In my time in WAR I've learned a thing or two. No, I'm not writing about my extensive knowledge of how various terrains taste (the sand on the beaches of Nordenwatch and the cobbled brick streets of Praag have become favored delicacies). I'm writing about how to be an effective healer in WAR. While I am by no means invincible or infallible, I do consider myself a decent, relatively resilient and capable PvP tank (let's not kid ourselves here -- who needs plate when you can wear robes, right?). I have some advice to share with those who are interested in endgame PvP/RvR healing, or even those who are already there but seek to add an edge to their game.
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There are a number of techniques and strategies for gear, renown and consumables. I'll share mine. It should be noted here that my advice for gear and renown is really tailored for high-level healers, but lower-level characters can still prioritize, aim for, and grow into these statistics and numbers.
To start, before ever fusing a talisman, I aim for a base willpower score of 875 (the soft cap for all max-level statistics is 1050). Ideally, I try to focus on the best possible combination of sets that allows me to free up the tactic slot otherwise occupied by Discipline. My reason for doing so is to allow me to add versatility to my healing abilities instead of relying on a straight statistic buff. For example, if my tactic set leaves me with a choice between Discipline and Restorative Burst, I lean toward Restorative Burst, because it augments the consistency and dependability of my outgoing casts thanks to the constant influx of action points.
Once I've achieved that base, I'll look to spending renown. This is the renown build that I use. The goal is to recover the loss of the Discipline tactic with renown and use the remainder for a defensive statistic of choice. Never buy wounds with renown points. The factor for wounds is double that of the other stats, and as a result, there are other ways to gain wounds that are much less expensive, especially considering the value and limit of the renown point pool. Some will choose toughness; I choose initiative for three reasons, as it:
- Provides a direct counter to melee and ranged DPS classes who will almost always select critical hit as a statistic of choice;
- Maximizes every hit point available -- the improved resilience is essential for unarmored or lightly armored careers;
- Provides early warning, as it is used in a direct contest for stealth detection.
All you need now to reach the soft cap is your liniment of choice. Keep in mind that liniments will not stack with other wounds or willpower buffs, like the rune priests' oath runes, for example; so check your buffs before you quaff your elixir. This also frees your talisman slots for wounds. Since the number and quality of talismans can vary so widely, this solution allows you to acquire your wounds talismans based on your budget, since they can get fairly expensive. But even five +20 wounds talismans can boost your hitpoints by 1000, which is a considerable amount for a reasonable market price. Acquiring more slots and better-quality talismans is your job, but always remember to aim for a base willpower score of 986 (without Discipline and liniments) and that all statistics soft-cap at 1050.
Now that you are healing at your maximum potential, and you are reasonably robust thanks to your selection of defensive stats, you can venture out and start saving lives. I have three pieces of advice for focused healers out on the battlefield.
The group-heal is not a default cast; it is situational. Stay on-the-move casting HoTs, and only root yourself to cast a direct-heal when you have the time and space to do so. A group-heal should only be used when you know that you're safe. If you have line-of-sight advantage (i.e., you're hidden), you can use group-heal to great effect through walls and from behind rocks, trees, or other large terrain features. Some careers are better at staying mobile than others. Ultimately, it will take time to learn how to cast your healing spells on the move, but the bottom line is to keep moving.
Never stand at the edges of combat or on the fringes of an intense melee. Find a good spot at the back, near friendly ranged DPS, preferably ahead of them a few steps, but never close to the actual front line. A well-positioned healer is surrounded on all sides by friendly units. You can never and should never trust your team to group around you like this. Combat in WAR is a constantly shifting tide of battle of which you must remain a fluid part. Positioning in combat is your responsibility. You should always regard an exposed flank as a potential lane for stealthed attack. Crafty healers can use this as a trap to attract, expose, and eliminate enemy stealthers, but I wouldn't recommend doing so unless you're confident in your ability to survive the initial ambush. Similarly, standing too close to the main battle can result in a quick back-line rush that results in the decimation of your realm's healing core and ultimately (more often than not) a group wipe.
In the event that you find yourself taking damage, Detaunt should be your first reaction; before moving, before healing, before anything -- locate and detaunt your attacker. The easiest way to find your attacker is simply to leave your offensive target empty while you heal your defensive target. The very moment you're attacked, your offensive target will auto-focus on that enemy and a red ring will appear at your feet with an arrow indicator showing the enemy's general direction. Simply face him and detaunt. If he can see you to attack you, line of sight should not be an issue. Now that you're taking 50% less damage, your defensive options are much greater. You now have the time and space to load yourself with HoTs and to reposition yourself either behind cover, out of your attacker's line of sight, or directly into the line of sight of a ranged friendly unit who can move to intercept your attacker.
On a special note regarding being ambushed by stealthers: Your first instinct should be to use your debuff Cleanse ability, followed by a detaunt (unless you're a warrior priest or zealot, in which case, neither Purify nor Glimpse of Chaos will work to remove the ailment affecting you -- although, having a macro to ask for an ailment removal can help). Chances are that you've been given a status debuff that could seriously impair, hurt or even kill you depending on the choices you make within the next few desperate and panicked seconds. That debuff could be one of two especially harmful options: a movement barb (Sudden Accusation or Enfeebling Strike), or a magic barb (Fanatical Zeal or Treacherous Assault). The movement barb causes you to take damage with every step you make. Running away from the attacker like a headless chicken can prove to be fatal. The second option, the much more insidious magic barb, causes damage to be taken with every spell cast. In this case, all attempts to recover lost life by healing after the ambush will invariably fail, leaving you further exposed to the killing blow. Although cleansing will trigger the ailment once, you'll know that you are free to detaunt, move and cast after removing the barb.
Although this guide is certainly not the be-all-to-end-all of all healer survival guides, it does drive a few points home that I believe are often completely overlooked by many of the healers whom I watch in scenarios and RvR. If you have experiences or suggestions to contribute, leave a comment.