Basic Healer Habits

Hello novice healers. I wanted to share with you all some of the things that I have learned about healing during my time playing this game that I think will increase your skill level as a healer.

* Take on a DPS caster mentality - always be casting (ABC) a healing spell. Start learning to pre-cast your most efficient heal constantly on the tank. This helps you learn to time your heals to go off as people take damage, not after they have taken damage - in other words you eliminate the heal cast time as a factor. For example:

| Tank takes damage |
| You start casting your heal |
| Tank takes damage |
| Your heal goes off and you start casting your next heal |
| Tank takes damage |
| etc. |

You now have a health deficit to make up for, but if you had been pre-casting your heal, it would look like this:

| You pre-cast your heal |
| Tank takes damage |
| Your heal goes off and you immediately start casting another heal |
| Tank takes damage |
| Your heal goes off and pre-cast the next heal |
| etc. |

With that method, you are keeping up with the damage going out instead of working at a deficit. This is really helpful for times when bad things occur; you are prepared to deal with those bad things and you don't have a half-dead tank along with it. The principle is the same for group damage - if you know the group is about to take damage, pre-cast your group heal and work as the damage comes in instead of making up for it after it occurs.

* If the tank is at full health, cancel the heal by hitting the ESC key, moving your character or jumping. Don't forget that as a caster, you don't have to wait any amount of time after a cast is finished to start your next cast. When your cast bar starts getting about 3/4 of the way to finishing, start spamming the next heal you want to cast. That way you don't waste any time sitting there not casting.

* Don't panic and stay calm. Sometimes when the group is under heavy fire, you can get panicked and freeze up. Every healer has had a situation in their career that makes them panic - the group is almost dead and you're not sure what to do or you're just shell shocked. You may be thinking, 'Where do I start? What should I cast first? What is my priority?' In the meantime, people have died because you haven't actually been healing anything and the damage hasn't stopped coming in. You have all the tools you need to keep the group alive; never forget to just USE them and stay calm and assess the situation.

-- Am I about to die? Heal myself FIRST. No healer, no healing.
-- Heal tank.
-- Is a top DPS about to bite it? Heal that DPS.
-- Is anyone else about to die? Heal them.

* There are different types of damage that will occur during encounters, you will need to learn the difference between the types. There's regular tank damage, heavy tank damage, regular periodic group damage, heavy group damage, and the biggie - AVOIDABLE damage. Avoidable damage is the one that wipes a lot of groups. Avoidable damage is any type of damage that doesn't have to hit a group. You can interrupt a caster, you can move out of the cleave, you can get out of the fire / void zone / purple stuff / icky nasty goo - it's avoidable. You shouldn't feel bad about having to heal someone through something they could have avoided - it's what you signed up for, after all, and everyone messes up. It's not a huge deal, but repeating a mistake that is avoidable becomes an issue. If you are having trouble with an encounter, chances are people are taking avoidable damage. Check there first and if you keep your eyes open, you will often find yourself being prepared to handle a situation before it occurs.

Avoidable damage is also interrupting spell casts. I always keep my eyes out for spell casters and am ready with interrupts hot keyed. Don't forget that sometimes a mob can be stunned which also can act as a spell interrupt. If you have some form of CC, the CC itself can also act as an interrupt in a pinch. (The point is not to CC the mob, the point is to interrupt the cast.)

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[Continued]

* The tank will almost always be taking damage so you need to always be pre-casting some sort of heal on the tank. Preferably your efficient heal, but sometimes you need to pull out the big guns when the tank is taking heavy damage. Don't be afraid to use a tool if you need it - that's what it's there for. Use that big heal on the tank. If they're still taking heavy damage, and their health is getting lower and lower, use a tank cooldown if you have it and keep using your big heal. Heavy tank damage usually comes at specific intervals in an encounter. Once you learn where these intervals are, you will be better prepared and won't have any problems keeping your tank alive. All tanks nowadays have some way to heal themselves - you can rely on that at times when the group is under fire and you're working on keeping them up. Start learning to read your tanks and see how diligent they are about using their own heals to keep themselves alive. If the tank is very good (or very well geared), you may not need to heal them much at all.

* Learn which of your spells is a big cooldown and don't be afraid to use it if things go south. Better to keep people alive and have used all your tools than sitting there after a wipe and seeing all the things you didn't use that might have saved your group. By using your tools you will learn how they work and will know when it's best to use them and when it's best to save them. If you know a particularly nasty pull or boss mechanic is coming up, save it and use it for that time. Sometimes bad things will happen and if you are ready you WILL keep your group alive.

* Keep your eyes open and always watch your back. In most cases you do NOT have to be facing your healing target in order for you to cast your healing spells. This is helpful because you can keep your eyes out for patrols, a CC that is about to wear off, a hunter that pulled a bunch of mobs with their pet, etc., etc. If you see something coming, speak up about it, but if it will happen before you can say anything, prepare for it by having cooldowns on standby, CCs, interrupts, etc. Sometimes all you need to say is 'pat' for patrol. Or you can just CC it and mention it when it's convenient. You can be the team lookout and you might be surprised at how often you will spot things that the group seems oblivious to.

* Always know where your tank is at and what they might be doing. All tanks have styles of tanking you will encounter. Some tanks are very methodical and pull slowly, other tanks are new and not confident yet. Then there are my favorite - reckless tanks who pull everything no matter what the group is doing or what your mana pool looks like. Read your tank, pay attention to their play style and it will help you be prepared for their shenanigans. Sometimes it gets pretty chaotic and you lose your tank - I tend to mark my tank with the star so I always know where they are at if they are swimming in mobs. You will soon know the difference between a veteran tank and a bad tank just by watching the way they play.

I'll add more if and when I think of them. All the healers play differently, but I've found those basic habits to be invaluable no matter if I'm playing my shammy, priest, druid or paladin. I'm still learning the monk but the basics are still there to help make up for my lack of monk knowledge.
Edited by Mahram on 10/11/2012 11:24 AM PDT
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90 Pandaren Shaman
8865
* If the tank is at full health, cancel the heal by hitting the ESC key, moving your character or jumping. Don't forget that as a caster, you don't have to wait any amount of time after a cast is finished to start your next cast. When your cast bar starts getting about 3/4 of the way to finishing, start spamming the next heal you want to cast. That way you don't waste any time sitting there not casting.

I would actually advise against jumping to cancel the heal. You cannot heal while jumping, and isn't the whole point of this to increase your reaction time? You're negating it if you jump. Simply hit esc.

At any rate,

-- Am I about to die? Heal myself FIRST. No healer, no healing.
-- Heal tank.
-- Is a top DPS about to bite it? Heal that DPS.
-- Is anyone else about to die? Heal them.

This is highly simplistic, but a good general guide to start with. Also on my personal priority list: classes that can off-tank or kite, classes that can battle-rez, classes with clutch cooldowns that might save our skins (like Army of the Dead, Tranquility, etc).

10/11/2012 11:09 AMPosted by Mahram
You shouldn't feel bad about having to heal someone through something they could have avoided - it's what you signed up for, after all, and everyone messes up. It's not a huge deal, but repeating a mistake that is avoidable becomes an issue.

I beg to differ. If a player is making no effort to avoid easily avoidable damage, even after repeatedly being told to move, and is becoming too big of a mana drain and/or taking up too many of my GCDs that I need to use to heal the tank, I have no problem making the decision to let him die. It may be cruel, but there's a reason the healer joke "It was more mana efficient to rez you" exists.

That's not to say I simply stop healing anyone who is taking avoidable damage, but there comes a point where you're really just dumping too much mana on this player and need to be able to focus on other things. I feel bad, but it happens. Again, a DPS is usually lower priority than myself or the tank. That's just the way things are.

Sometimes, letting the player drop to a low HP where I know I can keep them alive is all it takes to get them to move. A lot of melee players, it seems like it's instinct to run out of melee when they notice their HP is low. It's a bit of a dirty trick, but it works almost every time.
Edited by Garofalo on 10/11/2012 11:21 AM PDT
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I beg to differ. If a player is making no effort to avoid easily avoidable damage, even after repeatedly being told to move, and is becoming too big of a mana drain and/or taking up too many of my GCDs that I need to use to heal the tank, I have no problem making the decision to let him die. It may be cruel, but there's a reason the healer joke "It was more mana efficient to rez you" exists.

That's not to say I simply stop healing anyone who is taking avoidable damage, but there comes a point where you're really just dumping too much mana on this player and need to be able to focus on other things. I feel bad, but it happens. Again, a DPS is usually lower priority than myself or the tank. That's just the way things are.

Sometimes, letting the player drop to a low HP where I know I can keep them alive is all it takes to get them to move. A lot of melee players, it seems like it's instinct to run out of melee when they notice their HP is low. It's a bit of a dirty trick, but it works almost every time.


Choosing who to let die is a bit more advanced, but you're right - there definitely comes a time when you just have to let someone die. New healers will start to recognize these situations after they get some experience under their belts, but as you're starting out healing, build up the habit of healing people first and NOT letting people die if you can help it. You might be surprised what you can pull off and there is no greater feeling as a healer than seeing the group alive after what looked like a wipe.
Edited by Mahram on 10/11/2012 11:32 AM PDT
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90 Blood Elf Priest
5755
If you mess up and someone dies blame lag. That is pretty much all I have... ;^)
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100 Tauren Druid
19365
10/11/2012 11:19 AMPosted by Garofalo
I would actually advise against jumping to cancel the heal. You cannot heal while jumping, and isn't the whole point of this to increase your reaction time? You're negating it if you jump. Simply hit esc.

Jumping while you heal is pretty much a requirement for Resto Druids. :P

But seriously, I often just hit one of my movement keys to break a cast. For me, it is often faster than reaching for Esc, considering how I use my keybindings.
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46 Tauren Druid
4455
10/11/2012 11:31 AMPosted by Mahram
Choosing who to let die is a bit more advanced, but you're right - there definitely comes a time when you just have to let someone die. New healers will start to recognize these situations after they get some experience under their belts, but as you're starting out healing, build up the habit of healing people first and NOT letting people die if you can help it. You might be surprised what you can pull off and there is no greater feeling as a healer than seeing the group alive after what looked like a wipe.


I hadn't healed a dungeon run in a really long time... years. And when I came back to the game and decided to make a Resto Druid and starting healing again, I was really nervous about screwing up. So when a hunter or some other DPS kept repeatedly pulling aggro or letting his pet get out of control, I didn't feel bad at all about letting him take a dirt nap. In the end, no one else was pulling aggro... I was keeping the tank up, and I knew we were going to be fine 4-manning every boss we had left. If he didn't learn his lesson the first time he died, he deserved to die a few more times.
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90 Pandaren Shaman
8865
10/11/2012 11:41 AMPosted by Pipikaula
I would actually advise against jumping to cancel the heal. You cannot heal while jumping, and isn't the whole point of this to increase your reaction time? You're negating it if you jump. Simply hit esc.

Jumping while you heal is pretty much a requirement for Resto Druids. :P

Well, yes, but you know what I mean :P
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Jumping while you heal is pretty much a requirement for Resto Druids. :P

But seriously, I often just hit one of my movement keys to break a cast. For me, it is often faster than reaching for Esc, considering how I use my keybindings.


That is such a bad habit, lol. I am a victim of this behavior and it pretty much made canceling spells during Spiritwalker's Grace a bumbling finger to keyboard mess.

Learn to cancel spells with escape!

That is all.
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100 Tauren Druid
19365
Bah, I don't have Spiritwalker's Grace, I haven't had a chance to use Symbiosis on a shaman yet, so anything that is a hard cast for me can be broken by moving. I think the last time I actually needed to use Esc to cancel something was during Firelands (Alysrazor and tanks with the bleed). Personally, I find it more cumbersome to hit Esc when healing, as I often use the Q and E keys to strafe out of floor poop, and have the bumbling finger issue getting back to those after pressing Esc. To cancel a cast, I just strafe a tad left or right, as I am already used to using those keys in a hurry when healing.

But hey, in healing, there is often several right answers as to how to do something.
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90 Human Paladin
9050
Mouse 1 and Mouse 2 at the same time will move you forward. You can tap those simultaneously to cancel heals, which I've found is often the most convenient for me. I use movement keys if I'm still hovering over my raid frames since they're not set to click through.

Most of us don't have spiritwalker's grace, so it's not an issue. In the event that I'm actually on my shaman, I would usually hit my wind shear macro, which has /stopcasting built into it. Doesn't use the cd since I'm not targeting an enemy. Esc pulls my hand away from my keybinds, which I don't like.

Friendly name plates make tracking the tank's location easier, especially if you lose them for a moment.
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61 Blood Elf Priest
460
Thank you, Mahram for your post! It answered many questions I had in my mind...I still have one left though to you, veteran healers:
Is it ok for me, as a healer, to do some dps once in a while or that will make the group jumpy? In my little healing exp, I've thrown few damaging spells here and there but only seldom and with care to not pull aggro or forget to keep an eye on ppl's health.
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90 Pandaren Priest
14930
Sweetheart, this thread is from October of 2012. :-\ Please don't necro. :(
Edited by Tiriel on 8/19/2013 8:35 PM PDT
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90 Night Elf Druid
13170
Sweetheart, this thread is from October of 2012. :-\ Please don't necro. :(


She/he necroed it probably because the topic creator linked it in another thread as a reference.
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90 Pandaren Priest
14930
08/19/2013 08:38 PMPosted by Veroicone
Sweetheart, this thread is from October of 2012. :-\ Please don't necro. :(


She/he necroed it probably because the topic creator linked it in another thread as a reference.


Oh, I had not realized. :S
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90 Night Elf Druid
13170
I figured that's why I mentioned it <3
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61 Blood Elf Priest
460
* Don't panic and stay calm. Sometimes when the group is under heavy fire, you can get panicked and freeze up. Every healer has had a situation in their career that makes them panic - the group is almost dead and you're not sure what to do or you're just shell shocked. You may be thinking, 'Where do I start? What should I cast first? What is my priority?' In the meantime, people have died because you haven't actually been healing anything and the damage hasn't stopped coming in. You have all the tools you need to keep the group alive; never forget to just USE them and stay calm and assess the situation.


Haha, this! Just two days ago, on my holy pally the group suddenly panicked (the tank ran and pulled a lot of mobs and kind of lost aggro on some) and they started running around and away from me like bunnies so I almost lost it seeing their health bars going down, but somehow I didn't allow myself to freeze, but I started throwing little heals on those who needed them and they calmed down and all went well.
I think is very important how i position myself towards group too...I'm learning that too as I go.
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61 Blood Elf Priest
460
Tiriel
90 Pandaren Priest
Demise
14610 Edited by Tiriel on 8/19/13 8:35 PM (PDT)
Sweetheart, this thread is from October of 2012. :-\ Please don't necro. :(


Omg, I'm very sorry, I didn't mean to.
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90 Pandaren Priest
14930
Tiriel
90 Pandaren Priest
Demise
14610 Edited by Tiriel on 8/19/13 8:35 PM (PDT)
Sweetheart, this thread is from October of 2012. :-\ Please don't necro. :(


Omg, I'm very sorry, I didn't mean to.


That's okay. You're obviously new, and it's fine.
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Yes, absolutely, feel free to DPS if there is no damage you need to heal. No one will complain about you doing that unless they die; just keep one eye on the health bars or make sure you know the fights well enough to know when you have to stop DPSing and go back to healing. Be careful that you don't use up your mana.

Wow, I hadn't realized this thread was from so long ago, however, the information is still relevant and the fundamentals are still sound and useful to any new healer.
Edited by Mahram on 8/20/2013 11:30 PM PDT
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