Unsung Heroes

Playing a Healer

by Medeor

I'm noticing a trend between the
positions I played in high school sports and the characters I play in
RPGs and MMOs. While not much into glamour, I always tend to be in the
thick of the action. I played catcher in baseball and Long Snapper in
football (the person who snaps the football to the punters and place
kickers; the ball typically travels from seven to 15 yards, hence the
name of the position). Similarly uncelebrated, in MMOs I tend to play a
healer, and usually the hardest of hardcore healers, not a hybrid that
can actually do damage.

Have you picked up on the connection between those sports positions and
the healing character types? It lies in the fact that if the person
playing the position does the job Long snapper src="http://vanguard.tentonhammer.com/files/gallery/albums/article-illustrations/long_snapper.thumb.jpg"
style="width: 150px; height: 140px;" align="left" hspace="4" vspace="2">perfectly,
nobody notices. If I snapped the football to the place kicker and he
kicked a 50 yard field goal, the kicker got all the glory. Similarly,
if I heal perfectly during a boss mob kill, we continue rolling through
the dungeon as if nothing happened. Now if I snap the ball over the
punters head and the other team runs it back for a touchdown,
well...that might be equivalent to a full raid wipe.

The long and the short of it is, playing the Healer is a rewarding and
challenging position. The DPS (Damage per Second) characters worry
about one thing--damage; whereas the healers are constantly calculating
between the amount of mana they have left, the amount of health the
party has and the remaining health of the mob(s). I equate it to
driving really fast in an unknown town: I'm constantly checking my
mirrors and windows to see what's around me; the gas gage to see how
much further the car will go; and the signs to see how much further
until we get to the target. If all of those calculations add up to a
successful mission, then yeehaw! If not, I have to consider what
measures I have to turn the tide. Can I take a take a potion; do I send
a message saying that I’m Out Of Mana (oom); or do we run for it?

One brief public service announcement before I start:

Be Excellent to Each Other

Just because everybody wants a healer in their group, doesn't mean that
playing the healer is carte blanche to be a jerk. Make sure to do all
the little things that make you a fun person to be around, not the
person who rides their epic high horse. When you are the giver of hit
points, people will appeal to you to heal them occasionally and
sometimes they will be panicked. Don't take each frantic “Heal me!” as
a public challenge to your abilities. Take it for what it is, a
short-hand request for some life. Now, if you find that person
consistently doing this, then you might need to have a conversation to
discuss general civility, but in the heat of battle, we all say things
differently than we normally would, so take it with a grain of salt.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

In every MMO I have played, I'm either by myself or in groups, I'm not
sure there is any other way to play (partially solo?). Bearing these
two types of interaction in mind, let's look at the key points to

Healing while in Groups

When you decide to play a healer, you are typically making the long
range decision to play href="http://vanguard.tentonhammer.com/modules.php?set_albumName=vtth-screenshots&id=01_20_06_TenTonHammer_1of2&op=modload&name=Gallery&file=index&include=view_photo.php"> alt="Heal me!"
style="border: 0px solid ; width: 150px; height: 94px;" align="right"
hspace="4" vspace="2"> mostly in groups (or be a crafter, which
we'll cover in a different article). As discussed later, playing a
healer solo can be rewarding, but it can also be slow. The faster way
to achieve your goals is to leach onto--uh, I mean join--a good group
or guild and ride their coattails to the promised land of epic drops
and XP.

Healing is an art and a science. The art is in knowing when to apply
the right bandages to the right person or to try and bandage the whole
group at the same time. Learn the different heals over time (HoT) and
the different levels of heals – over-healing is typically worse than
under-healing. Lighting off that monster slow heal for someone who
needs a little health bump isn't nearly as effective as dropping quick
heals on two or three group mates.

The science is in the constant mental calculations we discussed
earlier. The best advice I can give is to know your arsenal--this
applies to all classes, but I've noticed healers tend to get stuck in
the rut of a specific order of spells and don't seem to deviate. Every
situation deserves attention to not only your healing spells, but the
secondary spells that can help turn the tide: can you drop a buff on
someone; can you debuff the mob; can you dispell good or bad buffs? You
also need to understand the various heal spells at your disposal, and
learn to choose the right one at a moment’s notice. Would a HoT work,
or should I give the main tank (MT) a quick heal, or drop the big heal
down on him? Always be looking for a way to get an edge or more
importantly give one of your team mates an edge. Remember, if your team
succeeds, you succeed.

All those debuffs and buffs will get your team a score in the end, and
you know what? They may or may not even recognize all the scrambling
you did to make it happen. And that’s okay.  Maybe this wasn't a
big fun boss mob, maybe it was a grind and you're just helping someone
out that you don't know too well. The important fact is, the group will
know that they lived through the ordeal and that single important fact
is what gets you invited to the big fun stuff.

Healing while Solo – or Train in Vain

The typical solo encounter goes like this: begin fight by hitting mob
with a really small portion of damage, then let the monster hit you
while you continue to try and whittle down their hit points. Do this
repeatedly and only stop to occasionally heal yourself. An hour later
when the mob is almost dead, make sure you don't get an add, or it's
all over. So maybe you won't want to spend a significant amount of time
waltzing solo in the countryside.

In the end, there are better class types if you are hoping to be a
solo-centric player, although each MMO is different. You’ll do fine as
a healer for occasional solo adventuring. While it will take longer to
kill mobs, chances are you’ll have fewer corpse runs.

Vanguard: Saga of Heroes will have both solo and group oriented content
as well as different types of healers (there are some that can actually
kill things). This multitude of varieties should provide you with a
flavor of healer that you can enjoy playing. Just keep in mind that
healers were made for group combat, and you’ll be at your best when
grouped with friends or your guild. If that’s what you enjoy, give the
healer a try--you might be surprised by just how fun it can be.

you have some thoughts about playing healers?

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Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Karen 1
Karen is H.D.i.C. (Head Druid in Charge) at EQHammer. She likes chocolate chip pancakes, warm hugs, gaming so late that it's early, and rooting things and covering them with bees. Don't read her Ten Ton Hammer column every Tuesday. Or the EQHammer one every Thursday, either.