Why Healing is fun in PvP

Why Healing is fun in PvP

This is a guest post by Sylvara, of the Raging Monkeys. That is quite possibly one of the best blog names I’ve seen so far.

While not playing WoW actively at the moment, the thing I really miss most about the game at times is PVP. Even when I was raiding 3-4 times a week, I would hop into some quick BGs with Era, my personal retridin, on off nights or after raids had finished. PVP has always been a great outlet and a change from PVE healing for me. I have learned valuable things there that have benefited me in PVE over the years and that’s why I have been a bit of a spokesperson for it in our raid guild, together with my BG buddy.

img01I started to heal in BGs regularly in early vanilla. This was the time of PVP rankings where battle groups did not yet exist and players would have to compete against everyone else on the server in order to claim ranks (the threshold of players per rank being limited). At the time I was lucky to chance on a group of like-minded players that, not only founded one of the more progressed 40man raid guilds at the time, but were what I would still label “crazy PvPers”. At some point we had 5 Grand Marshals and 3 Field Marshals in the guild. One GM was a woman and all the FMs were female players too, contradicting the general notion that female players like to PVP less than males. Whenever they had an open spot in their premade, they’d get me in as replacement healer. And though I was also raiding 4 times a week and leading the healers, I got pretty obsessed with PVP for a while before giving up just short of rank 9.

In TBC the PVP system got its huge revamp and when I left my first raid guild, I also left premade PVP in such big a fashion. I am not a fan of pugging, neither on the PVE nor PVP side of WoW, so I kept being part of relatively small groups of PVP-interested players in my next guilds. Somewhere in mid-TBC me and Era started to team up as “pali-priest duo infernale” and have kept going at it ever since, PvPing a lot on weekends, collecting each season’s gear and having loads of great laughs – there are those nights when we’re almost unstoppable.

So why am I actually doing this? Why am I enjoying PVP as a healer? I’ve been reading healer blogs and sites for years, but I notice there’s not an awful lot going on on the PVP side of things. I don’t know if my fellow priests don’t enjoy BGs or if they’re too shy to write about their experiences, but here’s my take on the matter. (I might have to add that I am excluding arenas here, for there are fundamental differences between healing in arenas and healing in BGs. While I’ve also given arenas a go myself, that topic would need an extra post of its own).

The joys of PVP

If I had to name the top 5 aspects I appreciate about PVP as a healer, then it’s the

  1. The frenzy of battle
  2. The teamwork mechanics
  3. The strategic aspect
  4. The different healing approach
  5. The power to turn the tide

I enjoy a good confrontation in games. I enjoy the pressure and thrill of challenge and the big difference between PVE and PVP will always be that player characters behave erratically while NPCs will follow script. Even if you can (and should) expect certain classes to do certain things in BGs, there is always the element of surprise and human error which keeps things interesting and chaotic. This influences the way you need to react.

I have never experienced a stronger team-building effect in WoW like the one you get from playing with the same few people in BGs regularly. If you have a serious go at this, you will soon find yourself part of one well-oiled team machine that knows each other’s next moves blindly and keeps each other’s backs free. The satisfaction of surviving onslaughts twice your number because you’re acting as one unit is incredible. Epic win! Only really hard earned raid firstkills ever compare in terms of adrenaline rush for me.

BGs are all about strategy and if you want to play and win, you will need to learn every individual map’s ins and outs. I enjoy tactical moves like pre-emptive strikes and feints and I have often seen the outcome of a BG turn around because there were just a few people
taking charge of overall tactics.

I mentioned before that I find an outlet in PVP healing. It’s a total change of focus for me and, while I also keep my partner’s butt alive, it allows me to play a lot more ego-centric than in raids, which is thoroughly relaxing. I use different sets of spells and abilities,many of which revolve around my own survival and crowd control, as much as adding some DPS when I can.

There is an immense satisfaction in seeing your team turn the tide, in knowing that your healing and timing were crucial to the overall outcome of a BG. Even if you lose, a good battle is still fun. I admit that it’s even better to win and find yourself on place 1 or 2 on honor gained though – which is often the case for a good healer and his partner.

What PVP can teach you

img02What I tell not only other healers but also ranged DPS in the guilds I am in, is that there’s actual benefits for PVErs to play PVP at least occasionally. Ranged players especially, often suffer from ‘feet of stone’-syndrome (don’t stand in the fire, anyone?) and tunnel vision. It is one of the most remarkable differences between PVP mages, warlocks, hunters, hybrid DPS, healers and strict PVErs: PVPers have to move around almost constantly while performing. Okay, you can just play Alterac Valley all the time hiding somewhere in back row, but that’s seriously meh! If you want to improve on things like movement, situational awareness, reaction time and survivability, then enter more BGs. Don’t go in all by yourself but go as a small team, so it’s not so frustrating when you start. I found that a lot of the automatisms I developed in BGs benefited me greatly in PVE encounters.

Besides these elemental benefits, it will also teach you a lot about other class mechanics, strategic maneuver, group organization and timing.

A few tips for healers

I’ve just mentioned it and will mention it again – try and go in with at least one more person who is playing a non-healer. Pugging while you’re playing a support class is a seriously frustrating and ungrateful job, even if you can throw heals around randomly. As healers we function best in cooperation with others and if you want to experience the enjoyable side of PvP and reduce your number of deaths, find yourself someone that watches your back as much as you watch his. Me and my buddy are usually on vent when we PVP, which is an additional help and source of fun.

You should also take at least a basic interest in things like BG tactics, play style, stats, and gearing for PVP. You don’t need to respec in BGs as much as you do for arenas, but a general knowledge of how to play and which abilities come handy will help you along the
way – and resilience, lots of it. I found most of the info I needed in the past via Elitist Jerks, Arena Junkies and the general WoW class forums.

My last advice to you is to give your PVP experiences time. Be patient and don’t give up just because you’re losing battles and get killed often. Hang in there and you will gradually notice the differences as your team becomes a more coordinated force and your gear gets better. If nothing else, you will have some good laughs with friends and learn to mind your six more in raids. Me personally, I am greatly looking forward to rated BGs in Cataclysm!

Sylvara, Stormrage EU
August 30th, 2010

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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.