It’s not your fault.
That is the most important thing I want to tell healers over and over again. This is something that I probably should have said a long time ago, but came to the forefront recently. It’s something my sister and I have been discussing repeatedly and at length lately, owing to the fact that she, too, falls prey to the same mentality. What inspired me to write this article now – i.e. why it became such a priority at this point in time – is that, by pure happenstance, more than one healer friend of mine had talked to me yesterday about healing, asking if there was anything they could do to improve. They were disheartened, unsure about themselves, unable to figure out what they were doing wrong. All they knew was that people were winding up dead and they couldn’t fix it. I watched both of them in action, and both of them were doing nothing overtly wrong. They were using the right spells at the right time. They were using CDs appropriately. They were performing triage in the same order that I would have done, but people still died. It wasn’t their fault.
In both cases it was pure stupid causing the deaths. No CC, no interrupts, tanks not moving out of stuff, tanks refusing to use CDs, dps standing in the bad. In short: avoidable damage is what was causing them grief. So I told them as much, and reminded them that Blizzard wants those people to die. You aren’t supposed to save them anymore. You aren’t supposed to faceroll heroics with no CC and AoE things down. Maybe you can pull it off sometimes, but when you do, you aren’t meeting the minimums, you’re gaming the system to do things you weren’t intended to do. And you can’t do it without a good group (like, say, one that’s on top of interrupts). Somehow this extraordinary group achievement has become the expected standard of the healer in every pull of every run.
Guess what, folks? This isn’t Wrath anymore: mechanics matter. In Wrath, the group was at the mercy of the healer: a good healer could keep you up through pretty much anything, regardless of how much you screwed up. Blizzard decided to flip that trend on its head. Now, a good healer can only make up for so much fail. You’ve heard it before, but now it’s literally true: you can’t heal stupid. If the dps are on the ball, don’t pull threat and interrupt all the nasty abilities that need to never go off, you can rush through an instance with minimal healing. If the tank can’t keep aggro, the dps are standing in stuff, and nobody is interrupting the attack that takes 50% of max health from the target, then well, you’re in for a world of hurt. Healers can’t bootstrap you through an instance anymore. In many cases, even a good tank & healer combo can’t pull you through.
So I’ll say it again, to all of you who want to listen, and especially for those that should listen but choose not to: it’s not your fault. I told one of those friends, who was concerned about his tree healing, that if a dps was taking more damage than a Rejuvenation could fix then they were probably doing something wrong. He didn’t believe me. Then we ran a couple random regulars together and I told him he was fine. So we ran some heroics together, including Grim Batol (supposedly one of the tougher heroics). After we finished he whispered me and thanked me for making him feel better about his healing. He also commented that he was watching recount and I was dead last on damage taken in every single encounter in every single run. I told him that as a healer myself, when I dps I prioritize survival over damage. In other words, if I’m in an unavoidable damage phase, I pop a defensive CD (iceblock, barkskin, etc) to minimize damage taken. And if I’m 2 seconds into a 2.3 second cast and some green goo appears at my feet? I get the f%*k out of dodge now, nearly-finished-cast-be-damned. Don’t worry about prolonging the fight; soaking up damage to eek out a little extra dps drains the healer of mana far more quickly than a few extra seconds of healing only the tank. I’m not saying that I never mess up and take avoidable damage. We all make mistakes. But I am saying that I differ, fundamentally, from most DPSers in that I actively avoid damage as a priority over all else, even dealing damage. In other words: mechanics first, then pew-pew.
I think, or at least I hope, it was a bit of a revelation for him. For me, a rejuvenation really was enough to keep me up. Some of the dps took nearly as much damage as the tank and required a bit more attention. You get a group of the latter type of people and you’ll want to pull your hair out. I know a certain sister of mine who regularly runs with a couple friends and friends-of-friends that are very much like that. They may well be good people, and they’re fun to be around most of the time, but stick them in a heroic and they stand in the bad and then bitch about dying. Well, I have news for the healers that couldn’t save them: it’s not your fault. And I have news for those people, too: shut up and get out of the bad. But not in that order.