A Healer’s Most Important Skill

A Healer’s Most Important Skill


It amazes me to no end how many healers still have trouble grasping this concept.

It’s not so much about covering as many people as possible. Nor is it about conserving your mana and knowing when to regenerate. Moving around and avoiding fires is a good skill but not quite the most important skill. Situational awareness is an incredible asset to have but it doesn’t quite rank as high up there.

The art of spamming

It is the act of standing in one place and doing nothing but going through global cooldown after global cooldown and dumping massive heals on one target.

Actually, spam means unsolicited or undesired electronic messages so that might not be the right word to use.

Then again saying focused rapid-fire heals is a bit of a mouthful.

The point is that any healer regardless of their class should master the art of spam healing. I’ve partied and raided with healers who are too worried about regeneration or movement or otherwise that they’ve lost track of simply dumping heals on a player.

For a Priest, it’s a combination of Penance, Flash Heal, and Greater Heal depending on your spec, of course. Yeah you can sprinkle Shields and Renews here and there. But when you’re in a raid and when you feel that you cannot heal damage of that magnitude, it’s time to grind your teeth, narrow your eyes, and lean forward. Every healer has their own personal heavy artillery healing spell. Don’t be afraid to get into that zone and start mashing your heal button.

You are the last line of defense. Spam healing might go against everything you believe in. But don’t be afraid to go out with your heals blazing.

Image courtesy of klsmith77

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About Matticus

Matticus is the founder of World of Matticus and Plus Heal. Read more of his columns at WoW Insider. League of Legends player. Caffeine enthusiast.


  1. Clearly you’ve not played a holy paladin, Matt m’dear, because that sounds just like every damn raid I’ve done to me. 😉

    That said, if you do nothing BUT spam heals on one or two targets, and you are a holy priest? I am going to hunt you down and beat you with my anti-failpriest bat. Hard.


    Ambrosines last blog post..Not Hardcore But Not Failtastic

  2. How come fourth? And what fourth?

    Huh? Subliminal messaging?

    Copras last blog post..Different breeds

  3. But what if I’m healing Patchwerk? 😀

    While I agree that it’s important to know when to spam heal, it’s just as important to know when spam-healing isn’t your best option. Especially after 3.1, when we’ll be able to cut PW:S’s cooldown down to effectively nothing, the Borrowed Time effect means that spam-healing for Discipline priests almost has to involve some mitigation.

  4. Fourth? or am I seen things?

    Heheh Im the fourth response too

  5. I’m not sure I get your point Matt. Spamming heals is not a purpose on itself 🙂
    Getting the bloody job done, or healing your butt when needed is the purpose. Mana conservation, efficiency, regeneration, target selection, spamming or watching your movement… they all serve the purpose of getting the job done. If any of these do not yield any raid value, then why bother? If it actually reduces your raid/healing value, stop it immediately.

    The point is… Do the bloody job and don’t let any other concern deviate you from that purpose.

  6. So we don’t spam you with Sarcasm, As Ade said, fourth what?

  7. I think what Matt’s trying to say is: sometimes the right thing to do is to focus your tunnel vision on your target’s health bar and just pump out as much HPS as you can manage without a thought for anything else.

    Many healers are afraid to do this. When the situation calls for it, they should not be.

  8. I think the proper word is “throughput.” At least, if we’re being nice to healers.

    Every good healer has to know how to maximize throughput on a single target–i.e. keep your assignment alive. Meter-scamming be damned–my tank is not dying.

  9. It’s coming.

  10. As a holy paladin, I support this position.

    If I’m not spamming heals on the MT/OT, I’m spamming 1sec flash of lights on the raid.

    I’m guessing this post is aimed more at the other healers though…

  11. If my target takes a huge dip in health, it’s PoM, CoH, then Flash Heal spamming till he’s back to full. I think Matt’s right, gotta know when to use a shovel for a nail. I know that if my target dies while I’m furiously tapping my heal button, I feel a lot less like I failed then if he died while I was trying to figure out which heal to use.

    Holy Duegs last blog post..Ventrilo, A Confederacy of Dunces

  12. Yes! You have to spam like mad and overwrite all those frikin’ useless druid hots!

  13. There have been times that Bad Things have happened, and my tank suddenly found himself taking on a bit more than he thought he could handle. Heroic runs where we pulled an extra group, for example.

    The group was screaming that it was going to wipe, but I never feel like I’m healing at my fullest until one of those situations comes up and I’m on the razor’s edge, pumping out as much healing as I can and just barely keeping everyone alive. Those times are far more fun for me than just refreshing my HoTs. Those times are the ones I remember when I’m thinking back on the raid months later.

  14. @ LXj – LMAO

    This is the reason I’m not sure I can take my priest to heals. I don’t know any other way than spam healing. FoL or HL.

    kyrileans last blog post..Wanted

  15. Fourth? What’s with fourth? I disagree for the most part as well, your listed example of a disc priest for instance; outside of their shield -> borrowed time penance -> Borrowed time Gheal burst healing rotation their throughput is pretty terrible. You’d be far better off just having another healer assist you rather than dumping mana into terrible HPS heals.

  16. Steganography is exactly what it looks like…


    Rivvens last blog post..Will WoW ever patch faster?

  17. If the encounter called for you to stand in one place and mash a button or two, would you be able to do it?

    Because there are players out there who have trouble doing this. What I’m saying is that yes, its grossly inefficient. But it is a tactic. It’s bruteforce healing because you’re trading large amounts of mana for large amounts of healing.

    And I’ve noticed many players in game who have difficulty grasping this because they’re so busy trying to manage their cooldowns and their mana that they lose sight of what’s important. Which is the point of today’s quick post.

    Sometimes you just have to unload.

  18. “If the encounter called for you to stand in one place and mash a button or two, would you be able to do it?”



    What experience/instance made you write about this, Matticus?

    Avernas last blog post..Opinions on various 3.1 changes

  19. Yep I could do it. Would I like it? hmmm maybe. I like the idea of sitting in one place and just unloading all my massive heals into a single person. *sighs* I wish Sarth would let me stand still *grumbles*

    But honestly is this a problem? If the fight calls for it are healers really arguing that they can’t be bothered to just toss massive heals? I rememer my first Patchwerk instructions. “Just cast heal over and over don’t stop” We were undergeared healers we sat there and spammed heals. I panted for mana but still.

    And I echo…fourth? Inquiring minds want to know!

    Pookies last blog post..Heart of the Matter…err Guild!

  20. The joy of spamming GH – mana be damned – is undeniable; however, that may be biased by being rewarded promptly by a dead boss (mostly).

  21. Passerby101 says:

    Should the post title be changed from “Healer” to “Discipline Priest”? The skills you mentioned won’t work on another healing class.

    Spamming is viable but will soon become taxing after the mana-regen nerf in 3.1.

    Even if it’s possible to spam heal, doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose that Blizzard wants to make healing a less tedious role by redesigning healing UI and inventing new encounters?

    I mostly agree that as long as my assigned MT/OT/Raid, there is no need to Spam heal anyone else (WWS helps, but not absolute), even though I sometimes still tend to throw extra HoTs on non-assigned raid members who might be too trigger-happy during Twilight Torment or ate a Fissure or ran into fire wall…

  22. You’re definitely right. There are times when the damage just seems to keep on coming and you have to hunker down and spam the tank just to keep him alive. Other people might be dying too and its really hard to ignore them, but the tank has to take priority. With Beacon of Light, I try to heal a non-tank as much as possible since I get a two-for-one heal, but sometimes the tank needs those direct heals even if he has a Beacon.

  23. Passerby: No, it shouldn’t be changed from Healer to Disc Priest because it’s something I believe every healing PLAYER should be aware of.

    You’re misunderstanding the point of today’s post. I’m not saying everyone should be spam healing _all_ the time. I’m saying, when it comes down to it, don’t be afraid to mash one button. This has nothing to do with redesigning the healing UI or inventing new encounters. This is an attempt to challenge your beliefs. I’m asking all healers to not be afraid of repeatedly spamming those one or two spells.

    Because sometimes it’s the difference between a wipe or a messy kill.

    I once participated in a raid where Kel’Thuzad was down to 100k health and there was only 2 healers left. One of them was healing KT, the other was healing the tank holding the Guardians. The guardian tank died because the healer on him was too busy worried about his own mana when all he had to do was buy the raid a few precious seconds of simple non stop healing. That’s all he had to do. Everyone knew that if the Guardian tank could’ve stayed alive a little bit longer, we would’ve gotten that kill.

    Efficiency is important. But sometimes you can afford to throw it out the window.

  24. *ahem* I definitely have no problem with the art of spamming though I keep a very close eye on my mana (I try hard not to let it stay below 50% if it ever gets down that low).

    It feels nice to dump out all that HPS and have it be effective. Throwing around my healing spells with all the weight I can muster is strangely satisfying because it makes me feel like I am producing something. Kind of strange but it is hard sometimes to tell that you are making a difference except during damage heavy fights, which is why I used to run with Recount up.

    I really really hope you get more paladin centric posts up on your site because I really like reading your posts about healing in general and there is priest, druid and shammy representation but not much in way of paladins =(

  25. Passerby101 says:

    One of them was healing KT, the other was healing the tank holding the Guardians

    should be MT instead of KT.

    I see your idea, but kind of feel that it was pointless. Every good healer should know when to spam heal and when to use proper healing rotations.

    However, the redesign (Read: NERF) will make us to smart heal rather than spam. It might still be possible, but definitely won’t be defined as “spam” when everyone is forced to work together efficiently.

    I play a druid, and aside from my assigned heals, some HoTs definitely had been cast on other raiders (which I guess now I can still call it spamming HoTs), but this won’t be possible when the Spirit-Nerf comes and I need to know who to heal and who to let die in order to conserve mana and progress.

    From what I hear though (rumors), 3.1 won’t be that much harder, so spamming might still be available.

    I wonder, if the healers only focus is the Raid Health Boxes, is it still fun to play this game?

  26. Fourth what?!

    I played an int-stacking Holy Paladin on Uldaman. From the start of T5 through my time with T8, spamming is all I ever did.

    I started with FoL and ended in an endless blaze of HL glyph bounces. Thankfully efficiency is synonymous with spamming. God bless Illumination.

    Robert Hallocks last blog post..ATI Catalyst v9.3 released for all Windows OSes

  27. “If the encounter called for you to stand in one place and mash a button or two, would you be able to do it?”

    Abso-freaking-lutely. That time I was in Naxx-10 with my holy pally standing right there with the 2 tanks and Gluth, everything I did was with the purpose of keeping my boys up. I timed my trinkets right, Judged Light & used SoW to get my own mana up so I could dump it right back into their health bars.

    But when things started to get scary toward the end, I dug in and healed. And healed. And healed.

    Speaking of heavy healing artillery, there’s a flutter I feel when I KNOW it’s time to drop Lay on Hands. The tank may not even be be below 1/4 health, but seeing that health bar topped off late in the fight often gives the tank (and panicky me) the confidence that, yeah, we got this one.

    I just worry that the mana regen changes are going to damage the healers like me, who heal by gut rather than by math.

    Kimberlys last blog post..World of Warcraft Mountain Dew – coming this summer!

  28. @HP: I have not found a Paladin blogger who isn’t already committed to their own blog. I’ve been trying to find one. But the ones who have guest posted for me give up or disappear before I can even make them an offer to be a regular writer.

  29. Maybe I just thought this was common sense… If the boss is down to 5% and you have half your mana, there’s no reason not to spam heals on whoever needs it. Then again, if you’re spamming heals at the beginning of a fight and you run OOM, that was obviously a bad idea.

    But in the end, doesn’t this all come down to situational awareness?

    For example, we sometimes have our ret pally put on some defense gear to tank Gluth for the 15 seconds required for our main tank to drop the -healing debuff. At that point, since I’m usually off healing the add kiters, I have to move over to the main group and start spamming heals on the ret pally, or he goes down pretty quickly. Same thing with a mage who pulls aggro when you’re down a DPS or 2.. You spam heal them until they can drop aggro, and they live to help down the boss.

    Aren’t these all situational awareness issues? You’re absolutely right that all healers need to know when and where they need to simply unload, but how is that not simply part of being aware of the situations that require that?

    Maybe I’m just not understanding your point.

  30. I am thinking you are mistaking the result of the skill being applied for the skill itself. The skill isn’t “spam healing”, the skill is FOCUS. Real full out spam healing is just the most obvious result of a healer who can truly focus on the task at hand.

  31. I call it heal-dumping, it’s that moment when you just gotta slam your buttons down hard and push out heals as hard as you can. A lot of people don’t necessarily understand the concept, but I think most Paladins do. ^_^

  32. Hmm.. *wonders if the “fourth” is a tangible metaphor* It’s interesting to see the comments that are focused solely on the “fourth,” others focused on the content of the post, and others that focused on the content, but were aware of the “fourth.”

    Syranas last blog post..Please Hold…

  33. Stupid Mage says:


    Massive Quantities of Sustained Heals Per Second

  34. We were down a lot of players last night for Naxx and ended up grabbing a new druid recruit and two respecced shamans.

    On Sapph, having no pallies, I spent most of my time spamming on the tank, rather than my usual “roll a HoT or two on the tank and then keep Rejuvs across the raid” tactic.

    At the end of the fight, someone threw the meters up, and the new druid beat me by about 30,000. There were actual gasps on vent, it was funny. “OMG, Keeva got SMASHED, wtf?” kinda stuff. Then the whispers started coming in – “How come he beat you?” etc. It was flattering, actually, that everyone was surprised that I could be beaten (and I’m NOT someone who plays to the meters).

    I just told them straight up – my priority today was the tank. I don’t like chain-casting Regrowth, but if I have to, I’ll do it. I can’t “win” on the meters that way, but I can keep the tank up. Heck, I was chain-casting HEALING TOUCH on Instructor… Big fat 16k HTs because we didn’t have the pally power to healbomb the adds. It was kinda fun, actually.

    With a less than optimal healing group, you might need to put aside your usual style, forget the way you enjoy doing things, and do whatever it is to get the job done with what you have.

    Keevas last blog post..Fun and silly guild activities

  35. As a holy paladin, I signed up for the button mashing. There are times that you can’t worry about mana or meters or anything like that.

    It’s funny to see healers get hung up on their fancy combos sometimes!

  36. Healing is like spinning plates on poles.

    A wobbly plate needs more attention.

    Spam away, just as long as no other plate falls off in the meantime.

    Perrins last blog post..Dual Spec – The impact on raiding

  37. “If the encounter called for you to stand in one place and mash a button or two, would you be able to do it?” – Of course. Perfect chaincasting and cutting off that lag-time and everything. (love Quartz)

    “Sometimes you just have to unload.” – Point taken.

  38. Casual raiding guild. We’re almost through through Naxx just to learn the fights, not to get the gear or farm the badges yet. We do Sarth 0 Drakes and are questioning when it is time to leave one up. So clearly we have space to rise.

    But I know I can stand and heal. In fact I know that if it doesn’t occur to me I’m in trouble and the tank stays up when everything says he should be dead, that means I am doing the right thing even if it kills me. As long as the boss dies before my Spirit of Redmeption is over, I did it right.
    You see, if I’m so heavily focused on the tank that I’m standing in a lavawave spamming binding heal and SoL heal to keep the tank up, but too busy to move, I’m doing it right. If I keep the tank up and the boss is down, but my last 3 heals are out of Spirit of Redemption, except for the one from Guardian Spirit after I died. I’m doing it right. And I’ve had that happen. Where as Arcavon drops the tank and turns to get the DPS, we drop him.

    My trouble is that I always wonder if I didn’t get tunnel vision too early. If I don’t get it too often. How do I know that I shouldn’t have risked running from the lava wave?

  39. apokteino says:

    while i appreciate you position (and understand why you say what you say) i think most healers have the opposite problem. all they do is spam. this mentality reminds me of one of our paladins who ended up getting gbooted. he was getting outhealed on KJ by our shadow priest b/c all he did was focus and spam the MT. brutalis- yes. kj-no. your healing style depends on the fight.

  40. @apokteino: By all means, you’re right. You gotta use the right style of healing for the right job. There are times when you stand in place and heal like a mad man, there are other times when you’re in fire and forget mode.

  41. You’d think this would be obvious, but training new healers who’ve never raided 25s through Patchwerk requires at least one wipe every week. I say “He is going to take 20k hits. A lot of them. This is not like 10 man Naxx. All you need to do is stand here and spam heals on your target. Big heals. All in a row. Before you see the tank take damage, you need to be casting a big heal. Overheal does. not. matter. Pretend you’re a paladin just for these 4 minutes.”

    And then the OT dies.

    And the healer says “wow, he sure took a lot of damage?”


  42. One example comes to mind :

    Last night, we had a messy pull of 2 aoe knockback spaming giants from construct wing, an patrol and a invis shadow bolt spamming shadow ..thingy.

    Most of the casters and healers got creamed by the first aoe slam + shadowbolt volley combo. This is where DG + HoS + Stacking on top of tank and HS+HL Spam kept the melees and tanks alive, turning a wipe to a messy pull.

    Glyph of Light is actually quite good.

  43. Zachary William says:

    You guys are missing the point. The “spam healing” is when you think you think the main tank is going to die, and you just have to pray that you somehow get him back up before it’s over.

  44. I completely disagree. IF the argument was hey spam healing is important in some circumstances, then yeah 100% agree. However when he starts the Blog with “A healers most Important skill” and then implies that spam healing is the way ahead, then he is misguided at best, at worst leading new healers down a very rocky patch.

    He should have said the most important skill is knowing which talent to use and when.

  45. @Cadmoos: I think of it as a matter of foundation. If you’re not able to sit still and spam a player, how are you going to move and cast? Or dodge environmental effects and heal? You disagree, thats okay. But you’d be surprised how many players aren’t able to just spam a button while sitting there. Players have to start somewhere. You crawl before you walk.


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