Anticipation

This is supposed to be a priest site, not a guild-building site, so I thought I’d take a moment to bring things back to the roots. With a technical post, at that.

One of the things good healers tend to do is anticipate damage. They’re starting the heal before it’s really needed – the outstanding ones seem to be dropping them on the heels of the damage that requires it. How do they do it? Well….

I don’t know. I’ve never managed that little trick (besides the interrupt cast trick which I’ll get to shortly), and hope one of the greats will deign to clue us all in. In the meantime, however, I’ve learned a trick or two I’ll pass along.

Tediously, there is study. Sometimes you can learn what the mobs of your instance hit for ahead of time, but the more frequent way to learn is Pay Attention at the first fight.

On the first pull of a new instance, I hit the tank with a PoM and throw a renew the INSTANT he engages. And then I highlight his health bar and see what the first two hits do for health reduction. At that point I’ve got two starting points of data. First, how big a heal am i going to need, and second how fast am i going to need it. As the battles progress I’m going to fine tune it, but this is my starting point. Three mobs drop the tank by 3K (recovering half that due to the existing heals) in the first flurry? oh, crap, better start interrupt-casting GH till things get under control. Three mobs and he’s dropped and returned to full health (less than 1500)? I can wait for something special – just keep renew up all the time.

Oh – that’s one thing I’ve taken to doing full time, or as close to it as I can manage. Renew 100% of the time, and frisbee as soon as it dies or gets swallowed (darn warlocks). These already in place BUY ME TIME as I try to get a feel for the timing of various mobs OMG hits.

The second trick is threshholds. I’ve got my addons set so that when various classes go to certain threshholds their datalines change colors. Tanks hit the first threshhold at 85%. Everybody else it’s 80%. yes, I know the clothies are closer to death than the tanks at this point, but I’ve learned that if I keep the tank up and he can hold aggro, we will win. (Had a nasty pull the other day where the mobs – all three of them, in Arc, killed the rest of the party FAST. The tank went nuts with aggro, kept sharing the loving and doing a bit of damage – and I kept the heals going pretty constantly, barely staying under the threat level. We lived, the mobs died. Yes, we had a break – the stupid mobs kept sheeping me every so often – which restored my health with me using zero mana. But I digress….) Basically, having hardcoded threshholds warns me I might be running a little behind – it’s a “don’t care, get a heal on this one NOW” statement. It’s not really anticipation of ANY damage, but since they’ve been hit and they’re potentially bad off, it’s kind of interesting how often the heal hits them as they get hit AGAIN – and fakes the anticipation of the great healers. (I try to throw a “put them at 110%” heal for just this reason.)

hmm, that’s another trick. When I AM tossing a heal in the hot and busy, especially when it’s going to someone who’s getting a fair amount of damage, I intentionally overheal for “right now”. I aim for between 110 and 120% of full health. Sometimes I overheal. And sometimes… one more tick of renew is a good thing. (I’m frequently in the 5-10% overheal range at end of run, just for reference.)

Finally, I said I’d mention interrupt casting. It’s pretty much only useful on your Long heal (GH or Prayer of Healing). What you do is start the cast before there is ANY need at all. At about the 2-second point, if nobody’s taken damage, recast it – interrupting the previous cast and starting the clock again. Two factors fall into place here. First and least important, you use no mana till the spell is complete. Second… you are a LOT closer to the cast following the need because you started so early. The bad thing? switching to something else for someone else breaks the cycle. But when you KNOW you’re going to be casting it over and over – that when it’s needed it’s going to be needed NOW, and someone else is covering the other issues – it’s a great method of anticipatory healing casts. right time, right place, great. Wrong time or place and, well, back to the drawing board.

These are tricks I use so I’m not desperately trying to grab my tank off the 5% health line. And to be honest, sometimes I miss. I think things are under control so I “top off” the other players – and the tank takes a pair of crits plus another love tap or two, plunging from just over the 85% line to under 10% (and I’m using ‘fast cast’ tricks to try and give me enough time to toss a GH or three.)

So… you excellent and great healers – and those of you don’t think of yourself as such but have picked up one or two tricks of your own – share. Tell us how YOU anticipate. Because anticipation means you make it look easy – and you definitely sweat it less.

~ by Kirk on October 4, 2007.

3 Responses to “Anticipation”

  1. Anticipation is the first sign of a good healer (reactive healing using Healbot gets your raid killed) It looks like you covered just about all the basics. Another thing you can do to anticipate more is assist healing using target of target. This is especially useful in fights like Shade of Aran in Kara, especially if you can see the enemy’s cast bar, thus knowing the spell being cast, and its approximate damage, and land a heal just after the spell goes off. Yet another well written and informitive post.

    On a side note, one of the most fun and challenging experiences I’ve had as a healing priest was running Karazhan through Curator with only 2 healers (especially if you have a lower DPS group). This really pushes you to effectively use every spell at your disposal (Binding Heal actually made up 7% of my healing on that run), and every trick you know, for anticipation and efficiency, oh and just for kicks, you get to CC at the same time too.

  2. In 25 man raiding, some of our priests and druids have played with Forecast, a raid healing mod that lets them see when heals from the other healers in the raid are going to hit. It’s an interesting concept, though I hear it eats up a fair bit of mod memory (and all the healers in a raid need to have it installed for it to work as intended). Might be a fun thing to play with if you’re trying to work on your psychic damage-anticipation skills, though. :)

  3. Another mod that can help is VisualHeal, which shows how much your heal will fill or overfill the target’s health. It also can combine with the other healers in your group/raid, also if they have it too. :P But I haven’t seen it eating much memory. It will not show healing from group stuff (PoM, PoH, BH) or Renew.

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