me that you play a discipline priest, which also is not strong at aoe healing. Yes we have PoH, but so do holy priests. You can’t really spam it due to its high mana cost and long cast time.
    So I do wonder why Blizzard put so many aoe intensive fights in the game, I think to torment us.

    Darias last blog post..Naxxramas Finally!

  4. Paladins’ usefulness is magnified in larger groups where there are more than one healer. They excel at major mana efficient heals to a small number of targets who need that kind of heavy lifting. It’s admittedly much harder when they’re the only healer.

  5. @Daria-Yeah I make tons of sense, don’t I? I get angry at being a single target healer in an aoe dmg intensive world, and then go and roll…

    …another single target healer. But I think a disc priest is a nice compromise between the type of healing I’ve been used to for 4 years now, and the ability to heal aoe heavy fights in a pinch. Are the aoe healing tools in my box terribly mana effecient? No. But I’m sure as hell glad they’re there! I also have the option of going holy if it continues to frustrate me, though I’d miss my pew pew lazer heals.

    I do think that Blizzard doesn’t like holy pallys some days, though…

    @Euripides – Indeed. Raiding is where I’ve regained my sanity. The problem was slogging through the 5 mans I needed to get raiding gear! But the Patchwerk fight is GREAT for holy pallys. 😀

    Ambrosines last blog post..Guest blog.

  6. It’s a good post, and good advice, but in my opinion it avoids the root problem: AOE tanking is not always optimal, but people have forgotten how to run an instance any other way. If the tank risks dying if you stop healing him for so much as a second, or if mobs are always peeling off even with reasonably attentive DPS, he is trying to tank too many mobs. This is when the leader should ask the group to dust off their crowd control. Yes, the run will progress slightly slower, but it will be much smoother for everyone involved. 🙂

    There are a few situations where AOE party damage is unavoidable, but they’re far fewer than people think due to the prevelance of AOE tanking.

  7. Holy Shock is terrific for slipping some party/raid healing in while maintaining an almost uninterrupted stream on the tank. Its relatively cheaper and stronger than it used to be. Macro DI+Holy Shock and once every 2 minutes you can actually drop a crit shock on a raid member (or the tank) and then drop that fast HL on the tank. Even if you use the shock on a raid member, your throughput on the tank improves. Or use both on the tank to instantly counter a huge damage spike.

    If you want to beacon the tank and drop some raid heals, Holy Shock is a good way to ensure that another healer isn’t gonna grab that heal before you. So even if you’re on tank duty, you can grab a raid+tank holy shock every 6 seconds. Of course you’re really burning mana at that point.

    Sacred Shield is not just for tanks! Its also good on raid members taking (or about to take) AoE or DoT damage. In fact, the effect of SS on non tanks can be more dramatic than on the tank. They tend to take smaller chunks of damage and have less health, so that 2k or so mitigation per 6 seconds is a bigger percentage of both of the damage they take and the health they have.

    Our other very real problem in my mind is our lack of mobility while healing. Shock also helps here, as does the mobile instant Flash that we get after a Shock crit.

  8. Great post, I especially like the point about predicting incoming damage. This is especially useful for bosses with long casts where you know a big damage spike is coming. I like to try to time up a greater heal so it hits just milliseconds after the boss damage. Of course sometimes I get burned on it heh, but we all have to keep ourselves entertained somehow!

    For disc priests, when it comes to AoE healing I’ve found that the best thing is to keep the PoM bouncing, even if it’s still out there (it’s probably on the wrong person by now if it is; also if it’s on you then SW:Death will bounce it back to someone else and negate the damage you take). Another tip that was already mentioned is to bind PoH to Inner Focus:

    #showtooltip Prayer of Healing
    /cast Inner Focus
    /cast Prayer of Healing

    Since IF isnt on the global cooldown this macro works every time, even when IF is on cooldown. A third tip that’s good to keep in mind is to glyph for Holy Nova, so it does more healing and less damage. Then in tight quarters like the mojo boss you can tap it once or twice to heal up multiple people, including yourself. It’s not very mana efficient but it gets the job done fast.

    My paladin is holy and level 71, can’t wait to heal with him at 80! Thanks for the article!

    Deloss last blog post..Guild banks give me a sandy vag

  9. apokteino says:

    i’m a little confused about your post. it’s kind of a mix of QQ about how frustrating it is to play a pally because we don’t have raid healing capabilities combined with some good tips on how to get the most out of your spell mechanics and raid situations. while i had a hard time following the whole post, i did like several things you said. i wanted to point 3 things out though: 1) paladins are primarily MT healers. in a raid situation that is our job. 2) paladins have gotten a ton (and i mean a TON) of love from blizz in wotlk. we are arguably the best healing class out there atm (priests being a close 2nd). in tbc we were probably one of the worst. while i won’t go into MT healing, i did want to point out that with SoL, our HL glyph, SS, and beacon of light a paladin who knows what he’s doing can do a lot to decrease and heal through raid dmg. i healed through Loken in HhoL about 5 days after the xpac and it seemed fairly easy even in my t6 and SW gear. skill>gear every time. also, while i agree that meters are generally unimportant when it comes to healing, i strongly disagree that a pally who is on top of the meters is an oom pally. if you know what you are doing and have even mediocre gear, you will be on the top of the healing meters (usually by a sizeable amount) on the majority of fights. if you don’t run with a prot or ret pally and judge light, you will rock the charts. my point is that while we may not have HoTs, we do decent raid heals while cranking out incredibly powerful MT heals. you can’t ask for more than that! 3) i don’t think the aoe in Wotlk is significantly more than the BC aoe. if anything there seems to be less of it. just my 2 cents.

  10. Granted I am a Disc Priest, but I have to be blunt. Any holy pally who complains that they feel they cannot group/raid heal really has problems. Do they realize they 9/10 have more mana than a priest (due to them primarily stacking crit/int, compare to our Spirit (holy), SP, MP5 and Haste/Crit (depending on the route you prefer)? Honestly I’ve rolled with 2 holy pallies and they have absolutely 0 mana issues when it comes to them having to heal both the tank AND the raid. Hell, even as me being the MT healer I have no problems healing the tank AND the raid. I have 2k SP, 344 I5SR MP5 as well (yes I understand pallies have less).

    This goes for the same as all of these priests who COH is their first or second “most used” spell on the meters that are complaining about the CD.

    Is there really that many “bad” healers out there that when something changes (COH CD), or just complain about the overall lack of skill and not being able to raid heal?

    Do pallies realize that most (at least Disc priests) PRIMARILY use FH (same cast time as a pallies FoL) as their spell of choice? I mean the only time I ever need to toss a GH on a tank is after I just healed about 4-6 other party members. I understand we have Divine Aegis, Grace and Pain Supression to hold the tank off a little bit while we switch to those 4-6 other targets but c’mon now. On top of that the only time I ever run OOM is when DPS is too low to compensate for the heals I need to toss out on bosses. Hell 8/10 the only time I run oom is on Sapph and Kel.

    Personally, I think pallies who feel as though thier “MT healing”-selves are being destroyed by the amount of “aoe” damage being done quite simply need to learn to play.

    On a side note, I don’t know how spamming FoL is inefficient for a pally? I can literally sit there and watch my pallies spam nothing but FoL and LITERALLY never lose mana?

  11. @ pugtor.

    “On a side note, I don’t know how spamming FoL is inefficient for a pally? I can literally sit there and watch my pallies spam nothing but FoL and LITERALLY never lose mana?”

    spamming FoL was awesome in BC. however, in WotLK in order to be the most effective healer you can be, you will need to change your healing style and spam HLs rather than FoLs. on most of the longer boss fights i’ll cast about 60-70 HoL but only 40 FoLs. if you use divine plea on cd and have a decent crit rating you should have no problem with mana. i think the main reason so many paladins are complaining about the class being ineffective compared to other healing classes is because they haven’t adjusted their healing style.

  12. Just responding to a comment someone made about holy shock costing so much mana. It’s been improved, you get a bigger heal with holy shock now than you were in the BC days. Also, holy shock has had it’s ranged increased to 40yrds when used to heal.

    Another thing, a crit with a holy shock will allow you to cast your holy light in 1.5s or less, or flash of light at instant speed.

    All the pallies moaning about how hard it is to heal when the group is taking aoe dmg just need to revise their healing style.

  13. I am still noob in raiding, reached first ch level 70 only in October this year, so I haven’t seen much raiding aside from Kara and ZA in BC. I compensate mana regeneration with using the trinket for spell increase when hitting that divine plea and no one ever died because my spells had less effectivenes. I had interesting situation yesterday at Heighel and wonder if anyone else encountered that problem or I was just stupid:). I was LOS in that safespot corner where I didn’t take any damage. I couldn’t heal! So I kept jumping and casting Holy Shock. Luckily we had 2 other holy priests with us – one was also LOS, the other one wasn’t so he practicaly healed the whole raid. The beacon came very handy here cause I asked the lock to use his mana for health excange spell so that i kept healing him-being also in the safe spot. He was also a little disorrientated so he got hit by the eruption dispite safe spot so less health on him – more on tank by beacon. So If you have tank in LOS but not out of beacon’s range, you can just heal plp on low health around him:). So aoe damage can be helpfull also. I also disagree that paladins are not loved by Blizzard – maybe the group healing is a bit harder for us but we can survive much more damage or tighter situation. Just need to sacrifice a rogue and healing gets much easier:). I think it wouldn’t be fun if all healing classes could do everything the same.


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