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Staying Alive at All Costs

March 18, 2010

When healing in PvE, the most important health bar in your raid frames is your own. You cannot heal if you are dead, and losing vital or multiple healers can mean the end of a fight if you are running with the minimum healers necessary.

So how do you stay alive as a healer?

General Survival Tips for Healers
Always remember that you are fragile.
Unless it is a pivotal moment in which a single cast might mean a boss kill, stop your cast and move out of the fire. The damage that you will take in the time needed to finish your cast might be irrecoverable or ill-timed with an incoming AoE.

Be aware of your surroundings. We healers suffer from tunnel vision as much, or more, than any other players. Maintaining an awareness of our environment and damage that we are personally taking is truly important. It takes effort to train ourselves to look away from the raid frames and keep an eye on the fight, but once we learn to heal cross-eyed, we’ll be that much more productive.

Maintain 60% health at all times. If you drop below that margin, prioritize your own survival. There are other healers to cover the DPS and the tanks long enough for you to secure your health. On that note, if you see another healer’s health drop suddenly, cast a quick heal or HoT on them to bolster their health pool while they heal themselves.

Know your self-heal cooldowns. Being aware of your own defensive cooldowns and having easy access to them can help keep you alive. Use them whenever needed. You can’t expect tanks and DPS to use their cooldowns appropriately if you aren’t willing to use your own.

Survival Tips for Priests
Spec into Desperate Prayer
regardless of whether you are Discipline or Holy. There is no excuse to not take advantage of this instant self-heal. As a healer in a raid, you are going to take damage. It’s inevitable. This is a fast, powerful spell that can refill your health without using up a valuable Penance CD on yourself.

Shield yourself. This is perhaps even more important for Holy priests than it is for Discipline. While one Disc shield can hold us out against quite a bit of damage and give us a buffer before we need to heal ourselves, Holy priests are more susceptible to sudden deaths. A combination of Shield and Renew can give the Holy priest the padding needed to withstand heavy damage, but they might need to pay closer attention to getting their health back up before more damage wipes them out. That said, even a shielded Disc priest isn’t immortal and lack any spirit form to carry our heals past death. Renew, Flash Heal, Desperate Prayer, or Penance to bring your health back up to a reasonable level. Discipline priests can help other healers by shielding those take sudden damage.

Binding Heal. Don’t underestimate the power of Binding Heal. Consider it your own personal beacon. It has nearly the same power as a flash heal and heals both yourself and your target. It is also capable of proccing Divine Aegis for Discipline and Inspiration for both Holy and Discipline priests. This is not the emergency heal spell to use when your health drops very low, but it’s the perfect maintenance spell to top off your health through a fight. For Discipline priests, it is sometimes more efficient to cast a Binding Heal than a shield if both another player and yourself need a moderate heal.

Fade. If there are adds and you have the slightest concern about drawing initial threat, go ahead and use fade. It’s a wonderful ability that all the other healers are envious of. Do keep an eye on your fellow healers because unless your tank grabs them quickly, those adds are going to come for someone – most likely the druid.

Use major cooldowns. When it’s the difference between living and dying, blow your Pain Suppression cooldown on yourself. There are some fights where this isn’t feasible because the tank must have the CD to survive a large hit – such as on Festergut – but usually you can spare one CD of Pain Suppression for yourself.

If you should perish during combat, be sure to announce it over vent and in the healer channel. The other healers need to know to cover your assignment. This self-confession alone is what keeps me stubbornly alive through fights. I never want to be the healer that has to announce her death repeatedly throughout the raid night.


From → Raiding, Strategy

  1. Definitely one of the hardest lessons to learn and to teach.

    Desperate prayer is a must-have for me, I leveled with it as my racial and I can’t go without it. For raids with healthstones I macro a castsequence so I have one universal ’emergency button’

    /castsequence reset=120 Desperate Prayer, Fel Healthstone

    Will cast desperate prayer if it is off cooldown, then the healthstone if I hit it before 120 seconds (DP cooldown time).

    As holy, bubble + renew is good, but also circle of healing on yourself is a good idea – it can be cast on the run and help keeps up the raid at the same time. Holy and disc can also put prayer of mending on their own heads if it’s off cooldown and the damage is still coming.

    • Excellent points, Ceralyn. Healthstones are handy if you have them and using yourself as the base for Circle of Healing and Prayer of Mending are good ways to tend to your own health without interrupting raid healing.

      Macros are amazing for keeping those safety buttons within reach and compensating for cooldowns. You don’t want to hit your emergency button and hear “That ability isn’t ready yet” or worse, not know where the button is when you need it.

      In certain fights where the healers are clustered together, I’ll use a burst or two of Holy Nova after a heavy AoE attack. While my Holy Nova doesn’t heal for a great deal, it’s an instant spell and can be used while running. (I’m Disc and lack the handy CoH). I found it helpful for after Decimates or when we all got caught by a Death and Decay on Lady Deathwhisper.

  2. Wowopa permalink

    Good stuff for a newbie healer like myself… I’ve often been fixated on others health bars while neglecting my own! D:

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