"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. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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.
ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 playerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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!
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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. DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t pigeon hole yourself into using one method or the other. Learn when to use each one.
Allow me to illustrate.
This is KelÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ThuzadÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s room. Specifically, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a percent not an absolute.
You have 4 seconds to react. Or else they die.
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 Ã¢â‚¬Å“shiftÃ¢â‚¬Â between tasks.
But thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an extreme example!
Okay, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fair enough. I did talk about trying to predict who would take damage and KelÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Thuzad is a bad example of that since itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s nearly impossible to predict ice blocks.
LetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s take a look at SartharionÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t exactly tell you that your absent minded raider is about to get slammed with a fire wall. But at least theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t high enough or its too low. Maybe their screen resolution doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t allow for enough room. Maybe you just donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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