8 Things Your Healer Wants You to Know in Battlegrounds
(As Conveyed by Famous Movie One-Liners)
Ok, so I’ve been watching a bunch of movies lately, and my sister and I have once again been doing lots of lowbie Battlegrounds. It’s been kind of a mixed bag, as far as that goes, but on our pair of Disc priests we’ve gone a combined 18-5 in BGs, so we’re doing alright for ourselves. As you might expect, when the team is winning, everything is sunshine and roses. We always love to hear “nice heals” or “great heals” and though we hear it often, you can never hear it often enough. The thing is, when the team is losing, it’s always “c’mon heals” or “heals are shit” or some other variation on “I am super special awesome and could not possibly be to blame, therefore it’s the heals’ fault.” Well, I hate to throw a monkey-wrench into your whole “carry me harder” plan, but there are a few things you should know before you open your big mouth in BG chat…
“Come With Me if You Want to Live” – The Terminator (1984)
I want to heal you. Really, I do. The thing is, I have these pesky little rules I have to follow. You need to be in range. You need to be in Line of Sight. Chances are, I’ll need to stop moving long enough to cast. This means that if you are running ahead of me like a madman, especially if I become sapped or stunned (you may notice this by the speech bubble that appears above my head informing you of this), and/or you’re blowing speed-boost CDs to travel faster than I can, you aren’t going to be getting any heals. You know whose fault that is? Hint: it’s yours, for being a dumb-ass.
As a healer, each BG I’ll have somewhere between 9-14 other people, the vast majority of whom expect me to be their personal immortality cheat code. I can’t chase down and be in range of all of them. What’s more, even if I could, I wouldn’t want to. It’s not my responsibility to run after 14 people with a wet-nap to wipe your booboos. You want heals? Help me out enough to be where you can get them.
“I ain’t got time to bleed.” – Predator (1987)
Ok, so you’ve mastered the first lesson up there, or you are at least non-retarded/lucky enough to actually be in range of my heals. Good for you! What now, though? Wait a second, my heals stopped. What gives?
Turn around. Ok, you see those 3,4, 5, (or more) enemies wailing away on me? They’ve diverted your healing into another target: me. If I’m busy fighting for my own survival I probably won’t be able to spare much, if any, healing for you. If you would be so kind as to kill or maybe even CC one or two of them that’d be just ducky.
This is called peeling: the idea is that you’re going to put enough pressure (through attacks, stuns, other CC) onto somebody that they can’t afford to ignore you anymore. If they’re attacking you, they aren’t chain-CCing me, which means that I’ll be able to heal you. It’s a win-win. If they continue to ignore you, they die. If they switch to you, they die. As a healer, it’s always better for them to be attacking you instead of me. If they’re attacking you, I can focus all of my healing on you, and I won’t be suffering chains of CC, silences, or piling up the pushback from taking hits. This isn’t to say that I will always be able to heal through anything, but the best chance of survival for both of us is for them to think (incorrectly) that you are a bigger threat than I am.
“Where does he get those wonderful toys?!?” – Batman (1989)
Especially at the lower levels, there are tons of useful little gadgets that help you out. Most of these come from professions, but they usually don’t require professions to use them. Potions, bandages, dynamite, healthstones, food, buffs (flasks/elixirs/scrolls). The boosts from these things may not be powerful enough to carry you through poor play, but wise and efficient use of them can be devastating. Sometimes even a little boost is enough to push you over the top. These things become particularly important to pure classes because what limited self-healing they have usually comes at higher levels.
“I know Kung Fu.” – The Matrix (1999)
Knowledge is power. One of the great things about add-ons is that they give you a lot of information. Now, this information is almost always information that the game itself gives you anyway, but the add-ons throw some neon lights on the sign so that you’re sure not to miss it.
Which add-ons you will find useful varies from player to player, and has a lot to do with your role and spec, but these are some that almost everyone will find useful:
SaySapped: When you become sapped, you automatically /say “Sapped” to draw the attention of your nearby teammates. Only some of them will be smart enough to stick around, anyway, but it’s good to know who is mentally functional when deciding on healing priorities.
Battle Herald: This handy dandy little gizmo serves two useful functions: first, it replaces some default UI elements (like the scoreboard) with a better version that gives you more information, more quickly. Secondly, it announces system messages (like “The Alliance has Assaulted the Stables”) aloud in a professionally-voice-acted sound clip. The reason this makes such a difference is that you a) have to look away from the action less often, and b) gain more information more quickly when you do have to glance at the scoreboard.
BG Defender: This addon creates a mini-ui to call for help. It automatically detects your current location (i.e. “The Lumber Mill”) and inserts it into your cry for help. Simply click the number 4 on the UI and it delivers the following message to BG chat: “Lumber Mill, 4 Incoming.” It even has an all clear button to let your teammates know that you killed the incursion and they can stop rushing to your rescue. This is invaluable for saving time while calling out incomings. The earlier you are able to call for help, the more time your teammates have to come to your aid. Every second you save on typing is a second of travel time for the cavalry.
“You know what the difference is between you and me? I make this look good.” – Men in Black (1997)
Skill is important in PVP. Really, really important. Still, gear is not inconsequential. Better gear means you have more health, hit enemies harder, and generally perform better. Regardless of your skill level, better gear will help you out. This is especially true at low levels. If you have half the HP of everyone else in the BG you are wearing a bullseye on your back. No matter how awesome I am at healing, I can’t heal through a one-shot. The more HP you have, the more wiggle room I have. That’s not just good for you, that’s good for everyone. The less often I have to focus on you, the more often I can spread heals around.
When the time for triage comes, better gear is one of the factors I consider. It may seem harsh or elitist, but I have to go with the guy that I feel gives us the best shot at winning/accomplishing the goal. That’s generally the guy that I have the best shot at keeping alive. In fairness, the guy that interrupts, CCs, and peels the enemy is also at the top of my list. Not coincidentally, the people who take PVP seriously enough to have good gear also tend to be the ones who take it seriously enough to know what they are doing. Help yourself out: be one of those guys.
“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few… or the one.” – Star Trek II (1982)
There comes a time in every Battleground when I am left with a choice: follow you, or do what we need to win the BG. Let me just tell you now, for the record: I’ll choose the objective every day of the week and twice on Sunday. This means that you should know what you’re doing and how to do it. Don’t just trade HKs with the enemy team.
Fight at the Flag: If you are defending a flag, consolidate your defense by fighting at it. A common tactic is to draw away the main defense from the flag while a stealther sneaks behind to claim it. Don’t fall for this simple ploy. On the other hand, if you are a stealther and you see the enemy abandoning the flag, take advantage of their carelessness. If I am a healer and I am defending the flag, that’s where I will be. If you want heals, don’t go fight on the road or get pulled into a maze of tunnels. These things are range and LoS nightmares.
Fight at the Flag II – Fight with Your Friends: If you are in a capture-the-flag match (such as WSG), stick with your friendly flag carrier (FC or FFC) or else attack the enemy flag carrier (EFC) as a group. Fighting in the middle of the field rarely accomplishes anything, which is why most people refer to it as “derping at mid.” Streaming in one or two at a time against their team is a great way to make sure that you are always at a disadvantage. Take a second to group up and fight as a team.
Fight at the Flag III – In Soviet BGs, Flag Fights at You: If you are the flag carrier, it’s almost always better to stick with your entourage than to run ahead. Sure, sometimes circumstances might align such that making a break for it will help you cap, but most of the time, all you’re doing is running away from your heals and peels. This makes you a really easy target. Understand that leaving the group is always a risk: if you intend to do it, make sure you’ve done the math and feel that it’s worth the gamble.
Fight at the Flag IV – Highway to the Danger Zone: One of the surest ways to separate yourself from your group is to pick up a speed boost (or use a CD to grant you one) when none of your teammates can follow suit. Sure, if you’re flying solo or you’re making a mad dash past their last line of defense, go for it. Just be aware that if you are traveling with a group, and you take the only speed boost, you will very quickly run yourself right out of range of their protection, especially if you were faster than them to start with (I’m looking at you druids, shammies, rogues, and monks).
Pick the Best Man for the Job: When it comes time to pick up the flag, it always kills me a little inside when I see that the person who picks up the flag suffers from one or more types of terminal stupidity. If you have half (or less) of the HP of everyone around you, if you wear cloth or leather and have no defensive CDs, or if you have absolutely no idea where you’re going or what you’re supposed to do with the flag, then DON’T PICK IT UP. No, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ever get to enjoy the action just because you’re a squishy class or are undergeared, but stop and think about it a minute. The FC is going to be a target of all the enemy’s attacks. Who has a better shot of surviving that: the rogue with 700HP or the Prot Warrior with 1,800? The prot warrior has better armor, more defensive abilities, and over twice the HP. He’s marked as a tank for a reason, so let him tank.
Don’t be a Statistic: If you’re being Graveyard Camped (i.e. repeatedly killed in your own GY), and you can’t break through, just stop rezzing (click “Cancel” to refuse the rez or else just walk out of range as a ghost). You don’t have to be free honor candy to the enemy and they’ll usually lose interest and finish the BG when the free HKs dry up.
Defense Wins Championships: It also wins BGs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people leave a base/flag completely unattended so that they can run off and assault something else. I pride myself on playing D in BGs. Yes, it is often less fun or exciting than assaulting the enemy, but it’s also the surest way to win, particularly in resource-gathering or flag-capturing BGs. When I take a base and hold it for the full duration of the BG, defending it against all challengers, I pat myself on the back like an NFL linebacker. “This? This is MY house. You don’t come into MY house.”
“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” – Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Communication is one of the marks of a good team. When BG chat is full of people calling out incoming, calling for help, or divulging the location of the EFC, I always feel good about our chances. That 2 minute window before the BG starts is a great time to make plans, divide up duties, etc. If you want to be a flag carrier or try for an achievement, that’s the time to bring it up (just don’t be too sore if the group has other plans).
Then there is the other side of the coin. If BG chat is filled with “solo heroes” venting out their frustrations about the other team poking holes in their Rambo complex, I know I’m in for a long day. Even with a gear and individual skill advantage, failure to work together as team is an easy way to lose a match.
Even if you are feeling stressed and annoyed, try to control the urge to vent your frustrations, especially by projecting them onto your teammates. For one, your repeated deaths most likely aren’t their fault. For another thing, they may well have a rebuttal that will leave you looking foolish and embarrassed when they explain this prospect. That aside, filling up BG Chat with useless whining and moaning means that you a) aren’t fighting, and b) are interfering with the lines of communication for those who actually are still fighting.
If you absolutely must vent, try to save it for your guild, after the match. During the BG, “EFC GY side” is far more valuable than “OMG, heals. You suck.” Yes, even on the very rare occasions when the heals actually do suck.
Bottom line: don’t make assumptions. Make clear requests, verify that your teammates are cooperating. Just because you yell “Heals on me” in BG Chat doesn’t mean I’m going to abandon the group and go be your pocket heals. Most healers will go where they feel they are most needed. Quite often, that is the flag-carrier group, so yeah, let us know if you want to carry it. Just be sure we’re actually with you before you get too far ahead. Remember, you aren’t our commanding officers, mothers, or bosses: you need to make sure we’re on board, too.
“Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts. But then later there’s running and then screaming.” – Jurassic Park (1993)
PVP can be very frustrating. Battlegrounds, in particular, can be trying to the soul. They highlight the worst aspects of human nature and combine that with all the worst aspects of the LFD/LFR system. The inherent weakness of randomly-assigned teams in a team-sport environment can make for some sore bottoms and bruised egos. I get it. No, really, I do. But try to keep your chin up. Some of the most frustrating BGs I’ve had have been ones that we actually won. Try to separate, in your head, the difference between the natural difficulty of an even match-up and soul-crushing horror of being curb-stomped, even though sometimes they feel like the same thing. Remember this: death is inevitable, fun is not. You will very rarely make it all the way through a BG unscathed, so there’s no reason to set unrealistic goals. Just stay calm and have some fun.
If winning is what matters most to you, try to focus on little victories. I look at it like this: it’s 3 on 1 and I’m going to die. I can accept that. But how many can I take with me? If it’s one or two, I call that a win. If I can lower their health enough that my teammate running up behind me can finish them off, I call that a win. If I can just take out the healer, I call that a win. If I can take their flag long enough to slow down their incoming resources, I call that a win. And so on, and so forth. Sure, you may not be able to win every skirmish in every BG, but there is plenty of honor to go around (both figuratively and literally). Try to focus less on the “I keep dying” and focus more on the “This is what I can do for the team. This is the difference I am making.” Even if it turns out to be insufficient to win the BG, you can at least rest assured that you did your part.
If you just like the thrill of combat, try to focus on that. In particular, if you are losing skirmishes, try to focus on what your opponent is doing to beat you. What, if anything, can you do to counteract it? Tell your teammates to focus that player? Ask for peels? Can you alter your own tactics to counter it? Can you learn from them and use their own tactics against them? Getting stomped may be a painful way to learn a lesson, but if you keep a level head about you, it can still be a very effective way.
“Help me help you.” – Jerry Maguire (1996)