Healers Rule Five Mans (forget the tanks)

I expect this will be a controversial post.  But here goes.  I’m ready to admit that I’m more comfortable on any healer than my wee baby tank, but I’ve noticed something often.  I have a huge amount of control over how a five man dungeon goes on a healer.  I don’t have half as much control as a low level tank.  This isn’t about waiting times.  At low levels, my healer might as well be dps for the time I queue, while at eighty I get a dungeon as a healer almost as fast as a tank.

On any healer I can say “Okay, this isn’t working, why is the aggro going everywhere?” and pinpoint the source of the real issue and get them to fix it or convince them to leave group voluntarily.  If anyone insists on misbehaving repeatedly, I tell them they won’t get heals if they do it again.  Bad behavior just disappears.   If aggro goes wrong and I’m tanking, the dps at fault just says “you fail” and we’re at a standstill.  If dps keeps pulling mobs and aggro runs everywhere, it’s my fault because I clearly suck.  If I call them on it, I get told it wouldn’t happen if I would “go faster”.  *grumbles*  If I didn’t have stop to chide you for pulling, it *would* be going faster, I think.  I’m happy to admit my learning process as a tank (or in healing as a new class).  But it doesn’t really help.

As a healer at any level, I can work with the tank or against him – and I can choose to cause any member of the group to die if I want.  Causing someone to die…and refusing to res them until they listen to the point generally stops even the most stubborn of opposition.  (Well, okay, paladins have too many damnable cooldowns and heals to guarantee their death, but you get my point.)  Oh Hi New Tank!  Feel free to chain pull before I’ve buffed or have any mana from switching specs or have got you in line of sight.  Sure, blame me for your death.  :)  Really Mr. Warlock?  You’re going to Lifetap down to 30% health and pull aggro five seconds into the fight.  Have fun with that.  Oh Hai Mr. Mage!  You want to Blizzard the living heck out of everything in sight while the tank is still charging in?  I hope your Ice Block is on cooldown..by the way I’m moving out of melee range of you.  Oh Mr. Hunter?  When you put your pet on aggressive, pull three packs and berate the tank for not having aggro…..yeah.  Hope you don’t remember Feign Death, because I’m not even trying to heal you or your pet.

I am honestly, a lot less bitchy than I sound here.  I like keeping people alive.  But I’m not a martyr.

There are some people who get offended when I even suggest that sometimes I don’t heal everyone I possibly could, or that I prioritize people who don’t piss me off.  Why wouldn’t you? Does anyone really heal the jerk who is offensive and stands in fire when there is anyone else who needs healing?


~ by ecclesiasticaldiscipline on May 30, 2010.

14 Responses to “Healers Rule Five Mans (forget the tanks)”

  1. I have a 10/25 ICC raiding healer (priest) and a 10 ICC raiding tank (warrior) and a 10 ICC raiding hunter, as well as 4 other lvl 80 toons. I don’t disagree with what you are saying about healers, I sometimes let people die when they are stupid, but I think tanks also have a good amount of control over the run and who lives or dies.

    I usually do my level best to hold agro on all the mobs and prevent anyone from dying. However If some “stupid” dps pulls a pack they should not, I have no trouble letting the taunt wait until after they die! They don’t usually do it again. If some dps insists on blowing all their cool downs and pulling threat before I have even hit the mob – the taunt can wait until after they die. I have a hunter and a DK so I can usually spot a genuine mistake like “oops tab targeted the other group and sent my pet in” vs. idiots who either don’t even know what they did wrong, or thought it would be cool “cause more mobs boots their AOE dps numbers”! It is the latter I am likely to let the taunt wait for.

    In general after one save/warning, idiots need to learn the hard way! That is my way of thinking on my tank (I have had the warrior longer, main tanked all through BC) and sadly I have come around to that on my healers also (I have 4 lvl 80 healers who are good for heroics – only 1 raiding ICC though).

    I often feel a good healer actually tacitly co-operates with my tank in these “have you learned your lesson” deaths. But even if they do not, once a boss or a whole pack, is beating on the offending dps, not even good healers can usually keep them up.

    All this is to say: I don’t do this often; I prefer runs that are fast and no-one dies. I am usually good at watching the healer’s mana (I always focus the healer in a 5 man). However I feel that the tank does have a lot of control over the run, the pace of it, the mob control and even on the rare occasion when the stupid “standing in the fire” dps has to die to learn something.


    • Thank you so much for your perspective as both a healer and a tank. I was wondering how much my comfort with healing classes was biasing my opinion on this. Obviously a tank is always going to have a lot of control over many aspects of a run – particularly in pacing. The good tanks I know well say the same thing as you – they can choose to kill someone who isn’t behaving. Hopefully as I (slowly) level my paladin and gain experience, I’ll find this more true for myself.

  2. I think your point about healer control is pretty strong. Yeah TECHNICALLY the tank has more options for moving agro around and stuff but when it comes to where the buck stops the healer has it. More interestingly is about how people take it. I have had the same experience as you when trying to ‘advise’ people on my tanks. The push back is usually ‘hold agro better noob’ or something similarly witty. On the healer they tend to shut up and shape up a lot faster. I am not entirely sure why that is other than the general attitude that you should be able to do ANYTHING you want and it is the tanks job to get them off you. I don’t know. People do have some snarky things to day when I stop healing them but they generally shut up and play better when I inform them that those who pull agro deliberately get no heals.

    Oh course the best runs are with my wife, or even with like minded guildies. If one of them is tanking or healing they pick up on things right off and back my play. Unlike oblivions DPSers I don’t have to justify to them why they need to support a ‘kick’ roll. They are good enough they already see the person needs kicking. It sure is nice. When someone decides to throw a hissy-fit when you tell them to turn growl off you can kick them so far and so fast they will not know what hit them.

    • I think that one of the reasons a healer can be more effective about handling issues in groups is that the healer is a neutral and powerful third party. If aggro is an issue and the tank or dps bring it up, it’s easy to swap blame. If I as the healer say: “Look, I just can’t heal you all effectively when mobs are eating three of you (or me) alive at once. Let’s fix this, or you guys will keep dying.” people listen.

      In the rare case they don’t – I let them die, and refuse to res them until we’ve talked it out. Nothing calls your attention to party chat like trying to demand a res. :) I almost never need to resort to a vote kick.

      It’s really nice to know though that a tank sees my point, and it’s not just an issue of me being less comfortable or competent while tanking.

      *smiles* And thanks for taking a gander at my blog; I’ve been in awe of your tanking series for a long time.

  3. […] 3, 2010 by ReversionLFM A recent post over at Ecclesiastical Discipline got me thinking again about how people react to ‘advice’. I had noticed a few things about it […]

  4. I see your point but perhaps I’m less successful than you at being assertive as a healer. I mean the amount of blame and bad-mouthing that washes around a group if a healer doesn’t want to rez somebody for being lazy or refuses to let the warlock stick a straw into his mana bar and slurp it down like it’s a slush puppy on a hot summer day … whereas with my limited experience of tanking I get much less shit. But, again, these are highly subjective, personal experiences. Perhaps you’re just way way luckier than me :)

    • You think I’d be a little more assertive when I’m carrying the big glowing sword, hmmm? I think I just need to get a bit more comfortable tanking, in terms of both my skills and confidence. I’m sure that the manner of approach, personal style, and even server culture could easily shift this balance around.

      There are really only two major cases where I won’t res someone immediately. First, a tank who repeatedly ignores critical things said in party chat (i.e. pulling when his healer is afk or OOM). And yes, the tank generally starts bitching about “wtf no healz”. When I refer him to the lines just above that where I repeatedly tell him, say, that I need a minute to fix an addon, he shuts up. Second, a clueless “dps” who stands in fire, pulls mobs before the tank can get to them, and does about as much damage as a wet sock – a guy who is doing nothing but making everyone else’s job more difficult. It’s pretty effective when That Guy is so obviously acting like an asshole that everyone in the group wants to kick him – but can’t for fifteen minutes.

      I’m surprised I don’t have more issues with warlocks. My personal rule is if they Life Tap just before a pull for more than half their life (which generally equates to a single HoT at low levels), then they get nothing from me until they Drain Life or drink water. It makes a point. They almost uniformly behave after that. No conversation or fuss at all. Once they stop trying to kill themselves, I make sure to give them a HoT anytime I can spare the CD, so that they can Life Tap to their little Fel heart’s content. I’m sure that this works so well because it’s nonverbal.

      Thanks for your comment. It’s been fascinating for me to hear other people’s experiences and opinions.

  5. […] Great name for a blog run by a disc priest and she has some interesting thoughts about how healers can control 5 mans. She’s also a fan of Pride and Prejudice, so that’s like bonus […]

  6. […] 7 Jul Today’s post is a Blog Azeroth Shared Topic post for July 5-10. This shared topic was brought up by Ecclesiastical Discipline, who asks “When should a healer let somebody die?”, a question thought of when they wrote about how healers rule five mans. […]

  7. […] topic on Blog Azeroth Ecclesiasticaldiscipline posed a question that grew out of her post on how Healers Rule 5-Mans.  Her question is when, as a healer, should you let someone […]

  8. […] Ecclesiasticaldisc seemed to nervously touch on in her post on the topic, in a 5 man, healers are the backbone of the group. Very few tanks can carry a bad group without a […]

  9. […] Ecclesiastical discipline’s original post is an entertaining defence of not healing people who piffle you off. Given I don’t wholly agree with it in practice, it must be an entertaining read. Found at Ecclesiastical Discipline […]

  10. I was noticing recently that my noob healer is usually made party leader in randoms. She’s not the highest level of the group and there aren’t any higher level alts on that particular account that could show my actual experience…
    There have been times when I chose to sit and drink after a fight that resulted in the death of a particularly idiot huntard or tapped out warlock… I rez them, but there’s no hurry.
    I have refused to rez someone when there is a wipe and they just lay there waiting for me to run back… If you have a reason and ask first, I will be happy to help… I just don’t reward the lazy.

    Excelent topic! Thanks for the entertainment :)

  11. […] Let Someone Die? This was, of course, my suggested topic over at Blog Azeroth.  While I wrote a post in May which inspired it…I realized when I was starting to read the responses that I hadn’t […]

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