Holy Priest Rotation Guide
Executing your rotation properly in World of Warcraft can mean the difference between a kill or a wipe. In this guide, we will explain all Holy Priest abilities and how they should be used optimally to maximize your performance, providing in-depth Holy Priest rotations and priority lists.
We will teach you all the synergies and special interactions between your class abilities, so you can have peak performance in Shadowlands for your Holy Priest in raids and dungeons. Besides the basics, we explain more nuances and advanced concepts in your Holy Priest rotation, such as highlighting the best moments to use notable cooldowns.
Holy Priest Rotation / Playstyle
Your playstyle in Shadowlands revolves around making the fullest use of your Holy Words, while the rest of your Holy Priest rotation revolves around them, benefiting your Holy Words through cooldown reduction to increase your throughput, along with additional talents and spells that are to be used on cooldown.
NOTE: These are guidelines for a general priority under general circumstances, this is to give you an idea of what priority you put on casting which spells and why you cast them, situations and encounters can vary.
- Cast Holy Word: Serenity on cooldown (if target is around 50% HP).
- Cast Holy Word: Sanctify on cooldown (if hitting 5-6 targets and it will be effective).
- Cast Prayer of Mending on cooldown.
- Cast Circle of Healing on cooldown if 3+ allies are injured.
- Cast Halo if most of the raid has taken damage. (if talented)
- Flash Heal as needed and to support tanks/critical targets
- Cast Fae Guardians during downtime to reduce the cooldown of Divine Hymn and regen mana. (if Night Fae)
- Boon of the Ascended will frequently be used as its own cooldown. Check the Kyrian covenant page for more information. (if Kyrian)
When preparing for party-wide damage:
- Cast Mindgames before the boss deals heavy damage. (if Venthyr)
- Cast Unholy Nova so that it impacts just after damage hits. Targetting an ally or enemy. (if Necrolord)
- Cast Prayer of Healing if party is at low health and Holy Word: Sanctify is on cooldown.
- Use Holy Word: Salvation or Divine Hymn with respect to other healer's raid cooldowns when heavy damage occurs (addressed further in Advanced section).
- Heal as filler when not moving.
- Renew when on the move if a target is taking steady, sustained damage.
Adding damage during downtime (low priority)
- Cast Holy Word: Chastise on cooldown
- Cast Holy Fire on cooldown
- Maintain Shadow Word: Pain
- Cast Smite or Holy Nova if over 3 enemies
Flash, Prayer of Healing, Circle of Healing, and Heal
As you've seen in the healing priority, Holy has a great many tools at its disposal to top off health pools and synergize with Holy Words. What this means is that you will often have to analyze and make decisions based off the target or targets' health pools to determine what ability you need to use once your Holy Words are on cooldown. Heal for example is a very strong but slow healing ability, and is an excellent tool to use during low damage periods to support your tank while also reducing the cooldown of Holy Word: Serenity.
Flash Heal and Prayer of Healing are more extreme spells. What this means is that you will often want to utilize these when players are often more damaged than healthy, or when you have excess mana that you can consume. Both abilities cost a solid amount of mana and therefore should be used with the knowledge that they can run you out of mana (oom) very easily if misused. As mentioned before, Heal is a slow cast and efficient ability that is prioritized during downtime.
While you can also choose to cast Smite to add extra damage, you'll need to weigh the importance of adding extra damage against using more Heal instead so that you are more easily able to get Holy Word: Serenity off cooldown more quickly, which in turn will allow you to instantly react to a large hit that can go onto a raid member if they stand in avoidable damage or fail a mechanic. In Castle Nathria, the Stone Legion Generals encounter features a periodic spawn of enemies called Stone Legion Skirimishers. When they reached low health, they will attempt to push players off of the platform, this is an important area to add extra damage as a healer to ensure nobody falls off.
Holy Word: Power
Going into your most important and themed abilities, your focus will be on accuracy in Holy Words. Being accurate with Holy Word: Sanctify and Holy Word: Serenity is more important than ever. One of the most consistent areas to target your Holy Word: Sanctify are in melee, high chance of hitting full targets and it can be very easy to organize your groups to show all of the melee in the first two groups. If you see the first two groups taking damage, then you can immediately default to firing your Holy Word: Sanctify into melee and expecting good results. It takes practice, but accurate Holy Word: Sanctify can make a world of difference between life and death.
When damage ramps up, do not shy away from using heavy Prayer of Healing to keep the group alive and get your Holy Word: Sanctify off cooldown faster. In between larger damage periods, you will be able to pace your mana through Heal and lower the cooldown of your Holy Word: Serenity more quickly before needing to use it once more.
Holy's Large Cooldowns and Covenant Synergy
Holy's large cooldowns make an immense impact on the raid and party environments. Apotheosis offers a substantial burst of Holy Word power. This can mean rapid use of Holy Word: Serenity on the tank if they are taking heavy hits in a dungeon, or as a damage cooldown on an easy boss fight with accelerated Holy Word: Chastise uses. Symbol of Hope is a powerful mana regeneration cooldown for your healer team, the best use will frequently be later in the encounter where the most missing mana is present for your healer team.
Holy Word: Salvation and Divine Hymn are your large raid cooldowns. Mixing these in requires coordination with your team to decide which mechanics those cooldowns need to counter. Keep in mind the hefty cooldown of Holy Word: Salvation and the requirement of heavy Holy Word usage in order to reduce the cooldown. Often, utilizing it as one of the earlier cooldowns in the rotation, guarantees a 2nd use later on in the fight. If an encounter is fast, ~5minutes, you may be faced with a situation where using it extremely early, often at a sub-optimal time, to guarantee a 2nd use at the very end of the fight is best. In this scenario it is very important to coordinate with your fellow healers as to how necessary 2 casts at odd times will be compared to a single cast at the optimal time.
If you choose the suggested covenant Necrolord then Unholy Nova's primary use in a raiding environment will revolve around optimizing it for Divine Hymn, Holy Word: Salvation, or healing heavily through Holy Word: Serenity/Holy Word: Sanctify or Prayer of Healing spam. It is a low enough cooldown that you will frequently have many of these cooldowns at your disposal when the ability becomes available again.
Positioning yourself or having a strong mouseover macro to properly launch this ability will be key to getting the strongest results. You want to find a point where you can hit the maximum number of allies to heal them, while still having the nova hit the boss or multiple enemies. You also need to ensure that you will have time to channel Divine Hymn or plant your feet to cast Prayer of Healing afterwords so timing and knowledge of the mechanics will be important to get the best possible effect.
What we have learned from Holy in Legion and Battle for Azeroth is that we have an incredible capacity to serve a great many needs to a raid. Probably the most important of these needs is that spot healing continues to be of prime importance in Castle Nathria. Spot healing refers to immediate, single target healing to tanks and priority allies that take heavy damage in short periods of time. As healers, it is not only important to top off anyone in danger of death but we are also incentivized to mix in more single target healing with the high efficiency of Heal during low damage periods. As a result, we can be solid tank healers and have abilities like Holy Word: Serenity that can instantly reverse damage.
In the 45 talent row, Holy has some good competition, but all will focus on the spec contributing a large amount of AoE healing to the raid with good support for healing priority targets. If talented into Bene we are even further incentivized to use Prayer of Mending on cooldown, but if we are focusing Prayer of Mending on tanks in particular, then we are able to push a heavy amount of passive healing onto the tanks and reduce overheal as much as possible. Think of a white light passing through a Prism to create a rainbow. All of our passive healing from Benediction, Prayer of Mending, Renew, and Echo can "start" on an individual target allowing stronger tank healing, especially as we've seen in early progression at the start of an expansion where tanks require greater focus.
And never forget to Always B Castin!
Baseline Holy Priest Spells
Let's take a look at what spells a Holy Priest will have at their disposal in Shadowlands and what the primary purpose of these spells are in a raid or dungeon environment. We will get to how these spells work in a raid environment in the Holy Priest Rotation later on.
- Heal – Slow, efficient, single target direct heal, triggers Holy Words.
- Flash Heal – Fast, more expensive single target heal, also triggers Holy Words.
- Renew – Heal over Time (HoT) effect, now reduces the cooldown of Holy Word: Sanctify
- Holy Word: Serenity – Strong direct heal, look for targets around half health or less to use, with a hefty cooldown reduced by Holy Words.
- Holy Word: Sanctify – Strong, direct, reticule targeted Area of Effect (AoE) heal. Good for healing stacked groups of players, with a hefty cooldown reduced by Holy Words.
- Prayer of Healing – Costly proximity heal that heals the target and 4 nearest targets within 30 yards. Triggers Holy Words.
- Prayer of Mending – A charge based heal that is cast on a friendly target which heals them when they take damage and then bounces to another friendly target if charges are remaining, Use on cooldown!
- Divine Hymn – Large channeled raid cooldown that heals all raiders over time within 40 yards of the casting player and increases healing done to them by 10% for 8 seconds.
- Circle of Healing – Solid, hyper-efficient area of effect healing that should be used on cooldown whenever sufficient damage hits the group.
Damage Dealing Spells
- Holy Word: Chastise – Strong single target damage spell with a hefty cooldown, reduced by Holy Words.
- Smite – Single target damage spell that triggers Holy Words.
- Holy Nova - AoE damaging spell which can be very efficient for large quantities of small mobs.
- Holy Fire – Instant cast damage spell that leaves Damage over Time (DoT) on the target.
- Symbol of Hope - provides exceptional utility although on a long cooldown.
- Fade - Drops current threat from all enemies, can be useful for when additional enemies spawn during encounters and you want to ensure none of them are drawn to you.
- Dispel Magic - Allows you to Purge (remove) helpful buffs from your enemies.
- Guardian Spirit - Increases healing received by the tank by 40% for the duration if the tank dies while the Spirit is active the affected target is then healed to 40% of their max HP and the effect is canceled. An effective tank cooldown that should be coordinated with your healing officer and tanks.
- Leap of Faith - Pulls the target to you, can be very useful for moving tanks across the room with ease on high movement encounters, or gripping little Jimmy out of the fire… again.
- Mind Control - Self-explanatory, gain control of your enemies and jump them off cliffs!
- Mass Dispel - Also self-descriptive, removes debuffs from up to 5 players within the radius, excellent for clearing large amounts of debuffs on the raid.
- Shackle Undead - Locks up an undead enemy.
- Mind Soothe - Reduces the threat range of an enemy. Must be humanoid or dragonkin.
- Power Infusion- Provides a lengthy haste buff to yourself or an ally.
- Psychic Scream - Causes up to 5 enemies within 8 yards of you to flee for 8 seconds.
- Spirit of Redemption - While this is not an actively cast spell, this form allows you to cast any spells for no cost for the duration when triggered. Take this time to cast your highest healing and most expensive spells to ensure your raid is in a manageable position before it fades.
Holy Priest Covenant Abilities
As part of Shadowlands, all Priests get to choose between four rival factions, and are granted two abilities related to their choice. We have covered them extensively on the respective covenant pages, along with how soulbinds and conduits modify these abilities further:
Kyrian: Boon of the Ascended / Summon Steward
Boon of the Ascended is the Kyrian Covenant Priest class ability. It features three parts. Your Boon of the Ascended ability after casting immediately turns into the spammable Ascended Nova, your Smite converts into Ascended Blast and each ability generates stacks, the former generates one stack per enemy hit and the latter generates 5 per cast. These stacks then explode at the end of their duration for Ascended Eruption. This ability is solid in a dungeon environment as it is deals good damage and is easy to rapidly build stacks for a burst of healing. The downside is dealing with enemies like Prideful which is one target and you cannot generate many stacks making it much weaker when you get into higher keys. In raids, there can be wide swings in how many stacks you can generate depending on the boss fight, meaning big variance in the Ascended Eruption.
The steward spawned by Summon Steward is largely unimpactful to your gameplay: summon it out of combat, pick up a potion from it, and use it to cleanse any dispellable effect/bleed from yourself.
Venthyr: Mindgames / Door of Shadows
Mindgames is the Venthyr Class Ability for Priests. It is a 45 second cooldown that damages an enemy, reverses enemy damage to the group into healing on them, and returns mana to the caster. When a player receives healing via Mindgames, they also receive Mastery: Echo of Light healing as well. There are limitations to how much damage or healing will be reversed. For boss encounters dealing large aoe to the group, it will convert a small portion of that damage, not the entirety of it. In order to receive mana regen, you must reverse some damage or healing that the target produces. If a tank is kiting an enemy for example, you won't receive any sort of mana regen or damage reversal because the enemy is not actively engaging
Door of Shadows is an excellent movement cooldown for Holy that can be used in a variety of situations. Often one of their biggest weaknesses is moving a vast distance rapidly, without losing substantial uptime on damaging or healing.
Necrolord: Unholy Nova / Fleshcraft
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. When players are instantly healed by the Unholy Nova and are damaging the enemy they will receive Mastery: Echo of Light healing. Since the Priest cast the Nova and is thus damaging the enemy, they will continue to receive healing from the Unholy Transfusion even if they don't cast any other damaging abilities into the enemy.
Fleshcraft looks appealing at first: hit it, get a shield that goes up to 50% of your max HP. Sadly, there is more to it that becomes more frustrating to operate it. While Holy is generally not a very defensive healer, this shield takes a very long time to cast and build up, while also requiring you to stand over corpses to maximize the value. In a 5 man environment there's corpses abound, but then Priest's lack of mobility comes into play. While you are channeling for those 4 seconds, your group likely will be running ahead of you to engage with the next trash pack, pushing you to either cut your channel short or forego it entirely so that you do not fall behind on healing the group.
Night Fae: Fae Guardians / Soulshape
Night Fae is generally chaotic with Fae Guardians as the Night Fae Priest covenant ability. It produces three fairies 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 fairy will apply to it and the defensive and cooldown reducing fairies will apply to you. Targetting an ally and the offensive fairy will not apply while the other two will be applied on your ally.
Flash Heal moves the Fairy that reduces a major cooldown on the target, Power Word: Shield applies 10% damage reduction and Shadow Word: Pain applies the final fairy 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.
The Night Fae provide the Soulshape ability. Providing a blink and movement speed increase that is fairly universal and easy to utilize. Casting while shapeshifted will end the form so you generally only get the one blink in value before you break form and get to casting again.