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 Priority
Your playstyle in Shadowlands revolves around making the fullest use of your Holy Words and legendary synergies. The rest of your Holy Priest rotation supports 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.
The optimal legendary for Holy Priest is Flash Concentration and you'll forego other spells like Prayer of Healing and Renewcompletely that do not support this gameplay focus. Maintaining your legendary's uptime while also maintaining Prayer of Mending, Circle of Healing and Holy Word: Serenity / Holy Word: Sanctify use is key to maximizing your output.
- Precast 5x Flash Heal before pull to stack Flash Concentration uptime.
- Maintain Flash Concentration uptime even if you have to force a Flash Heal cast.
- Cast Holy Word: Sanctify on cooldown (if hitting 5-6 targets and it will be effective).
- Cast Holy Word: Serenity on cooldown if the target is ~50% or lower, for tanks look to cast around 60-70% HP.
- Cast Prayer of Mending on cooldown.
- Cast Circle of Healing on cooldown if 3+ allies are injured.
- Cast Mindgames on cooldown (if Venthyr).
- Cast Unholy Nova so that it impacts just after damage hits. Targetting an ally or enemy (if Necrolord).
- Cast Heal whenever it will get value.
- Use Holy Word: Salvation or Divine Hymn with respect to other healer's raid cooldowns when heavy damage occurs (addressed further in Advanced section).
- 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).
- Add damage during downtime
- Cast Holy Word: Chastise on cooldown
- Cast Holy Fire on cooldown
- Maintain Shadow Word: Pain
- Cast Smite or Holy Nova if over 3 enemies
Advanced Holy Priest Tips
Raid Healing and Adjusting with Legendaries
With the Flash Concentration legendary, you are very easily able to create significant and efficient single target output throughput through Heal spam. Your general priority does not change heavily, except for maintaining the stacks required for the Heal buff. Positioning is much more important when playing with this build, moving too much will almost certainly be your enemy on such encounters. Be aware of getting out of position, dropping Flash Heal stacks or being out of range of priority targets like tanks or those sustaining bleeds. Whenever possible, preemptively move by leaning on your Holy Words or cast Prayer of Mending/Circle of Healing while moving into a more suitable spot.
Mana when playing any covenant other than Fae can be a concern if you're too aggressive with refreshing Flash Concentration's buff. Look to mix in Smites during downtime and to also "bank" Surge of Light procs so that you use them only when you're at the cap of 2 OR you need the buff refresh, expending them early will just increase the chances that you'll have to actually spend extra mana on the hardcast of Flash Heal.
Thanks to the Resonant Words conduit you can also "Resonant Weave" to increase your output. If you notice damage is soon to be coming out, be sure to use Holy Word: Chastise to gain the initial Resonant buff to your Heal, quickly expend it when damage comes out then look to your Holy Word: Serenity / Holy Word: Sanctify to use next so you can rapidly mix Heals and Holy Words for maximum efficiency. You'll also want to make sure in an AoE damage scenario that you're jumping to the next target after every Heal cast to allow Trail of Light and Mastery heals to do the rest of their work and assist in topping the player while your other Heal casts hunt for more injured players than your previous target.
Power Infusion is an excellent resource available to Priest in Shadowlands. Used on yourself, you can very quickly top your allies depending on if single target or AoE is required. However, on cutting-edge progress, casting Power Infusion on DPS is preferable to help kill bosses. Throughout my Nathria progress I gave Power Infusion to Warlocks, Mages, Death Knights when their Army is up, or Hunters when their cooldowns were up. Talk to your team about where the damage boost is best served depending on the demands of the encounter.
And never forget to Always B Castin!
Symbol of Hope
With Symbol of Hope's revamp in Patch 9.1 comes a ton of cooldown reduction that the spec can bring to the raid. Your primary use of Symbol of Hope will be coordinating with the raid for when they need to use their defensives so that Symbol can rapidly return the cooldown to them for the next incoming hit. For yourself, you should look to cast Desperate Prayer before casting Symbol of Hope so you can quickly get the cooldown reduction value.
Ideal timings on the encounters will generally be near the end of encounters where healer mana is also low (since that was also buffed in 9.1) and look to be used just before raid wide damage is going to be happening. Its not quite its own damage reduction cooldown but it can bring other player's defensives back to them at a crucial point in an encounter to keep them alive. Pay particular attention to Holy Paladins, Rogues, Priests, Druids, Shamans and Demon Hunters as they will get most or their entire cooldown negated by Symbol, allowing for back to back uses of the defensive if needed.
For all abilities, user Dracolich created a handy list.
Symbol of Hope decreases cooldowns of:
Fury - Enraged Regeneration
Arms - Die by the Sword
Protection - Shield Wall
Retribution - Shield of Vengeance
Holy - Divine Protection
Protection - Ardent Defender
All specs - Exhilaration
All specs - Crimson Vial
All specs - Desperate Prayer
All specs - Icebound Fortitude
All specs - Astral Shift
All specs - Mirror Image
All specs - Unending Resolve
All specs - Fortifying Brew
All specs - Barkskin
Vengeance - Fiery Brand
Havoc - Blur
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.
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 using one Holy Word: Salvation at the most optimal time is almost always better for progression raiding.
Don't sleep on Divine Hymn's secondary benefits to the raid either. Often secondary cooldowns from DPSers like Heart of the Wild, Ancestral Guidance, or Vampiric Embrace are slept on in a raid or rarely used unless called for. When paired with Hymn, their effects can be further bolstered to support the team and save other healer cooldowns or mana for other more pressing situations.
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.
- Each ability generates stacks. Smite generates one stack per enemy hit and Ascended Blast 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 unimportant 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 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. Targeting an enemy? The offensive faerie will apply to it and the defensive and cooldown reducing faeries will apply to you. Targeting 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.
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.