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Raid Rx: Higher-level healing starts with your mind

Matt Low

Every week, Raid Rx will help you quarterback your healers to victory! Your host is Matt Low, the grand poohbah of World of Matticus and a founder of Plus Heal, a discussion community for healers of all experience levels and interests. Catch his weekly podcast on healing, raiding and leading, the Matticast.

"Wipe it!" my raid leader bellows. I whip off my headset in disgust and sink back in my chair, burying my face in my trembling hands and tuning out the usual post-wipe Mumble drivel. After collecting myself, I pull up any logs and try to figure out what happened. Could I have done anything to change the outcome? In most cases, the answer is a yes. There is always something that any single player could have done differently in the moments leading up to a fateful wipe.

Last week's column about pushing healing performance seemed to have struck a chord with several readers. I wanted to take a moment and examine some of the commenters' approaches to rankings, meters and healing logs.

If you want to play at a higher level than you are now, you must start with your mind. Blaming other players because you are being outplayed is not going to help you get any better.

The wrong approach

We've all seen these excuses before. I've raged out multiple times in Counterstrike back in the day, as well. I'll give you some examples of my excuses:

  • Lag
  • Crappy computer
  • Better-geared opponent
  • Overpowerd opponent
  • Better-gemmed and -enchanted opponent
That last point is a true story. I almost a blew a gasket when I heard it. I've run into so many players like that in the guild, in the world and in different games. These are players who tend to blame their mistakes and low showing on something else.

Understanding players immediately notice when a player legitimately lags out or disconnects (instead of "accidentally" hitting the modem). It's unfortunate, but it happens once in a while. However, there's that subset of players who seem to want to blame their misfortunes on something that isn't them. For whatever reason, these players refuse to believe that they are the cause of their own lack of skill.

I have a hunch that such players are too proud to admit that they screwed up somehow.

The right approach

When they get out DPSed or outhealed on the meters, or if they happen to die, good players immediately ask themselves what they need to do to not allow that from happening again. Then they go out and do it.

Learning, analyzing and correcting errors is the key. The players who advance the most quickly aren't that way solely due to their gear. It's because they're adept at adjusting and reacting to the situations being thrown at them.

When I bring up the Raid Finder tool, many players slump or groan. I rub my hands excitedly. The Raid Finder is the greatest tool in the world for healers who are just starting it. You have player skills ranging from the extremely new to the somewhat knowledgeable to the skilled experts. There is such a large spread and gap from top to bottom, and their well-being is at your fingertips!

Measuring success

In hockey, victory is determined by whoever scores the most goals in the opposing net.
In the 100-meter dash, the winner is whoever can run that distance in the shortest amount of time. In a hot dog eating contest, you may as well just forfeit if this guy is competing against you.

New healers starting out measure their success by asking themselves one question: "Did I keep my assigned targets alive?"

Fair enough. It's a solid way for beginning healers to gauge their capabilities. I'd use it for any dungeons, heroic dungeons and specific assignments within raids. But for a healer who is trying to progress through the challenging encounters in the game and break into hard modes, that question just isn't enough. It's agonizing to hear players who are in progressive raiding guilds making these types of comments and not giving a crap about self-improvement.

If I were in a raid group that killed the Warlord boss with one tank, two warlocks, a few mages and only half the healers alive, I'd be extremely embarrassed and disappointed. Naturally, more leniency is granted if it's a first or second kill.

Start looking at meters and those logs. Stop being satisfied with "at least the boss is dead." Start setting healing benchmarks for yourself. Lay out your own healing numbers in the first week, then see what you can do in week two to beat it. For example, I'll time healing cooldowns earlier just so I can use them again later.

Another trick I learned is to not set objective-oriented goals; instead, set process-oriented goals. For example, instead of saying you're going to try to put out 30k healing per second, say that by the end of the encounter, you want to have cast Circle of Healing 40 times.

Don't be dismissive of logs and meters. They're an asset if properly used.

And ignore the bloody idiots who slyly like to beat your numbers over your head with theirs. Focus on your own first until you've developed the mental fortitude to not let that stuff get under your skin. I'll make it a secondary objective of being the best possible healer in the rankings and numbers. My main goal is making sure I went up from the previous week.

To be a better healer, you must change your mindset. All the theorycrafting, stats, gems and whatever optimizations aren't going to do much for you if your mind isn't in it from the beginning. Don't be satisfied with 15k healing per second when you know there are other healers around you with the same level of gear as you who are pushing 25k.

Change your approach.

Change the measuring stick.

Change how you raid.

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 for advanced tactics and advice for the endgame raider.

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