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It didn’t take long to get from Thunder Bluff to the Echo Isles – Ankona took advantage of a wyvern so she could think and plan before getting to her destination. She had information to confirm with the spirits – was Gromnor dead? Was he really in the northern part of the Eastern Kingdoms, somewhere […]

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Healing your first instance (or Heroic!)
comment 15 Written by on February 4, 2010 – 4:31 pm

As most of you know, I recently “revived” my very neglected 80 Troll Priest and turned her into an Aely dual-class priest Alliance side. This put me with a fresh level 80 discipline priest, a class I’ve not actively healed with since Karazhan. Needless to say I was both rusty and horrendously geared in a smattering of level 70 epics, quest blues/greens, a few BoE pieces from the auction house, and even some *wince* BoE greens of the sorceror.

Even with that, I was pretty sure I could heal a level 78-80 dungeon without too much hassle. So I decided to start running some normal dungeons, got myself a proper spec… and after a really frustrating first evening of healing, realized I was probably doing it wrong when it came to setting up a learning run.

Of course, some folks really LIKE a trial by fire, seat of the pants, OH GOD DON’T DIE, wiping-on-trash run.

I don’t mind those once I know what I’m getting myself into, but right off the bat?  It was stressful and not very fun, most of which I could’ve prevented by doing a couple of simple things in advance. These will work whether you’re just hitting level 80 or are trying out a new healing spec but are old hat at the game.

Setting up your first instance run as a healer

  • Make sure you have your UI set up properly and your keybindings are done.

If you’re not a healer normally, this will be a little more work, but with two other level 80 healers, I’ve got a pretty good idea where I want things. I just… didn’t realize I’d not done any of that until AFTER the first pull. Also, make sure your keybound spells are your highest trained ranks. If you leveled with dual specs, your “invisible” second spec bars will NOT update with you automatically. (We wiped.)

  • Talk to someone who plays your class and get a quick rundown of how things work.

Knowing not to rely too much on Renew and that Flash Heal would be my bread and butter helped a lot… but I didn’t learn that until after a fated evening of runs, and I was OOM a lot. If you don’t know anyone else that plays your class, check out any of a number of excellent blogs or forums around the internet. (I watched the tank die during at least one Greater Heal cast… oops)

  • Even if you’re pugging some of the group, try to pick your tank beforehand.

You don’t need someone decked out in 264-Icecrown Epix. But someone that’s never tanked before isn’t really a good idea either. (Finding out afterwards that my tank, though level 80 and a skilled player, hadn’t tanked with that class before and still hadn’t trained his level 80 skills?  /facepalm). Basically, you want someone that will at least not make your job harder than it needs to be. (We wiped… more than once.)

  • Pick an instance or two that you are familiar with.

Never been to Halls of Lightning, but you’ve run Gun’drak and Utgarde Pinnacle a lot?  Run those first, to get the “feel” of how your new healing spec is going to work. That way you can concentrate on being the healer, and not on what’s going on around you. You’ll also be less likely to get blindsided by unexpected boss mechanics. (I got lost.)

  • If you’re building the group from people you know, try to get a mixture of DPS

Having all melee or all ranged can make some fights harder than others. Ideally, your first few healing jobs should be for balanced groups, rather than you, a tank, and 4 rogues (for example). A balanced group will let you get used to things like melee damage or running out of fires or keeping ranged alive – without having to stress too much if you screw up and the mage bites it in the AOE. (I don’t want to know what the melee DPS repair bill was.)

Of course, you can always just go by the seat of your pants, but I like to have at least a little bit of a break-in period before I get thrown into the fire!

None of these fixes are particularly difficult. Even if you can’t do all of them, just one or two will go a long way towards helping you get used to your new healing role, whether it’s with a new class, or you’ve never been in charge of the green bars before.

Particularly the part where you make sure your highest ranks of healing spells are the ones you’re using…

(who is totally not immune to noobcake mistakes)

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15 Responses to “Healing your first instance (or Heroic!)”

  1. Interestingly, I’ve been running my newly-80 priest through instances lately after solo leveling her. Now, I did raid on her in Kara and the early parts of SSC, but not since then has she been in an instance, and priest healing is not what it was. So it’s been a learning curve.

    After investigating both holy and disc, I decided to start with holy for two reasons. First, it’s a lot more like what I did with her once upon a time. Second, it’s more different than paladin healing, and as long as I’m working up a new healer, it might as well be something as different from what Nahy does as possible.

    The twist for me is that one of my favorite warrior tanks had just gotten a second warrior tank to level 80, as well. (Why? RP of course.) We decided that the thing to do was to run these instances together. So we had a skilled tank in poor gear and a healer working up both gear and skill.

    I’d add one thing to your list of things to do, at least for people who have run the instances before as a healer. Think ahead of time about the fights, and what will be different. I’m so used to being able to drop a 20K heal on someone who needs it in under 1.5 seconds that I spent a lot of time watching people die because I forgot that holy priest healing is a lot more proactive than overgeared holy paladin healing. I realized I needed to plan ahead so that the Renews were in place and I wasn’t relying on a 2.4 second cast large heal that would hit for less than 15K even if it critted.

    How should I handle things I brute-force on the paladin? For fights like Maiden of Grief and Krystallus in HoS, what do I have to do ahead of time so that everyone makes it through the times I’m frozen until I can get my heals off again?

    What are the things Rheyna can do that Nahyomi cannot? And when should I be prepared to use those skils? It took me several wipes to realize I can use CoH to buy time for a PoH follow-up, and that stacking those two can be very helpful in gauntlet-style fights. It also took me awhile to remember the point of glyphing Guardian Spirit and knowing when to drop it into the rotation.

    What I came to understand in this process is that for me, letting go of my paladin-healing preconceived notions about how a specific fight is “supposed” to go is a necessary first step in learning to heal it effectively with a holy priest.

    The other thing I’d advise is to take a careful look at your racials. Using them effectively can really help.

  2. What @Nayhomi said. Read it. (It should be part of the post, thanks!)

    As it were, I’m going with Disc both because it’s what I’ve always done and because it makes more sense for Aely… but eventually I’ll probably try Holy as well

  3. Aww, it sounds like it would’ve been a fun evening! (I actually really enjoy seeing friends try out new classes and don’t mind the learning curve when I’m along for the ride — you’d think this would make it easier to ask for people to help me learn to tank with Nancie, but no.)

    I’m thinking back to the very first thing I main healed as Teuthida — it was an Auchenai Crypts “trying to get an enchanting recipe” run with two feral druids, a rogue, and Val as tank. I had never gone resto before, and only knew from vague rumors that Earth Shield really was very useful. It is just possible that my addiction to Chain Heal comes from that night. 😀

    But man, shamans at 70 pre-Riptide sure had it easier re: bars than a disc priest today — no wonder you had to juggle your bars!! I remain dumbfounded by the sheer number of things a disc priest has to juggle. I mean, it’s super-fun, don’t get me wrong, but wow, SO MANY SPELLS!

  4. @Teuthida – OH GOD SO MANY BUTTONS. Wait. I don’t have that many fingers. Ok… So some of this needs to be mouseover… if I bind this to that and…

    And then I go into the instance and don’t think and start trying to spam PW: Shield (since Bubble is where Holy Light is). I”m getting better though! I’ve successfully healed all the heroics that the dungeon finder will let me into!

  5. One other thing I did was look at Nahy’s key binds and put similar spells on the same key binds. That way if I have a brain spasm and try to hit FoL, at least I get a Flash Heal and not something like Fade.

    It was when I dropped an Abolish Disease on the tank at the start of the fight that I realized that if I put ProM on the same bind as Beacon, I would be less likely to make that mistake. It’s a little tricky, of course, since priests have a lot more tools, but at least I cut down on the “oops that was a paladin bind my fingers just did!” wipes.

  6. My advice to new healers:
    – spend some time reading over your spells, become familiar with them, figure out how to cast them (whether buttons or macros or keybinds)
    – go heal a few battlegrounds.

    Healing battlegrounds is great for me, because I don’t feel bad if I let someone die in a BG. (In contrast, I don’t like to let people die in dungeons.) I can practice that I know where all my spells are and can shake off the dust.

    By Jacob on Feb 4, 2010 | Reply
  7. This is a really awesome idea for a post.

    And I second Jacob… battlegrounds are a really easy learning environment to try out healing in because nobody blames you when things go wrong. People expect to die a few times, and the repair cost from PvP isn’t too high. WG and AV are the best because there are so many swarms of people running around there’s A) always someone to heal nearby and B) you’re less of a target in a crowd than you would be in the small teams of WSG or EOTS.

    When I started healing on my holy pally, I ran AV after AV and just chucked the different hand spells at people to figure out what they did and how to use them. The familiarity with those spells helped a LOT when I started trying to heal in raids and heroics. I don’t accidentally hit the divine sac button anymore when I’m looking for hand of salvation (don’t ask me why those two confused me, but they totally did).

  8. Battlegrounds are definitely a good idea, especially if you’ve never healed before at all – though they ARE a different style of healing. I’d say to use them as a way to get to know your spells more than a way to learn how to work in a PVE setting 🙂

    Keep the great ideas coming though, folks. This is awesome stuff 🙂

  9. @Nayhomi – I’ve done something similar, with Flash Heal on the same bind as FoL, bubble on a similar click bind, and Penance where I’d usually have Holy Shock – though I do use Penance a lot more than I use Holy Shock! I just /really/ miss Cleanse when I’m on my priest. Having to have two buttons plus Mass Dispel has been a big change!

  10. My one comment about the use of BGs is that if you have never done BGs before, don’t go for the first time as a healer. You probably won’t have time to learn where your spells are.

  11. “Ideally, your first few healing jobs should be for balanced groups, rather than you, a tank, and 4 rogues (for example).”

    Ah, I see your problem. Either you were relying on an evasion tank or you were trying to 6-man Ulduar!

    I have a 79 resto shaman, and he’s my first high-level healer. Though there’s certainly nothing wrong with riding Wow bareback, when I asked about getting started healing, my guildies were pretty much all in agreement that a healing unitframe and click-casting addon (say, Healbot or X-Perl/Vuhdo/Grid + Clique) is extremely helpful in giving newbie healers a modicum of competence, at least enough to survive heroics and some raids. I got Healbot, and it really does make a difference.

    By el ranchero on Feb 5, 2010 | Reply
  12. I think you do a fine job at healing on all your healers thank you very kindly.

    By Melryn on Feb 6, 2010 | Reply
  13. What kind of stats should you be aiming at for a fresh level 80 Holy Priest for healing in HC’s?

    By Benregn on Feb 7, 2010 | Reply
  14. @Benregn – Caveat – I am not a Holy Priest, I am a Disc Priest. I have not healed as Holy yet in WotLK. That said, I was able to successfully heal tanks with appropriate gear levels and non-braindead DPS with around 1300 unbuffed SP (this is for NORMAL instances, not heroics). I can’t speak to haste/crit/spirit/regen numbers, because I am a Disc Priest, and as such, stack spellpower and generally ignore the rest of it!

    My suggestion would be to check the Auction House or have a few pieces of level 78-80 gear crafted for you (find a tailor friend!), check what you can get for various reputation levels, since a good bit of the Honored gear is level 78 and quite good, and give it a whirl somewhere like Gundrak or Halls of Stone or CoT:Stratholme. If you’re successful there, pick up some of the normal 80’s (not ToC or ICC though). If you can get some friends to go with you, all the better, as they’ll help you out!

  15. My holy priest was able to heal the lower heroics (not ToC or the ICC 5s), with a tank in similar gear to hers, using all items that are available prior to heroics, with one exception. I crafted the Moonshroud set (gloves and robe), got blues of iLevel 187, and then picked up a set of 200 epic shoulders from our guild bank. I had a 138 trinket and 175 bracers (both blue).

    I was not focused on stats so much as getting items with a good spread of stats (int, spirit, sp, haste, and mp5, in no particular order).

    It was NOT easy, especially with a tank who actually required healing, but it was doable. I also healed ToC and FoS normal in that gear. I cannot emphasize strongly enough how much it mattered that the entire group was people I knew. Usually, four newly minted level 80 alts and one DPS who was overgeared (because he doesn’t “do” alts). Wipes and miscues were part of what we were there to learn to avoid, and it was nice to do it without getting the “L2P healer!!!1!” response that PUGs might have given us.

    It was also nice that I have an overgeared healer and the tank has an overgeared tank, too. When we found a fight or instance that was confoudning us, we’d do it with one of the two OP and one learning, then swap and do it again. This let each of us practice on our lower geared character before we tried to do with both of us a bit on the undergeared side.

    As a holy priest, I find the instances with poison the hardest if there is no poison cleanser in the party — in that situation, avoid Gundrak and DTK until your gear is a bit better.

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