A B E G I N N E R ' S G U I D E T O H E A L I N G
Breanni), Scarlet Crusade
The information herein will help any group healer from level 1 to
60. However at 60, the rules change, as there are different challenges
during endgame content. For endgame healing strategies, see additional
guides on the class menu at the bottom of the site.
For the purposes of this guide, I'm referring to
healers. Priests make ideal primary healers due to the wide variety
of healing spells available to them. Druids are also considered
for primary healing, as they offer some of the most powerful heals
in the game. And while I'm aware that paladins and shamans can be
great healers too, they rarely serve as primary healers from
levels 1 through 60. So priests and druids, this guide is for you!
NOTE: I included notes for both classes in this guide so you can
get a feel for their respective strengths and weaknesses and see
how they compare. Class-specific notes appear throughout. And a
special section for each class can be found toward the end of the
C O N T E N T S :
I. THE BASICS
. . 1. Monitor player health bars
. . 2. Monitor pet health bars
. . 3. Use appropriate gear
. . 4. Know who's expendable
II. MANAGING MANA & MOBS
. . 5. Use efficient healing spells
. . 6. Cast in waves
. . 7. Control your aggro
. . 8. The smart way to panic
. . 9. Offer tactful suggestions to others
. . 10. Support your party
. . 11. Revive fallen comrades
IV. BUFFS & DEBUFFS
. . 12. Buff your entire party
. . 13. Request helpful buffs
. . 14. Remove negative buffs
V. FOR THE PRIEST
. . 15. Abstain from using Shadowform
. . 16. Use Psychic Scream sparingly
. . 17. Use PW:Shield correctly
. . 18. Use your wand, not nukes
VI. FOR THE DRUID
. . 19. Limit your shapeshifting
. . 20. Use alternatives to nukes
VII. IN CLOSING
. . 21. Bending the rules
. . 22. Authors note
I. THE BASICS:
1. Monitor player health bars
Seems obvious, doesn't it? If your primary role in the group is
to heal, your primary focus should be on the health of your party.
Monitor everyone's health bars and heal them accordingly. Later
in this guide, you'll learn which heals are most efficient for which
classes. But you'll also base your decisions on how quickly a player's
health is dropping.
Also note that while you don't want to ignore your own health, try
to reserve your heals for other players whenever possible. You have
other options to preserve your life beyond healing, as you'll discover
throughout this guide.
2. Monitor pet health bars
The pets of hunters and warlocks can be as important to group efforts
as their masters. Treat them as such, especially if the pet is tanking
or off-tanking for your group. Hunters and warlocks will appreciate
not having to spend their time, mana and possibly a soul shard to
revive or resummon their pet.
However, pets do tend to come second to players in terms of life-saving
priority. So let the warlock or hunter know that their help would
be appreciated in healing their pets.
3. Use appropriate gear
Your effectiveness as a healer is highly dependent upon your gear.
You want lots of intellect, spirit and possibly some +healing spell
gear to maximize your healing potential when grouped. Higher intellect
will increase your total mana, while more spirit will improve your
So if your particular talent build calls for stats other than intellect
and spirit, consider carrying additional gear to equip whenever
you're asked to be the primary healer. This is especially important
for feral-specced druids, who prefer strength and stamina to intellect
4. Know who's expendable
All classes bring something unique to a group. And your ultimate
goal is to keep everyone alive. But unfortunately, the roles that
people play in your group are not all equal when it comes to expendability.
Your priorities, listed from most important to least important,
include the following roles, generally played by the following classes:
Yourself - Remember, the group's survival (and possibly
revival) depends on you.
Main Tank (MT) - Warriors, Feral-specced Druids in bear
form (and to lesser extent Paladins, Shamans)
Off Tank - Secondary Warriors, Druids in bear form, Paladins,
Shamans, Hunter Pets, Voidwalker (Warlock pet)
Melee Dps - Rogues, Shamans, Druids in cat form, Fury-specced
Warriors (often wielding 2-handed weapons), Survival-specced Hunters,
Hunter Pets (often cats or raptors), Succubus (Warlock pet)
Range Dps - Hunters, Mages, Warlocks, Priests, Imp (Warlock
Use the above listings as a loose guide. Often you'll discover that
a certain class brings something crucial to a specific encounter.
That "something crucial" may make them a higher link in the chain.
For example, a mage who is superb at crowd-controlling with her
'Polymorph' spell may become more important than a rogue or shaman
because the crowd-control is essential for that particular instance.
II. MANAGING MANA & MOBS:
5. Use efficient healing spells
Your mana is your lifeline as a healer (and the lifeline of everyone
else). So manage it carefully. Different spells will heal more efficiently
when used on different classes and armor-types. This is governed
by casting speed, type of heal and potency.
Priest Healing Spells:
Renew - instant heal over time (HoT), less potent
Flash Heal - fast heal, less potent
Lesser Heal - regular heal, less potent at lower levels,
obsolete at upper levels
Heal - slow heal, moderately potent at lower levels,
less potent at upper levels
Greater Heal - slow heal, very potent
Prayer of Healing - slow group heal, less potent
Note that other healing spells are available with certain races
and talents, but for the purpose of this guide, we'll focus on the
spells available to all priests, regardless of build.
Druid Healing Spells:
Rejuvenation - instant heal over time (HoT), less potent
Regrowth - regular heal/HoT combo, moderately potent
Healing Touch - slow heal, very potent
Tranquility - channeled group heal, less potent to very
potent (depending on amount of time channeled; maximum of 10 seconds)
Due to a reduced variety of healing spells, some druids will hotbar
an additional lower rank of either 'Healing Touch' or 'Regrowth'
to improve their healing options. During the mid levels, Healing
Touch ranks 3 and 4 are a particularly good choice, since these
have lower casting times than higher ranks.
If you want to get the most bang for your buck, consider using the
following spells on the following armor-types:
Mage, Warlock, Priest (note that some Druids and Shamans may wear
cloth depending on their build)
Because cloth-wearers are so fragile, it's beneficial to use faster
heals like 'Flash Heal' (priest). And because they generally have
less hit-points, HoT spells work wonders when cast as soon as the
player begins taking damage. 'Regrowth' (druid) works well on both
counts, since it's quick and an HoT spell.
Druid, Rogue, Hunter (pre-40), Shaman (pre-40)
Leather-wearers can take a bit more of a beating, but also tend
to be fragile. Use a combination of quick heals, HoTs and regular
heals with an occasional slow heal when the situation warrants it.
Note that Druids in Cat form also follow this model.
Warrior (pre-40), Paladin (pre-40), Hunter (40+), Shaman (40+)
Players in mail can take a fair beating. Regular heals such as 'Heal'
(priest) and lower ranks of 'Healing Touch' (druid) mixed with slower
heals like 'Greater Heal' (priest) and higher ranks of 'Healing
Touch' (druid) do wonders for them when they begin to fall below
half of their total health. HoTs may also be useful shortly after
they begin to begin to take damage.
Note that Druids in Bear form (pre-40) and Moonkin form also follow
14. Remove negative buffs
Negative buffs (also called debuffs) such as diseases, poisons,
curses and magical effects (like polymorph and some DoT spells) can
be removed by primary healers.
Priests can use the spells 'Cure Disease' (and later 'Abolish Disease')
to remove diseases from players. They can also use 'Dispel Magic' to
remove magical debuffs, which is a great asset when you hit your 40s
Druids can remove curses with the aptly named 'Remove Curse' spell,
and poison effects can be eliminated with 'Cure Poison' (and later 'Abolish
It is also worth noting that paladins and shamans (and to a lesser extent,
mages with 'Remove Lesser Curse') can also remove certain debuffs. These
classes will often help to remove debuffs in an effort to preserve your
mana for healing. And if they don't seem to be helping, it doesn't hurt
to ask. Most players will not mind lending a hand.
V. FOR THE PRIEST:
15. Abstain from using Shadowform
If you're a shadow priest, limit your 'Shadowform' ability to groups
where you aren't the primary healer. Shadowform is geared toward damage
dealing, not healing. Some players will even leave the party if you
shift in and out of Shadowform while grouped. While limited forms of
healing (with 'Vampiric Embrace') are possible in Shadowform, your primary
heals cannot be cast at all. So rather than juggling between your dual
strengths of healing and damage-dealing, focus solely on healing and
let the rogues and mages dish out the damage.
16. Use Psychic Scream sparingly
'Psychic Scream' (PS) is wonderful for soloing and pvp combat. However,
it should be used sparingly when grouped, whether you're the primary
healer or not. Because PS targets more than one mob and does not allow
the caster to control which mobs it targets, it can severely disrupt
the melee combat of other group members. Or worse, the fleeing mobs
can pull additional mobs and create a nightmare of adds that your group
can't possibly handle. So use PS with extreme caution.
17. Use PW:Shield correctly
'Power Word: Shield' (PW:S) is one of the most powerful spells in the
priest's arsenal. However, quite a few priests use this spell incorrectly
without even realizing their mistake. Let's take a look at the right
times to use this spell versus the wrong time.
Good use: PW:S is best used to save your target when you may
not have enough time to administer a heal. The shield will usually buy
you a few seconds to cast a potent healing spell, thus saving your target.
PW:S is also useful to apply to cloth-wearers due to their fragility.
Many priests will PW:S a caster before she begins pre-planned use of
area-of-effect (AOE) spells, such as a mage's 'Blizzard' or 'Arcane
Explosion'. AOE spells cause a good deal of aggro and within moments,
several mobs will be on the caster. So PW:S makes an excellent preventative
spell for high-damage, low-survivabilty classes.
PW:S buys time and adds a little survivability. Those are its strengths.
But learn to recognize its key weaknesses...
Poor use: Casting the shield on a tank at the start of a battle
might seem like a good idea. But this is usually one of the worst things
you can do. In end-game encounters, it can be helpful. But pre-60, it
often hurts far more than it helps.
PW:S on a tank actually prevents the tank from generating aggro.
This happens because he cannot gain rage if he is not taking damage.
This more or less cripples the tank's ability to hold mobs. So while
it may be easier for you to keep the tank alive in the beginning, you've
just made his job that much harder. Fast-forward the battle: The tank
can't hold aggro; now the mage, hunter and rogue are fighting off mobs
and you're in a frenzy to heal all three. After your group barely survives,
everyone blames the tank for not holding aggro when it was really your
shield that caused the problem.
Another poor use of PW:S is using it liberally. It's a mana-intensive
spell. Its sole purpose is to prevent damage. It does nothing to progress
your group's efforts. Every time you cast PW:S, you use precious mana
that could have been better spent healing the player (as opposed to
simply preventing X damage).
Bottom line: PW:S should be used to prevent death, not damage.
It's an expensive spell that does nothing to further your efforts. Its
use is powerful, but very limited. While it has its purposes, it is
not a spell that should be cast liberally.
18. Use your wand, not nukes
Using nukes (high-damage spells) to deal supplemental damage is bad
for two reasons:
1) Your spells will generate too much aggro.
2) Your spells use up precious mana and you'll want all the mana you
can muster for healing.
So consider using your wand to supplement the damage of your group.
If you're facing manageable mobs, you can even use a few spells to expedite
the battle. But stick to low-costing DoT spells when possible, and reserve
your nukes for "the final blow" if you feel compelled to use them at
IMPORTANT: Wands generate a global cooldown for all of your spells.
If you're in the middle of a wand cycle, you may lose up to 1.5 seconds
of time before you can cast a much needed heal. With that in mind, when
things get real dicey, REFRAIN from using your wand or dealing any supplemental
damage. At that point, focus solely on keeping your party alive.
VI. FOR THE DRUID:
19. Limit your shapeshifting
If you join a group as the primary healer, stick to your caster form.
After all, you can't heal when you're fighting as a bear or a cat. Your
group members may get nervous if you start shifting back and forth to
your animal forms during every fight. So limit your shapeshifting to
that which compliments your role as primary healer, as described in
Similarly, if you're a balance druid, reserve your Moonkin form for
solo work or groups where your role is not the main healer. Moonkin
is unable to cast any healing spells.
20. Use alternatives to nukes
Using nukes (high-damage spells) to deal supplemental damage as a healer
is both risky and a mana drain. But unlike priests, druids aren't able
to wield a wand (or any ranged weapon for that matter). This makes it
harder for druids to do supplemental damage within their group while
preserving their mana pool. Fortunately, there are options.
Experiment with using your hand-held weapon. The major disadvantage
to this approach is that you're right in the thick of battle. When you
aggro something, it's on you right away, giving you less time to react.
Plus, your weapon may generate more aggro than you can afford. If you
discover that you're generating too much aggro (which can sometimes
happen with a 2-handed weapon), consider using a lower level weapon
or 1-handed alternative.
Another way to deal supplemental damage is to use lower ranked spells.
While this method allows you to maintain your range, it can eat up more
mana than youd like. So experiment with different ranks of mana efficient
spells like 'Starfire' and DoT spells like 'Moonfire' and 'Insect Swarm'
(available with talents). Start with ranks that are at least three ranks
lower than your current rank and then decide if you need to go even
lower or if you can afford to go higher. Remember, lower ranks mean
lower casting costs and lower damage, both of which help you as a healer.
VII. IN CLOSING:
21. Bending the rules
Like all rules, many of these can be bent or broken when circumstances
warrant a little extra creativity. But on the whole, if you want to
be the kind of healer that others will love to group with on your journey
to level 60, follow these guidelines. I promise that your efforts will
not be in vain.
22. Authors note
I love variety. Consequently, I am one of the few players to actively
play all nine classes. This guide was inspired by my own work as the
MT or main dps with less experienced healers, as well as my own experiences
as the primary healer. As of my last update to the guide (Aug-06), all
of my characters are 48+; most are 50+. Two of my characters are priests:
one shadow, the other holy. My holy priest is currently my highest level
character at 56.
Playing with all nine classes and grouping often has given me some unique
insight into class dynamics and synergy. It's good to know your own
strengths and weaknesses. But knowing how your strengths and weaknesses
work in tandem with the abilities of the other eight classes is a godsend,
especially for healers.
I hope that my words inspire you to be a better pre-60 healer. And I
encourage anyone to add to this guide with additional suggestions for
content that I may have missed, or corrections where my facts are inaccurate.
Good hunting. Good healing.
You can check out Zedora’s
fully navigable version of this guide: