Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Have You Broken The Obsession?

Monday I took a look at crowd control, which is building block number one to learn or relearn as a healer or anyone else wanting success in Cataclysm content.  For those of us who healed in Wrath or even before, the whole "new" concept of triage healing is perhaps more than a little different than what we are used to.  After all, full green bars are good. Full green bars is what everyone expects...that's what we need to achieve as healers because that's what we always do. Top everyone off, even the DPS standing in the fire and the tank who did not use his cooldown. No matter, back to green...


This obsession with full green bars must be broken quickly or else you and the poor people you heal for will suffer through countless wipes. The second fastest way to run out of mana on every fight other than the lack of crowd control is overhealing. Every single point of healing that is wasted when a player is at full health is a point of healing that will not be available later in the fight. When heroics are overgeared, perhaps you can go back to obsessing over full green bars. But for the time being, group success depends on breaking this obsession spawned from Wrath and years of overhealing with no real consequence.

The problem is that overhealing and seeing green bars is like a soothing drug after all this time, a shot of nicotine or whatever other drug does the trick. It lures you back in, inciting you to waste your mana on unnecessary heals early in a fight. But you just have to accept that 50-60% or even lower is fine, as long as the players are stable and not at risk of dying based on a random boss or mob ability. Like with crowd control and marking mobs, once again knowing the fights is a great weapon so that you know exactly how much health is an appropriate baseline to keep players alive.  This may seem a bit like Russian roulette, but that's the beauty of triage!

You also need to consider potential attacks or mob crowd control that may take your heals offline for a few seconds. Assuming that the tank will go critical even with a cooldown when this happens, is the rest of the group high enough to sustain themselves in the interim?  Once again, instinct tells us to fill those bars full, but that is not correct.  The full green bar obsession, it is a temptress as always. 

Healing in Cataclysm may seem harder, but the truth is that it is only harder because it requires change. Some healers will adapt and continue to thrive in this new environment.  Others will not and pass on to other roles (tanks please) or other games entirely.  However, these ranks will be replaced by new healers who will probably find it easier because the built-in full green bar obsession is just not there.  Oh, to be one of those fresh new healers without a routine to break!  But the rest of us must grind on against the urge to fill those little green bars.

So remember, the limiting factor in many encounters is a healer's mana bar. Everything you and the other members of your party or raid do in a fight affects whether or not that mana bar will finish the fight at a comfortable 5-15% or a dead 0%.  New healers especially need to know that it is not always you that caused the wipe.  However, doing your best requires that triage healing is fully embraced.  Adios green bar obsession, hello Cataclysm healing.


  1. Excellent article, and I agree. :D
    BUT, I do think that you might be wrong here:
    "Oh, to be one of those fresh new healers without a routine to break!"

    New healers who start at level 80 might not have the bad habit. But I wonder, if you started healing at level 15, wouldn't you have the "full green bar" habit by level 80?

  2. I stick to the 50% rule. Over 50%, you get a Holy Shock/WoG combo, or a Holy Light. Under 50% and I'll think about using something else. Unless it's the tank of course. Even then I generally stick to Holy Lights, until it all drops in the pot. Odds are, anything that will kill a player at 50% HP will kill them at 100%, and topping them off wouldn't have mattered (i.e. standing in fire).

  3. @PaulC - That's a very good point. The green bar obsession might be unavoidable if you heal your way through the levels. However, there are a lot of people still questing and PvP'ing through the levels who will hopefully not instance until cataclysm teaches them triage healing at the outset.

    @Adgamorix - Unless someone misses an interrupt, no player should lose more than 50% health in nearly all circumstances. So more quick heals may be warranted under 50% but the player should not be lost automatically. Your strategy may have some viability for the paladin class, for sure.