Haith’s Holy Paladin PvP Guide
Hey all, I'm new to the MMOwned community, and I figured I'd try and contribute here with the Holy Pally PvP Guide I wrote. I'm not by any means an outstanding player, but hopefully I can help anyone who's starting out in PvP, or just after some general pointers.
While paladins are not, by any means, up there with the offensive healers in present day arenas, I feel that we are one of the most competent healers for defensive actions and utility in an arena setting. This guide will display the basics of talents, spells, gear, actually playing your character, and whatever else I feel may be significant! :P
Table of Contents:
1.0 - The Setup
---1.1 - Talents
---1.2 - Glyphs
---1.3 - Gear
---1.4 - Enchants
---1.5 - Gemming
2.0 - Playing Your Paladin
---2.1 - Spells
---2.2 - Keybinds
---2.3 - Macros
1.0 - The Setup
This section will go on to explain what needs to go into your paladin, before you actually step foot in the arena. Many things I will state in this section are personal preference, and should be taken with discretion. Most talents points will not be considered wrong or right, as people have different play styles; however, something like speccing into Imp LoH for arena may be considered wrong. :P
1.1 - Talents
Talents are going to be where you want to start off. The decisions you make in your tree, will effectively decide the arsenal of spells you will be bringing to the table.
My Spec - 54/17/0
The World of Warcraft Armory
This is the spec I am currently running with on my paladin. This is more or less a cookie cutter PvP holy spec. The setup includes Sacred Cleansing (30% chance to give your cleanse target magic/disease/poison resistance for 10 seconds. Although this proc is based off of RNG, it can be the deciding factor in a tight game against an RMP team, when you get a lucky brake and absorb a poly or a frostbite!), as well as Judgements of the Pure (This is based on the style of holy pally you play, however, 15% haste will always benefit you, regardless of which stats you are stacking.).
The points spent in Sacred Cleansing/Pure of Heart can be tossed around as you like. They are not key talents, but I find them both nice to have. A common placement for those points elsewhere is into Divine Intellect, Blessed Hands, and Blessed Life.
The points spent in the Protection tree are fairly common ones. My 1 point spent in Toughness can be placed into Anticipation as well, but I personally like the idea of reduced movement impairing effects.
A good PvP holy spec will avoid placing points into the Retribution tree, however, this is once again personal preference. If you feel that you are not scoring enough crits, and you are fairly comfortable with your survivability, you may consider climbing the ret tree a bit.
Slightly modified version (Thanks to Wariel @ MMO-Champ) - 52/19/0
Talent Calculator - World of Warcraft
3/3 Sacred Cleansing, but dropping Pure of Heart for Improved Hammer of Justice. The differences in Divine Intellect and Holy Guidance are personal preference.
Offensive HoJ Spec - 52/19/0
The World of Warcraft Armory
This is a modification of my first spec. All above text applies, but this spec takes points out of JotP to spec into Improved Hammer of Justice. This is a common 2v2 spec, for those running a comp that is not overly potent when it comes to CC. As stated above, you can take points out of Sacred Cleansing as you like, which can be replacement points for JotP in this spec.
Modified Version (Thanks to Serryn @ MMO-Champ) - 52/19/0
The World of Warcraft Armory
Dropped 2 points in Sacred Cleansing, and 4 points in Holy Power, to max out Judgements of the Pure, as well as Divine Intellect.
Improved Devotion Aura - 51/20/0
The World of Warcraft Armory
Again, this is a slightly modified version of my first spec. In this one, I removed some points from Holy Guidance (Cause I mean, really, we have more spell power than we know what to do with it.), and placed them into Improved Devotion Aura. A common misconception with this talent is that it actually affects all of the paladin’s Auras, and gives a 6% healing buff to your party. I have found myself explaining this talent to countless people, as they automatically overlook the talent after reading the name. This is a common spec for 3v3 where increased healing output to your party members is crucial.
lolProt - 19/52/0
Of course, there is always this gem of a spec. I hate it, and so do many, many other people who play this game. I won’t bother linking the spec, as it is not overly viable anymore, and I don’t want to promote the use of it. The only situation I really see this spec working anymore is a double healer + Warrior team, but other than that, I’d say throw the spec out the window.
Again, I will repeat, these are just my specs, based somewhat closely off of cookie cutters, then modified to my liking. If you want to find more spec options, search the highly rated paladins of your battle group/server, or head over to Arena Junkies.
1.2 - Glyphs
Glyph of Holy Shock
-This one is a must in my opinion. With the levels of gear, and CC potential from certain comps, you’ll find yourself panicking to get off one last big heal before your opponent can get off that 10k Lava Burst. The shortened CD on Holy Shock makes all the difference in the world when you are dealing with constant hard swaps and such.
Glyph of Seal of Light
-This is another glyph I always stick with. The 5% increase to healing has no competition from other glyphs in my opinion. For the most part this and Holy Shock are the two glyphs that you will find yourself sticking with.
Glyph of Seal of Wisdom
-Interchangeable with Glyph of Seal of Light, this glyph reduces the cost of all spells by 5% while Seal of Wisdom is active. This glyph should be considered over Seal of Light for 2v2, due to the fact that many of your games will be mana wars with Resto Druids/Partner.
Glyph of Turn Evil
-This glyph falls into the category of the third glyph slot, in which you have three viable options to choose from. This glyph is very useful when trying to fend off a pesky gargoyle or succubus throughout a match. The instant cast also makes fearing a Death Knight’s gargoyle much more viable when in close range. Before I began using this glyph (and I was absolutely terrible at situational awareness), I would constantly attempt to fear a DK’s goyle, and walk right into a nice 4sec Mind Freeze CD.
Glyph of Salvation
-This glyph is fairly explanatory in the description text. When you cast HoS on yourself, you receive a 20% damage reduction, it’s as simple as that. This is solely based on how comfortable you feel keeping yourself up, while keeping you teammates attended to. Often a nice glyph for when a rogue decides to try to ruin your day.
Glyph of Flash of Light
-Lastly, there is the Flash of Light glyph. Now, not to say that this is a bad glyph, but in my opinion, it is really not very useful. Most paladins will be stacking crit for the most part, and not find use for an extra 5% crit (on top of the 50% Sacred Shield crit buff). Of course, if you feel you should be critting more than currently are, feel free to toss this in there and give it a whirl.
Glyph of Beacon of Light
-This glyph is not overly useful, but it can be quite the mana saver when keeping a target beaconed throughout a fight. I would not personally recommend this, but hey, if you wanna try it, go to town.
1.3 - Gear
There isn’t honestly too much to be said as far as gear goes. People will often go with a simple 5-Piece PvP set, or a 4-Piece PvP Set with a 264/277 Chest or Leg piece from ICC. You never want to break away from the Paladin’s 4-Piece bonus, as it is too useful to drop (especially now that it awards spell power as well).
Off pieces are a different story. There is some flexibility here, as there are some very nice pieces in ICC, as well as the options you have on the PvP necks/cloaks. With my paladin, I use the haste neck and back pieces, as well as a PvE haste chest/ring. This seems to be a desirable choice this season, but there is nothing wrong with sticking to the traditional mp5 or crit pieces. If you do plan to stick with the haste route however, do not be afraid to drop some PvP off-pieces, such as rings, necks, cloaks, to get a good PvE haste piece in it’s place. From my understanding a comfortable number is to sit around 350-500 haste, if you can attain these stats.
1.4 - Enchants
Head: +30 spell power/+20 crit (Kirin Tor)
Shoulder: +24 spell power/+15 crit (Sons of Hodir)
Back: +23 haste
Chest: +10 Stats/ +20 Resilience
Wrists: +30 spell power
Gloves: +28 spell power
Legs: +50 spell power/+20 stamina (Tailor)
Boots: Tuskarr’s Vitality
Weapon: +63 spell power
Shield: +25 intellect
As far as enchants on your gear go, you will want to slap some big Spell Power enchants on every piece possible. The head and shoulder enchants should be the SP/crit (or the SP/mp5 if you’d rather) from the Sons of Hodir, and Kirin Tor rep vendors. Your cloak should be enchanted with +23 haste, and your chest can have a +10 Stats enchant, or +20 Resilience (whichever you feel you will benefit more from).
Your boots, are again personal preference, as you can go with Icewalker (cheap, but not an optimal enchant), Vitality (Decent regeneration, but again not optimal), or Tuskarr’s Vitality (in my opinion, the best boot enchant, as it gives +Stam, and it makes up for the run speed talent, lost by not speccing into the ret tree).
1.5 - Gemming
Meta: Insightful Earthsiege Diamond (+21 Intellect, and 600 mana every 15 seconds as per Internal Cooldown)
Red: Luminous Ametrine (SP/Intellect) or Runed Cardinal Ruby (Spell power)
Yellow: Luminous Ametrine (SP/Intellect) or Brilliant King's Amber (Intellect)
Blue: Glowing Dreadstone (SP/Stamina) or Royal Dreadstone (SP/MP5) or Runed Cardinal Ruby - Ignoring Socket bonus (Spell power)
Gemming pretty much falls under the same category as off-pieces. I’m not really going to say one way is right or not, as there are a tonne of different gemming configs that will work out just fine. Personally, I gem Royal Dreadstones (SP/mp5) into blue sockets, Luminous Ametrines (SP/Int) into red sockets, and Brilliant King’s Ambers (Int) into yellow sockets. Another option here would be to place Runed Cardinal Rubies into red sockets, and either Brilliant or Luminous into your yellow ones. Your blue sockets will almost always stay the same with either Royal or Glowing Dreadstones.
Of course, if you want to, you could use some Nightmare Tears in blue sockets, to obtain a Meta Bonus, then socket whatever you’d like into any socket. This route is not advised though. :P
2.0 - Playing Your Paladin
You’re all geared, and specced up, now it’s time to step into the arena and begin to play!
2.1 - Spells
Obviously, paladins have a massive number of spells and abilities to choose from, so I will not list them all. I will only go into detail on a few of the significant ones, which I feel are important.
-The paladin’s coveted bubble. Everyone loves to cry about this spell, and we love to use it. This is basically your “ohshit” button in the arena, and you should keep it ready, and in close reach at all times. A rogue/mage placing a hard swap, a ret pally popping wings, and destro lock and ele shaman getting ready to blow you up. You need to be ready for all of these situations with your trusty bubble.
As well, in the worst case scenario, you may find yourself bubble’ing to break a long lasting poly, you just barely missed the LoS on. This is not what you want to use your bubble for, but if you feel confident that you will be okay for the rest of the match without a bubble, by all means, save your poor warrior by bubbling that poly!
-This is, in my opinion, the paladin’s most effective healing spell in the arena. While it is somewhat tough on the mana pool, playing smart and aware, will allow you to get the most out of this spell. The great part about Holy Shock is that it is versatile. Effective in both healing and damage, you will find this hot key being pressed quite often. Holy Shock will often heal for anywhere between 5k-10k, depending on your gear level. As well, following a Holy Shock crit, you receive and instant cast Flash of Light buff, which can really be useful in all kinds of situations.
Getting back to the other side of holy shock, our whole offensive battalion basically relies on this spell alone. Of course we have Judgements, but the damage output from those are dependent on your seal (and you really shouldn’t be using a damage heavy seal in the first place). Holy Shock is going to be what you charge i spamming when going for a kill on an opponent. And although the damage taken from your Shock will be nowhere near as significant as your DPS partner’s attacks, a big crit can leave a nice mark on your opponent.
-Sacred Shield is arguably one of the best parts about playing a holy paladin. This beauty of a spell puts a protective bubble on your target, absorbing incoming damage for 30 seconds (with 6 second intervals), as well as increasing your chance for a Flash of Light crit on that target by 50%. The absorption of this spell is decided by your paladin’s (Spell Power*0.75) + 500. If you do the math in your head, that’s a pretty hefty bubble to be throwing around at your team mates. Alongside this damage protection, casting a Flash of Light on a SS’d target, will result in a targeted HoT (Heal Over Time) for 100% of the heal that landed.
One thing to note with this HoT, is that when you cast a new FoL on the target, the old HoT will get overwritten. Therefore, if you cast a large crit FoL on your target, and pop Divine Plea immediately after, you will want to try and hold off from overwriting that HoT for as long as possible, as you will greatly decrease your heals per second with the newly placed HoT.
-Divine Plea is going to be a very useful spell in the arena, but a dangerous one as well. You must use this cooldown with caution, as it reduces your healing output by 50%. A good time to use this is in conjunction with either Divine Sacrifice, Avenging Wrath, or Hand of Sacrifice; allowing you to relieve some of the stres, trying to keep people up through a 50% debuff, along with any present MS effects.
Make sure to use this spell as often as possible, to try and keep your mana as high up as possible, at all times.
Beacon of Light
-Beacon of Light is the 51st talent in the holy tree, and a must for anyone doing any sort of Paladin healing. This spell, as is explained clearly in the tooltip, will mirror 100% of your heals on a target, to your beaconed target, regardless of over heals (very happy that blizzard added this in) and Mortal Strike-esque effects. Basically, this spell will double your heals per second, keeping both targets equally healed up (before Mortal Strikes, and healing debuffs of course).
Contrary to popular belief, LoS (Line of Sight) is in fact an issue when it comes to your Beaconed Target. You cannot beacon someone, have the run around a pillar, and expect your heals to reach them. While this would be a very nice feature, it would more or less ruin the way paladins are meant to play. As if the 2’s bracket is ruined enough, imagine a paladin who pillar humps you, healing them self (and the beaconed target), while their partner burns your healer on the opposite side of the pillar. Yeahhhh.... not likely to happen.
-This is a good spell for recasting large mana draining buffs, such as Beacon of Light, as well as saving you at the very end of a match when it’s a mana war between you and that damn resto druid. Divine Illumination reduces all spell costs by 50% for 15 seconds, which is a surprisingly long amount of time in a match. Use this ability often, but do not waste it, as you never know when you’re going to get locked up and mana burn-bombed.
-Aura Mastery is a very helpful spell, when fighting CC heavy comps, who aim to get you global’ed. The spell allows you to make yourself, and party members, immune to silences and interrupts while Concentration Aura is active. You will want to keep this spell ready for when you see a Counterspell, or something of that sort coming at you. Keep this bind close at hand, as it is a very reaction based cast.
Flash of Light
-Flash of Light is the staple spell for every holy paladin, and the cast you will be relying on to keep your team alive in the arena. This spell has a very short cast time (made even shorter by means of haste stacking), and can heal for significant amounts on crits, along with the attached HoT of course.
There is really not much to say about this spell, besides that you will be focusing on this spell quite a bit, swapping out with Holy Shocks and Holy Lights.
-Anyone who has ever done some PvE healing will be more than familiar with Holy Light. This spell was the flavor of the expansion for paladins everywhere, but does not retain that usefulness in the arena. While this spell is very good for certain situations, and match-ups, you will often find yourself using it less than FoL, due to the fact that, one, it has a slow cast time in comparison, and two, it drains mana rather quickly, which is not what we need when being mana drained by a disc priest/lock team.
Regarding the slow cast time on Holy Light, the talent Light’s Grace will help you out on this, reducing the cast time of your next Holy Light by 0.5 seconds, each time you cast one (the effect obviously does not stack, and disappears upon use).
-This spell does not need much explanation, as it simply removes a poison, magic, and disease effect from your target. This spell has a chance to proc Sacred Cleansing (granted you specced into that), which is a very nice utility to have in the arena.
See above for my description of Sacred Cleansing.
Hand of Freedom
-Hand of Freedom is one of the most important spells when fighting a Warrior/Death Knight/Mage/Anyone else who has a significant slowing effect. This spell will make your target immune to all slowing effect for 6 seconds. As you can imagine, this is very crucial versus a frost mage, when you are either trying to escape, or go in for a kill with melee. The spell is on a short, 25 second cool down, so you will want to keep it up and running as often as possible, when facing a matchup which requires this.
On a side note, do not get confused with Hand of Freedom’s stun-breaking effect you mat hear about. This effect is only available when speccing into Divine Purpose, which is generally a ret-only talent.
Hand of Protection
-Hand of Protection is a somewhat similar spell to the paladin’s Divine Shield. When placing HoP onto a target they become immune to all physical damage effects for 10 seconds. Unfortunately, this does not apply to any other form of damage, so any sort of caster will be able to blow right through this “bubble.” As well, the poisons, diseases, debuffs, and magic effects left by a melee class, will persist through the bubble. This includes for example, rogue poison, hunter poison, paladin debuffs, and death knight diseases.
The downside to this spell is that once cast on a target, they will not be able to do any sort of melee ability, while the Hand is active. On the contrary, any caster who this spell is placed on will be able to continue doing their thing, as the Hand does not limit casting/magic abilities.
Hammer of Justice
-The Holy paladin’s one, and only means of CC in the arena. This is a 6 second stun which you will find comes very useful throughout your arena matches. When timed with your partners’ crowd control, this can be a fairly effective stun, as it can be broken by only a trinket or a ret paladin’s freedom (as well as cleanse), but has no effect from damage. This ability’s cooldown can be shortened via the protection talent Improved Hammer of Justice, lowering the cooldown from 1 minute to 40 seconds.
Get used to pushing this button, as you’ll find it tends to decide quite a few matches.
Divine Sacrifice/Hand of Sacrifice
-Divine Sacrifice is in the 3rd tier of a paladin’s holy talent tree, and is a must for any sort of serious arena. This spell, when active, will reduce damage taken by party members within range by 30% (50% if improved), and redirect said damage to the paladin. Hand of Sacrifice works much the same, but this spell only works on one person, as it is a direct cast, rather than an aura cast. These spells are both very useful for saving teammates in rough situations, and the damage reduction, along with Sacred Shield can prove to be very effective.
Not only should these spells be used to save teammates, but they also should be used, on a regular basis, to save yourself from Saps/Blinds/Polymorphs. As you likely know, Polymorph, sap, etc.. are all broken upon damage being taken. Of course, as described above, these spells will transfer damage to you, breaking said effects and allowing to move freely. When facing rogue teams, these spells can be very useful in avoiding the opener, by popping them around mid field, and ordering your teammate(s) to stay near you. Granted, this will not fly in higher rated brackets, where people will watch for this, but in basically any play below 2000 rating, you will be able to pull this off. As well, regarding the polymorphs, you will want to keep and eye on Gladius, or your focus target’s cast bar to watch for any incoming polymorphs on yourself.
-I cannot think of any other significant spells to mention at them moment. Of course there is judgement, and wings and such, but I assume most people understand these spells enough to not be mentioned.
2.2 - Keybinds
Now, this, more than any other section in the guide, will be based off of personal preference. Keybinding is the deciding factor between between a low rated 1-1.5k player and a 2k player.
While some people can have moderate success clicking their spells, this will not often get them too far in the competitive arena environment. You will want to have all of your spells bound to buttons near your movement keys, for easy access, and quick reflex casts. As well as having the keys bounds, you will want to switch to your mouse for movement around the arena, rather than using your A and D keys to slowly turn your character. This is, of course, a large problem for melee, who are currently running and turning, but it is a terrible habit to get into, and should be broken at all costs.
To give a basic idea of some keybinds I will roughly describe mine, but you will want to look at a specific keybinding guide for more extensive information.
I have my keyboard set up so that W moves me forward, and A/D are used to strafe. This frees up the Q and E keys to be used for my most often used spells (Holy Shock and FoL). I won’t go into detail explaining why each spell is bound where it is, as this is just where I feel comfortable. A couple notable bindings however, are my Divine Shield, the two question mark icons on the right, and my human racial trinket effect.
Divine shield is bound to alt-mouse button 4, as both of these buttons are constantly sitting right below my thumbs, therefore rendering the spell quickly and easily accessible when needed.
The two question mark icons are macros for targeting my party members 1 and 2. These two macros are bound to mouse wheel up, and mouse wheel down, allowing me to swap between party members without even having to move my mouse. This is a trend you will often see used by many high rated players, as it is very efficient, and doesn’t risk the chance of a “miss-click.”
Lastly, my trinket ability, much like Divine Shield, this ability is bound to mouse button 4 for ease of use. Just make sure your thumb doesn’t slip onto the button if you use this bind!
As a holy pally, expect many, many binds, as we have quite a few spells we need to use often throughout a match. I generally keep all of my key binds within the range of the “1” key and the “T” key horizontally, and the “1” and “control” key vertically, allowing my left hand to move around them very easily.
2.3 - Macros
I will list some of my important macros that I find useful here:
-These are the macros which I bind to my mouse wheel
-This is a macro for casting your divine plea, and canceling it on the second key press if needed. This is useful for opposing hard switches while you plea is up, as you can rid of the 50% debuff quickly.
#showtooltip Divine Plea
/cancelaura Divine Plea
/cast Divine Plea
-This is my sacred shield macro which I bind to shift-E, in-case I want to mouse over cast one rather than targeting
#showtooltip Sacred Shield
/cast [@mouseover,help] Sacred Shield;Sacred Shield
-This is the HoS macro I use for 2’s, so instantly Sac my partner, without changing targets
#showtooltip Hand of Sacrifice
/cast [@YOUR 2’s PARTNER’S NAME] Hand of Sacrifice
These are not very interesting macros, but they are just the few that I find useful in arena. If you want a full list of macros, Arena Junkies - World of Warcraft PvP Strategy and Discussion will supply you with a solid list of them all.
Hopefully this guide has shown you at least one or two things, although many won’t get this far, as it will likely pass as a TL;DR.
Thanks for the read, and good luck in the arena!
P.S.: Please feel free to toss comment with any questions, comments about my guide, or changes you feel I need to make to it.