Monday, January 10, 2011

Cataclysm, Healers and You

I've been out playing my holy priest lately.  I like to bring multiple choices to the table for whatever my guild might need.  I have to tell you that even with a guild run that healing can be extremely difficult.   I was discussing this in vent last night with some of my guild mates, one of which is a beast of a healer.   Things have changed and the attitude of DPS towards healing needs to change.  Here are things we as hunters need to know to make life easier for our selves, our healers and our raids.

Health Pools are Huge
Tanks are sporting 150-200k HP.  Hunters are running around with 100k+ health.  People are dying slower so they can be healed slower.  Healers can use (re:must use) more mana-efficient spells instead of the most time-efficient ones.

What does this mean for you?
  • Don't expect to be at full health all of the time.  The healer may just use aoe or proc heals to take care of us. 
  • Slower heals means no heals for pets.  Not that we got a ton before but now the druids aren't dropping HoTs on everything that moves.  If you need your pet alive, you need to do it yourself.

Health Pool Increase ≠ Healing Output
Health Pools have increased upwards of 200%.  Healers are seeing a HPS increase of about 60%.  Healers are having to do more to achieve the same results than before.  

What does this mean for you?
  • Try even harder to avoid taking damage.  Being knocked down to 30k health because you were standing under a falling rock is harder to heal than it used to be.  There's almost no excuse to be takin extreme damage, its easier to avoid taking damage now than in WOTLK.  There are many dungeon bosses where it is possible for a hunter to take no damage at all.
  • Just because you may now be spending more time at reduced health it doesn’t mean that healers have become worse players.  It just takes more time and often also effort to get your health up than it used to.  Do not blame your healer for your inability to get out of the fire.

Efficient vs Emergency Heals
Blizzard loosened restrictions on heal timing (damage is now less spiky) but they kept healing difficult by making mana matter.  The spells that heal the fastest also cost enough mana to not be sustainable for long periods of time.  For example, Flash Heal,  is a  fast and sizable heal, but using it for all purposes will force a priest to go oom long before the fight is over.  Emergency healing really is only for emergencies.  The majority of a healer’s casts have to expend as little mana as possible in order for healing to be sustainable.  Efficient, sustainable casting typically heals for small amounts and takes longer to perform (Heal as compared to Flash Heal).  In other words, efficient healing costs in time what it gains in mana. 

What does this mean for you?
  • Don’t expect fast heals.  If a healer can heal you slowly, you should be happy because it means the healer is more likely to have enough mana to finish the fight.
  • Don’t expect blanket heals; the old tactic of HoTs and bubbles for everyone is no longer viable.  Preemptive healing has to be cut down on because overhealing is a genuine concern.
  • If you’re needing and getting fast heals on a repeated basis, you’re jeopardizing the healer’s ability to finish the fight and you’re doing something wrong.
  • Healer mana is now a meaningful limit to fights.  In most situations avoiding damage is more important than squeezing in an extra shot while in the fire.  Higher dps ends the fight faster, so optimized dps given avoided damage is the goal.
  • Don’t always expect high hps from your healer.  Considering the pressures for healing efficiency and mana conservation, hps can no longer be viewed as an accurate catch-all measure of a healer’s worth.  In fact, if the members of the raid are good, the hps will be relatively low.

Healing the Unhealable: How can you help your healer?
  • Avoid the avoidable.  This is huge and worth repeating over and over again.   Any damage you don’t take is not only mana directly saved, it is also time saved in terms of cast bars and global cool downs.  
  • Keep adds off the healer using those fancy hunter tools.  Misdirect, Traps, Scatter Shot, Distracting Shot.  This is all huge because of the increased amount of time that all healers have to stand still for long cast bars.
  • If your tank seems to be lost in some sort of AE pull haze offer to use crowd control.  Crowd control dramatically reduces incoming tank and party damage per second, and it makes healing much easier.  Feel free to be pushy about it.  
  •  Heal yourself when you can.  This may be an alien concept to most hunters, but there are plenty of options for it: lightwells, health stones, bandages, health potions, etc., all make things easier on the healer and take very little effort to make use of.   
  • Its okay to stand in the AE heal circle.  Blue for shaman, gold for priests, green for druids.  If it makes a happy sound and increases your health its a good place to stand.  


  1. Remember, also, some boss mechanics work on a percentage base, so keeping at low health is actually optimal. Remember phase 3 of Anub'Arak? Where topping people off was actually detrimental? Some fights are like that. Plus, the chance of getting one-shotted by anything is significantly reduced.

  2. Anything that can one shot you will do so no matter if you're full health or not.