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Pally Healing 201 – Knowing When to Use What & Mana Conservation

padawanCongratulations! You’ve graduated past your first two semesters. On to your sophomore year.

We’ve already covered stats, gear, glyphs, etc. We’ve learned what heals are available to you. All the bases are covered. We’re ready to heal. Right?

Meh. There’s a lot more to it than that my young padawan.

Knowing When To Use What

I already mentioned that most people think of pally healers as spammers. We’ve got Flash of Light as our primary heal and we just keep hitting it until the fights over. /Yawn.

Wrong! That’s where the fun begins, but it isn’t where it ends. Knowing what heals to use isn’t exclusive to a paladin. All healers need to know their heals and learn when to use which one. Paladins are no different.

Knowing what heal to use depends on the situation and your surroundings. I think we can all agree on that. Things to consider:

  • Are there 2 other healers with you?
  • How about 5?
  • What are their assignments?
  • Are there other healers in range?
  • How much damage are you expecting your target to take in the next couple of seconds?
  • Who’s close to death?
  • Do I really need to heal right now?

And a hundred other questions only some of which I can address here. So here are some basic ideas to keep in mind.

Before The Pull – Preparing before the pull is pretty important. Remember this is what I am currently doing. Adapt it. Use it for your own. Find other ways. (And then make sure to let me know what works better.)

On the first pull you should already be at full mana, but in-between pulls you might not be so lucky. So what do you do? Say you’re at 65%. The raid is ready to move on. Do I sit down and drink? Consider this. Depending on where you’re mana is at, hitting Divine Plea right before the pull is not a bad idea. The healing debuff lasts for 15 seconds. Given that it takes at least 5 seconds before the actual pull, you’ve already reduced that and gained mana in the meantime and will suffer less from its debuff effect. Also, you’ve already started your cooldown which is one minute and it should be ready by the time you need it again.

Now’s a good time to double check if you need to recast Seal of Light or Seal of Wisdom, given that you have Glyph of Seal of Light or Glyph of Seal of Wisdom.

piggyBefore the tank actually pulls, I always cast Bacon of Light because it’s a piggyback spell. (OK that was a really poor attempt at humor. :P) Beacon of Light piggybacks heals onto its target. Make sure you cast it on the tank prior to the initial pull because it does create a small amount of threat. If you can’t, wait until the mobs are controlled or aggroed before casting.

It’s also not a bad idea to go ahead and cast Sacred Shield.  It lasts 30 secs and can help prevent some of that initial incoming damage the tank is going to take.  It also has the added benefit of adding crit to your Flash of Light and who doesn’t like crit?

pullThe Pull – In most pulls, your first heals will be Flash of Light, but it really depends on the pull. The main question to ask yourself is, “How much damage is the tank going to take on the first hit?” If he’s going to take a lot, say because he’s going to try and aggro 4+ mobs, then prepare your Holy Light. If he isn’t, then Flash of Light is more than sufficient. Timing can be critical. Don’t cast too soon because you could potentially aggro. This is where knowing your tank really plays a part.


Know your assignment and make sure that one stays alive. Keep a watch on others as you do. Remember your priorities. Keep (1) tanks alive, (2) yourself and other healers, and finally (3) DPS.

During this time keep a watch on your targets, mana, spell cooldowns, and trinket cooldowns.

  • Watch your target. Keep it alive.
  • Watch your mana. This is crucial. It’s very easy to get caught up in the fight and making sure the raid stays alive. YOU MUST WATCH YOUR MANA!!! This has always been the case, but with the majority of 5-man instances, I’ve found I can run out of mana real quick. This hasn’t happened to me in a very long time. Being geared in BC has spoiled me. Careful planning is crucial.
  • Watch your cooldowns. Pop trinkets as you can. Remember to keep your Seal of Light or Seal of Wisdom up. Remember to recast Beacon of Light on the tank.

Controlling Mana

This topic deserves a whole section of its own, but it’s so crucial to this topic that I’ll talk about it here.

The biggest problem I’ve run into so far in Wrath is controlling mana. No longer are we allowed to chain pot. But all is not lost. We’ve been given other alternatives and they aren’t that bad. It  just requires a little retraining.

Divine Plea is our new friend. Part of me hates relying on it because I became so used to being healing efficient that I never had to worry about mana. Just hit an occasional mana pot or two in boss fights and I was good to go. Now I find I use Divine Plea twice in some trash pulls. I expect as my guild gears up that’ll start to go away some.

If you’re close to or less than 75% of your mana in-between pulls, then cast this baby. It saves you from having to drink, burns the debuff associated with it, starts the cooldown, and keeps the raid moving.

Knowing when to cast Divine Plea during the fight can be crucial. As soon as I notice that I’m getting anywhere close to 75% mana, I consider Divine Plea. It regenerates 25% of your mana over 15 secs. Unfortunately you take a healing reduction while it’s up. You have to consider whether you can afford that debuff. If the raid is being hit hard, then probably not. If the damage is steady, but not drastic, then by all means cast it.  And eventually if you’re starting to get real low on mana, you’ll have no choice regardless of how hard the raid’s getting hit.

The cooldown for Divine Plea is one minute. Make sure you’re watching that. If you get to the point where your mana is close to or below 75%, then re-evaluate whether you can cast it again. Cast it every time you can to keep that mana up. Finding out you need that last bit of mana and cannot afford the debuff is a bad situation. I try to cast it as soon as the cooldown wears off and I’m anywhere near or below 75% mana.

The other night in Naxxramas we were fighting Maexxna and I was able to use Divine Plea to keep my mana up around 90% the entire fight. When Maexxna hit 30% the fight gets real tough and I was spamming Holy Light the remainder of the fight. It doesn’t take long to go oom at that point, so keep in mind that in some fights you can’t afford not to use Divine Plea throughout.

Runic Mana Potion is your other friend. Remember you can only use one per combat. Some boss fights will allow you a brief moment to get out of combat and resets it, but there aren’t many. I save my mana pots for situations where I have to have the mana fast and cannot afford Divine Plea.

Illumination as stated in previous sections is an absolute must. Get that spell crit up and you’ll naturally conserve mana by gaining 60% of it back on each spell crit. In some ways spell crit is more important than spellpower, but only because most of your gear will have spellpower on it already.

Seal of Light or Seal of Wisdom in conjunction with Glyph of Seal of Light or Glyph of Seal of Wisdom is another way to maintain mana. Obviously Wisdom directly affects your mana consumption, but Light affects healing output which hopefully translates into fewer heals and thereby less mana.


batting-practiceI said it before and I’ll say it again “Practice, practice, practice!!!” and “”RUN 5-MAN RAIDS!!!”

One other thing. RESEARCH!!! I can’t stress it enough. Blizzard keeps changing things with patches and expansions. Stay up on it. Read stuff online. It can only make you better. I myself only realized the value of Glyph of Seal of Wisdom and Glyph of Seal of Light with regards to healing AND I’ve known about these two glyphs since the patch. For whatever reason it just didn’t click. Now I’m still trying to train myself to keep one up at all times.

Related Posts: Pally Healing 101, Pally Healing 102 – Intro to Healing


3 Responses

  1. […] felt that the last healing topic of Knowing When To Use What & Mana Conservation was so important that it deserves another semester’s worth of practice, or at least some […]

  2. Beacon of light who do you use it on? I found that in 5 mans if I put it on the tank then heal everyone else the tank stays healed as well.

    You have not talked about the heal-bot addon.
    I have mine configured left – Flash of light, right – holy light, shift left – target, shift right – cleanse, ctrl-left – beacon of light, ctrl-right is scared shield.

    This frees the action bar for divine plea, holy shock, seals, etc…

  3. In 5-mans I beacon the tank and do exactly what you do. In raids, I beacon the tank that will take less damage and heal the one that takes the most. Granted this post is nearly a year old so it isn’t as critical to do it that way anymore since the full amount of the heal, including overheal, heals the beacon as well. At the time of this post it did not do that.

    As for Heal-bot, it is an addon I’ve tried, but I don’t use it. It’s just one more addon to maintain and I can do everything it does with my standard raid frames (X-Perl) and mouse-over macros which are all keybound.

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