Hello Internet. My name is Beruthiel, and I’m a meter whore. I’m competitive, I want to be the best and when I’m not I do everything I can to make myself better. Each raid is a challenge, each boss a new opportunity. I’m not ashamed of these things. However, I also recognize that in addition to putting up big numbers I have a job to do, I need to keep everyone alive, and I don’t neglect this job in favor of my ego.
On Being a Dynamic Healer
This is a post that I’ve been sitting on for awhile, because I’ve debated how to address the topic. We all hear jokes about how druids do nothing but glide to glory on Tranquility and Rejuv, how paladins face roll on Holy Radiance, how priests have broken their Prayer of Healing hot keys and how shaman have…well, had a hard time this expansion so I won’t pick on them. While this is all true to an extent, there is something inherently wrong with people who truly believe, and subsequently practice, that this is what a successful healer does. Sure, a healer who is doing these things might be topping your meters, but does that make them a skilled, or even good, healer? It’s unlikely.
I pretty firmly believe that one of the biggest indicators of a truly exceptional healer is how they act in dynamic situations. Do they ignore that DPS that just got a parasite? Do they assume someone else is healing the tank as his life plummets? When everything goes wrong, do they adjust to the circumstances or do they continue to be one button wonders? Personally, I think you can tell more about a healer based on how they react when things are bad than you can by simply observing their output.
One of my favorite things to do when we have a trial healer is to see how they perform in non-current tier encounters. For example, in Dragon Soul there are really very few encounters that require you to think through your healing outside of “spam the area the raid is standing in, don’t let tank die”, that I love seeing how a healer handles a fight like Heroic Rag, Cho’gall or Sinestra. I’ve watched players who smash the meters completely fall apart on a fight like Yor’shaj. I’ve watched a healers who sailed through as top healers in Dragon Soul find that they are uncertain of how to heal a more interactive encounter – simply because they don’t know how to be dynamic and react to changing circumstances.
I think it’s important for all healers to not only challenge themselves to perform better in the measurable form of “big numbers” and “winning” the meters, but also to perform better as a healer. Look for debuffs that need to be cleansed. Look for debuffs that require special attention to just one player. Be an active participant in keeping the tank alive. Be quick to react when that DPS did something boneheaded and is hanging onto his life, praying for a heal. Always look for ways to challenge your skill as a healer that force you to be more dynamic.
For me, I push myself every encounter to try to find myself on top of both the “overall” healing done as well as on top of the healing done to the tank (or in heavy dispel fights, to be a competitive dispeller while being top on healing, etc). Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t. But I always try, I always look at the results of my efforts and I always work to improve. While I know how to boost my numbers for sheer output, I also recognize that by ignoring the tank (or dispels, or mechanics of the fight) I’m doing a disservice to my raid team. As such, I force myself to get off of my Rejuv and WG keys to cast that HT or Regrowth on the person with the parasite. I “waste” a swiftmend on the tank, standing all by himself, because he needs the healing more. While I always want to “win” the meter – I want to be a good healer more. As a result I try to find a resolution of those two desires and do my best to excel at both.
Ultimately, when it comes to healing, everyone’s life is your responsibility. Yes, casting that HT on the tank is going to lower your HPS – but guess what! Your tank didn’t die. Yes, using that GCD to dispel is going to lower your HPS, but you didn’t let someone die because you couldn’t be bothered to dispel. Yes, switching to the person with the parasite who is standing all alone means that you are losing valuable casting on the raid – but you kept them alive! To me, these things are equally, if not more, important than output in evaluating your skill as a healer. Are you healing in a vacuum, or are you aware and willing to take the appropriate action when needed and without instruction. When push comes to shove, I will always want the person who plays dynamically healing next to me on my healing team.
One of the things that I find interesting in new expansions, or any patch, when healing models change, is how easy it is to separate out healers who are dynamic and adaptable and healers who aren’t. Who struggles to continue to perform and who takes the changes to their tool kit and learns to master it. What happens when one button wonders lose that button? Are they still a successful healer? Can they handle new situations successfully? A lot of times, you find that they struggle to find their footing again – and sometimes never recover.
Something I’d encourage everyone to do is to make new challenges for yourself each raid that push you not only to put up big numbers but to become a more dynamic member of your healing team. Try to top raid healing and tank healing. Be the best dispeller and the best healer. Push yourself to stop casting to heal that person with the parasite. Create games for yourself to be more aware of what is happening in your raid – say the names of each person with the debuff on Zon’ozz in your head, mentally do a “stack” check for each group on Yor’shaj, know how many debuffs each tank has and how many more heals he can receive…even if you aren’t the one healing him!
There is so much more to healing than numbers. It is important to recognize this. If I, a self professed meter whore, can do it, everyone can! Don’t be static! Don’t live on that one button full of healing glory! Become more dynamic and always work to improve all aspects of being a healer, not just the one that puts your bar at the top. If you do, I promise you will find that you are a more successful healer in the long term – which ultimately is what really matters.
What do you do to try and be a more dynamic healer? Do you feel being dynamic is important?