Hello, everyone! In this installment of The Divine Retribution we will take a look at Clerics as healers. The Warden, Sentinel, and Purifier souls will be examined in this article; sample builds and useful tips will be given for each of them. I will also go over some general healing knowledge that all dedicated healers may want to have.
What does it mean? (Being a healer, not double rainbows)
Healers heal people, sure. Defining the role seems simple enough, but I think the term means more than its definition. A while ago, I was reading an article about healing much like you are right now. I remember reading an analogy that made so much sense to me that I doubt I will ever forget it. The author wrote that a healer functioned much like a drummer in a rock band. I guess this would make tanks the group’s diva—but I digress. Just like a song can’t rock without a good beat, a group won’t often get far without a good healer. As long as a boss fight doesn’t have an enrage timer, a good healer can make up for DPS that is lacking by keeping the tank up for as long as is necessary. If you have decent DPS but the tank isn’t that great, a good healer can often play his/her cards right and get the group through an encounter. If the healer is bad though, the game becomes much less forgiving; a small mistake on anyone’s part may spell defeat for your group.
Deciding to be a healer is a selfless decision, in my opinion. It is also one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. I’ll try to share how to feels to be a healer. Consider that, by becoming a healer, you are symbolically giving up the sword and quite literally giving up your ability to fight. Your group relies on you to keep them alive as much as you rely on them to keep you from harm or kill your enemies. Because the virtual lives of your comrades are in your hands, you may feel a little more stress than you would if you were a tank or DPS. In some ways, being a healer can make you feel helpless as well. While it is true that no one in the group can make it on his/her own, the fact that you have no bite can make you feel especially helpless – just like DPS may feel very fragile because they don’t have as many tools to help them survive. This is mostly psychological though; the truth is that everyone in a group is relying on each other and, in most cases, would go nowhere on their own. Simply keep in mind that if healing feels stressful even after doing it for a while, perhaps it isn’t for you.
As with everything, there is a positive side to being a healer. You may feel important and perhaps even honored that people trust you with their digital health. After all, you might be all that stands between them and a dirt nap. The responsibilities of a healer can also be very thrilling; your gameplay experience can be very intense, as you have to react quickly to changing situations. More often than not, it will not be difficult to find a group to join; there is usually demand for healers. Healers are also VIPs in many respects. Both in PvE and (especially) PvP, people will go out of their way to keep you safe.
Any ascendant fresh off the character creation page can throw a heal hither and yon, but real healers are hardened players that have mastered the skills of the trade. A good healer knows how to conserve his/her mana, prioritize, and manage cooldown abilities. Veteran healers keep their cool when a situation is deteriorating and are ready to salvage bad situations when possible. The best healers will prepare ahead of time by setting up macros and having consumables (usually mana potions) they may require.
Prioritizing is perhaps the most fundamental part of the healing game. This is a very simple concept that shouldn’t be difficult to grasp. The most common example of a healer prioritizing is when both a tank and a DPS are taking heavy damage, and both are in risk of dying. If it can’t be helped, the right choice is to let the DPS die in order to save the tank. This doesn’t mean that you should always choose to let someone get knocked out if more than one person is at risk though; AOE heals, particularly ones that are powerful cooldown abilities or boosted by cooldowns, can often allow you to save everyone even in a bad situation. The catch here is that AOE heals usually cost a lot of mana, so they should be used sparingly.
Managing your supply of mana is crucial when you’re a healer. DPS and Mage healers have ways to easily regain their resources but, as a Cleric healer, your mana is very much limited and won’t get you far if you do not spend it wisely. The main thing for which to watch out is AOE healing. It may seem tempting to answer many of the game’s threats with AOE heals but this is the fast track to running out of mana. The best way to deal with situations that require healing several group members at once is to either use powerful cooldown AOE heals or boost your regular AOE healing spells with cooldowns that increase healing done or guarantee a critical heal; your goal these situations should be to keep everyone alive using as few AOE heals as possible.
When things are going bad, you will often have to turn to your big cooldown abilities to get your group through that rough situation. Every healer has some of these cooldowns, and every healer has to learn when to use them. Some of these have cooldowns of 2 minutes or more, so you may only get to use them once per boss fight. It’s difficult to just teach someone how to manage their cooldowns; with time, you will learn what to use when and how to ration your cooldowns to make it through tough fights.
If you want to be good at something, it doesn’t hurt to give yourself every advantage you can. I was a healer in WoW for a long time and I think the greatest advantage I gave myself was using unitframes add-ons, like the popular HealBot. Add-ons like these would display my group/raid health bars in a very neatly organized way, making it easier for me to be aware of everyone’s condition. They also allowed for things like casting spells simply by clicking on health bars, which saved me some precious time. In Rift, we currently have no add-ons; we’ll have to work with the game’s default interface, like it or not. All is not lost though; there are interface features in the game that can improve our performance as healers if we use them correctly.
Mouse-over macros are probably a good way to start fine tuning your healing. When you cast something at your mouse-over, you are casting at the unit or unit’s portrait currently highlighted by your cursor. By casting everything at mouse-over, you eliminate the need to target anyone. This will save a little bit of time; every millisecond counts when it comes to healing.
You would have to make a mouse-over macro, like the one above, for EACH of your healing, cleansing, and other beneficial spells; things can get complicated of some spells are mouse-over and some are not. When using mouse-over, you may want to turn off Auto Self-Cast in the combat submenu of your interface settings to make sure spells just fail to cast if you cursor is a bit off instead of casting on yourself and wasting a global cooldown.
There are some spells that you may only ever cast on your group’s tank or your designated tank in a raid. For these, you can make macros that cast at your focus. To make someone your focus, you simply target that person (in this case your tank) and type /focus. You should see what looks like a second target frame pop up. When you cast a spell at focus, it will be cast on the target you have on focus even if you are targeting something else or have no target at all. This is why making focus macros for important emergency cooldowns can be very useful; it eliminates the risk of casting them on the wrong target or taking too long to target the right one.
Lastly, there are spells that you will most likely only cast on yourself. The best example I can think of is Cascade from the Warden soul. You can make macros to cast on yourself. The reason for doing this would be to avoid accidentally casting something like Cascade, which regenerates 15% of your mana, on someone else. It also eliminates the need to target yourself or, if you are using Auto Self-Cast, the need to at least have no target selected.