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Raid Rx: 3 steps to assigning healing roles

Matt Low

Raid Rx has returned from retirement! Every Thursday (usually), 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're going to cover the steps in figuring out who heals who!

Last week I looked at addons for the healing lead. I suggested using a combination of macros and addons like Surgeon General. But what about the actual logic and process of assigning healers themselves? As in deciding who covers who? That's a much more trickier process that comes with time and experience. I'll share some of the basic mindsets here.

This week's Raid Rx is inspired by a topic from Plusheal. When assigning healers, I try to have a general idea of what the players and the classes excel at. I keep that in mind when picking out the healers and tanks.

Breakdown of class strengths

Here's a really quick summary of how I classify healers.


  • Single target
  • Endurance healing over a period of time
  • Burst
  • Durable


  • Either single or raid
  • Excels at stabilizing health with constant HoTs
  • Ability to Healing Touch spam and bomb heal a player (if specced and glyphed)

Holy Priest

  • Single or raid
  • Covers group healing really well and quickly

Discipline Priest

  • Single target
  • Damage mitigation
  • Endurance healing


  • Smart and efficient chain heals
  • Earth Shields
  • Endurance healing

Note that these are generalizations. At the same time, I also expect every healer to be able to step into each other's role if the situation calls for it. A Paladin can raid heal. A Discipline Priest can raid heal. Can they match the Shaman or Holy Priest's ability? No but the point is that they can do it if it is necessary!

Now let's go over the process from a disorganized mess to a streamlined operation.

Step 1: Ascertain tanks

Before you can dole out your healers, you have to know who is taking damage. Talk with your tanks and your raid leaders. Find out who is tanking what, who is doing what, and what the expected level of damage is going to be. Remember, it may not always be tanks who need healers as well. Players in specific roles may need healing because of what they are doing.

A tank who is holding aggro on Sartharion is going to need a different healer than the Rogue who is assigned on dispelling fire elemental enrages (and possible aggro pulls as a result).

Step 2: Figure out your healers

What healers do you have available? This is where your judgment comes into play. For example, I've always been a reflexive and twitchy type of player. That comes from years of playing Counterstrike. I don't think. I act. This allowed me to raid heal really well since raid damage is often unpredictable and you just have to bail out that guy who stood in the rain of fire one second too long.

Have a handful of Priests, some Druids, and a Shaman? You're going to have to make some decisions about who or which combination will heal the main tank. By default, I make sure all the tanks have at least one single target healer first. Those are the players that you know will take damage for sure.

Once that's taken care of, see who you have left. Have an extra Druid handy? Have them HoT up the tank for added insurance along with anyone else at their discretion.

Step 3: Location, location, location

The last step is something a little overlooked. Sometimes where a healer stands can make all the difference in the world. This applies more to players healing the raid as opposed to specific tank healers.

I'll use Kel'Thuzad as an example. During phases 2 and 3, players have to spread out to avoid incoming mana bombs and frost tombs. If they stand to close other players, those affected will blow up or chain raiders around them.

With 6 healers, I set up 2 on the left, 2 in the middle and 2 on the right. This maximizes the area of healing that can be covered. While the healers on the right will not be able to cover the ones on the left, the healers on the right can rest assured knowing the rest of the team is handling that "sector". The healers in the middle are able to heal down the line in the middle and most of the right and left sides.

If you picture each healer as being in the center of a 40 yard circle then you know that players within the 40 yards will be covered and taken care of.

Warning: Raid does not equal raid minus tank

I've seen this mistake happen a lot. When I say heal the raid, I literally mean heal the entire raid. For some reason, I've had players misinterpret this as "heal everyone else BUT the tank". Don't get caught into this trap. If you're a raid healer and you can sneak in Renews, Rejuvs, Gifts of the Naaru or what else have you on a tank, don't be afraid to do it especially if you can afford it mana wise.

Jump up and pinch to help the rest of your team out even if it may not be necessary.

Beware the obsessive and possessive healer

The relationship between a tank and a healer is often a healthy one. I know one of my Druids likes to be responsible for our main tank but she's willing to share the healing and relinquish control to someone else on challenging content.

That's because she knows she is better suited doing something else.

What you have to watch out for is the really obsessive and compulsive healers. They're the type of healers who are virtually attached to another tank through their hip. I think most of you have seen this before.

Common symptoms

  • Refuse to heal other tanks in 5 mans
  • Incessant request to always be assigned to "their" tank
  • Blows off other healers who are healing that player's tank
  • Throws a tantrum (seriously)
  • Considers other healers "inferior"
  • Always wants to be in the same group as "their" tank

These are all signs of confidence problems, I've always thought. It's absolutely ridiculous. Any player in a leadership role needs to identify those healers immediately and apply a large dosage of reality.

To them I say pull your head out of your ass! Healing is a team effort! It can't be done alone! Healers that possessive over tanks will get no where in this game if they're not willing to share. Not only that, this type of behavior is a big sign of distrust in the healers corps. The one group where distrust cannot be afforded is in the group of healers. Your healers have to trust each other to do their jobs. Otherwise what's going to happen is they're going to start compensating for another for no reason. Assignments are deviated from. Eventually crap hits the fan and the raid wipes.

Why? Because a player couldn't shelve their own ego and bring themselves to trust the other players.

Don't allow you or the rest of your team to fall into the above traps. With the steps in mind, you should be well on your way to assign healing.

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.

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