Raid Rx: 5 Heroics to help toughen your healers

Raid Rx has returned from retirement! Every week, Raid Rx will help you quarterback your healers to victory! Your host is Matt Low, the grand poobah of World of Matticus and a founder of PlusHeal, a new healing community for all restorative classes. This week we look at which heroic encounters will help strengthen your new healers and why!

A question I get asked from healers is how can I prepare myself for raiding? On the other side of the spectrum, guild leaders ask me how can they judge or measure a healer in other areas other than healing output. Let's knock out two birds with one well timed stone.

Halls of Lightning: Loken – If I remember correctly, Loken still ranks in the top 20 in the World of Warcraft player kill leaderboard among bosses. I remember when I first started healing heroics, I spent a solid 2 hours on this guy just trying to grind him out in my mix of blues and crafted purples. If you really want a challenge, try staying in for his AoE lightning spell instead of running out. The idea is to see if your healer can time their heals to the point where when the spell hits, the heal should land immediately thereafter and boost everyone back up. If the heal is timed correctly, there should not be any deaths.

Ahn'kahet, Old Kingdom: Herald Volazj – The first time I worked on this boss on heroic, I had no idea what needed to be done. I never tried it on normal when I was leveling up to 80. Anyway, with this boss it becomes becomes a test of endurance. There's a phase where all the players are forced to fight mirror images of your party. You're relying on the other players in your party to blow up their mirror images to help you out. Can you survive and kite your four comrades around? It's a great way for you to test your longevity.

Like for me as a Priest, I'd practice things like Psychic Scream timing and kiting around the various large pillars. You'll be relying on Renews, Shields, and Prayer of Mendings. As Holy, I'd even tap Circle of Healing praying for a Surge of Light proc.

When I did it on my Shaman, I'd drop my Earthbinds and use focus Wind Shock macros to help stall the casters. Earth Shields, Riptides and really fast Healing Waves should help.

Oculus: Mage-Lord Urom – There is no instance I hate more than the Oculus. I don't exactly know why. I think it's because the pickup group failure rate's pretty high for this instance (at least when I ran it). Pickup groups I joined were never able to fully complete the instance and the cost-benefit ratio just wasn't that high for me.

Urom is the third boss you'll encounter going up the chain here. The big kickers here are Time Bombs, Frost Bombs and the Empowered Arcane Explosion and all of which are able to completely screw over your party. Pick a direction to kite the boss around. This is done in order to stay ahead of the Frost Bombs. Starting out, this boss took about 90 minutes for my party and I to do (this was hours after I turned 80). This boss will test the situational awareness of healers.

Questions I had to ask myself frequently:

  • Who has the bomb?

  • Am I moving fast enough ahead of the group?

  • What do I do if I know "that guy" isn't going to make it behind the barrier to line-of-sight the explosion?

Halls of Stone, Tribunal of Ages – Welcome to the boss that isn't really a boss. What your crew is taking on is nothing more than a glorified security system. One of the faces will fire off a steady stream of Arcane damage to a member in your party. Not only that, you'll start engaging waves and waves of Iron dwarves bent on stopping your buddy Brann Bronzebeard. After a couple of waves, the second face will activate. Keep an eye out for orbs that come flying toward you. If you happen to get hit by it, it increases the amount of damage you take by 100% (Heroic, remember?). Not too long after that, the final face will activate. That face unleashes a channeled beam into certain parts of the area. If this combines with the with the debuff from the second face, you're going to have a heck of a time healing all of that up. Lots of moving around to do at this point. This encounter really pushes situational awareness skills to the extreme.

Actually the hardest part of this instance just might be staying awake for the wall-of-text boss after you manage to survive all of that.

Culling of Stratholme, Bronze Drake event – To be fair, this event requires a combination of strong healing and strong DPS. To go for this achievement as a healer, down time spent drinking must be minimized as much as possible. Mana regen abilities like Innervate, Shadowfiends, Mana Tides and Divine Pleas should be used as often as possible. Sit down and drink the moment you're clear after combat. Even if you can only squeeze off a few seconds of precious drinking time, you never know when you're going to be caught in combat for extended periods of time. This is a test of mana management and speed.

In hockey, there's a tactic known as "pinching". It's when a defenseman comes off the blue line to help join the offense. The downside to this is that this can lead to a dangerous turnover by the other team because you'll have one defenseman instead of two defenseman on the opposing breakout. To help increase the speed at which your group cuts through the event, your healer can also help offensively. For example, tossing up a few Holy Fires, Mind Blasts and Shadow Word: Deaths as a Priest. In the grand scheme of things, it might not mean much. But it's still extra damage that helps to speed up the run. But you can't lose track of your role as a healer. Help DPS if you can get away with it but don't forget your responsibilities as a healer.

(My personal best was 9 minutes remaining on the clock when we looted the Bronze drake. Good time trial run just for fun!)

Note that none of these encounters can help gauge the quality of your healer recruit. There's no way of knowing whether they'll truly mesh in with your guild or if they have the skills to raid. These heroics can't solve a good old fashioned Patchwerk healing test or an OS3D awareness test. But it's a great indicator of what your healer needs to work on and what they excel at.

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.