Warning: Bad Targeting can Lead to Raid Deaths

Warning: Bad Targeting can Lead to Raid Deaths

targeting

"Great ability develops and reveals itself increasingly with every new assignment."

- Baltasar Gracian, The Oracle

I bet this is something not many healers even think about. I’m not here to talk about your raid frames or your raid UIs. They all represent the same thing (health bars).

But a good healer knows better then to simply rely on clicking health bars to heal or to target their fellow raiders.

Targeting methods

There’s two different ways to target your allies.

  • Raid frames: This is the method that just about every healer is familiar with. Simply put, you click on the player’s frame, and you hit the heal button.
  • Heads up: This method involves you directly clicking on the target on your screen. As in selecting their character model. It can take some practice to do. The reason why it’s called heads up is that you have to keep your head “up” on to the screen instead of glued to the frames.

Why should I care about the heads up method?

A fair question to ask. I can easily heal players at will by clicking on their frames, you might say to yourself. But if you keep your head up on the action, you can make an estimated guess as to who the next person to get hit will be. Or give the impression of having really fast reflexes!

It’s like being psychic and being able to to tell the future!

And in the end, being able to predict where the damage is about to go to can only make you a better player. Don’t pigeon hole yourself into using one method or the other. Learn when to use each one.

Allow me to illustrate.

Kel'Thuzad's room, phase 2 with a player ice blocked

This is Kel’Thuzad’s room. Specifically, we’re witnessing yours truly in action during phase 2. See that Ice Block? That is not a friendly one. Any player trapped within loses 104% of their health in 4 seconds. Note that it’s a percent not an absolute.

You have 4 seconds to react. Or else they die.

What’s faster?

Looking for the raid warning, running towards the player, targeting them in raid frames and then healing them? Or targetting the big chunk of ice in the middle of the screen and dumping spell after spell in a desperate attempt to keep them alive?

Your brain takes time to function. Sure we all make split second decisions and react accordingly. But in a situation like this, you take more time waiting for the cue and finding the player in your raid frames as opposed to just clicking the big blue block.

Why is that?

Because the less tasks that are involved in a goal, the faster the goal is achieved. The brain is an interesting part of our physiology and it takes time to “shift” between tasks.

But that’s an extreme example!

Okay, that’s fair enough. I did talk about trying to predict who would take damage and Kel’Thuzad is a bad example of that since it’s nearly impossible to predict ice blocks.

Let’s take a look at Sartharion’s fire walls.

His basic attack is that he sweeps that area from right to left and vice versa with a giant wall of fire that has gaps where your raid can hide.

If you have an absent minded raider or just a really slow person, you can reduce the damage they take. A quick Shield and a Prayer of Mending helps to ensure they live through the worse parts of it. Raid frames can’t exactly tell you that your absent minded raider is about to get slammed with a fire wall. But at least they’ll live through one this time due to your diligence.

Practice, practice, practice!

For some players, targeting heads up can be difficult. Perhaps their mouse sensitivity isn’t high enough or its too low. Maybe their screen resolution doesn’t allow for enough room. Maybe you just don’t have enough real estate or open room to click on stuff.

But trust me when I say that it is an awesome skill to learn to be able to run and gun heal your party. Practice healing while moving. Practice it from different zoom settings. Try it with the zoom as far away as possible and click on the little dots that is your party. Learn to work the mouse to angle around large player models or objects. PvP battlegrounds is a great place to practice heads up healing since you can tell who’s about to engage players within your area.

Try to activate health bars by pressing Shift V. This allows you see the health of your party as the bar is located above their characters in game.

Be diverse as much as possible in your targeting methods and you will go a long way toward being the best you can be.

Image courtesy of theRIAA

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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  1. [...] The answer to that is we both do it. The Sarth tank and I are able to watch for his head. As a healer, I like to use IceHUD so that I can see the health bar of my target, the health bar of myself, and the action that’s going around. This goes hand in hand with my heads up technique of healing. [...]

  2. [...] Shift V. This brings up healthbars on to the screen. At this point, you’re going to be relying on heads up healing. In other words, you’ll have to filter out the players with low health bars, target them, and [...]

  3. [...] ton of movement, a ton of raid damage and a ton of situational awareness needed to make it through. Heads up Healing comes in very handy in the arena as it lets you move before you’re splatted. It also helps you [...]

  4. [...] nearly as much a game of “whac-a-mole” as I thought it would be.  I try to do a bit of heads up healing.  As Discipline, I’m more proactive with my shields than reactive.  It really suits my [...]

  5. [...] a tree I focus on health bars mainly, but I am also convinced heads up healing is really important.  It gives a lot of extra awareness if you know where the persons you heal, [...]

  6. [...] "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 [...]

  7. [...] V. This brings up healthbars on to the screen. At this point, you’re going to be relying on heads up healing. In other words, you’ll have to filter out the players with low health bars, [...]