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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