As Level a Healer Month draws to a close, I’d like to share five things that I’ve learned as a low-level shaman healer.
1. You have more mana than you think you do. Seriously.
I usually start asking for mana when my Xperl raid warning goes off at thirty percent. For many instances, however, “mana plz” is PuG for “Keep going! Bigger pull this time!”. I’ve had a tank pull a huge group when I was at 20 percent mana, have the patrol jump in and start beating on me (see #3) when I was at five percent, and still keep everyone standing. How? I have absolutely no idea.
2. You don’t learn healing from the good groups.
Nothing makes me happier than to get a PuG that works together like a well-oiled machine. The tank has the right gear and spec, the warlock manages his own damn health, the mage and hunter manage their aggro, and I just have to throw the occasional Lesser Healing Wave on the tank to let him know I’m still awake. LOS? Huge pulls? Charging ahead? No problem, because everything will be fine by the time I get there. Arthas, I can disconnect and everything will be fine.
These, enjoyable as they are, are not the instances that teach me how to heal. The ones that teach me how to heal are the ones I hate – with tanking hunter duelling for aggro with DPS ret pally, a warrior in dps gear and spec queueing as tank, and a mage that Blizzards everything that moves. Druid tanks that don’t swipe. Hunters that don’t feign. Rogues that don’t stealth. And I have to keep them all standing, to a chorus of “shammy heal fail”. I loathe these instances, but that’s where I learn the limits of what I can do.
3. Dead healers don’t heal.
If I’m surrounded by mobs and taking damage, I won’t be healing you, I’ll be trying to stay alive. I will generally fail, but I’m trying to give you time to get aggro off me so that I can get back to healing. This, by the way, is why I’m trying not to heal myself either – to keep from making the healing aggro worse. Eventually I will give up and heal myself, or I will give up and die.
Corollaries are “A healer with zero mana can’t heal”, “A healer without LOS on you can’t heal”, “A healer that has to get out of the ground effects can’t heal”, “A healer too close to the stunning mobs and flat on her ass in the corridor can’t heal” “A healer two turns back, healing herself up from 15% of health can’t heal”, and so on. I’m paying attention to what is happening to you. Sometimes, as in many of the cases above, with bitter amusement as it becomes obvious you’re not paying attention to me.
4. Tanks want to die.
You ever wanted some thing so badly you’d do anything to get it and only physical restraints would prevent you from achieving your desire? Because tanks want something this badly. All of them. And what they want is to die.
They know the moment you’re not paying attention to their health bar – whether you’re gratzing a guildie, adjusting your headphones, or typing an answer to the question the tank just asked you. They can sense that brief instant when your concentration slips, and are quick to take advantage, pull, and die. If they overpull and it takes everything you have to keep the group standing, and all that’s left at the end is the tank, the tapped out healer, and three dead bodies begging for rezzes, this tells them the next pull needs to be bigger still.
Yes, tanks want to die. They will use every trick in the book – line of sight, over pulling, ground effects, witty repartee in party chat, anything to distract you so they can die. It’s your job to prevent this. If you must, say “Hello” at the very start, if you think you can get away with it. Otherwise your attention needs to be locked on the tank for every moment until the instance is done – no talking, looting or Arthas forbid gathering or dungeon quests. Because that is just the opening your tank is looking for to die.
5. If the warlock soulstones you, the warlock gets heals.