The Killer Instinct of Healing

Aunaka wrote a nifty post wondering if great healers could be taught. Not quite sure if a truly great healer can be. How would you even start defining that? Someone who shows up all the time? A player capable of carrying the raid? A Druid who’s able to solo heal the last 10% of a raid boss? I’d classify a great healer as a player who is not only technically sound, but results-oriented. They’re the players who put aside everything and find ways to win.

Would you have thought to Life Grip the tank away from the boss to buy time for them to live?

What about using Pain Suppression on a DPS player so that it was one less player to worry about when healing your group?

You did the research. You read the forums. You followed along with the discussion. You gained the technical knowledge on the best times and best targets to use your spells on. What you’re not taught is that there’s multiple right answers to the same problems and different degrees of success.

This is where the killer instinct of healing comes into play.

There’s a marked difference in approach between an alt healer that has played for years versus a healer that’s done nothing but heal. It’s easy to teach a new healer the basics about their spells, resource management, and so on. However, I don’t believe it’s possible to instil that survival instinct of healing. That alt healer guy mains a Retribution Paladin, perhaps. All they’re interested in is unloading the DPS and only comes in to relief heal as a break from DPS or because there isn’t enough healers for that day.Having a killer instinct is an approach that needs to be embraced and can’t be taught. You start making your own decisions and throw “the book” out the window because “the book” didn’t cover the situation you were in.

Case study

Hard mode Yor’sahj calls for two Paladins to help heal during the purple phases. Guess what? You might not have two Paladins. Find a work around. Sometimes that means letting the tank die on one occasion and using the Battle Res. I struggled when I didn’t have two Paladins to work with. 1 Paladin healed the first tank and I took the second one. We ended up using 3 Rebirths because I struggled like crazy to keep my tank alive during the various purple oozes. Relied endlessly on Prayer of Mending so as to not detonate our tank and really strategic cooldowns.

Listen, as much I want to, I can’t teach you to be desperate.

I can’t teach you how to be hungry.

I can’t teach you to want a boss kill badly enough that you’ll consider using unorthodox specs, weird spells, and what-the-hell inducing plays.

One thing I learned when playing hockey is that you play hard every shift between the whistle. In WoW terms, you don’t stop what you’re doing until the raid leader says “Wipe it up”. If you’re busting your ass healing, you better expect everyone in your raid to be right there with you. This isn’t a casual philosophy in any aspect.

As my uncle Freudicus, a psychologist, once told me, “It’s all in the id, kid!”.

You’ll be a good healer by reading, asking, and watching other healers play. Being a great healer requires the attitude, the work ethic, and the burning desire. It can’t be taught but maybe it can be learned.

9 thoughts on “The Killer Instinct of Healing”

  1. Excellent post, Matt. This hit the nail on the head in regards to something I’ve been trying to verbalize for the longest time. Many of the druids I’ve advised in the past have always asked me how they can do better after I’ve shown them proper gearing, talenting, etc., and it always comes down to how they react to different situations. I agree with you that, in order to go from being a good healer to a great healer, it takes drive, focus, determination, and thinking outside the box. That’s certainly how I’ve gotten to where I am as a healer.As a tangential note/ethos appeal, my guild managed to down Heroic Madness last night. That fight can get pretty intense from a healing perspective.

  2. I really wish I’d read this before I made my own post on the subject. This is a really great way to look at it! I totally agree that you can’t just communicate that “killer instinct” but I do think that it’s a pretty natural development for anyone who first gains the knowledge and then puts the time into utilising it – time which is a relatively small cost overall. The time it takes might vary from person to person, but essentially everyone is capable of developing it.

  3. “There’s a marked difference in approach between an alt healer that has played for years versus a healer that’s done nothing but heal.” –
    I’m definitely one of the former.  As a player who’s been DPS for most of my wow career, I have trouble feeling totally comfortable in tanking or healing roles.  However, I do come across a few players in raids from time to time who are equally comfortable AND skilled (good) in multiple roles and classes.  It has always left me in awe.  I asked a friend once, who is one of these types of players, how he’s able to shift around from class/role so effortlessly.  His response was that he just imagines himself as a priest or a DK or a rogue… whatever he happens to be playing, and that each role/class has a unique feel to him.  My response was of course “lol”.  But seriously, he says that it changes his state of mind when he takes on a role and he, I guess, becomes “resto”.  If imagination is the tool necessary for him to take on these other roles, maybe that is the limiting factor for me and other “alt healers”.


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