Normally, I present info from the uni-directional point of view of da tank, and tank alone.
I certainly try and keep an open mind and look at things from different angles, but until I’ve been there, it’s hard to have specifics.
This time, I’ve got a few things that playing a new healer in heroics has brought to my attention that I thought would be fun to discuss.
First, I’m not really new to healing. I dual-specced my Druid quite a while back, got setup with Tree healing, and I love it. It is the absolute perfect accompaniment to the Bear tanking mindset; highly mobile, pre-emptive, heal them before they even know they needed it kind of healing.
As a Bear tank, one of our strengths is the mobile AoE. We like to run and gun. :)
As a Tree healer, our greatest strength (in my opinion) is the predominance of instant cast HoTs. We can also run and gun. We’re all about running and.. well, and leafing along. Why look… synergy.
As a Tank in instances, if I see I have a Tree healer, I know that I can remain mobile and healing can continue as normal. I’m not irritating the healer by always being on the move. I watch mana levels on the party as I pull, but I know that I won’t be leaving a swearing healer in my wake.
I’ve got a Priest that I had healed with a few times back in Burning Crusade before I went Shadow, so I know about that a little bit. And Cassie has a max level Paladin that she plays Ret and Holy in groups, and who has raid healed a few times, so I know a bit about that healing style from watching her and hearing her side of things. I know that being a healer whose main healing spells have relatively long cast times can be annoying, and even stressful if the tank doesn’t take that into account on things like Culling of Stratholme.
Now, I’ve just completed a slew of heroics as a new Shaman healer to give me a fresh perspective.
Here is the one suggestion I’d like to make when you go in to tank with an unknown healer; remember that not every healer uses instant cast spells.
Yes, every healer can follow along and keep up when tanks hustle through instances. Tree healers have an easier time of it than the others, but just taking the Shaman as an example, Lesser Healing Wave is pretty darn powerful, and with appropriate levels of haste on your gear, it’s relatively speedy. Riptide is a nice instant cast, and Nature’s Swiftness plus Chain Heal or Healing Wave gives you another big instant hit if things are moving fast and you just CAN’T take 2.5 seconds minus haste to get a normal Chain Heal off.
But the thing is, while all healing classes can heal on the run and do it very well, remember that there is a timing sequence here, and as has been pointed out by so many people, tanks set the pace of the run.
Everything flows from the tank. The tank runs fowards, the rest follow along. We’ll not linger overlong on DPS that run forward to attack before the tank does to hustle things along, okay? There is a special place in hell reserved just for them.
The tank runs forward, as I said, followed by the DPS who engage the mobs, followed by the healer, who catches up, stands still and remains poised to heal. Or immediately launches into healing and healing and healing.
If the healer has long cast time heals they want to use, they may begin pre-emptive casting, and then move at the last moment to interrupt their own heal so as not to waste mana.
Mana on a long cast is spent when the spell goes off, and not at the start of casting. As I’m sure everyone knows, you can begin casting your 2.5 second long heal while everyone is still at full at the start of the pull, and if the target just happens to take damage, you can let it go off looking like a healing genius… and if the target’s still at full, you can hop in place and break your own cast to save mana. No harm done, right?
I’m only bringing this up because if you, the tank, run up and grab mobs, then the DPS runs up and opens up on them, then the healer runs up and stops and begins casting… if the mobs are dead 2 seconds later and the tank takes off again, that 2.5 second cast time heal ain’t going off before your butt is out of range. At the very least, if everyone runs off the millisecond that the mobs are dead, and the mobs die like they have been from the uber-DPS people have these days, then sometimes not everyone is healed back up from party damage. Ya’all take off while the healer was still casting his second spell.
Now the healer has to start running again to catch up, not everyone is at full, and start falling back on super fast casts and instant casts only to try to get folks topped up before the next pause, or start out at a negative on the next group.
Does it matter? 90% of the time, no. But it can be stressful, and why should you stress the healer for nothing?
When it does matter is when the tank grabs tons of mobs because, oooh look, I’m a rock star, the DPS gleefully blows them up, and then the tank, at 50% health, Feral Charges himself directly at the next big pack, or packs, or even better rounds a corner and charges the boss when you were still trying to get your long cast off.
Healers just love it when you start a boss fight when everyone is still at around 50% health or less, and the healer has been chain casting to catch up.
Again, it’s not a big deal, no reason to whine, most healers will be bored if you slow down too much.
There is a lot of satisfaction to be felt in running at top speed as a healer, keeping everyone alive and near full all the time without needing a pity break. It’s something the healers I know take pride in, in not needing everyone to be waiting around on the healer.
But it’s something to be aware of if you’re the tank, and the only thought in your mind is “Gotta get the aggro. The aggro. Gotta get the aggro.”*
You may be having a great time running around grabbing lots of stuff, and holding aggro, and having a fast run. The DPS may be loving the pace.
But the healer may just be feeling a little stressed having to chain cast long cast time spells non-stop, and not getting a moment to catch their breath because if they ain’t casting, they’re drinking for two seconds before getting up and running along after you again.
Really, all it takes is saying, “Hey, if my pace is too fast, just let me know, okay? I can hold off for a second for mana or heals. No problem.”
I bet if you say that, then again, you’ll almost never hear anyone say anything. But at least the healer knows you give a shit.
And it can also help you identify asshat DPS that throw a hissyfit at the very idea you might pause for anything, anything at all. I like to know who they are for my ignore list. :)
For the record, I’m not going to post my Shaman’s name or a link just now, because while it’s not any big secret (or all that hard to figure out), my gear right now ain’t anything anyone needs to see.
I ran a bunch of heroics, but I took most of yesterday off to do something else; level Enchanting on my Shaman from 0 to 315, on my way to 350.
I got stopped by the need for a gazillion Arcane Dust, but since none of my gear had been enchanted yet after just dinging 80, I just cast them on myself over and over.
I really don’t need somebody following a character link, and then being an asshat because I’ve got a +1 Stam enchant on my bracers, or a Mana Prime on my chest piece, ya know? I’ve been buying the big ticket end game enchants on gear that’s going to last, like my Zom’s shield, but that’s about it.
Once my enchanting is done, yes I’m sure I’ll replace those enchants. If I was in all epics, then I might leave them just to freak people out, but when my gear is all starter stuff, I don’t have any room to have stupid enchants as a goof.
Anyway, I did have a lot of fun healing on my Shaman, and aside from my very first run, they were all smooth as could be. Well, aside from a Drak’theron Keep run, bt that was mostly due to some mid-run sillyness and joking. :)
It was pretty amazing, how much of a difference there is in a tank’s pace. A little pause between pulling big groups of just a second or two, no more, makes a huge difference on a healer with long cast times in staying on top of everything without feeling too rushed.
Halls of Lightning, Oculus a couple times, Utgardt Keep, Utgardt Pinnacle, Gundrak a few times, Drak’theron Keep… I saw a nice range of places, and they were all fun. None of them were any problem at all, but tank pace and placement counts for so much in making the difference between a fun run and a stressful one.
More updates will follow… after my Enchanting gets better. :)
*For those that remember those old Dunkin Donuts commercials with the old guy that walked around in a daze waking up to go and make the donuts… “Gotta make the donuts, the donuts, zzzz”