Thursday, February 25, 2010

Healing Pigeonholes

Radom guy> LF 2 Raid Healers for 25 VOA
Me> Invite Mongrr and myself
RG> You’re a Paladin
Me> Yup
RG> We need raid heals. Is Mongrr Holy?
Me> He can be – but he’s Disc usually.
RG> Sorry – need raid heals

I seriously had to sell Mongrr and myself to this guy for 25 VoA healing – and Mongrr and I are currently 2/3 of the healers on our server sporting the Kingslayer title (not that it has anything to do with ability to heal, but still). I’ll take the healer Pepsi challenge with anyone on our server, and even if I’m not the best, you’ll still find me as refreshing as an RC Cola and a Moon Pie.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a stigma left over from BC about what roles a healer can and can’t fill. This probably isn’t helped when you have players listing themselves as raid/tank heals, and you see blogs talking about Paladins being the “best” tank heals (and Mongrr will take the Pepsi challenge on that one I guarantee).

GC came out this week with some clarification on Disc priests being great single target healers/shielders, but made the point of specifically NOT stating that they are tank healers exclusively.

A strength is not a role

Despite this misconception, there is no reason that any skilled healer shouldn’t be able to fulfill any given need in a raid. Yes, it may take some thought changes – maybe even something as drastic as a gear/spec/glyph change – but it can be done. No class is exempt from this. Any player who claims they “Won’t raid heal” because they’re discipline, or “Can’t tank heal” because they’re a shaman are probably just bad players.

Raid vs. Tank Healing

First – let’s try and clear this up. There is no such thing as tank healers any more – there are simply single target healers and AoE healers. Some classes certainly do better at putting more HPS into multiple targets, but there is no difference between healing one person up constantly, or targeting 24 players individually to top them off. The only limiting factor that has to be considered is environmental damage or some other incidental damage.

A fight like Anub’Arak is ideally suited to someone who can keep small streams of healing on multiple players at once (Druid) vs. say someone who drops giant bombs of healing (Paladins). If you have time to top everyone off though (VoA environmental damage), any type of heal is acceptable.

Paladin Healing

With the changes to Beacon of Light (allowing overhealing to count, as well as the 60yd range), Paladins excel at keeping two players maxed out. Huge mana pools and excellent mana recovery keep the Holy Light bombs rolling, and effective CD use can further extend this heal time. What seems to be forgotten however is that most fights don’t require two tanks all the time, but rather some form of tank swap. By placing BoL on the current tank, a Paladin can spam FoL across the raid. Easily hitting for 4-6k in 245 gear, and with close to one second cast times, you can quickly bring any number of players back up to full. This is especially effective against Arthas’s Infest, where you’re fighting a DoT to bring players up. One or two small HoTs (which are amazing on Anub’Arak) may not be enough to counter the damage.

AoE healing is still a weak point for the Paladin, and I really don’t feel like the glyph of Holy Light does enough to counter this in 10 mans. In a 25 man raid it might work really well, but on fights where everyone is spread out, you miss the splash healing. In a situation like this you’re better off hitting several players with quick FoLs and instant Holy Shocks.

Building a FOL specific Paladin (gemming SP over INT) can create an absolute monster for raid healing. Using the glyph of HS, plus a high crit rating, and you’re easily dropping 6-8k crits as fast as the GCD will come back up. When you consider that all this healing is going right back to your beacon target, that’s an absolute monster set of heals. A HL paladin who can quickly switch between the two healing styles is almost as deadly.

What we can’t do

Smart heal dropping and big AoE heals. Unfortunately, these tools just aren’t in our box. Priests and Shamans have smart heals, and Druids have one non-channeled AoE heal – we have Glyphed Holy Light (which just doesn’t get it done IMO). We can’t top off a whole party with a single cast, and we can’t pull off the same kind of proactive healing that Druids can.

What we CAN do

I’m going to let you in on a little secret – Paladins DO have a smart heal. It’s called our heads. Remember that scene in Blackhawk Down where that Delta force guy wiggles his finger and says “This is my safety sir”? That’s my response to a smart heal. Watching incoming damage and being aware of raid situations lets us make smart choices in key situations. A great example of this is again on Arthas. You KNOW that the tank is going to take an inordinate amount of damage from the Soul Reaper five seconds after its cast. Waiting four seconds and then winding up a Holy Light will have it land moments after the damage is taken. Two Holy Lights back to back should have your tank close to full, and will also knock off any Infest they may have.

We can also work to keep the community aware of our ability to raid heal via single target healing and smart triage. Unless it’s a crucial raid situation, I won’t heal someone who stands in environmental damage. I’ll let them die, or wait until they step out of it (especially in five mans). Mage pulls agro in the CoS alley way and dies? Well, if I can HoP them in time, great – but that’s a 3 minute cooldown. I prefer to let them die and think of it as tough love.


Healers have larger toolboxes than they did in BC, and the days of needing exclusive ‘raid healers’ is pretty much over. Yes, some classes excel at one type of healing over another, but shutting out someone because they don’t fit your preconceived notion of a healer is ridiculous.

Mongrr has a similar post, but about Disc priests over at savethelightwell. Go check it out. I also encourage you to read about Old Painless (check my blogroll).


  1. You have so many bits of goodness here I wanted to cry with joy when I read it.

    Great work! Can't wait to check out Mongrr's post.

  2. Hey adgamorix, I agree completely! I just made a post before seeing yours saying sort of the same thing. I added a link to your post here on my post because I liked yours so much.

  3. I used to dread healing Magister's Terrace. I never avoided it, but I wasn't making it a point to visit the place daily. All the same, I never complained about it being impossible. I never whined and I never cried. All before Beacon and all before glyphs.

    Lately I've seen more QQ coming from paladins healing 5mans than anything about raid healing. I don't want to say "reroll", but people need to wake up and use the tools they have. Use those tools intelligently and use them quickly. All classes can do the job and all classes can fail.

  4. Paladin healing is more about using the right tool at the right time. Pre-BC i used to top charts healing as a pally its the ultimate form of whackamole. Just some moles get whacked harder and more often the tanks. As a druid healer currently i miss this style i hot then a direct healer tops people off reducing my healing to players but my hots can add just enough life to keep people up so no complaints. Great post healer discrimination is stupid its up there with GS and achievement filtering for VOA pointless.

  5. As a holy paladin myself, I have done raid heals for Eye of Eternity. I have even devised a special configuration (not spec I'm too cheap) that involves using the PVP Flash of Light libram. Do I know that I CAN raid heal? Yes. Do I LIKE to raid heal? No. I think it is a great honor being put to watch over one of the most important people in the group, I fancy that while I may not be the best, I am still good at it too.

    I also know that disc priests are great tank healers as well. Their empowered buffs help a lot but they still have access to aoe heals and hots that allow them a multi-functionality as well.

  6. On one of my alts I was thinking about changing my dual spec to Holy PVE and Holy PVP. I don't know a lot about the spec as I leveled ret. I was wondering your thoughts on healing a raid in PVP gear. As a holy pally and from reading your blog I find that you have a great understanding of the class. I figured I would ask here rather than bothering you in game. I am sure that you have much more pressing things than to answer a bunch of questions. Also should be hitting you guys up soon for a Sarth-3d. Once i hit my in game goal, which should be tonight. Thanks again for a great blog.

  7. Two words on healing raids in PvP gear.


    PvP gear offers increddible survivability - high Stam and Armor, but you lose out with the resilience and lower Int. Your mana pool will be much lower, and you won't have nearly enough haste or crit. It's ok to use one or two pieces as filler - but on the whole it's not as good.

    There was a time where PvP gear was amazing for healing, back when the Prot tree gave SP based on Stam. You could then spec deep Prot and double dip off the Int and Stam - it wasn't uncommon to get 10k FoL crits with this setup. Unfortunately you lose things like BoL, the HoT from SS, and Holy Shock.

    As far as Holy PvP vs Holy PvE specs - there really isn't a lot of difference. There are a few 'gimmick' Holy specs out there for arenas (that do work quite well) - but for straight PvP healing you would do well to go with a nice Holy/Prot setup - not unlike what you would use for a good Holy Light build (without the ret crit).

    Dang - this comment has turned into a mini-post....

  8. As you are one of my favorite bloggers I thought that I may give you an idea for a post one day. I figured if me being a noob in the spec maybe wondered about this maybe someone else may have. I do appreciate the response and the information. I have found myself switching to Holy when I realized the guild I am in has enough tanks and dps. So I figured that I would get into healing and see what happens. When I went back to my pally I realized how much fun I ahd in AV and decided to start doing that a lot as well. I found mixed info on the web about Holy as a PVP spec and in conversation with a co-worker that plays wondered whether or not I could gear through PVP and also raid with that same gear. Figured I would ask a pro. Anyways, I appreciate the info!

  9. Sorry to ask this here. Should I contact the maker of the realm forum post for a Sarth 3-d run? I would like to set one up soon. My main is the same name as I comment under. Thanks!

  10. That's actually me. I'm sure we can do it about any day - just contact Amathalanea or Mongrr in game.

  11. Just wanted to say thanks! I was able to get in tough with Mongrr and set something up for tonight. Keep up with the blog and the server firsts!

  12. ?Greaaaat article!
    But i was wondering which build I should use? (I tend to favor Improved Concentration Aura over Light's Grace since I only spam FoL ofc)

  13. Imp Conc aura is great if you're in a fight where you're getting a ton of pushback or if you're PvPing. With the haste that we're running now, and the changed mechanics on pushback, it's really not as big of an issue as it used to be. A lot will also depend on your raid makeup. Do you have a Prot Pally giving imp devo? If not, the overall reduction you would get from that would probably outweigh the benifits from Conc aura.

    Again, depending on your raid comp - I think that not taking Light's Grace is pretty silly. There are times when even in my FoL build (51/2/18) I have to dig deep and put my tank face on - and that speed off HL is huge. You're basically taking away one of your tools by not having it.

    An example where I pull the HL out is the Shadow Reaper on Arthas. I start casting at the 4 sec mark, so my HL hits right as it goes off, and my 2nd one is right on its tail. Then I go back to FoL. That heals the tank pretty much to full in 2 casts, and still lets me use my HS on a target that needs it.

    I also don't run 2/2 Wisdom, because with 2 pallies it just makes doing buffs a pain (I do Kings, our retadin does Might/Wis). We always have mana spring down from our shaman, and the extra little bit of mp5 isn't going to make/break the fight. The extra 20 mp5 will give you a free FoL every what - 75 seconds or so? Even on Arthas, probably the longest fight in ICC - that's a whopping 10 extra FoLs. To me, the ability to switch to HL speed if I need it is worth it.

    At the end of the day, look at your crit. Personally, I love crit, but I also love imp Devo and DS/DG. For Festergut I'd spec into DS/DG, and for say - Sindragosa I'd spec crit. This is why I run with a Holy/Holy build or a Prot/Prot build (depending on what my role is for the guild). When I have to go Holy/Prot though, I always go HL/Raid - since that's what we're doing.


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