Sun Tzu’s the Art of War(craft) may be helpful for you DPS types, but for us healing folks we have to go to his kid brother, Sun Woo’s and his book “The Art of not screwing up in raid.” Thinking about what I would like to discuss today I thought I would step back from the specifics of the Mistweaver spec and discuss the Healer role.
The obvious answer for what the healer does is he or she is the counter force that works in conjunction with the tanks to mitigate, prevent, and react to damage coming from the boss. We extend the amount of time the raid group can survive the onslaught of the boss’s attacks so that the DPS can successfully do enough damage in return to defeat the encounter.
What makes for a good healer though?
Lets look into that.
If “know thy enemy” works for DPS, what works for heals? ”Know thy self” is the obvious thought, but you need to know your enemy to heal your friends as well.
Pillars of a good healer:
- Knowledge of encounter mechanics
- Knowledge of class skills and abilities
- Teamwork with fellow healers
- Reaction and good judgment for application of cooldowns
- Communication with raid group
- Proper planning and gearing prior to fight
I could probably name off a dozen other traits that would describe a competent healer but these were what came to mind as key to the success of a healer. Rather than going point by point explaining these I thought I would highlight a few as examples.
A good healer will not make for a good raid necessarily. A good healer can help recover from slight missteps but it requires a cohesive healing team in order for the raid to have the highest chance of success. Communication, practice, and proper leadership will have all the healers pulling their weight and fulfilling their responsibilities. If a tank healer lets the tank die because he is cross healing members of the raid, that is a breakdown in the team. On the flip side of the coin, if the raid is alright and the tank dies while the raid healer is twiddling their thumbs that is equally as bad.
Know your class
Blizzard has made a huge effort to get rid of the “tank heal” and the “raid heal” distinction between healing classes and the monk is no different. A monk CAN tank heal, but we currently shine as a raid healer. In addition to knowing the mechanics of how the class heals, a good healer will know what type of healing they do. Each healing class can be either preventative healing or reactionary healing. An example is a druid. Druids are preventative healers mainly since if you are just applying your HoT’s as damage happens you will have some dead raid members. Monks for the most part are reactionary healers. There needs to be damage out to heal and we can precast our AoE’s and Renewing mist prior to the damage hitting but the majority of our healing is reacting to incoming damage.
Gearing and Planning
A healer can be doomed to fail even before they step foot into the raid. There are some obvious raid necessities such as being fully gemmed and enchanted with proper flasks and food. What is the difference between an OK healer and a good healer is how they gem, enchant or choose to reforge. It is always a balancing act between two distinct ideas, throughput and regen. Throughput means your heals are more potent, more efficient, or providing more benefit (i.e mastery), if you max your throughput you are trading off with regen stats. If you focus on regen you will last longer in the fight but have less burst healing capability which may mean you can not keep up with the incoming damage. It takes practice and experimentation to get that balance right.
Know the fights
Having proper addons that will provide timers on boss mechanics will help you plan and precast your big heals for spike damage. That being said, do your homework and know what mechanics are dangerous, where the damage will come from and what kind of damage it will be. A monk’s Zen Meditation cooldown is a good example. You need to know what it would be useful to use on and when during the fight to expect it. Raid awareness helps in your performance as well. If you see johnny rogue standing inside a Cobalt trap for example, you know that he is about to get hit in a few seconds and to put a little extra healing his way. (Don’t reward stupidity though)
I don’t purport to be a great healer, just last night I put up horrid numbers in old heroic content because I failed to follow my own advice. I was healing in a spec I didn’t know well, on a boss I hadn’t done on heroic and had not prepared my gear for (just respecced from disc to holy, without reforging). I put these concepts out there to remind myself of what I need to do to improve. If it helps you guys out too, that is a bonus as well.
Cya in the Mists!