Way back when Patch 3.1 dropped introducing dual spec (tell me you hadn’t totally forgotten that there was a time without dual spec!), I said that I was looking forward to being able to switch between Balance and Resto easily, and I flipped back and forth frequently throughout the expansion. Though I almost always dps’ed in our 25-mans during Wrath, I often healed 10-mans, ran heroics as resto, and cut my real PvP teeth in that spec.
Enter Cataclysm, and the whole idea of healing made me a little nauseas. I heard what all the healers were saying, and I knew there was going to be an adjustment. With that in mind, I just shuffled Resto out of the way for a while. The re-introduction to healing came slowly, starting with the last boss in a heroic run and progressing to Baradin Hold and then to filling in for our 25-man raids, mostly on non-progression bosses.
With our 25-man raid now broken into two groups of 10, hybrids once again earn their stripes by being able to fill multiple roles as needed; and boy, did I ever earn my hybrid stripes last night! Here are three of the things I realized last night while doing a fairly poor job of healing through Atramedes.
1) There’s something to be said for being thrust from your comfort zone. For years I knew nothing but healing in raids. When I switched to dps, it was almost like learning a whole new game: new things to understand and pay attention to and new people to impress. I wasn’t a great dpser for a while, and last night, I wasn’t a good healer. This was our second time seeing this boss, and I had previously dpsed with a different composition. Not only were we learning the fight with this new setup, I was 100% off-balance (ha! Unintentional, but I’m leaving it). The struggle to do everything I needed to do as well as I possibly could was a humbling reminder to stay on top of my game. Feeling complacent? Don’t be afraid to try a new spec or roll a character to fill a different role. I’m amazed by the things I learn by forcing myself into a completely different perspective.
2) Healers can’t always catch you when you…fail. I know from experience how easy it is to tell yourself: “It’s not that much damage; I can take it and the healers will heal me. It’s the healer’s job!” Sort of. It’s the healer’s job to keep you healed up through unavoidable damage. Of course we all make mistakes sometimes, and healers are awesome at covering our butts. But you should never assume that a healer can save you if you stand in something dangerous or do something that will put you in jeopardy. Thankfully, our group is awesome at both correcting mistakes and being honest and gracious about having made them, and no one was being intentionally negligent. Still, my hands were full enough with healing everyone through Sonic Breath and Searing Flame, and when raiders occasionally dropped the proverbial ball, there weren’t always enough hands open to catch it. The number one rule of raiding has always been: stay alive. You are just as responsible for your health as your healer is.
3) Healing is less predictable than dps. I should disclaimer this with: or at least it is when you’re not used to healing. I realized last night that I have a pretty firm grip on boss fights when I’m balance. After a few attempts, I know what to expect. I’m usually completely comfortable with my rotation and my normal way of doing things, so following my pattern of dps while dodging such-and-such that’s on a timer is pretty easy. I can glance at my NeedtoKnow bars and decide what my next step is at my convenience. Moonfire about to fall off? Starsurge coming off cooldown? About to hit an Eclipse? With a split second look, the little Tetris pieces in my head fall into place, and my next several steps are laid out for me, especially if you combine that familiarity with fight experience and DBM timers.
Not so with healing! I can make some reasonable predictions: The raid’s going to take a hit after Sonic Breath; the mage pinging gongs during Searing Flame is going to need a HoT. But just as often I’m not expecting random raider A to suddenly drop to 10% of his health, or random raider B to suddenly be out of range. In the past, it wasn’t uncommon for druids (or at least this druid) to keep HoTs up on at least the people who were expected to take damage, and sometimes this meant a whole group or practically the whole raid. I couldn’t possibly do that now, at least in my current gear, and expect my mana to last through the fight, so I feel like I’m reactive healing a lot more than the preemptive healing I was accustomed to. I have a much deeper respect for my healers after last night than I have lately. Thank you, healers; we love you!
We did kill him despite my shortcomings last night, and I found it refreshing to do something different. I guess the TL;DR of this would be: 1) Try something new, 2) Keep yourself alive, and 3) Appreciate your healers!
Raid well, my friends.