Best Covenants for Holy Priests in Shadowlands
A core choice at the start of your journey in the Shadowlands will have you decide where your allegiance lies; would you rather support the Kyrian of Bastion, the Necrolords of Maldraxxus, the Night Fae of Ardenweald, or the Venthyr of Revendreth?
Choosing a covenant is the most important decision your character will make in Shadowlands, as the covenant abilities and soulbinds will significantly impact your spec's gameplay and performance. Through this choice, your rotation changes, certain bonuses appear in dungeons for your entire group, and you are able to follow the story in different paths.
In this Shadowlands guide, we will help you choose the right covenant for your playstyle, based on how much they impact your performance as a Holy Priest, updated for Shadowlands Launch.
Best Covenants for Holy Priest
As a quick recap, we've created the table below to highlight the notable differences between covenants. Don't hesitate to click the headers to go to their respective guides!
|Best Raid Covenants|
|Best Mythic+ Covenants|
|Kyrian||Low Keys: Great|
High Keys: Good
|Necrolord||Low Keys: Great|
High Keys: Great
|Venthyr||Low Keys: Good|
High Keys: Good
Best Holy Priest Covenants for Raiding
Holy in Shadowlands is often focused on utilizing many short cooldowns to reduce the cooldowns of their Holy Word: Serenity and Holy Word: Sanctify, and provides two strong raid cooldowns in Divine Hymn and Holy Word: Salvation. Many of the Covenants offer some side-damage resources that don't mean as much to Holy Priest, given that there is no damage/healing interaction like Discipline has.
However, the healing the abilities do, how they are produced, and the soulbinds that support them are very significant to Holy and in that regard Necrolord is a clear winner. The Unholy Nova ability produces solid healing on a low cooldown, with heavy control over where the ability will land to ensure it's maximum potential. With soulbinds, the Emeni bind has a sweet and easy to acquire bonus with Lead by Example offering up to 15% bonus intellect on demand. This is excellent to utilize before one of your raid cooldowns in Divine Hymn or Holy Word: Salvation but could also simply be used before casting Circle of Healing to get the Prayer Circle buff allowing for some rapid and heavy hitting Prayer of Healing.
Boon of the Ascended and the Kyrian is the closest second place you'll find early on in the xpac and will be discussed further below in Covenant analysis. Later on, when reaching max renown is more easy, Venthyr is also a good choice, especially if you split time between playing Discipline Priest as well thanks to the strong value of Draven's Hold Your Ground trait.
Best Holy Priest Covenants for Mythic+
In Mythic+ the Necrolord continues to hold up as an excellent option for dungeon content. Some of the biggest challenges Holy Priest will have is the Prideful enemy and some select Tyrannical bosses. The seasonal Affix Prideful is one large enemy that deals increasing levels of damage to your group until it caps (at 20 stacks) or is killed. Holy will benefit the most with a stacked team, a bursty Covenant ability and follow up buffs. This is exactly what Unholy Nova provides with Emeni. As stacks increase, communicate with your team to stack, then cast Unholy Nova on your party and follow through with Holy Word: Sanctify or Prayer of Healing to sustain your team. When done properly, the heavy combination of abilities that Holy has to offer will help keep your team alive through the heaviest damage.
On Tyrannical bosses, you often will leverage Lead by Example for key moments where your Flash Heal and Holy Word: Serenity will need to be as strong as possible to deal with high pressure mechanics on individuals or even on your entire team. If there's no damage going out that needs heavy healing, simply tossing out Unholy Nova for pure damage also shores up Holy's low passive damage in dungeons, making it much more competitive.
Holy Priest Raiding Covenant Analysis
Due to the raid design, and the fact that some abilities naturally play towards the strength of the cleansing effect provided by Summon Steward / Phial of Serenity; there is already a value proposition in being able to negate mechanics from it. While some of these effects have been turned into magic debuffs rather than bleeds, there is still solid benefit in cleansing these debuffs, especially when mistakes happen and the alternative is death or expending overly large amounts of mana to power heal you through the error.
Boon of the Ascended is still a solid cooldown to have in a raid environment, but its also ANOTHER heavy cooldown for a spec that is chock full of them. To that end, it can be more challenging to properly fit this cooldown in without overlapping other healers or just stacking it on top of one of your other cooldowns. Building stacks in a raid can also be inconsistent depending on whether the encounter is single target or multi-target. The more enemies that you can strike, the stronger your subsequent Eruption will be, but that also needs to be aligned with incoming damage patterns. The more specific the scenario has to be, the less valuable a cooldown or resource is.
Some of the soulbind options are also solid to bring to the raiding table, especially on Day 1. Kleia grants a temporary debuff immunity in Kleia's Ascendant Phial, or a lot of stats and healing in Pelagos' Phial of Patience and Combat Meditation. Later on in the tier, Pelagos even gains Let Go of the Past to round it all up and seal the deal.
Kyrian is a good second-place choice compared to the Necrolord in a raiding environment early on in the expansion. Boon is weighty and more challenging to make maximum use of the effect but overall is not a bad pick.
Unholy Nova is the Covenant ability for the Necrolords. Like Ascended Eruption, Unholy Nova will split damage and healing depending on the number of enemies/allies hit. As a result, when using either to heal it can help reduce overheal by hitting many individuals because you're not putting massive healing into only one or two allies. It is a quick burst of healing with some trickle healing resulting from players damaging the enemy that has received the DoT effect.
A huge benefit to this Covenant is that you can leverage your soulbinds to further assist your cooldown windows. Lead by Example for instance provides 13% bonus intellect which you can time to have just before Holy Word: Salvation, Divine Hymn or Prayer of Healing spam. It is simple to use, does decent healing to many allies, can be cast on an enemy, an ally, or detonate immediately if you cast it off yourself.
Fleshcraft creates a shield equal to 20-50% of your max health depending on the type and quantity of the corpses you consume. Its a long channel which can be difficult to utilize in raiding, especially if heavy movement is involved. If there is sufficient downtime then you can create some strong shields to better mitigate heavy burst damage.
The chaotic Fae Guardians is the Night Fae Priest Covenant ability. It produces three faeries at once that can move to a new target depending on the spell cast. Initially they will instantly apply to an ally or enemy that you have selected. Targetting an enemy? The offensive Faerie will apply to it and the defensive and cooldown reducing faeries will apply to you. Target an ally and the offensive Faerie will not apply, while the other two will be applied on your ally.
Flash Heal moves the Faerie that reduces a major cooldown on the target, Power Word: Shield applies 10% damage reduction and Shadow Word: Pain applies the final Faerie that will regen mana if you are actively attacking the enemy. The cooldown reduction that Holy receives is toward Divine Hymn which can have some value but can also have large downsides. If you are holding Divine Hymn for specific events then this cooldown reduction could be irrelevant. In that case you could reduce the cooldown of a DPS instead but then effectively lose out on potential HPS. Often these, "sacrifice value for yourself to buff others" trends don't age very well as noted in BfA with the Artifice of Time Azerite essence.
The soulbinds are quite good but take some time to unlock Dreamweaver for example has, Social Butterfly for a free 3% versatility OR Empowered Chrysalis which redirects a very small amount of heal into a shield OR you can choose a Potency conduit. Field of Blossoms provides an on-demand haste bonus and Somnambulist gives a small added movement boost.
This Covenant is very frustrating as it wants you to do many different things. Fae Fermata is the soulbind conduit that pushes you to "juggle" your damage reduction or cooldown reduction buffs between two targets, which is mana costly and GCD intensive. It reduces a cooldown that you often are planning out well in advance and needs to result in an extra use to see any sort of value. If not, you toss the cooldown reduction on a DPS and maybe they get another cooldown in before the fight ends, but you basically commit to having lower throughput than your alternative Covenants.v`
Your Covenant ability as a Venthyr is big single target damage that has nothing to do with Holy. Each encounter in Castle Nathria has generally scripted burst patterns that can make planning its use very straightforward but the damage reversal is limited. So while Shriekwing will cast Wave of Blood around every 30 seconds, casting Mindgames before said damage will only reverse a small portion of that raid wide hit and frequently the affect is consumed by the boss on melee strikes on tanks. All in all though, it is good throughput on a relatively low cooldown.
There is a nice bright side however, your soulbinds really take off later on. They take time to reach their maximum potential with General Draven's soulbind being the top pick. Hold Your Ground is just a generally strong overall trait but will only be able to be unlocked months into the expansion, if you're patient Venthyr can be a good pick if you play lots of Discipline and Holy and are looking for a covenant ability that is easy to use and stays strong. The Service In Stone trait is an adequate defensive but mainly just a compliment to the end-tree trait.
Door of Shadows is absolutely lovely movement and can help greatly in Castle Nathria and dungeons alike.
Holy Priest Mythic+ Covenant Analysis
For full descriptions check the Raiding paragraph.
Dungeons are likely an area where you will notice the impact of Fae Guardians the most when it buffs other players. It's a fun gimmick when you're playing the normal or heroic dungeons and breezing through the content. When you get to more challenging content, especially Mythic raiding and high Mythic+ Prideful, you immediately notice that you don't have any sort of throughput increase to help you heal the content.
Unholy Nova is so flexible and useful for dungeon content. It shores up your weak points for Tyrannical bosses and Prideful so well at high levels that you really notice when you don't have access to it. The closest competition in dungeons would be utilizing Boon of the Ascended from the Kyrian, but unfortunately the Ascended Blast provides a mediocre level of single target healing.
Ascended Nova deals great AoE damage and builds stacks rapidly, but does insufficient healing to assist on the difficult levels of Prideful or Tyrannical bosses. Lastly, the Ascended Eruption can be a strong damaging resource when your Ascended Nova builds heavy stacks, but leveraging them for healing is challenging, especially when bosses or Prideful are usually fought alone so the Ascended Eruptions are very small.
Holy Priest Covenant and Soulbind Guides
Now that we have highlighted each Covenant's strengths and abilities for you to decide which is best, you can read our in-depth Covenant guides below. These pages detail the best soulbind paths for Shadowlands PvE as well as optimal covenant ability usage for each covenant.