Healing Inspection

Medicinal Intrusion Incoming

Delight and exhilaration.

A new topic is upon us. So rejuvenating! After over a month of talking mostly about the same thing, I for one feel quite renewed to switch to something else. What would it be though? Hopefully something interesting, for delving into boredom would surely render me quite unpopular.

How about discussing healing?

It’s pretty important. It’s used in instancing, raids and also PvP. It’s relevant, and everybody just loves healers! This sounds like a winner to me.

I intend to keep my quirk of inventing new abilities. I know it doesn’t do as much good as theorycrafting what is the best build, but hey, it’s my blog, and I’m its master. So, if I intend to come up with new stuff that has to do with healing, I think a good basis would be to inspect what sorts of heals the game already has to offer.

Ready for your inspection? Warning: This might be thorough.

Eek! Is it going to hurt?

Not at all, just don’t stare too hard at the text. You can also keep you clothes on (*wink*).

The Diagnosis

The Azeroth Ministry of Health (AMoH) warns that tackling raid bosses could have both short and long term effects that are hazardous to one’s health.

This is rather simple, so I am going to be brief. Healing, what is it about? Its purpose is keeping one’s allies alive, for as long as necessary.

There’s a harsh world (of Warcraft, and actually in general) out there, it makes us suffer daily. From falls from heights, through ferocious elements, to hostile creatures, there are endless options that bring us harm. Thankfully, there are also quite a few options to cure the damage, back to full health, or partially.

Bandages, potions and even food are all very nice, but nothing beats the touch of the guy/girl with those magical hands. Makes us feel good, keeps us in the game.

Offered Treatments

Recent studies confirm that well rested adventurers direct happier, longer, and less straining lives.

Warcraft doctors have more than a few treatments they can offer the wounded. While they all share the same purpose of keeping allies from dying, there are various means to achieve the goal.

Let me introduce the major differences.

Casting Time

From instants to 3.5 seconds casting, heals can land after various times. The longer the cast, normally the bigger the heal. Of course, the shorter the cast, the easier it is to use too (there are less chances the target will die while casting).

While almost every spell is cast normally, there is a single exception – Tranquility – which is a channeled heal.

Among the faster heals are Holy Shock and Swiftmend (which has some restrictions); in between there is Flash of Light for example; the slowest heal is currently Healing Touch (and Tranquility which is more or less a panic button).

In general, most healing classes have both slow and fast heals, which helps in healing management.


After the heal is cast, it can have its effect in various forms. The most common is the direct heal, such as any of the ones mentioned in the previous bullet. Then, there are heals over time, which have a duration in which they slowly heal the target, usually for small amounts every few seconds (also called ticks). Healing over Time normally ticks every 3 seconds, such as Renew, but there is also Lifebloom which ticks every second. Lastly, there are heals which are delayed – they either affect the ally after a certain time (like Lifebloom), or on a specific trigger (normally once taking damage), like Earth Shield.

Note: Spells can have a combined effect, like Regrowth which is partial HoT and partial direct, and Lifebloom which is a HoT and a delayed heal together.


The healer starts casting, but who does he target? Most heals affect a single target, healing it and it only. For situations where area of effect damage is present, there are AoE heals, such as Holy Nova and Prayer of Healing which do not require a target (but heal only within the party), or Circle of Healing which does requires a target (as it heals it and its party). Also, there is a category of smart group heals, which includes Chain Heal. Smart because the healer only chooses a single target, then the server chooses by itself what additional targets to heal, according to their distance and level of health. Lastly, there are heals which affect a dual target, usually the healer’s target and himself, like Binding Heal.


The most intuitive way to heal, is using the adaptive style. This style is the logical one – the target is wounded, then the healer uses the heal to bring her back to full health (or close to). Using this terminology, most heals are adaptive. There are however some spells which are preemptive, that is to say which are cast before taking damage, as they react once the target is wounded. Spells such as Earth Shield and Prayer of Mending belong to this style, but also Power Word: Shield (absorbs damage), Grounding Totem (absorbs a full spell) and Pain Suppression (reduces damage) which do not actually increase one’s health, but prevent damage. And finally, while not actually healing spells, there is the decursing style, where the purpose of the healer is to remove existing harmful effects from his allies. I categorized Cleanse, Mass Dispel, Disease Cleansing Totem, Remove Curse and Abolish Disease under this style.

Note: Again, a few spells can effectively be categorized as part of two styles, such as Abolish Disease, which is both a decurse and can be used preemptively. Also note that while all non-instant spells can be used preemptively by casting them beforehand, I still consider them adaptive as the target is taking the damage before the heal is actually cast.


Not exactly heals, but affecting them so I consider them as part of the treatment. Abilities that alter the next heal(s) in various ways are important tools the healers use. Abilities such as Divine Favor (a guaranteed critical heal), Nature’s Swiftness (casting time reduced to instant), or Power Infusion and Heroism/Bloodlust (increasing casting speed, effectively reducing the cast time of the heals).

The odd one out

I admit I couldn’t find a proper category for Lightwell. It doesn’t require a target as it is placed on the ground, and the wounded have to use it. It has an HoT effect, but is interrupted on damage taken. I suppose it is preemptive though, so at least there is something to say about it. Other than that… Odd.

And that is how I like to break the spells down. I am sure there could be other ways to divide different spells by, but I feel this one is as simple as possible. I’d be happy to hear out any other possibilities though.

Placebo Medication

[the Stormwind Herald] Placebo potions found in the Auction House. Raiders demand refunds.

Now that we’ve seen what the present holds, I ask – what other tools can we use? Each spell has its purpose, and areas where it is better used. Each class has encounters where she is best suited for. In Wrath of the Lich King, this is about to change, as Blizzard have stated they do not want to have certain classes feel required for raids. Still, even if all the healers have all the tools they need for every possible encounter, their playstyle is still different.

I intend to have a brisk look at each of the 5 main healing specs (and maybe a bit at the secondary specs), then offer some new tools for each of the 4 healing classes. Yes, my new skills are placebo skills, since they probably will never exist (thus having absolutely no effect), but I’m toying with the idea of making more interesting healing rotations. Because versatility is fun.

I’ll explain more on my next post. Until then, remarks/comments/questions are more than welcome.

If there is one thing I’d rather not see before I die, is a doctor. For it bodes I haven’t ended well.
— Bran Steelsight, Grand Stalker


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One Response to “Healing Inspection”

  1. Clayton Sutherland Says:

    You’ve done it again! Great post.

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