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.

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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.

Comments

  1. The community needs more nice stories like this. Keep it up!

  2. Gratz on great kill first of all 🙂

    But i wanted make a couple of notes

    1. Combat res, i think you discounted that too hastily (you were quite busy single healing probably :P), a couple of ways to pull the res off are:
    – have your other tank taunt for a second when there is not a big ooze to kite (right after the explosion)
    – your druid pops Barkskin and you give her PS and she just resses right in the middle of tanking
    – wait till boss casts Slime Spray and ress while he is casting (as he stops meleeing)

    2. Heroism
    It’s actually more beneficial to use it shortly after fight starts (around 95% as most dps will be in position, debuffs will be up, and rotations ramped up) for 2 reasons
    – As infections are time based and not boss-hp based, you kill him before he goes nuts with infections
    – Less people are running at start, your offtank can dps for a while as well, for what it’s worth anyway.

    Good read this definitely is, bring more ‘report’ style articles please 🙂

    Dohtur / EU-Stormrage

  3. Great post, Matticus!

    I was totally engaged and rooting for you the entire time (even though it was pretty apparent what the outcome would be in the first few lines).

    As Lledo said: “We need more posts like this!”

  4. Matt,

    While I appreciate your story, I find myself (when in the mood) that I enjoy 2 healing. Running the daily heroic has turned into (I am a disc priest as well) shielding, POM, and then smite the mob till its dead.

    I have found that while 3 healing gives you that margin for error, I think that more times than not, it is a missallocation of resources. In higher-end, 2 seems to be plenty, especially if they are paried well (disc priest/rsto shammy, pally/resto druid).

    Granted on some nights, I want to be lazy, but others (especially when I want the extra speed that another DPS provides), I enjoy using more buttons, and really having to think about what I’m doing.

    Nice article.

  5. To have more posts like this would involve putting me in more hair raising situations :(. The stress-matt game can only be played so often!

  6. It sounds quite fun, actually. Look at the bright side: if the other healer dies and you can’t keep the raid up – not your fault, no one was expecting it anyway; if you manage to heal, you’re the hero.

    I’m not a big fan of 2-healing because I’m a resto druid specced for raid healing and my puny Nourishes don’t do much, but I do enjoy the “see how much you can keep the raid up” game.
    .-= Jen´s last blog ..Good news, everyone. We’ve saved Azeroth again. =-.

  7. protopethunter says:

    Awesome story dude. the second paragraph made me flashback to a jiraxxis 25 kill in a pug way back pre ICC. We 8 manned the last 20% and finished with 2 rets, a bear, a hunter, and me(as holy since we had a disc already). Every thing just kinda fell into place and everyone hit the right things at exactly the right time.(keep in mind this was a pug and the people i knew were floor smears at the time)The raid leader was so convinced it was a wipe he released(at least he wasn’t ML)

  8. Two-healing versus three-healing became a major bone of contention in my ten man-focused guild in the past. We used two right up until we started hitting fights where it just didn’t seem possible or smart. (Blood Queen, Valithria, Sindragosa.) Now we still tend to switch back and forth because it’s faster for farm stuff to have two most times, but there’s no sense wiping needlessly when three would’ve been better.

    If having two is putting incredible stress on the healers, then I’d say it’s the wrong call, and I can completely understand why you hate it. I off-spec resto to help out and healing on Blood Queen (with two others) made my jaw drop. “You guys have been two-healing this? But there’s sooo much raid damage! Why are we putting you through this?”
    .-= Vidyala´s last blog ..Queen of the Depths =-.

  9. My god, I know almost exactly what you mean. I had the same thing happen to me on rotface a month or two back, albeit at about 50% rather than 85.

    As a holydin, its perhaps a bit easier with bubble, raid walls and beacon to abuse, the level of panic almost guarantees something’s going to go wrong. When it got to the point where Rotsy was throwing around infections faster than we could drop them, people fell one by one.

    Somehow managed it with 3 people alive. It was an amazing experience, but not the sort of thing you’d want to do again.

  10. Composer says:

    Nice story!

    As for our guild though, we try to do with as few healers as we can. Our policy is ‘the shorter the safer’; for example, one-healing normal Saurfang actually turned out to be easier than two-healing it, since with the extra dps we didn’t let his Blood Power hit 100. And besides, it’s a great way to let healers blow off steam from time to time.

  11. I managed to give Matt moar grey hair. 🙁

    But in other news this gave him such a big epeen at the time that he was considering single healing the first 4 bosses in ICC. With that in mind, 2 healing should be cakewalk. 😉

  12. Great story Matt, too bad it stressed you beyond all reason. But, those are the kind of kills a guild remembers long after they’ve become old hat. All it will take is somebody going,

    “Hey remember that time Matt single healed Rotface?”

    And the stories will flow of other times when Matt did something else awesome. Sides, wacky, we pulled xyz off stories are always encouraging for everyone else, because “if x managed it somehow…. maybe I can too” goes through the person’s head a split second before everything becomes reactionary.
    .-= Tzia´s last blog ..Leveling does not = End Game =-.

  13. I love healing 10 mans as Holy – even two healing them. I think two healing plays to the strengths of Holy (namely, lots of instant casts gets heals where they’re needed quickly, the ability to adapt because of the large toolbox of spells, and “stress scaling” through Test of Faith). Those stressful situations are what helps you improve your reaction time.

    That feeling of having pushed it to the limit, healed your butt off, and watch the boss fall down is the best thrill in the game, in my opinion. Its not like DPS (“DPS faster!” – “ok” *continues rotation*).

  14. Jian Reis says:

    Really enjoyable read – I can relate as well as someone who 2 heals all the current 10 man content (except hardmodes and Valithria, naturally). That said, my most stressful experience was when I ended up solo healing Marrowgar a few weeks ago after all the other healers simultaneously disconnected, lagged out or died. In 25 man! I myself died three times, but there were combat resses. Seriously, what are the chances of 4 other healers simultaneously losing connectivity? Pretty slim. Somehow, we downed him and had a good laugh, but at the time, I was fairly unimpressed.

    The WoL report makes for some amusing viewing though!

    http://worldoflogs.com/reports/mmffsdumqwvxpvnv/sum/healingDone/?s=46&e=230#Kousies

  15. Are you kidding? I love those moments, when the heart is pounding and your mind is racing and you know every people in the raid is just seconds from a wipe. Thats the moments I live for!

  16. I agree with many of the other posters… these types of moments are my favorite. I have actually admitted to my brother that I like healing PUGs from time to time exactly because they stand in fire and things sometimes get crazy.

    A few weeks ago we were doing Marrowgar on 10 man heroic with three healers and our Pally healer went down at around 60-70%, leaving me (on my Resto Shaman) and a Druid (brezz down and no others available) as the only healers for the rest of the fight. For those who haven’t tried this encounter on Heroic, I wouldn’t recommend two healing it due to the increased bone storm damage and the almost inevitable tragedy that can occur if one of your two healers is bone spiked, especially during Bone Storm.

    The next two to three minutes were some of the most hectic healing I’ve ever done. No less than 3 times after our Pally went down, our Druid healer was Bone Spiked. One of those times was during Bone Storm while several raid members were already sitting under half health, and I distinctly remember a single clutch NS + TF Chain Heal on that druid that likely saved his life and 2 of the melee DPSers trying to free him who were dangerously low. Amazingly I kept everyone high enough while he was freed to not lose a single person. At about 15% I was bone spiked, and the Druid healer likely made a conscious decision to allow me to die due to the health of the tanks at the time. I died, immediately popped up (ty Reincarnation) and hit one of the tanks sitting below 20% with a timely Riptide and helped the Druid to top the tanks back off once again.

    We finished him off and I got my single favorite compliment (I have heard this more than a few times) that can be given in WOW… “Nice Heals!”

  17. Happened to be checking out wow.com, saw your post there and remembered about this little corner of the internet. It’s funny to see the two different writing styles coming from the same person :D.
    I fully agree that 2-healing can lead to these kinds of situations, but these are also the sorts of things that help us keep our edge. When content’s on farm we grow all soft and squishy like Roger Clemens did during the off-season (Oh sorry need more hockey, uh, like Joe Thorton did his sophmore year!).

  18. Nice going, Matticus!

    My guild has just started 2 healing 10 man ICC. Usually me (disc priest) and shammy. It works out really well. Shammy is completely OP and, well, I shield like the dickens, so we’re a match made in heaven 😛

    While I don’t mind 2 healing, I would much rather 3 heal 10 mans. I get stressed out enough at work. WoW is my time to unwind. While reading Matticus’ griping tale, I found myself massaging my neck…a sure sign of “OMG, I’m stressed!”, and I wasn’t even there!

    Someone buy that man a massage. He deserves it!

  19. Loved the blow-by-blow account of the close call on Rotface! That kind of teeth-gritting, button-smashing, vent-screaming chaos is what can make ‘farm’ content even more fun than progression . . .

    That being said, I had an almost identical situation happen not a week ago in my own guild. The Holy Paladin that I was paired with went down when Rotface was still at 40%. Suddenly, like you mention, every heal is important; every cooldown, precious. We had already blown our Heroism, and two DPS crumpled right when the other healer did too . . . Lots of fun, but sooo stressful.

    I happened to be recording the fight, so I got to go back over the movie and see what I chose to do/cast and what mistakes I made. Hopefully next time it happens, I’ll be a bit more prepared . . .
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oElCjnxQYw
    .-= Ferahga´s last blog ..How to Chain It, Pt. 2: Now With 100% More Questions Answered! =-.

  20. Azazelle says:

    I have to agree with Dohtur, Rotface is actually quite lenient on druid tanks. Plenty of times I have done stuff during the slime spray: I’ve battle ressed, innervated, and even popped some heals on myself all during slime sprays. I love fights like that where druid tanks really get to shine. As long as the druid is watching their DBM for the slime spray and timing it perfectly to be back in bear before he turns back to melee, it’s pure leetness. Those magical moments between the slime sprays make up for the times the lack of being hit by Rotface due to casting the sprays leave me rageless.

  21. Call me an egomaniac, but I used to live for this kind of situation 😛
    .-= Daenon´s last blog ..Re: Sindragosa Hard Mode – Server First =-.

  22. Matt I love this post. it gave me a good look on how healers go through their choices. Yes, I am behind in post reading but I didn’t skip it!
    .-= hydra´s last blog ..She moved to NC =-.

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