Why Healing is fun in PvP

This is a guest post by Sylvara, of the Raging Monkeys. That is quite possibly one of the best blog names I’ve seen so far.

While not playing WoW actively at the moment, the thing I really miss most about the game at times is PVP. Even when I was raiding 3-4 times a week, I would hop into some quick BGs with Era, my personal retridin, on off nights or after raids had finished. PVP has always been a great outlet and a change from PVE healing for me. I have learned valuable things there that have benefited me in PVE over the years and that’s why I have been a bit of a spokesperson for it in our raid guild, together with my BG buddy.

img01I started to heal in BGs regularly in early vanilla. This was the time of PVP rankings where battle groups did not yet exist and players would have to compete against everyone else on the server in order to claim ranks (the threshold of players per rank being limited). At the time I was lucky to chance on a group of like-minded players that, not only founded one of the more progressed 40man raid guilds at the time, but were what I would still label “crazy PvPers”. At some point we had 5 Grand Marshals and 3 Field Marshals in the guild. One GM was a woman and all the FMs were female players too, contradicting the general notion that female players like to PVP less than males. Whenever they had an open spot in their premade, they’d get me in as replacement healer. And though I was also raiding 4 times a week and leading the healers, I got pretty obsessed with PVP for a while before giving up just short of rank 9.

In TBC the PVP system got its huge revamp and when I left my first raid guild, I also left premade PVP in such big a fashion. I am not a fan of pugging, neither on the PVE nor PVP side of WoW, so I kept being part of relatively small groups of PVP-interested players in my next guilds. Somewhere in mid-TBC me and Era started to team up as “pali-priest duo infernale” and have kept going at it ever since, PvPing a lot on weekends, collecting each season’s gear and having loads of great laughs – there are those nights when we’re almost unstoppable.

So why am I actually doing this? Why am I enjoying PVP as a healer? I’ve been reading healer blogs and sites for years, but I notice there’s not an awful lot going on on the PVP side of things. I don’t know if my fellow priests don’t enjoy BGs or if they’re too shy to write about their experiences, but here’s my take on the matter. (I might have to add that I am excluding arenas here, for there are fundamental differences between healing in arenas and healing in BGs. While I’ve also given arenas a go myself, that topic would need an extra post of its own).

The joys of PVP

If I had to name the top 5 aspects I appreciate about PVP as a healer, then it’s the

  1. The frenzy of battle
  2. The teamwork mechanics
  3. The strategic aspect
  4. The different healing approach
  5. The power to turn the tide

I enjoy a good confrontation in games. I enjoy the pressure and thrill of challenge and the big difference between PVE and PVP will always be that player characters behave erratically while NPCs will follow script. Even if you can (and should) expect certain classes to do certain things in BGs, there is always the element of surprise and human error which keeps things interesting and chaotic. This influences the way you need to react.

I have never experienced a stronger team-building effect in WoW like the one you get from playing with the same few people in BGs regularly. If you have a serious go at this, you will soon find yourself part of one well-oiled team machine that knows each other’s next moves blindly and keeps each other’s backs free. The satisfaction of surviving onslaughts twice your number because you’re acting as one unit is incredible. Epic win! Only really hard earned raid firstkills ever compare in terms of adrenaline rush for me.

BGs are all about strategy and if you want to play and win, you will need to learn every individual map’s ins and outs. I enjoy tactical moves like pre-emptive strikes and feints and I have often seen the outcome of a BG turn around because there were just a few people
taking charge of overall tactics.

I mentioned before that I find an outlet in PVP healing. It’s a total change of focus for me and, while I also keep my partner’s butt alive, it allows me to play a lot more ego-centric than in raids, which is thoroughly relaxing. I use different sets of spells and abilities,many of which revolve around my own survival and crowd control, as much as adding some DPS when I can.

There is an immense satisfaction in seeing your team turn the tide, in knowing that your healing and timing were crucial to the overall outcome of a BG. Even if you lose, a good battle is still fun. I admit that it’s even better to win and find yourself on place 1 or 2 on honor gained though – which is often the case for a good healer and his partner.

What PVP can teach you

img02What I tell not only other healers but also ranged DPS in the guilds I am in, is that there’s actual benefits for PVErs to play PVP at least occasionally. Ranged players especially, often suffer from ‘feet of stone’-syndrome (don’t stand in the fire, anyone?) and tunnel vision. It is one of the most remarkable differences between PVP mages, warlocks, hunters, hybrid DPS, healers and strict PVErs: PVPers have to move around almost constantly while performing. Okay, you can just play Alterac Valley all the time hiding somewhere in back row, but that’s seriously meh! If you want to improve on things like movement, situational awareness, reaction time and survivability, then enter more BGs. Don’t go in all by yourself but go as a small team, so it’s not so frustrating when you start. I found that a lot of the automatisms I developed in BGs benefited me greatly in PVE encounters.

Besides these elemental benefits, it will also teach you a lot about other class mechanics, strategic maneuver, group organization and timing.

A few tips for healers

I’ve just mentioned it and will mention it again – try and go in with at least one more person who is playing a non-healer. Pugging while you’re playing a support class is a seriously frustrating and ungrateful job, even if you can throw heals around randomly. As healers we function best in cooperation with others and if you want to experience the enjoyable side of PvP and reduce your number of deaths, find yourself someone that watches your back as much as you watch his. Me and my buddy are usually on vent when we PVP, which is an additional help and source of fun.

You should also take at least a basic interest in things like BG tactics, play style, stats, and gearing for PVP. You don’t need to respec in BGs as much as you do for arenas, but a general knowledge of how to play and which abilities come handy will help you along the
way – and resilience, lots of it. I found most of the info I needed in the past via Elitist Jerks, Arena Junkies and the general WoW class forums.

My last advice to you is to give your PVP experiences time. Be patient and don’t give up just because you’re losing battles and get killed often. Hang in there and you will gradually notice the differences as your team becomes a more coordinated force and your gear gets better. If nothing else, you will have some good laughs with friends and learn to mind your six more in raids. Me personally, I am greatly looking forward to rated BGs in Cataclysm!

Sylvara, Stormrage EU
August 30th, 2010

13 thoughts on “Why Healing is fun in PvP”

  1. In my experience, Arena definitely helped to increase the fun in BG’s. It’s like I see ad hoc Arena partners wherever I go and try to play to their potential. As a result, I found my effectiveness increase… and my knowledge of other classes increase notably. To fight against classes and pair up with them, inspecting their playstyle is a good way to learn quickly.

    The only downside of this is that the value of these teachings are limited for Arena. While it does teach survivability and flexibility, there are so many sub par pvp specs and tactics out there that they don’t train you for the real deal.

  2. “Ranged players especially, often suffer from ‘feet of stone’-syndrome (don’t stand in the fire, anyone?) and tunnel vision. It is one of the most remarkable differences between PVP mages, warlocks, hunters, hybrid DPS, healers and strict PVErs: PVPers have to move around almost constantly while performing”

    I really haven’t done much PvP in WoW because I was under the impression that PvP was tabbed targeting like PvE. If it’s not, I’ll definitely try it out. If it is, what are the advantages of moving around? Don’t spells and arrows just curve to follow you? Is there a dodge mechanic?
    Thanks in advance for any answers!

  3. Wow Syl, you’re all over the place these days! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a new blogger going in for it with such an enthusiasm and energy. It’s a joy to watch.

    Anyway: this post was actually pretty inspiring. I’ve never been able to really grasp the joy of PvPing with my mage, but hey, who knows, maybe it’s more fun to do it in the shape of a healer. I might give it a go with my resto druid. Cheers!

  4. Geekdoctor: The advantage of moving around is to avoid damage.
    A mage who stands still and lets a rogue beat on them is probably going to die. So you use frost nova, blink, slows, etc to get away and stay out of melee range. There is almost nothing more frustrating to a melee than to chase after a frost mage who knows how to move.

    You also need to keep moving to keep up with the battle. In BGs like Warsong Gulch for example, you’ll often find running battles as the Flag Carriers move from the enemy bases back to their home bases. If you stand still for more than a few seconds, you’ll probably get left behind.

  5. Thats not to say you can’t find times to stand still and nuke.

    Alterac Valley often provides opportunities for that. If both teams initial zerg rushes fail you’ll typically find the battle transform from a fast with almost no sign of the enemy, to a sort of in your face grand melee with almost all players on both sides confined to a small bottleneck area where one team attempts to advance while another team is forced to defend. When this happens, the ranged(and healers) can often stay back behind the melee in relative safety and try to nuke individual targets, or use long range AOE.

    If the battle leads to this kind of fighting the BG will drag on for 10-30 minutes sometimes. Not very good if you want quick honor, but the nature of the fight, giving up ground slowly or advancing slowly has a sort of epic fantasy novel battle feeling to it that(to my mind) is often more fun and rewarding than a 6 minute zerg rush.

  6. @Zusterke
    My main reason to exclude arenas in this post is that I would like to encourage other healers to give PVP a go – and I don’t think arenas are the best place to start for beginners or skeptics. There are fundamental differences, I’d call them ‘flaws’ too, that keep me personally from enjoying arenas the same way I enjoy BGs. For one thing it’s an entirely different level of competitiveness: if you want to get above a certain rank, let’s say 1700. you cannot really play arenas casually anymore. at least on in my battlegroup you need a team that plays several nights per week. if you’re also raiding, this is hard to manage. then there’s the spec and gear factor which is HUGE in arenas and the balance issue is quite another in there as well. some class combos are simply better than others and it’s not much fun losing all the time because you’re not in the right specs and group combo. BGs can teach you all the things I listed without this hassle. 🙂

  7. @Geek
    I believe Babb has mentioned a few things already; playing a ranged DPS class in a BG is absolutely devastating if you know how to move and move you must if you want to survive for long, there’s no such thing as standing still or tab-targetting in peace unless you’re hiding somewhere which defeats the objective in this case.
    If you watch skilled PVP mages for example, you notice that they’re like whirlwinds, constantly around you, crowd controlling, slowing, blinking, kiting the melee trying to get at them while nuking – they never ever stand still and they really can’t afford to. as soon as I enter a BG on my healer I am constantly moving and trying to kite those coming for me, while adding damage, healing, fearing, managing CDs etc. If I stand still I’m dead pretty fast.

    hey there! good to see you want to give it another go some time, it can be fun indeed!

  8. I have 2 healers, and a DK that I play. My DK is fun, because he is just devastating… but for fun, I always jump on my Druid or Priest. I have the latest PvP gear (non Arena) on my DK and my Druid, which is why my Priest sees the most play time any more in PvP. Though, I admit, 90% of my PvP time is spent playing Wintergrasp.

    The first experience of healing in PvP was with my druid. My ex-Girlfriend and I jumped into an Eye of the Storm match. Normally, in my battle group, Alliance gets destroyed. The one we jumped in, we stuck together, kept each other topped off, and ran with a “group” keeping them up. We completely dominated that match. It was probably the single most fun I have EVER had healing a PvP.

    I love healing with my druid, as well, for the reason stated above. You don’t stand still. A rogue loves seeing the backs of healers, healing… if you move, they go for a more… sedate… target. And, with all the instant cast HoTs, well, they rock. On my priest, I run Disc in PvP. Instant casts are my friend. Shields all around, and regrowths, with bigger heals tossed in from time to time (if there is a stable front, I can stop behind).

    I WILL admit, that the WORST experience I have had in PvP, was healing on my shaman. I swear that they are gimped to hell in PvP.

  9. I have a holy priest that I enjoy doing BG’s with, but have never had the opportunity of being in a pre-made. I found out very early on that “adopt a (insert melee class here)” is a great way to do BG’s. They very quickly learn “AHA, I have a private healer..WOOT!” and will protect you as they cause murder and mayhem on a grand scale, gaining you both much honor…and it’s great fun. Fav. memory: Ret pally flag carrier killing everything in circles around me as we made steady progress on our way to cap the flag in Warsong Gulch..3 times!

  10. Good read, however, I cannot stress this enough. You WILL need to play some PvE before battlegrounds become fun.
    I had some alt level 80 hanging around, being pretty much gearless. Spent 2k crafting all of the blue PvP items for them. Spent a week reading up tactics against classes, setting up UI/Actionbars, macro’s, talents and glyphs. Went into an Arathi Basin(My favorite on my main). Got dominated in seconds.
    Yep, a lot of what I did still had uses, such as reading up on tactics. But I’m going to have to respec, re-gear, set up my action bars in a useful way and read up on PvE rotations as well, so I can get my PvP gear through emblems.
    Oh, and I’m on Stormrage EU as well, and like you said, when me and my teammate reached 1750, we pretty much quit due to time limitations.

  11. Great article! I too love to heal in PvP. Currently I arena/BG on my resto shaman alt equally as much, if not more than, I do on my rogue main. Having played both of those roles leads me to a greater understanding that really has a huge benefit; on my rogue if someone is healing me I will rush back to them to kill any enemies currently attacking them. If I’m on my healer and I’m in trouble, I instinctively run towards other members of my team for help, and in turn try to keep them alive as long as possible, because I know being an invincible DPS is tons of fun.
    Another thing I notice is that hybrids – ret paladins, elemental/enhancement shamans, etc., rarely heal others. And by heal I mean just one or two heals that could save another player from certain death, not really “spamming”. When I played elemental, more often than not me + any random class versus 2 other players, me and my “partner” almost always won because I was willing to toss a few heals in between my DPS rotation. It saddens me to see these very useful hybrids not take advantage of their varied skillset. I know it’s not fun to babysit another DPS when you’re DPSing, but I’m here to tell you, it’s even more unfun/embarassing for you and an ally to faceplant versus 2 others.

    Healing really is fun because if you are properly protected and defensive enough, you can keep a whole group of people alive when they would otherwise wipe and die. It’s also fun because when everyone is topped off you can perform useful roles like dispelling, purging, interrupting, CCing, and other game-changing moves that can completely thwart the other side.

    I also agree that PvPing can help players develop a set of skills that make a lot of PvE encounters a LOT easier. I mean if you want to draw a direct comparison, being able to perform/cast and move is useful when Lich King is placing Defile, one of the top reasons for raid wipes on that fight.

  12. @Poptart
    The dispelling point is a very good one too! I’m a total dispel-bot in raids and I noticed I am kinda obsessive there compared to many raidhealers, exactly because of PVP. it’s the “drill” and I do it without thinking – in PVP dispelling is often as important or more important than healing, some debuffs and DoTs are just so devastating. it’s one of those automated responses I’ve developed in BGs.

  13. you are absolutely right about pvp helping your pve skills. when i started to raid on my priest, if anything farted in my general direction i was done. after a bit of pvp i started to pick up tips that would keep me alive against a lot of bad thing in raids.


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