“It’s not my fault!”

September 4, 2009 at 3:55 pm (5 mans, Being a Hero, Divine Hymn, Fade, Grouping, Guardian Spirit, Guardian Spirit, Healing Mechanics, Pain Suppression, Pain Suppression, Raiding)

With the new five man Trial of the Champion I have seen a lot of anxious Priests looking for reassurance recently. Often many of them are new to healing and, after a lot of wiping, they were blamed, or blame themselves, for being unable to heal the first encounter. I think this speaks to a more general problem.

There are a lot of things that can affect you as a Healer, but which you have no direct control over. Acheron {link to Acheron Death Report add-on} will tell you how a player died – they were killed by shadow damage the healer couldn’t cope with – but it won’t tell you why. It won’t show that the Tank charged out of range, that the healer miss-clicked, or that the DPS is too low for the encounter. These are complex group dynamics that nobody thinks about when they go right, but when they go wrong a judgemental group can be quick to place blame, and an inexperienced Healer can easily feel responsible. So when things are going wrong, what is the best approach?


Don’t cry, just bring out the bag of tricks! There are many things that can go wrong, but even when it’s not your fault, that doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do about it. As a Priest you have a really versatile set of spells, and making the best use of them is something you can and will learn from practice. It is not immediately obvious all the situations where Pain Suppression is useful, but over time you do pick up some tricks.

My best trick is: Coordinate! Just like you, every player has a range of powerful spells to make use of. Ask the Tank to use Shield Wall, or Barkskin or whatever they have, as soon as they have agro. As this wears off you can cast Pain Suppression or Guardian Spirit. When this spell fades the Tank can use Last Stand or Vampiric Blood. Meanwhile ask the Shaman to Heroism/Bloodlust – that extra haste helps your Healing just as much as it does group DPS. By coordinating your abilities like this you keep the Tank up as long as possible and you give your DPS the best opportunity to kill off a mob before the Tank is overwhelmed.

The Tank might be leading the group, and that’s a tough job, but the healing buck stops with you. If you are struggling then it is up to you to be clear about what you need from your party. A reasonable Tank can hold agro on twenty mobs, but you’re the one who has to heal through it. It is really up to you to decide if crowd control is needed, if the Paladin should be using Concentration Aura, if you need Poison Cleanse Totem or not. Don’t shout down your team mates or ignore advice, but don’t be afraid to ask for the things you need to do your job. Shield Wall is a healing spell, it’s not helping the Tank hold agro and it doesn’t do any damage, it’s there for your benefit. The only difference is that instead of pressing a button, you have to ask nicely.

Learning the abilities of other classes takes time, but you can start with knowing your own abilities. A few of your emergency options are :


  • Pain Suppression/Guardian Spirit – don’t be afraid to use these aggressively as the Tank gains agro as this is when they are getting hit by the most mobs. If you’re struggling to heal the rest of the party, putting Pain Suppression on the Tank will give you time to focus on other players.

  • Divine Hymn – It’s easy to panic as a Healer when you see all those health bars start to fall. Divine Hymn is the solution to this, it’s simple, you fire and forget, and it gives you time to think.

  • Fade – Just as it’s the Tank’s job to help you as best he can, it’s your job to help him. Fade is a Tanking spell and you should be prepared to use it if the Tank is struggling.

The unfortunate thing about learning a new role in WoW is that often the environment you are learning in is not ideal. Learning to heal as you level up usually means PuGs, and they are usually the least coordinated, poorest geared, and (often) most impatient groups around. Bear that in mind and don’t get discouraged. Don’t blame your group, but neither should you take to heart every wipe or mistake which occurs. Skill, level and gear vary wildly in parties, and that means difficulty can vary as well. You might easily heal an instance with one group and yet be entirely unable to keep anybody alive the next time. Don’t be put off by a few wipes here and there so long as you are making the best of your own, and the other party member’s, abilities. There is a lot you can learn, don’t blame yourself too much until you know it.


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