The Woes of Healing

A Bad Run-in with a PUG

A Firelands group I joined today reminded me when we ran into a bit of a problem before we even started the first boss. After a tank death during the trash the raid leader decided he had a bone to pick with us healers. At the time there was only two healers in the group, myself on my priest (Aleagali) and a druid. This is what transpire:

[RL] [85:Acdcdd:1]: recount for heals plz ? 
[RL] [85:Acdcdd:1]: gotta 3 heal this &*!@ ..
[RL] [85:Acdcdd:1]: 9K !  
[RL] [85:Acdcdd:1]: WTH 
[RL] [85:Acdcdd:1]:  I JUST DID 20KAN HOUR AGO LOL  
[R] [85:Wowplayinwow:2]: ill heal  
[RL] [85:Acdcdd:1]: heal better 
[RL] [85:Acdcdd:1]: or imrepllacing u guys  
[R] [85:Aleagali:2]: you do realize healing is zero sum right and nothing like dps?  
[RL] [85:Acdcdd:1]: yea i am h healer im saying im doing 20k hps an hour ago  
[R] [85:Aleagali:2]: well stand in more fire so we can heal more then 
[RL] [85:Acdcdd:1]: no 
[RL] [85:Acdcdd:1]: i wasj ust down to 1k hp  
[RL] [85:Acdcdd:1]: and u were haivng bproblems 
[R] [85:Keeperofpain:1]: and i got my rez ready lol 
[R] [85:Crrak:1]: we need good dps..


Yes the raid leader who was tanking died, it happens, especially during trash when people’s guards are down, but instead of brushing himself off and moving on he decided to start bashing the healers. It wasn’t even like he had a valid argument, despite his protests that he was a healer you could tell he really wasn’t, or at least not a competent one (in my opinion just because you heal doesn’t necessarily make you a healer). A simple fact this raid leader seemed to have failed to notice is that healing is not like dps, you can’t simply heal more if the conditions aren’t right; You can’t heal more than the damage that is coming in.

Further more healing is zero sum, the better your team mates do in healing, the less there is for you to heal and vice versa. Looking at the healing meters there wasn’t even 20,000 healing to be done, so even if a healer was alone no one could have possibly hit the 20k HPS this Raid Leader claimed he achieved in his previous run.

Now admittedly I’m obviously not God’s gift to healing, but I consider myself a competent healer having healed through 8/13 Tier 11 and 5/7 Heroic Firelands while they were content. I will admit between me and the druid we let him die, once, but as I said earlier shit happens and we didn’t even wipe, his was the only fatality. The second incident he refers to when he nearly died was when I took the time to argue with him in raid chat. I ended up leaving before I got saved as I really was in no mood to put up with wiping due to plain ignorance.

Problems With Guild Leaders

Now I’ve had lots of problems with raid leaders before, and not just in PUGs either, in fact my last raiding guild the guild/raid leader drove me nuts, and believe me I wasn’t the only one – the whole healing time had a bone to pick with him once they’d been around long enough. It got so bad we often right out ignored the GM and instead deferred to our healing leader who would give us instructions behind his back in Mumble binds (our healing chat channel wasn’t exactly secure after one obnoxious tank decided he needed to be in it). And that was this Guild Master’s only saving grace – at one point he had the clarity to see he needed someone else leading the heals, but despite that he didn’t even listen to them that often (we went through several in my time with the guild).

One vivid memory I have of this particular Raid Leader’s ineptitude was during our progression on Heroic Ryolith. We spent hours trying to tell the Raid Leader why our strategy wasn’t working, but he refused to listen to us and instead blamed us for not being able to keep the raid alive despite all our healers going balls to the wall and all the screw ups the DPS were doing to incur more damage. Finally at the end of the night one of the female members of raid team (who was actually a DPS) finally got through to him and got him to realize why the strategy wasn’t working, and amazingly enough he even apologized (and I stressed female there because he liked to play favourites, so lack of healing experience wasn’t his only negative trait).

Now I’m not saying that if you aren’t or haven’t been a healer you’re a shit raid leader because that’s far from the truth; I’ve had several guild/raid leaders who apparently have never healed in their life and yet were extremely competent at leading the raid. They key difference between the raid leaders I got along with and those I clashed with was the ones I got along with listened, they didn’t let their ego or ignorance prevent us from progressing. Take it from me, pretty much anyone can start their own guild but that doesn’t mean they’re cut out for guild leadership, and being competent at guild leading doesn’t mean you should raid lead either. I know I can’t raid lead, not only do I not pay enough attention during raids to be effective and usually let others take over the raid for me, I can’t commit to leading a raid on a set schedule so I accept my limits and don’t lead raids.

What Others Need to Know About Healing

Healing is a very different ball game from DPS or tanking, and just because we can measure our Heals per Second doesn’t mean the measurement works the same as our brethrens Damage per Second management. Sure it’s an empirical measurement of the main purpose of our role, healing or damage respectively, but damage and healing are two different beasts entirely. First let’s go over the mechanical differences.

While you can never do too much damage it is very easy to do too much healing, or over healing as it were. The problem here is that beside wasting mana this over healing doesn’t register on the meters so doesn’t contribute towards your HPS. This happens either because a healer gets over enthusiastic about healing (too many heals, too big heals) or their heal gets sniped. Compounding the issue is that healing is zero-sum – there’s only so much damage incoming in an encounter and therefore only so much HPS needed. Imagine HPS as a pie, each healer gets a piece, but the bigger piece each healer takes the smaller a piece the rest of them gets. For example if there is only an average of 50K DPS being taken by the raid and you’ve got 6 healers and one of them does 15k HPS, there’s only 35k HPS for the remaining 5 healers, or an average of 7K HPS. Just because the other healers don’t get a bigger piece doesn’t mean they’re not good, it might just mean the other is better. I’d like to stress the might there because there can be a whole lot of factors determining who gets the biggest piece such as raid makeup, the encounter, healing assignments et cetera.

Then there are the psychological differences – healers play a lot different game than DPS do. First issue is we don’t have a rotation, even in the loosest sense of the word. Instead we have to react to the situation as it develops, we have to judge on the fly what is needed instead of a planned rotation. Another issue is that when we fuck up (and we all invariably do, don’t lie) people die. If a DPS fumbles their rotation the worse that usually happens is a loss in DPS which often isn’t life threatening and can often fly under the radar.The fact that people die when we screw up can get stressful and while many people strive under stress it can even get to the toughest of us.

Just Rolling With It

Don’t get me wrong, I find healing extremely fulfilling despite all my bitching about it and it seems most games where there are healers I get drawn to those characters or classes but time and time again game after game I always get enraged how other people treat their medics. But then I realize it’s just a game and I love what I do so I just chill and make myself some hot cocoa. Mhmmm…..hot cocoa….

About the author

Eric Dekker

Gamer. Student. Nerd. Author of The Golden Crusade. Find him on + and Twitter.


  1. Croda

    Good points well made on the consequences of a healer messing up.

    Admittedly, my main (a healer also) only pugs heroics and people are a lot more polite . . . . . seems healers are sort of rare in pugs!


    1. Eric Dekker

      Oh I agree rudeness isn’t the norm necessarily, but it’s certainly a lot more remember-able than the usual indifference sprinkled with the ocassional “good heals.” Yea it seems LFR is often short on healers more so than tanks, I guess that makes sense since you need more healers than tanks!

      And good job getting through that rambling mess of a post lol

  2. Poradnik World of Warcraft

    Thats why I hate healing. You can survive a lot while tanking with proper cd’s using, you can top recount when you are dps and it depends mostly on you – but healing isnt like that, and probably wont be.

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