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A healer is a character whose primary combat purpose is to heal friendly creatures or give them defensive buffs. Priests, Druids, Paladins, and Shamans can all serve as healers. Healers are typically the second most in demand role for a dungeon or a raid, after tanks.
What Healers Should Know
- In an instance, especially if the healer is significantly lower in level than the tank, the healer should know that he should stand far back and not attack so as not to attract aggro. Keep in mind that if there is no other healer in your group, then your death will most likely result in the death of the rest of the group that is relying on your healing.
- When you are running low on mana, feel free to request that the group wait for you to drink in order to fill your mana before the next pull. Most group members will understand the importance of a healer’s magic and will wait.
- In instances, your group will likely be pulling much faster then your regular mana regeneration can keep up with. You will want to keep enough drinks with you that you will not run out even if forced to drink between most pulls, and don’t forget that a mage in your group can provide you with more water. If you do run out of drinks, ask group members if they have any to spare.
- Remember line of sight and casting range can be limiting factors on heals, especially if teammates are constantly moving in chaotic battles. If you are fighting in an area with a corner or sharp bend, try to position yourself where you can see both sides of the corner in case you need to heal someone who runs around the corner. While not as often a problem, allies can also run out of the range of your heals in the middle of casting. It can be difficult, but if possible, attempt to keep an eye on where everyone is and be ready to reposition yourself the moment you have line-of-sight issues. If an ally is taking damage and you can't figure out where he is, remember the minimap will show nearby allies on it so looking for a dot of an ally not near the rest of the group can help you to find a wayward teammate in trouble.
- Know the mana efficiency, rate of healing, and cast time of your heals. Healers have multiple heals available to them and at first it can be difficult to know which to use. While learning the role of all your heals, you may want to use mana efficiency relative to your other heals as a rule of thumb for deciding which heal to use. With the exception of Paladins that utilize Flash of Light, every healer has a single-target, slower heal that provides good mana-to-healing efficiency and often serves as a primary or preferred heal. Due to the slower cast of this primary heal, other less-efficient heals will then be used when you simply do not have time to cast your slower heal. At higher levels, the amount of healing you can do in a given amount of time can also become an issue if your target is constantly taking large amounts of damage; but hopefully by this time you will have developed a good sense of your heals' strengths and weaknesses to help prioritize heals. Remember, the cheapest heal you have may not be your most mana-efficient, nor is the fastest-casting heal necessarily capable of doing the most healing per second. See the Healing Comparison to learn how your heals compare to each other.
- Remember instant cast heals such as Renew can be used while running. This can allow you to provide healing while fleeing opponents or following your group in an instance. It also is potentially powerful in PvP, being a great way to heal while fleeing enemy players or keeping a fast moving flag carrier alive in Warsong Gulch.
- Do not forget your multi-target heals. Heals that heal multiple targets or the entire group can potentially be your most mana-efficient heals and can sometimes be the only viable way of healing all those taking damage before someone dies. However, many multi-target heals also generate large sums of hate which can result in all nearby enemies focusing their attacks on you if used at inappropriate times (this is also true in large PvP situations such as battlegrounds). Try to avoid group heals at the start of a fight, and be ready to utilize de-aggro abilities after your group heal if you do draw aggro.
- You will get aggro in instances. Your heals anger all opponents at once which can easily mean that large pulls result in many uncontrolled mobs attacking you. Know your best means of surviving aggro.
- Priests are the only healer to have a proper de-aggro ability that affects all enemies, called Fade, which will be a Priest's primary means of dealing with undesired aggro. Keep in mind that once Fade ends, you will regain all of the threat you lost. Power Word: Shield can also be used both to protect yourself from attack and as a means of controlling hate generation (Shield generates half the hate of simply healing - at the expense of lower mana efficiency). Psychic Scream will rarely be a viable means of handling unwanted attention in instances or raids, although it is key for doing so in PvP. Remember, when desperate, Binding Heal is an efficient heal that allows one to heal oneself and an ally at the same time, with the added bonus of having lower hate associated with it.
- Druids in Tree of Life Form do not possess any de-aggro ability; however, night elf druids have a similar ability in Shadowmeld. When multiple opponents attack the druid, it is possible to shift into bear form to drastically increase survivability, but doing so keeps the Druid from healing any allies - such as the tank - still being attacked, limiting its usefulness in most middle to upper level instances. At lower levels shifting into bear form and using defensive abilities to increase your survivability can be viable, but do not attack your opponents or you will generate more aggro. Abilities such as Entangling Roots and Hibernate could potentially be used to control mobs attacking you; unfortunately, most instances have few beast opponents, and neither may be used in Tree of Life form thus these abilities will often not be available to you. Barkskin can provide some temporary defense and remove spell interruption in order for the Druid to attempt to continue healing through damage taken. In addition, a Druid could also use Cower (druid ability), while it only reduces threat on one target and has a 10 second cooldown, the effect is permanent, granted this requires the druid to charge up the 20 energy (2 seconds), but even 1 point in Furor will allow the druid to enter cat form with enough energy to use it, in addition to 5% mana pool increase the talent provides. Furthurmore, while an expensive and short-lived buff, Thorns can provide a significant boost to a tank's threat production, as well as add a fair amount to the groups over-all DPS.
- Paladins will find they have less trouble with aggro then their fellow healers, thanks to their heals generating decreased hate. Divine Shield will typically always cause mobs to ignore you, as long as you are not alone in an encounter. Hand of Salvation can further decrease the chances of drawing unwanted attention while healing, although it needs some time to reach its full effect. Use Hand of Salvation if you have Forbearance, otherwise, Divine Shield is better because it is instant and guaranteed aggro loss.
- Shaman's primary means of handling unwanted aggro is through Wind Shock, although this will only work on one target at a time. Like the Paladin they have the option of using a shield and possess higher defense than the Priest and Druid, providing them the potential to try healing through damage taken. At level 80, shaman can use Hex to temporarily control one target, thus preventing it from attacking or interfering with healing.
- When you are with fairly new players, it may help to use slash commands. For instance, there's /oom (out of mana) and /helpme. Especially use /oom when there is an off-healer that may not be paying attention to your mana bar because he is busy with DPS.
- Each class has an 'off-healer' spec, which generally is the same as the magic DPS spec. Shadow priests, ret pallies, elemental shamans, and balance druids all get talents which increase their heals enough to make them viable secondary healers. If you are one of these specs be prepared to switch to a healing role if your main healer is killed, runs out of mana, or is otherwise occupied. You may not be able to heal for long, but the little healing you can do could save the group in a pinch. This is possibly most important to Druids, as they can theoretically resurrect a healer that died, off heal while the healer resurrects, and then innervate the primary healer so that they may return to healing-easily saving the entire group from a wipe.
- Try to learn the approximate health of your allies and keep watch for overhealing. If your primary heal is consistently overhealing a particular individual you will probably want to use a cheaper heal to avoid paying the mana cost for wasted healing potential. In these cases it might be better to use a smaller heal, though keep in mind that all ranks of the same heal now cost the same amount of mana.
- Remember your teammate's pets. While pets are far less important then regular group members they do contribute to your group DPS. If you have both time and mana healing pets can be an effective way to help contribute to the teams DPS (via keeping pets alive that would otherwise die). This is especially true for tanking pets (Voidwalkers and tenacious style hunter pets such as bears). A good player can use a tanking pet to off-tank an add, but only so long as you are willing to heal the pet. Some fights, such as boss fights with strong AoE's or attacks that must be avoided by moving away from them, are guaranteed to kill pets quickly due to the pet's not avoiding damage the way a human character will; during these type of fights it's best to allow the pet to die immediately as it will be too mana and time consuming to keep them alive.
- As you become more experienced as a healer, you will find that, in cases where you are running out of mana or when multiple individuals are taking damage at once, triage is necessary to avoid complete group wipes. Although your primary goal should always be to keep everyone in your group alive, at some point in your healing career you will be in situations where you can not possibly save every individual in your group. In such a case, it is imperative to know which individuals are essential to the survival of the group. Remember the tank and yourself will usually take first priority for heals unless you have another individual who can readily take the place of healer or tank should one of you die. Classes providing CC capabilities are next most important with pure damage classes being of less use in most instances. Try to also take notice of the amount of available mana a class has since this can have a large effect on their usefulness in a fight. For instance, a mage with no mana will be doing very little damage, while his low armor and health make him difficult and mana intensive to heal should he be under attack; as such if you are nearly out of mana you may be forced to allow him to die in order to ensure you will have enough left to keep the tank alive. Keep in mind that decisions such as this are for the direst of situations and you should always strive to keep all party members alive if at all possible.
What Healers Want Others to Know
- Healers need to take a mana break from time to time. Don't become impatient and run off to another collection of mobs before mana is allowed to regenerate.
- Also, healers are often forced to prioritize party members to ensure overall survival. If a damage-dealer and a tank both require attention, chances are the tank will be seen to first. Please try not to take it personally.
- Save me! At times it may be essential to take one for the team. Your healer and your tank *should* be doing all they can to give you (the DPS) opportunity to unload on a specified target. Sometimes (additional enemies, threat dropping mobs, etc...) may make this difficult. Understand that, while there may be repair costs involved, ending up without a tank or healer (being that there is only one of each in a 5-man, and they are yet more important in a raid setting) is a VERY bad thing. If you have the means to keep one or the other alive by taking the beating... it may be worth it overall. Odds are your Healer will be so grateful you'll make it through the thick and the thin to save the day!
- Each class has an 'off-healer' spec, which generally is the same as the magic dps spec. Shadow priests, ret pallies, elemental shamans, and balance druids all get talents which increase their heals enough to make them viable secondary healers. If you are one of these specs be prepaired to switch to a healing role if your main healer is killed, runs out of mana, or is otherwise occupied. You may not be able to heal for long, but the little healing you can do could save the group in a pinch. This is possibly most important to Druids, as they can theoretically ressurect a healer that died, off heal while the healer ressurects, and then innervate the primary healer so that they may return to healing-easily saving the entire group from a wipe.
Strength of classes
- In Holy spec.: Group Healer via sheer variety of healing spells, such as Renew,Prayer of Healing,Prayer of Mending and still usable Circle of Healing, but much less imba since total nerf in wotlk (6sec cooldown and total amount healed relatively reduced).
- In Disc spec.: Non-tank target-healer/damage mitigator, usefull as support on tank and party single-target burst healing/preserving from death. Main disc-priest spells are Power Word: Shield (which grants ~8k+ absorb and instantly heals for ~2k hp at spd around 3k - but only once per 15 sec) and Penance (powerfull burst-heal, channeled for 2sec (without haste and untalented) - 3 charges with interval 1 sec between them). Disc. Priests are considered a more challenging style, do to their need to deal damage (rather exclusively by spaming Smite) for full healing potential through building Evangelism and even healing passively with Atonement (if you can call shooting burst after burst of holy wrath passive), but a skilled player can make this a very rewarding path as a healer. Another bonus to this tree is the Disc. Priest’s higher durability than Holy or even Shadow Priests.
- Any melee class, usually rogue
- Bandage-healer. very powerfull!
Classes, Races and Professions That Have Limited Ability to Heal Others
These classes may heal by one way or another.
- Mage (may conjure food to use and share for out-of-combat healing)
- Hunter (can heal their own pet)
- Rogue (Darkmoon Card: Heroism for self healing and Battlemaster-enchanted weapons to heal party)
- Warlock (can heal their own pet, and themselves by different methods; Healthstone provides a potion-like ability)
- Warrior (Darkmoon Card: Heroism for self healing and Battlemaster-enchanted weapons to heal party) and Enraged Regeneration, where the warrior can heal 30% of its overal health.
- Druid While in shapeshift forms (other than Tree of Life Form) cannot use any of their healing spells; Bear Form druids can heal themselves with Frenzied Regeneration.
- Death Knights All Death Knights can heal themselves by being in Blood Presence or by using Death Strike, but only Blood builds specialize in this.
- All Draenei have the Racial ability Gift of the Naaru which can be used to heal themselves and others, giving non-healing Draenei classes a healing spell, however the spell is on a three-minute cooldown and thus not very useful by itself as a primary healing spell.
- All Trolls have the Racial ability Regeneration which increases their health regeneration bonus by 10% and allows 10% of normal health regen during combat.
- The First Aid profession allows a character to make bandages which can be used on themselves and others, however there are cooldowns involved and damage in combat cancels the application of a bandage.
- Characters who have Herbalism over skill level 75 receive the talent Lifeblood, which they can use to heal themselves only.