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Posts Tagged ‘heal’

First off, what is Vuhdo? Simply put it’s an addon that replaces the default World of Warcraft party and raid frames with something that is more configurable. While it’s designed for healers, other classes and roles can and do find use in Vuhdo.

Vuhdo is developed by addon developer Iza, who responds to questions at a forum on PlusHeal.Com. He always has updated ready before major content patches, saving us lots of time and frustration. Any time you find a bug, can’t figure out how to do something, or think of a feature, head over there. Spare the poor man some cycles and check if anyone else has asked the same thing first, though! I download Vuhdo using the Curse Client and that’s usually nice and up to date.

This guide is designed for someone who already knows why they want raid frames. It’s for the Grid user who is looking to get all their functionality in one addon or the HealBot user who is looking to get more functionality. I always think of Vuhdo as the third bear’s addon: not too hot or too cold, but just right.

Grid users: you won’t need Clique if you use Vuhdo!

General Options

Ok, first of all, when you install Vuhdo and turn it on there’s going to be boxes all over the screen. Don’t panic; this is what the defaults look like. Here’s what I want you to do:

1. Type /vd opt
2. When the Vuhdo options come up, click “Move” down at the bottom
3. Now there are big red Xs and green + signs on the boxes. Click all the Xs, say yes to the dialog box, and get an empty screen. We’ll come back to this later.
4. Hit the “General” Tab at the bottom. Now you’ll see something like this:

This is the General tab and the General screen. This is the first set of options you’ll see. Yeah, there’s a lot. The thing to remember with Vuhdo is: every option does something, but you don’t need to tweak them all. A small set will get you a lot of functionality and you can play around more later. For instance, on this screen, the really important option to click is under “Lock Panels”. The “Enable”‘ checkbox locks the panels where they are so you won’t accidentally move them later. /vd lock does the same thing.

If you click the second button down on the right, you get this screen.

Vuhdo navigation is always by tab and screen. Tabs are very general categories and run along the bottom. Screens are more precise refinements of a category and are down the right hand side. It’s very easy to tell which tab and screen you’re on.

Scanners sounds weird and Star Trekkie, but they’re actually very helpful background settings. The first area in this screen is ‘Range’. What this does is set your frames so that if someone is out of range, they get “grayed out” so you know not to heal them. You can either set a yard range at the top, or put in a spell. Most of your spells are probably the same range anyway so do whatever works for you.

The next options down let you select more options. I have “Direction” set. That means when I mouse over their frame, if they’re out of range, I get an arrow pointing at them. Nice! It took some getting used to but it’s insanely helpful now. There’s also a “distance” option, which will tell you how far away they are, and an “Always” button that will make the arrow and/or distance show up even if they’re in range. Your choice how to set it.

Leave the global scanners alone, I don’t think any good comes of tweaking them.

Jumping down to General tab and the Misc screen (Misc button on the right side), we get some useful options. Here you can set your reaction for mouse-up (this is what I use) or mouse-down. IE, does the spell go off when you click or when you release the button after clicking. Hide standard will, well, hide the standard Blizzard frames, since you’re using Vuhdo, you must not need the frames, right? (Rev note: I prefer to leave these on)

D/C shield: a nifty little tool that takes over two Macro slots and then tries to make it so if you disconnect and come back in, mid-fight, that Vuhdo still works. It’s nice, works well for me, and I would leave it enabled (unchecked is enabled)

Global Cooldown: a little visual for you showing how much GCD you have left. When enabled, whichever health frame you’re moused over shows a sort of gray “skin” sliding across that goes away when your GCCD is up again.

Announce resurrection: if you’re rezzing someone through Vuhdo, announces it in chat so that people know who you’re rezzing. Insert cute phrase here or just “Resurrecting.” In that field where you type ‘vuhdo’ it will insert the name of the targetted person.

And Clique support: if you use Clique, let me know how this works. I don’t use Clique myself but here’s where you enable it.

General> Indicators

These are some visual effects you can set to show around health bars. Very useful for indicating threat. Pick one you want to use and select an option. On the left hand side partway down there’s  a “special dot” that I have set to Swiftmendable. If my Swiftmend is up and there’s a Swiftmendable HOT on the target, this dot shows. Then all I have to do is use the spell. It’s a great visual indicator for me.

Panels

Moving on to Panels. This is where you configure how Vuhdo is going to look. On the Panels tab > General page,  you can select how you’re going to organize your raid frames.

On the Panels tab > Sizing page you can use these sliders to change bar height, width, spacing between bars, etc. It takes a little tweaking to get how you like, and here’s where to do it.

Some of the cosmetic options are less critical but will really enhance your experience. Here on the Panels tab - Bars page you can select a background texture for your health bars – I like not having flat health bars so I use this option.

The drop down for “Custom Health Bar Bouquet” sounds confusing but will actually handle what the background color of each unit frame is. I like mine to be class colors so I open the drop down and select the “Health/Generic Class Color” choice.

HOTS and Icons

Panels > HoT Icons – Essential for druids, very useful for everyone else, this is where you set up your status dot indicators. On the top left is where you pick the arrangement you want to use. The slots are numbered. Over in the middle you choose what indicator goes in which slot. The “Own” checkbox means it’s your own HoT / Indicator; the “Others” means other peoples HoTs or heals can show up there.

Rev: As you start adding various options here you will probably want to tweek your bar sizes. I usually close the options out and test things by hotting up my druid and checking if it is what I want. There are a lot of options here for size and placement so tweak all you want.

There are a lot of default options in those slot dropdowns. For druids, all your HOTs are there; for priests, you’ll find Prayer of Mending, Power Word Shield/Weakened Soul, paladins will find Beacon of Light, shamans set up Earthshield, etc. And more importantly – you can track other peoples’ shields and hots too; so if you always run with a priest and need to know that a target has Weakened Soul or PWS, set it up here.

Vuhdo has fancy combination indicators called “Bouquets”. I don’t really get much use from them yet but the one default one that is critical is the “PW:S & Weakened Soul” bouquet. You enable it and it shows when a target has PW:S on them; when the shield is used up, the color changes to indicate Weakened Soul.  I always have this enabled. A target with a shield on them needs less of my healing; one with Weakened Soul needs extra attention.


Now go to Colors -> HoTs; this is where you select what color your hots will be. Pick whatever makes sense to you. This should be populated with whatever you chose to display back at the Panels -> HoT Icons page. Choose the colors you like, whether it’s got a countdown or not (I always set my hots to show seconds counting down) and whether you want a waning when things are going to expire (druids shouldn’t do this, you’ll go nuts).

Here’s how my setup looks. There’s my own health bar, sitting there. I’ve got Rejuv up in the top corner, but it’s obscured by the Swiftmend dot; that’s ok for me because I can usually see how long it’s got left anyway. The Swiftmend dot is very key for me and I  like having it there. Down in the bottom left corner is my Regrowth indicator; in the center is my Lifebloom. It’s green, which for me means it has three stacks. Yellow is two stacks and red is one stack. The timer shows how long it’s got left.

Debuffs

Debuffs – seeing Debuffs is very key as a healer. We need to know if they’re on targets, so we can remove or mitigate them.  The Debuffs > Standard page can be mostly left at the defaults.

Then go back to Colors > States. This is where you set the colors that standard types of debuffs use. I use blue for poison, red for disease, purple for curse, purple-blue for magic. These just work for me. The ‘Anomalies’ are useful too; I really like setting “Charmed” as this dark red. As soon as someone turns that color in my frames I know to watch out.

The Clusters thing is for shaman to know how many targets are in range for their Chain Lightning; I have no idea how well it works.

Now back to Debuffs > Custom,  where you can set up specific debuffs you really want to know about. The Debuff list is pretty extensive, as you can see here. You can set it to play a sound to warn you when someone gets a specific debuff (sort of a mini DBM). Or just to show it specially. This can be really helpful if you are struggling with a particular encounter mechanic.

Spells

This is the really cool bit – the part where you realize you don’t need another addon in order to click cast! Go to Spells -> Mouse. The interface is really easy – just select what modifier key you want  (if any’ most of my binds are straight mouse binds) then type the spell name into the appropriate box. You can type in Macro names too! Just name your macro something other than a spell name or Vuhdo gets confused. I don’t have it set to use any macros in this image but I do use macros as mousebinds and it works fine. I always change my Left button click to “target”, since that let me do normal stuff.

Remember, these binds are only for Vuhdo, so if you usually click-cast on your target frame outside of a raid frame mod these won’t work. But if you’re like me, they work great!

Moving Frames Around

G to the “Move” tab. Vuhdo shrinks to the smaller panel you see on my screen and the frames switch into the moveable mode. At this point you can drag and drop them around your screen as you wish.

Adding a new panel

Here I clicked the “Add New Panel” button and that empty frame appeared in the middle of my screen. I can move it where I want.

Now Right Click inside it and you get the “add group” dropdown.  You can assign a group id, or a “special” group like pets.


If you select a size, then hit the “Hold to Test” button, you can see what your current settings would look like in combat with that size. That’ll help you see what you might want to tweak or redo before really using the interface.

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My first main was a mage, through all of BC and a bit of Wrath. I love my little gnome mage – still do. Throwing fireballs at peoples’ heads is fun. At the end of BC Reversion and I leveled a pair of druids and I started healing as we went. Once we hit Outlands we basically leveled in dungeons with me healing and him tanking. Analogue the druid was my first healer character; I hadn’t played other games with the dps-healer-tank trio, I didn’t know that I’d like healing, so it was a surprise when one day I woke up and realized that not only was this druid my main, I was a Healer with a capital H.

I leveled  a paladin up as ret/prot, tanking my way to the top. Then I realized I needed her offset to be Holy. I still like tanking 5 mans on her – I don’t enjoy trying to heal parties as a paladin – but when I raid? I want to heal. Beacon, Shield, Holy Light spam is more fun than whacking things in the face and taunt-at-five-stacks.

I have a priest at 72, a shaman at 60, both dual specced, both with one really solid healing spec and one questing-dps spec. They are my most anticipated leveling projects. I want all four healing classes at max, and I’m not the only player I know with that desire. I read the druid news coming out of Cataclysm beta and I’m afraid I won’t like druid healing, so what is my reaction? Not “ok, maybe I’ll be balance” but “ok, maybe I’ll be a shaman.” My identity is not as a druid, but as a healer.

Why? I’m not really the most nurturing person ever. Actually I’m more of a bossy older sister who knows what’s good for you and will tell you so. I’m not an angel of mercy, swooping in and soothing your brow; I’m the “you screwed that up; here’s a bandage now get in there and do it right” battlefield medic.

I heal because I can fix everyone elses’ mistakes in ways that dps and tank roles don’t let you do; because I have to micromanage everything; because I can count on myself and never feel like I can count on every single other person in the raid. That’s why I like raid healing, too; when I see those dps health bars drop I want to swoop in and Swiftmend them.  It’s why I pug, even though I have to deal with morons. I heal through stupid, because I can and because honestly I expect it.

I heal because it’s binary; they live or they die. Eaking out 10 more dps doesn’t appeal to me. Striving to keep one more person alive, that does.

I heal because it’s more fun. It’s more complicated than switching to adds, or waiting for phase 2 to drop your cooldowns. Second to second, the situation changes and you don’t have time to breath or someone dies.

I heal because apparently I’m perfectly content to stare at a matrix of health bars instead of the lavishly-designed boss fights. Perhaps in another life I would have been a whack-a-mole champion.

I heal because I feel like part of a team, taking things down; when you aren’t actually smiting the evil, it’s harder to forget that the other people in your group matter.

I heal because it’s the most fun part of the most fun game I’ve ever played and until something can be as fun as this, I’m not likely to switch.

Yeah, some of those are contradictory, some of those don’t make sense – but gosh darn it,I love healing! And no matter what they do in Cataclysm I know one of my alts will find a niche to shine in. Maybe it’s the hour of the disc priest or the resto shammy?

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If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

- If, Rudyard Kipling

First stanza of Kipling’s famous poem should probably be on a sticky note on every healer’s monitor. I’m not saying that the other roles in the game don’t require laser like focus and attention to detail, but I know I personally have to be totally in the groove every GCD to heal at the top of my game. On my mage? Hit Arcane Blast a billion times, pop cooldowns when they’re available, don’t stand in fire. On my druid? Watch for who needs a heal, who needs an emergency cooldown, who is about to take damage and should be Rejuv’d … and still stay out of the fire.

More than that, I don’t know if it’s a me thing or a healer thing but if I’m healing the raid and we wipe, I feel guilty. Really guilty. Like “that was all my fault if only I’d been a better healer that wouldn’t have happened.” I don’t feel nearly as bad tanking, and dps? Psssh, not my fault. I did my job. But when I’m healing, I feel like I ought to be doing everyone else’s, too.

And what about when people are saying it’s your fault? Do you just let them, or get defensive, or even say “yeah, it was me”? Like the poem says – you have to trust yourself, but if everyone is saying it’s your fault, you have to look at yourself and make sure that’s not true. Not trusting yourself will lead to wipes. So will not trusting your partners – the other healers, the tanks, the dps. A druid throwing Nourish on a tank when she should be trusting her Disco priest buddy can wipe the raid easily – or save the day if the priest got distracted. What do you do?

So: some specific strategies that I use. What do you use? I’m always looking for new tips.

Keep a Cool Head – learn to accept and react to a situation rather than panic. Important when you’re out of mana and the tank just aggroed two more pats. If you panic, you die. If you can quickly prioritize your problems and do things in the right order, you live. Slap a shield or an instant HOT on the tank, blow your “get mana back” cooldown, drop a big cooldown on the tank to get him back up, and play triage.

Zen and the Art of Raid Maintenance – watch the raid like a mama bird watches her stupid, half-blind, flightless chicks. They’re going to try to fall out of the nest, choke themselves on half-eaten worms, and go play with that friendly hawk perched at the top of the tree. Don’t let ‘em, but don’t get mad at them when they do. Heal through the stupid because you can.

Screw it, I don’t care if the mage dies – the opposite of the above. After the nth time that warlock life taps right before combat or the mage runs away from the tank in order to frost nova mobs right by you – they’re too stupid to live. Think of it as evolution in action. Let them die that others may live. Mentally pretend their health bar is already gone, stop wasting mana on them, and concentrate on the tank and the ones who aren’t being stupid.

Honestly, if you’d just read “Hogwarts, A History” – know the fights better than anyone else. This is important if you’re pugging but comes in handy if your raid leader is one of those odd ones who doesn’t know doesn’t care about healing stuff (like the first time I fought Saurfang, the Disc priest asked if there was a strategy for her and was told to ‘just shield the tanks’; we didn’t down him that night but if the raid leader had known to have her drop shields on the Marked victims too, we might have.) The theory here is that by knowing the fight, you can drop hints to others on your healing team and then, assuming they do as you say, you don’t have to worry about them. I’m guilty of not doing this as thoroughly as I should; to date I still haven’t actually, you know, watched an LK fight video. /embarassed

It’s easy enough to discuss strategies like this but implementing them is something else entirely. For that, I practice in 5 mans. Deliberately keep your mana low so you can learn to assess priorities and how to regain mana fast when you need to. Let a warlock die (it’s good for their souls anyway). Think two steps ahead of your party members and have them shielded or hotted before they take damage.

The most challenging situation I think a healer can be in, as far as state of mind goes, is the pug raid healing job, where you don’t know what you’re going to get. Often you won’t know anyone, or many, in the raid. The leader may or may not know anything about healing. Your healing team may not be optimal and probably hasn’t worked together. You can make one of two fatal mindset errors here: you can decide it’s all up to you, or you can decide it’s all up to them. In fact it’s neither. You are not responsible for the success of the raid as a whole, but you are responsible for doing your part.

One thing I’ve often found in pug raids is that the leader will give some vague directions like “druid heal ranged shammy heal melee pally on tanks”. Ok… but how do you easily tell ranged from melee? Nobody sorts groups these days… Well, I have Vuhdo set to show “class colors” as the health bar for each person in the raid. So mages are light blue, paladins are pink, etc. I can instantly tell class by looking at my Vuhdo setup. Makes following that sort of vague instruction easier.

I’ll whisper other people on the healing team and ask relevant questions. If I’m on my paladin and there’s another holy pally, I’ll ask “Who are you Beaconing?” and then Beacon the other tank. If there’s another druid, I’ll set up Rejuv priorities (“You do groups 2 and 3, I’ll do 4 and 5, both of us do tanks”).

Anyway, those are my strategies. Anyone have any they can share?

And if all else fails, and your concentration goes to hell and you lose it entirely – well, the run back from the graveyard is a perfect time to practice your deep breathing and work on your patience.

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So Analogue’s gear has gotten good enough recently, especially with the Vestments of Spruce and Fir, that I felt comfortable speccing out of Celestial Focus and back to an 11/0/58 spec. After some deliberation I decided to put the new points into Improved Barkskin, Revitalize, and Living Seed.

Imp. Barkskin is to keep me alive longer on “new” content, ie fights I haven’t yet outgeared. I am trying hard to use Barkskin on myself to keep me alive and it’s been working great. Bonestorm? Barkskin. Predictable damage? Barkskin.

Living Seed… I do mostly 10 man raids. Sometimes I have to help heal the tanks. Or I’m keeping a Mark alive. Either way, I’m thinking it’s worth a shot.

And Revitalize… I just ran a heroic over lunch with Reversion, then looked at my logs. I barely noticed my missing haste in 5 man content and in 10 mans I hope to have some buffs to help make that up. And I’m seeing the Revitalize payoff already. Over the course of a single AN run, it regenerated 225 rage for Reversion – that’s over two full bars. And it did 15% of my mana-regen-from-effects according to Recount; the hunter’s Replenishment did 30%. If those numbers translate to 10 mans it’ll be just great. Sometimes our raid comps are take what we can get, and if I don’t have to bring someone along just for Replenishment, that might give us flexibility…

Anyone else have any luck here? Man, it feels good to get my fun points back. That haste nerf really hurt, and I am still getting over it.

PS -Keeva’s Resto Guide that she recently published is what I used to help me make my decisions; it was great to have everything laid out for me in a nice friendly format. It practically says “Don’t Panic” on the cover, it’s that good.

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As a healer, your game ui can be your greatest assistant or your worse enemy. Yes, even worse than that dk who seems to think fire gives him an attack bonus. Probably it ups his spellpower. As I’ve mentioned before it’s important not to get tunnel vision when you’re healing, and your ui can help  – or hurt – with that.

Analogue's UI at 65

Here’s a screenshot from when I was 65. A lot has changed since then (my name used to be Metaphor. When we server changed I was forced to change to Analogue). You can see that a lot of  what I’ve got here is straight out of the box WoW. I’ve got the extra bars turn on and a couple addons in place.

I actually did not use raid frames until after I was 80 – here’s the story. I was having fun at 80 healing 5 mans, even went into Naxx 10s sometimes. Did this for months. Then 3.2 dropped – Argent Tournament patch – and a member of my then-guild was complaining that he couldn’t heal any more because the patch had broken his raid frames.

My first reaction was “Hah, see, I knew there was a reason I didn’t use those. He can’t heal any more without crutches”. My second reaction was – “Wait a minute, if they do that much, what am I missing?” So I took a whole day and played with raid frames. I’m the sort to research things thoroughly, so I learned that everyone seemed to use Grid or Healbot, both of which I’d heard of. I tried Grid first. My main reaction was “how many addons do I have to download here?” It was about a dozen, I think. I tweaked for two hours and couldn’t get something I liked, so I tried Healbot. I pretty much hated Healbot right off – if Grid had too many options, Healbot didn’t have enough – so then I tried the addon with a weird name some people on plusheal.com were swearing by, Vuhdo, and like Goldilock’s taste of the little bear’s porridge, I thought it was ‘just right’.

This was the result. Vuhdo wasn’t the only ui tweak; I’d made a lot of changes, specifically and most importantly to use Vuhdo to show my healing targets. I had a really bad tendency to shove things to the edge of the screen – I knew I wanted lots of room to see stuff around me but this layout makes almost no sense to me any more. I had to remember where all my things were, there was no real logical layout. I have no idea why I had buffs and debuffs halfway down the screen like that

Now here’s my current UI, first in combat and then out. I personally think it’s a lot better than the previous ones. I’ve got my action bars grouped at the bottom, except one tiny sliver along the side. (The side bar has buffs and a downranked version of Rejuv that I use on stupid people occasionally, idiot hunters and such who pull aggro, won’t drop it, and whine about not getting heals). The bar with my profession skills disappears in combat, leaving me a solid view of the SexyCooldown bar (the big blue bar at the bottom). I’ve got my Vuhdo frames anchored just right of my character and my own and target frame just below me. This helps me keep an eye on what’s happening to me and around me as well as just the bars.

I’ve set Recount and Omen to use the same spot on my screen. Recount shows out of combat, Omen shows in combat. It’s a nice trick to save space. Along the bottom I have ChocolateBar with various plugins that I don’t really need much – gold totals, clock, mail icon. Bartender manages my button bars – I have one bar in the middle and on either side, another bar that I’ve arranged in 3×4 format. Personal preference there, nothing fascinating.

If you look at the in combat shot you’ll see I have buffs and debuffs on my target’s unit frame but not my own. They’re redundant since I have Elkano’s Buff Bars in the corner (I like the nice verbose version of my buffs; I play enough characters that it gets annoying to remember what symbol means what for who.)

As a druid, if I’m in a raid I’m supposed to be raid healing and that means being able to tell at a glance who has what HOTs and for how much longer. I’ve tweaked Vuhdo to show me exactly that. Each HOT has its assigned place on a health bar, and displays how many seconds it has left. Here’s a bigger version of a Vuhdo square so you can see it. Vuhdo has options to show other people’s hots too and I have it set to show me if another druid has something on a target that I can Swiftmend – the red dot icon in the corner of the unit frame says “Regrowth or Rejuv active on this target and Swiftmend is off cooldown”. The Lifebloom stack is really cool – when I have one stack up, it shows a red number of seconds remaining, when I have two stacks it’s yellow and when I have three stacks, it’s green.

You may have noticed in my “in combat” shot that some of the Vuhdo bars showed little red >> << marks. That means someone has aggro from somewhere (sometimes it’s laggy but it’s pretty solid) and also a third small bar along the top of each player’s health bar showing a visual representation of how much aggro they’ve got. This, Omen, and TidyPlates are all tools I use to try to keep track of who is likely to take damage soon.If I can see that the mage has threat and is getting more all the time, I can maybe save him.

Finally here’s a screen shot of what Vuhdo looks like in this setup in a 25 man raid. This is the “test” mode – those aren’t real people in a raid, I’m sitting in Ironforge by my lonesome.

I recommend you see what raid frames work best for you; Grid and Healbot are both popular for reasons. Here are a few links for setting up Vuhdo from people who do it better than I would:

Setting up Vuhdo

Lath’s setup

And Rolling Hots

Vuhdo manual – And this forum has the creator of Vuhdo, Iza, as a very active participant! He’ll answer your questions if you can’t find them elsewhere. Look for the Vuhdo subforum off of the Mods & UI forum there.

My takeaway for you would be, don’t settle for “ok” in your interface. Find what works for you. Keep tweaking until it shines. Try new things, get rid of what doesn’t work. Some people put their raid frames below their character, or to the left, or along the top. Figure out what helps you keep yourself and everyone else alive the most. Some people hide most of their abilities, others need everything on screen at once. Look at other peoples’ ui screenshots – that PlusHeal forum I mentioned before has a long, long thread for just that – and copy the elements you like, ignore the ones you hate. There’s no one perfect setup for healing in WoW.

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My last post on personal situational awareness promised a follow on. Last time I was talking about you being aware of things that affected you in your role as healer; your spec and gear, your buffs and debuffs, the big purple ooze at your feet. This time we’ll broaden the outlook and pay attention to the things around you.

First off, as a healer, you care about damage that you and the party may take. Anything that will not cause damage or prevent damage from being repaired is inconsequential. In dungeons and raids that means you can ignore… um… the vanity pets that people have out. Usually. Pretty much everything else out there is a potential damage cause or complication. Let me define what I mean by those really quickly:

A damage cause is something that results in a player losing hit points. This includes mobs, cliffs you can fall from, exploding mushrooms, and puddles of goo on the floor.

A damage complication is anything that makes the task of repair or preventing damage more difficult. This would include pillars that block line of sight, curses that reduce healing effectiveness, and things that your party members do to themselves and their pets (for instance when a warlock’s imp is phase shifted and you can’t drop a heal on it).

These two factors work together to make your life interesting. Proper situational awareness will help you know what combination of these factors is in play at any time.

Most of the time in instances, the causes of damage are fairly predictable. Certainly by the time you’ve run Drak’Tharon Keep a hundred times you’ll know which groups you can be afk for and which you actually have to heal, when there’s going to be aoe damage and when you can just let your hots tick. Being aware of the causes of damage lets you heal proactively rather than just reactively, by throwing out hots or shields or timing a big heal to land just when the damage has hit.

Damage complications usually need to be handled as they appear. Again after a few dozen times through an encounter you’ll know that the orb stands on the platforms in OK can block LOS if the tank runs around behind them, or that such-and-such mobs cast silence, and plan for that, but in general it’s the complications that make our job hard because let’s face it, the biggest source of damage complications come from our fellow party members and not the encounter. When the hunter disengages right back into a patrol, or the shaman’s totem shoots a passing sentry, or the tank doesn’t do anything about the mobs that the mage has kindly frozen next to you, that’s when your life gets interesting. Proper situational awareness can help you before this sort of thing happens.

Try to note where your party members are at all times. That way when someone aggros another group, you can be prepared to heal, or be over next to the tank, or even run away and shadowmeld and let them all die, depending on what you feel like doing. This is really hard when you’re focused on health bars and nothing else. You’ve got to ditch healer tunnel vision and broaden your scope to see everything.

Pay attention to debuffs on the others in your party. I’m bad at this; Vuhdo tells me about poisons and curses, since I can do something about it, and special boss debuffs, but diseases? If I’m lucky I’ll notice they’re dying too fast and heal them up. I ought to have a special icon for “something you can’t dispel but might wanna check out” that I apply to their health bars; it would help me with awareness.

Omen or another threat meter – I have Omen and also set Vuhdo to give me an overview of people’s threat. When a dps is pulling a lot of threat, I’m preemptively ready to heal. A paladin or priest healer might be able to use a threat-reducing cooldown on this errant player. Either way it could help prevent a death. On the other hand, if this person is regularly and deliberately pulling aggro, you may choose to let him take some damage and try to send him a message. That can work too. Either way, Omen is a handy healer tool.

Most of my wipes that shouldn’t have happened resulted from me getting too far behind in damage, getting aggro from mobs, or healing the wrong person at the wrong moment. Yes, other people usually did something wrong but I care about what I can do better, not anyone else. It usually comes down to where the immediate cause of wipe was a triage failure – I misdiagnosed what tools to use on what people – but the more general cause was me failing at situational awareness.

Healer tunnel vision kills! I can’t stress enough how important it is to get out of tunnel vision. Do whatever you have to do. Tweak your ui; get mods; disable mods; run a few instances as dps. Try something new and learn to get out of the tunnel.

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Situational awareness, or  “looking at more than just health bars so you see the puddles of goo on the floor”, is insanely key to being a good healer. So key in fact that I would further break down the topic into personal situational awareness and global situational awareness, the later being “seeing the goo that everyone ELSE is standing in”. So I’m breaking this up into two posts and starting with personal.

Imagine you’re looking at your WOW UI. There at the center of the screen, what do you see? You. It might be a dwarf priest, a Tauren shaman, a Draeni paladin, or a Tree (by the way, save the trees!), but it’s you. Too often in healing we are so busy looking at everyone else (at least, everyone else’s health bars) that we forget to look at ourselves.

To learn to escape tunnel vision we must be more aware of ourselves and our surroundings.  It makes a great story when we can say “… and then I realized I was wearing my fishing pole!” or “Then I remembered I hadn’t switched out of my PVP healing spec!” but in truth, when you say that, you have failed. Personal awareness is your first goal when entering an instance or a raid.

Your pre-flight checklist:

Am I in healing mode?

Healing gear?

Healing spec?

Tree form?

Am I ready to go?

Buffs ok? (what do your party members bring?)

Mana bar up?

Phone off the hook, dog outside, baby changed?

Is my party ready?

Identify the tank

Classify each dps player

Mentally categorize their resource type (more on the last few when I do the global situational awareness topic)

Communicate

Tell the tank “I’m ready to go”. Let him know after pulls if there were too many mobs or if you need a second. Remind the mage not to stand in fire.

This is in ideal world. In the real world, the tank has pulled three patrols before you’re actually in the instance, the mage is already dead, and the paladin doesn’t speak English and has given you Blessing of Might. So while you’re running to catch up, do as many of these things as you can, while firing off whatever “Oh Crap” spells you have and wondering if those Frost badges are really worth it.

During the Run:

Your location may vary fight to fight. In general, you want to be close to but not in melee range. If you’re too far away, then when the mage pulls aggro, frost novas the mobs next to you, and blinks away, then you’re in trouble. If you’re closer in the tank will have an easier time. On the other hand, sometimes you’ll want to stay back. Do you know that a mob throws chain lightning or fears? You might stay farther off. For a rule of thumb, never get so far behind that if the tank charges he goes out of range.

If you know an encounter cold, you might think about where you should stand to best help the tank. For instance in Utgarde Keep on the Prince fight, stand so that the tank is between you and the door where the skeletons spawn. When they aggro on you, they will run over the tank who has an easier job of picking them up than if he had to run over to you.  If you have a good tank friend, ask him about fights and where particularly you can stand to help him out.

Stay out of the fire, obviously. If you’re having tunnel vision, make your own health bar nice and visible so when you start taking damage you notice – and then move! Most fights you probably know cold by now anyway. You’ll know when a boss is going to do a move that means you need to move. Watch where you stand when you’re fighting dragons (head and tail are bad, stand on one side). Just run down an encounter before it happens so that when you need to react, it takes you less time

Remember your own defensive cooldowns: chances are when the party takes an AOE, you’ll take damage too. Throw a defensive cooldown ahead of time if you can, like Barkskin, to give yourself breathing room. Or have a shield or a hot on yourself already.

Watch your aggro: Try not to heal the tank until he’s got aggro. If you do pull, bring the mobs to him. Don’t count on him seeing that one that’s hitting you, take proactive steps. Again, if you have problems with tunnel vision, make your own health bar really big and obvious and when it starts going down, figure out why.

Afterwards:

Assess the run. If you were going with a friend, talk about it with them. Were there avoidable deaths? Places things could have been smoother? Figure it out and file it away under “next time”. Mistakes are for learning, not recrimination.

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