You’re a bad healer because…(Part 1)

Good healing isn’t about preventing a fall,  It’s about bracing for impact.

This is part 1 in a series on healing (and more specifically raid healing).  Part 1 will focus on what it takes in a person to be a great healer.  Part 2 will focus on the tools of a quality healer.  Part 3, Fights that tend to give healers fits.

You can google “wow how to heal…” and find 2.8 Million results. No really, go google it, you’ll find plenty of resources trying to teach you how to be a more effective healer and how to not look like a complete fool when trying to get a regular raiding spot as a healer.

First let me give you the perspective not of a healer, but of a raid leader.  As everyone knows there are 3 types of people in a raid: tank, healer, DPS.  Tanks and Healers each have a job with a binary result.  Either someone lives, or they don”t.  You either have enough healing to keep everyone alive, or you don’t.  There is no surer way to have a guaranteed raid invite (or to be kicked quickly) than to be a healer.  Quality healers that know their stuff and actually enjoy healing are the rarest Warcraft players out there.  If you find them, you don’t let them go.

Healers don’t need gear.  They don’t need spreadsheets.  Good healers need a raid frame setup, a brain, and a set of balls.  Healers and tanks can’t distinguish themselves by healing more or tanking harder.  We only get credit for being exceptional, and even then it’s kind of a wash.

Saving The Day ™

There’s always that scene in a disaster movie where an unsuspecting nameless pedestrian is walking aimlessly as the city crumbles around him.  The Hero of the story is running around looking for his lost son (or wife or daughter) and sees said pedestrian walking just 15 ft beneath a concrete overhang about to collapse (they’re probably holding a baby).  He takes a glance at the concrete, a glance around to see if anyone else is there to help (there never is), a glance at the baby, and then quickly runs over and tackles them out of danger just as the two ton slab falls and crushes the side walk.

The man gets up and yells at the Hero, “what the hell did you do that for-“before glancing at the wreckage where he used to be standing.  The Hero mutters a “you’re welcome” before jogging off to find some other random victim.

That is good raid healing in a nutshell.

If you want to be a quality healer, you need to be a Hero.  You need to put yourself in a bad position, save everyone else, and maybe, just maybe, keep yourself alive.  Be warned, there are consequences to this behavior.  You won’t always live and you won’t always save everyone (or at times, anyone).

Situational awareness just doesn’t include moving from void zones.  It’s seeing that extra pack of mobs coming in, or seeing the missile get fired at the unsuspecting moonkin.  You should know where the damage is coming from, how heavy it’s going to be, and if something bad happens why it happened. If you know those two players died because they were playing bad and not because you failed to heal them in time, the next section will be easy for you.

Short Memory

Cliche alert!

What do broadcasters say about good Quarterbacks? They have short memories.  A good QB might have just thrown an interception for a touchdown, but will forget about it and go get those points back on the next drive.  The death of a person in your raid might be your fault.  It might be their fault.  It might be Bob’s fault.  The bottom line is this: it doesn’t matter.  If you’re worried about letting people die then you are already in the middle of digging their grave.

One death is a minor event in any raid.  An unfortunate death can be eliminated with a battle rez or soul stone (this varies fight to fight, obviously).  You worrying about the last person that died just killed someone else.  The worst thing you can do as a healer is cut off your nose just to spite your face (and in some situations I’ve seen healers take off their nose, ears, and lips as well).

Heal The World

Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.

— George S. Patton

If you aren’t in the healing business to be the best then re-roll and be a DPS.  A healer should never acknowledge that they can’t do something.  A request to solo heal something or even two heal (in the case of a 10 man group) should be recieved as a challenge.  Having the confidence to know that you can heal something is half the battle.

Attitude, swagger, brash confidence.

I’ve never healed a random 5 man with 4 other guildies (unless they ask me of course).  I do all of my daily random heroics with 4 strangers.  A hockey player will dump a bucket of pucks on the ice and shoot for 30 minutes before a game to get warmed up, I’ll heal 4 randoms in heirloom gear through a heroic Halls of Lightning.  Anyone can run through and heal a group that has best in slot raid gear and kills everything in mere seconds.

Healing in random groups allows you to practice your healing reflexes.  It isn’t healing Penetrating Cold targets, but it let’s you heal without completely sleeping.  Have you ever tried solo healing a ToC10 man or Vault of Archavon run?  How about dropping down to two healers on a fight you almost always use 3?


The most important part of this whole post is the next sentence.

Not everyone can heal.

Without the above qualities: confidence, the ability to work without thanks, adaptability; you are doomed as a healer.  Accepting that you can’t heal and continuing to do so is a disservice to those you play with.  It’s ok, healing is a deceptively hard job.  It is one where mediocrity is celebrated and greatness is rarely noticed.  You know you just saved the raid, but nobody cared, and nobody is really going to care when you say “we wouldn’t have won if I didn’t…” No.  That is your job.  If you aren’t making 3 to 4 raid saving heals a pull then you are not properly utilizing your ability.

DPSing and beating an enrage timer is acknowledged as a group failure.  Seventeen players couldn’t get it done.  Healing is nearly always boiled down to 1 or 2 individuals.  If you cannot handle the blame of a wipe being placed on your shoulders then healing is not your game.

We aren’t the guys putting up the high scores, we’re the ones keeping the machine running.


3 Responses to You’re a bad healer because…(Part 1)

  1. Rynor says:

    Healing is only fun if you can hop around while doing it. GO TREES!

    • Kro says:

      Tanking a boss the first time, and especially successfully killing a difficult boss as a tank is very rewarding.

      Being the hero last couple or sole dps alive using defensive cooldowns or kiting to eek out a first kill…. extraordinarly rewarding.

      But for me personally… it doesn’t get any better than maximizing your cooldowns, trying to conserve your mana painstakingly for 5-10 minutes every attempt for 4 raid nights, and finally getting to the last 10% with half your healers dead, and you just bomb heals everywhere letting 1 die for every 2 you save and it’s just barely enough to squeak out a great fat W.

      sure, healers don’t always get credit, but from all my adventures I remember the big healing moments most

  2. […] quick excerpt from one of my first blog posts here at Borsked: Without [these qualities]: confidence, the ability to work without thanks, […]

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