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Pally Healing 102 – Intro to Healing

alliance-wowpaladinYou might say to yourself that healing’s pretty easy as a paladin. We spam Flash of Light, hit the occasional Holy Light, and in a real bind we can hit our Lay on Hands. In a nutshell, we’re spammers!!! What’s to know?

Unfortunately, this is the generic view of Pally healing by the world at large. Fortunately, I don’t see it that way. I enjoy Pally healing. There’s a lot more to it than just spamming Flash of Light.

Knowing Your Heals

You have four heals. Count ‘em again, there’s four. You can even count them on one hand, unless you had an industrial accident where you lost a couple of fingers, in which case I need to take sensitivity training again. These four heals are: Flash of Light, Holy Light, Holy Shock, and Lay on Hands.

Flash of Light as you well know is your primary healing spell. It heals for little, costs little mana, and is the primary way in which we make sure we can last the whole fight.

Holy Light is our big heal. It heals for a lot, but also costs a lot. Compared to Flash of Light it isn’t as mana efficient, but it’s more effective at keeping tanks alive. With any luck we’ll one day be able to spam this. (I’ve been reading recently that in T7 gear we could potentially get up to 70% spell crit for Holy Light!!! Word is we’re in for a nerf. /sigh)

Holy Shock is one of our two instant heal spells and really the only one we could use repetitively, if we had to. It doesn’t heal for a lot, is highly mana inefficient, but gives us that extra boost when someone is about to die, but can’t last for the cast time of a Flash of Light or Holy Light.

Lay on Hands is our other instant cast heal spell. It’s often referred to as your “OH $#@%!!!” heal. It restores the target to full health. The big bonus is that it no longer uses all your mana!!! It has a 20 minute cooldown so you’ll never use it more than once per boss fight. You should never use this on trash mobs. Better to save it for the boss fights. Actually, if you are thinking of using it on a trash fight, your group probably shouldn’t be there to begin with.

Healing the Tanks

metaltantankreg11Every tank is different and even the tanks change over time. You’re always having to re-learn everything you know about your tanks. For me, this is fun!

As a tank gears up, the amount of damage the tank will take decreases. You find that you can adjust your heals accordingly. In some cases, you may find yourself with time in between casts where you will actually benefit from Spirit. Good luck with that btw!

As you move into harder raids you’ll find that the tank then again takes more damage and you have to adjust to a more aggressive healing rotation. There are fights where you’ll be sweating, but when you pull it off it makes it all worth it!

You’ll always have favorite tanks and in turn they’ll always have their favorite healers. There’s no way around it. Some tanks are just better at controlling their threat on all mobs. Some are better at their situational awareness. Some just suck. But knowing and learning your tanks’ skill sets affects how you play and how you’ll have to react.

Try to do what you can to run 5-mans with all of the tanks in your guild because it’s the only way to really get to know what they are capable of. For any tanks reading this, please provide the opportunity to run with all the different healers in your guild, not just your favorites. It’s the only way they’ll get better.

The main thing you need to learn is how much damage can the tank take before he really needs a heal? This affects when and if you can afford to heal others in the group, especially if they are about to die. This is something that just takes repeated practice, but make sure you are learning it. It’s absolutely critical!

Bottom line tanks are your first priority.

Healing the DPS

prilosecAhh, the DPS! The guys who get the job done. The guys that kill the bosses for us. The guys that cause us more heartburn than all the Prilosec in the world can cure!!!

I could bring up a hundred different situations where you have to make snap decisions on who to heal among the DPS. But here’s something I do in general about all the DPS. They may find it isn’t fair, but if they want to get bumped up on my list, they can read this and find out what they need to do to make sure they’re at the top.

In general DPS have two jobs. First, kill the mob or boss. Second, DON’T AGGRO!!! DPS have other roles such as to banish, sheep, ice trap, and sap, but all in all the two jobs fit all DPS. It’s very important to find out who’s the best at what they do. Most healers I’ve run into get to know their tanks and even their other healers, but unless one guy is notorious for pulling aggro most healers ignore the DPS.

There are times when you will have to make a decision. Do I heal this guy? It’s not an easy question and for any true healer it goes against our nature. If someone’s hurt, you heal. Plain and simple. There’s no reason not to. But there are other things to consider.

If you have someone who is notorious for pulling aggro, don’t heal him. That’s right. You heard me. DON’T HEAL HIM! In my guild, healers have my permission to throw no heals that person’s way and if it means the raid wiped they can say “Kyrilean told me not to heal him,” and I’ll back them up and take the blame. No, seriously.

I’ve heard all the excuses. My favorite is “I crit 5 times in a row!” They know what their crit % is. They play their toon all the time. They know how often in reality it happens. ADJUST YOU BACK OF THE BUS WINDOW LICKING MORON!!!* (Sorry. Kind of a sore spot with me.) It never fails to surprise me how often I hear the crit excuse. Please for the love of all that’s holy (and for those of you that are evil—all that’s unholy) WAIT 5 SECONDS before you start your DPS!

OK, so what does that all have to do with healing? In reality it’s a teaching tool. Teach your DPS how to play by allowing them to die for their mistakes. Don’t save their ass from the fire(or ice in the case of Wrath) just because they’re too stupid to walk around it. Let the guy die 3-4 times early on in a raid and either he’ll whine, cry, and quit the guild or he’ll amazingly begin to back off. Worst (or best) case scenario he keeps doing it and either gets kicked from the raid or guild, but you’ll have the pleasure of knowing he’s got a huge repair bill.

Healing Yourself and Other Healers

One huge problem I’ve noticed healers often make is they forget to watch themselves. Don’t ask me why, because I do it too.

You have two priorities. Keep the tanks alive and keep yourself alive. Other healers fall into that category with you, but unless you can determine that healing another healer who is about to die and said healer can survive to keep the raid alive longer than you, then heal yourself.

That said make sure you stay alive. Make sure the other healers stay alive, but make sure the tanks stay alive first. Tanks die, the raid wipes. Healers die, the tanks will die, and then the raid wipes. DPS dies, the fight lasts a while longer, you may or may not wipe. So it’s really all about longevity. What keeps the raid alive the longest that’s what you heal.

Knowing your other healers is just as important, if not more important, as knowing the rest of the raid. Know your healers’ assignments. In my opinion, assignments are really more for focusing your attention rather than saying “You heal this guy and only this guy. If you heal someone else, I’m gonna smack you!” It’s in the nature of healers to heal anyone that’s hurt. Accept it. However, you’ll notice that some healers pay more attention to certain parts of the raid than others or are just better at healing certain parts.

When the entire raid starts taking massive hits chances are the priest or druid is going to cast an AoE heal. Knowing if they’ll do it, who’s the fastest at it, and what they’re capable of hitting is important to knowing where to throw your next heal. Should it go to the tank or that ranged DPS who isn’t close enough to the raid to benefit from an AoE heal? That decision can only be made based on who your other healers are and do you trust them to keep the tanks up while you heal someone else?


Practice, practice, practice!!! There’s no other way to say it. Even everything I’ve said above has an exception depending on your circumstances. The only way to find out how to handle those exceptions are to run instances. Heal every opportunity you get. Don’t be afraid to volunteer. Maybe you aren’t 100% ready for that run, but you have to start somewhere.

RUN 5-MAN RAIDS!!! I can’t tell you how many people that began raiding late in BC that refused to do this. It was always “Can we run Kara?” 5-mans are the only place for you to really learn how to heal. All heals are dependent on you. No one else. You fail, the raid fails. You have to learn that before you can learn raid healing.

Good luck and have fun!

*Although this is a short-bus joke, I in no way condone the making fun of the the mentally or physically handicapped.  (That’s an old story that brings me shame to this day and would make a good post, although not related to WoW in any way, shape, or form.)  I do however condone the making fun of people who are just idiots.


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