The Joy Of Healing

Stubborn has been writing about why he thinks that MMO healers are pretty much doomed to be unhappy. Our role forces us to focus on the other players instead of NPCs, so that we get to watch all their little failures from up close. How could you not end up resenting the guy who is standing in the fire yet again?

I found Stubborn's take on the subject quite interesting, and some of it definitely resonated with me as well. I do remember more than enough WoW pugs where the tank treated me like dirt, or which featured tiresome dps players that were totally oblivious to their environment as well as each other and yet proudly patted each other on the back for a job "well done" after every fight.

The point where I disagree with Stubborn is that many of the annoyances that he describes in his second post are usually quite obvious to non-healers as well. If someone consistently plays much worse than the rest of the team, he's not just going to tick off the healers. The problem here is bad play, not the healer having to cope with it, even if healers might find some of it more noticeable than players of other roles.

The bit that really got me thinking though was the one where he talks about weighing up positive and negative experiences with your fellow players. He concludes that healers are subjected to much more nuisances from their allies than any other role. I might even agree with that... but the thing is, he never mentions the positive experiences that balance it all out!

So during the last couple of days in particular, I've been paying extra attention to how other players make me happy when I'm healing them, and there was a lot of joy going around.

Healers and tanks:

Whether a tank is using his or her cooldowns properly is something that's generally not very obvious to anyone else in the group - except to the healer. A tank who knows how to minimise damage on himself is a beautiful thing to behold as a healer.

As a tank and a healer get used to each other, they learn to appreciate each other's quirks. The healer knows when the tank will blow his cooldowns, and when he will be vulnerable and in need of extra healing. The tank on the other hand knows to keep his healer close, to keep an eye out for adds and not to let his life support out of his sight. It's very satisfying to establish this kind of unspoken rapport with another player.

In PvP, a tank can protect a healer from a lot of harm through the use of taunts and guard (well, in SWTOR anyway). How could you not love someone who literally redirects damage that other players try to do to you onto himself? I've blown random kisses to tanks on the fleet who guarded me in the past because it's just such a massive boon to my play when done right.

Healers and dps:

Dps players are probably the ones that you have the least connection to as a healer, simply because the core of their job is so different from your own, but that doesn't mean that they can't still make you happy sometimes.

They may not be tanks, but most damage dealers still have ways and means to help a healer out of a tight spot, both in PvE and PvP, whether it's by mopping up some loose adds that have aggroed on you or by stunning an attacking enemy player to let you get away.

Also, as a sort of counterpoint to the cliché of the annoying dps that stands in the fire, it's always a delight to see dps players take responsibility for their own survival and do a good job at it too, whether it's by using cooldowns, healing themselves when needed, or retreating towards their healer to get patched up before jumping back into the action.

Healers and other healers:

Healers can be very catty towards each other if they think that the other one isn't doing a good job (I would know /cough), but if they are on the same or similar performance level, healers are each other's best buddies, to the point where their camaraderie rivals even the special bond between healer and tank.

Nobody understands a healer's job better than another healer, and it feels good to work with another person who knows what needs doing. You've got their back and they've got yours. Similar to a tank/healer team, healers that work together for a prolonged period of time will also get to know each other's "healing styles" and know instinctively how to complement each other instead of getting in each other's way. Again, there is something very satisfying about knowing what the other player's going to do and being able to react to it without having to talk about it beforehand.

All of these little things can occur frequently and at any time while playing, so I find that being a healer in support of good players is actually a very rewarding experience. The occasional survival screw-up isn't nearly enough to cancel out all the warm and fuzzy feelings created by this direct teamwork.


  1. I had totally missed those posts and I disagree with Stubborn very much about the joys of healing, so thanks for pointing them out! Unsurprisingly I agree with you about the ways that healing can make me happy. Bad players (poor at mechanics or unpleasant) make everyone miserable, healer or otherwise.

  2. I tell you what, the times I've spot healed on my Commando I've had a better time of it than whenever I ever healed as a Holy Spec Pally. I always felt like I was falling behind and never keeping up, whereas I can not only heal but drop some debuffs as well.

    1. Well, that depends on what kind of content you're doing obviously...

    2. True, but even on the low level WoW instances such as Razorfen Kraul or Shadowfang Keep I always felt we were one step away from wiping on trash. Of course, the Holy Spec is strictly line-of-sight healing which the twists and turns of SFK wreaks havoc on, but Kraul? You have to actually work hard at getting beyond my LoS in Kraul.

      Admittedly, I got accidentally deposited in Taral V as the healer a few weeks ago and we somehow survived. And that was with me not knowing the instance at all. I even said up front that I was supposed to be DPS, so if we get overwhelmed I'll drop, but the others in the group were accommodating enough about it. I think that accommodation is the big difference between WoW healing and TOR healing.

    3. I've not raid healed since vanilla WoW but I have healed PuGs in WoW, SW:ToR, RIFT, and a few other games on a large number of classes. Sometimes it just doesn't fit. The Holy Paladin was always a tank healer and that could be...exciting in a PuG with damage flying all over the place. On a Shaman, it was a totally different experience. Depends on what you like.

      And you can't discount the community. I never had the player issues (breaking LoS, standing in the fire, blaming the healer for falling off a cliff) in RIFT or SW:ToR that are routine in WoW LFD.

  3. Yay for not annoying my main pvp healer :)

    1. Damn Anonymice again! I think I'm on to this one now though... ;)

  4. I am a lifelong DPSer, but started a trooper-healer a few days ago. Because I wanted to do "something different."

    I have no clue what I am doing. *flails* But it is surprisingly fun. Downing mobs takes forever, but I am perfectly fine soloing level-appropriate heroic quests.(Found Noxxic's website which nudged me into the right direction, but I am still basically flying blind)

    So, the only thing I have to do now is queuing for some flashpoints *kicks shyness*

  5. Yet another interesting post, thanks Shintar...

    As a fellow Commando healer, I'll raise an interesting point that I experience, and I wonder if you have been getting much of the same.
    Often during raids, when we're in a damage-(and as such, healing-)intensive phase, I get remarks sent my way about DPS that "could use some healing". Especially recently in an EC HM run, after the minefield, one of our DPS was taking heavy fire, and afterwards criticized both me and the Sage healer on our team for not healing us.
    How often do you come across such behaviour? Do you think, as I do, that this is just a matter of these players never having played a healer, and as such not being familiar with what the role entails and how much we need to spread our attention during such phases?
    Fortunately, in my case, both our tanks immediately came to our defence, but that will probably not always be the case.

    A few of my fellow healer guildies have an unwritten rule: You don't get healing if you ask for it. The healer knows what he's doing, and if you don't get the heal, he'll have a good reason not to give it to you. I am starting to think this isn't a bad rule. ;)

    1. I have a standard reply to those people. "One, I am healing either the tank or the healer at the moment you (random dps) needed it, or B, you a dick and don't deserve healing anyway :)" My guildies like the smile at the end. And if the dps rage quits, no biggie less stress for me to deal with. Although the tank almost always comes to the healers defence. Even pug tanks.

    2. I used to find that kind of thing really annoying, but now I actually don't mind that much, as long as it a) doesn't happen too frequently and b) isn't phrased in an obnoxious manner. As you say a healer's attention is all over the place sometimes, and I'd lie if I claimed that someone saying "I could use some heals" has never served to draw my attention to something that I was overlooking at the time (after all there are a lot of people to watch in a raid). Sometimes you just want to make sure that people have all the information. I mean, I'll also tell a tank that "hey, I've got an add on me over here" and would find it rather odd if they immediately took offense to that.

    3. I should qualify my statement. I based saying what I do to people that wish to criticize the healing team after a boss fight, whether successful or not. The people who do call outs, as long as its not every second they take a little damage, I don't have an issue with. Like you say, there is alot to keep track of and it never hurts to make people aware. For instance sometimes I have to tell our other healer to heal herself. She gets caught up in healing everyone else and forgets to look at her own health bar. Something all healers are guilty of every once in awhile. But I do have to say that the pugs in SWToR are generally much more fun to run with than say WoW. I don't know why this is but I don't have an issue picking up a pug a raid like I did in
      WoW. Maybe because its same server?

  6. I was always close to my heal team because we were very similar in terms of skill and style. What was SO frustrating about that is that we didn't have a chance to work together at all outside raids! You can't have 2 healers in an instance, blah! Short of using alts, we were kinda SOL on that front.

    1. Fortunately I don't really have that problem since I PvP a lot. Also, everyone in this game has alts it seems.

  7. Good one Shin!

    To tackle that moaning about 'not enough healing received' etc.

    People who know the fights from all three perspectives (tank, dps, heal) and know the mechanics can say when healer is doing his/her job properly or not. Everyone makes a mistake sometimes - a common issue, especially in 8-mans, is that both healers try to combat ress a dead player, meanwhile, tanks die because healers occupied by ressing simply forget to heal for longer period of time. This is what I call bad communication, but shit happens as long as they don't keep doing that regularly.

    People who don't know the perspectives (at least theoretically well enough) and mechanics should remain quiet and leave it to those who do - there are always people leading/evaluating others' performance and making sure there is no obvious mistake holding the whole group back.

    Anyway, when people (dps/healers) are avoiding all they can and still keep dying, it's down to healers to improve. If people don't, yell at them!! :-)

    The bottom line is: no one is going to tank for tanks, no one is going to dps for dps and no one is going to heal for healers. We all have our roles and every single role is complemented by one essential and shared role: to survive.

  8. Shintar,
    It's the end of my semester, so I missed this post going up! I'm really glad it did, though, because it was quite interesting to see your side of the equation.

    It's not that I think healers are doomed to be unhappy; adrenaline junkies and players who really look for a challenge probably gravitate more towards healing as do people who want to feel responsible and effective in their groupings. I just suspect we are more likely to notice the mistakes of others than other average players, giving us the opportunity to build those resentment counters I mentioned. Cool players - like you (; - and players with good teams will certainly be less affected by such a trend.

    Still, I do wonder how much an effect which game you play has on the formula. I suspect it's quite a lot.

    Thanks for the really interesting post!

    1. To be fair, my one-sentence summary of your two posts wasn't intended to be entirely accurate. ;) It was just meant to draw attention and make people click on the links!

      Interestingly, I think I'm almost the opposite of an adrenaline junkie.

      I do think that small differences in healing mechanics between different games can probably make quite a difference to how healers experience grouping. And well, obviously the community matters too, but then that's really more about the community in general and less about healing in specific.


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