This is a guest post by Thespius, a raiding Priest
As I stated in my last post here, the first incarnation of Thespius was a Human Warlock. Raided SSC/TK and was usually top of the DPS meters. I did whatever I could to crank out the biggest numbers; I was a victim of constant competition. Usually, I couldn’t Soul Shatter fast enough to keep from pulling aggro. "But that’s what taunts are for, right?" (Since my days as a healer, I’ve learned to loathe that excuse.)
I liked DPSing, but I wanted a change. In the raiding guild I was in, we had what was called the "Holy Trinity" of our guild. Three priests. They knew their stuff, and they were GOOD. As Matticus has illustrated on this site before, they used what he calls Heads Up Healing to predict what was going to happen and when. I wanted to be able to play my character as well as them. I daydreamed of raid leaders calling my name, saying I was essential to any raid (still working on that part).
I took it upon myself to start a priest. I wanted to dive into the realm of healing. It seemed like since they were the ones directly responsible to a full health bar, they had to be the ones most in tune. Euripidus (now the second "Thespius") was born.
Once I actually started healing dungeons in Outlands, I realized how much fun being the healer was. Always easy to get a group (even if sometimes it was "Epic FAIL"), and it always seemed more of my style to help out the group in that capacity. I enabled the tank to keep taking the hits, and saved the DPS should something go wrong. That’s a cool responsibility.
Even though I was having a blast firing off Flash Heals, Shields and Prayer of Mendings, I appreciated when I wasn’t in a mad panic to keep everyone up the whole time. I do love the momentary bursts of crisis, however–finishing off a pull or fight with my hands shaking and my breath panting. I specifically remember my first time downing the Halls of Stone event and collapsing on my desk. Most of the group was at about 20% when we finished it. I was undergeared and still learning. Having an entire raid or dungeon that tense? No thanks. The less there is to heal, the better off everyone does.
While I was experiencing the perils of being a new healer, I realized something. I was playing my alts better. I was more aware, more responsive. I used more abilities and spells that I never used before. Since I had known the panic and frustrations of being a healer, I played each of my alts as though I was trying to make the group’s experience as painless as possible. Let me lay out a couple examples.
Problem: "Ganking Aggro" – What is the standard response to this? Especially in a PUG, I hear a lot of "Well, the tank should get more aggro faster." Or, "It’s not my fault you can’t keep up with my awesome DPS." /facepalm
Solution: Having the ability to throw up huge numbers is awesome. The difference between an amazing player and a horrible one is knowing when to use it. Congrats, you can push your buttons in the right order. Now, here’s your challenge: see if you can time it correctly, and on the correct target.
From the Healer’s eyes: In most circumstances, there are multiple mobs involved. If you pull one of them off, then I have to divert my attention from the tank to keep you alive. Therefore, the tank’s not getting heals. That’s the simple version. If the tank dies, we all die. And you just lost your spot in any of my future raids/groups.
Problem: DPS Meters – These are the bane of my existence. I once fell victim to them, and it wasn’t pretty. Yes, they’re awesome bragging rights. However, if you’re standing in a fire so you can get that one last cast in, or holding your ground in a whirlwind, then you’re just not being smart.
Solution: There’s a reason it’s called avoidable damage. If it’s a fire, a whirlwind, a blizzard, it’s your responsibility to move. It is not the healer’s responsibility to "heal you through it".
From the Healer’s eyes: Same reasoning as above. If we have to divert our attention to someone like that, the heals aren’t going where they’re needed the most.
Problem: Tunnel vision – I’ve seen this not only caused by laziness, but also by tanks that try to up their own DPS on the boss as well. If you have high DPS as a by-product, then great. If you’re losing aggro on other adds, then it’s a problem.
Solution: Make sure you’re totally aware of what’s going on around you. The tanks primary job is to keep all the mobs’ attention on him/her.
From a Healer’s eyes: If an add gets loose due to healing aggro, I have to go into self-healing mode, which means heals are not on you.
Problem: The "wanna-be" Tank – This basically equates to any tank that doesn’t do everything they can to soften the blow.
Solution: Make sure your gear has the necessary caps needed. The necessary defense cap (if applicable); the right gear in general. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a healer to heal you in nearly all resilience gear. Make sure you’re using shouts/roars/etc to keep the mobs attack speed slow and their strength/AP low. If you have minor cooldowns (e.g., a warrior’s Shield Block), use it often. Save your big cooldowns for when needed, however.
From a Healer’s eyes: If you’ve ever healed a tank that’s not defense capped, or isn’t using the necessary skills available, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. You’re healing in constant panic mode, which isn’t fun. If you use your mitigation abilities when you can, it means I have mana to use my abilities when you need it most.
As a continuation of the "Team Sport" idea, keep in mind who else is involved when you’re raiding. Always be on the lookout for opportunities that can hugely benefit the raid based on your contribution. Have a DoT or debuff to throw on the boss that will make it easier for the rogues to kick a spell-cast? Maybe a debuff that will decrease the damage output from the boss. Even if you have to lower your personal dps an inch, in order to up the whole raid’s dps a mile, you just made everyone’s life a little bit easier. Remember, it’s a team sport.