Hi! Originally, this post was meant to just open discussion and list examples of what worked for me, personally. But, it's become sort of "the" thread for Holy Pallies & Proving Grounds, and I've incorporated tips from other players (including much better players than me!) So, hopefully, this guide will be helpful to you. If you have any critiques, questions, or suggestions — post and add to the discussion!
Highlight a topic and use Ctrl+F (or other page search function) to quickly find the section you care about!
1. Gear and Stats
5. Tips, strategies, instructions
6. You're Doing it Wrong!
6a. Silver Damage, Holy spec
6b. Silver Tank, Holy spec
HEY! Did you remember to turn on Righteous Fury and Seal of Insight after you changed spec, talents, or glyphs?
1. Gear & stats:
- Spirit and Mastery are your top priorities. If you have any doubts, start with lots of these stats until you get the hang of how PGs work.
- Spirit is recommended because your first issue, scaled down to 463 gear, will be mana supply / longevity. If you played Cata Heroics first week, healing PG Gold or Endless might feel familiar.
- And Mastery provides "free", consistent mitigation — more useful than the speed (but not mana-efficiency) of Haste, or the RNG of Crit.
- If you're very confident or experienced, you can use other gearing strategies (for example, Intellect gemming). Skilled players have done "fine" without a heavy Spirit emphasis (reaching Endless 15-30+ on Intellect gemming, etc.). The above recommendations are safe for most players, though.
- Double regen-oriented trinkets is highly recommended.
- Divine Plea. Macro it or make a WeakAura or something, but slap it on CD, every CD. DP doesn't debuff you any more in 5.4, so there is no reason not to slap it every single time it lights up, and you will need all the mana that blue bar can provide.
- DRINKING. You will sometimes exit combat between waves (not always, don't count on it). The second you see combat drop, even for a few seconds, get chugging!
- Usually your drinking opportunity will be every 10th wave in Endless. Try to plan around this.
- Klaxxi Restorative Amber is very useful here, like in Challenge Modes, because of its very short duration.
Tier 1: n/a
Choose whatever you like here, it won't matter. Speed of Light can be slightly better for quickly getting into position when new waves start (to force the tank over, or to be ready for stuns/interrupts). The difference is minor, at best.
Tier 2: Fist of Justice. MANDATORY.
FoJ is mandatory!! Being able to frequently stun the nasty casters and giant Enraging mobs, from across the room, is way, way, way too good. You must take FoJ! Nothing else even comes close here. It allows you to apply some intense pressure and control on how each wave's damage patterns evolve.
Tier 3: Eternal Flame recommended.
- Sacred Shield is relatively weak. The problem is that it's constant, steady bits of mitigation — while damage in PGs comes in a pattern of HUGE-small-HUGE. So SS is usually way too little, or not even needed. It does have some value for preshielding before the huge, nasty waves, where it can help blunt a Chomp (rabbit bleed), and if you just love SS, it's not bad, so go for it.
- Selfless Healer is very, very fun. But it takes up too many GCDs, and frequently gets wasted when you don't actually need a giant, free heal. Too hard to control, and too hard to use effectively.
- Eternal Flame provides reliable, steady healing on the tank and a good HP dump for when the DPS (or yourself) gets smacked hard by something. It's also a useful HP dump when no one needs healing, since the ticks will bleed over to the tank via Beacon. Also a great way to make the most of excess DP procs (by pre-hotting the entire party).
Tier 4: Clemency recommended.
- Clemency shines because you are frequently in less trouble than the (extremely stupid) DPS. Being able to double-Protection two rabbit bleeds in a row is very strong, as are the many tricks you can play with Salv. The best part, though, is having Sacrifice up whenever you need it most — like the tank getting smashed. The CD of Sac lines up very well with how tank damage comes in. It makes a huge difference.
- Unbreakable Spirit can be very powerful in Endless since you'll get to use multiple LoHs (and get lots of glyphed mana from it, too). On Gold, if you waste a 6-minute LoH early just for the 10% mana, you can get another 10% mana late before Gold ends, when you're under heavy mana-pressure. The 2.5 minute bubble can be used to frequently clear off Rabbit bleeds or ignore Pyroblasting flamecallers. 30-second Divine Protection is also excellent self-defense against Flamecallers, water explosions, and Hive-Singer spam.
- Hand of Purity is underwhelming. It sucks up a lot of mana to use it on CD as a mitigation tool, and damage comes in massive spikes, so a frequent -10% isn't really that useful vs. a semi-frequent -30%. Rather than wasting time Purity'ing the rabbit bleed, you could just heal it and cleanse it off. Overall, what you sacrifice to have Purity is usually not worth the comparatively-small gains.
- The ultimate problem with Unbreakable Spirit is that you usually need to worry much more about everyone else than yourself (since you are much smarter than the NPCs, and have a bigger set of options for solving your own problems). This is why I favor Clemency.
Tier 5: Your choice.
- Holy Avengeris excellent, because PG damage comes in very, very predictable and measured waves of "huge" and then "not so bad". Having another CD in your rotation, available every other wave, lets you fill in those deadly gaps where everyone's getting smashed and all your "oh, crap" tools are cooling. This is a very powerful tool with only a 2-minute CD.
- Divine Purpose is incredibly fun and provides a massive mana savings (if it procs). It's also great if you tend to forget to pop HA while stressed, or have trouble using HA effectively under pressure. And it allows for easy hot-blanketing if you also take EF (proc luck allowing). Just remember that, unlike HA — which is there when you need it — RNG is RNG, and you may end up with a chain of six DP procs when everyone is at full health, followed by nothing when the tank is about to die.
- Sanctified Wrath is less recommended. It's not "wrong", and it's not "bad". But the longer Avenging Wrath will often be overkill. Usually, you need to pop a CD to push through a brief, very intense period of tank or group damage. A full 30 seconds of AW will often last far past the danger period, at the opportunity cost of HA or DP. There are some Endless waves where even 30 seconds of AW won't be enough, but in those situations having HA available, or DP procs, would be just as beneficial.
Tier 6: Execution Sentence not recommended.
- Holy Prism is excellent. It's a cheap, powerful, extremely-efficient heal — stronger and cheaper than Holy Light on the tank, and stronger and cheaper than Holy Radiance on the party. Whether you need to toss out some AoE, or focus on Oto, it's never wrong to hit Holy Prism on cooldown. Plus, it looks cool!
- Light's Hammer is equally excellent for totally different reasons. It's free, its CD lines up near-perfectly with various intense AoE nightmare phases, and its radius is just right to often be able to hit all your party members during most of the more intense sections. You will never find yourself regretting LH; it's just very versatile, very useful, and very easy. And it looks cool, too!
- Execution Sentence, is definitely not recommended. It isn't bad, by any means. But it doesn't solve any of the problems PGs throw at you. For a 1-minute CD, it's not paced well — it provides way too much single-target healing, way too infrequently, and yet still not enough to be a reliable "tank CD". So it doesn't really save the tank (too slow, too weak) and it's overkill on the DPS. It's not even reliable for multi-tasking, because you can't risk letting the tank drop low while waiting for the final burst. Also, Prism and LH add a tiny bit of DPS while doing their healing; ES doesn't. Overall, ES is "useful", but Prism/LH are much more useful.
4. GLYPHSStrongly recommended:
- Divinity: near-mandatory. You will need every drop of mana you can squeeze out, and you'll be LoH'ing the tank eventually anyway due to the spread-healing pressure. So you may as well get a free "extra" Divine Plea out of it.
- Hand of Sacrifice: Very important. Being able to HoSac the tank on-CD as he gets hammered, without any worry about your own health, is very useful. Strongly recommended.
- Blinding Light: Most of the dangerous mobs can't be "soft CC'd", so Blinding Light is useless. But they can be stunned. This makes Blinding Light awesome, if glyphed. The only problem is finding the time to cast it, and also whether it's worth sacrificing other glyphs for a 2-minute CD stun when you have Fist of Justice already. It can be an absolutely amazing life-saver during some of the more intense pulls, though.
Potentially good choices:
- Protector of the Innocent: Because you'll be spam-healing the tank so much, and dumping so much HP into WoG (well, EF) as a result, this will actually heal you a lot and help you not worry about healing yourself as much. What makes it stand out from other self-healing glyphs is that it's frequent and steady (like the damage you will be taking), rather than situational and bursty (which you don't need).
- Flash of Light: In general, you will want to resist casting Flash of Light due to mana constraints. You can definitely get through Gold without a single Flash (and even if you do throw one or two out, it's questionable if that warrants glyphing it). However, in Endless — especially higher waves — you may not always have the luxury of not using FoL; damage patterns can be brutal and unpredictable, requiring immediate action. So this glyph can be useful if you're pushing high Endless, but is not recommended for Gold.
- Divine Plea: Because damage comes in very measured waves, being able to DP every minute can sometimes let you squeeze out that one more Divine Light you need to keep the tank alive another few seconds and get through a rough pull. While you get the same amount of total mana, you get it more frequently, and that can help a lot. But because of both GCD clutter, and timing issues, this glyph has a much higher chance of causing a net loss of mana (see thread discussion). So I can't really recommend it.
- Avenging Wrath: You don't need to worry about self-healing, you will take relatively little damage.
- Battle Healer: Not enough healing to be noticeable or worth it, and you have very little time to stand around meleeing anyway.
- Beacon of Light: There is only one beacon target you need to have here, and that's Oto the Protector. No one else takes anything close to the damage he will.
- Divine Protection: You won't take much physical damage here and the Bleed debuff should be immediately healed off, not CD'd through. All this does is weaken your defense against the actually-dangerous damage.
- Divine Shield: You will only have one or two debuffs on you at a time, the healing from bubbling them off will be trivial and you don't need healing anyway.
- Illumination: Your gear level is high enough (enough Spirit) here that this is not a useful glyph and you should skip it.
- Light of Dawn: Don't cast Light of Dawn. No, really: Don't cast Light of Dawn.The healing is truly awful and you are much better off using WoG / EF on the tank or someone else who got bursted, or spreading EF hots around.
- DPS glyphs: You will not have any mana to spare already, you cannot afford to waste it on Denounce. I recommend focusing on healing as much as possible and letting the DPS take care of DPS. And even for the rare moments you can dare to Denounce or waste HShock on damage, it's really not worth sacrificing a healing glyph.
5. Tips, strategies, instructions
Know your enemy!
I will flesh this out more when I have time (school, work, life, romance, invasive surgeries, blah blah blah...), but for now the
Wowhead guide (click it!)
has an excellent summary of what mobs you'll face, and what's inside each wave. Planning is a very powerful tool here, especially with the CD toolbox that Paladin has. For example, knowing "I'll top everyone off this wave, I'll BoP the bleed next wave..." can make or break your challenge.
You don't need to DPS.
- The NPCs can handle it, especially with recent hotfixes improving their output and target choices.
- You are also going to be heavily mana-constrained most of the time. HPally DPS can be good, but it will destroy your blue bar.
- That said, it's OK to throw in some Denounce spam if you're confident it's "safe".
- Understanding when to Denounce is a matter of personal experience, skill with the spec, skill as a healer, and experience with how the Proving Grounds waves, damage, and mana pressures come in.
- If in doubt — don't. It's better to have mana when you need it, than to kill a rabbit 0.23 seconds faster.
Rabbit bleed is death.
- If you see the rabbit bleed go up, drop what you're doing and fix it, now. If the rabbit bleed goes up on the tank, you are heading for the land of "seriously screwed", and need to pop a CD and focus on topping him off ASAP to get rid of it.
- Use bubble and Hand of Protection smartly to rapidly clear off rabbit bleeds.
- Get your fingers busy. The rabbits freeze for a couple seconds when they first spawn, then they cast their burrowing spell. Click fast enough, and you can target the rabbit and see who the rabbit is targeting — that's who they're going to Chomp.
- This is important, because a pre-cast Holy Light or Divine Light + Shock + (if necessary/available) HP dump can insta-clear the Bleed the second it goes up. This will save you a lot of headaches, especially on pulls where the Bleed is followed by AoE Hive-Singer spam, or a Bleed + Pyro spam combo.
Efficient healing is your friend!
- Your mana supply will be strained here, so exploit Beacon of Light by spot-healing group damage with Holy Light.
- This may be obvious, but never Holy Light the tank since it transfers 100% from everyone else you heal. Instead, always Divine Light the tank and if he only needs Holy Light healing, pick someone else who's damaged. Mana saved is mana earned!
- Because it generates Holy Power, it's okay to use Holy Radiance as long as the healing is "real" (ie, you actually need to bring everyone up to avoid them dying; don't just top off because you can).
- Do not use Light of Dawn, its output is absolutely pathetic and a total waste of Holy Power when you are much better off pouring Eternal Flames into the tank or DPS getting spiked by Pyroblasts and rabbit attacks.
- Try to keep HP in reserve rather than spending it immediately at 3, it is very helpful to have emergency back-to-back WoGs on the tank when he suddenly starts spiking hard, or for quickly clearing off a Chomp (rabbit bleed).
Choose your heals carefully.
- Resist the urge to constantly top the DPS off (unless they're Chomped, of course). Your mana supply can't handle it. As long as no one is below about 50-60%, they can wait a while. (Don't ignore them completely, though — Chomp, Sonic Blast, and Pyroblast are all dangerous to DPS sitting low too long)
- The exception is when a Large Flamecaller is out, or multiple Flamecallers of any size. You need to pay attention to who they're Pyro spamming and keep that DPS topped up. This can be very difficult in Endless, where combined Pyro or Fireball casts can 1-shot a DPS at higher waves unless you're very alert.
- Don't let the tank drop low. Oto can die incredibly, incredibly fast under pressure (he's kind of an idiot). With a Holy Pally, if he gets under 50% and then a rabbit bleeds him or he starts getting bursted he may well die before you can spam him back up. Try to keep the tank topped up at all times here.
Use your cooldowns!!
- You won't get through this without your toolbox of Pally CDs. They're very important!
- The pacing of the mobs allows you to cycle cooldowns and pretty much always have one active when heavy damage is going out.
- After a few tries, you will get a feel for when you're in one of the "oh, crap" phases where it's time to pop something.
- Try not to combine CDs — any individual one is usually enough to push through, and if you combine them you'll be in a bad place when the next heavy-damage phase starts up.
- Remember that Holy Avenger makes Divine Light generate 3 HP per cast on the beacon target! This is huge for trivializing some of the more intense mob groups. Do not be shy about popping HA, it has a very short CD considering how powerful it is.
- You can HoP or Salv the tank if he's about to die. The DPS are quite durable and can offtank (against their will, mwahahaha) for a few seconds while you bring Oto back up.
- Remember Devotion Aura when one of the Large Hive Singer mantids are up, or when a Flamecaller is spamming Pyroblasts. It really helps.
- If you need to HoProtection a Bleed off one of the 3 physicals (Tank, Rogue, Hunter), consider following it up immediately with another Hand to let them resume DPSing right away and help mobs die faster. Hand of Freedom is excellent for this, since it's otherwise useless here.
Stay in melee range and be proactive!
- When a caster mob spawns, get over there immediately and Rebuke him in the nuts. Make sure to wait a few casts, because usually the Mage and Rogue (but not the stupid Hunter, of course) will interrupt on CD. So try not to waste Rebuke.
- Rebuke is expensive, so consider ignoring it on the "Small" casters that don't do much damage. But definitely exploit it aggressively on the "Large" Flamecallers / Hive Singers.
- Stun, stun, stun. Those Fist of Justice stuns every 30s are one of the most powerful tools for stopping tank / party damage and stretching out your mana supply.
- Stun priority should be Rabbits (freshly-spawned) > Flamecallers > Hive-Singers > Aqualytes. There is some fluidity there, which will be your situational judgment call. Generally, though, delaying the Bleed is the most valuable thing you can do, because it can't be interrupted. Next is shutting down the powerful caster damage. If the Bleed has already been applied, don't waste your stun on that rabbit.
- If you have glyphed Blinding Light — abuse it to briefly shut down multicaster pulls and other nuisances.
Exploit your ability to manipulate aggro!
- Keep Righteous Fury up. This ensures that you can always drag aggro off Tank or DPS with HoProtection or Salv.
- Taunting the last mob of a pull over to the next spawn point can help reduce loose aggro going all over the place on DPS.
- You can also exploit BoP / Salv to do this on entire groups at the tail-end of one wave, to help ensure the tank AoE-aggros everything that starts the next wave. (This is why having RF up is important)
- You can bubble yourself and then Taunt a nasty mob to slow down damage output.
- You can also put up Divine Protection and then taunt a Flamecaller once you've used up your Rebuke and Fist CDs. This way, his Pyroblasts are hitting for 40% reduced damage for a few casts.
- When one of the Conquerors is about to go into Enrage mode (you'll get a feel for the timing after a few tries), stand on the opposite side of the room and Taunt it to make the Conqeror waste most of its Enrage uptime running back and forth.
6. You're Doing it Wrong!6a. Silver Damage, Holy spec
- Intellect, Haste, Crit.
- Reforge off your Spirit, it's not going to help you here. DP alone is more than adequate for keeping your mana up through the end.
- I prefer Crit over Haste, since lucky strings of crits is often the only thing that lets you squeeze through the later waves.
- Remember to Beacon yourself, you can sometimes exploit Tower of Radiance for extra HP generation.
- Damage or Intellect-oriented trinkets.
- Prefer CD trinkets over procs, because you're dealing with predictable waves, and a CD strategy is very effective.
- Trinkets matter. Extra DPS cooldowns are very important.
- Harsh Words, Holy Shock. Mandatory.
- Then choose from: Blinding Light (more interrupts), Denounce, Word of Glory.
- Note the Damage trial mobs are vulnerable to non-glyphed Blinding Light, so the glyph is much less significant here than in the Healing trial.
- Glyph of Word of Glory is a flat DPS loss if you spend your HP on yourself (to get the 9% damage buff) instead of offensively on Harsh Words. It has situational applications (for example, prebuffing to 5 HP before a wave then using the 9% buff to enhance a CD pop), but they're so conditional that it's difficult to see the glyph having any benefit in reality.
- Tier 1: Anything, personal style choice. I prefer Speed of Light since it helps immediately if you mess up kiting an Amber glob and get boxed in, or need to switch to the backside of a Guardian. You really need to be casting non-stop as much as possible.
- Tier 2: Fist for a consistent, ranged backup interrupt. Repent to put annoying mobs out-of-commission while you burn the others down.
- Tier 3: Selfless Healer; the other options are either pointless (Sacred Shield) or outright hurt your chances of success (Eternal Flame disables Harsh Words).
- Tier 4: Unbreakable Spirit. 2.5 minute bubble lets you take more chances with Amber globs (bubble+ignore, or stunbreak if you get caught). The others offer no benefit.
- Tier 5: Holy Avenger strongly recommended. Cycling through as many CDs as possible is the key to pulling this off. Well, that and lucky crit streaks. DP isn't nearly as effective, even when it chain procs 6 times in a row, because you need planning and control more than anything here.
- Tier 6: Light's Hammer. There is no other choice here. Holy Prism would be competitive if it didn't have a 5-target limit, especially since it contributes great ST damage when you don't need AoE. But LH is pretty much your only way of clearing out massive tiny-vermin swarms before time runs out. Light's Hammer.
- Holy Shock on CD, fill with Denounce, dump with WoG, Hammer of Wrath when available.
- Judge when forced to move.
- Judging on CD, even with Selfless Healer, is a DPS loss over using that GCD for another Denounce. Don't Judge if you can hold still and successfully cast Denounce cast instead.
- During Holy Avenger, Judgment and Denounce are almost dead-even for both DPS and DPCT (taking into account the Judge+WoG 2-GCD combo). So I recommend spamming Judgement under HA, to maximize HP generation and allow you to be extremely mobile.
- Remember to Divine Plea whenever you have a spare GCD and your mana is below ~200-250k.
- Save Light's Hammer for AoE waves, and use it immediately when the wave starts so its CD will be up again as soon as possible.
- Spam yourself with Flash or Divine + Holy Shock if you finish a wave early, to give yourself an edge in the next wave.
- Don't forget to consume Selfless Healer if you've stacked it up from Judging on the move, or HA. It's a DPS loss to use that GCD when you're holding still, but it's an extra free HP if you're forced to move for an extended period.
- You won't clear this without aggressively using your CDs: Avenging Wrath, Divine Favor, trinkets, Holy Avenger.
- Most waves last 30-60s. Plan your CD usage appropriately.
- Your goal is to have a CD available at the start of each wave, as often as possible. Experiment and learn to cycle them effectively.
- Practice on Bronze to get a feel for what each different CD can do for you.
- The Damage trial is very straightforward and self-explanatory, but you're also severely under-powered for it. Be prepared for extreme frustration as RNG with crits basically determines whether you win or not, even with good reflexes and CD management.
- Use other mobs as "human shields" against the Amber globs (getting hit by a glob increases their damage taken by 50% — very helpful).
- Use Repent aggressively to shut down annoying mobs (Amber Shapers & healers) while you burn down the others.
- Remember Rebuke, Hammer of Justice, Blinding Light, Arcane Torrent, etc. to keep annoying casters under control. If even a single fish-guy healing spell isn't interrupted, you'll probably lose the trial.
6b. Silver Tank, Holy spec
- Stats: Whatever.
- Gear: Whatever.
- TURN ON RIGHTEOUS FURY.
- Glyphs: Blinding Light, Burden of Guilt, any of: Divine Protection, Hand of Sacrifice, Protector of the Innocent.
- Talent tier 1: Long Arm of the Law. All you need to do is keep out-of-reach, as often as possible. Long Arm does this best.
- Talent tier 2: Repentance recommended. Stunning for 6 seconds is nice, but completely disabling for 1 minute is nicer.
- Talent tier 3: Any. Find what works best for you, personally. I prefer EF for the very strong self-heal, but Selfless Healer is also very good since you'll be Judging on CD anyway. It's up to your personal style — whatever keeps you alive.
- Talent tier 4: All good. HoPurity blunts the deadly Rabbit bleed at high stacks, Unbreakable Spirit gives you many more defensive CDs (which you want), and Clemency lets you protect Sikari much more heavily. Try them out, they're all good.
- Talent tier 5: Any. It's up to your style and what you can use best to keep yourself alive.
- Talent tier 6: Light's Hammer or Holy Prism recommended, to help take adds off Sikari quickly (especially rabbit packs). Anything works, though (your healing aggro will generally pull stuff off her quickly anyway).
- Tips: You are not here to DPS. The damage you do is pathetic compared to what Sikari pumps out.
- Instead, your job is to buy her time to kill everything. This is why you keep Righteous Fury up.
- You will not survive if you try to just stand there and spam-heal either yourself or Sikari. This is why you take Long Arm + Burden; Judge and kite like crazy.
- Take a break and let Sikari get beaten on (remember Sacrifice to slow her damage down), then use Salvation or Protection to pull stuff off her and let her heal back up.
- Between major CDs (Salv, Prot), use Taunt to keep the biggest stuff off her and kite it around (Large Ripper, Wind Guards).
- You must kite the rabbit packs while Sikari kills them. They will annihilate her. She can tank them temporarily if you have a Salv or Prot ready to drop her aggro when she becomes critically-injured.
- Exploit Repentance and Justice to keep the biggest mobs of a pack held up. Remember that Sikari will spam her AoE at 4+ enemies, so don't Repent until there's 3 or fewer mobs up. Use stuns (Justice, Blinding Light) to buy time until the enemies drop down low enough to use Repent.
- Your job is to keep yourself and Sikari alive, that's it. You do this by distracting enemies and running in circles as fast as possible. She will keep you alive (combined with your own heals as you can manage them), and she will kill everything. Keep reminding yourself of this: your job is only to reduce damage as much as possible (CC, kiting) and hold out as long as possible while she kills things.
Proving Grounds are a lot of fun. Give it a try and push yourself as far as possible! If you're experienced with the class, you can probably go extremely far as a smart HPally. If you're not so great (like me), consider these tips and keep trying, with practice you can still push pretty deep as you learn the pacing and the way to approach these mobs.