- Keep lifebloom on a tank.
Pop ToL if I want to roll lifebloom on two tanks. Refresh it with nourish or, if necessary, HT. I'm pretty comfortable with rolling two lifeblooms, though sometimes fumble them from range or spell pushback.
- Rejuv and swiftmend on raid damage
....trying to place the green puddles appropriately for maximum healing effect. Nourish, lifeblooms, and NS+HT if necessary and the tank doesn't need it more. Pop ToL if I need to spam lifebloom across the entire raid.
- OoC procs for regrowth or HT.
As the most expensive heals, why not make them free?
...if the raid is spiraling the drain, and WG if it's less dire.
Chimaeron took my healing methods and said, "Okay, let's see how much I can screw with you. RAID HEALING, GO!"
I panicked. An entire raid constantly near death is a healer's nightmare to begin with, but the concept of just keeping everyone afloat above 10k health is a manageable one after you spend some time seeing everyone constantly drop to 1 hp and not die, due to Finkle's Mixture. You adapt; you say, "okay, as long as I keep you above 10k hp, you'll all live." I added a little Grid debuff warning for the Low Health debuff.
But I still was panicked.
This was not the standard healer panic of seeing lots of low health bars... no, this was the panic of facing a fight I didn't think I could, in current druid mechanics, handle. The raid damage was too high, and my HoTs weren't ticking fast enough to top people past 10k before the next health-dropping ability splatted them to the stone floor. And in my attempts to make it work, I was going OoM by 90% boss health.
I was upset. I was frustrated. And then my raid leader chucked me in a vent channel with the other healers and said "make it work."
Silence. My frustration boiling over, I waited for the others to speak first. Was this boss even possible for us right now? I wasn't sure. I didn't know if the others could handle the raid healing, and I knew that I alone couldn't handle the tanks.
You know what?
We made it work.
Props to Togopan (holy priest) and Draukadin (holy pally): I was the third wheel in that fight.
We grouped all of the ranged DPS in one party with the holy priest, who was chain-spamming Prayer of Healing in all its party-only glory (edit: yes, it can be cast on other parties, but we had him focus on only one party). He set up a lightwell in melee range. We put the other two healers (me, holy pally) with the melee (one cat) and the tanks in the other group: two healers dedicated to this group. And while Draukadin used Beacon and Protector of the Innocent and Flash of Light and Holy Radiance and all those wonderful paladin spells, and while the two tanks taunted the boss back and forth during the double-strike to keep from being sliced in half by Chimaeron's claws, I built a healing rotation and stuck to it.
A healing rotation.
Healing Rotation: Backstory
To truly appreciate my situation, you have to understand something about healing rotations. I was once told, back in Wrath, that I was a horrible player because I didn't use a healing rotation. This was coming from a sub-50 alt whose main was a caster DPS class, of course: a player whose entire world is focused on damaging a mob, not healing someone. Not triage. The concept of not using a casting rotation was a foreign, evil, wrong, bad, ludicrous idea to him. Of course, him saying I was bad because I didn't use a healing rotation to triage my raids became a huge running joke in my guild. Me with my Bane of the Fallen King title, world-2nd 10-strict guild to get it, was bad because I don't use healing rotations.
Healing rotations don't work, generally speaking. Healing is a more fluid creature, reactive to the health pools, aggro, gear, and decisions of the raiders around you as the combat situation shifts, new creatures coming in, walls of fire charring people, aggro being stolen or swapped, debuffs being gained, and so on. Healing is a triage situation: who is taking the most damage, and is more important to the overall survival of the raid? What spell is best for the situation: how fast are they dieing, is the mana use worth the cost or is it sustainable, will it leave me unable to save someone more important later? Rotations were not for such dynamic situations. Rotations were for healers who weren't capable of quick thinking, healers who couldn't do their jobs.
So, healing rotations were a joke. Something we laughed at.
The irony of the situation struck me hard last night, as I started testing how many lifeblooms I could roll and what I could fit into the refresh cycle during a break in the raid.
With party 1 covered by the priest, the paladin self-sufficient with his own heals and the tanks half-covered by the paladin as well, that left me 2 people I absolutely had to keep up, and then whatever else I could throw at the tanks. Okay, I know I can roll 2 lifeblooms: why not a third, if that's all I'm doing?
Shortly after the pull, I popped Tree of Life and got my lifeblooms rolling: four to start, with a focus on keeping three main ones up. If the fourth dropped, I didn't sweat it. I told the paladin which of the tanks I was keeping a constant lifebloom on, and that's all that really mattered. Lifeblooms on me, tank1, and melee cat. These are the three I would try to keep up come hell or high water. While ToL was still active, I popped lifeblooms on tank2 and anyone else I could reach, and started my nourish rotation. I went straight down the last three players of my grid frames because our alphabetical arrangement made it pretty easy.
- Nourish self.
- Nourish tank1.
- Nourish melee cat.
- Cast something shorter than nourish/HT: regrowth, or instant casts. WG, or lifebloom on tank 2, or regrowth on a tank, or on someone who had lingered with Low Health for too long. I could, if I was tight in my GCDs, cast two insta-casts (rejuv + swiftmend, or two LBs) before needing to refresh the cycle, but this was risky.
- Rinse, repeat.
On the plus side, I had absolutely no mana issues: nourish and lifebloom are our cheapest heals. It was only when I fumbled the stacks and lost one (or all) and I had to use the more expensive heals instead until ToL came off of cooldown and I could restart my lifebloom stacks that I then had any sort of mana problems. In future attempts, I will be looking to cast my innervate on the poor OoM holy pally instead.
Beyond my Heals
Due to the cast-heavy and time-strict nature of balancing 3-4 lifebloom stacks, it was beneficial that I was chosen to be the stack target for Fued. They stuck a big orange circle on my head and I stood near melee with the lightwell and it wasn't until about 20% boss health that I moved even an inch from that spot. Everyone would periodically move over and hang out and give me hugs while spamming their own survival/healing cooldowns (feral's tranquility, moonkin's tranquility, etc etc) and I kept chugging along with my healing rotation. They'd flee as the bot came back online and massacre was cast and poisons would start flinging around, and I was still standing there, trucking along through my rotation.
And then at 22% or so: I pop ToL again. I spam lifeblooms across the whole raid afresh, and tranquility, and get everyone as high as I possibly can because come the 20% mark, there's no more healing.
I look up. I see the boss before me, the Mortality debuff bright near my minimap, and I gulp. "Well, here goes," I say to myself, and start DPSing. I smile to myself that I have no DPS rotation. I spam wrath, and try to keep moonfire and insect swarm on the boss, while everyone in ventrilo is going wild with trying to survive as long as they can and DPS, and when it's finally my turn, I'm bearform and using frenzied regen and barkskin in vain hope of surviving more than a couple seconds, strafing away to keep my furry tail from his claws, even as I'm tugged across the room by a priest's lifegrip and Chimaeron swipes out and double-strikes my face.
An interesting fight. One that challenged me, as a healer, in brand new ways. While I would hate having a "healing rotation" as strict as that become the norm, it was a challenge that I enjoyed, simply for its deviance from the norm. I know better, now, my limits on how many lifeblooms I can roll at my current haste level.
See you next week, Chimaeron. I won't be panicking this time.