It was a Thursday night. For the past few weeks, I've done Ultraxion as shadow for additional DPS time. I'm usually the swing player who can spec into both healing and DPS. Mind you, I'm not the great at shadow. This time around, we were using five healers on Ultraxion because our other regular healer wasn't able to make it that day. On 25-man, Ultraxion has six healing crystal buffs. Using five healers meant that one of the crystals would not be in use. I opened up with red crystal before sneaking the blue crystal later. I think this was the second or third time I've actually healed Ultraxion.
Alas, I was not able to catch our resident holy paladin, who aced me on the meters again. One of these days, I will catch him. I don't have a clue how. Circle of Healing and Prayer of Mending used on cooldown while dropping Prayer of Healing nukes every chance. I'm even waiting until the last possible second on Hour of Twilight before triggering the phase out (which is very dangerous, mind you, and I wouldn't recommend it unless you have the dexterity and reflexes of a hockey goalie).
It wasn't until well after the raid that I noticed we used only four healers on that encounter. Looks like our other priest didn't get the memo and stayed shadow the entire time.
Eventually, your raiding group will reach a stage where you can simply heal full tilt. You can take shortcuts and bigger risks that lead to additional payoffs (like quicker raids and personal satisfaction from ranking, for example).
If you're anything like me and have been healing in this game for over three years, you might be looking at different ways to challenge yourself and your raid. Maybe you get bored of doing farm content for the week. Maybe you weren't able to do that progression boss you wanted because a key player you were counting on slept in or couldn't make it.
Aside from healing with fewer players, one fun method would be to find ways to boost specific players on certain encounters so that they have a good showing.
Disclaimer: Don't actually try to cheese anything if you're working on progression bosses, though. I wouldn't recommend it unless you're trying to do something specific.
Now, when I'm referring to ranking, I don't just mean on the parses of individual healing meters that your raid has running like Recount or Skada. I mean ranking globally across the world, your region or your server. World of Log has a page displaying the top healers for each encounter which can be sorted by difficulty and raid size. You can even view it by class to see where you stack up against players who play the same class as you.
Let me give you a few example bosses.
I'll use the latest Baradin Hold boss as an example. We decided to go in there with just four healers. Three of us were going to be Atonement, while the last player was a holy paladin. So just for kicks, we wanted to boost him and see how high we could go. We figured three glyphed Power Word: Barriers and stacking up during the spinning phase would do the job. We planned for three spinning phases, but in actuality, we only had two. We dumped Power Infusion on our paladin every moment we stacked up and intentionally took extra damage to boost that level of healing.
Waltzing into Dragon Soul, you'll see this guy standing in your way before you can enter Wyrmrest. Now, during the phase where he puts up Black Blood of the Earth, most raid groups simply run out on it. But if you have the cooldowns for it, you can actually stay in. You might not have the cooldowns to stay in more than once, though, so plan ahead and figure out which cooldowns will need to be used (I'm guessing it's going to be all of them). Remember that you want to maximize your healing going out.
If I have three wounded players in group 2 and five wounded players in group 3, I'm going to target group 3 first with that Prayer of Healing. Stick to the basics. You're not doing anything new or advanced. You're applying straight brute force. You're bypassing one mechanic that normally would've been lethal a month ago to most raid groups. Your raid should have some extra gear and such now, minimizing the risk even further.
While you won't be able to boost everyone, there should be sufficient damage going around for every healer to really chip in. If you want, you can stack the raid group in terms of buffs and feed a specific healer different cooldowns to help increase their output.
I mentioned Ultraxion earlier in the introduction, but I'll talk about him here again. You can hypothetically use four healers for it in a 25-player raid. Personally, I started off with a red crystal first before aiming for the blue one. The red crystal increases my healing. When it got to the point where the blue crystal had spawned, I had about 25% of my mana remaining. Perfect timing to get the haste and mana cost reduction buff. That's how I tried to boost my own personal healing.
But alas, not good enough to catch said holy paladin. I think I even broke a sweat. One of these days, I will crush a paladin, though.
Anyway, if you're still wondering about the point of the exercise, it's not just to increase your standings. That's part of it. Playing this game for so long and doing the same job like healing means that you'll be experiencing signs of boredom and complacency when working on normal mode bosses. You don't have to stand in every bad fire, and I sure as heck don't condone it when you're actually trying and working on stuff.
But after you've killed Morchok for the 15th time, it does get a little stale. You can afford to be a little risky in some areas. Just choose wisely and make sure you have a team that can back you up.
Need advice on working with the healers in your guild? Raid Rx has you covered. Send your questions about raid healing to firstname.lastname@example.org. For less healer-centric raiding advice, visit Ready Check for advanced tactics and advice for the endgame raider.