Rise of the Selfless Healer

In my previous post, I touched on the Selfless Healer talent and how it felt clumsy and led to overhealing.  I do still think that Selfless Healer is a little awkward, but I was wrong in assuming that the talent wasn’t an option for currently raiding Holy Paladins. So wrong.

A Holy Power Spender By Any Other Name

The first thing to discuss is why we haven’t seen Selfless Healer at all this expansion. A big factor is the power of Eternal Flame vs. Light of Dawn.  Historically, Eternal Flame has been the strictly superior option as a Holy Power spender in comparison to Light of Dawn.  The main reason for this is because Light of Dawn has an abysmal 15% transfer rate for Beacon of Light whereas Eternal Flame has 50% — the same as most other heals. When you consider that most Paladins take Beacon of Faith for raiding, that gap becomes 30% of Light of Dawn compared to 100% of Eternal Flame.  Beacon of Light is often the biggest contributor to a Holy Paladin’s healing and one of the most compelling aspects of a Holy Paladin’s toolkit so it’s easy to understand how the Beacon transfer disparity between the two spells would influence a lot of thinking.

The Eternal Flame vs. Light of Dawn dilemma can be tricky to nail down because Eternal Flame, Light of Dawn, and Beacon of Light have varying degrees of overhealing.  It’s very hard to give an accurate number to overhealing for each of these spells, but I’ve looked at quite a few logs to determine what I think are reasonable averages to work with:

  • Eternal Flame: 53% Overhealing
  • Eternal Flame HoT: 62% Overhealing
  • Light of Dawn: 43% Overhealing
  • Beacon of Light: 70% Overhealing

It’s important to note the overhealing percentage of Beacon of Light: 70%.  That’s a pretty hefty margin.  The difference between Light of Dawn’s and Eternal Flame’s Beacon transfer rate isn’t as much of an issue when you see how much Beacon healing ends up being overhealing. Before we conjecture anymore, let’s take a look at some real numbers based on the overhealing percentages mentioned above.

To calculate how much each spell will actually heal for we really only need to assign numbers to Haste (for the EF HoT) and Mastery (because they have different overhealing amounts and thus different portions of their effective healing coming from Illuminated Healing).  Crit, Multistrike, and Versatility would increase both numbers at an equal rate, so we can leave them out.  Let’s assume 40% Haste and 30% Mastery; both of which are fairly average numbers for a Holy Paladin with 4-piece Tier 18 in a mix of Heroic and Mythic gear. With these numbers we see that Eternal Flame still edges out Light of Dawn as the premier Holy Power spender, but not by as much as you might think:

Eternal Flame: 755% Spell Power

Light of Dawn: 667% Spell Power

If you have EF talented, you should still be using EF instead of LoD because EF is, frankly, better–about 12% better. Like I mentioned earlier, Beacon is pivotal to the Holy Paladin’s role in a healing composition and having a steady flow of healing to the Beacon targets is not something we can easily dismiss. However, we have to remember how much less Holy Power spenders contribute to our overall healing than Holy Light and Flash of Light, especially once we obtain the Archimonde trinket.

Eternal Flame vs. Selfless Healer: Judgment Day

Early on in Warlords of Dreanor Holy Paladins adopted the Holy Shock > Holy Light > Holy Light rotation that is currently still in use.  It’s a great rotation.  There’s just barely enough time to get in both Holy Light casts before Holy Shock comes off cooldown and it’s incredibly mana efficient — something that was a staple to Holy Paladins throughout The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King.  There hasn’t been much deviation from that initial rotation because there really hasn’t been much room to improve upon. There was always an option to cast 3 Flash of Lights between each Holy Shock but at almost 3 times the mana cost.

So what’s changed?  In patch 6.2 there are actually three changes/additions that influenced the rise of the Selfless Healer talent.

  1. Infusion of Light now also increases the heal of Flash of Light by 50%.
  2. The Archimonde class trinket, Libram of Vindication, increases the healing of Holy Light or Flash of Light after a Holy Shock by between 88% and 127% based on difficulty.
  3. Demonic Phylactery can boast up to the equivalent of 650 spirit on just the Heroic version (depending on your number of casts) but still has reasonable throughput stats as well.

The Selfless Healer rotation has always been marginally more healing (~13% more per rotation) but at a higher mana cost. More spirit on gear in Hellfire Citadel and Demonic Phylactery make the mana costs much more manageable.  This allows Selfless Healer to be playable for every boss in Hellfire Citadel.

The biggest reason Selfless Healer is viable is from a combination of 1 and 2.  These two shifted a much larger portion of our healing onto Holy Light and Flash of Light.  Before patch 6.2, Holy Light accounted for roughly 43% of all of our healing and Eternal Flame itself was 10%.  This includes Mastery and Beacon transfer.  Now that we have the Archimonde trinket and the Infusion of Light buffs, 57% of the EF-style healing comes from Holy Light and Flash of Light and switching to Selfless Healer increases that number to 60%.

When so much of our healing relies on Holy Light and Flash of Light, the difference between the two rotations is magnified.  The Eternal Flame vs. Light of Dawn debate may have mattered in the past, but now Eternal Flame only accounts for 7% of the total healing.  Being 12% better than Light of Dawn is dwarfed by the difference of the core rotations mattering so much more.

So, should you switch to Selfless Healer instead of Eternal Flame?  If you have the mana to sustain the rotation, absolutely!  It may feel a little awkward at first, but it shouldn’t take too long to get used to it. I think Selfless Healer is now a very viable option and a welcome addition to the Holy Paladin’s repertoire.

Until next time! Thanks for reading.


7 thoughts on “Rise of the Selfless Healer

  1. Moshe November 22, 2015 / 12:39 pm

    As a very casual raider (Normal and some Heroic), just wanted to ask if the Selfless Healer is still a viable rotation without the Archimonde trinket, or should I stick to EF only (?)


    • Dreamguard November 22, 2015 / 6:58 pm

      Both Eternal Flame and Selfless Healer have similar results at almost any gear level. The biggest drawback to using Selfless Healer before you have decent gear is the mana costs. Selfless Healer requires you to be able to cast both Flash of Lights for it to have similar HPS. If you can manage the Selfless Healer rotation’s mana costs, then it’s perfectly fine to start using.


  2. Seraphus December 27, 2015 / 1:24 pm

    Really, really lovely guide Dreamguard. I found it after reading your excellent post here, which really nails home the rotation and how it works: http://www.mmo-champion.com/threads/1897905-Healing-Mythic-Tyrant-Velhari-(using-Light-of-Dawn-)

    The one concern I have that I don’t think you have addressed in this post is sustainability. What I mean is, is SH only viable for shorter, farm fights (<5 min)? On progression fights, which are usually closer to 10 mins, can the higher mana cost be sustained? It's more of a rhetorical question, as I don't know the answer either. But once again, thank you for the excellent discussion.


    • Dreamguard December 31, 2015 / 5:06 pm

      Thanks, Seraphus 🙂

      This is kind of a tricky answer. Everything I’ve been able to test and model shows that Selfless Healer is just as sustainable as Eternal Flame, but it largely depends on your gear and how often you cast Flash of Light instead of Holy Light when you’ve specced into Eternal Flame. Eternal Flame will always have an incredibly mana efficient rotation of HS > HL > HL, but that’s also much much lower HPS than the SH rotation.

      Anecdotally, I switched to Selfless Healer on Mythic Tyrant Velhari and haven’t had any issues with mana since. Obviously, this means I wasn’t able to use Selfless Healer on progression bosses before Tyrant, but I’ve used it on farm and felt it was just as sustainable for any fight.


  3. Aunna December 29, 2015 / 12:34 pm

    So with swapping to LoD, do you sometimes end up holy power capped or do you just cast it at 3-5 power even though it won’t hit max targets/not overheal just because? I’m so used to it being kind of worthless, or at the very least only worth casting if max targets actually need it that I’m unsure when to use it if it becomes my main power spender by swapping away from EF. Is it still worth using just to use if there’s no raid damage going out or only a couple targets are hurt? Or do I just continue with my usual rotation and just let my holy power cap occasionally? I’m just about to the gear level where swapping to selfless healer is sustainable and it seems fun, just unsure wtf to do with my power without EF. Apologies if you covered that, it’s what I was specifically looking for after reading through some stuff on mmo-champ and whatnot and I’m still unsure.


    • Dreamguard December 31, 2015 / 5:14 pm

      Hi Aunna,

      Our Holy Power spenders are very weak once we get the class trinket from Archimonde, but they will always be more healing than a single, non-buffed, Holy Light or Flash of Light. So, in your normal rotation you can substitute an EF or LoD for the 2nd HL or FoL for more HPS. This is true even if the raid is completely topped off.

      The only time when capping your Holy Power is good is during Lust/Heroism or Avenging Wrath. The two scenarios have slightly different rotations, but both allow you to spend your globals on HS, J, HL, or FoL. It will still be true that a 3-HP EF or LoD will be more healing than a non-buffed HL or FoL, but that situation is much rarer during Lust/Heroism or AW that you will inevitably cap your Holy Power. Most FoL’s (or HL’s) will be buffed by the trinket (or Judgment) and you won’t have time to cast a 2nd FoL or HL before the HS cooldown comes back up, so you completely skip the LoD most of the time.


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