Learning to Heal in the Keep

Our WoW Retail subgroup has been gradually playing through the Lich King expansion on Chromie Time, and until now it’s been a little drab. As I mentioned previously, with three of us sharing quests, we’ve been knocking down quest mobs so quickly that my priest Mendula hasn’t had the opportunity to learn how to heal. So a couple of weekends ago we decided we were more than ready to tackle the first instance. After all, groups of three regularly take down Onyxia on Classic, so why not three highly experienced casual players for a simple Utgarde Keep run?

You may have already learned over on TAGN how this all went down.

Now, in my defense, I have never seriously played a healer before. My last priest attempt, Tamiflu, dwelt in Shadowsong a long time ago, during the swine flu epidemic. She only made it to level 9. (A Nelf no less!)

Tamiflu during the swine flu epidemic, happier days.

Add to that the fact that I also haven’t played Retail in a very long time, and I’ve forgotten a few things about the interface.

As a Holy Priest, I figured my primary directive was to try to keep everyone alive. Our abbreviated group has no dedicated tank really, so that task fell to BunBun, Merchi’s pet rabbit. (Or is it BunHun? BunPie? I can never remember.) He should require the most healing, by my calculation. Simple enough!

As we set out, I reviewed my available healing spells:

Flash Heal – 1.4 second cast with 362 healing

Heal – 2.4 second cast with 526 healing

Renew – Instant heal over time with 360 healing over 15 seconds

Holy Word: Serenity – Instant 1,249 healing with a 1 minute cooldown

I’m not going to mention mana drain with these because so far mana management isn’t an issue at all.

So to bring this down to a complete beginner’s level, I first considered how much healing someone needed and how fast they needed it. I quickly learned that this was not always BunPot; Merchi and Fergorin traded off in receiving their own fair share of damage. Small emergencies called for Flash Heal, I supposed, and large ones for Holy Word: Serenity. Heal and Renew were a little more tricky to assign.

To begin a round of healing, I needed to select the character in need so that I could cast one of the healing spells upon it. I know that’s obvious, and the only reason I mention it is that it was my biggest obstacle. Somehow I kept selecting the wrong person, selecting a mob, or selecting myself. The frustration!

Here I am thinking I have Merchi selected and not understanding why his health continues to drop.

No worries, Merchi! I’ve got you! . . . .

At this point, you’ve probably noticed that although we’ve turned on the raid frames UI to help me track peeps’ and pets’ health, I have left it up and off to the side in its default position. This is because I forgot that UIs are draggable in Retail. This is a big deal. It created a nightmare clicking between selecting players and clicking spells way down on the action bar.

Second, I clearly was confused by the red outline around people’s health bars in the UI. You can see in the first screenshot above that Merchi’s frame is brightly outlined, giving me the false sense during a panic that I actually had him selected.

Third, as a newb, I struggled with which spell to cast. Although mana wasn’t an issue, I didn’t yet have a feel for how long of a cast was too long given a person’s rate of health depletion, nor for how effective the HOT might be in the midst of a fight.

These challenges were of no help when it came time to face Prince Keleseth. Add to them the fact that I discovered the hard way that I could not cast over the top of the guy’s table, even while standing on the table. Really?!

BunBoo going down.
The first Keleseth wipe.

Although ultimately we were not successful with our first Utgarde run, I did learn some valuable lessons. In the days since, I have dragged the raid frames UI down to just above my action bar (luxury!) and learned the real meaning of the red outline in raid frames.

This option adds a red outline to the player with aggro. With aggro.

I’ve also spent a little more time casually healing while we run quests and am gradually becoming familiar with the pacing of the healing spells (although I suspect this will take quite some time to master). I’m not sure whether we’ll take a second stab at Utgarde with this group, but if we do the healing should go somewhat more smoothly.

2 thoughts on “Learning to Heal in the Keep

  1. The default positioning of the group frames in the upper left of the screen is interesting. I nearly always have mine there in every game. If that’s not where the game puts them, if it lets me, I move them there. I have tried putting them in the center because in theory it should be so much easier but decades of muscle memory isn’t going to be overwritten easily so I usually end up moving them back to where my reflexes expect them to be.

    I imagine it’s because that’s where they were in the games I began playing twenty years ago, although I can’t say i’m absolutely sure about that. One thing I do know, though, is that I learned to play a healer using a 15″ CRT monitor (and in EQ, when the game screen only used about two-thirds of that space). You didn’t have to move the pointer far to hit anything.

    Since I still do everything by mouse-pointer, it’s a lot harder on a 24″ monitor. I don’t think most healers in WoW do very much manually though, do they? I thought everyone used Add-Ons that pretty much do it all for you.

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  2. I’m not sure how many healers use addons. Our main healer Skronk used to use one but quit using it for some reason. I may give one a try if I continue to have challenges! I also use mouse clicks for everything these days, but I know Skronk uses the keyboard for his heals and has good muscle memory for those keys.


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