Thursday, January 14, 2010

Healer Awareness: Working with your Tank

I've healed, and I've tanked. I tank less often than I heal these days, but that's just a factor of what role my guild needed me in when entering the expansion. I love my tanks. I know a good tank when I see one in a pug. I also try my best to work with them to make their jobs easier, because there's more to healing than casting spells at health bars.

1. Stay behind the tank.
If you are unfamiliar with the instance and might aggro something, stay behind the tank rather than running ahead. I think Ram wanted to kill me after I bounced ahead up the road in my first PoS run and was suddenly in combat with mobs that I thought would've had a longer aggro range; don't run ahead of the tank unless you're absolutely sure of what you're doing. If you do aggro a new pack of mobs, that's your own fault. As a note for pugs, be wary of DPS that look like your party's tank as they might run ahead, aggro a pack, and then dump aggro on you as you start healing.

2. If you have aggro on a melee mob, run to the tank.
Don't run away from the tank. They are, for the most part, melee characters with a limited range on their taunts, and they're working at the same time to maintain aggro on the dps targets. Do your best to avoid cleaves or breath attacks from other mobs when doing so.

3. If you have aggro on a caster mob, try to LoS it to the tank.
LoS (Line of Sight) is your friend; use it to hide from caster mobs that are trying to shove fire balls up your robe. Preferably have the LoS bring the caster past or near the tank, so that they can more easily pick it up as it runs.

4. If the tank is using LoS to pull, you need to LoS, too.
Stand with or slightly behind the tank. Any heals (hots) that occur while the mobs are running over will establish aggro on yourself before the tank has had a chance to hit most or all of the mobs, so you need to be proactive in helping to bring those mobs to the tank via LoS.

5. Don't stand in cleaves or fire novas or breaths or similar tank-only effects.
That's not aggro. That's standing in bad stuff. Don't do it. Reposition yourself so that you are not in the cleave/breath/whatever. If your tank is going crazy and dragging stuff all over the place having it cleave or breath on the dps, then smack them upside the head. If you are moving yourself and jumping into the cleaves, that's your own fault.

6. Remind them to hold up if you really need to drink before a pull.
Something as simple as "OoM" or "Mana" in party chat should be enough to halt a tank in their tracks. If there is lots of party-chat discussion, you may need to add emphasis to make sure it's not lost in the scroll of chatter.

7. You will have aggro on anything the tank hasn't been able to touch.
Healing aggro is not a problem on mobs that a tank is able to work on (melee range), but during an initial pull of mobs, you will very likely get aggro on something. The "initial aggro" generated by the player who initiates combat with mobs is not very much, and healing will overtake that threat quickly. This includes situations as, listed above, need to be LoS-pulled. This also includes mobs that some dps happened to get too close to, and the tank may not be aware that they've been aggroed. Run any aggro to your tank, or position yourself so that they will cross the tank as they are running to you; if your tank is at all attentive, they will rescue you.

8. (Druids:) Innervate your Prot Pally.
If they're OoM (or near to it) and your mana is fine, innervating a prot pally tank is a great way to reduce downtime during chain-pulls or, if extra stuff is pulled before they can drink, to make sure they can hold aggro against everything. An OoM pally-tank can't keep aggro against high dps, and your innervate will overflow their mana pool!

9. If you had a great tank, thank them.
Sometimes I get thanked as a healer for what I thought was a light job. I smile and say, "My job was easy... x was a good tank" (or something to that effect). Sometimes I have an insane job, and I get thanked, and I know that the tank should be thanked, too: such as when I ran a heroic HoL with a prot pally who had 25k health, and we accidentally pulled the first boss (while charged) and an entire pack of trash at the same time. The tank was very low in gear level, but he picked it all up before it could kill me and used his cooldowns to stay alive while I poured heals on him and the group. I knew it wasn't all me: that tank was a great tank in spite of his gear, and our dps was wise enough to let him build aggro. It was the best pug group I've ever been in, and we had no deaths through the whole run. I made sure that tank knew I appreciated it, too. Tanks don't get thanked enough.

10. Communicate with your Tank.
Tielyn commented with this great addition.
"Communicate with your tank. Warn them if your gear is a little light. Or tell them they can go all out. There is nothing worse than landing in a random PuG with a tank that says, "I'm a gonna chainpull, kk?" That is your one chance to speak up and tell 'em 'No, I don't think I can handle it.' If you don't, it really IS your fault.

If they insist on pulling when there's no LOS to you, however, it's probably their fault.

Conversely, when I tank, I look at my healer. And I ask him or her, 'I see you've got 22K mana and what looks like mostly T9 gear. We good to speedrun this puppy?'"

11 comments:

Taz said...

#9 is especially true. I've gotten thanked as a healer in random PuGs, but my pally (who is an amazing, amazing tank) has never gotten random praise. Give your tank a big hug the next time you have a good one!

Alyae said...

"8. (Druids:) Innervate your Prot Pally.
If they're OoM (or near to it) and your mana is fine, innervating a prot pally tank is a great way to reduce downtime during chain-pulls or, if extra stuff is pulled before they can drink, to make sure they can hold aggro against everything. An OoM pally-tank can't keep aggro against high dps, and your innervate will overflow their mana pool!"

Bless you Kae. Bless you for thinking of us pallies who may be over geared for the instance and often OOM

Kae said...

I lurves mah tanks!!

Anonymous said...

@#4: does this include HoR? If we're tucking ourselves in the corner, should I be stacked on the tank or hidden?

Maerdred said...

@ Alyae: If you're overgeared, take off your pants and give the healer a heart attack! It's fun that way.

But yes, If you can tell you won't need it for the next couple minutes, Innervate that Paladin!

@anonymous: In HoR I stay hidden because of #7. You will have aggro on anything the tank hasn't touched. If you're out in the open, those casters will destroy you and the tank may never see them. If you hide, they run in and the tank can grab them before they are able to hit you.

At least that's what I think Kae will say.

Alyae said...

@Maerdred -> Yes yes! Us tanks have the pants-less tanking society. I have considered it many times, but then... in straight pugs I'm usually top or second on DPS and without my pants on i do less damage, and then we're in there for longer!

Adeanna said...

thank you for this nice post. even though we wiped a few times during our heroic dungeon runs, in the end, i thanked our tank for doing a good job. :D

Kae said...

Indeed, Maerdred :) Between the mages and the hunters in HoR, LoS is my friend!

As for pantsless tanks, I still crack up about them, and they've existed since Molten Core days! "Pull up your pants!" "Nooo it's too hot here!"

Tielyn Pawtucking said...

I've run both sides of the house, being what I jokingly term a 'restoferian druid'. Most of the time, I'm a tree, but this weekend, I'll probably be tanking our ICC/25 with the plated folk.

I've done a lot of tanking and a lot of healing, and there's nothing like watching a tank who knows their stuff dance, and there's something pretty danged heroic about a healer that balances a mana pool, five to twenty-five health bars, and stays alive despite fire raining down from every direction -- it is the healer that proves you wrong when you've got a dozen plus mobs on you and you think, 'I'm so dead.'

One of the things that the DPS don't always get is that we are the alpha and omega that keep them going. Since my third 80 is a hunter, I'm amazed when I see tanks that actually leave my frost traps up, especially when I'm using them to keep mobs off of a healer. Those are the tanks I award major in-party style points.

The tank that left all the adds on me, the healer, while he was on the boss (and just the boss) at the end of HoS? Not so much. His response for leaving them on me: 'Oh, I figured you would heal through it. I can do it on my paladin, or at worst, bubble out of it.'

Yeeeeah.

Anyway. I digressed into Kansas somewhere. A few things I'd like to add to your list, if I may be so bold:

* Communicate with your tank. Warn them if your gear is a little light. Or tell them they can go all out. There is nothing worse than landing in a random PuG with a tank that says, "I'm a gonna chainpull, kk?" That is your one chance to speak up and tell 'em 'No, I don't think I can handle it.' If you don't, it really IS your fault.

If they insist on pulling when there's no LOS to you, however, it's probably their fault.

Conversely, when I tank, I look at my healer. And I ask him or her, 'I see you've got 22K mana and what looks like mostly T9 gear. We good to speedrun this puppy?'

And I always stop pulling if I see the healer is below 50% mana. I tell the group this. "Holding up for mana."

* Keep a regen set around.
You may think that +Spellpower is the end all, but until you can reliably stay in the blue for an entire boss fight, consider trying to gem/enchant/gear for enough mana regen to stay constantly healing (for druids, enough to get to your next Innervate) and slowly swap out pieces to upgrade +spellpower while keeping that mana regen level constant.

An OOM healer does zero healing. The 'best' geared healers I know who do 25-man raids have a contest in daily five mans where the tank tries to dent their mana pool by pulling as much as the instance as possible.

* Don't overheal.
A lot of raid guilds 'rely' on the healing meters, thinking they're as good as the damage/DPS meters for establishing raider quality. While it's an -indication-, it is by no means the sole way to determine healer skillsets.

I'm our heal lead-- I look for the following things, in order:
1) Effectiveness.
2) Efficiency.
3) Only then do I look at how much they healed for.

* Raid healing is not the doghouse.
It doesn't mean you're not worthy of healing a tank. It just means that you're entrusted with keeping the 22 other people up.

-Tielyn.

Kae said...

Very good points, Tielyn :)

To add to the Overhealing discussion, I did want to clarify for others that with druid HoTs, overhealing is a given. Don't hurt your actual healing in an effort to avoid overheals with HoTs. Overhealing awareness is more of a concern with direct-heal spells like HT, Swiftmend, Regrowth, and Nourish: use the right-size spell for the job (around considerations of mana/HoT for regrowth). A NS+HT is overkill and a waste of mana if you only need to heal about 7k!

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