The Proper Care and Feeding of Healers

•January 9, 2009 • 5 Comments

We’ve all been there; You’re playing your game when all of a sudden you see “[awesomehealer] has quit the Guild” or you’re looking to get a group together but no matter how hard you beg you just can’t get any healers you’ve PUG’d with before to come. It’s frustrating to be sure, but it may not be the healer’s fault. It might in fact be yours.

Healers are an essential part of virtually every objective in World of Warcraft that requires multiple players to complete. They are also  the least likely to be lauded by their players for a job well done. If a DPS class tops the damage meters there is quite often a lot of crowing, back slapping shoulder lifting etc. But without that healer sitting quietly in the back of the room and at the bottom of the damage meters your DPS wouldn’t exist. First off they keep you alive to put out the DPS. Second because you’re not having to heal yourself, you get to spend all of your time putting out the damage you’re so proud of.

So how do we get healers to WANT to heal for us? Well as a Hunter who just can’t get the hang of any other class I had some idea, mainly because I have healers who will often ask me to group with them. However, I am by no means an expert, so I embarked on a quest to learn more (sorry no experience points or gold was awarded. Reputation on the other hand…). I asked in forums (most notably WoW Ladies) and any healers I could get to talk to me in game. Here is what I found out.

One of the first things you can do, is something widely considered basic grouping etiquette. Make sure you have the gear to run the content you are entering, that you’re properly specced for the job you’re there to do, that you have all the consumables you may need, and that your gear is repaired.

During the fight, be sure you’re not pulling aggro from the tank. If you do the healer has to use more of their precious resources to save your sorry butt. That may result in a wipe and them getting blamed for it because you caused them to go OOM.

If by some chance you do wipe release and run back in. If the healer is soulstoned, this may not be necessary. If you have any doubt, ask and don’t whine if you have to run back.

Also know your job. If for instance you have an AOE and you’re running Culling of Stratholme keep it on your healer so the zombies aren’t interrupting their cast. For instance as a Hunter I know I should keep an explosive trap at the healer’s feet for as long and often as possible. Even if it means stopping DPS to do so.

One final note on instance behavior: Always thank your healer(s). If they rez you, thank them. If during the fight you were watching your health meter wondering if you’d have to heal yourself and a big heal comes in, thank them (after the fight of course). If it is a long or healer intensive fight (like Loatheb), be prepared to help your healers by bandaging yourself, drinking the one health potion you get during a fight, using a health stone etc. (especially toward the end of the fight when your healers are sure to be running out of mana). On this note if you see your healer struggling and you have the ability to toss some heals out (Balance Druid, Paladin, Dranei etc.), do so.

Now how do we take care of our healers when we are not running instances? In researching for this piece I asked on a few forums what healers would like us non-healers to do for them. Some said helping them with consumables like food and potions would be much appreciated, but one resounding response was given and based on further questions I’ll assume mainly from priests: “Help us get our dailies done!” One healer’s story really stuck with me.  A group had asked her to come heal for them and she responded “I have to do my dailies first.”  To which they replied: “That’s OK we’ll wait.” And wait they did, for an hour and a half at the entrance to the instance while she struggled through her dailies so she could afford to heal for them.

Currently, re-speccing a character can be expensive. Yes, current word is that Blizzard will be allowing people to have two specs, but the person who has played the entire game as a healer may not know how to spec for, or play as a damage dealer. Furthermore we don’t know what will be needed to switch between the two and let’s face it, some people don’t want to hear: “Let me run and re-spec real quick and then I’ll come heal.” So before you run your dailies, look and see where your healers are and ask if they want to run dailies with you, ask in GChat if anyone wants to go along. In my experience, a lot of them will decline your offer, but as they say; “It’s the thought that counts.”

As for helping with consumables, if you decide to help this way exactly how you do it is up to you. As an example I have a healer I PUG with quite a bit that LOVES their Mighty Rhino Dogs. However, their professions are Herbalism and Alchemy. So going out and killing Rhinos for the meat they drop is taking time away from their primary way to make money. However as a Skinner/Leatherworker I’m always looking for things to get leather off of, and guess what drops leather for me? Rhinos! So I found a spot where I can harvest ten pieces of Rhino meat in about 20 minutes as well as about 40 pieces of Borean Leather. Now while this is not nearly as good as a drop rate as my “happy skinning spot” I am able to turn a tidy profit off of the items I get. I give the Rhino Meat to the healer to cook up for themselves and sell/auction the other items that dropped.

You on the other hand may not want to simply give the items you get/create to healers and I understand that. However, do at least consider giving them a far better price than they would pay in the Auction House.

Whatever you do for your healers the most important thing is to build a relationship with them. Make sure they know they are appreciated and learn something about their class if you can. For instance I just learned the other day that healing meters don’t even begin to tell you how a healer is performing. (For more on this visit World of Matticus and be sure to read the comments!) If they seem to be off their game don’t make an issue about it publicly, whisper them and ask if there’s more the group can do to help them. I’ve found a really good healer will take responsibility for their own mistakes, but they, just like the rest of us, loathe being blamed for others screw ups.

In closing, I’d like to say that these tips won’t always keep a healer from leaving a Guild.  There may be scheduling issues, personality conflicts, real life problems or it could be that you just don’t mesh.  It happens, but taking it personally and trashing that healer after their gone is also the wrong thing to do. As with other people who quit the guild an attempt should be made to perform an exit interview.  Doing so could point out deficiencies that leaders have not noticed and highlight areas that need improvement. The primary goal of any game is usually to relax and have fun.  Helping those who help you is one way to make it more fun for everyone.