Shadowlands Holy Priest Guide

Necrolord Covenant for Holy Priests

Allegiance to the Necrolord Covenant for Holy Priest provides you with many benefits, two new active abilities, access to three soulbinds, and much more. In this guide, we will explore what are the perks for aligning yourself with the Necrolord, explaining their Covenant Abilities and Soulbinds and how they modify and enhance your toolkit both inside and out of combat. We will also recommend the best soulbinds for Necrolord Holy Priest and explore how they impact your rotation, gearing, and talent builds. Updated for Shadowlands Launch.

If you are looking for information on how strong the Necrolord Covenant is for Holy Priest, as well as details on which covenant is best, please visit our Best Covenant for Holy Priest guide.

Necrolord Holy Priest Covenant Abilities

Necrolord Priest Class Ability: Unholy Nova

The Necrolord Class Ability for Priests of all specializations is Unholy Nova: a 1 minute cooldown that can be fired at an enemy, ally, or yourself. On impact, it heals nearby allies split based off the number of allies and does the same for enemies, applying at 15 second DoT. If allies damage enemies affected by this DoT, they are healed for a small amount.

Key notes for this ability:

  • When fired at an enemy or ally, it lands where the target was at the time of cast. It does NOT follow the target
  • Due to the abilities' dropoff effect, the more enemies and allies you strike with this ability, the lower the damage of the DoT and healing of the burst PER TARGET.
  • 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 transfusion even if they don't cast any other damaging abilities into the enemy.
  • Allies damaging enemies to receive the Unholy Transfusion healing only receive a set amount of healing per attack. Cleaving no longer generates more healing for players. Festering Transfusion buffs your Unholy Nova healing, damage and duration.

Like most of the Covenant abilities, it won't be the plurality of your healing in any scenario but it will provide some excellent burst with strong buffs from your soulbinds to assist you in a diverse content set.

Necrolord Priest Signature Ability: Fleshcraft

Fleshcraft looks appealing at first: hit it, get a shield that goes up to 50% of your max HP. Sadly, it's a frustrating ability.

While Holy is not a defensive healer, this shield takes a very long time to cast and build up, requiring you to stand over corpses to maximize the value. In a 5-man environment, 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.

In a raid, there certainly will be areas of downtime where you can channel this ability, but whether there will be corpses nearby is an open question. On some encounters with just one boss enemy, you're committing to only having the 20% shield instead of the 50%. On others, you might have to manipulate your movement to get into an ideal position to channel, committing a heavy amount of activity time to the act. At worst, its a small shield for a healer that is generally weak on defensives. Not bad, not amazing, but inconvenient either way.

All three soulbinds modify this in some way; we will get into that later. On its own, it is an ability you will use pre-pull, then you have to really think about when you can or should refresh it.

Legendary Interactions for Necrolord Holy Priest

No legendary modifies either of these abilities. As such, you may expect to, largely, not have to care about interactions on that front, unless something new comes out!

Necrolord Holy Priest Soulbinds

Across all classes and specs, Necrolords have access to the same three soulbinds: Plague Deviser Marileth, Emeni and Bonesmith Heirmir. They are the NPCs with whom you complete the zone story, and they allow you to "attune" yourself to them to gain access to a tree of upgrades centered around your base toolkit (through Conduits) and Covenant abilities (through special game-wide traits).

These trees progressively unlock based on completion steps (such as finishing the campaign) and your Renown level with the Necrolord Covenant.

We've summarized the optimal traits for each soulbind below. Potency conduits have variety in the situations that are used, refer to the conduit page for various builds for various situations.

Plague Deviser Marileth grants you three important traits:

  • Volatile Solvent empowers your Fleshcraft by granting an additional buff based on the type of corpse you used it near: 120 mastery for humanoids, 2% primary stats for beasts, 5% stamina for demons, and a 5% heal for undead.
  • With Ooz's Frictionless Coating, every 30 seconds, you have the option to gain a 15% absorb shield.
  • Finally, the capstone trait, Ultimate Form, causes you to gain 8% max HP in total over the duration of the channel. If you manage to finish the channel, you gain CC immunity for 4 seconds, and regenerate another 8% max HP over 4 seconds.

These benefits strongly incentivize the use of Fleshcraft after defeating a pack, and generally, as much as possible out of combat.

An example tree to follow on this soulbind is as follows:

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When Nathria opens, you can look forward to having the bulk of his tree unlocked, along with:

  • One Potency conduit
  • A 15% max HP absorb every 30s, a good defensive
  • An endurance conduit for some much needed DR

For Priests, this is a defensive-focused -- solid for keeping you alive but doesn't increase your throughput meaningfully.

Emeni provides a couple of great nodes:

  • Lead by Example, the initial trait in the tree, functions as group utility and personal throughput increase. Your party members are granted primary stat, and you gain 13% intellect for ~15sec. The on-demand boost can be really nice for aligning with your cooldown uses, allowing you to cast Unholy Nova just before casting Divine Hymn or Holy Word: Salvation.
  • Emeni's Magnificent Skin allows you to gain a small amount of extra HP when casting Fleshcraft.
  • Gnashing Chompers provides stacking Haste when defeating mobs, but at the expense of a Potency conduit. Holy's Potency conduits are good, so it's an unattractive trade-off.
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This is the ideal soulbind, mainly due to Lead by Example. It's flexible, it provides group support and it helps further enhance your cooldown windows.

Picking Bonesmith Heirmir grants access to some primary stat at the start along with the following traits:

The benefits here are generally offensive. Can be helpful to maximize damage in some areas, but many traits compete with Potency conduit slots which are actually good for Holy Priests, so most will likely pass on this one. Nevertheless, we provided a full path below.

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The last row has two options:

  • On the one hand you can get access to your 2nd Potency conduit in your Covenant conduit.
  • On the other hand, Heirmir's Arsenal: Marrowed Gemstone will likely provide a large amount of extra damage/healing, especially at the start of the xpac when secondary stats are more scarce, but it will take you many months to unlock the end of this tree and Emeni is generally superior.

Best Necrolord Holy Priest Soulbind Low and High Renown

These soulbinds will take a look at what to take at early renown and later on. Potency conduit slots are left blank as there is good variety between the potency slots for when you want to utilize them. For example, Festering Transfusion is a generally solid conduit, but at low renown will be less of a priority compared to reliable conduits like Resonant Words.

Resonant Words is probably your most consistent "lock" for a conduit but varying conduit item levels and various situations can mix your conduit choices on various encounters. Conduit energy should be best spent cycling conduits on challenging encounters. If you're progressing mythic Nathria and just farming +14 dungeons for gear in between raids, you shouldn't stress having perfect conduits if the dungeons are going to be low-stress. You only generate one conduit energy per day so it can run out very quickly.

Early on in Nathria, assuming you picked Necrolord, you will likely want Emeni due to easy access to Lead by Example which can be leveraged to improve your burst healing in a raid or an extra cooldown to access in Mythic+.

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The main benefit to this path is obvious: Lead by Example buffs us, and our party, and Emeni's Magnificent Skin allows us some extra defensive power to Fleshcraft.

Even later on Emeni is still strong!

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Necrolord Holy Priest Covenant Rotation Changes

As usual, this page only highlights the specific use case of the class and signature abilities. To see how they fit within the context of the entire spec, we encourage you to check the other pages in the guide related to the context you are looking for:

Unholy Nova

Unholy Nova's primary use in a raiding environment will revolve around optimizing it for a raid cooldown or healing heavily through Holy Word: Serenity/Holy Word: Sanctify or Prayer of Healing spam. Positioning yourself or having a strong mouseover macro to launch this ability properly will be key to 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.

In 5 mans, you'll have good flexibility to utilize this ability for its sizable damage, or to use it on a single enemy like Prideful where the quick burst followed by the Emeni buff will greatly assist you. Keep in mind that Unholy Nova is not going to top players from low health on its own, so you will want to apply this in the middle stages of Prideful rather than latter on when you'll need the most throughput.

Fleshcraft

Fleshcraft should not be channeled in the following circumstances:

  • Raid or Dungeon mechanics will force you to move suddenly
  • There is no major mechanic or damage event that would require the defensive and you can deal damage/prepare for healing instead

This makes it an ability you MAINLY use pre-pull. There will be some gaps in fights where you can get some value from it, but that also has the opportunity cost of just DPSing the boss to kill it more quickly. Just using it for some occasional damage is all right, but if there is ticking damage followed by a large burst you'll want to prepare your shield before that burst if possible and avoid letting the shield get consumed by the ticking damage that is easy healed through. The extremely long cast makes this ability much more difficult to use.

Necrolord Holy Priest Talent Builds

Your talent build does not change at all while picking this Covenant. There is no interaction with our kit, no change to anything we do, and no reason to deviate from the standard build. The extra blip of healing/damage that Unholy Nova creates is good, but ultimately, does not change our talent build.

Necrolord Holy Priest Gearing Differences

Following the trend set by previous expansions, Holy Priests still prefer raw item level upgrades while preferring Mastery or Critical Strike and your covenant does not impact this trend.

As usual, substantial item level upgrades typically outweighs "better" secondary stats at lower ilvl.