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Thoughts on Healing

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.

‘Nuff said.

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4 Responses

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  1. Anea says

    “bitter amusement” is the PERFECT descriptor for how we feel as we watch the tank charge on ahead, towing the rest of the party with him, as I am too far back trying to recover from (X-fantastically mana draining event.)

    I’m writing that down. It’s too right.

  2. Achloryn says

    Holy crap.. This is all TRUE. >.>… The part about learning to heal in the shitty groups is also true for tanks. If everyone knows how to watch their aggro and MD/Tricks/whatever when they can, and the group goes smoothly SURE it’s a lot more fun, but that’s not where you learn to tank! Tanks learn to tank with that kingslayer fury warrior who charges in the SPLIT SECOND you hit your first attack (whatever it may be).. That Hunter who doesn’t even KNOW where misdirect is in his spellbook, let alone what it does (They have to spec into it right?). The boomkin who’s casting thunderstorm WHILE you’re running into the pack. (ALL experiences i’ve had while tanking).

    Do tanks want to die? Sure, to a point, but it’s more like we want to make you think. I’ll go through the first few pulls and if, at the end of it, your mana bar looks untouched, you better believe i’m gonna start ramping it up.

    All that being said.. I do everything I can to keep the hate away from healers… just cause I feel like I failed as a tank if I can’t.

  3. Zeddikas says

    @Achloryn Aye, playing as a tank and a healer, I enjoy the chain-pulling groups more… it makes the dungeons run better, as the DPS are all happy that things are dying in rapid succession, and so won’t ADD and decide to face-pull or pickpocket the next group, it also keeps the healer happier because they actually get to USE their spells…

    And, maybe I’m too kind as a healer, but… I tend to keep a HoT on the warlock pretty much all the time as a gentle hint that it is in fact OK to life tap once or twice to keep the mana flowing… some take the hint, some don’t.

  4. Stephen M (Ethesis) says

    When I play a ‘lock I always soulstoned the healer, but I always thought my job included healing myself. Life tap was my life, so to speak, but a little draining there and here (but I was affliction).

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