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Monday, January 5, 2009

4 different ways to diagnose your healer

Every healer in their life time will experience a situation gone bad where they try to figure out what went wrong. It usually goes something like this:

"What's the problem?"

"Lack of heals."

"Okay, more heals please!"

If I had a copper every time I heard that phrase, I would have enough for a mammoth by now. After every wipe or death, the first person that gets blamed is the healer. Big props to all of you right now no matter what class you are for sticking through it and helping your friends, guilds and raids out. I know I put up with a lot of stuff when crap hits the fan.

As both a guild and a raid leader, I'm in a fairly unique position where blaming the healer is not the first thing that comes to mind (since I am a healer). That doesn't mean it never crosses my mind. It just means I have to evaluate the situation from a macro perspective.

Let's put it this way. I could brute force an encounter and do nothing but madly dump Circle of Healing to counteract the heavy incoming damage.

Or I could note that melee players are standing in a void zone and ask them to move.

In any case, I'll discuss that another time. Today's post, I'm going to make a fundamental assumption: That the problem is your healer and you don't know how to fix it.

90% of the time, a healer will be doing their best to keep you alive. For whatever reason, there seems to be an inherent belief that healers want the group to do bad and are intentionally trying to bring you down.

How the heck is wiping the group "in my best interest" as a Priest?

It defies logic. I know I'm not holding myself back when I'm trying to keep up my party or raid. I want to see the boss down just like everyone else. So please don't believe that we're trying to screw over your group by deliberately not healing.

Problem: Not enough spellpower

This is the main problem you'll face. For the new healers that switched from DPS, let me illustrate a concept.

As an Elemental Shaman, if I don't have enough spellpower, I can compensate with extra Lightning Bolts. It takes me longer to do 200000 damage if I had 1400 spellpower compared to 1800.

But as a Priest, if I don't have enough spellpower, it's a lot harder to. Tanks have a certain finite amount of health. If I don't have the power to push them back up, the next hit or two could kill them. The damage in is overall greater than my heal out.

Solution: There are a wide variety of consumables to increase your spellpower. I'm assuming that you're not in a raid and that your gear is already fully enchanted.

These are all examples of temporary ways to increase your spellpower. Every little bit helps. Remember you can have either the flask or the elixir active. You can't take both.

Problem: Not enough mana

Is your healer running out of gas in the tank? There are going to be encounters where it will be a race between the damage output of your group and the mana of your healer.

I remember participating in a group where there were 2 players below 1000 DPS on the boss and we had a lot of trouble getting him down. There's only so much time I can buy the group. There are sometimes when a Priest is going to be stretched to the max and there is literally nothing more that can be done.

Solution: Aside from the usual Mana Potions and regenerating cooldowns, there isn't much. Try these out:

Problem: Environmental

When I put up environmental as a problem, I'm not referring to global warming. I mean there are certain parts of an encounter which can lock us healers out of doing our jobs.

An example of this would be Loatheb's Necrotic Aura. That locks us out but we healers have to work around that. Any type of a stun or a silence can easily nullify a Priest.

Solution: Identify what exactly is stopping your healing and how you can prevent it. Can the spell or ability be "line of sighted"? Can the debuff be removed by another player in the party? Can someone else take over healing temporarily until you're free?

Let's take a look at another example. Maexxna has a Web Wrap ability which immobilizes and prevents players from doing anything. Using Deadly Boss Mods (or BigWigs if you prefer), I have a pretty accurate idea of when the next Web Wrap will hit. With about 3 seconds left, I'll put a Power Word: Shield on the main tank along with a renew. Other Druids in group know to also stack up their Lifeblooms and other HoT spells on the tank to ensure that he is getting some healing.

Unfortunately, the diversity of the game means that there is no catch all answer. Your groups have to be creative in order to see what can be done. The best thing I can think of is to try to buy as much time as possible. Let the other players bandage or use a health stone. Give your healer as much time to get out of whatever condition they're in.

Problem: Spell rotation

This is straight forward. Determine what spells are being used and whether or not it is appropriate for the encounter at hand. For example, Circle of Healing is not a spell that should be used on Patchwerk.

Solution: Especially with the impending CoH nerf, it's important to not try to make a square peg fit into a circular hole. Your healer has to use the right tool for the right job.

If damage is being done party wide, it has to be healed party wide. If damage is being done mainly to the tank, use the efficient single target spells to get them back up. Using Circle of Healing constantly to heal one person is a big waste.

One more thing

Most healing problems tend to be a combination of the above. Use your head and don't lose your cool. Don't immediately assume the healer sucks or that all they have to do is heal more. It's often more complicated than that and trickier to diagnose.

Good luck and happy healing!