I read a lot of blogs and discussions within the Druid community and even some outside the Druid realm. Everyone is discussing the solo aspect of healing and how to maximize yourself, your healing, and your value to your raid. Of course, this is always important, and whether you are looking to join a guild and need to show your stuff or you’re already in a guild and need to squeeze every last HP out of your mana bar, you should always be pushing yourself to improve.
What I have rarely seen, though, is a discussion on how to heal effectively with others. How does one intermingle with other classes, even other Druids, and be able to heal at their peak while assisting others max out their potential?
“Comon, Goose, this is easy stuff we’re talking about.”
Ok, maybe to the more experienced of us or those who have been healing with the same group for years this is old stuff, but these are things I learned the hard way due to rapid guild changes.
First off, I cannot emphasize enough the fact that you are part of a team when it comes to healing. Whether you 2 heal fights or, like me, 3 heal them, you are but a gear in the machine. Now, obviously if you’ve got content on farm, outgear the fight, and choose to carry another healer through to help gear them, that’s another story altogether. I’m talking about your normal raiding group.
Consider my current healing team: Restoration Druid (Me), Restoration Shaman (Thelon/Cainon), and whatever other healer joins us for the week. We are currently shifting regularly between a Holy Paladin and a Holy Priest, depending on who’s available that night.
Now, first off I’ve been healing with Thelon since Dragon Soul when he was healing on his Holy Paladin Cainon. He is familiar with my healing style, my reaction speeds, and my humor. Humor may seem like it doesn’t fit in right in this topic, but the ability to get along with your co-healers in and out of raid can greatly increase your Symbiosis once in raid. Heheh, ya see what I did there? ….right
At the same time, I am well aware of the same aspects of him. I know that if something happens and I am not in range to handle it, he will already be on it, and the same goes the other way around. Sometimes one of us gets occupied taking care of something that detracts from our healing; all we have to do is say “It’s all you” and the situation is understood.
Which brings me to another point of healing in a team: Trust.
“Well of course I trust my co-healers, Goose.”
Do you? Seriously, do you? Consider times when the raid is split and the two healers have to heal their own half of the raid. Forget the abstract example, consider Elegon (for those of you who have seen it on Normal mode). In 10-man (my raiding environment), the fight has to be 2 healed. During Phase 2, the raid has to split to deal with the orbs and then burn down the pillars. When you run off with your half of the raid and your co-healer runs off with the other half, do you trust them to be able to hold up their end? I don’t mean saying it’s their responsibility; I’m talking about do you watch the health bars of their group and start to worry when the bars drop below half? Now we’re getting somewhere.
Mind you, Elegon is manageable once proper gear is acquired, but during progression on a boss like this, the stress is certainly there. On any fight where groups are divided for mechanics, don’t be afraid to let some of your AoEs or even single target HoTs find their way to the other healer’s group so long as it does not detract from your own group and mana is not a concern. During our attempts leading up our Elegon kill, I would spread a Rejuvination or two into the other side of the raid; when the raid collapsed onto Elegon for each set of orbs, I would cast Wild Growth on myself as I stood as close to center of the raid as I could, allowing it to spread among the two groups. Now, this was not because I didn’t trust my co-healer (of all the healers I have ever met, I trust him the most), it was a quality of life thing, helping to lessen the impact of the orbs when the exploded as DPS killed them.
Know the abilities of your co-healers or, more accurately, know their limits. I don’t know all the spells of a Restoration Shaman, but I’ve been healing with one long enough to know the main stuff and to know what he can pull off on his own and what he will need help with. The same goes for him about my own abilities, albeit he has an 85 Druid of his own. Know the major Cool Downs of your co-healers. Mana Tide Totem? Healing Stream Totem? Divine Hymn? Spirit Shell? Hymn of Hope? Aura Mastery? Devotion Aura? Revival? Do you know what each of these do? Read up on them; this isn’t a post where I will review the details of each. I don’t mean know the ins and outs of the classes you’re healing alongside, but you should be aware that Healing Stream Totem is simply placed and not channeled. Hymn of Hope and Divine Hymn are both channeled, but only Divine Hymn is a healing spell and only Holy Priests have it. Hymn of Hope can be cast by any priest and can be a life saver if cast by a Shadow Priest.
Communication, communication, communication. I cannot stress enough the importance of healer chatter. My guild’s third raid group, my second raid group, only allows the raid leader, tanks, and healers to talk during boss fights. Communication is key. But sometimes there isn’t enough time in a boss fight to chatter everything that needs to be said. If others are talking in vent before a pull and you need to relay a message, whisper your co-healer. Many a boss fight has been saved by a pre-boss message or even a whisper half-way through the fight…not that I recommend typing when you’re suppose to be healing…
Spend time outside of raid talking with your co-healers in a more casual environment. Ask them what their spells do, what their class strengths and weaknesses are, what their “OH CRAP!” button is. Knowing what tools the other guys have will help you to use yours more effectively. Did you know that Shamans increase the health of the player they’re healing? Did you know that Discipline Priests priests put a buff on players by healing them that allows future heals to heal for more? It’s called Grace, read up on it. Oh, and Grace doesn’t affect Atonement.
Over time you and your co-healers should begin to work more in sync, and what I have outlined above can help to greatly increase the synergy. You’ll get to the point that a single phrase can communicate the next 30 seconds of the fight. No, I’m not talking about “Initiate Plan Delta Alpha Tango!” I know that my Shaman co-healer will drop his Mana Tide Totem once all the healers have burned through a set amount of mana. The problem with this can be that my Innervate and his Mana Tide Totem don’t stack, effectively wasting my CD. My healing addon lets me track the mana of party members; if I’m planning to use my Innervate and the other two are starting to approach the point that he’s going to use his Totem, all I have to say is “Hold on to that Mana Tide Totem.” Just from that, he knows that I’m aware of the other two closing in on the need for mana, that I’m lower on mana than they are, and that I want to utilize my Innervate before he uses his Totem. Sometimes he drops it shortly after my Innervate drops off, other times he doesn’t end up using it because raid damage has slowed and our mana bars are refilling passively.
The trick to the example above is that you have to also be aware of the other healers and their mana burn rates. Sure, you want to be able to use your Innervate as much as possible, but by telling a Shaman to hold off on his Totem, are you jepardizing him and the other healer later in the fight? You must be aware of these things.
Finally, practice. LFR is a terrible place to practice working together; don’t even bother with it. Every time your raid wipes you should be chatting, working together to determine what you could have done as healers to keep the raid up just a little bit longer. Sometimes it’s a mechanic that one-shots the raid because someone screwed up. Other times you and your healers are sucking wind for mana at the end of a fight; were you guys playing around at the beginning trying to outheal each other?
All things in time. Take what I’ve said here and think about it and, as always, leave your thoughts in the comments below.