OK, let’s get back to priestish strategy. This one’s for the healers. Let’s start with a definition for a change.
Triage. A process of prioritizing treatment of patients an extraordinary emergency with limited medical resources. Typically new patients are organized into three groups: Those who will probably live regardless, those who will probably die regardless, and those who can probably be saved if treatment is given now. Emergency medical treatment is reserved for the second group.
Priests, when it gets down and dirty in an instance, who are you going to save? Oh, sure, “Save the tank first”. After that point, however…
I have seen lots and lots of well-meaning players – healers, even – say that you should sacrifice yourself before the tank. I’ll… grant that, actually, with one caveat. If you do NOT think the tank can survive but DO think you can, save yourself. Odds are, however, “Thou shalt not come to blows with mobs, for thou art squishy and swift to die.” For what it’s worth, I constantly keep in mind the distance to the entrance, and my cue is based on whether I can make it or not if I sacrifice the tank. (Another old phrase: “I don’t have to outrun the ogre, I just need to outrun the dwarf.”) OK, you’ve got five and four and an awareness of the rare times you sacrifice five to save four.
[A digression: You'll have some players tell you that you should never heal yourself. nod politely, and ignore them. If things are so bad you're getting hit, your death guarantees the tank's death which in turn pretty well guarantees a wipe. Now if you're healing when you've only lost 10% or so they're right, but that's not what they usually mean.]
Who is first, second, and third on your list of “do not save?” Sometimes the matter will be taken out of your hands – you’ll have a warlock who cannot resist blowing the top of the damage and can’t understand why all the mobs find him tasty. Or a pair of sequential crits from the add end the matter on your rogue before anyone knows the adds are there. But given some control – just a pull that’s skirting the edge of being out of control – who do you let die so the party wins?
I offer, of course, some guidelines. Actually, I offer two. The difficulty in using them is deciding which is more important – you’ll see in a minute. The first guide is the role of the remainder of your party. The second is ability to survive. Let’s start with roles.
Remember my rules – the three roles are tank, healer, and DPS. Now we’ve already established that the healer and tank are being saved. So the third is going to be a DPS. That’s not necessarily the one that’ll do the most instantaneous DPS, but rather the one who can sustain a level just under the tank’s aggro level, and who can clear out the mobs most effectively. It may be a mage with excellent control of AoE (though you should pay attention to mana as OOM == done with battle). It may be a hunter, or a rogue, or… It DEPENDS, darnit, on the individuals there and how they’re playing. And maybe on the mobs. But generally, I think the third save should be the “best” DPSer.
But as I said, there’s a second consideration for “who lives, who dies”. That’s survivability – and it can come back to the tank and healer question as well. If you KNOW you’re going to lose one and maybe two people, you want to have the remainder have the best chance of surviving and (hopefully) pulling success out of the bad situation.
Save the pally over me (if there is one). Save the druid, sometimes, if she’s a resto spec and isn’t OOM. The tank is usually safe, and that leads to DPS.
Assuming everyone’s pretty decent, I lean toward hunters and rogues. Shamans and Druids have equal (and maybe better) defense, but their dps is usually lower. Mages and warlocks are magnificent DPSers, but if they slip, they die – fast.
This isn’t to say I won’t beef the mage over a pair of hunters if the situation warrants. It’s just the way I look when all else is equal – the best combination of dps and survivability along with tanking and healing… the best chance of the party avoiding a wipe.
heh – I made it all sound so simple, didn’t I? Seriously, if you think about it ahead of time — decide what order your heals are prioritized — then when and if the bad times come you will be better prepared. You may still wipe – it happens. You might be wrong – it happens. You’ll really only become comfortable as you practice – succeed or fail, it’s the experience that teaches best. But thinking about it will help the experience work faster.
When it all goes bad: Heal the tank; Prevent the healer from dying.; Prevent the highest-survivability strong-dps player from dying. As to the rest… good luck.