If you missed part I of this healer series read it first here: To be a Heala! The Guide to Healing
Now that you have an idea of the healer’s role, we can move on to how you to fill this role.
If you want a say in how you will heal a group, I would highly recommend you take a more open leadership role in adventuring party’s. And since the group should really revolve around their healers (since they’re the ones that will keep them up through the fight) the group should give the healers a large say regarding how the group will run.
It’s your own preference, of course. But generally you should at least lay down some of your expectations, especially in a PUG (a pickup group). If you don’t want to take a leadership role you might be relegated to a quasi-hireling role. Don’t let this happen: it is frustrating and not fun. A group should be more than willing to make their healer happy to get through a dungeon. If they aren’t, don’t group with them. As a healer you should never have issues finding good groups.
Earlier in the first part of the Healer’s Guide I mentioned the importance of buffing your party members. It’s your job to make it convenient for yourself and them. It’s annoying to have to run way back in a dungeon so the healer can buff. It slows down the quest, and if you do this too often the group will ignore you and you will still be expected to keep them alive, buff-less and vulnerable. Instead, buff the party at natural stopping points. If you do it right, you will rarely have to actually ask the group to stop. Here’s a short list of natural stopping points and places where you should just throw out those group buffs that may be needed or those that need to be refreshed.
- At the quest entrance
- At the shrine (once people have used it)
- On the first mob of the fight (prayer and recitation are good here)
- On the last mob of the fight (mass cures and radiant burst are good here)
- Doors and levers
- At the entrance to the boss lair
With unfamiliar quests it can be tricky sometimes to know where some of the buffs should be tossed out. These natural breakpoints should be utilized to throw out the buffs so the party can get going as soon as possible. Most players will stop and stay by the cleric when they see mass spells going off to be sure to catch them. If a player runs off while you’re buffing up don’t worry about it too much. Just put them to the bottom of your healing list. Sure, this is totally up to you but when you are trying to heal the group and one player is not willing to wait an extra 20 seconds to get the important buffs, you can assume they must be able to take care of themselves. You’ll find that some players are very self sufficient and will not need or want your spells. That’s OK. It makes your job easier so don’t get offended. If players runs off when you’re buffing, but you later find out they obviously can’t take care of themselves, politely let them know that they should wait for buffs next time as it will help their survivability. Should they heed your advice, make more of an effort to heal them. If they don’t, grab their stone if you feel up to it and drop it off at a resurrection shrine. Last but not least it will make your life easier if you let the group know you are about to buff by calling out the universal “Hugs for buffs!”.
Healing Priority saves the Day
When you find yourself in the chaos of a big fight, the healer needs to know who is most important, and in what order everything else follows. The most important thing to remember is that if you die, healing stops for everyone else. So always heal yourself first. If there’s another healer in the group, that person is a close second in the healing order. From there it gets a little fuzzy on who comes next on your healing list. Here’s a basic priority order that I usually use. Remember things can change quickly and can differ depending on the members of your group.
- Other healers and those that can Raise Dead
- Main effective Tank
- Casters and other support characters with few hit points
- Off Tanks (refer to “How to be a Kill’a” article)
This list assumes that everyone in the party is playing well, contributing to the party, and filling the roles that they have chosen. Players can quickly get moved to the bottom of the list if they are not working with the group, jeopardizing the quest or being openly hostile. Everybody has a different threshold and different ways they run dungeons. Healers who have spent an evening using up potions, stacks of wands, and extra spells trying to keep a bad player alive will understand why a lot of people don’t want to play healers. If you realize you aren’t responsible for bad players, you won’t waste your time on them ultimately making playing a healer much more fun.
Healer Hot Bar Set Up
It’s important to get your hot bars organized, in order to heal and buff efficiently when things get chaotic. Here are few quick tips that hopefully will help you buff the party quickly, rescue those that are in trouble, and hand out those buffs and cures in the heat of the moment. This can make a huge difference in the success of your group:
- Group your mass buff spells on one bar
- Group your individual buffs spells on one bar
- Group your heals and cure spells together (and near your group bar) on one bar
- Group your short terms spells
- Combat, direct damage and similar abilities should be on one bar
Healer Buffs and Group Spells
Be sure to group your mass spells together so they are ready to buff the group. Make sure everybody zones in and have them take a step to be sure that they’re in by saying something like “Step up to me for buffs.” Then go through your hot bar mass spells once everyone is in. While buffing, ask the group to type out in party chat any individual buffs they may need. With a massive amount of gear and different racial or class abilities, it is hard to know what resistances and immunities they may have. Save your spell points for buffing and try not to hand out useless buffs such as Freedom of Movement on a Warforged. If you don’t know the quest, ask the party if there’s any specific buffs that will be needed.
Even if buffs aren’t asked for, keep an eye on the party as you move through the dungeon. Take note of the spells that are cast on the group and what kind of damage the group is taking. Fireballs and lightning bolts are tossed around frequently and a simple resist fire or resist electricity spell will save you a lot of healing.
I’ve actually run many experiments with a fully buffed group vs. one that does not get buffed and found I used up many more spell points and resources to keep the party alive. One notable experiment was when our group was running the quest The Tear of Dhakaan at level. It was the very same group for two separate runs. The first run through the dungeon, I buffed up the group completely. We did all optionals in the quest. Once they were buffed it was quite frankly a little boring for me as they tore through section after section taking little to no damage and racking up XP quickly. Since it was such a good a successful run we decided to do it again. This time the group headed off before I was able to buff them. They still stuck together and worked as a unit; however, they were completely without cleric buffs. They took massive amounts of damage and struggled through several different sections. I ran out of spell points between shrines and was forced to use wands, scrolls and mana pots to keep the group going. This demonstrated the difference between a fully buffed and prepared party and one that forgoes simple buffs. So do what you can to get the party buffed up and this will make the group more successful and your job much easier.
These tips and tricks should help you play an effective healer. Not only should you learn when to cast buffs and heals but why you should and shouldn’t. Much of the burden of a quest can get shoved onto a healer wrongfully. Don’t let that happen to you. It takes effort and skill from everyone in the group to succeed. Follow these simple tactics and quests should run much smoother for you. Follow this philosophy and the terrible players will go from ruining your night to being great educational entertainment!
Part III will be coming next week. In the next part I will be focusing on the mechanics and numbers of filling the healer role.
Play smarter, not harder!
Check out part III of this guide here: To be a Heala! The guide to Healing pt III