Kurn's Guide on How to Behave as a Healer in Dungeons

Kurn’s Guide on How to Behave as a Healer in Dungeons

You’ll note that I don’t specify “random” or “heroic” or “raid” dungeons. That’s because I believe that my guide is good for any level healing class in any size of dungeon, be it 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 or 40. It was inspired, of course, by the fact that I’ve done more 5-man regulars and heroics in the last week since 3.3 came out than I have in the previous five months, but there are some good basics here of which all healers should be aware.

Why am I writing this? Because I’ve run tons of dungeons in my WoW career as all three roles (healing, tanking, damage) and every time I’m on one of my toons, there’s always at least one moron who doesn’t know how to appropriately behave in a group. Always. And those are the GOOD groups.

So, from someone who raids primarily as a holy paladin, who runs anything she can with her hunter, who will reluctantly tank as her paladin, who pugs raid content on her resto shammy, who plays a mage in the 70s and has a dual-specced resto/feral (tank) druid in the 70s as well, here’s my guide for healers.

1) Heal. This is a bit of a no-brainer, I know, but a long time ago, on a server far, far away, I used to group with the warlock officer of my guild. Awesome person. Great warlock. She had a priest alt. And she’d levelled the priest shadow. But when she got to 60, she went holy to heal us in 5 and 10 man dungeons. So there we are, in UBRS, doing the Father Flame event and someone dies. “Oops!” says the warlock-priest, “My bad! I forgot to heal! I was DPSing.”

<3 her all day long, but if you’re that kind of a player who primarily plays a DPS class and has a healer alt (or DPS main spec and healing offspec), remember what your role is for the group. If you’re a healer, you heal, even if you’re bored. (I get very bored at times on my paladin and my shammy. So I feel for you. But you still should pay most of your attention to the health of the group instead of what % the boss is at because Murphy’s Law will step in and kill your healing targets while you’re innocently DPSing away.)

2) Heal the pets.
No joke, I’m not kidding, pets are an important part of the group’s DPS and rezzing/resummoning pets can be time consuming for the other players, so make sure that when you’re healing the group, you’re healing the pets, too. 3.3 means pets will be taking a lot less damage now, but it’s still important to keep an eye on them.

3) Prioritize. Basically, prioritizing is the key to healing. Your top priority in a 5-man is the tank — but don’t forget about yourself. If BOTH of you are in mortal danger and you don’t have Beacon of Light up or Binding Heal at your disposal, do what you can — Nature’s Swiftness for both druids and shammies is there for a reason. Remember the age-old saying:

– If the tank dies, it’s the healer’s fault.
– If the healer dies, it’s the tank’s fault.
– If the DPS dies, it’s their own damn fault.

You’re responsible for everyone in a 5-man, but the DPS has to take some responsibility for themselves and the tank has to take some responsibility for you.

4) Know which heals to use. I’m not going to go through the zillions of healing spells available to holy paladins, holy priests, disc priests, resto druids and resto shammies. But suffice it to say, your spec and class abilities give you lots of tools to heal with (yes, even paladins have lots of spells these days!) and you should know not to, for example, use Lesser Healing Wave on three separate people when one Chain Heal will do the job. You should not cast Healing Touch on each group member when one Wild Growth would have sufficed. Don’t drop a 20k crit Holy Light when a 4k Flash of Light would have been fine. Don’t cast Prayer of Mending when your target needs Penance or, gasp, Greater Heal.

But how do you know which to use? Practice. Get used to what your spells are healing for. Turn on combat text and get an idea of the ballpark. Then when you’re healing your group, if you’re using frames that show you the difference between current health and maximum health, you’ll have a much better idea of which heal to use. I strongly recommend Grid and Clique for raid frame addons, by the way.

5) Move out of crap/away from adds. Having said that, if you, as a healer, die because you wouldn’t move out of the fire, poison, void zone or whatever or you die because you let adds beat on you without trying to run to the tank (or bubbling or fading or even shadowmelding), that death is entirely your fault. You’re not a tank. Well, you might be, but not when you’re in healing gear in a healing spec. :P Healing is about being aware of the group and their health — that includes you and your environmental awareness. Don’t be that idiot standing in the fire. (I’ve been there and done that, myself. Not a lot of fun!)

6) Cleanse your group. This might seem like another no-brainer, but you should be dispelling/cleansing everything you can off your group. Your priority is to heal and you might have to heal through a lot of debuffs if they pile up too quickly, but as soon as you can, start getting them off of you, your tank and the group. (Cleansing Totem is probably the best totem in the entire universe.)

7) Buff your group. Prayer of Fortitude, Divine Spirit, Shadow Protection, Gift of the Wild, *Greater* Blessings and group-appropriate totems!

A specific note to shammies: Totems are always a little tricky. If there’s a DK in the group, you shouldn’t need to drop Strength of Earth and can drop Stoneskin instead (or Tremor as needed). If they have a few points into Frost (for Icy Talons), you shouldn’t need to drop Windfury. Otherwise, look at your group composition. If you have yourself and two or more caster DPS, go with Mana Spring and Flametongue, along with Wrath of Air. But if you’re the only mana user, consider Windfury instead (unless already covered by a DK).

Depending on the group, I typically drop Strength of Earth, Mana Spring, Flametongue and Windfury, so that both melee and casters get two of my buffs.

Basically, just be aware of what’s already covered by your group and don’t overlap buffs. :)

8) Use your defensive cooldowns. Priests have Guardian Spirit or Pain Suppression, paladins have Hand of Sacrifice and many have Divine Sacrifice. Use them. They are life-saving abilities. (Tip: Don’t use Hand of Sacrifice without bubbling first and you should still expect to have to heal yourself after Divine Sacrifice if you use it without bubbling.)

9) Inform your group when you need mana. If you actually say in your group chat that you need mana, then when the idiot tank runs in and pulls the boss before you’ve even had a sip of water or nibble of a mana strudel, at least you can be like “OMG WTF I SAID I NEEDED MANA”. Never assume that your tank is remotely considerate of you. And even if you do get a considerate tank, the DPS may not be.

Example: I was tanking Halls of Lightning with a RL friend of mine who was healing me on her priest. We were in the hallway with the statues on our way after the first boss. She hadn’t stopped to drink after the boss or the first wave of mobs in the hall or the second wave (since there was a fear and the hunter got feared further into the hallway for the second group). So, because I know that healer mana is not necessarily infinite, I waited for her to sit and drink as I watched the idiot mage in our group run full speed ahead to trigger the third group.

I almost didn’t taunt off the moron and then said, in party chat, “If we could possibly avoid pulling when the healer’s drinking because she’s out of mana, that would be appreciated.”

So the best way to avoid misunderstandings or bad pulls like that is to announce your status to the party. And I don’t mean by being annoying and typing /oom six times in a row. “My mana has waned!” can only be heard a few times before people start to go insane. :P (Yes, Kylon, if you’re reading, that’s a reference to you and that BRD run from when you apped to Fated Heroes. YERL! <3)

10) Be patient. Easier said than done, I know, healers. But even though you want to use a baseball bat to beat the people you’re grouped with (whether in-guild or a pug — it can happen either way), you need to take a deep breath and realize you’re not going to be stuck healing those morons forever. Dungeons, even the longer 5-mans, take about 30-35 minutes of your time. Raids obviously take longer, but generally have a fixed end time. If you’re sitting there, wiping on Anub’arak on heroic mode for the 38th time that week, take a deep breath, look at the clock and tell yourself you only have another hour or so to go.

11) Resurrect your dead group members after combat has ended and you’ve gotten a bit of mana. Period. No excuse not to. The only time you shouldn’t be expected to rez the dead is when you died. My philosophy is: if your healer has to run, so do you. Of course, if someone has to afk real quick, the benefit of the doubt should be given, but if the dumbass is chatting in group or whatever and isn’t running, tell him or her to start running their ass back to the instance. I have, in the past, back in Shadow Labs, I think, forced the group to wait on a rogue who died and didn’t run back instead of rezzing him. The entire time he was running back, he was arguing with me and I finally managed to get it through his thick skull that his resurrection is entirely based on my kindness and I don’t take kindly to people who don’t even make the effort to run back. (Tip: In a raid situation, rez healers/rezzers first and if you’ve been the recipient of Divine Intervention, ALWAYS rez the pally who cast DI on you first! It’s only polite.)

12) Don’t do too much.
Okay, that’s not a specific thing for when you’re healing in a dungeon. But I had to mention it anyways because healers and tanks can burn out really, really quickly in this game. Why? There’s all kinds of responsibility on their shoulders and people are WAY too quick to judge. Both are thankless roles. In fact, if healers and tanks do their jobs right, no one should notice anything — because people lived and the tanks held aggro. And since healing meters are a terrible way to gauge your performance (unlike DPS meters for the DPS classes), it can often seem like you’re doing your job without feedback or encouragement.

In the past, I have countered this, in general, by not doing 10-man raids. And not doing any 5-mans that frustrate me. Nope, my paladin basically did her 25-man raids and that was it. And then came Emblems of Triumph and I needed a bunch of Emblems to make use of the Trophies of the Crusade for gear. Suddenly, I was doing 10m VOA, 10m Ony and even the occasional 10m TOC/TOGC, in addition to 25m VOA, 25m Ony and the guild runs of 25m TOC/TOGC. Ugh!

Thankfully, Emblems of Frost are only attainable through the 10m and 25m versions of Icecrown Citadel — and the weekly raid quest. And daily random heroics. And there aren’t separate hardmode timers for ICC, so there’s only two raid lockouts for Emblems of Frost to drop. Whew.

So I’m doing four bosses in 25m ICC, four bosses in 10m ICC and the weekly raid quest. The daily random heroics? Well, I keep signing up as a tank *and* a healer, but I have tanked every single random heroic I’ve done thus far: Azjol’Nerub, Old Kingdom, Gundrak, Halls of Lightning, Trial of the Champion, Utgarde Keep, Forge of Souls… I’m losing track of them all, but it means I’m not healing nubs and I’m getting a lot of practice tanking.

So really, that’s not a lot of healing I’m doing on my paladin. Granted, I’m healing daily on my shammy, but she’s not doing any ICC yet and has, like the rest of my toons, stopped running Onyxia and VOA (at least until the new VOA boss comes out). I’m reserving ICC for my hunter and my paladin right now, so that’s not any extra healing.

I know someone who, I kid you not, was healing both Ulduar 10 and 25 on two toons every week, in addition to healing Sarth3D 10-man zerg attempts, plus VOA on both 10/25 on both toons. That was too much healing for her. Even half of that is too much healing for me and too much healing for most sane people. There’s just so much time that you can spend healing up other people in any given raid week, IMHO, and the further you stay back from that limit the more you’ll enjoy the time you ARE healing and the less likely you will be to burn out. Everyone’s limits are different and you should be aware of when things are starting to feel like an obligation instead of a fun part of a game.

Anyways, all of that said, healers, even you part-time healers who are discovering healing through the new 5-mans and random dungeons, thank you for your dedication, for being the ones who choose to clean up after everyone’s mess. There are never enough healers and *good* healers are extremely rare. So I hope that this guide has helped you out a bit and that you know that you’re appreciated in general for the choice you’ve made to heal through portions of this funny little game we play.

Healing meme!

Swiped from Miss Medicina:

Post this questionnaire, with your answers, on your blog. Pick the healing class you know most about (or is the focus of your blog) for the questionnaire, and then send it over to another healing blogger you know and love who heals with a DIFFERENT class. Include a link to the blogger who sent you the questionnaire, as well as a link to the blogger to whom you are sending it.

What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer?

Madrana(h), holy paladin.

What is your primary group healing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)

25-man raids.

What is your favourite healing spell for your class and why?

Honestly, I’m a bit of a sucker for Holy Shock. I’ve always used Holy Shock, even when it sucked. Particularly when volcanos would spawn on my face on the Supremus fight in Black Temple.

What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?

I think I use them all a lot. I use Holy Light most, Beacon of Light a lot… I think I use all my healing spells a lot.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why?

My Holy Lights crit for 20k. With Beacon of Light, I can drop those heals on two targets for a kind of ludicrous amount of healing.

What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why?

Pick one: group healing or movement. Both suck. Glyph of Holy Light isn’t even a smart heal like Circle of Healing. :P

In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you?

Ideally, in a 2-tank fight, I should be assigned to one tank, who I shield and heal and have my Beacon on the other tank.

What healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why?

I’ve healed with all four classes — my paladin and shaman at 80, my paladin and priest at 70 and I have a 71 druid who is dual-specced tank/resto. But honestly, after months of standing there in front of Gruul and spamming the tanks and not being able to move lest the tanks die, when I got the opportunity to heal on my priest at one point, I LOVED it. I ran merrily around, casting Circle of Healing, Prayer of Mending and Renew around the raid. I’ve yet to try disc healing, though. I think I like healing with a priest the best, but I like being on a paladin most. I’ve got the throughput to get through a lot, I can cleanse 3 debuffs and I won’t get one-shotted by an add. Usually. :)

What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why?

Maybe my shammy. I just can’t stop healing the tanks. ><

What is your worst habit as a healer?

I occasionally have trouble letting other people do their assignments. That’s to say, I’ll occasionally cross-heal. I mean, a lot of people do, but my reasons are generally because I don’t trust so-and-so to keep their target up.

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing?

From other paladins: Idiots casting Sacred Shield over mine. From other healers: not respecting assignments. (Yes, I’m a hypocrite.) From tanks: blaming healers for their 2-shot death. From DPS: standing in fire/etc and then blaming healers for their deaths.

Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing?

Honestly, when you take a big-picture view, yes. Paladins are solid at tank healing and can usually help two tanks at once, in conjunction with a disc priest’s mitigation, a holy priest’s occasional CoH, a shammy’s earth shield with a druid’s hots… Really, I think all five healing specs work very nicely together.

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer?

If my target lived, I win at life. But I also check out WorldOfLogs.com parses.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class?

That we never run out of mana. I’m sorry, I used to chain mana pots in BT and I would still be doing so today if I could. There are just so many times when using Divine Plea is going to result in a tank death that it’s hard to use it on cooldown or at the precise moment when it’s most useful to do so.

What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn?

How to juggle Judgements of the Pure, Sacred Shield, Flash of Light’s HoT, Beacon of Light and use them all effectively.

If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see (i.e. lots of overhealing, low healing output, etc)?

In a 25m-raid? Huge overhealing, good dispells/cleanses, Holy Light, Beacon of Light and possibly Glyph of Holy Light as my top heals.

Haste or Crit and why?

Haste. I’ve got 35% Holy crit, unbuffed, and am very close to the amount of haste I need for 1s GCDs on my gear. With Judgements of the Pure, Wrath of Air totem and Swift Retribution aura, I need 673 haste to hit that. I’m at about 640 or so, thus my choice of buff food is +40 haste.

What healing class do you feel you understand least?

Resto druids. I have my 71 druid, but I don’t know how to be efficient when playing it. Lifebloom is EXPENSIVE, yo.

What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in healing?

Grid, Clique, clcbpt (tracks pally stuff).

Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?

All intellect all the time! Pallies get mana, spell crit and spellpower from intellect, as well as regen (through crit and through Divine Plea being based off maximum mana). There’s no reason to stack anything else if there’s an intellect enchant available.

Eesh.

Got the shammy to 80 at long, long last, so now I have:

Kurnmogh (80 hunter on Proudmoore)

Madrana (80 paladin on Bronzebeard)

Katarrah (80 shaman on Bronzebeard)

Plus I still have my 74 mage on Proudmoore.

In the less-than-24 hours that Katarrah has been 80, she’s healed (!) Vault of Archavon 25 and 10, DPSed Azjol-Nerub and ToC (both heroic)… I’ve gotten a TON of nice gear, stuff I made on Kurn that I sent over with Katarrah when she transferred to BB. I also got a couple nice drops here and there and, overall, am kind of excited I have another 80 on the server.

In other news, server first Northrend Beasts, faction server first (server second) on Lord Jaraxxus and server/faction second on Faction Champions.

Woot.

Sigh.

I still get teary-eyed when doing the Wrathgate quests.

And despite the possibility of faction switching, I will NEVER go to the Horde just because of what some of the Forsaken did.

FOR THE ALLIANCE.

Even if Varian is a douchebag.

Whew.

Finished all the fires in the old world, Outlands and Northrend on my shammy. Got easily a full level of experience and a whackload of gold. And none too soon, either, since Midsummer ends in 4 hours.

Go me.

The shammy.

According to WarCraftRealms.com, my shaman was level 14 on June 16, 2007. Since then, she’s moved from Eldre’Thalas, to Proudmoore, to Bronzebeard and back to Eldre’Thalas (to supposedly level with my brother on his rogue… We ran one Nexus together, did some quests and, after that 3 hours together, over the course of two days, he got bored.). She’s had an interesting existence.

Right now, she’s honoring and desecrating all the fires she can get to because, DUDE, with the 10% experience shoulders, that’s 22k experience for a desecration and 11k experience for honoring a flame.

That’s a ton of XP!

Of course, there’s less than 24 hours to take advantage of it, so I did Outlands and am almost done with Eastern Kingdoms. I’ve gained about half a level of XP from it today. Which, at level 72, is pretty substantial. And since it’s all *quests*, your rested doesn’t vanish. Pretty sweet.

Plus, you get some gold too, which is also nice.

Anyways, of note, I healed Azjol-Nerub on the shammy tonight for the first time. Level 77 prot warrior tanking made things much easier. ;) And you know what ELSE makes that place a CRAPTON easier as a healer? CLEANSING TOTEM. Best frigging totem in the entire UNIVERSE. EVER. Geez. Absolutely disgusting how awesome that is. Imagine — one GCD to drop the totem… instead of spamming Cleanse, at a certain mana cost AND countless GCDs… It was fun.

Best part — got a resto belt upgrade from the last dude, then the quest rewards were great as I got resto gloves from one quest and DPS boots from another. Dual specs are fun. :)

About to ding 73 when I honor/desecrate my next fire, too. Only four more levels ’till I can fly in Northrend. Cannot come soon enough.

Woot. (Ulduar Reset 6, Night 2)

Went in, did Hodir (1-shot), Thorim (3-shot — with a new tanking tunnel situation) and Freya (1-shot) and then worked on General Vezax.

Got him DOWN.

Most hilarious part of the raid: someone asked if I’d gotten a GM to hack my account and add more mana to my mana pool. Why? I had 30989 mana while raid buffed with:

Flask of Distilled Wisdom, Blessing of Kings, Improved Mark of the Wild and Arcane Intellect.

Then I switched my gear around: T8 chest, 4-pc T7.5, Greaves of the Rockmender, plus my Figurine – Sapphire Owl (with 2×16 int) and… the pi├Ęce de resistance… the Pendant of the Violet Eye. That’s right. From my very first Aran kill. Of course, I’m also a JC, so I have 3×27 int gems in various spots in my gear and I’m an alchemist so instead of 65 int from the flask, I get about 98 intellect, with help from Mixology AND Divine Intellect.

Hawt.

So that’s two new bosses in two nights. Things are going well, progression-wise. Yogg-Saron next. It’ll be nice to get Sara to shut the hell up. She’s more annoying than Jaina was.

In other news, some old friends from Apotheosis have made alts on my new server and so I’m transferring my shammy over before she’s hit 77. She’s, uh, still 70. /sigh

But she brings with her a ton of Northern Spices, some gems, a frozen orb, some odds and ends, and 1400g. Not that my pally really needs more money, but it’ll go towards getting the shammy epic flying and cold-weather flying at 77.

Ulduar, Reset 6, Night 1 (plus some bitching)

We didn’t get Mimiron on Monday night. We wiped 23 times on Mimiron on Monday and didn’t get him.

So Tuesday, the goal was to hit Flame Leviathan, XT-002 Deconstructor, Kologarn, Auriaya and then focus on Mimiron until it got *done*.

heroic-keepers

Keepers of Ulduar, bitches. That’s right, Mimiron down. And it only took us six tries tonight! Granted, that’s about … well, it’s more attempts than I want to add up, in total. But Mimiron DOWN.

I spent half the fight dead on the ground. The ONLY Rocket Strike I have taken on that fight, EVER, and it happens on the kill, as I’m running back to my spot from Laser Barrage! I was watching Grid and auto-running towards my spot and by the time I noticed where I was and tried to strafe left to get out of it as fast as I could, it landed on me.

So Mimiron went down, then we did Razorscale, Ignis and Iron Council. So that’s 8 bosses in one night, which is pretty fun. Also fun?

heroic-shattered

Just rackin’ up achievements. :)

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