Home Strategy Healing in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

Healing the boss to death works. Seriously.

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:

  1. As much Intellect as possible
  2. Make sure every item has spirit (without losing intellect)
  3. 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)

18 replies to this post
  1. Thank you very much for the excellent write up. Holy priest here. Players got way too used to the Wrath healing mechanics. I used to be able to watch episodes of Good Eats while healing. Not anymore!

  2. This is such a pathetic blog. I stopped reading after getting bored of reading some sanctimonious nerds insane and tedious ramblings.

    Go and do something useful with your life.

  3. I’ve gotta say this article was pretty sad to read. It has the potential to be filled with all kinds of great info and it’s just ends up being an immature and whiny post by someone who takes WoW way to seriously. Everything your pointing is pretty basic knowledge. It doesn’t need to be pointed out. The problem is pretty simple. The difficulty of Heroics have been tuned up but the capabilities of the player base hasn’t. The reason healers are up in arms this time around is because survivability can no longer be achieved by overhealing. In WoTLK you could run around with the most undergeared and clueless group ever and just heal through it. Now DPS / Tanks actually need to think.

    What your not really understanding Rabid is that not everyone takes this game as seriously as you do. There are hordes of people out there that are just straight up clueless about keeping themselves alive or at the very least away from danger. Instead you’ve just decided to pretend like everyone that plays the game is as skilled as you . That’s a dangerous assumption. The only real way to not get entirely frustrated as a healer is to avoid PuG’s at all cost. They’re the groups that’ll most likely fail because there’s a much higher risk of grouping with clueless people. Who knows though. Maybe this is a good thing. These aren’t suppose to be your run of the mill dungeons where the loot is basically given to you. It seems to be that if you want to succeed at a Heroic you should bring people you know and trust.

    • I’m aware that most of this is pretty basic stuff, and I’m sure there’s plenty of people who won’t find much use from it. However, I’ve seen a lot of people in PuGs spamming flash heal and expecting to not go OOM, so I figured someone could benefit from this.

      As for the point about the hordes of clueless people out there, yeah, PuGs suck. But other than the last paragraph, the whole thing was pretty much aimed at a raid environment where everyone is expected to do their job well.

  4. Interesting article :D makes alot of sense really. I have to say im quilty of passing items which dont have spirit on, However, as what i normally do is plan every item for each slot it doesnt really matter.

    ps. i lol’d at the mean posters above. Great article keep up the good work!

  5. I play a Dps (Mage) and I have such an easy rotation that I like knowing what everyone else is doing. I finally understand why Healers are going OOM so quickly or why I’m not being instay-healed after taking a blow.* Thanks Rabid.

    PS: I think you forgot to mention that Intellect also give Spell Power, tell me if I’m wrong.

    *I Polymorph a mob, pulling aggro, and the tank sometimes backs away, like he is afraid of aggro…..

  6. I agree with you on some things. Ive been a holy priest for about several years raiding pre bc, bc, wrath and in cata. Yes we do get technical about healing, just like any other class and healing has made a significant change over the past years. I remember when paladins all they were good for was offhealing and hammer. lol. Ohh how things have change. But one thing I do have to disagree with you on with is the fact that you over prioritize intellect over spirit. I think intell is very important to have, of course, but spirit is something that is just as important. If you look at every piece of healing armor out there youll see that intel is always over spirit in every piece, so if you dont balance accordingly 1 will dominate the other and your mp5 will not be as efficient as someone that added a intel gem when he should have put up his spirit this time, its linear and needs to be balanced with intell moderately stacked over spirit. If you constantly prioritize your intel you will greatly thin out your mp5, even with our big buff from holy concentration. I think it has something to do with you were a mage before and if you ever healed as a disc priest. Intell will be greatly prioritized in those classes. I wish i had the link to the latest chart for this, but I wouldnt want to post it up because alot of the people in here are haters. haha. Ohh and good for calling out that we cant keep everyone topped off anymore as fast as we can. Fast Heals including Flash and topping Off will be saved for the tank always and most never really used. Flash Heal has become waaay to expensive and you will certainly oom and wipe. And remember all DPS Lightwell is your friend now, if you dont get heals go get em yourself. Its a click away.

  7. This article is stupid. Healing is, and always has been, the most difficult aspect of the game and requires the most attention. Being a tank is easy. Stand there and hold agro, simple, while healers keep you alive. DPS is stupid easy, all you need to do is shoot the bad guy, while healers keep you alive. And when a tank or DPS dies is the healers fault. Well we are very busy watching everyone else and keeping them alive while all the dps and tank does is watch the boss. I played a tank, boring as hell. Played dps, just as boring. rotation rotation and watch meters. It sucks. Healing requires all your attention and this dumb-ass rant of an article from a DPS telling healers how to play is ridiculous. When i want easy valor points, i go as a dps, not healer and I watch how much shit the healer takes from others in the group. Hell yes, cata got harder on healers, alot harder, while dps and tanks got tons more health and benefits, there jobs got easier and the healers got harder. so if you cant appreciate us, go without a healer and see how friggen great you are then. Pft, swallow me

  8. Of course if you were a healer, you would know that there is the exact same int on any piece of cloth, regardless of if it has spirit or crit/haste/mastery, so yes, healers should go for the spirit pieces, rather than reforge them because you won’t get as much spirit out of the reforge. Of course I am speaking of items with the same ilvl. An item lvl of 359 with no spirit built in is always, imho, going to be better than something with spirit and an ilvl of 346. what do i know tho, your a mage, and i’m only a holy priest….

  9. Ty for ur article and i found it usefull I am a resto druid playing this game for about 5 years now Back in wotlk healing was hard 2 i mean at nexx time but it got easier and easier untill icc Because of the op gear In cata the same thing will happen when i started playing heroic with low ilvl it was hard Now i got 4 set tier after killing chogal and went back to hc with (my friends) it was like the old days luring every one and aoe. Healing will be easy in patch 4.2 trast me

  10. @ Redox , luckily not all players are as serious as this guy, true.
    But this blog isnt sad , nor useless. imagine yourself standing in front of Cho as the tank, fully prepared.
    When you start to realise.. the healers has no idea what hes doing. Yep, they are still around. atleast now you can re-direct them to a blog which includes ‘the basics’ , because you wouldnt take the time to help the new ones out, i bet you’ll /kick.
    Now THAT makes YOU , SAD.

  11. I was suggested this blog by my cousin. I am not certain whether this submit is written by means of him as nobody else know such detailed approximately my problem. You’re wonderful! Thank you!

  12. Eternal-WoW free private server, World of Warcraft instant 80, battlegrounds and arena pvp, blizzlike 10x rate, instances and raids, wow fun server, best wow private server, no lag or crashing! 3.3.x, 3.3.5a

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  13. “Healers tend to look for large health pools in tanks ” has to be the stupidest thing I’ve read in weeks.

    When I meet a stam stacker, I get the urge to let them die, then tell them to go get defensive stats.

    Stam stackers are going to die. But along the way, they are going to drain more of my mana. In a long raid fight, the tank will take so much damage, they will die, and I will be OOM and everyone will die.

    Give me a tank with high armor, dodge, parry etc.

    I have healers at 85 in all 4 classes. My hoyldin can heal 20K forever.. So a tank that has the stats to reduce their rate of damage below 20K will (barring spike & burst damage) always survive.

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