Mythic+ 101: Healing
The goal of the Mythic+ 101 series is to provide new players with the foundation they need to get started. Mythic+ provides a way for players to engage in progressively more challenging content to have fun, to earn better loot, and to improve their skills. While the system is officially called the Mythic Keystone system, the community has latched onto calling it "Mythic Plus", "Mythic+", or sometimes just "M+". This series is a collaboration between Raider.IO and the Mythic+ Friends Discord.
In the previous chapter of the Mythic+ 101 series, we discussed your role as a DPS player. Every person in a Mythic+ party has an important job and multiple duties, and the healer role is no exception. In this chapter, we are going to cover some important aspects of healing that you will want to familiarize yourself with before stepping into a dungeon. Healing is a combination of being proactive and reactive, and it often requires an additional level of awareness. Healers need to not only know what the NPCs are doing in a dungeon, but also the other players in their group. Healing is so much more than just keeping your party alive, and it can truly be the most exciting role in Mythic+!
Healing in Mythic+ is a multi-faceted role that requires not only knowledge and experience of your own class and spec, but also of the rest of your party. The best healers are those that also know how to tank and DPS, as learning how to approach a key from those other roles and perspectives improves your awareness as a healer. However, knowing your tanks and your DPS and what they can do in a dungeon is a fairly large area to cover. Therefore, we will be going over those topics separately in upcoming articles. Keep your eyes out for the “Know Your Tank”, “Know Your DPS”, and “Know Your Healer” guides coming out soon!
For this overview on Healing in Mythic+, we’ll focus on how you as a healer can best contribute to a successful keystone, which goes beyond keeping your party alive! Read on to learn more about the most exciting role in Mythic+.
Table of Contents
Stay Alive! [back to top]
Your first priority as the healer in the party is to keep your group alive. You should of course familiarize yourself with all of your healing abilities, what they do, and how to use them. Make use of the resources available to you such as guides, class discords, etc., to learn about your chosen spec. Make sure you take the best talents for the content you’re doing, and gear appropriately. Once you have that information and your character is ready to go, you’re ready to heal! But how do you know what to heal, or how much to heal? As is true in all things PVE, the best way to prepare yourself is to get familiar with the content ahead of time.
Come Prepared! [back to top]
Consumables and Drinking
You will want to make sure you have some Mana potions with you when going into a Mythic+ Dungeon, but generally speaking you should have ample opportunities to drink to full mana. Always make sure you have stacks of water available. A good tank will monitor their healer’s mana, but don’t expect that from everyone. A good rule of thumb, especially in a PuG group, is that you need to take responsibility for your own mana. If you need to drink, speak up! As soon as combat ends, hit that water and start gulping it down. As you get more comfortable with your group, you’ll get a good feel for how long you can keep drinking after they’ve pulled. Quite often there won’t be enough incoming damage to require you to start healing right away, so prioritize getting a full mana bar if your group isn’t in danger, and then heal them up on the way to the next pull. This approach is the fastest when it comes to clearing a Mythic+ dungeon.
In terms of consumables, it is considered good etiquette to use flasks (if they’re not too expensive), buff food, and other consumables such as armor kits, etc., when doing Mythic+ dungeons. If you’re with a friend or guild group and the level of key you’re doing is fairly easy, then consumables are probably unnecessary. If you’re with a PuG group or you’re pushing higher and higher keys, then you will definitely want to increase your character power as much as possible through consumables.
For more information and tips on some common consumables used in Mythic+, check out Chapter 2 of the Mythic+ 101 Series here!
Yes, You Should Also Know the Route
The Mythic Dungeon Tools (MDT) route is not only for the tank to know. If your tank or someone in your group links an MDT route for your dungeon, click on it, review it, and ask questions. Knowing the route will help you plan which pulls you will likely want to make sure you have cooldowns available for. It can also help you manage mana and potion usage by knowing when the best points will be to take the time to drink. The MDT addon also provides excellent additional info on each mob in the dungeon, and its abilities, so you can study up on those to know how much damage and what kind of debuffs you’re likely to be facing.
For useful tips, tricks, and downloadable MDT routes, feel free to check our popular Weekly Route series by Dratnos!
Know the Dungeons [back to top]
You can learn a lot of information about a dungeon from the in-game dungeon journal, by watching videos/streams of other players, or by reading dungeon or affix-specific guides and info such as the Weekly Route on Raider.IO or various weekly Mythic+ specific tips and tricks on Wowhead.
However, the best way to learn about what to expect in a dungeon will always be to do it yourself. As a healer, when you are playing through a dungeon, reading a guide, or watching a stream, there are questions you should be asking yourself throughout such as:
- What kind of incoming damage do these trash mobs, or this boss, afflict on my team?
- How hard does this tank buster hit?
- Can a tank survive it without my external cooldowns?
- What damage is avoidable and/or unavoidable?
- Is there any potential incoming damage after that big AoE hit or do I have the luxury of time to heal us back up?
These questions will help you to learn the patterns of incoming damage you are likely to see. Being able to know that the pull ahead will do massive AoE damage is helpful so you know which spells to prioritize. Or knowing that the next boss hits your tank like a truck, so make sure you have your external available. You can prepare a rough plan ahead of time for cooldown usage, by knowing what parts of the dungeon you can heal without cooldowns, and what parts you cannot. Last season was a very good example of this, as many healers struggled with healing the Prideful mob at higher levels without throughput cooldowns. Knowing a Prideful mob was coming up in less than 10% meant it would be prudent to hold cooldowns.
If you learn the damage patterns of a dungeon, not only does it help you prepare a healing plan, but it can also help you learn when you can spend global cooldowns (GCDs) doing damage, and when you cannot!
Debuffs and Dispelling [back to top]
Another key aspect to healing and keeping your party alive is being on top of dispelling dangerous debuffs. There are a lot of debuffs in dungeons, so it is best to familiarize yourself with them. Typically you can find the details about each debuff in the dungeon journal, or on each dungeon’s page on Wowhead. Alternatively, you can just mouseover the debuff once it has been applied to a player in your group and read the tooltip. Knowing the debuffs ahead of time is pretty nice as you can then know which ones to look out for, and which are really dangerous.
Not every healing class can dispel the same categories of debuffs. It is important to know which types of debuffs your class can dispel, and which it cannot, as you will want to find a workaround if you face some particularly nasty debuffs. Make sure your Tank and DPS players know if there’s a debuff you cannot dispel, so they’ll know to either help out if their class can do it, or to pop a defensive!
Here’s a cheat sheet of who can dispel what:
|Disc & Holy Priest|
|Prot & Ret Paladin|
|Ele & Enhance Shaman|
|Brew & WW Monk|
|Mage (all specs)|
|Warlock (all specs)||*|
Time to Pump the Deeps [back to top]
This is the section we like to call “Do I Really Need to Heal That?” In other words, we’re going to discuss how and when a healer should be doing damage. Following the same sort of theme in knowing what kind of incoming damage to expect and knowing how your party members’ classes will adapt to said damage, it is important to know when you do and do not have to heal something. As a healer in Mythic+, you should be using something on every GCD — BUT it won’t always be a healing spell! If there’s no imminent threat, or you have enough HoTs rolling, or the boss only hits your tank and they can heal themselves up, you should be doing as much damage as you can!
Healer damage has actually become a very important aspect in WoW, especially in dungeons. If you follow the MDI at all, you’ll notice Holy Paladin has become the meta this expansion, and that is primarily due to the massive amounts of damage they’re able to put out. In fact, on most single-target fights, the Holy Paladin will be top (or near top) damage as a result of the Venthyr covenant ability Ashen Hallow combined with Avenging Wrath. Every healing class has the ability to do damage, and every bit of damage you can do to the boss or the trash will increase the speed at which your group clears the dungeon. In a weird way, doing damage can actually make your job of healing everyone, easier. If your damage contributions can push a boss or kill a mob before it is able to put out significant damage, then you have less to heal overall.
Doing damage as a healer in Mythic+ is very much a “Goldilocks” situation. If you don’t spend any time doing damage, you’re doing a disservice to your group, and potentially not making the timer at the end. Alternatively, if you spend too much time doing damage instead of healing, you run the risk of letting your teammates die. You have to find that “just right” amount of globals that you can spend on DPS, which mostly comes from experience. If you feel like you’ve got the healing aspect of the role down, start trying to help out with damage. Every time you do a dungeon, try to weave in a little bit more DPS. Eventually, you’ll get a good feel for the balance between when you’re able to DPS, and when you need to heal.
Healers = Utility Players [back to top]
This section is just to serve as a reminder that as a healer in Mythic+ dungeons, your role is more than just casting healing spells. To be successful and push higher and higher keys, you will want to learn how to effectively use your entire toolkit. This means keeping your team alive, dispelling when needed, helping contribute DPS, and helping with interrupts and crowd control. You’re not a healer, you’re a jack-of-all-trades!
Unfortunately, Restoration Shamans are the only healing class that has retained their interrupt ability, Wind Shear, in the current expansion (bring back Holy Paladin Rebuke PLEASE). The Shaman Wind Shear is also one of the best interrupts in the game, being on a 12 second cooldown and castable at range. If you are playing Restoration Shaman, you will absolutely want to be casting Wind Shear as much as possible. Every ability you can interrupt means that much less incoming damage. You can learn which spells are interruptible and which are not through trial and error, but you can also use MDT to see this information. The addon is incredibly helpful to know what types of abilities can interrupt or control a certain mob. Lots of nameplate addons will also include an indication if something is interruptible or not.
Be knowledgeable about what abilities your class, spec, and race have that can contribute to crowd control. Hammer of Justice is a great single-target stun. The Blood Elf racial ability Arcane Torrent is an AoE purge. Entangling Roots can be used to immobilize a melee-class mob. In some cases, spells like Ursol’s Vortex and Typhoon (with the Balance Affinity talent) can be used as AoE disrupts/displacements in the place of an interrupt if no interrupts or stuns are available. Mind Control has all kinds of neat and exciting uses. These examples are mere samples of the plethora of crowd control and utility abilities that are available to healers. Make sure you know what utility you can bring to the table, and use those abilities often!
Communication is Key [back to top]
Communication is absolutely key to success in Mythic+. Even if you are in a PuG group, be vocal and communicate via party chat. Let your group know when you need help keeping them alive, let them know if you need mana, let them know they’re standing in fire, etc. If a mechanic requires you to spread, but you can’t afford to move or someone will die, tell your DPS to move to accommodate you. A lot of healers that typically PuG will have macros tied to some of their abilities that will /say or /yell to make their party aware. A Restoration Shaman might have a “Spirit Link is down, please get in!” /say macro tied to Spirit Link Totem. A Holy Paladin might have something similar reminding players to get inside the Ashen Hallow on the ground. You may want to have a /whisper macro or something that announces to party chat when you’ve cast your external defensive on someone. This way they know not to overlap cooldowns and pop their own defensive if it’s not needed.
In some cases, especially as one of the healer classes that can do significant damage, you may want to tell your tank to pop a personal defensive cooldown such as Shield Wall or Survival Instincts if you’re going to spend the first 20 seconds of a fight strictly doing damage. Being able to communicate these things to your group is important and will make your Mythic+ runs go much smoother!
Additional Tools and Resources [back to top]
Mouseover Macros and/or Addons
As a healer, you will want to get used to making extensive use of Mouseover macros. Typically speaking, almost all of your healing, dispel, and other helpful abilities should be keybound and on a mouseover macro. This way you can simply hover your mouse over the raid/party frame of the player you want to heal, and hit the keybind while still keeping an enemy mob or player targeted. It is only a split second, but clicking someone’s raid/party frame and then casting a heal is actually slower than using a mouseover macro or a similar addon.
Here is an example of a standard mouseover macro for any healing spell. It will also work for spells with double use, such as Holy Shock, which will heal an ally or damage an enemy:
#showtooltip Holy Shock
/cast <@mouseover,exists>Holy Shock
This macro will heal if you have your mouse over an ally, will damage an enemy if you have it moused over, will damage the enemy if you have it targeted, and will self-cast if there is no mouseover and no target selected. It’s a very versatile macro that will cover all of your bases!
Here is an example of a mouseover macro for an on-use Trinket:
#showtooltip Tuft of Smoldering Plumage
/use <@mouseover,exists>Tuft of Smoldering Plumage
Alternatively, Clique is a strong addon that will help you create mouseovers for your abilities without having to make an in-game macro for each spell.
Raid Frame Addons
A lot of healing style amounts to personal choice, and there are a lot of different addons or ways to tweak your User Interface (UI). Lots of healers use a raid-frame addon such as Vuhdo or Grid, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with using the Blizzard Default raid frames. They show all of the information you need, and an added benefit is that they never break on patch day! If you plan to use the Default frames, we recommend getting the Bigger Buffs/Debuffs addons, which will increase the size and amount of buff/debuff icons that can show up on a player frame. The more knowledge you have of what’s happening to your teammates, the better!
Other Useful Addons
As mentioned above, you will definitely want to have the MDT addon installed, and familiarize yourself with it.
Some other helpful addons for healing are:
- Method Raid Tools (formerly Exorsus Raid Tools) - to help track group-wide defensives and battle rez
- OmniCD - also tracks party cooldowns, and includes an interrupt tracker
- A Nameplate addon such as KUI Nameplates or Plater - provides significantly more information on each NPC than the default frames, such as active buffs/debuffs, and casts
- Mythic Plus Timer or GottaGoFast - provides better visual tracking of the dungeon progression than standard UI
In terms of WeakAuras, there are so many good ones out there that it wouldn’t make sense to try and list them all. If there is something in particular you want to track or data that you think is missing from your UI, search for it at Wago and you might find something helpful!
Key Takeaways [back to top]
We’ve covered a lot in this article. If we can reiterate one point, it is that you are not going to become an expert at everything we’ve discussed over night. Most of the above will come down to experience. Run dungeons. Run lots of dungeons. Focus on one aspect of healing at a time, and eventually it will become so natural that you’ll be able to start working on the next. Nobody expects you to spec Holy for the first time and go heal a +22 Theater of Pain. Take your time, communicate with your teammates, learn from your mistakes, and most importantly, have fun!
As mentioned in the introduction, a big part of any role in Mythic+ is knowing important details about the styles and patterns of the other roles, classes, and even specs of your teammates. Coming up soon, Chapters 9, 10, and 11 of the Mythic+ 101 Series will delve into the intricacies of each role in Mythic+ so that you can know your group’s tank, healer, and DPS players like the pros. Stay tuned!
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About the Authors
Hulahoops has been playing WoW since Vanilla. She has recently shelved Retail to go back and re-experience TBC in all its glory, but will one day make her way back to the Shadowlands. In her hey-day, Hulahoops could be found raid-leading in Mythic Progression, or competing in the MDI with her team Angry Toast. Hulahoops is a Holy Paladin in every sense of the term: she moderates the Hammer of Wrath Paladin Class Discord, and she was a practicing Lawyer for 7 years. Judgment isn't just a spell! Hulahoops decided to put the law books away and follow her passion for gaming and esports by joining the team at Raider.IO. In her capacity as Production Manager, Hulahoops oversees events, content, and more!
Ferris is the Community & Events Coordinator at Raider.IO. Currently ranked among the top 100 Resto Druids in North America, Ferris is always pushing to adapt and improve! While her Rejuvs are currently limited to Retail, Ferris puts them to good use as she dedicates her game time towards pushing keys with friends in the Renewal Community or LFG. Ferris is also one of the PvE Leaders of the Oasis Community. Outside of Azeroth, Ferris is typically found defending the “rdruid dream” on Twitter or theorycrafting on her Twitch stream. As a dedicated listener and community leader, Ferris retains an attitude of growth and enthusiasm consistent throughout all her engagements and endeavors. Have feedback or suggestions for events at Raider.IO? Feel free to reach out to us via Twitter or join the Raider.IO Discord!