So I’ve been running a lot of heroics lately, and there’s something I’m hearing a lot of. “Sorry guys, I’m OOM. Wipe it.” And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been running Baradin Hold and having the healers tell me that they can’t do it without a third healer. Guess what, guys. It turns out that Deathwing didn’t just blow up Azeroth. He blew up everything you know about healing (yes he’s that hardcore). You’re not OOM because of your gear. You don’t need another healer. You need to play differently.
Gone are the days of having unlimited mana. Gone are the days of raid members dieing in 3 seconds. We have health pools now! When a stiff breeze blows, it only takes 2/3 of our health! Bosses are no longer hitting your tank with a [Mace of Instant Death]. Yet for some reason, having a raid that can take a few hits makes healing harder than tanking as a mage*. Since everybody seems to be trying to heal like we’re still in Wrath, I figure I ought to write up some things that will help you suck less as a healer, and maybe even one day become as epic as I am. So take a look after the break for things that your DPS and Tanks want you to know, and tons of tips on both gearing and healing.
While the DPS and Tanks may not be doing the healing, themselves, you shouldn’t discount what they have to say. Yeah, they may not do more than bash things or get bashed, but believe it or not that’s not all they know. Some (not all) players understand the concept that 0 health means death. And a good player knows when they need to get healed (hopefully they realize that “when standing in fire” is not one of these times). So before we talk about the finer points of healing, here’s what I have to say on the subject (and what I say is law) from a DPS and tank perspective.
For those of you who haven’t checked out many WoW articles before, mouse over links to see a tooltip of the spell, ability, or item I’m talking about.
Thoughts on Healing from a DPS
My main class is Mage. I’ve played it for almost 6 years. It’s a class that I know, love, follow home, stalk, send threating letters to its family, and I may or may not have gone to jail for breaking a restraining order against it. And I love it even more now that I can survive a hit or two. Yes, that’s right all you OCD healers out there… I can take a hit. And that means you don’t need to freak out if that pretty green bar isn’t full. For starters, I’m not some tank who doesn’t know how to do much besides get hit. I have ways to heal myself. And no amount of fancy hats will make me able to use these if I’m already at full health. And trust me, I will use these when I need to.
Let’s talk about some numbers (I know they’re scary but bear with me). There’s avoidable damage and there’s unavoidable damage. Obviously I won’t be taking avoidable damage unless I’m standing in things I shouldn’t be, not standing in things I should be, and just being an all around terrible person (also known as Warlocks). In almost any fight, the most unavoidable damage I will be taking in a short time is around 65k. DPS classes have about 110k health in raid buffs. Bosses that tend to do more than that to non-tanks tend to be idiots and tell you who they’re about to kill and give you time to prepare. I don’t know. Maybe they watch a lot of James Bond movies or something.
Self healing isn’t all we can do. If I’m about to take damage and I happen to have less health than I’m going to take (yes, we are smart enough to look these numbers up), every DPS has some sort of cooldown that we can use to either mitigate or even eliminate that damage. I’m not a masochist who loves getting killed (contrary to popular belief). I’m not telling you to stop healing me. Just don’t panic if I’m taking damage, and don’t feel like I need to be at 100% health all the time. Your mana pool can only take so much over reaction. And every time a healer goes OOM unnecessarily, god kills a kitten. Do you hate kittens? DO YOU? Me, too. But watch your mana anyway.
Thoughts on Healing from a Tank
Healers tend to look for large health pools in tanks and think it’s the most amazing thing ever. I’m looking to raid with you. Not have sex with you. So stop focusing so hard on my stamina. Mitigation is a lot more important than effective health in Cata. I’m no longer just a damage sponge. You’re no longer a… thing that removes water from sponges. If I’m taking less damage, you have to heal less, and I get to look at that pretty blue bar you have not being empty. (Seriously where can I get one of those?) And since avoidance means less damage taken I get to be alive longer. And despite what some people think, tanks do actually enjoy living. Just like OJ’s wife, I’ll be getting hit non-stop, but it won’t be burst damage (unless someone stupid, AKA a warlock, isn’t doing their job). When I am taking that damage, don’t panic. You have lots of different tools at your disposal. Sometimes I wonder if the people spamming Greater Heal when I’m at 95% health also try to use a screwdriver to hammer in a nail.
We’re no longer in the days where you have infinite mana and I can just stand there looking pretty. These days, everyone needs to know their job and do it right. Crowd control, interrupts, etc. That goes for the tank as well. I’m not just some moron DPS who can’t figure out how to press 3 buttons. I’m watching for what I need to do, interrupting what I can. I’ll also be watching CC, making sure that I don’t clip a polymorph. If something can’t be CC’d again, I’m on it. The point of all this is that I won’t be taking massive damage quickly if everyone does their job. And if people aren’t doing their job, don’t just try and heal through it. Break out the whip and bullhorn and fix the problem! (Especially the tank. I do so enjoy being whipped.)
For the most part gear isn’t the most important thing for anybody to have anymore. You can actually kill things fine without a full set of armor forged from Deathwing’s left nipple. But everyone needs to know the fights. There are big burst damage moments that can’t be interrupted. I need to pop my cooldowns and when I do I need to be healed. No amount of mitigation will save me then. Unlike the DPS, I don’t have a lot of ways to heal myself, so feel free to keep me topped off, but don’t try and overheal me too much (everything in moderation). Basically everyone, including tanks, have gotten stupid. So we all need to stop being stupid and brush up on our raiding fundamentals. Gear can be improved. It’s a lot harder to make someone stop drinking the idiot juice.**
Tips on Cataclysm Healing
The healing classes are much more similar than they were before, most spells have a similar version on each class. I would even go so far as to say if you can play one well you can play the others without too much trouble. I will be using Holy Priest spells for my examples, but I will try and avoid anything that is class specific as much as possible.
Most healers will end up in dungeons or their first 5-mans still thinking like they’re playing Wrath of the Boring Healing. They’ll go into a dungeon, spam heal the tank, run out of mana and wipe. Some decide that this means they can’t heal anything unless they stack spirit until they have Wrath level mana pools (never gonna happen), and some just decide that healing is imbalanced and respec. Here’s something that a total moron guild member of mine said about Restoration Shamans.
“From my point of view on resto atm, spells cost way too much mana to balance out with any amount of regen. Greater Healing Wave is 6.6k and Chain Heal is 4.4. The amount of damage tanks are taking now is crazy so your almost stuck using Greater Healing Wave.”***
This is nothing but lies being spread by losers who are envious of our fancy hats. There’s not a whole lot I can say about this other than it’s simply wrong, and when raid slots are going out, anybody who thinks this way about healing is going to feel like the fat kid in the corner who always gets picked last for kickball. There’s a couple of reasons that you could be so stupid feel this way about healing.
So first let’s talk about gear. Intellect is better than Spirit. Don’t be an idiot who passes up on Dizzie’s Whirling Robe because it doesn’t have Spirit. Yes, Robes of the Burning Acolyte are better, but that doesn’t mean you should pass on an upgrade. Intellect does a couple of things for you. First you can cast more spells due to your larger mana pool. Intellect also mrsnd you have to cast fewer spells, because each one heals for more. It makes you… how the hell do you get a critical hit when you’re healing, anyway? Well whatever that is, you do it more. But most importantly, the part that people tend to forget, is that intellect increases your mana regeneration. How you ask? Well at the very least, you will have replenishment for the entirety of any boss fight, which is improved with a larger mana pool. Depending on your class you will also have one of these abilities which regenerate more mana with more Intellect. Intellect also increases the amount of regeneration from Spirit very slightly.
Your gearing priorities should be as follows:
- As much Intellect as possible
- Make sure every item has spirit (without losing intellect)
- Crit, Haste, and Mastery, the values of which change for each class.
If you take two healers, put one in full dungeon blues (ilvl 333) all of which have spirit, and compare him to a healer in full heroic blues (ilvl 346), only half of which had spirit and the other half having spirit reforged onto them, the latter will do better. Yes, he had less spirit, but for all of the reasons mentioned above, he will always do better.
It’s hard to talk too much about specific rotations unless we’re talking about a specific class. But here is some of the basic things you need to know. Every healer has 3 basic tools at their disposal: Flash Heal, Heal, and Greater Heal. You should always be casting something, or your tank might think you fell asleep and wipe. The biggest mistake that a starting healer can make is using Flash Heal or Greater Heal as their filler spell. People don’t seem to understand that mana is important. If you don’t have it, you can’t push buttons and cast spells. I don’t know about you, but I like pushing buttons. So use the spell that lets you push it more.
If you’re a tank healer, most fights will have 2 phases. The first is when the tank isn’t being targeted by any mechanic that causes a lot of burst damage. For this phase, you’ll simply keep Renew up while spamming Heal. Every now and then you might need to throw in a Greater Heal to keep up with the damage, but be sure this doesn’t cause any overheal. Overdosing on healing can have nasty side effects. Each class has an additional mechanic to manage on top of that, since Blizzard seems to feel that classes should be different for some reason. For example, a Holy Priest will want to keep their stacks of Serendipity maxed by throwing in a Flash Heal when it’s about to expire or whenever Surge of Light procs. During phases of increased damage, exactly what you do is different depending on your class. However, this is when you’ll want to pop something like Holy Word: Serenity and switch to Greater Heal and Flash Heal. Obviously prioritize Greater Heal if you can cast it without the tank dying, unless you like spending more mana for less healing, weirdo.
Raid healing changes a bit more depending on your class. One of the things that all healers should remember is to stack all of their various versions of Circle of Healing/Holy Word: Sanctuary on top of each other. It’s better to have 10 people in one spot than 5 people in each circle. Of course, then you have the fun task of explaining to your raid that there are some things they have to stand in now, and pray they don’t suddenly decide fire is one of those things. Other than that, use Prayer of Healing and whatever single heal spell is appropriate based on damage to keep your raid alive. And of course, don’t forget to use whatever unique mechanics your class has for raid healing.
Healing right now is hard. It’s as simple as that. Maybe it will eventually get as easy as it was in Wrath, but right now it’s tough. That doesn’t mean you can’t learn it, that doesn’t mean it’s any less fun. But don’t lie to yourself and pretend we’re still playing Wrath, you’ll run OOM doing it. And if I end up in a group with you while you’re doing that, I will hunt you down. I hope this article gives you some insight on what’s so different about healing in Cataclysm, and maybe helps some of you get off the ground.
* If you’ve never tried this, do it in a 5 man dungeon. It’s fun.
**Thank you Caius (Eldre’Thalas US-A) for your insight
***I warned you I’d be mean if you let me quote you, Flathori (Eldre’Thalas US-A)