The Secret to Being a World-Class Healer

The Secret to Being a World-Class Healer

Should I hold you in suspense or should I just get down to it? Ah heck, I’ll let you guys know right away. I’m going to let you in on a secret. World-class healing has absolutely nothing to do with talent.

Think about it.

No one is innately born with the skills of being really good at healing. Or DPSing. Or playing video games.

It’s all about deliberate practice. We become better wired at certain activities based on the amount of time and effort we invest into it. Granted there is still the necessary ingredient of wanting to get better at something.

Transferable skills

Project Plan - Gant ChartIf you ever wonder why the learning curve is difficult for some players and easier for others, it’s possibly because of the fact that the players who have an easier time picking up stuff have played games for a longer time.

This concept of transferable skills in real life? I bet it applies to WoW. Certain mental schemas for WoW can be taken from other games.

A player recognizing the fact they’re in a fire or in a void zone clicks frantically to get out of there based on past experiences against Korean Protoss players with Psionic Storm casting Templars.

A different player trying to run away from an incoming AoE spell or ability is drawing on their previous days of Counterstrike after witnessing incoming HE grenades.

Such players have been able to identify various forms of threats and just know instinctively how to react. Its not deliberate practice, per se. But they’ve performed these same moves so often that it’s virtually second nature.

It’s the nature of repetitive action.

Practice, practice, practice

Let’s veer away from WoW for a sec. On December 30, 1975, a child was born. Earl Woods was the father. At the age of 2, he would sit in his dad’s garage and watch his Woods Sr. putt after putt after putt. This was a young golf prodigy in the making. Tiger was exposed to golf at an extremely young age. He would eventually go on to win multiple championships and tournaments.

But was it because of talent?

How a typical golfer practices

How does a typical golfer practice? I’m going to use my dad as an example. This is what he likes to do. He’ll head out to the driving range, throw some coins into the machine and just get a bucket of balls. He heads out and gets set up. Obviously he needs a target. So my dad picks any number or flag on the range and tries to aim for it while not caring if he realistically hits the mark or not. He’s on the range just just swinging away.

How Tiger practices

Here’s how Tiger does it. He heads out onto the fairway. Tiger looks around and spots a sand trap. Instead of heading away, he’ll make a beeline for it. As he tiptoes his way into the bunker, Tiger will reach into his pocket and grab a golf ball. He’ll close his eyes and randomly drop it somewhere around him. Oh, and just for good measure, he’ll step on the ball a bit just to make sure it’s firmly planted. Then he whips out his club of choice and starts working on powering balls out of the trap.

Rumor has it that he’s hard at work perfecting his Jesus shot. Here’s a clip of it below (Which I probably linked to before but it’s just so awesome).

As a personal aside, no, I’m not into golf. I tried it but I never got into it. Just had a hard time hitting the ball and lost interest. Now give me a hockey stick and I can make that sucker fly.

The underlying point here isn’t simply practice. It’s deliberate practice. Sometimes I’ll go out of my way and join a pickup culling of Stratholme group consisting of undergeared melee players. Other times, I’ll drop in on some PvP and heal for a few rounds. If its the day before a raid resets, I’ll join a quick 10 man.

  • It doesn’t matter if its PvE
  • It doesnt matter if its PvP
  • It doesn’t matter if its a raid
  • It doesn’t matter if you’re soloing

 

The key is to place yourself in situations where you have to heal. No matter what area of the game you prefer, the more you heal, the better you become as a healer. Its unfortunate we don’t have healing equivalents of a test dummy.

Anyway, we might prefer different aspects of the game. But in the end, we are all healers.

A story aside

I remember many years ago when I was young and foolish, my dad bought me this game called Warcraft II. I installed it on my old Pentium 166 Mhz machine. It still had Windows 3.1 on it. I played through the Human side campaign and there was this one map where you had to avenge the death of Lothar. The great hero of the Alliance had been sent in to parlay with the Horde but was ruthlessly assassinated (in the game, though I heard it was retconned). I was so pissed and disappointed. It was around this time that I figured out the game had cheat codes.

Now you gotta remember that every game released in this era had some sort of god mode cheat. Warcraft II was no exception. God mode (and one shot kills) were enabled by typing in the phrase “it is a good day to die”. I remember I wanted so bad to save Lothar so I could have him as a hero and just own the Horde with. I thought if I could somehow cheat his death, I’d be able to command him.

My typing speed sucked. I was still a kid at this time. Every time I started the level, I’d try my best to enter the cheat. I’d usually make a typo. Maybe I hit the wrong key or hit the space bar one too many times. More often than not, I just couldn’t keep up with the pace. I wasn’t able to save Lothar in time. I was off by 3 seconds.

Then 2.

Then 1.

Then milliseconds. I was so close. Time and time again he would be killed by the surrounding Ogres and Troll Axethrowers. I kept hitting the menu and restarting the level over and over until finally I looked up and saw that he was still alive.

And he beat the living Kodocrap out of the Horde that tried to ambush him. His escort was dead, true. But he was alive with barely a sliver of red in his health bar. I remember amassing my army and trying to gain possession of him. But I couldn’t.

Good thing too. I checked his stats? They were the same as an ordinary Knight.

Fail.

Anyway, just remember how much repetition and practice can help you become better. Keep healing non-stop.

And hey, you don’t have to hit practice if you don’¢t want to. It’s optional.

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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.

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