The Absolute Beginner’s Guides are aimed at people who may or may not be new to WoW, but need a basic overview of a specific area that is new to them.
This guide will not go into class specifics, but will give you an overview of some basic concepts of healing to get you started whether your starting point is Deadmines or Utgarde Keep. I will link to some class specific resources at the end.
So you’ve set up a healing focused talent tree, equipped some snazzy healing gear and you have an action bar full of healing spells – the instance portal beckons, but what are you supposed to do when you get to the other side?
Tools of the trade
Let’s start by looking at what kind of spells you will have at your disposal. Not all classes have all kinds of spells, but it is useful to know what the different types are – particularly if you go raiding as you will have to work together with other healers. There are 3 main types of healing spells.
Healing over Time spells at their core are all based on the “does X healing per second for Y seconds”. There are various twists on this idea, but they all share that same core.
Direct heal does what it says on the tin, it will heal your target for a certain amount and that’s it.
AoE heal / group heal
I don’t really like to call them AoE heals as it often makes people think they work similarly to a mage’s Blizzard. Pop a target on the ground and everyone in that area gets healed. In fact, the basic idea of group heals is that they will heal your target and then also some other people. Depending on which heal it is, it will either heal a specific number of people within a certain range of your target or within the same group as your target. Some group heals are also smart heals – this means that they will pick their extra targets based on who needs healing the most.
You will also find various other spells that might be part of your healing arsenal, like a priest’s shield that mitigates incoming damage or a paladin’s beacon of light which heals the beaconed player for the same amount as whoever else the paladin is healing.
The trick is to figure out who to heal when using what. The more you heal, the better you will get at making these snap judgement calls. In a 5-man group, your priority order would generally be tank, healer, DPS. Without the tank the mobs will rampage through the rest of the group with impunity and without a healer people will probably die.
Unfortunately, you cannot just focus on the tank and yourself, the DPS will need to be kept alive as well or it will take a very long time to kill the boss (not to mention that you’ll have some very cranky DPS players in your group). If everyone knows what they are doing, the DPS shouldn’t be pulling threat from the boss, so they should only take damage if the boss have a “target random player” ability or some kind of AoE. So if possible, make sure you know if a boss does anything like that so that you can be prepared to throw some extra heals when it happens.
Different people like to heal in different ways, but if you are having problems spotting DPS taking damage in time to save them – you might want to consider tweaking your UI to make it clearer to you who is getting hit with what. For instance, you might want to have target of target’s target switched on (it is available as an option in the original UI). You will most likely have the tank targeted (target), the tank will have the boss targeted (target’s target) and most of the time the boss will have the tank targeted (target of target’s target). If you are able to see target of target’s target, then you can see if the boss is switching away from the tank to another player and be ready to heal them sooner. Just as an example.
A DPS player can go out and kill boars to practice their skills at killing things, unfortunately as a healer you do not have the option to go and do solo practice. To learn to heal instances, you need to heal instances. But trust me when I say – it does get easier! Each time you do an instance you become more familiar with your tools and with the rhythm of healing.
All healing classes has at least 1 dispelling ability. The 4 schools that can be dispelled are curses, diseases, magic and poison. Some debuffs make little difference to a fight, whilst others will kill the affected player quickly or drastically reduce their damage/health/healing done to them. So whatever UI set-up you use, make sure you are able to see when someone is affected by a debuff. If it is one that you cannot dispel, it is even more important that you know that it is there so that you know to throw extra healing on that player if necessary.
All healers can resurrect dead players when out of combat. So if you only lost one or two players in a fight, you want to get them rezzed quickly so that the group can move on as soon as possible. However, if it is a wipe – do not feel pushed into being the only one running back while the others go afk for drinks/bio break/petting the cat. Just sayin’.
Sometimes things might be going really well and you feel almost like a spare wheel because very little healing is needed. So you wonder if maybe you should help out a bit with the damage-dealing. If you are comfortable that you will be able to swap from DPS-ing to healing someone who got pounced by an add that got loose, then fine – go for it. But don’t feel that you have to attempt to help with the DPS-ing. Your primary function in the group is to keep everyone alive and there will be times when healing is needed less, but that can change in the blink of an eye. And it might be slightly embarrasing to admit that people died because you couldn’t keep your wand in your pocket.
- For holy paladining visit Siha at Banana Shoulders, this post is pre-3.1, but is a good start. Also, this post at HolyPaladin.net
- Vonya of Egotistical Priest is on a break, but her site has some great information. Have a look here for discipline healing rotations. Having a quick google, I couldn’t find any obvious ‘Holy priest healing basics’ – so I guess I should get to it and make one.
- For resto shamanism, Anna at Too Many Annas is a great resource, check out Resto Shaman 101 and Resto in 3.0.
- Part Time Druid has a post about druid healing as at 3.0.
I know very little about healing as anything else than a holy priest, so cannot say how accurate the above guides are, but hopefully they will at least get you started. If you know of any great “Healing as class X 101” guides, let me know and I’ll add them!
This is very much an overview, so if you have questions, please do feel free to ask via comments or send me an email.
Pictures in this post courtesy of forwardcom on stock.xchng, miqueias on stock.xchng, drmatiz on stock.xchng, gokce- on stock.xchng, lynnc on stock.xchng, ba1969 on stock.xchng (in that order, kitty on top excepted as that is my own).