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Raid Rx: Healing a level 80 dungeon vs. a level 85 dungeon

Matt Low

Every week, Raid Rx will help you quarterback your healers to victory! Your host is Matt Low, the grand pooh-bah of World of Matticus and a founder of No Stock UI, a WoW blog for all things UI-, macro- and addon-related. If you're looking for more healing advice, check out the Plus Heal community.

Everyone enjoying the post-patch so far? If I didn't know any better, I'd say some of you decided to try out a few new healing classes. I know the first thing Joe (our resident resto shaman columnist) did was switch to a dwarf shaman. Alas, I know he is still deeply saddened over the lack of keg totems. I'm assuming there is a shipload of players who decided to create a tauren paladin, eh? I decided to start a night elf mage. Stuck with taking out Nightsabers. Nice to see some things never change, right?

Anyway, in today's post, I want to shed a bit of insight about 5-man healing. The other week, I wrote about differences between 10-man and 25-man raid healing. I completely left out 5-man healing because I felt that was better left for a followup post. Unfortunately, I don't have any polished videos that demonstrate the 5-man healing environment. They're all on an older hard drive. I just purchased a beast of a computer which will allow me to record more cool stuff in the future (and I really want to try to produce additional healing videos).

Oh! Before I forget, remember to cap out on justice points. Have you checked out some of the level 85 blue items available from the vendors? I know in Stormwind City, you can find them near the hunter trainer in Old Town.

More attention

How can I possibly do this without completely repeating what I've said before? So what changed? Going from a raid perspective to a 5-man perspective, obviously, there is less overall attention needed, since there aren't as many players that need looking after. Comparing Wrath heroics to Cataclysm heroics, though, I can tell you that you'll need to pay more attention. Does anyone remember what Wrath heroics were like at the beginning of the expansion? They were ridiculously challenging, and I think some of that was due to people not quite knowing what to do against certain encounters.

For healers, it'll be the same deal. Actually, I'd even say it'll be twice as hard. Not only do we need to adapt to the various boss mechanics being thrown our way on some of these, but we have to quickly master our new healing model.

My greatest fear right now is that healers may get targeted as being the primary cause of wiping in dungeons -- not entirely because we're bad, but because we have to grapple with all this new stuff. Unfortunately, we don't have a great understanding of triage healing because we've never really done it before (at least, the newer players post-vanilla). So what's going to happen when the party wipes inside? Naturally, the first thing that's going to happen is, "Was there enough healing done?" In most cases, that answer will be a no, since a wipe has to occur with deaths. There is the odd boss that'll wipe us if we don't dish out enough damage over a short period of time, and that would be a DPS problem.

I just hope that newer healers will have the strength and mental fortitude to withstand this stuff. I'm sure I'm blowing it way out of proportion. I do get paranoid about figuring out if my performance was the cause of a wipe. The worse-case scenario would be a struggling healer who endures abuse from other players and just decides to quit healing entirely or even quit the game altogether.

Inability to overheal our way to success

Another change is that we can't just brute force healing. It is a no-brainer, though. A lot of players don't understand that the reason why Wrath heroics are simple is that the "gear floor" has gradually increased per tier. By gear floor, I mean the best gear a player can get without really having to step foot into progression stuff like heroic raiding or competitive PvP. Vendor epics can be easily picked up just from repeatedly running a few of the entry-level raids, like Vault of Archavon and daily heroics. Every time we get a new patch with new raid content, the floor gradually rises. As healers, we're packing firepower from items that are higher grade then what is really needed. If tanks were sporting crafted or dungeon blues and healers were using similar qualities of gear, then things would be different.

In fact, you can definitely expect that for the opening period of the expansion. Healing in blues and greens might not seem bad for most players, but with all the regeneration mechanics, it is going to be quite the wake-up call. I've mentioned multiple times how important mana and spell selection is going to be in the past. Just remember, the only person the party can rely on to heal is you.

At level 80, we had the benefit of excellent gear and nerfed instances. At 85, the barriers are up, and you're going to have to work at them. Use every possible advantage you can get to do the job. It got to the point where I felt incredibly undergeared for an instance. But I worked with a balance druid, who helped sprinkle just enough healing to get the job done. So if you're in a group with other hybrids, don't be afraid to ask for a slight boost, because it just might be enough to put you over the top.

Healing at 85 is going to be a pain. Just be prepared to put up with people, and if it gets to the point where you can't heal an instance, then you can't do it. I tried five times to do Halls of Origination; I don't know if it was the group or me. I think we cycled through like eight people before I gave up. In some cases, the tanks were extremely squishy, and in other cases, I had difficulty doing what was needed (like screwed up spell usage or ran out of mana).

Enjoy the long weekend, everyone!
Need advice on working with the healers in your guild? Raid Rx has you covered. Send your questions about raid healing to For less healer-centric raiding advice, visit Ready Check, and don't miss our strategy guides to Icecrown Citadel and Halion/the Ruby Sanctum.

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