Healing: Priority, Priority, and Priority

Several weeks ago, I mentioned how much I didn’t like two-healing 10 man raids. Why? Basically because if a healer goes down, there’s utmost pressure on the other healer. A raid almost never recovers. With 3 healers, if one dies, you can still pull off a kill. And today, I’m going to write about one of those experiences where I was 2-healing a guild 10-man raid where another healer went down.

Sometimes you hit one of those days where your ego gains a massive boost because you’ve singlehandedly healed a raid down to 0%. The worst case scenario that you’ve planned for countless of times in your head actually happened in a raid encounter and you pull off every pre-planned spell, move, and cooldown with such eye surgeon-like precision leading to an unexpected kill.

And I still can’t believe I pulled it off. Anyway, while the kill is still fresh from memory, I’ll walk you through my various thought processes in the event something like this should happen to you. Healing can be a sleepwalk. Other times, it can be a big kick in the groin. Our healing pairing happened to be Holy Priest and Discipline Priest (I was Discipline for the fight). We determined ahead of time that since we had a Prot Paladin tanking Ooze, they could tackle the dispels.

We were taking on Rotface in ICC 10. Everything began smoothly. It started around 85%, give or take. I had just cleaned off a disease and was in the process of running back in after my ooze had merged. I look up where the group is and see a massive ooze heading in the direction of the boss. Uh oh. Someone’s about to eat it. Then I see Priestly angel wings and I knew our only other healer would have a few heals before she’d be out of action. Our only druid was tanking the boss so executing a battle res was out of the question. There were essentially two things we could do at this point:

  • Wipe the raid: Start fresh, rebuff, get everyone at full strength.
  • Play the stress the @#$% out of Matt game: Essentially, it’s to see how long the raid can do as is with just one healer.

So if you happened to be in Matt’s guild and you had those two as options, which one would you pick?

Naturally, the raid decides to opt for the second option.

At this point, no cooldowns had been used. Everything was still available. I hustled back into position in the middle of the raid. The Ooze Explosion indicator goes off. I swivel the camera and watch for it. But there’s still more to it than that.

Priority, priority, and priority

My thinking instantly turned from “Top off players to 100%” mode to “Keep players from reaching 0%” mode. And I guarantee you, there is a huge difference in spell usage and target selection when that happens. DPS doesn’t exactly become expendable. You still need them. You can get by with 1 DPS dead. But if 1 tank dies, it’s an instant game over. Thus the healing priority shifts slightly towards a greater emphasis on keeping tanks alive.

Analyze the raid: There are two tanks and the overall raid to worry about.

  • Raid frame shows that the Rotface tank (our Druid) takes approximately 7000-9000 damage a hit. She has about 59000 health. 7 goes into 59 about 8 times (roughly). In other words, she can survive 8 melee swings before it’s game over. Rotface swings at a rate of about a second and some change (1.* seconds of which I didn’t know off the top of my head and it wasn’t the time to look it up). I ballparked it at around 9 seconds without a heal.
  • The Ooze tank is tanking a Big Ooze that had already absorbed several smaller Oozes. I knew the Big Ooze was 1 or 2 small Oozes away from exploding. From that, I could further deduce that the Ooze tank would get 2 shot if they were within melee range of it.
  • Raid health was at varying levels due to Slime Sprays and some coming back in from being infected.

I threw shields on both of the tanks immediately (they weren’t at full health, but they weren’t exactly at imminent death either. I figured the shields would buy at least one or two hits). The raider with lowest health was immediately Penance’d.

All of us scattered to avoid the incoming smattering of green stuff in the middle of the room. A few players were hit but still managed to survive because they only took a blow or two. I didn’t have time to think, so I slammed the Inner Focus –> Divine Hymn macro bringing everyone back to the top before rejoining the raid in the middle of the room.

There happened to be a small pool of Ooze between me and the raid. I ran into after hitting myself with a Prayer of Mending (Note: Risky. Don’t actually run into bad things on the ground unless you know you will survive it). Every player that did not have Weakened Soul was continuously chain shielded. Somewhere in my head, I knew I felt super sluggish. I needed much more heals than what I could cast because at the rate we were going, the damage incoming to the overall raid was greater than the heals I could muster.

And then it hit me.

We have a Shaman, moron. We usually blow Heroism at 30%. He’s at 70% right now. Just use the damn thing!”

Sure the extra speed from the Heroism would help with the damage. More importantly, it allowed the heals to go off at a much faster pace.

Anyway, I believe there were a few Paladin bubbles and Divine Guardians going on to help lower the damage. The tanks blew their cooldowns at various points to give me precious seconds to catch up. Now I had to worry about dispels. Infections were either getting progressively faster or the Ooze tank had other things to worry about. This is where you play the balance game and go back to thinking priority, priority, and priority. I could spare them a quick shield and then focus back on ensuring my tanks, myself, and other players were above 20% health or so. While the Infection would slowly kill them, it wasn’t going to be immediate. It gave them time to run out and it’d avoid any slimes that happened to be in the middle. If there happened to be two Oozes dispelled back to back, it’d morph into an Uberooze right in the middle of the raid. I didn’t even look at them to see if they were completely clear. Either I hit them with a dispel, or the tank would hit them. Either way, they were slowly piling up quicker.

I think I made an angry poo-poo. It gonna blow!”

And this is where I made a crucial misplay. My first instinct is to run away from the center when I see the Unstable Ooze Explosion go off. I had no idea which direction the Rotface tank was running. I should have slapped our bear with a blind Pain Suppression in the event we ran to opposite sides of the room. Doing so would’ve dropped her down on my mental list of healing priorities. I know they’re not likely going to die with a defensive cooldown up (at least not as fast) and I could work on stabilizing the Ooze tank and everyone else.

Unfortunately, I didn’t think about that.

But she still lived. Maybe someone gave her a Hand of Sac or she popped a cooldown or something. But thank goodness because we actually did run to opposite sides of the room when I glanced at the map. I was out of tricks. No more Hymns, no more Pain Suppressions, but I still had a Power Infusion. I could put it on myself to keep the fast heals going or I could drop it on our Mage to speed up the fight. Out of the question though since right when I was contemplating doing that, they died (Again, proof that you shouldn’t actually think. You should simply react. Thinking leads to death, right?). I figured I may as well Power Infuse myself and started the entire process of priority, priority, and priority again. Pain Suppression had well worn off and we were all grouped in the middle again.

*BOOM*

Hear that? That’s the unmistakable shrill of Omen sounding. It means you have about 3 seconds before you’re dead. I figured it wasn’t the boss. Not a chance in hell I could’ve caught up on threat. Our tanking Paladin was still running around with another large Ooze.

… But it turned out there happened to be a second large Ooze that I didn’t see. It made short work of me. I exhaled and collapsed back into my chair before clicking on the boss. Rotface was at 3%. BOOM! Another DPS dead. BOOM! Paladin tank dead. BOOM! I saw another player fall over. Rotface is down to 1% and I knew we had it.

And people wonder why I sometimes hate two healing raids.

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.