Today’s post is a Blog Azeroth Shared Topic post for July 5-10. This shared topic was brought up by Ecclesiastical Discipline, who asks “When should a healer let somebody die?”, a question thought of when they wrote about how healers rule five mans.
My main, Mishaweha, is a shaman healer. I love healing; I leveled resto (before that LFD system, mind you!), which in retrospect was a very painful, slow way to level (I seem to have blocked out most of my memories on the matter). But it means that I have plenty of experience healing dungeons and raids… and letting people die in them.
Now, in my experience, there are different reasons why a healer let’s somebody die. For the purposes of this post, I will classify these reasons into three different categories: Accidental, Prioritized, and Purposeful. I’ll explain what types of deaths constitute each category, and how often I let those happen when I heal.
I believe that this category is the most common reason why people die in WoW dungeons. I would assume that every healer has the goal of keeping everyone alive — not only is it their job, but it also keeps the group moving. But sometimes there are… accidents while going through a dungeon. I’ve classified these accidental deaths in sub-categories for your enjoyment.
The dungeon is going swimmingly, no one is taking unexpected damage, you’ve got the mouse posed right over the your healbot-like interface (or whatever you use to heal), and the HoTs are rollin’ (if you’re lucky enough to have HoTs. Stupid druids). But then something interesting pops on the telly, or that blog post your reading is really engrossing, or that youtube video got to the really funny part, or your parents/friends/roommate/S.O. demand your attention for just a moment… Whatever the reason, you become ‘momentarily’ distracted, and that’s when everything hits the fan. The tank pulls too many mobs, randomly gets hit hard, aoe plagues the group, and people start dropping like flies. If you notice soon enough, it usually can be recovered from, but this can lead to a wipe.
This usually happens to me while I’m raid healing trash and got bored because there were so many other healers, or when healing lower-level dungeons in LFD PuGs. Especially when on my baby healing druid. It’s easy just to throw a couple HoTs and then just look away, secure with the knowledge that it will certainly handle the next pull as long as the tank doesn’t get all the mobs on the other half of the room…
Pulling in 5… 4… NOW!
This is similar to an AFK-Healer, as you could have been AFK. But most likely you were just unprepared for the pull — the tank charged in without buffs/HoTs/a readycheck. And then they go SPLAT, along with the rest of the group that has aggro, which may or may not include you.
I’ve usually encountered this on in raids, where the tank missing buffs and HoTs is more important, such as XT, Razorscale, and more recently, Marrowgar. These fights do call for some positioning at the start, which means HoTs buy me some time to get settled into my position and getting my totems down, since I typically don’t focus on healing until after I get situated. That’s why the HoT helps, and when it’s not there tanks go SPLAT way more often.
(On a side note, I believe that tank deaths for shaman healers dropped significantly when the “Call of the Ancestors/Elements/Spirits” spells were introduced. It really helps not having to spend 4 seconds or more at the start of a fight setting down totems while the tank takes a beating.)
Hey guys — Wait up!
Oops! There you were, refilling your mana, looting, or gathering, when the tank just went right on ahead! Now they (and everyone else) are too far ahead to heal, no matter how fast you run! This is sometimes a salvageable situation, but often leads to a wipe. This can also happen when the group splits up in a dungeon on accident, leaving you to pick which group to save and which group went the wrong way (hint: if the tank isn’t with you, you went the wrong way).
A similar situation is when a single character (or a small group of them in a raid) happens to be too far away for you to heal due to fight mechanics.
I’ve mostly been annoyed by this in dungeons, as Mishaweha is a skinner. And some dungeons have oodles of mobs to skin. But very few tanks will pause to let the healer skin them all. I usually can get a drive-by of one or two while I’m in a hurry, but that sometimes causes me to lag behind. >.>
In lower level dungeons, I’ve had this happen when a dps (or two) get the notion that they are also tanks, and therefore should lead the group in the opposite direction of the tank. I usually stick with the tank, though, so the dps end up dying if they’re too far away for me to run between both groups.
The raiding situation is common enough, but usually doesn’t end up with someone dying. Death does occur every now and then, when a single dps runs to that side to avoid killing the group, and you’re on this side with a giant wall of fire in between.
Almost… done… casting… @#$&!
That poor, poor soul you were trying to heal, with just that sliver of health left, died right before your cast went off. 2 seconds are wasted, possibly leading to a wipe (if it was the tank) and makes you forever question why you chose the extremely long cast time heal instead of the faster one. It’s ten times worse if it was an aoe heal that was going to save everyone around that person too, but now they all die in the same manner as you keep picking the wrong one to try to save. This often leads to you giving up on healing the really low health targets, and aiming an aoe healing spell on the ones that won’t die in (cast time) – .1 sec.
Not that’s ever happened to me before while I chain heal a melee during aoe attacks on the group. Nope, never.
Well that SHOULD have reached them…
Similar to the above situation where your direct heal failed due to death, this situation is when your aoe heal, which you were sure would hit “that guy who’s almost dead”, does not get to them, leaving them rather dead, in most cases.
For me, this happens when I send a chain heal to a ranged person, thinking they might be standing next to another ranged person who also needs heals… but they’re not! (See “The Hunter” diagram for further explanation of the situation). I don’t know if other classes have aoe heals dependent on where folks are standing, but sometimes it’s rather frustrating!
(Side note: This is why you’re shaman healers might ask you all to clump up if they’re raid healing — that way they are guaranteed more hits with the chain heal. On another side note, this is why I hate fights that require everyone to stand at least 10 yards away from each other.)
Holy Damage, Batman!
You’re healing your main target just fine… when all of a sudden, that guy takes a holy-crap-ton extra damage! From where? You don’t know, but it’s too late! Whatever it was killed them. Could be when the offtank gets to take damage, a dps pulled threat, or the floor turned on you yet again. This has happened to me so many times I’ve lost count, but except for the cases involving tanks, it’s likely their own fault. (And even then, some tanks are known to stand in the bad floor too and get killed! Curse you KT!)
Raid damage is everywhere and you can’t keep up! Similar to the ‘Holy Damage Batman!’ but it’s everywhere, not just from a boss switching targets. XT used to be like this for me when I was raid healing, especially before it was nerfed. It’s a lot of damage going around, and if you hadn’t topped everyone off from the start… well… they were likely to be a goner. This situation often leads to an “Almost done casting” scenario.
As in, you were given the lowest priority, and now you are a floor tank.
All deaths in this category can actually be considered Accidental Deaths, since again, they weren’t intended. But this category is focusing on a particular thought process where the healer purposefully chooses someone else to live. These types of prioritizations often happen when there is a “Healing Overload” — A large number of targets are taking damage, and you know you can’t save them all. Who do you choose?
I think this calls for a flowchart, ala I Like Bubbles:
You’ll note that there is no end to the flowchart. That’s because a healer must always go through and recheck this list at all times in order to be effective. It’s not much help if you heal up the tanks and move onto the dps only for the tanks to flail and die a few seconds later.
Priorities like this are why dps always seem to drop first, but that’s because they are only slightly more expendable than other tanks and healers. If your tank dies, well, that’s pretty much a wipe unless you’re in that last one or two percent that you can burn off while everyone drops like flies. You can get by with less healers, but it makes the job harder for yourself, when there are less of you, and usually leads to a wipe (especially if you end up solo-healing). However, if you lose one or two dps, you still have a good chance to kill the boss, especially if the ones with higher dps are still alive. However, it’s still not optimal to lose lots of dps, as the others have to make up for the lost damage — and if they can’t make up for it? Death for all!
I would opine that this type of death in WoW happens the least. This is when the healer purposefully does not heal a person, no matter what. It’s not an accident that they die, it’s not because they were given a lower priority — no, it’s because the healer has chosen not to heal them.
Typically, I don’t purposefully let someone die. I have an itchy trigger finger when it comes to staring at my Healbot, so even if I don’t want to heal someone, I end up doing it anyway. They’re probably better off alive than dead, anyway.
However, there are several reasons why healers purposefully choose not to heal someone. I have made a list:
- Joke – Most common in guilds, this is where the healer (and hopefully the rest of the group) decide to call of healing Player X. I would guess this would usually be the tank. I know our guild has a running gag of saying we’re not going to heal our main tank, even if we do.
- Idiocy – Player Q keeps running into the fire and pulling threat on purpose? Tank keeps pulling before you’re ready even after being told? Fine! They won’t get any heals! (I may have done this one once or twice, but it doesn’t happen more often.)
- Refusal of Service – Most common in LFD PuGs, this is when the healer refuses to heal a certain player (or the whole group) until a particular condition is met. These conditions are usually pretty simple ones, like ‘stop acting like a jerk’ or ‘let the tank pull’.
- Personal Vendetta – Player V, for whatever reason, has ticked off the healer. If it was a LFD group, they probably let their mouth run off and that made the healer angry. Therefore, they get no more heals. (I’ve wanted to do this on several occasions, but I always end up going for the heal button anyway).
I’m sure there are other reasons why someone would purposefully not heal someone, but that’s all I can think of for now. Since I typically always heal everybody due to my itchy healing trigger finger, I really don’t have much experience not healing people.
What about you?
Are these ‘categories’ accurate from your own healing experiences? Are there ones that happen more often for you? Have you ever purposefully not healed somebody? Have you ever been on the receiving end of no heals, or knowingly been on the ‘low-priority’ heals?
Feel free to comment and let me know!