A Tribute to the Third Healer
Do you know who the awesomest person in a 10man raid is?

No, it's not the tank.

Not the raid leader.

Also, not me (I'm second though; Nice try you brown-noser!).

It's the Third Healer.

See, the Third Healer is the magical person who agrees to bounce back and forth between a healing and a DPS spec at your every whim. When you're testing out new strategies and logistics on new bosses, that Third Healer is the lynchpin to success.

When I'm running a raid (I use the word "running" because I don't technically lead, because that requires me to click things like "give people assist" and mark people and that's totally hard, and also, I get really mad when people talk over me, and then I shut up and pout, so it's usually better if someone else takes the official leading role, even if I'm bossing him around from the background... ahem), I like to try new bosses with an eye for surviving as long as possible on our first few attempts. I don't care about enrage timers; I want everyone to live as long as possible so that they can see as much of the boss fight as possible, and get into the swing of things.

And that, my friends, is where the Third Healer comes in.

Our Third Healer is a Resto/Elemental Shammy. He is the perfect Third Healer. What does it take to be a great Third Healer?

  • Ability to do solid DPS in one spec
  • Ability to do awesome Healing in another spec
  • Ability to properly gear both specs
  • Patience with a very annoying RL who keeps telling you to switch things around
  • Total flexibility

This shammy is the best at all those things. The other two healers in our raid DO have off-specs, of course. We *could* DPS if needed. I have a very nice Shadow set, and though I'm not going to top any meters, I could probably... well, still come in dead last but not by a huge margin. The druid healer who sits next to me, however, isn't even hit-capped on his off-spec.

The Shammy in question, however, is never a waste of resources. He can top the DPS when that's his assignment, and he can also top the effective heals when he's healing. He can tank heal if needed. He can raid heal if needed. As a shaman, he is not particularly strong on the mobility front, but that's a feature of his class - not him as a player. And I don't fret about that too much, because the Disc Priest and the Resto Druid have mobility coming out the... well.

Because he is constantly switching back and forth to help us out as we learn new bosses, I have a Third Healer loot rule. That means that his main-spec and off-spec are one and the same for loot purposes. We don't really have strict rules in our raid, it's mostly based on courtesy - if someone has already won something, they can still roll, but we'll give priority to someone who hasn't won anything yet (for the record, this is sooo much easier to do in a 10 man raid!). We do, however, give priority to people's main specs. For the Third Healer, however, he can roll on anything that would benefit either of his specs.

It sure helps that the person who made that rule, however, is one of the healers against whom he will be rolling for items. Not sure how well that would go over if the other healers didn't agree with this philosophy.

Anyway, the point of all this, is that if you are starting to put together some ten man raids, if you are learning new fights - bring someone who can deeps AND heal, and is flexible enough, and willing enough to do both. And don't screw them on loot - you WANT them to maintain a good healing set as well as a good dps set. And that's not always easy!

That Third Healer is integral to learning new fights, especially if you're a pretty casual bunch.

A toast to our Third Healer, who helped us learn every boss in ICC so far!
18 Responses
  1. Taz Says:

    Well said!

    Our Third Healer is a trooper who rarely if ever gets recognition, and, indeed, is often ignored by our RL when discussing 3-person healer strategies. Nice to see the Third Healer getting some love!

  2. Shintar Says:

    I think this isn't so much about the third healer as it is about people with well-maintained off-specs in general. The guy who can switch between tanking and dpsing on a whim is just as valuable.

    That said, I actually dislike it when content is tuned in such a way that you can start with two healers/tanks and then you suddenly have to change group composition - because if you don't have a good hybrid you're screwed. I was mighty annoyed when after two-healing the first wing of ICC10 it seemed like Festergut required three... though in the end we managed that one with just two as well.

  3. Roguewind Says:

    I'd say the most important person in the raid is anyone who can get over themselves for a minute and do what is best for the raid. Whether it's the "3rd healer" or the OT/DPS or the mage that realizes that, as important as dps is, not only the resto drood can remove curse. It's the person that realizes that the raid wins and fails together.

  4. Cazenovia Says:

    There's a lot of truth in this! Some people play one spec very well, some people play another spec very well, and generally a smaller handful play both specs equally well.

    My first priest alt is shadow/disc and has a hell of a time stating a 'mainspec' - I can run shadow, I can run disc, I can switch every other fight and still be comfortable and useful. I've often been asked to fill in the last spot for a friend's 10man runs, and this lets me fill in whichever role they need and not spend ages hunting for someone out of trade.

    Also, interestingly enough, when my boyfriend and I were applying to guilds I think he typically stated that his shaman could go either ele or resto, and he was perfectly comfortable being the 'swing' healer who goes back and forth as needed. I think our current guild is the only one we've been in that's taken him up on it on occasion.

  5. Bith Says:

    I'm our third healer and proud of it. Resto/Feral Hybrid spec. I can still pull out massive damage in my feral hybrid (up there with the top dps) and still tank if need be.

    I love my guild <3

  6. Anonymous Says:

    When you don't have a severe healer/tank shortage, and you have a bunch of hybrids who are (roughly) equally good at both specs, you have unsurpassed flexibility.

    In Naxx, I was kitty DPSing, and then we got to KT where melee is not desirable. (This was back when KT was hard!) I switched to tree, one priest healer switched to shadow, and the encounter went without a hitch.

    Usually we roll with what we have and don't swap people in or out for specific encounters (bring the player, not the class). But when you can switch specs for clear advantage, might as well use that advantage.

  7. My Disc priest will go into what our Guild typically calls "Battle Priest" mode. Still in Disc spec, but I will hammer out holy and AoE damage, while flinging shields and Penance all around. IT's mana heavy, but a LOT of fun! More recently one of our Trees got himself a good Boomkin set/spec, and a boomie split to do Tree too. So we have a few hybrids, and boy do they make flexibility nice.
    But seriously, try battle-priesting. WAAAAAY too much fun, at least when your group lets you refill your mana. *grin*

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Oh gods, YES. Healers with good DPS specs make me so, so happy as the healing lead. SO HAPPY. Being able to switch between 5 and 6 healers depending on the fight is just... *wipes away a tear* I also love priests who spec Holy/Disc! In fact, dare I say it, I'm on the most useless healer on my squad! I'm specced Holy/PvP Holy, what a terrible example am I!!!!

  9. Anonymous Says:

    This is how we took down Lady Deathwhisper as we were a little light on Melee, I occasionally enjoy the break from heals and doing the "ret pally smash" thing!

  10. G-Rebel Says:

    I happen to be a third-healer/dps shaman in my guild. Thanks for the love, I get very little of it from my own peeps.

    @ Roguewind: Too true. Really anyone who is willing to be versatile (to the extent their class allows) is a third-healer in-kind.

    It's a bit of a rush, really, to be able to perform well for the group in whatever way they ask. The toughest part is keeping both gear sets up to par.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Actually in our raid, the third healer switches between healer and tank, and I have to switch between tank and dps because SHE won't maintain a dps spec :)

  12. Vok Says:

    I just realized I'm the third Healer for our ten man. Wow....

  13. Zan Says:

    Our third healer for 10s is a resto shaman, it just so happens that we usually have no elemental shaman so he gets resto and elemental gear unopposed and it works really well.

  14. Nazaniel Says:

    I hadn't even thought of this before, but yeah, it does look like Vok is the third healer for our run. Our 10 man group has a holy pally, a tree and a resto shaman, and no hunter, so our shaman Vok has been picking up a lot of offspec gear, and because the other two healers don't have other specs, always ends up swapping.

    It is a bit of an unloved role isn't it? Our third tank would probably have the same problems.

  15. It's a lot easier when your "3rd healer" is a shaman, or a druid. Or even a paladin...

    As a disc priest I find myself fighting tooth and nail for my main spec gear sometimes-offspec gear? What's that? There's always 5 mages in the raid who needs stuff!

    I agree, though, that the 3rd healer is a pretty valuable member of the raid. We've definitely flailed when no one with a really strong DPS spec has been along (though I'm...trying).

  16. Heather Says:

    A lovely post and a very much needed tribute. We also have 'third healers' in our guild, but the most notable one has to be one of our Ret pallys. He had just gotten Shadow's Edge, yet instead of moaning about needing to dps with his new epic weapon he was quite happy to go holy just so we could get some progress done.

  17. Juvenia Says:

    I'm the most inflexible healer in my raid. I ave a boomkin set but it's not hitcapped yet and I don't enjoy it. I'll play it if pressed but -- it's not fun. I don't like it. Thankfully we have a shammy that likes to HIT things and a priest that likes to flay things so we usually, as a raid, have that flexibility. Ont the other hand for ICC i picked up unglyphed typhoon for my boomkin spec when we were talking about using it on Saurfang -- even though in the end we haven't used it.

    Be flexible, but remember to still enjoy whatever role you're in.

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