Whether you are a brand new Holy Priest, a recently returning player, or even a current player just looking for a refresher, this guide is aimed at giving a quick overview of how to play a Holy Priest in PvE content. The first tab below runs through a brief description of all the spells that Holy Priests have access to, and then the other tabs have tips on how to prepare yourself and apply those spells to the content you're doing.

Holy Spellbook

This tab provides a list of all spells and passive abilities that Holy Priests have access to, along with a brief description of what they are used for.

Filler Spells

Prayer of Healing - Main filler for heavy AoE healing.

Heal - Slow single-target heal. Higher HPM (healing per mana spent) than Flash Heal.

Flash Heal - Fast single-target heal. Higher HPS (healing per second spent casting) than Heal.

Renew - Cheap single-target healing over time. Generally doesn't do enough healing to justify casting instead of Heal or Flash Heal, unless you are forced to move.

Power Word: Shield - Small and expensive absorb shield. Avoid casting this outside of extremely desperate situations (someone's about to die, you are being forced to move, and you have no better instant spells to cast).

Binding Heal (Level 40 Talent) - Fast heal that hits you, your target, and a random third injured target. Not currently recommended for any content over the alternative talents.

Short Cooldowns

Holy Word: Serenity - Large single-target heal and one of our best life-saving tools. Use often as needed.

Holy Word: Sanctify - Large AoE heal (targeted on the ground). Use often whenever multiple people are grouped up and injured.

Circle of Healing - Efficient AoE heal. Shorter cooldown than Holy Word: Sanctify and doesn't require people to be grouped up. Use as much as possible when multiple people are injured.

Prayer of Mending - Very efficient "bouncing" heal. Starts with 5 stacks, then one stack is removed on each bounce. Use as much as possible whenever multiple people are taking damage or will be taking damage soon.

Halo (Level 45 Talent) - Powerful healing and damage spell that hits everything in a wide circle around you. Use as much as possible whenever many people around you are injured, but be careful not to accidentally pull extra enemies with it!

Divine Star (Level 45 Talent) - Cheaper and shorter cooldown than Halo, but doesn't hit as hard. Use as much as possible whenever you want to heal multiple allies and/or damage multiple enemies in a line in front of you.

Long Cooldowns

Divine Hymn - Large channeled heal that hits all allies in range of you. Use when the whole group or raid is taking large damage.

Holy Word: Salvation (Level 50 Talent) - Heals all allies in range of you for an up-front burst and gives them all a Renew and two stacks of Prayer of Mending. Use this to get through the most difficult healing checks in a raid encounter, but be careful with timing it correctly, as it carries a long cooldown (12 minutes baseline, reduced by 30 seconds for each cast of Holy Word: Serenity or Holy Word: Sanctify, which should end up being around 5 minutes with good Holy Word usage).

Apotheosis (Level 50 Talent) - Resets the cooldown of Holy Word: Serenity, Holy Word: Sanctify, and Holy Word: Chastise when you cast it, makes them free for the duration, and increases the Holy Word cooldown reduction from casting filler spells.

Power Infusion - Powerful haste steroid. Can be used on yourself to boost your healing during tough moments, or on an ally to boost their output instead.

Guardian Spirit - Can be used to save someone from imminent death, or to boost their healing taken for the duration while they are taking heavy damage. Cooldown can be massively reduced if running the Guardian Angel talent.

Damage Spells

Smite - Filler for single-target damage.

Holy Fire - Large single-target nuke on a short cooldown. Use as often as possible when trying to maximize damage.

Shadow Word: Pain - Single-target damage-over-time spell. Maintain this on any enemy that you expect to live for most of the duration.

Holy Word: Chastise - Medium-sized, moderately expensive single-target nuke that also incapacitates the target (or stuns them with Censure talented). Can be used as a pseudo-interrupt as needed, or as a supplement to your damage rotation.

Shadow Word: Death - Single-target nuke that does more damage when the target is below 20% health. Should not be used when the enemy is above 20% health, as it does less damage than Smite. Will also reflect damage back to you if it doesn't kill the target, so be cautious about when you use it.

Holy Nova - Filler for AoE damage. Also does some healing to any allies in its radius, but the healing is generally too small to be worth casting over something else for healing purposes.

Utility Spells

Angelic Feather (Level 25 Talent) - Every Holy Priest's best friend for when they need to run faster. Can be macro'd to cast on yourself (see Resources page), or placed on the ground to help an ally.

Desperate Prayer - Increases your maximum health for the duration and gives you an upfront heal. This is our only baseline defensive cooldown apart from self-casting Guardian Spirit, so use it well!

Purify - Removes Magic and Disease debuffs from an ally. Priests are unable to remove Poisons or Curses.

Dispel Magic - Removes a beneficial Magic buff from an enemy, which tends to have many good uses in dungeons.

Mass Dispel - Ground-targeted AoE version of Purify and Dispel Magic. Will only remove Magic debuffs from allies, not Diseases. This is very expensive, so use it only when needed.

Symbol of Hope - Channeled spell that restores some mana to all allied healers. The lower each person currently is on mana, the more mana it will return to them. Generally most useful toward the end of a raid encounter when people are low on mana.

Leap of Faith (aka "Life Grip") - Pulls an ally to your location. Useful when someone is caught out of position and needs some help getting to safety.

Power Word: Fortitude - Priest's "raid buff" which increases stamina. Should be maintained on your party/raid members at all times.

Psychic Scream - Fears enemies around you. Can be used to get enemies off of you, or as a pseudo-interrupt.

Shining Force (Level 35 Talent) - Knocks back and slows all enemies around you or your friendly target. Can be used to get enemies off you, as a pseudo-interrupt, or to help the tank reposition enemies into a better spot. One of the longest knockback effects in the game!

Resurrection - Single-target resurrection that requires you to be out of combat.

Mass Resurrection - AoE resurrection that requires all allies to be out of combat.

Fade - Temporarily drops threat on all enemies you're in combat with, and also reduces the range at which enemies will attack you. Useful for when the tank doesn't pick up an enemy right away and you need to get it off of you, or if you need to sneak past some enemies without getting in combat with them (especially powerful when combined with Mind Soothe).

Mind Soothe - Reduces the range at which a target enemy will attack you or your allies. Can be useful to skip certain trash packs in dungeons, although it only works on Humanoid and Dragonkin targets.

Shackle Undead - "Hard crowd control" effect which only works on Undead enemies, which means that its practical uses are somewhat limited.

Mind Control - Crowd control that lets you take control of the enemy target, at the loss of controlling your own character for the duration. Has some limited uses, but make sure you're standing somewhere safe first!

Levitate - Lets you slow fall and walk over water, which can come in handy for zones where you cannot use a flying mount.

Mind Vision - Just for fun, has no real practical uses. Most likely not worth keybinding.

Passives

Mastery: Echo of Light - All of your direct heals, including heals from trinkets and covenant abilities, heal the target for an additional amount over 6 seconds. The amount healed is increased by your Mastery stat.

Spirit of Redemption - One of Holy Priest's most iconic abilities, it will activate when you die and allow you to continue healing for a short time.

Focused Will - Automatic damage reduction that activates when an enemy is meleeing you. Nice survivability bonus for solo content and PvP, but mostly irrelevant in group content since enemies shouldn't be hitting you.

Solo Content

Generally, if you are aiming for speed when doing quests or other solo content, you may be better off going Shadow for the higher damage that it offers. However, Holy received quite a few quality of life changes and buffs to its damage-dealing spells in Shadowlands, so if you prefer to quest as Holy, it is more enjoyable now than it has been in the past.

Stats

Intellect > Haste/Crit/Vers

Aim for your highest item level pieces, while avoiding Mastery if possible since it provides no damage benefit.

Talents

Talent Calculator Link

Damage Priority
  1. Holy Fire on cooldown
  2. Maintain Shadow Word: Pain
  3. Shadow Word: Death on cooldown (only when the target is below 20% health)
  4. Holy Word: Chastise on cooldown
  5. Apotheosis to reduce Holy Word: Chastise cooldown faster
  6. Divine Star on cooldown
  7. Fill with Smite

Against many targets, you will want to cast Shadow Word: Pain on any that will live long enough, and fill with Holy Nova instead of Smite unless you want to focus down a specific target.

Dungeon Healing

Stats

Intellect > Haste/Crit/Vers > Mastery

Aim for your highest item level pieces, while avoiding Mastery if possible since it provides no damage benefit, and it also provides less bursty healing than the other secondary stats.

Leech and avoidance can also be attractive tertiary stats, if you happen to find gear with them.

Talents

Talent Calculator Link

Shining Force can also be used instead of Censure, particularly for certain Mythic Keystone affixes such as Sanguine or Necrotic where controlling mobs' positioning becomes extra important.

Covenants and Soulbinds

Holy Priest is in a rather unique position where we can join any of the four covenants and still perform well, since the vast majority of our output comes from our base spec and the differences between each covenant are minor. This means it is totally fine to choose based on your personal preferences.

Click here for a deeper dive into the mechanics and benefits of each covenant and their accompanying soulbind options.

Legendaries

Similar to Covenants, Holy Priests don't have any legendaries that stand out as being "must picks". We recommend Echo of Eonar for dungeons, but there are other viable options as well. Click here for more details.

Conduits

Potency:

  1. Resonant Words
  2. Courageous Ascension (if Kyrian) / Shattered Perceptions (if Venthyr) / Holy Oration (if Necrolord or Night Fae)

Endurance:

  1. Translucent Image
  2. Light's Inspiration

Finesse:

Finesse conduits are all situational, and you can pick whatever sounds useful to you. Clear Mind is likely to be the most useful overall.

Gameplay

In dungeons, typically most of the incoming damage will be funneled onto the tank, making single-target healing very important. Flash Heal and Holy Word: Serenity are our bread and butter single-target heals in dungeons. With Trail of Light talented, Flash Heal can be used for consistent single-target and two-target healing, with Holy Word: Serenity filling in as needed for more burst healing.

You will also run into situations where most of your party all need healing at once. In this case, you should prioritize Holy Word: Sanctify, Circle of HealingDivine Star, and Prayer of Healing. Divine Hymn should be used to carry through the heaviest AoE burst that gets thrown at your party.

Guardian Spirit should be used early and often to help boost single-target healing. With Guardian Angel talented, the cooldown is effectively only 70 seconds (assuming the life-saving effect doesn't get triggered). This means that you don't need to save it for emergencies, and should be using it frequently to help keep the tank alive more easily.

Apotheosis is also a flexible cooldown in dungeons that should be used early and often to help with all your healing. It resets your Holy Word: Serenity and Holy Word: Sanctify cooldowns when used, giving you a nice burst of healing when activated, and then continuing to refresh your Holy Words faster as you continue casting. It also provides a minor damage and crowd control benefit, since it gives you more Holy Word: Chastise.

Anytime your party's health is stable, you should be contributing damage to help speed up the run. Particularly with the Shadowlands rework of Holy Fire and addition of Shadow Word: Pain, Holy can contribute a nice chunk of damage even without spending a lot of time spamming Smite.

Damage Priority
  1. Divine Star on cooldown (for AoE)
  2. Holy Fire on cooldown
  3. Maintain Shadow Word: Pain
  4. Shadow Word: Death on cooldown (only when the target is below 20% health)
  5. Holy Word: Chastise on cooldown
  6. Divine Star on cooldown (for single target)
  7. Fill with Smite

Against many targets, you will want to cast Shadow Word: Pain on any that will live long enough, and fill with Holy Nova instead of Smite unless you want to focus down a specific target.

See the Holy Spellbook tab for further details on how to use spells that may not have been mentioned above.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that you will want to bring with plenty of water before you step into a dungeon, or run dungeons with a Mage who can make water for you. Since you can normally drop combat between every pull, this should give you plenty of time to drink for mana as needed, which can be funneled into more healing and damage.

Raid Healing

Stats

Intellect > Mastery/Crit/Vers > Haste

In general you will want to aim for your highest item level pieces, since having more stats overall is better than having a specific mix of stats.

Leech and avoidance can also be attractive tertiary stats, if you happen to find gear with them. Leech in particular tends to shine in raid situations, usually being just as good as intellect if not better, and it may be worth dropping some item level to pick up more leech.

Talents

Talent Calculator Link

The talents shown above are a good example of a standard build, but there are several other solid talents available. Feel free to experiment and find out what works best for you!

Renewed Faith - This is a new talent in Shadowlands and therefore hasn't had a ton of testing yet, but it could be competitive when combined with Benediction and Holy Word: Salvation. However, hard casting Renew a lot is not a good idea, even with this talent.

Guardian Angel - Often underrated since it doesn't show up directly on meters like Cosmic Ripple, but it has high potential, especially on fights with a heavy tank healing and/or spot healing requirement.

Surge of Light - While our new talent Prayer Circle gives an attractive option for increasing AoE healing on demand, Prayer of Healing can also drain your mana quite fast if you spam it too much. Surge of Light can be a good alternative for mana conservation, plus it gives you access to more instant casts to use while moving.

Benediction - Provides a nice extra stream of passive healing, although it relies on good Prayer of Mending usage to reach its full potential. Also has potential for synergy with Renewed Faith.

Divine Star - Occasionally we run across fights where people are stacked the majority of the time and taking a lot of constant damage. For those situations, Divine Star has the potential to compete with the alternatives.

Covenants and Soulbinds

Holy Priest is in a rather unique position where we can join any of the four covenants and still perform well, since the vast majority of our output comes from our base spec and the differences between each covenant are minor. This means it is totally fine to choose based on your personal preferences.

Click here for a deeper dive into the mechanics and benefits of each covenant and their accompanying soulbind options.

Legendaries

Similar to Covenants, Holy Priests don't have any legendaries that stand out as being "must picks". We recommend Harmonious Apparatus for raids, but there are other viable options as well. Click here for more details.

Conduits

Potency:

  1. Resonant Words
  2. Courageous Ascension (if Kyrian) / Shattered Perceptions (if Venthyr) / Holy Oration (if Necrolord or Night Fae)

Endurance:

  1. Translucent Image
  2. Light's Inspiration

Finesse:

Finesse conduits are all situational, and you can pick whatever sounds useful to you. Clear Mind is likely to be the most useful overall.

Gameplay

Holy is a versatile healer in raids, with a reactive playstyle that allows us to switch up our spell choices at any moment to adjust to the situation. Although every raid fight is different, typically incoming damage will be some mix of raid-wide burst damage, raid-wide constant ticking damage (sometimes referred to as "rot" damage), and single-target damage on the tanks and other incidental targets who get targeted with mechanics. Below are rough guidelines for how to deal with each of these situations.

  • All Situations: Cast Prayer of Mending on cooldown. This is one of our most mana-efficient spells, and since it has a long duration, you will generally get full value out of it even if you're pre-casting it before damage has started going out.
  • Raid-Wide Burst Damage
  • Ticking Damage: Follow the same priority as above, except you should keep a closer eye on your mana and refrain from spamming too much Prayer of Healing when the extra throughput isn't needed. As a mana-efficient substitute, you can fill with Heal or Smite instead.
  • Single-Target Damage: Use Guardian Spirit and Holy Word: Serenity as needed, and fill with Heal (slower, more mana efficient) or Flash Heal (faster, less mana efficient).

See the Holy Spellbook tab for further details on how to use spells that may not have been mentioned above.

This guide was written by Xaph. Xaph is a Cutting Edge raider who has extensive experience playing both Holy and Discipline Priest, and he is an MVP and active contributor for both specs in the Warcraft Priests community. If you have any questions or suggestions about this guide, feel free to join the Discord server and send him a message. You can also catch him streaming his raid progress, and occasionally other content, on Twitch.

Want more in-depth Holy Priest guides? We recommend the following:

Warcraft Priests Holy Priest Guide
Icy Veins Holy Priest Guide