Okay, so I have been meaning to write this one for a while, but things kept creeping up. I have been reading a lot of blogs about other healing classes and how they heal and so on and so forth, but have honestly not found a really great blog about how to heal as a holy Paladin. There is a lot of misconceptions about healing and paladins and there is a lot of truth on the same subject, but most of this is found in forums, where the threads eventually break down into "screaming" matches of sort or wander off topic. So I am going to put together the rules of how I heal for five man runs.
Rule 1: If the tank dies, it is the healers fault.
There is no room for debate on this one. I consider the most important aspect of healing to be keeping my tank alive. I know some people will rush to say that if the tank does not give enough time to replenish mana then how can you say it is the healer's fault? This is simple, as a Paladin, we must monitor our mana very closely in tight situations. If we are running with a tank who charges ahead then we must adapt our healing appropriately. (It should be noted though that there are just down right bad tanks in the game and no amount of mana regeneration will make up for the lack of skill and inability to learn.) Sometimes this adaption will come in cutting out the unnecessary heals that we cast. If we are being honest, we all know we do it. You have massive heals and want to flex your little holy muscles so you flash a heal here and flash a heal there, which before long leaves you yelling out of mana and trying to blame a tank for moving at a quick pace. Do not hate me here. I am being honest. This however, leads us to rule number two.
Rule 2: If the healer dies, it is the tanks fault!
I have found that in healing, the healer must have a good relationship with the tank. (I realize in a PUG this is not always possible, but expectations are always lower for success of PUGs.) I have personally ran with every type of tank that is available in the game, and might I add that they were all at my level and running appropriate level instances. I have personally never found a tanking class that is bad, I have met several tanks that do not understand rotations for holding aggro, but that is a topic for a tanking blog. As the healer, I will not run/move (unless an enemy combatant has an AOE effect which I must move out of as to not die) when I start getting hit with damage. It is my belief that, much like a healer must keep the tank alive, the tank must keep the enemies away from the healer. (Again this is accomplished by studying one's class and learning the proper rotation of your abilities/spells/trinkets.) If the tank keeps the healer free from enemy interference, then the healer is free to keep said tank alive and holding agro. This brings me to the third rule of my healing.
Rule 3: If the DPS die, it is their own stupidity which caused it!
That pretty much says it all huh? Don't get mad, it is true. Here is the thinking behind it. If the tank keeps agro off the healer, this frees the healer to make sure and heal the tank, correct? (Please keep in mind this is being addressed for the Paladin class only. Having rolled other healing classes, there are slight variations to the rules.) Then the DPS should be concentrating on taking down the enemy targets. If they are using their abilities in the proper method, they will not pull aggro because they will be killing the assigned target at the right moment. Where this goes bad, and in many cases the DPS will die, is when they see the healer getting assaulted and jump in to pull the agro off of the healer. You would think this is the proper thing to do, but you would be thinking wrong. Here is what happens: The DPS pulls agro off the healer. Now the DPS classes do not have the armor to withstand the damage they will take. This forces a healer to make a decision, heal the DPS and hope you can maintain both the DPS and the tank, or sacrifice the DPS for the greater good of the group. Most healers, in the heat of the moment will make the attempt to heal the DPS as well as the tank. This is a bad decision because it will reinforce negative playing style of the DPS and also expend way too much mana in prolonged fights. Often times, the DPS will die, the agro will go right back on the healer. The tank will be much lower in health because of split healing, and now once again the healer is taking damage. At this point the mana is low and either you run out of mana or your tank runs out of health because we were too busy trying to keep ourself alive. So the proper decision is to heal the tank, ignore the DPS, hoping they will not jump onto the assaulting unit, rely on the tank to pull the unit off of the healer and all goes well. This brings me to my fourth and final rule for Paladin healing.
Rule 4: Have clear marking rules!
In our guild we actually raise our tanks to tank. This sounds funny, but it is true. Often times the healers and tanks have been paired together. The tanks learn the healers abilities and the healers learn to trust the tank. At times we have people join the guild later in their development and they have their ways set or someone switches a spec to help with a needed tank slot filled. For these occassions, and to help keep clear cut communication, we established a clear set of marks. All of our tanks know thier marks and must use them. We refer to it as our kill order. This is a proven success. Regardless if I run with a PUG or a guild run, we establish a kill order. (We just made it easier on our tanks.) It is simple, the tank will denote which marks are for first kill, second kill, third kill, trap, polymorph, sap, etc. I will make it clear that if you deviate from this course and draw agro, you will not get healed. Some people have complained about this, but once they give this system a try they see it makes it easier for the tank. The tank will hold agro on those enemies marked by the kill order. The DPS will follow the kill order, ensuring that one through three (more or less, does not matter here) are dealt with in quick secession and then they will work in order of which crowd control will break first. Is it a perfect system? No, as with any system there are exceptions, the random elements of the game such as a missed trap, or poorly placed AOE, a missed patrol, etc. What you will find is that when done correctly for groups with Paladin healers in, there will be no out of mana moments, there will be no unnecessary deaths, and the group will sail through instances without any issues.