The Healing Not-a-meme

So, I’ve seen the healing not-a-meme floating around and I figured I’d go ahead and answer it as my primary healer, my priest. If I get to feeling spunky I may even fill it out from a paladin’s perspective in the near future.

What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer?

Salvanya, Holy Priest

What is your primary group healing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)

A little bit of everything. I do 5-mans, 10-mans and PVP, depending on what I feel like and what I can find a group for. I don’t do 25-mans unless I have to. I feel like I get lost in the shuffle with that many people.

What is your favorite healing spell for your class and why?

Divine Hymn, because if there’s ever an “oh, crap!” moment I can count on it to pull me out of it. I love Renew, and I use it more than I probably should, but there’s just something about the safety net of Divine Hymn that holds a special place in my heart. It throws around an insane amount of healing in a very short time and I feel really powerful whenever I use it. I can almost hear the music in my head.

What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?

Greater Heal. I tend to use it less often, even than the oft-maligned Lightwell, and despite the prohibitively-long CD on Divine Hymn. It’s not that I don’t like it, and I’ll use it when I have to, but more often than not I just don’t trust it. If somebody is damaged enough to need it, they’re probably taking too much damage to wait on the cast time, even with serendipity up. This is to say nothing of how annoying it is to have half or more of my very expensive GHeal wasted by another healer who didn’t realize that a big heal was incoming. If I were called on to tank-heal more (thankfully my usual group knows I don’t like to do it) it would probably be Divine Hymn, despite it being my favorite, simply because it has a long CD and is an emergency-only type spell.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why?

Utility. We have a spell in our arsenal for every occasion. My sister has been scared to try priest healing because she says it looks complicated. Really, having so many spells makes things much easier on me. There is a spell for any situation and to me that makes priest healing very intuitive in an “if X happens, cast Y” sort of way. As others have pointed out, healing on the priest makes me feel like I’m ready for anything. I really enjoy priest flexibility.

What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why?

I have to agree with what so many others have said and say single-target burst. If somebody is getting low I usually shield > renew > CoH or PoM/then CoH and if this leaves them at at least half (and are still taking damage) I try to squeeze in a Greater Heal. It’s the opposite of burst, but it usually gets the job done. This leads me to feel like tank healing is our weakest role, but even so, it’s usually doable. It’s like saying that our healer report card shows straight A’s except for a C+ in tank healing (maybe a solid B if you’re specced/glyphed for it). It may be our lowest point, but typically we can still do an adequate job (not good or great, but acceptable).

In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you?

Raid healing or floating “spot healer” – I enjoy throwing a hot or a shield here and there as needed, though as mentioned before, I tend to prefer 10-mans. I may start doing more 25-mans soon, though, if I can find a good group. The Holy Priest is ideally suited to the “spot healer” role in a 25-man raid: it’s where the flexibility of a priest really shines, IMO. I like the idea of being the guy who floats around making everyone else’s tasks easier. Bricks may get all the glory, but if you’re going to make a brick wall, you’re going to need some good mortar, too.

What healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why?

Holy Paladins, definitely. I’m probably unfairly biased because my sister is a Holy Paladin, but I also like that they need so little help on tank healing. I try to lend a shield or Renew when needed no matter who is on tank healing, and of course the best way to get a PoM bouncing is to cast it on a tank. However, I find myself with more attention to give to the raid (which is, after all, my assignment), when there is a big-heal nuker on the tanks, leaving me with only throwing the occasional CD the tank’s way. Often she can even cast a quick FoL to help me out on raid heals.

What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why?

Discipline Priests. I have nothing personal against disc priests, and when I’m not healing I love to have one around. Their shields are simply amazing. However, I tend to stick to 10-mans and whenever there is a second priest I feel like I bring less to the raid. I can’t offer a unique buff when I’m doubled-up, and my shield is useless compared to theirs so I have to change up my playstyle and avoid the instinct to throw a shield on red or orange health bars.

What is your worst habit as a healer?

I tend to tunnel-vision in on the health bars and lose track of everything else, like my mana bar, the other healer’s mana bars, and the fact that I’ve been standing in fire for the last 10 minutes. I also tend to watch the tanks too closely, because I’ve spent so much time healing 5-mans, where the tank is my responsibility. I know it probably annoys the tank healers, and I want them to know that it’s not that I don’t trust them, even as I am doing it I’m screaming at myself (“what are you doing? that’s not you’re assignment!”), it’s just that it’s a hard habit to break.

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing?

The same as it is on any toon in any role: rude people. An unfortunate side effect of being the healer is that quite often people look at you to cover other people’s mistakes, which tends to lead to the idea that everything is the healer’s fault. If the rogue dies, it was the healer’s fault (never mind that he ate the heavily-telegraphed whirlwind move that he was supposed to run away from).  If the warlock dies, it’s the healer’s fault (nevermind the fact that he just lifetapped six times in a row while throwing off every spell in his arsenal at a mob with spell-reflect up during the heaviest AoE phase of the battle). If the healer has to drink after the pull, he is serenaded by a chorus of complaints about how much he sucks (and the group may not even wait), despite the fact that the reason he’s so low on mana is that everyone is taking so much avoidable damage by standing in puddles of acid or that the tank has stacked stamina and only stamina to the point that he has half the avoidance expected for his class. Unfortunately, a talented healer can usually brute-force his or her way through a lot of mistakes. I say unfortunately, because it’s all led to a sort of “just heal through it” mentality in which mechanics only matter if you’re the healer and if you don’t manage to cover for the group’s laziness then you fail at your job. It all gets quite annoying. I mean, it’s one thing to expect the healer to cover for your shortcomings, but it’s quite another to expect him to take abuse while doing it.

Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing?

Mostly, yes. There are things I would like to tweak here and there, but I feel I’m in as good a position as most classes, and better than some. As I mentioned before, the priest toolbox is adequately stocked. There may be healing assignments that I enjoy less, or ones that I feel better-suited to fill, but there is no healing assignment that I feel like I just can’t do, which is more than I can say for my Holy Paladin.

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer?

Well, obviously I prefer that nobody dies during the battle. If somebody does die, I check to see whether it was something I could have reasonably prevented. The mage getting one-shotted because he was standing in melee range during a cleave doesn’t trouble me overmuch. I also like to check recount to see my overhealing. I don’t look at this as a make-or-break stat, I just like to heal as efficiently as possible. When I see my overheal creeping much above 20-30% I consider changing up which spells I use in which situations. Finally, I like to look at which spells I used most/ which ones accounted for most of my healing, and the uptime stats to help me gauge how efficient I was and point me in the direction of which spells I might need to use more (I tend to let Prayer of Mending slip longer than I should).

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class?

People tend to think that fear ward is spammable. I can’t count the number of times that a party member has chewed me out for not using fear ward even though I did. Sorry, but I can fear ward only one target and only once every 3 minutes. I can usually squeeze in an extra one through prudent planning (i.e. the mobs in the next corridor fear, so I’m going to cast it now, and hopefully there will be only a few seconds on the CD when it gets used). That being said, fear ward gets put on a tank or healer, depending in the fight. Sorry, but dps need not apply, so you wouldn’t have gotten a fear ward, anyway, Mr. Yippy.

What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn?

Probably just to get a handle on what all of the spells do and when to use them. By this, I mean not just how much each spell heals for, but also how many targets it heals and in what way. For example, with my current set-up Renew heals for more than my Flash Heal, and it costs less mana. However, the fact that it is a HoT means that it has a different use than the direct-cast Flash Heal. The fact that the healing is slow and comes in a trickle of smaller chunks isn’t necessarily good or bad, nor better or worse than Flash Heal’s single larger block of healing. Too many new priests categorize one or the other as inferior, looking for that one do-it-all spell, but both spells have their uses. Learning how and when to use each one is key to a new priest’s success, in my opinion. Again, priests are very reactive healers: we need to see a situation and react, and we have the arsenal to react well to a lot of situations.

If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see (i.e. lots of overhealing, low healing output, etc)?

I tend to have abnormally low overheal (sometimes less than 10%). I suspect this means that I am sniping the other healer(s)’ heals far more often than I intend to with all my smart heals and aoe heals. Sorry, guys. They would also notice that I love my Renew a whole bunch. Like, an unhealthy sort of secret-cookies-and-milk-at-midnight sort of love.

Haste or Crit and why?

I’ve never met a stat I didn’t like. My priest is the only toon I have that I don’t feel the least bit guilty about gemming for every single socket bonus (I usually gem for socket bonuses anyway, because socket bonuses give me a warm fuzzy feeling, but on the priest I don’t feel like I’m “wasting” item points because there is no one “best” stat to stack). I try to get a balance of everything, mostly just taking what’s on the gear I can get and gemming for Intellect, Spirit, and Spellpower. If I had to choose only one stat, and only between these two, I’d probably go for haste, since a faster cast time is rarely a bad thing, while crit  isn’t as reliable and even when it procs, it sometimes still gets wasted on overheal.

What healing class do you feel you understand least?

I’ve never played a shaman (or, well, my shaman is level 16), so probably Resto Shaman. My druid is still little (61, as of this posting), and he’s feral, but I’ve played around with the spells enough to get an understanding of how they work. Between that and the large number of resto druids in my circle of friends, I feel a have a basic grasp of them, even if not as firm as the two healers that I have (Holy Priest, Holy Pally).

What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in healing?

I use Healbot for healing and decursive for cleanses. Yes, I know that Healbot can handle cleansing, but I found it easier to just use decursive than to try and sneak in a key-modified click into an already pretty full set-up. I only have a few macros: one to announce that I’ve placed a lightwell, one to warn the raid that I’m OOM, and a panic button that simultaneously triggers Inner Focus, my SP trinket, and Divine Hymn.

I don’t use a raid UI anymore. I used to use X-Perl, but I found it a bit awkward at times. In the end, I found it easier to see the info I needed to see with the default UI. I could probably tweak a custom UI to make it exactly what I want, but I’m satisfied making do with what I have, for now. The only feature I really miss is the ability to mouse-over a buff and see who has it and who is missing it. However, since healbot monitors for missing buffs I can see who is missing a buff, so it’s a small matter to check and see which one(s) he is missing.

Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?

I try to get a balance between intellect, spirit and spellpower, everything else I just take what’s on my gear, but stacking these three stats actually gives me a pretty good balance of throughput and regen. I tend to be more worried about mana regen than throughput, because my worst fear is that a raid will wipe because I went OOM 2 minutes into the battle. When I started looking into rolling a holy priest, the weakness that everyone harped on about was mana regen: “Holy has mana issues!” was a pretty common theme. As a result, I’ve stacked regen pretty heavily, and taking a look at the philosophy that I should end an encounter with only a tiny sliver of mana in reserve, I have probably stacked regen too heavily for the sorts of assignments I usually do. On occasion I do get low, but that’s usually without taking my mana-recovery CDs (shadowfiend and Hymn of Hope) or even a mana potion into account.

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