They say that the three most important things about buying a house are location, location and location. Positioning is pretty similar, in that a healer’s movements and position can influence everything from extra work for raid healers to the amount of DPS being thrown out. It really is the most important thing to master in a raid, so I’ve decided to bridge the gap between my last article and the updates on the guide (I promise, that Naxxramas Bosses section looks sweet) by talking a little about how you can avoid screwing everything over for your raid!
Step One: Know The Fights
Each and every fight requires different positioning – sometimes it’s general, like “spread out 8 yards” and sometimes it’s very specific, like standing underneath the boss on Vezax or stacking on the tank for Auriaya. However, you can’t execute this positioning correctly if you don’t know what it is. Generally speaking, unless you’re in a very casual guild, “not having read up on the fight” isn’t an excuse. Hell, I knew the tactics for Mimiron two months before I actually did it, just because I was interested.
If you haven’t read up on the fight, raids go slower. The encounter has to be explained before every boss, and then you need to spend two or three wipes getting to grips with it having only been given a sketchy description (and I quote: “there’s some lightning and stuff” on Thorim). Sometimes, even people who have read up on the fight miss things – while not exactly positioning-related, Hardened Bark on Freya for my current guild springs to mind. If you’ve read the fight, you’ve got advance warning of all this stuff, and you’ll have a much better chance of not screwing up.
Step Two: Consistency
Whatever the positioning required is, you need to execute it for the whole fight. People move around, people get feared or mind-controlled or rooted and so on – stuff changes during a fight. So unfortunately, we can’t just stand in one spot for the whole fight. Instead, you need to check (ideally every few seconds) to see if you’re still fulfilling the requirements. Range-checkers and the like from DBM definitely help here, and are pretty much essential for fights like Kel’thuzad 25, where there’s a lot of people in quite a small space, and the 10-yard spacing between players is non-negotiable.
Getting stuff right at the start is important. Getting stuff right the whole way through is key. More on this later.
Step Three: Stay in the Middle
More a general rule of thumb than chapter and verse for healers, step three says that you should always be in as range of as many people as possible, and so the reflex reaction is to stand in the middle. Staying in the middle of the raid means that you’ve got 40 yards of space on either side in which you can heal – whereas if you’re standing at the edge, you’ll only have access to roughly half the raid. Top tip for working out where to stand is to enable Frame Alpha on your grid settings for anyone who’s more than 40 yards away from you. This will “fade out” their raid frame when they’re far enough away, so you can see at a glance how much of the raid you’ve got covered.
As a Discipline Priest, this is especially important. A Holy Paladin might only want to heal the tank, but we want to throw out shields on the raid – and because I do my shields by group, (complementing Prayer of Healing,) I need to be in range of everyone at all times.
Step Four: Don’t Be a Rabbit
I used to be a Rabbit. I was the kind of guy who would move around while he was healing, because standing still just felt boring. I’d jump or move slightly to the side while I was shielding. In reality, this is completely and utterly pointless! I didn’t need to move, and I was just doing it because it felt like standing still made me more open to Bad Things happening.
If you’re standing still in a good position, nothing can go wrong. You don’t need to move. But the second something changes, and suddenly you know that position will be bad in a few seconds’ time, then you start moving. Move to where you need to be, and stop. Don’t jump around and make your other guildies adjust their spacing/position unless you need to avoid damage. Don’t be a Rabbit!
Step Five: Think Ahead and Pay Attention
Step five ties in with Consistency, from earlier. The trick to avoiding unnecessary damage is to know what’s coming, when it’s coming, and what you have to do to react. Think of it like an old Zelda boss from the N64 – he charged up some attack, it was really obvious, and you moved to avoid it. So why would WoW be any different? We get big, flashing neon signs from DBM when stuff like Lightning Nova on Emalon happens, or Sarth throws us a Flame Wall. There’s a massive targeting circle on the floor when Mimiron fires a rocket. We get customised timers to tell us when bosses’ abilities are off cooldown.
So in theory, we should never take unavoidable damage! The main reason that healers take damage like this is because we’re all too busy looking at other people’s healthbars. I’ll be honest, I suffer from Grid Syndrome on occasions too – we all get it from time to time. Just try to tear your eyes away from it for a split second every few moments, look at the screen, be aware of what’s happening and what you need to do, and I guarantee that your time spent alive will increase dramatically. 🙂
I’m roughly halfway through Naxx bosses (doing each boss’ portrait in Paint seemed like a good idea, but it takes forever!) and I’ll do my best to speed up. Hope this all helped – as always, feel free to leave comments.