What tanks really think of healers

This is inspired by a great shared topic at Blog Azeroth which asks about non-healers view of healers.

And I think this is really typical of WoW in that Nigiri (who is a healer) asked the question, and everyone who has responded so far has played a tank. And they have all said the same thing: I don’t care where the heals come from as long as they keep coming.

Bear in mind that WoW has 4 classes capable of healing and there is some competition between them. Plus support classes always like to feel that they picked the most useful/desired combination because you feel like a tool if you’ve gone to all the effort of levelling and gearing up one group-friendly toon only to find that you aren’t wanted. So healers in WoW are always asking: which type of healer would you prefer in your group. I used to do this when I played my druid too in TBC; maybe I didn’t come out and ask, but I was very sensitive to my ‘groupability’.

But like the other guys have said, no one else cares who is healing as long as it is someone who is paying attention. And that’s a sign that the heal classes are reasonably balanced at the moment, for solo/group play at least.

As a raid leader, my preference is for a mix of healing classes because they each bring something different to the table. In Ulduar specifically, I prefer priests but that’s down to encounter design. In practice, no one is cut out because:

  1. We don’t have many priests
  2. I’d still want to use a mix of classes

I’ll come back to my preferences with healers later because it is a bit more than ‘whoever is there’.

My first experience with heals

I want to share a story from years back in Dark Age of Camelot.

I was playing my first ever MMO and my first ever MMO character which was a minstrel (a kind of jack of all trades class with a bit of melee, a bit of crowd control, a few buffs, and a group speed buff). And I had been soloing on Salisbury Plains with some success – I’d killed a few mobs, died a couple of times, business as usual.

Then I ran into a friendly cleric, so we grouped up. And I knew they were a healing class but it was the first time I’d ever been in a group in the game. We eyed some monster up.

I said to him that I thought we might be ok but it would be a tough fight, because it had killed me before.

He said, it’s ok, I’ll be healing.

I was doubtful. But I figured that two people were better than one and the worst that could happen would be that we died and had to release and run back.

When I fought that monster, I was a living combat goddess!! My health barely dipped. It wasn’t hard, it wasn’t even easy. I swung my sword a few times, and it may have hit me but I laughed off the damage. Then it died. I didn’t just have healing, it was as if my health bar had suddenly stopped being an issue.

I said, wow, that seemed easy.

He said, yes.

So I pulled another one.

So what do tanks really think of healers?

With a healer at my back, I feel as though I can do anything (in the game). I will charge the biggest bosses, I will smash skulls in PvP, and nothing will stand in my way. It’s the craziest kind of team-up – a tank and a healer is one of the most powerful duos in just about any game I’ve ever played. So it can be a really great partnership and lots of fun for everyone involved.

But there are some caveats:

  1. The usual rote goes that if the tank dies, it’s the healers fault. If the healer dies, it’s the tank’s fault. If dps die, it’s their own silly fault.  If the healer gets aggro then I have done something very wrong. But don’t go out of your way to die by forgetting to heal yourself or get out of the fire.
  2. I do prefer being healed by a player I know or have played with before. It’s funny how that works. You do get used to someone’s playing style.
  3. Communication helps. I prefer healers who tell me in advance if there’s anything special I can do to help them out in a fight. As a tank, I may not notice aspects of a boss which only affect casters (like silences). And may not know if one particular type of healer needs a hand on one particular boss.
  4. One thing I learned from playing healers in WoW is that they are not fragile butterflies. All of them have ways to handle themselves which means that screaming like a girl when a not-very-hard hitting add heads your way is somewhat of an over-reaction.
  5. Run towards the tank when you get aggro, not away. We all actually do have ranged taunts now, but it’s still a good rule.
  6. Don’t freak out at constructive criticism, even if it means someone correctly calling you on a mistake that you made. This applies to anyone really but some healers are particularly sensitive. It isn’t personal!
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12 thoughts on “What tanks really think of healers

  1. As an abomination (sic) I have always seen my tank very much in terms of the numbers.

    For me I look at the maths of what will cause me to not die vis-a-vis heals. I think a tank receiving direct heals from several similar healers is much more likely to die than a tank who is shielded, has pom, earth shield and several hots running and has a bunch of people ready to cast direct heals.

    For this reason I very much like a variety of healer types in a raid. Ideally in a 25 man that means one of each of the 5 healer types.

    Of course one doesn’t always get what one wants but that.

    One other thing that has been on my mind recently is healer assignments. I was leading raids in a guild where none of the healers were willing to assign healers. So I’d explain the fight tactics, check people were buffed, assign tanks do a readycheck and the healers were not ready. I had to go back and give them assignments but by this time of course I’d forgotten what tanks I’d assigned where. That was pretty tedious in content we should have been galloping through like Naxx. So that’s another big plus for me, healers who will step up to the plate and do the very simple task of assigning healers.

  2. I’ve had a Priest/Hunter duo and it worked out well. We were clobbering instances just us two until we started getting into instances where the groups of mobs ended up being more than I could easily control since my taunt was ranged or I needed the pet to do it – heals tended out agro that stuff.

    I’ve done a Priest/Warrior combo which was fine, though even with a Mage tagging along the odd time, it didn’t feel easy (that was earlier on in WoW’s existance).

    I had a lot of success duoing with a Prot Pally and Mage. I was able to heal myself and hold agro through most of the encounters while the mage AE’ed them down. Downtime wasn’t too bad since we always had summoned drinks. This was one of the stronger duos I had in WoW. We only hit a wall in Uldaman since you needed three people to open the door at the bottom. :|

    I’ve also done Pally(prot)/Druid where the druid flopped from feral to resto to boomkin. That was okay, worked best for grouping but he didn’t have the firepower a mage did.

    In EQ, I found the Cleric/SK worked well. I duoed through most of the dungeon content. Early dungeons involved me using Lull-type spells to single pull (or pull lots if it got resisted… or if I mistook my Stun spell for Lull :(). Later dungeons the SK could single pull with FD.

    I haven’t had too many shaman heal me, outside of raids or the odd group. Overall, I don’t think it matters, they are all capable of healing and all bring something else to the group (or raid).

    Hard to beat the Druid’s in combat rez though.

  3. As a tank, I have an aversion to druid healers. Maybe I’ve just had bad luck, but I’ve only had any success with one or two druids healing me. Every other time has been a failure. I’ve heard and read many times that druids are fantastic tank healers, even able to keep up multiple tanks at once. I haven’t seen it though.

    As a shaman healer, I hate tank healing. It seems like my Lesser Healing Wave is too small, and Healing Wave is too big. I recently two healed 10 man Emalon with a holy priest partner, and it seriously felt like he was healing his tank, my tank and a good portion of the raid. Bleh.

  4. I think being good at healing is actually something quite hard to evaluate as it depend a lot on the tank they are healing and other factors like crowd control or group DPS.

    We all know ‘good’ healers but it’s quite hard to say why. As you said, communication and calmness (i.e. not running away when they get hit) is very important. Trust is essential too. You need to know that your healer isn’t having a ninja AFK or watching TV :)

    I love tanking and I think I’m a better tank when I trust my healer because I can pull quickly, take on tough encounters and don’t need to doubt them. I think that’s a good healer to have.

  5. Oh, also, just thinking about it, the whole calm under pressure thing works both ways for boths and healers. Nothing worse than a tank who freaks out when their hp dips too low… gotta keep that nerve :)

  6. I have a certain partiality to priests (hm, I wonder why?). With Vigilance they can run around throwing SW:P on everything and then I can round it all up and watch it die. It works very well (Even better when they get Mind Sear). You can level and quest like a fiend that way.

    That said, in a raid environment I’m a big fan of healer variety. Healers for every occasion is pretty awesome.

  7. Personally I have one of each of the trifecta in any MMO I play: tank, dps and healer. However, when I play a tank and my buddy heals … I feel invincible. Sure I give him shit if he plays around and lets my health get low, but the only time I ever know I’m low is when I hear the audible alarm.

    I never have to look at my health bar because when i hear the alarm, I hit whatever cooldown may be associated with the current content difficulty (Vampiric Blood, Unbreakable Armor, Icebound Fortitude, etc). Can I do things myself? Sure … I’ve soloed raid bosses with Deathstrike heals, but when I have a healer, I really do feel like I’m indestructible.

    So much so in fact that we duo’d every single quest in WoW that “required 5 people.”

  8. Pingback: BA Shared Topic: A non-healers view of healers | Tank like a girl

  9. Pingback: An Aversion to Druid Healers…wha?!?! « Falling Leaves and Wings

  10. I played a DPS class now, but I played a DAOC cleric for 3 years, and a Prot Warrior for 4. People do love you more if you know what your doing, and your never left out of things to do.

    DPS is different, it’s a little more liberating too, to be just left alone and do your own thing sometimes.

    As a Prot Warrior though, I loved my healers, and if one of them died on my watch i felt real bad.

    As for DPS, I would laugh with glee if one of them died after pulling aggro.

  11. Pingback: Shared Topic: Healers: What works and what doesn’t work « Adventures of a Priest

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