Dar, one of our resto shaman, had posted to say she wasn’t going to be there, which left me with a difficult decision: who was going to heal Dar’s people in the northwest? For 28 attempts, Dar had dutifully healed that particular corner.
In order for it to go as smoothly as possible, I wanted to make as few major changes as I could.
What did that mean? That meant that I was going to take her spot.
(The “lucky me” was sarcasm. If you couldn’t tell. ;))
So, for 28 attempts prior to Tuesday, I was essentially healing the ground tank, keeping an eye on Dar and other healers, taunting spinners down and generally watching everything, as a raid leader is prone to doing. I had never assigned myself to a cave and, to be honest, I would be happy if I never had to do so again… But I digress.
It took us 10 pulls to kill Beth’tilac Tuesday, bringing us to 3/7 25-man heroics. For each of those 10 pulls, I was healing my cave group, although my cave group migrated from northwest to southeast at one point. Jasyla said she liked that little northwest corner better and I could totally see why. The southeast corner is cramped and crowded!
Anyhow, during the first attempt, I lost Majik. Then, several other people died. So it wasn’t totally my bad, but I vowed to do better.
In the span of 10 pulls, ladies and gentlemen, I became a cave-healer pro. I kicked some ass. Not only did I keep my targets alive, but on try 10, our kill, approximately 97% of the Engorged Broodlings that spawned wanted to blow me up. I am not joking. Better still, I have it all frapsed and it’s embedded below. (Bear in mind that in P2, my computer suddenly decided to violently revolt and I experienced some tremendous lag and loss of framerate. It’s not the best video ever, but it is our first kill.)
Kurn, you may be wondering, what on earth does any of this have to do with being comfortable with your class?
On the kill attempt, I was constantly the target of the broodlings, as I mentioned. Walks was healing up in the northeast and one thing he had been saying earlier in the night was that if a broodling was heading for someone at southeast, there was no way he could stop them, since they’re up on some damn ledge. So he took to calling out “ledge”.
Of course, on the kill attempt, his broodlings came at me frequently. So I was always calling out “got it”, while running to the ledge where the spiders come down from, while ALSO trying to heal Majik and Hitoku and, you know, trying not to kill myself while doing so.
I think it was only after the whole raid was over for the night that I realized that there was no way in hell I would have been able to manage all that crap (seriously, FOURTEEN broodlings hit me!) AND keep Maj and Hitoku alive if I weren’t extremely comfortable with how my class works.
It’s almost instinctual after a certain point. Granted, my instincts aren’t always spot-on or great or whatever, as you can tell since I do let Judgements of the Pure drop off and don’t use my Guardian and the like on the kill (which I’ll blame on the fact that my computer was about to throw up on me) but they really served me well over the whole raid night. At various points during the entire night, I popped cooldowns appropriately, even using Lay on Hands on Hitoku at one point. I figured out where my Beacon of Light was best put to use (sadly, on Majik) and basically, that was all the real thinking I had to do about how to heal my group.
Venom Rain? Aura Mastery. I’m low on health? Pop my bubble to buy myself some extra time to heal up my group members before turning to myself. Need to regen mana? Use my shiny Fiery Quintessence and pop Divine Plea. See 3 bright orange beams on me from Engorged Broodlings? Don’t panic, use instant heals like Holy Shock and Word of Glory until I’m in position to interrupt one and can start casting again.
Paladins have changed substantially since the original World of Warcraft game came out. Holy paladins have changed and evolved right along with the other specs. While we still need to stand still and cast to be most effective, Holy Radiance (well, the current iteration, not the 4.3 version!), Holy Shock, Word of Glory and a Flash of Light with Infusion of Light proc are all things we can do on the run. Even a 1-2 point Word of Glory can be useful (you can see in the video I made some use of that) if you’re on the move and someone needs a heal ASAP.
Giving Divine Protection a shorter cooldown for Holy (due to Paragon of Virtue) is great and it came in handy all through the night when magical damage (which includes nature damage, which is what those nasty little Engorged Broodlings emit) was troubling me. No problem — Shift-A (my keybind for Divine Protection) to the rescue!
During the night, apart from maybe the first pull or two, despite having absolutely no experience healing where I was healing and healing the people I was healing, I felt calm and in control of myself. I really do attribute my ability to adapt to cave healing to knowing what all my buttons do. The only thing I didn’t use duing the night was Hand of Freedom and I could have used it when I was stuck in the Volatile Poison on the ground at one point on our kill.
I encourage everyone to take a second look at all your abilities. Not just the ones in the holy tree, look at prot and ret as well. Read through your spellbook and be sure you understand what your abilities do. Armed with that knowledge, you can walk into a fight and adapt much more quickly than you would otherwise. Don’t forget about your Hand spells, your procs, your set-it-and-forget-its (like Holy Radiance and Guardian of Ancient Kings).
Paladins are very strong healers and not restricted to tank healing. Not only that, but we have a ton of utility, so don’t forget to use those utility spells! Once you know exactly what you’re capable of doing, you’ll react with your instincts, leaving your brain to sit there and worry about where you should be standing, rather than what spell to use.
(And you can always read through my second revamped Holy How-To Guide to help you out!)