Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hints to Help your Healer Heart you!

Your healers have a tough and thankless job. They stand in the back, have strokes over spike damage and try to hold back their nausea when the oom train comes a callin' all so you can get the glory of killing something. Be grateful whelps! Well okay maybe I went a bit far there but there are a few things you can do to make your healer's life easier and keep them from ragequitting.

Your average 5-man consists of 1 Tank, 1 Healer and 3 DPS. We'll break down what each role can do to help the healer and by extension help themselves. When I run an instance I like to think in terms of a roadtrip. The tank is the driver, controlling the pace of the journey, the healer is the fuel, a finite resource that must be replenished periodically, and the DPS are the angry monkeys who throw poop at passing motorists. Well maybe that's a bit too harsh. They're the roadtrippers. They bring the currency, damage, to buy the stuff we're on the trip to get (the phat lootzorz!!1!!1).

Hints for the whole crew

There are a few things everyone can do to help their local healer. It's not hard. Really it's not. We love you all:

  • Know your class - We take pride in knowing how to heal in our specific niche. If you don't know what you're doing  as a healer then you won't make it very far. The same is true for you. Practice, research, and ask questions so that you know how to do your job.
  • Interrupt - Any class that can but does not know how to interrupt needs to learn... fast. If a spell an enemy is casting has a shield around it it can't be interrupted but otherwise interrupt everything you can. Depending on the ability interrupted this can save us a ton of mana. We thank you for your cooperation. 
  • Gear/Spec/Gem appropriately - I hate to be the one to break it to you but there generally is a right way and a wrong way to spec. A blood DK cannot DPS, Warlocks are not tanks, and if I ever see an arms warrior try to heal again I'm gonna lose my $#!%. Take a little time to figure out how you need to spec. Elitist Jerks is a great place to go for spec help. You generally don't have to understand the math magic these crazy wizards do but you should listen to their sage advice. Click on the little x/y/z link in their posts and spec accordingly. If you're new to theorycrafting it's a good place to get the ol' noodle rolling as to why you pick certain talents and stack certain stats.
  • Be aware - This is a little something we like to call situational awareness. It boils down to knowing wtf is going on around you. Watching Jersey Shore, applying your spray tan and plucking your eyebrows while DPSing is something that will decrease your situational awareness. Focus on the task at hand and most other problems will solve themselves. 
Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. Driver

The healer hearts you. We realize that you are strong and brave and keeping all the little nasties from biting/scratching/stabbing/scorching us. We are so fond of you that we want to do everything we can to keep you alive. There are few things you can do that will really help us help you:

  • Don't "Eat the Damage" - In Wrath you didn't, for the most part, have to avoid most of the stuff the monkeys... errr DPS had to avoid. Your superior health along with our never ending mana-pools meant you could stand in the fire and still be quite alright. This has changed. Our mana-pools are so tiny compared to what heals cost now that standing in fire will drain us to the point where we can't keep you up during the rest of the fight.
  • Use your cooldowns - You have mitigation cooldowns. Use them. For the love of all that is holy use the blasted things!
  • Take your foot off the gas - Running instances quickly is fun and we want to help you facilitate that but please keep in mind that wiping and running back takes far longer than waiting for the healer to mana up. Remember "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast."
  • Assign CC - Crowd Control is a healer's best friend. We love it. Two mobs wailing on you as opposed to 4 is a huge difference. When damage is slow and steady we can use slow and efficient heals to keep you up. Slow efficient heals don't drain our mana all that much. More mana equals less recovery time between pulls and the ability to deal with unexpected situations.
Dear Roadtrippers

The healer hearts you too. We realize that the better you are at your job the quicker the fight is over and the less mana we have to spend keeping the tank up. Here are a few suggestions to keep us from calling you a monkey.
  • Watch your aggro - If you aggro a mob then it will come and hit you. You can't mitigate damage like the tank can therefore you take more damage and we must spend more mana to heal you. When mana runs out it's what we in the healing business refer to as a Very Bad Thing. Aside from the extra damage you pull the mob away from the tank and his ability to generate threat on it. If he's not focused on the mob it can break away and come towards the healer after you FD, Fade, Windshear, Iceblock etc... A dead healer = a dead group.  
  • Don't stand in the fire - This is the most basic tenet of instance running. If you stand in fire you will be punished. This punishment however is shared by your healer. Every time you stand in fire it whittles away our mana, sanity and souls. It will, bit by excruciating bit, squeeze every last shred of humanity from the dried up husk that was once your healer. A chaos shreds our very existence we will, with the name of a dark god fresh upon our lips, reach up from that black abyss and drag you screaming into oblivion. You don't want this do you?
  • CC if asked - If you can CC and are asked by the tank to please do. If you don't know how to cc it's not hard to learn. Go to a low level area and practice. For some real fun go to a lvl 85 area naked and try to stay alive while aggroing multiple mobs. PvP can also really help with learning some of the finer points of CC. As many BGers and arena players have PvP trinkets you have to watch closely and be aware of diminishing returns. It's a great place to learn to CC.
  • The tank decides the pull - Unless asked to please don't pull. See the top bullet point for why getting aggro is bad and the second bullet point for what this kind of behavior does to the mental state of your healer. Seriously... let the tank pull.
Dear Gastank

We are the only ones the healer does not heart. We tend to be a very self-critical lot and due to the recent changes in dungeons we aren't always the most confident. Take heart dear healers for there are some things we can do to make us love ourselves again!

  • Learn to triage - This is probably the most important thing to learn. You will not be able to keep an entire group at full health during most heroic encounters. Many times you have to decide who to sacrifice in a dungeon and who to save. The thing that sucks is you don't always save the player who was doing the right thing. A DPS in the fire who's putting out phenomenal numbers near the end of the fight or the one who's done really well the entire time but isn't doing enough dps to tickle a kitten. A tank eating damage or a DPS who just got screwed by RNG? You have to learn not to reward punish players based on how they're doing but who to let live and die based on how necessary they are to finishing the encounter.
  • Learn to heal the Blizz way - I have a pally friend who complains endlessly about how the new way of healing is stupid and he will never heal that way. I've told him that if he doesn't learn then he won't be healing anything any way. The mechanics are the mechanics and you can't change them (at least not without a lot of money or a covert-ops squad of crazy haxxors with special camo and the little black streaks under their eyes). Learn to live with them or don't try to heal. I know it sounds harsh but the old way of healing is dead.
  • Communicate - Sometimes the only thing it takes to get a dps out of the fire is: "Hey dude get out of the fire." No cursing, no exclamations or caps just a good ol' heads up. Tell the driver and the monkeys what they can do to help you and and 90% of the time they will. The other ten percent will cause you to slip deeper into insanity but that's what dark rituals and ancient gods are for right?
Healing can be stressful. Healing can make things very not fun for the healer and this game is all about having fun right? I mean it is a freakin' game. If you meet a bitter jaded angry healer hopefully this article will have given you some insight as to why they're that way. Follow these few rules and maybe you can bring a healer back from the brink. Remember only you can prevent healer burn out.

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