Group healing is one of those assignments that's often necessary but also easily forgotten. Many raid leaders whether they're leading pickup groups or guild raids often forget to establish specific group healing assignments. I include myself in the category of forgetful leaders.
Group healing back then
Naxx really spoiled us. It was extremely easy to just tell healers to raid heal and brute force heal our way through the various encounters. Sure we'd have dedicated tank healers but I know I never designated specific group healers.
Because there was never a need to. Raid healing was very simple. Coordination wasn't even needed at all. Target players, hit healing spells and call it a day. It was quite easy to "faceroll" your way to victory as a healer. Healers did not have to be assigned to heal group 1 or group 2 or so on because a smart heal would just happen to land on a player who desperately needed it (Chain Heal or Circle of Healing as an example).
Group healing now
Unfortunately, that margin of error has shrunk. While it's somewhat possible to blindly raid heal and rely on reflexive healing, it may not be as easy or as forgiving.
Why should we have assigned group healing?
Because of two very simple reasons:
- Don't waste mana: In most cases, it's fairly easy for one strong AoE healer to bring a group back into the green (as in away from the point of almost dying).
- Don't waste time: In addition to mana being a resource. But something many players overlook is the concept that time is also a resource. It's not often that a single group is going to require 2 group heals to stay alive. It's a waste of precious time. One healer can easily switch out to cover another group instead of over healing.
It's not difficult to have a tank healer jump in on group healing if it's necessary. Let's use Hodir as a case example. The big frost giant has an attack called Frozen Blows which deals frost damage to the entire raid. As a Discipline Priest (who is better suited to healing tanks but is capable of healing a group if necessary), I'd cover the group that the tank is in. This way I ensure he still receives healing in addition to the other players in his group. Since Prayer of Healing has a certain range, I'd take steps to ensure that the group the tank is in has other players within range of the tank such as Rogues or Ret Paladins (or any melee class players for that matter).
The main point here is to minimize as much overlap as possible. This is something I realized when I was raiding an Ulduar 10 and discovered the other Priest and myself were a terrible pairing. We thought the same and healed the same targets many times until we sat down and figured out our group healing targets and assignments better. Our single target assignments were fine. It just so happened we were healing the same group targets from time to time. As the fights get more complicated in difficulty and harder in raid damage, this type of healing precision is going to become more commonplace and more important.
Class break down
Here's a quick glance at the different tools the healing classes have to specifically heal groups.
Prayer of Healing: Heals the friendly target's party members within 30 yards. In the past, it would only heal the party that the casting Priest was in. This iteration allows it to be used on any group. It can be glyphed to add a heal over time component. One of the most powerful group heals at a Priest's disposal.
It can heal any player in the raid. But here's a little known fact. If the Shaman casts it on a party member, it will only jump to other party members. This means the Shaman has to be strategically assigned to only heal the group they're in. Can be glyphed to hit another target. Unfortunately, it won't be able to hit everyone in the party. Fully glyphed it can hit up to 4 targets simultaneously.
Scratch all that! I goofed! Chain Heal's still a great spell and it's going to get buffed in the patch. But oof, it's difficult for a Shaman to control who they're healing. Better make a sacrifice to the RNG gods!
For Druids, the prospect becomes a bit harder. I imagine it's more of a hit or miss.
Wild Growth: It's not exactly a party only spell, but it can do the job if the right conditions are met. Druids will probably need to couple with some direct heals. Like Chain Heal, it can also be glyphed to heal another target.
Tranquility: The red button in a Resto Druid's arsenal. It has the ability to bring a party from near death to live in a matter of seconds. The downside? It's on a 10 minute cooldown.
Holy Light: Sorry Paladins, but this is one of the few tools you have at your disposal for healing a group. It's tough but it's possible. It might take a bit longer and you might lose a player. Not much in the way of other options. For this to work though, you absolutely must have it glyphed. Paladins are also better off being assigned to a cluster of players that are within range of each other.
There are some other tricks and abilities that can help, but it's up to you players to figure out what works best for you. I'm sure you can find ways to get creative with Beacon of Light and Circle of Healing.
Give the guy who organizes your healing some mad props. It's not always the easiest job in the world and they do deserve some love every once in a while. It's a tough job but it's also a necessary one.
Want some more advice for working with the healers in your guild? Raid Rx has you covered with all there is to know! Looking for less healer-centric raiding advice? Take a look at our raiding column Ready Check.