5 Barriers of a Raid Healer – Part 5: Healing Against Your Will

Image courtesy of andrewatla

Each Saturday for the next five weeks, I will be writing about one barrier of the raid healer. Healers are often overshadowed and looked over since we are expected to simply know what to do. With luck, this five part series will help you to become a better raid healer whether you are a varsity or a freshman.

So far, I have covered:

Barrier 5: Healing Under Duress

"It’s choice – not chance – that determines your destiny."
Jean Nidetch

I firmly believe that different people are catered for different skills. Some players are meant to DPS. Some are meant to heal. Some are destined to stand toe to toe with a boss and his attention for as long as possible. Then there are the rare few who excel at any task demanded of them. These players are special. Why? Because not everyone can fulfill dual roles. Need an extra tank? Drop 50 gold for a Paladin’s respec and they can do it in a pinch

Unfortunately, not all of us can fulfill dual positions like that. My friends and guildmates can tell you I’m a worldclass healer but I can’t DPS worth crap.

Now imagine the reverse.

Let me introduce to you the Raid Leaders dilemma:

  • Short a healer
  • Excess DPS
  • Does not want a pickup player

The thought process going through his head is to take a DPS hybrid and ask that player to switch to a healing spec. If the player has no qualms or issues about doing so, then by all means go for it. But you should realize that this is only a temporary solution to a temporary problem. Sooner or later, the grind of switching back and forth between holy and DPS is going to take it’s toll on that player. The fact is, that Shadow Priest you asked to go holy does not want to raid holy.

So why is he doing it? Two reasons:

  1. Wants to raid
  2. Wants to progress

Loyal guild members will obviously take the hit to go forward because they want to see some real progress made. But it’s not the best thing to do. Players that have DPS’d their entire WoW career undergo a period of adjustment. They need to get familiar with spell cast sequence, positioning, healing strategy and so forth.

I’ve seen extreme cases where GM’s have asked players to either respec or risk not raiding. I understand where they are coming from since some encounters require a certain number of healers. Depending on your server, you might have a limited pool of talented players to choose from. But don’t force a respec in the name of Guild progression. The player you get after the respec could be turn out to be a disgruntled player who will not enjoy his new role in the game. Given enough time, the bitterness could result in that player leaving the Guild. You are now back in square one without a healer. Instead, you have suffered a net loss of a player.

Solutions for the GM

Recruiting is the first viable option. If you can somehow find yourself a full time healer, then you will never need to ask a DPS player to respec again.

This one might be not-so-smart option, but consider grabbing a pickup healer from a different Guild. It might be possible to find a healer who isn’t raiding that week or anything with their Guild to fill in a spot for you. Do your research in armory and do some background checks of that player.

Solutions for the player

Assuming you don’t want to heal, make it known right away how long this arrangement can go on for. Give a set number of raids or pick a date. Having a deadline will apply a bit of pressure to your GM to get the ball rolling instead of not actively looking and being lazy. But have a talk with him or her and let them know that if it continues to go on, you’ll have to consider leaving and looking for another Guild that’s more receptive of your abilities.

14 thoughts on “5 Barriers of a Raid Healer – Part 5: Healing Against Your Will”

  1. I think we’ve talked about my struggles with this issue before, but this is something I deal with head-on very frequently.

    I rolled my shaman to DPS. And I DPS pretty well – particularly with elemental talents. (Don’t ask me to tank) But Annorah is resto, because the raid asked her to respec one week and she never got to go back – and has been resto for the last 8 months, with no end in sight except for the occasional respec for shits and giggles in a Karazhan run.

    Having finally leveled my hunter to 70, some of the pressure is off, but I have a holy priest and a resto shaman – and it took its toll. Particularly the healer guilt part – being a healer creates (at least in me) a sense of responsibility – I feel like I’m obliged to help out, since I certainly can’t do much on my own. High stress guilt, really.

    “But how can you be DPS, if we just had a healer we could do XYZ” or “Can you maybe respec please?” Or the worst “We put you in a healing spot, talk to the raid bank about respec costs if you have to”.

    Now, don’t get me wrong – I love being a Resto shaman, and I think I’m pretty good at it. But forcing someone to heal who doesn’t want to do so is going to create a very bitter player – and sometimes they get over it (I did, mostly), but sometimes they don’t.

  2. This sort of situation is why I ended up rolling a priest. Not necessarily for raiding, but even in our happy little corner of anonymity our small band that adventured together lacked a dedicated healer. Instead we always begged Randiriel, our friendly and furry feral druid to heal for us. She did spectacularly but it wasn’t really what she wanted to do. As a very small group of players that sometimes have difficulty integrating new friends into our close-knit posse, finding a regular healer was very difficult. So I became one.

    I knew some of what I was walking into. I had been a healer in EQ raiding for 5 years. And enjoyed it. So I put down my mage and warrior and slowly backed away. Pulled on a new hat and off I went. I’m happy, I love it, and our little band has a healer.

    Here’s the thought, though. This doesn’t just apply to healers, this applies to anyone. People choose a spec for a reason. They choose it because that is what they like, they want to play, that they have fun with. And after all, this is about fun. Whether it is a mage with Arcane spec, a warrior with Arms/Fury, or a druid with mutant monkey spec, they chose it because that is what they want to have fun with. Forcing them to switch spec, as far as I’m concerned, is neither fair to the player, nor to the group they are supporting.

    And if they are going to be told “Play this spec or you’re not going to raid with us” well perhaps that isn’t the right place for them to be anyway.

  3. I love healing. I want to roll holy/resto of all the healing classes, but I have a shadow priest as well as a holy one. My shadow priest is nowhere near raiding — She just got shadowform and level 40 tonight after a level 70 friend said Damnit Emmy you’re going to be 40 tonight and ran me through SM cath from one bubble into 39 til I dung…

    BUT every time I go to do an instance at level I heal. Even if theres a Druid or shaman in the mparty or in one memorbale case a HOLY PRIEST (the holy priest thought it was his job to MC things).

    I Love healing but when I heal on Emoni I feel gimped… and I don’t want to change her spec caus e I love her for dps/future mana return.

    So.. the whole being forced into a role cause it’s “needed” doesn’t lead to happy players, doesn’t lead ti stable gulds, leads to broken raids and burnt out humans.

    Actually, my level 70 warrior friend has the same issue — she’s fury spec and gets OMG Warriors can’t dps respec!

  4. I’ve been asked to respec for 10mans – and have done it, and Hated every moment –
    I don’t mind healing for some stuff – like trash – as a support/emergency healer – and will do that without being asked. If a main healer is down, and the tank is dying – its easy to step up and make sure as many survive fight as possible, but I am not comfortable as a healer full time – I always feel like Im missing out on something.

  5. Zahrah: Can’t say I know what you’re going through =(. I absolutely LOVE healing. But I can imagine what you’re missing: The awesomeness of dealing 4 digit numbers.

    Nauloera: Yes, you’re absolutely right. That does apply for certain specs. But do not forget that there are some bosses which could be immune to fire or frost damage, for instance. Although in the case of a mage, a DPS spec is still a DPS spec =).

  6. What if you love all a(spec)ts of your class, from PVP disc, IDS Holy, CoH Holy, to Shadow DPS?

    This is the situation I’m in: Pre BC, I was a healer. I leveled as a healer, and cleared everything except AQ40 and Naxx. After BC came out I went shadow to speed up the leveling process. Then my priest was my only 70 toon, so I stayed shadow to farm. I started raiding as shadow mostly because that was my current spec. When not raiding, I worked on leveling a lock to 70. Raided as shadow into BT/Hyjal, then my guild was looking for more healers, but as a ‘well geared shadow priest’ (1300 unbuffed shadow damage) with a half decent healing set, they were concerned about my ability to just jump into healing T6 content. Well, I’ve made the jump back to healing and am loving it. I dont NEED to be DPS spec, because I can just have my lock cover all of my farming needs. Since I was ‘undergeared’ for healing, I picked up some spell haste gear and am able to keep up with the rest of the healers. Now I just need to work on watching more than green bars.

  7. Doug: Then there’s no issue here at all. Some people like to do a bit of everything. The point is if you’re asking a Shadow Priest to switch holy for the sake of needing a full time healer and he doesn’t like it, then that’s a bad thing.

  8. I also enjoy healing, but what I don’t like is not being able to solo with a healer spec. It’s retarded and quite annoying when you have to solo anything, like dailies or farming mats for a profession. Granted, it would be overpowered if healers could kill stuff as quickly and effectively as a rogue or hunter. But as is, it’s just painful.

  9. “Players that have DPS’d their entire WoW career undergo a period of adjustment. They need to get familiar with spell cast sequence, positioning, healing strategy and so forth.”

    This in particular is one of my largest pet peeves when it comes to RLs asking non healers to heal; its not so bad when great patience is exorcised – but when a RL asks dps players to do this with overexpectations of success is when I get annoyed.

    Healing is a pretty distracting task and most people really don’t realize the effort and experience it takes to be an exceptional healer in meaningful progression.

    Anyone can be a spare donut tire on a car – but you’re not going far for long without 4 solid wheels.

  10. “I also enjoy healing, but what I don’t like is not being able to solo with a healer spec. It’s retarded and quite annoying when you have to solo anything, like dailies or farming mats for a profession. Granted, it would be overpowered if healers could kill stuff as quickly and effectively as a rogue or hunter. But as is, it’s just painful.”

    I’m assuming you play a druid; I spec 11/0/50 for insect swarm and I throw on spell damage gear (you can even really do this in healing gear since they redid the conversion on heal->spell power) – can I do dailies as fast as a pala/mage aoe grind? Probably not, but its more than acceptable to get the farming done in a timely fashion which I need to get done.

  11. Even disregarding spec some healers (and tanks) have the “I feel guilty when I say no” complex and put a lot of pressure on themselves, or imagine they are being pressured by others. This can lead to burnout.

    People like that need to be aware of it and take care of themselves first. Don’t overcommit to schedules they can’t keep, have a plan when they log in to just say “sorry I’m busy with x” when they want to do x, etc.


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