Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A certain healing je ne sais quoi?

I’ve been thinking a bit over the last couple of weeks around what makes for a good healer. So being the serious healer I am (please no snickering guildies), I decided to do some empirical research. I wasn't really sure what empirical exactly meant, but it sounded good and serious research is often described as empirical. But what I did was ask some guildies and friends about what they thought made for a good healer.

The answers ranged from the humorous to the serious. Atania, as a rogue, classified a good healer as someone who knows that she exists. She said that if she dies, its her fault and heals are just a bonus for rogues. Ah, I've taught her well that Ata! Our hunter Chachi, classified a good healer as anyone who can keep his pet Joni alive. I try Chachi Hockey Pockey, I really do. But sometimes that pesky cat just won't cooperate!

Anyways, on a more serious note, here are 7 qualities that were mentioned. The first five are probably very obvious and familiar to all, but the last two gave me some things to think about:

1. Know your shit:
Wutan, our pally tank, talked about knowledge of the fight, your group and the other healers. Now knowledge of the fight is obvious. But consider what other classes make up your group. What kind of tank are you healing? What kind of dps? What kind of healers? Your healing strategy may be different when you heal with a priest instead of a pally.

2. Talk back
Wut mentioned letting the raid know what you need as a healer, what is working for you. Whether that is line of sight or aggro issues, or if you think you should be healing someone else. As much as Jess I'm sure wishes at times that I would "communicate" less, its important.

3. Anticipate and adapt:
Venezia, a warrior tank thought a good healer anticipates damage, not only to the tank, but to the raid. Jess talked about anticipation a bit as well, in terms of anticipating the positioning/location of not only the tanks, but the other healers and dps. Vel also talked about a healer being able to adapt, whether it is to a certain boss, a specific group composition, or when things go wrong.

4. Don't stand in the green stuff:
Jess mentioned situational awareness, which I think is more than not standing in the fire/green puddle/red rune, though that is the most obvious part. What is going on around you? What is the tank doing? Where are they? What is the dps doing? Where are they? I think without us even realizing it we are processing all of this information in case the shit hits the fan.

5. Triage baby, triage:
All healers know about prioritizing your heals. Keep the tank up, then yourself, then others. But I think what makes for a really good healer is the ability to process what is going on and prioritize immediately. Usually this has to be almost instinctual. You have no time to think about it.

6. Bring it
Jess thought that part of what makes a good healer comes down to confidence. A good healer welcomes a challenge and is confident in his/her abilities. Perhaps this confidence allows them to stay calm throughout the craziness? They know their abilities and the encounters and are going to do their darndest to keep folks up. When Jess tells me a certain encounter is a "healing fight", my response is: "Bring it".

7. Je ne sais quoi
My friend Rapalicious said that she thinks that you are either a great healer or you're not. It's something you've got. Hmmm interesting. Can someone become a good or better healer, but are certain folks just never going to be great healers? Could someone think about making sure they think about the first five points above, but just not have the reflexes to become great? The instinct?

Is there a certain healing je ne sais quoi where you either got it or you don't?


  1. Very interesting read! I'm an accidental healer, or as I've recently come to joke about with friends, I caught this healing disease from somewhere and I don't think there's a cure! When my first toon hit 80 (shaman), she switched resto and that was the begining of the end, now they're all healers. Maybe the game is more challenging as a healer now, and that's why I love it. That and I lack the epeen (zomg dps!) competitiveness and just love the challenge of keeping up with what an encounter can dish out. "Bring it!" was my favorite part of that list!

  2. Great list K!

    I have often ranted to myself "If I can watch 25 healing bars, keep everyone alive, and STILL avoid the damn fire/clouds/puddles, how can someone mashing 1112 repeatedly miss them!!!!"

    I do, however, think that there are people that are better dispositioned to be a healer than others =)

  3. @Valkure: Nice, welcome to our world. :)

    @Beru: I think I agree. Some folks just got it... whatever it is.

  4. Anticipation is a big one for me as a tank. My favorite healers are the ones who know when it's time to resort to heroic measures to save my butt or whether I've got it covered.

    That one usually comes down to healer/tank chemistry, though, which is developed over time.

  5. @Misneach: Yeah, Jess did mention the whole trust factor that comes into play especially after a tank and healer have rolled together a while.

    As Jess said to me, "there is a hidden multiplier when you are healing the ponytail".

  6. "Bring It" was definitely my favorite.

    I've always said the ability to not be in fire is what makes a good healer.

    A great healer having it and others just not... I don't know if I'm ready to go there. I think anyone could be a great healer; the deciding factors being do they have the massive amounts of time to learn their class outside the raid and do they have the computer and connection to support 110% performance?

  7. For me, healing is about caring. Everyone in a party should feel safe in your hands and know that, even if they die, you tried your best - as much as they did.

    Healers are, by defenition, people who have to work with a group to get things done and I am often surprised at how well a tank and healer who trust each other can push against those who don't - trying things which might otherwise seem tough.

    Personally, I have a distate for meter-love and feel that anyone who cares about meters more than actually keeping people alive are not good healers - no matter how much they spam their way up the meter.

    Communication is probably my favourite on your list (though I totally agree with them all ^^) - letting a group or raid know what you can and cannot handle is vital to sucess as is being able to communicate with other healers when you need help or can handle something on your own.


  8. @Aertimus: Well you say "Bring it" then I say "Its already been broughted!". Sigh I'm such a dork.

    @Aurik: AWMIGAWD... "healing is caring"... that just gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside. Seriously that phrase makes me want to be a better healer... or at least a nicer one.

  9. Je ne sais quoi...

    It's the same thing that makes a good DPS player....

    There are the people who memorize the rotations and what people tell them they're supposed to do (bad/mediocre healers)... Then there are those that learn the what, how, and why of every ability on their bar and practice using them in the appropriate situations so that they know what button to push and why they are pushing it before their conscious mind has even had an opportunity to acknowledge that it's happening (great healers).

    Want to become great? Stop going to Elitist Jerks and asking them to tell you how to play your class. Read about your abilities and decide how you think your class should be played on your own. Then go compare notes with everybody else to see if you missed something. 99% of everybody doesn't care to put in that effort though.

  10. @Ivan: good point. I wonder if all these "how to" websites have caused some folks to just mindlessly copy stuff instead of thinking it through themselves. When they mindlessly copy stuff, they can't react when things change or go wrong.