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How a Tree Became a Tank Healer

April 19, 2011

One moment I was a tree, happily jumping around, healing the raid with my instant cast HoTs, and then the next moment – BAM!  I was a tank healer.  (And I was no longer a tree. 😦 )  Well, that was unexpected!

In my opinion, the greatest change Cataclysm has brought for Druid healers is the ability to tank heal.  During Wrath we were the best raid healers in the game, but asking a Druid to tank heal would have been nearly suicidal.  Pallies were the dedicated tank healers and Druids were the dedicated raid healers.  All the other healers fell somewhere in-between, but leaning toward the raid healing side.  I started playing during Wrath, so raid healing is what I learned.  I also thought raid healing was a lot of fun.  I was responsible for everyone’s well-being.  I needed to have high situational awareness and quick decision making skills.  I was a jumping tree.  What was not to love?

You want me to do what?

At first I fought against being turned into a tank healer.  I wasn’t convinced that Druids could successfully keep a tank alive.  I didn’t trust that Mastery thing.  I wasn’t used to standing in one spot spamming Healing Touch over and over.   And dammit, I liked raid healing!  But now I’ve had some practice at tank healing and am starting to embrace it.  I’m also glad that we’re capable of filling both healing roles now, instead of being locked into one job for all time.

I had to change my mindset in order to tank heal. The first problem was anxiety. It didn’t feel like my heals were going to be powerful enough to keep a tank alive! Every time I was assigned to a tank I was convinced that they were going to die, and the raid would wipe, and it would all be my fault.  Every time the tank managed to survive I was surprised and relieved. Eventually I realized that hey!  I can do this thing! Now I’ve successfully tank healed often enough that it no longer feels like a fluke when the tank lives. (It helps that I have better gear so my heals are more powerful now.)

The second problem is that I have trouble trusting the other healers to heal the raid. I just can’t stop watching all the other health bars. Now, this isn’t entirely a bad thing. I mean, I should be aware of the health of the other raid members, and I should be contributing to raid healing when possible. The problem arises when I see a DPS player low on health, switch to healing them up, and meanwhile the tank gets dangerously low or dies. This, um, may have happened on more than one occasion… I remember doing this a couple of times on Halfus in particular. Oops. I also had this problem when I first started tank healing Chimaeron. I would see everyone’s health drop on Massacre and instinctively go into raid healing mode, only to find that – oops! – a tank was dead. Even if the tanks were surviving, I was burning through my mana pool too fast by throwing out too many raid heals. Finally I just had to deliberately induce healer tunnel vision and concentrate solely on the tanks, reminding myself to just trust the other healers to deal with their assignments.

A final problem is that Druids still don’t have a lot of tank healing tools at our disposal. I wrote an entire post about this, so I won’t repeat myself here.  Suffice to say that I wish Blizzard would give Druids a tool for mitigating damage.  In the absence of such a tool, Pallies and Priests continue to be better tank healing choices.

Druids are still Raid Healers.

I don’t think Druids are quite as strong at raid healing as we used to be; however, we are still very good at it.  And really, our raid healing strategy hasn’t changed as much as I thought it would.  Rejuvenation and Wild Growth still make up the bulk of my raid healing – about 50% of it, on average – despite the increased mana cost of Rejuv.  We have two very powerful raid healing cooldowns in Tranquility and Tree of Life.  Although we spend more time casting heals than we used to, we still have a lot of instant spells that really shine on high mobility fights.

Right now Druids seem to be in a good position.  We’re a lot more versatile in our role than we were during Wrath.  Being able to switch between raid healing and tank healing is especially great for smaller guilds doing 10-man content, who may not have a large pool of healing classes to select from.  There was a lot of concern at the beginning of the expansion about whether Druids were going to be viable as serious progression healers, and I’m not sure that issue has been fully resolved.  But I haven’t heard much QQ about it recently, so I think Druids are probably ok.  And really, how many people are at the bleeding edge of progression anyway?

My Healing Team’s Role Composition has Changed

Now, this might just be something that’s happened to me, but I find it interesting, so I’m going to mention it.  Back in Wrath, my guild used to run with a Pally, Disc Priest and Resto Druid.  The Paladin healed both tanks while the Priest and Druid healed the raid – 1 tank healer and 2 raid healers.  In Cataclysm we’ve been mostly running either a Pally/Shaman/Druid or a Priest/Shaman/Druid combo.  Usually the Pally/Priest and Druid tank heal (and heal the raid when they can) while the Shaman is dedicated raid heals – 2 tank healers and 1 raid healer.  Is this normal?  Is it because of the nerf to Beacon? Should one person be able to keep both tanks alive and we just suck as tank healers?

Tune in Tomorrow…

I was going to discuss gearing differences between tank healing and raid healing, but that section grew long enough to be its own post.  So I’m going to stop here for now, and you can all come back tomorrow to learn about Haste and Mastery.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 19, 2011 4:23 pm

    We run druid/shaman/priest

    The druid tank heals and the priest raid heals with the shaman helping both.

    Lots of fights we 2 heal with the priest and the druid allowing the shaman to dps.

    I will admit though, our healers are pretty OP

    • April 19, 2011 8:50 pm

      Well, our assignments aren’t set in stone with people refusing to heal anything but their assignment. I think of it more as a priority – I will make sure to stay in range of this tank and make him my top priority, then heal everyone else as the situation permits. There’s many occasions where I’m kinda throwing heals on both tanks, adding Wild Growth and Rejuv in here and there. I think that’s pretty much what the other healers are doing too, so it’s flexible.

      I don’t know if I’m ready to be solely responsible for both tanks. They’ll die! The raid will wipe! It will all be my fault! 😦

  2. April 19, 2011 10:33 pm

    Don’t lie…you never jumped during Wrath. Not once!*

    *I’m looking at “in combat jumping” not “out of combat jumping”

    • April 19, 2011 11:14 pm

      I never said that I was healing and jumping at the same time… LOL

      I started to jump toward the end of Wrath. Really, I did! And sometimes I jump now too.

  3. April 20, 2011 12:51 am

    I love tank healing! I specifically request it now, and I’m always sad when our pally healer comes along and I have to raid heal. I think part of it is because it’s easier to maintain my LB stacks on a tank when my main focus is that tank, which in turn means I consistently get clearcasting procs and can toss them on the tank or raid as desired. With raid healing I have a lot more mana problems 😦

    • April 20, 2011 10:04 am

      It is a lot easier to maintain Lifebloom while tank healing, especially in high movement fights when I might end up out of range just long enough for a stack to fall off. In those situations I might roll Lifebloom on myself, because I’m never out of range of me. 🙂

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