5 Barriers of a Raid Healer – Part 3: Tunnel Vision

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Each Saturday for the next five weeks, I will be writing about one barrier of the raid healer. Healers are often overshadowed and looked over since we are expected to simply know what to do. With luck, this five part series will help you to become a better raid healer whether you are a varsity or a freshman.

So far, I have covered:

Barrier 3: Tunnel Vision

“Focus is a matter of deciding what things you’re not going to do.”
John Carmack

Even the best healers suffer from tunnel vision. Their eyes are deeply glued to the raid windows and often miss a Doomfire heading towards them (or a Spout). As healers, we are often frozen in place due to our responsibility as combat medics. Unlike our leafy limbed brethren, Shamans, Paladins, and Priests need to stay still in order to get their spells off. As a result, us healers spend precious seconds having to heal in a stationary position knowing we could go at any moment if we concentrate too much on the raid.


Every raider has a responsibility to stay alive. Just because we healers have methods to bring our health back up, doesn’t mean it’s the best way. Moving 3 steps right and 2 steps up can save precious mana and our own e-lives.

Just last night, I participated in a Zul’Aman run which went relatively smooth. We suffered 2 under 10% wipes on Zul’Jin. In fact, we went into Phase 5 with all 10 players alive. But alas, we wiped due to those flame geyser things. I died to them twice and I make no excuse for my own failings. I guess the blogging God saw it ironic that I would be writing about tunnel vision and decided to collaborate with the raid God to screw me over. On my part, there is absolutely no excuse. If I’m going to die, then I will die for reasons beyond my control. Total and utter shame on me. A lot of players will play the blame game because no one wants to take responsibility for it.

Not me. I screwed up, I know why, and I’m going to not make that mistake again.

Except I did *faceplant*. I wonder if there’s something in the DSM about that.


When (and I do mean when and not if) you get past the Karazhans and the Gruuls and start your trek into the SSC’s and the TK’s, the encounters get much more interesting. All the practices from “cave ins” and “shatters” should be a good start for build your situational awareness. Here’s a few extra tips and exercises that I do:

  • Maximize white space. White space is a term I use to refer to blank space or open areas. Unlike some tanks and DPS classes, we need to have our raid frames open at all times. This contributes to the clutter on our screen. One way to maximize white space is to reduce your UI scale. This can be done in your options -> video settings. If you’ve got the dough, opt for a bigger monitor. I raid on a 22″ monitor with the frames neatly tucked into the side. You can see various shots of my UI here.
  • Minimize down time. I don’t mean downtime in a in between trash pull setting. I mean downtime as in lapse of actions. Always be doing something whether it’s moving, trinketing, or something. Don’t simply stand there. Action is almost always better than inaction and it will help train you to become faster. I like to randomly move back and forth and side to side during raids where I’m allowed. Sometimes you have to in order to keep up with your tanks and it’s a good skill to pick up. When you’re moving, you need to concentrate on what’s immediately around you, therefore you need to switch from your frames to your windows. Eventually, you’ll develop a practice where you just “know” where you are in relation to the things and players around you. Your movements will no longer be random, they’ll be focus and fluid. Every keystroke, every step, every screen swivel will have a purpose. Playing RTS games help. Not only do you need to command your units in the field, you have to manage your economy and unit production simultaneously. I used to be decent at Command and Conquer (NOD) but then they nerfed tanks which completely wrecked my Crane -> Double Refinery (sell 1) -> Plant/Factory -> Factory/Refinery -> 8 tank rush -> WIN strat. While my units were moving towards the opposition base, I made sure every credit was being spent on upgrades, more factories, or more tanks (no such thing as too few tanks). Call it time management, if you will. Same thing in WoW. Boss fights are typically ten minutes. WoW isn’t just about resource (mana) management, it’s also about time management.
  • Work on your peripheral vision. When I was younger, I had a fascination with espionage practice and spying. One of the little exercises they had helped increase your ability to use your peripheral vision. The next time you’re walking home, try looking straight ahead and see if you can read house numbers without turning towards it. If you think you have it, check to see if you’re correct. I believe the reasoning was so that intelligence agents could observe their subjects without their subjects knowing they were being observed (He can’t be looking at me, so I must be safe). In WoW, having excellent peripheral vision can help increase your chance of survivability because out of the corner of your eye you can see that jet of water heading your way or some curled up flaming turkey from the sky.

Other Resources

Ego wrote an excellent piece a little over a month ago on a concept she referred to as tiered healing. It’s a great read and it offers a bit more of a detailed process in regards to prioritizing healing targets. As a Priest, I’m not as good as a Paladin for MT healing or a Shaman for raid healing. But I can switch between the 2 as needed at any time in case we get a man down.

9 thoughts on “5 Barriers of a Raid Healer – Part 3: Tunnel Vision”

  1. I was just talking about this with a friend of mine, how “I didn’t see what happened; all I see is bars” or “I don’t know what the inside of the instance looks like; I only look at bars” are only true of bad healers or “good” healers wanting an excuse for why things went wrong.

  2. On the subject of minimizing down time, if you need to move soon (ie. repositioning for bloodboil) and not immediately (ie. doomfire)do it when refreshing PoM/Renew/PW:S/CoH, or any other instant casts. Moving during the GCD whenever possible goes a long way to helping you avoid tunnel vision, by forcing you to look at where you’re going (and whats going around your precious bars), while being mindful of the time you have to move. This minimizes the healing output lost by retaining mobility, and is an ESSENTIAL skill to master if you want to be successful in BT/Hyjal and Arenas. As you get better at this, your focus will adjust allowing to take in, not only the health bars of everyone, but the environment, position of allies, debuffs, and cooldowns as well.

  3. I love this post… being aware of that third world, beyond my raid frames is always my greatest challenge; i must say, the hard work is paying off, and my longevity is resulting in topping all the meters.

    I do have to pick at you though – you say shammies are better raid healers. . .but no shaman can touch a good CoH priest on fights like the trash on RoS or on the BloodBoil fight. Or Archi… or any of the other encounters where moving, being spread out, or party-specific AoE heals matter. Bwuahahaha, Priest-class Pride!

  4. I put #1 and 3 into practice by moving the camera around, even during a gheal where I’m stationary for a few seconds.

    We’ve been doing void reaver and solarian lately and I find moving the camera around helps me a lot.

    It was hard to move all the little bars and timers away from the center of my screen so I can see myself, but once we started ssc/tk it was necessary.


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