Healing Roles: Single Target vs. Tank Healing
You'll hear a lot of people talk about how Paladins or Discipline Priests are tank healers, or how other classes are subpar tank healers. I mean, everyone knows that Druids and Holy Priests are raid healers, and Shammies are Chain Healers, right?

The biggest mistake a healing lead can make, especially in a ten man raid when you only have 2 or 3 healers, is to pigeon-hole your healers based on their perceived niche. The larger the group, the more healers you have. The more healers you have, the more each healer can be specialized based on their niche. Thus we find ourselves in a situation where healers often have very specific roles in 25 man, but require a bit more flexibility in 10 mans. And too many people equate the strengths of each healing class in a 25 man to what their abilities will mean in a 10 man scenario.

Yes, some healers are better at certain tasks than others. However, never fail to recognize individual player style in combination with the flexibility of their class. A very important thing to remember is that all healing classes are balanced with abilities to heal single targets in addition to group heals. They absolutely have to be designed this way so that they can solo heal 5 man dungeons. Therefore, all healing classes can potentially do a stellar job with a tank healing assignment.

In order to break this down, we need to systematically break down the descriptions of single target healers and tank healers, and we also need to learn to differentiate between raid healers and AoE healers. Today I’m going to discuss single target healing.

Single Target Healing is an ability. It’s a niche that some healers, by design, excel at better than others. Tank Healing is an assignment. Got it? Wondering what the difference is? Well, it’s a subtle difference, I’ll give you that. The two classes most often referred to when discussing Single Target Healers are Disc Priests and Holy Pallies.

Last week Kurn had a post that discussed this conundrum with Holy Pallies, and it really got me thinking. Here’s a snippet of what Kurn said, but you can also read the whole interesting post yourself:

Single-target healing is our focus. True, this will generally be a tank, but that’s not always the case. Tank healing does not equal single-target healing. Apart from anything else, calling us “tank healers” completely ignores paladins who like to engage in PVP and arenas. There’s no way a mage, for example, can properly be called a “tank”, unless they’re tanking Krosh Firehand in Gruul’s Lair… Tank-healing is a subset of single-target healing.

I agree completely with Kurn (though I would probably flip that 3rd sentence and say that while tank healing IS single target healing, single target healing is not necessarily tank healing). And I will take that one step farther with Disc Priests.

When I was in charge of healing assignments in 25 mans, we had far too many Holy Pallies, and not enough raid healers. Therefore, when we had a Disc Priest, it was a challenge for me to come up with a specific assignment for them at first… and then I realized that most encounters have a situation in which a single player aside from the tank will start to take considerable damage.

Slag Pot. (Ulduar - Ignis)
Stone Grip. (Ulduar - Kologarn)
Bone Spike Graveyard. (ICC - Lord Marrowgar)
Mark of the Fallen Champion. (ICC - Saurfang)
Mutated Infection. (ICC - Rotface)
Penetrating Cold. (ToC - Anub'arak)
Legion Flame. (ToC - Jaraxxus)
Incinerate Flesh. (ToC - Jaraxxus)

Our resident Disc Priest could easily focus on these individual targets and allow the tank healers to continue doing their job and the raid healers to continue with theirs. It worked out fabulously – that is the strength of single target healing, and it does not necessarily need to be tank healing. I'll bet Kurn would agree that Holy Pallies would also do an excellent job at taking on these single-target non-tank healing assignments.

The Discipline Priest versus the Holy Paladin

There have been a lot of discussions lately about Disc Priests simply not being up to par as tank healers. Personally, I do not see a particular problem with tank healing as a Disc Priest in 10 man ICC (though I’m not a Hard Moder), but I can definitely see the argument in a 25 man raid.

The issue is actually less to do with single target healing ability, and more to do with the fact that most fights are two-tank fights to some degree – and Grace in effect punishes Disc Priests by 9% when we switch healing targets to try and heal two instead of just one. That is a significant gimp on our throughput. Pallies, on the other hand, can simultaneously heal the Main Tank AND the Off Tank through Beacon of Light (though they may not always choose to do this – see Saunder’s post).

Therefore, anytime there is a two tank fight, Pallies have an advantage over Disc Priests. In a 25 man environment, Disc Priests make better support healers for tanks, whereas Pallies can really do the brunt of the throughput healing. In 10 man, the problem is less extreme – Binding Heal, a Power Word: Shield, a Renew or a Prayer of Mending along with a splash heals from the raid healer will often be enough to keep up the OT until an actual tank swap occurs.

So, fine, Disc Priests are weak compared to Holy Pallies in terms of Tank Healing, at least in 25 man. Even Ghostcrawler has admitted this, albeit somewhat cautiously and grudgingly.

Personally, I suspect that it’s not so much that Disc Priests aren’t very good at it, it’s that we just can’t compete with Holy Pallies. For a vast portion of the healing public, that competition factor doesn’t really come into play – but for those who are in progressive raiding guilds, it does.
Therefore, the problem with Disc Priests as tank healers is that we are quite possibly the perfect example of a Single Target healer – whereas Holy Pallies are dual target healers. And current fights are usually designed around dual- tanking.

Other Classes as Tank Healers

As I mentioned before, all healers can adequately tank heal when necessary. I’ll repeat myself here – it is a requirement of designing healers that they be able to maintain the tank and group because healers are not just designed around raid encounters. They also need to be able to do their jobs well in a 5 man scenario in which they are the only healer. This was the most important thing I learned from the Circle of Healers survey – most responders who were not of the “tank healer” category commented that too many people don’t understand that they CAN tank heal.

Of course they can. There were plenty of times when, as a Holy Priest, I had to tank heal. This is one of the strengths of the Holy Priest, for the record – the ability to slip into ANY healing role at a moment’s notice without any significant gear or talent changes. If the tank healer goes down, the Holy Priest can slip right in to the role quite easily. Yes, a Holy Priest can definitely keep the tank alive and do a damn good job at it – they’ve got the burst and the single target throughput abilities to do it. They have a solid, and yet simple, rotation – as well as some “health pool softening” talents with Renew (side note: how do you like the word I chose to describe HoTs? Health pool softening – yay? Nay?).

For most raiding purposes, what sets the role of Tank Healing apart from other roles is that of sustainability.

Holy Priests can slip in and do an admirable job. However, they are not usually the best permanent choice for the role because of sustainability. In many situations, a Holy Priest will really struggle with their mana if forced to heal a single target for the entirety of a boss fight. It’s much better than it used to be, of course – now that we don’t have to pop in and out of the five second rule to stretch our mana, we can do a better job of it. But even still, Holy Priests just don't generally have the mana regen capabilities of a Disc Priest or Holy Pally unless they really go out on a limb to gear specifically for it.

I regret that I’m not as well versed in the styles of Shammies and Druids, but I suspect that in order to perform at their best as a tank healer, it requires a specific talent and gear selection. I rather like Druids as tank support healers, but burst is not the strength of a Druid. In my opinion, the best tank healers are the ones that have a reliable burst throughput and sustainability.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this though – especially from you Shammies and Druids. How do you feel your tank healing abilities compare?

Later this week we will discuss raid and AoE healing.
29 Responses
  1. Kurn Says:

    Thanks for the shout-out! :)

    What I meant by "Tank healing does not equal single-target healing" is that tank healing really just narrows the focus way too much. Those of us who have a single-target healing niche (holy paladins and disc priests) can easily be unfairly and narrowmindedly relegated to JUST tank healing. That would completely overlook things like Slag Pot people, Penetrating Cold and all the other examples you just gave.

    And yes, I do agree that holy paladins would totally excel in any of those scenarios, if needed. :)

    As to shammies and druids, since I (sadly!) have a level 80 resto-specced character of those classes, I have to say three things:

    1) I am unable to stop tank healing. :P I did the weekly (Jaraxxus) on my shammy this week and tank-healed 'till the cows came home.

    2) When I'm healing instances on my druid, I desperately miss things like 20k Holy Light crits, Lay on Hands and even Hand of Sacrifice and Divine Sacrifice.

    This is perhaps best-reflected in Heroic Pit of Saron on the first two of the four trash packs after the second boss, on the way to the tunnel, particularly if you're healing a tank that isn't particularly well-geared. Such has been the case with me. I find that, rather than stand back and wind up a Regrowth or even a Healing Touch or something, I HAVE to hot up the tank with 3 stacks of Lifebloom, a Rejuv, a Regrowth and cast Wild Growth as he runs in, then be ready for a Swiftmend and also be ready to spam Nourish as if it were Flash of Light.

    That's probably the closest I've gotten to tank healing on my druid, just running instances, and I feel like I have to do a lot more work on the druid to even come close to the results I could get on my paladin, were we similarly geared.

    I'm sure that if I wanted to, I could respec the druid and reglyph to be an excellent "buffer" healer to help smooth out spikes on tanks (glyph for Nourish, Regrowth and Lifebloom, perhaps?) and that's a valid playstyle for druids, too. It's just not what it feels like they're made to excel at.

    3) The shammy is easier to tank heal with than the druid, I've noticed. Healing Wave is a reduced cast after Riptide (and with some T10 bonus, I think?) so it's easier to drop a biggish heal on tanks as a shaman. While I'm not incredibly conversant with resto shammy spec/spell use/glyph changes to specialize in tank healing, I know that I can do very similar things on my shaman as I do on my paladin. My first Ony 10 on the shaman had me as the last healer standing in P3, so I was doing it all and Chain Heal wasn't worth a damn because of where the tank was in relation to the raid, obviously. Heh. But I do feel like the shaman is naturally a better tank healer than a druid.

    ... and I rambled. Sorry! ;D

  2. @Kurn

    I'm so glad you commented - your post last week really got my brain churning all week long. Loved it!

    I have to say that if I had a healer of every class/spec available as a tank healer, my priority would go Pally > Disc Priest > Shaman > Holy Priest > Druid.

    This is why I looove Shammies as a "third healer" - I feel perfectly confident that the shaman in my group can keep the tank up while I focus on something else, as long as it's not Festergut or something like that. Sometimes there's just a better choice for the single-target healer to be healing than the tank (i.e. Saurfang). I think that's what a lot of people miss. Tank Healing is not always the best way to use your single-target healer.

    Now I'm wondering if I should have said somethign like that in my post, hrrrrm. This is what happens when I write a post over the course of a week. I started it when I read yours, and then started adding more random crap to it over the week, heh.

    PS love your blog btw XD

  3. Kaethir Says:

    I had a big long comment written out and blogger ate it.

    Druid healers can do either role, and be great at either role, if they specialize. That doesn't make us bad at the other one, just not as good as we could be. More important than the specialization is having a defined role assigned to you. I can either keep up regrowth, rejuv, lifebloom, and wg on a tank and fill in with nourish and ns+ht, OR i can spray the raid with rejuv's and wg's, but I don't have the GCD's to do both.

    I've got a couple of posts on my blog about this. It's a little frustrating.

  4. @Kaethir

    That's what I thought. I think for Druids, the biggest issue is that in order to do their best at tank/single target healing, they have to tweak their talents and gears more towards it. Also, I think for a lot of Druid players who have been raid healing for so long, a lot of them may not know *how* to do it properly.

  5. Edainne Says:

    It's funny to have been in a situation with 3 of my healers where I've been the tank healer (surprisingly, NOT my pally).

    In my discipline spec, my priest seems to do well in 10 mans, but in 25 mans I can feel the strain if I don't have the appropriate support from another class.

    I'm most comfortable in my holy spec, and having to juggle 5 holy priests at one point in time really gave me an opportunity to find a pretty solid rotation for keeping the tank alive without running out of mana. I also have ridiculous mana per 5 (read:raid buffed nearly 1200 WHILE casting), so running out of mana doesn't really happen. I also have guardian spirit glyphed, making it a nice addition to have while tank healing since my healing is increased every minute or so.

    Shamans were easier than druids for me to reconcile with tank healing. Keeping a riptide on the tank and bouncing chain heals off of him was a sure fire way of keeping him topped off with the "health pool softening" (hrm, a little awkward, but better than anything I could think up) HoT and the extra healing from the chain heal because of riptide. And keeping an earth shield on one target is easy. The thing about shamans, though, is while I don't change my spec to tank heal, I certainly change my glyphs. Glyph of Riptide (causing it to last 6 seconds longer), Glyph of Earth Shield (increased healing) and Glyph of Lesser Healing Wave (increasing healing done to the person with ES on them) are much more important when you're tank/single target healing. Even when you're not glyphed, I feel you can put out a lot of healing, even though you might miss the glowy golden heal lines.

    I actually have A LOT of fun tank healing on Fluffi, even though it took me a while to grow accustomed to it. Again, I usually swap in a different glyph or 2 to make it easier (glyph of nourish is a BIG one, especially since you get extra healing per hot on the target). It's like a game within a game - not only do you need to worry about your target's health, but you're keeping track of all your hots as well as cool downs for Nature's Swiftness and Swiftmend. The only time I really feel stressed though is when the tank takes a massive hit and my cool downs are up. Even with every HoT on them, spamming nourish and letting lifebloom fall off kind of leaves me breathless with agitation. It's definitely more stressful than having a short cast big heal (serendipitied greater heal or penance or healing wave with tidal force) or an "OHMYGODWHATJUSTHAPPENED" button.

    Most of the time, however, I'm healing as a raid healer or as the heal lead who's overseeing everything else. So usually I don't get the chance to spread my wings to single target healing. But, as part of my quest to become a better healer, I've started giving myself more of a variety of assignments to kind of stretch my legs a bit.

  6. Daxlim Says:

    I've been healing on my Shaman for quite a while now, and I have to say, even though I always thought that shaman healing wouldn't be as interesting as priests, I very much like it.

    Except for the paladin, I've healed on every healing class in a raid environment, and my personal choice for tankhealing from those three goes to the Shaman.

    I can go full out sustained with the riptide, hasted healingwave x2, 2 flashheals (glpyhed), repeat, rotation. Of course with an Earth shield to boot and just like priests: the 10% damage reduction buff on crits. This is some powerfull sustained single target healing which I haven't been able to match on my priest, whether I'm specced disc or holy. It get's harder with two tanks, but I can keep the riptide hot up on both, one get's earthshield, and then it's flash or hasted healing waves on who ever needs it. If they're close enough I can even hit both with chainheal, that works very well on bosses like Marrowgar or Gormok.

    The only problem is that mana tends to go down fast if I have to keep that rotation up too long, but normally that's not required.

    I have to say that I was impressed by what a druid can do when he unleaches all his hots and also has the glpyhed nourish. Those nourishes get very powerful single target heals boosted by those hots, and the living seed is a very nice bonus too.

    What I always disliked about disc tank healing was that all my strenght are hidden behind cooldowns. It's excelent burst, but bad sustained. If penance and shield are on cooldown, I'm left with just one hasted greater heal, but after that I really need a short break from heavy damage, which I have to be able to fill with flashheals and mending. Though mending is again great if tanks are close. Still, I'd rather raid heal on my priest personally.

  7. Kaethir Says:

    @MissMedecina: You're right in that in order to be a great tank healer we have to shift a few talents and glyphs around from a generic/raid-centric spec, but you're talking about (give or take) 5 talent points and 1 glyph, maybe 2 if you're going all-in, and not really gem or gear shifts. The vast majority of what we use is already there, it's just a matter of how to use it.

    And you're right, I think a lot of druids aren't very comfortable tank healing because they haven't done it. I actually prefer single-target/tank healing because it allows me to focus on pumping out as much healing as I can without having to play whack-a-mole.

  8. Len Says:

    I hate being pigeonholed, although I do often take on the role of tank healing on my discpriest in 10 mans.

    While I know and love the fact that I am a 'mitigation' healer, I do sometimes wonder what I would do without the massive healing wave crits of my shaman healing buddy in situations where the tank is taking spike damage. I think I need to accept that some fights are designed to have two healers banging away on the tank and not doubt my own, or my classes capabilities!

    I am perfectly happy to take the role of support or raid healer if it makes more sense, and relish the challege. Another disc priest in the guild hates raid healing with a passion though, I'm not sure if that's because they think they shouldn't be doing it, dislike the style of disc raid healing, or just aren't very good at it.

  9. Codi Says:

    Interesting post and quite true when it comes to 10-man raiding. I've tank healed as all four healing classes, mostly because I end up being the most experienced healer during some of the runs. Tank healing Beasts-hardmode-10 on a Tree druid is an interesting experience, lemme tell you! Having that sort of flexibility is helpful when you've got a crappy healer combination for 10-mans.

    But it really doesn't hold too much water in 25-mans. Even a specially specced/glyphed Tree druid wouldn't be able to keep the tanks up during Marrowgar, let alone Festergut or BQL. They would be out of mana so fast! Even as Disc I've had a hard time on Marrowgar (due to the Grace thing you mentioned)! A big issue is that a raiding group without at least one solid healadin suffers a major, major set-back, as it will take two healers to do what one healadin can. Even then it would have to be two shaman or two Disc priests, as Trees and Holy priests don't have sustainable single target throughput.

    BTW, I no longer ever assign Disc priests to tank healing. ;D You guys are just too good as raid healers!

  10. Anonymous Says:

    I have three healers, so thought I'd share my thoughts.

    Druid 5557gs, raiding ICC25
    Pal 5100gs, done some ICC10 & voa
    Disc Priest 4700 gs, only up to voa

    I mostly play the druid. With patch 3.3 our haste soft-cap for raid healing moved from ~300 to ~730 to get rejuv down to 1.0 sec GCD. With the T9 four-piece which allows rejuv to crit, crit was an important stat, but now once you break that up, you're best off going for 730+ haste to get that GCD down. The new rejuv glyph (some fights it's great others not because you'd rather keep it up on more targets) that lets haste speed up how fast it ticks makes haste more atractive as well. I'm not really sure how you'd really gear differently for single target healing. If you had a higher ilvl crit piece that you weren't using in leui of a haste piece to keep at the soft-cap, you could swap that. Otherwise, I just don't see having much difference in gear. Most of our druidish gear already has lots of spirit for longevity anyway. Usually you're chosing between Haste & spirit, crit & spirit, or (rarely) haste & crit.

    Talent-wise, I've read that progression trees will usually start a tier with two specs, one for raid and one for single target, but later on just go with one spec and switch glyphs as needed. The talents aren't really that different for raid vs single(mostly just mana longevity). The change to the haste cap has made going deeper in the balance tree for 3% haste more important though so you have less talents left for the resto tree. The bigger difference would be in glyphs. I run with wildgrowth, rapid rejuv, and nourish since I dont' really switch glyphs very often. For single target you'd want nourish and regrowth for sure.

    Single target, druids biggest issue sounds like your holy priest. We can spam wildgrowth & rejuv and give our innervate away just fine, but too many nourishes start to drain the mana. Though with innevating yourself, this is largely negated.



  11. Anonymous Says:

    [continued from above]

    The nice thing about being a tree is I never fret what class the other healers are. ICC10 with 3x trees? Np. Two pallies? Well I'm going to have to work hard on raid healing, but manageable. On my pally, more than 1 pally on 10 man or two on 25 is not a good sign. We just don't have the mobile raid healing for marrowgar ww for example and it takes us too long to bring the raid back up after a big aoe. If our beacon is on the tank currently taking damage (for fights were the tanks swap) we can actually bring up a few people low on health pretty well, but when the whole raid is <50% health, you really need raid healers.

    Disc as raid healing, really doesn't stack very well either because of the weakend soul debuff (cant' have another shield for 30 seconds after a shield). Another problem disc as raid healing has is scaling. Once you have enough sustainability to spam shields, the only stat that really matters is SP. It only takes 100-200 (cant remember) haste to get shields down to 1.0 gcd. Shields can't crit so that stat's no good either. You end up using +23sp gems in ever slot (short of meta req). I just changed my second spec from shadow to holy, so can't comment on holy at the moment. At least they stack and scale much better. So at least if there's too many disc priests, you can swap to holy unlike holy pallies!

    For 5 mans gearing up, playing the paladin was by far the hardest. Beacon helps, but it just takes too long to heal the whole group up before the next aoe hits. Once your get enough gear to get your haste up, this completely goes away though. 4x 1.5 gcd = 6 sec vs ~1.1 x4 - 4.4 makes a big difference.

    I remember while gearing, that the issue my druid had was burst damage. With low SP, hots just took too long to heal someone up. Now that I have ~3500 sp I often can throw 1 rejuv on the tank or if the group takes damage, 1 wild growth per pull does it. Still the burst could easily be covered with swiftmend, instant healing touch, and nourish.

    Disc was the easiest to get going. The only issue there was mana. Starting out, I'd have to drink after almost every pull. First time I got HoR as my random I groaned, but everything went smoothly with no wipes, unlike the pal & druid. I think being able to pre-shield everyone to higher EH made a big difference.


  12. Adgamorix Says:

    I had a similar post last week. As a Holy Paladin (with a Disc Priest as my healing partner in 10s) we really have to be flexible. With BoL and 1sec/8k FoLs - I can be a very effective raid healer. I just can't get four of them in one GCD.

    What does work though is bubbles out on the whole raid to take off some of the load - and my FoLs bouncing through them.

    On tougher fights where we use a 3rd healer, we use a shaman. Again the Disc priest covers preventable damage and tosses out some Binding/PoM, CH hits the close ones - and I snipe those that are on an island.

    Healer cohesion, and knowing what your partner is going to do will trump having the 'right class' of healer.

    Oh - and I've seen very effective Druid/Shaman MT healers - they just glyph (and sometimes talent) a little differently to do it.

  13. Jasyla Says:

    I'm a resto druid, and I think we're just fine as tank healers. For most fights, I don't think it's our optimal assignment, since our ability heal the raid while providing support heals on the tanks is so strong, but tank healing is sometimes a nice change.

    There's no real difference in druid gear for the two roles. I also don't need to change any talent points to optimize my tank healing abilities, although I may replace a glyph or two.

  14. Kurn Says:


    I cannot believe I didn't talk about Saurfang as an example of single-target non-tank healing!!! Of course, that's a perfect example! What I do on Saurfang is heal the tanks in the beginning, beacon the first mark, then heal the crap out of the second mark, so I'm not even ON the tanks anymore! Man. I can't believe I forgot to mention that. :)

    I have, more or less, the same priority for tank healers as you do, however, that's not accounting for excellent healers. If we got just an average crew of those five healers in a 25-man instance, I'd put the holy paladin and the disc priest on the tanks and everyone else on the raid, expecting occasional tank heals and hots from the shammy, holy priest and druid.

    Shammies as a third healer in a 10m are very, very versatile and I really do like that about them. I also like their utility on 25. For our last Blood Council kill on 25, we had... let's see, me as the holy paladin on the two physical tanks, with my beacon on the ranged tank. I had a resto shammy helping me on the physical tanks and the disc priest was largely responsible for the ranged tank. Then we had two resto druids hotting up the entire raid.

    I was a little bit worried, but it worked out great. Tank healing was a little less stressful than it usually is, actually (I usually heal one physical tank alone and beacon either the ranged or the other physical tank) and it was a really nice marriage of everyone's abilities in the raid.

    I definitely think you should add in "Tank Healing is not always the best way to use your single-target healer." to your post. That is probably the best phrase I've heard about tank healing/single-target healing and sums up my feelings about it precisely.

    Glad you like my blog! If it's not obvious, I'm fond of yours as well. :)

  15. Mongrr Says:

    I agree with everything in this post, except this:

    "The issue is actually less to do with single target healing ability, and more to do with the fact that most fights are two-tank fights to some degree – and Grace in effect punishes Disc Priests by 9% when we switch healing targets to try and heal two instead of just one. That is a significant gimp on our throughput."

    You're right (and GC's admitted this too) that Beacon makes Paladins "better" at healing two tanks, but I don't really view Grace as really having anything to do with it. It simply isn't our strength as a class, whereas it is for a Paladin. Just like Paladins are not nearly as good at mitigating damage on the raid as Disc Priests are.

    Being a "hard moder" as you termed it, and having seen every fight up to this point with the exception of a few of the heroic ICC fights we haven't gotten around to yet, there really are not that many fights out there where you actually *need* the benefit of Grace up on each target 100% of the time.

    Most fights do not have multiple tanks taking extreme amounts of damage at the exact same time. Most, have one tank taking more dmg than another for a period, and then they switch, and the other will take more, etc.. If a fight does have multiple tanks taking extreme damage simultaneously, it's usually not for very long where you can use a cooldown or because something went wrong.

    Sure, you'll lose throughput in comparison to a Paladin having to heal two tanks, but look at any WWS/WMO/WOL for a Pally MT healer, and you'll see that a very good portion of their throughput is overhealing.

    I'm not saying that having a lot of overhealing for a Paladin is bad, because it's not... it's a side-effect of Beacon and two targets not necessarily needing the same amount of healing at the same time... but it does show that in many cases, the priest doesn't *need* to have the same amount of throughput on multiple tanks as a Paladin to be just as able to heal a MT, given that's their assigned task within the raid.

    Grace can be fully applied with one Penance, and if you switch targets and Grace is down, losing that small % of healing for 1-2 casts is not going to make or break the raid (even with Penance, you're only down 9% for one volley, then it increases). If it does, you're probably cutting it a little too close on healing, and should probably assign another healer (druids being great for this with their HoT's) to act as a buffer to help in case things get dicey.

    You also don't lose Grace by using PW:S, PoM, or Renew (/gasp you *can* actually use Renew as disc! ;)).

    Yeah, you'll lose the *full* effect of Grace when you switch healing between tanks, but only for a cast or two. It isn't like DPS for a Rogue if you have to switch targets and lose combo-points and have to use a ton of GCD's and mana to get Grace back up.

    Grace is a benefit, and is awesome... but it should never limit you or determine whether or not to switch targets.

    Yes, Paladins have higher throughput on multiple MT's at once. I don't view that as a downfall of the Priest class though, since there are things the Priest can do better than a Paladin.

    There also is no law anywhere nor does it say anywhere on some mythical "10-commandments of raiding" that states "Thou shalt only have one healer assigned to the MT's". Depending on the other healers, you may be able to assign another healer to the tanks, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

    With all the homogenization that has happened since the end of BC, I for one am *glad* that all the healing classes have their own strengths and weaknesses. I'm glad I (as a Priest) do not play the same, or have the same strengths as a Paladin, Druid, or Shaman. IMO, it keeps the game interesting, and forces us to work together.

    This post got much longer than I intended... I apologize =/

  16. Felzie Says:

    I play a resto shaman as my main raiding character so I thought I would talk a little about my recent roles on raids. My wife plays a Renew Spec'd Holy priest and we have 2 healed all of the first 2 wings in ICC10. We have great synergy, most fights she's tossing renews, CoH's, and PoM's on cool down while I'm usually running a chain heal through 1 of the tanks to hit both tanks and melee. For this setup, I usually run Earthshield, Chain Heal, and Lesser Healing Wave as my glyphs. I run with 1 spec setup now, I have the traditional Shaman talent distribution with 3 points in Healing Way instead of 3 points in the weapon buff talent. I could drop 3 points from the interruption talent, but for me, 70% interrupt prevention is far greater than a 100 or so healing power.

    I've found that I can bomb heals with the best of them, with my high crit rate, ancestral awakening can actually be a significant portion of my healing done if I was tossing out healing waves the entire fight. However, no spell is more taxing on my mana than healing wave, I'm going to be looking into the totem that reduces the mana cost in the near future for those large bomb fights. In the interrim, when I know I need to do a lot of single target healing (ie., tank healing) I switch to lesser healing wave spam with Riptide mixed in for the boost to crit chance. If my memory serves me I am seeing close to 11k crits on lesser healing wave on an earth shielded target, which means I'm going to then toss out a free smart 4k heal to someone who needs it the most. The rate at which I can fire these heals off makes up for the lack of the big boom of a 20k healing wave crit. On my most recent blood queen kill, I started with chain heal on the tank as a means of keeping him up with the blood mirror tank, but quickly found out that I was much better off with 2 lesser healing waves with riptide rolling on both. In fact, for the kill I cast pretty much nothing but lesser healing wave, earth shield, and riptide the entire time with a few healing waves thrown in to catch up a low target quickly.

    Now, don't get me wrong, there is nothing I love more than a tight group of tanks + melee taking aoe or splash damage and I can let loose with the riptide-ch-ch spam (festergut) but I've found more and more that much like my "hybrid" tag I'm going to have to settle for being a solid second or third when it comes to each role. (Aside from the niche enviroments where shaman really shine)

    I apolgozie for the randomness of my thoughts, posting at work and interrupted several times, I hope I got my basic premise across, which is Shaman healing is much like the shaman class, we are the masters of fitting that square peg into a round hole with our bags of tricks, but we are never going to be the all stars of one discipline. (Single Target, Raid, Tank Healing)

  17. Roguewind Says:

    If you have the right person, with the right gear for their class/spec, then they can fill any role in a 10m... 25m, this gets a bit harder. Shams and Druids aren't going to be able to keep up the MT with some of the harder hitting bosses. Pallies are a poor choice for raid heals in a 25m, but a good one can easily do 10m.

    As a side note, by properly geared, I mean someone who knows which stats/gems/ench to have for their class/spec, not high GS.

  18. Kayllnn Says:

    I mainly heal on a resto druid and shaman. I'm also leveling a priest(disc) and all I do is randoms as a healer. Obviously I don't have all the priesty talents for healing, but I can see how disc could be powerful for raid healing. Playing one reminds me a bit of my druid. I can renew and shield everyone, and sometimes in lowbie places people like to be extra stupid and think they are immune to damage. I know the spells I'm missing is what makes disc priests powerful single target healers.

    As it seems shamans are underrepresented and misunderstood I feel like these types of posts help to educate healers. Shamans are very powerful single target healers. Many shamans are specd into healing way and ancestral awakening. Plus every resto shaman is specd into earth shield, which is only put on one person, in a raid usually the tank. With our riptide Hot, earth shield, and ancestral awakening proc, tanks definitely benefit from shaman healers. I would say all tank healers can notice a difference on tank healing when an earth shield is present. Healing wave can be mana intensive but if you are running raids that are supposed to be for your gear level, there shouldn't be an issue. With riptide we can make our healing wave almost as low of a cast time as our lesser healing wave, which means powerful heals fast. I view myself as more of a singlet target healer than anything else. Many people think that all shamans do is spam chain heal. As that was the case in BC, no shaman in their right mind would spam chain heal without at the very least making sure riptide is always active. Chain heal is also a very poor spell in ten mans, as their are so many fights when people are spread out. It doesn't have infinite range ya know. So when I am raid healing in ten mans I find myself using riptide the most with either lesser healing wave or healing wave. I run with another shaman healer as well and I notice chain heal is not his top heal in most fights either. Shamans and pallys are so similar in their single target heals. I have spoke with my fiancee about it, and it seems like our heals crit for about the same amount. Flash of light= lesser healing wave and holy light= healing wave. They have beacon so they are always chosen for tank healing, b/c they can heal both tanks at once. I don't know everything about priests, but from what Jessabelle describes, shaman healers are just as powerful as disc priests in single target healing or maybe even more so. Do disc priests use greater heal or just penance for tanks? I'm kinda curious. As she said in her post, when she switches from one tank to another she possibly loses grace on the other tank. Shamans can't put earth shield on two targets but ancestral awakening can be procd on multiple targets. Seems like maybe these two classes are equal in tank healing capability.

    Having healed on probably the most powerful raid healing class, the druid, I can see how shamans are about middle of the line. They are a jack of all trades. Ya I know every healer can do everything, but druids really excel at raid healing and pallys really excel at dual tank healing. Shamans are awesome single target healers and can be great raid healers when people are all stacked up together. If the heal lead puts the shaman in charge of things such as mark of blood, bone spike, or slag pot they would really excel. There quick splash from riptide combined with a top off from another heal, they are wonderful single target healers. Much better than rejuv+nourish from experience.

    My fiancee read someone who ranked healers based on their roles. For single target healers it went: Paladins, disc priest, resto shaman, resto druid, and then holy priest. I mean just some guys opinion so it is totally up for debate. but I found it interesting.

  19. Jen Says:

    As a resto druid, I avoid tank healing as much as I can. Hotting the tank? Always. Unless there's huge raid damage (see Blood Queen with people who can't run fast enough), the tank gets a rejuv and a regrowth from me, maybe even a LB if s/he's getting hit hard. But I'm a raid healer; I can't pay attention to one tank, and I LIKE my whack-a-mole. Trying to top a tank off with my wow-5k-nourishes is painful and, while I'm sure it can be done... I'll let the other trees volunteer.

    I'm still a noob when it comes to healing, having only started in Ulduar, but raid healing's all I've done since then (except east 10-mans) and I've developed a bit of ADD. When I was playing my paladin, I think I lost some tanks because I was busy spamming FoL on the raid...

  20. chamsa Says:


    I agree with the rotation but the mana problems can be avoided by dropping your healing stream and getting a good wisdom buff from a friendly pally. Rotate in a mana tide totem early in the fight(you will notice a big help in DPS mana pools also) and you should have enough to sustain a fairly spammy healing session if you need.
    If you can pick up the sliver of pure ice from marrowgar and use that cooldown whenever available you will get great mana return also.

    All and all tank healing on my shaman is generally not a big deal. between earth shield, gift of naaru, lesser heal rotations and natures swiftness if needed my tanks don't die, they love me.

    Totems down, Hero up!

  21. Zan Says:

    At this point, Discipline spec is the most widespread spec for healy Priests.

    It's no wonder there's such a huge outcry about Paladin healing numbers. There's an insane number of Discipline priests and the numbers are growing. The complaints come mostly the bad ones who refuse to do anything but heal tank, who want our raid spots. The cries are the textual equivalent of deafening.

    While Discipline is Fun™, there's a limited number of tank healing spots in a raid and Holy Paladins really can't do anything aside from tank heal very well. If there's not a tank healing spot for a Healadin, the Healadin is out of a spot.

    This means that a Disc Priest either has to be willing to do something else (bubble the raid, spot heal, etc (be flexible!)) or switch to an AOE healing spec (gasp!) for the sake of group progression.

    Folks want personal fun --AND-- progression. This means Disc Priests must get buffed / get Healadins nerfed to the point where they don't have raidspots anymore. Hence the QQ.

    If Discipline Priests got buffed so they could single target heal as well as Paladins, with equivalent throughput, who would bring a Holy Paladin? Why bring a gimp Healadin that can only tank heal well when you could bring a Disc that can tank heal AND throw AOE heals?

    As for tank healing on Shamans and Druids: I've tank healed on my resto druid and shaman, while in pvp resto and chain heal spam specs without issue.

    All healy classes can tank heal.
    All healy classes except for Paladins can raid heal.

  22. Kurn Says:


    Sorry, Zan, I have to respectfully disagree with regards to paladins and raid healing. Sure, it's not our strength, but I slap a beacon on the MT on Sindragosa and spam my 1.3 second Holy Light, my 1.0 second Flash of Light or cast my instant Holy Shock on the raid. I am raid healing to make up for people who stack too much Chilled to the Bone or Instability debuffs, plus the raid-wide frost aura.

    Is it the best use of my abilities in general? Hell no. I am much better off healing two people with Mark of the Champion than I am spreading my heals around the raid. But is it the best use of my abilities on that particular fight? Yes. There's one tank taking fairly light damage until P3 while the entire raid is taking fairly consistent AOE damage. I could just twiddle my thumbs and do nothing, but that's not useful.

    Similarly, if you have, say, three holy paladins in a 25-man raid, one of them *should* be raid healing. It's easy for us to hit a 1.0s GCD with Judgements of the Pure up, so beacon a tank and go to town on the raid with Flashes of Light. The only difference between us spamming FoL on the raid vs. a druid spamming Rejuv is that our heal hits immediately (not 3 seconds from when it lands) and it doesn't keep ticking. Pallies aren't the best at keeping up an entire raid group with heavy AOE damage, but we can contribute.

    It's NOT our forte and it's NOT something we should regularly be assigned to (unless you spec/gem for spellpower/Flash of Light), but just as any healing class is capable of tank healing, any healing class, including the paladin, is capable of raid healing.

    The only difference is the efficiency and ease with which the classes do those jobs.

  23. Zan Says:

    I've contributed 66% of the healing done on boss fights in ICC. I certainly know how to heal raid, but as someone who has raided on a reasonable capacity on all four healing classes, I have to say that there's really no reason to bring a third Holy Paladin when any other healing class would better fill that spot.

    I've been in raids where there are 3 Disc Priests, a Healadin and a Resto Shaman. The Resto Shaman drops and they get another disc priest and the healing lead (a Disc) asks the paladin to switch to group healing so the now four Discs can heal the tanks (instead of one of them going Holy). (I headdesked and after outdoing most of the Priests on disspells on several faction champs wipes with my hunter I switched to my Resto Shaman to purge them to death.)

    Every other healing class can group heal better than a Holy Paladin. Forcing a Holy Paladin to raid heal is gimping the raid.

    As a raid leader and a healing leader, it's my job to collect and properly assign a healing core according to their strengths (both class and personal). When they're comfortable doing what they're doing, and doing it well, everyone can trust each other and we do well.

    My worry is that with the overpopulated Disc community nerfherding against Holy Paladins and crying for buffs will result in Holy Paladins being made pretty much obsolete.

    Considering that all the buffs a Healadin brings to the table can be provided by someone else (Ret/Prot, Resto Shaman), if a Disc Priest can do everything a Holy Paladin can do equally well, and have more utilities (bubble everything, PoH, PoM, Renew, PS, PI), there would be no rational point in bringing a Holy Paladin.

    There would be irrational (social) points to keep a Healadin (the person is a friend of the guild / has been dedicated a long time / has some position of authority). I would (with much sadness as I actually put a lot of work into my Healadin) likely bench myself and finish leveling/gearing my old Priest alt/main from Classic/BC for the sake of my guild's progression.

  24. Breevok Says:

    Hey MM. Great post as always.

    I'm going to address one point and probably ramble on from there - the term of "health pool softening"

    As a disc priest, I know exactly what you mean, though I would just see it as another of the disc priests mitigation tools.

    Personally I think we have three mitigation tools – PWS, PoM and Renew

    PWS we all know and love and I’m not going to address it further.

    Disc priests are often frowned upon on many blogs for the overuse of renew. We aren’t talented for it, it’s too far down the holy talent tree to get 'empowered renew', so we may throw a point or two into 'Improved Renew' over say 'Divine Fury'.

    Personally I went one step further and threw three points at improved renew. I don’t use greater heal except on very rare occasions so the saving of a few tenths of a second on cast time doesn’t interest me.

    However renew does. I think it’s quite possibly the most under-rated** spell in the disc priests arsenal.

    PoM is another – especially when cast at a shielded target. It sits there waiting, with 8k worth of healing ready to be unleashed.

    Both are there giving us there vital few milliseconds to cast our next spell.

    Prior to the pull that tank gets shielded, and PoMed. At the pull the renew gets applied. That gives us around 20k worth of damage mitigation for 3 seconds. It’s all preparatory healing – once applied it is just going to happen even if we die the moment after they are cast.

    Renew is disliked because of over healing. This is a silly argument. Sure a renew tick when a target is at full health is wasted. But we get 5 ticks of renew at about 2k a pop. If they all pass by without the target taken damage we have lost the mana for no healing. But 15 seconds is a long time – outside of heroics a shield often won’t last that long. In fact often PoM has pinged away as well. Yet renew continues to tick, often keeping the tank close enough to full health that a flash heal can be used over a penance – meaning penance is ready at a moments notice when really required.

    All three preparatory spells can be applied on the run – only renew doesn’t have a cool down – we can therefore always give ourselves that 10k worth of healing over the next 15 seconds (or less if glyphed) whenever we want to apply it.

    As a name "health pool softening" is close – but just doesn’t sit right with me. ‘’Preemptive Healing” perhaps?

    ** When I say under-rated, I mean the spell least utilised to its full potential.

  25. Kurn Says:


    Every other healing class can group heal better than a Holy Paladin. Forcing a Holy Paladin to raid heal is gimping the raid.

    If that's a holy paladin raid healing in lieu of bringing in a resto druid, for example, I completely agree. If we're talking in the ideal world, where we always have exactly the perfect raid composition for every single raid, no exceptions, yes; I agree.

    I think I would be most comfortable with three holy paladins on a 25-man roster, with two always in the raid and one on standby (or getting the night off entirely, etc). However, that does mean that, sometimes, all three paladins would be available and maybe you're short another healer. Do you call the raid? Ask someone else to swap to offspec? IMHO, no. The paladin should come in. It's not ideal, not by any stretch of the imagination, but it would work, even if the third pally was on raid healing.

    My worry is that with the overpopulated Disc community nerfherding against Holy Paladins and crying for buffs will result in Holy Paladins being made pretty much obsolete.

    Not gonna happen. Apart from blessings and judgements, we have the single largest castable/spammable heal in the game. I regularly crit for over 20k in raids. I don't see the devs changing things up so that disc priests (or anyone else, for that matter) are going to be capable of that. While a disc priest is very capable as a single-target healer, their strength is primarily the damage mitigation they provide (PW:S, divine aegis, Renewed Hope) and that's how they can keep on top of the incoming damage. Paladins, with their beacon, mirroring their insanely large holy lights to another target are unmatchable in that respect. I don't see how they could change any class to involve another mirrored heal of that size.

    I think that, ultimately, we're in agreement -- holy paladins aren't designed to raid heal and any healing spec can do it better than they can. But given non-ideal circumstances, I don't have a problem assigning a pally to the raid. :)

  26. Zan Says:


    In a non-ideal situation, I'll grab someone from my friends and family channel that fits the role (and thus increase chances of success) rather than gimping the raid by bringing a third Healadin.

    Maybe it works for farm content, but we could just as easily do such content with one less healer and one more DPS.

    To the point though: I think you missed the key thing I was saying in regards to the nerfherding:

    If Discipline Priests had equal throughput to a Holy Paladin (which is what the nerf herding / begging for buffs is all about), there would be 0 reason to bring a Holy Paladin to a raid... ever.

    Disc would provide the same throughput plus shields, hots, smart heals, and group heals.

    Judgements would be provided by Ret / Prot
    Might/Kings buffs would be provided by Ret / Prot
    Wisdom Buff could be provided by a Resto Shaman
    Hands of ___ could be provided by Ret / Prot

  27. @Zan & @Kurn

    I think the main thing is trying to maintain class balance - which is definitely tricky, no doubt.

    What is no longer fashionable is requiring a certain class for a lost. I.E. only Pallies for tank healers. However, if you improve Disc Priests as tank healers too much, then why bother bringing a Holy Pally?

    The problem is that Priests do not excel at any particular niched role. And as long as you have someone who is better at a role, then people will attempt to optimize their raids, thus choosing a Holy Pally to tank heal.

    It's not necessarily that I think Pallies should be nerfed or Disc priests buffed, but I think there is some tweaking needed to help Disc Priests do a better job at dual-tank healing when there isn't a pally available.

    I'm all for just a slight redistribution of our already existing throughput. It doesn't need to be as powerful as Beacon of Light, mind you, but something that would help sustain the OT a bit better while we focus most of our efforts on the MT. Like being able to choose the benefactor of Divine Aegis procs, or something like that.

    I don't want to see Pallies be put into a situation in which having an available Disc Priest makes them moot. At the same time, I don't like seeing so many Disc Priests unable to heal two tanks in 25s well either. Balancing between the two would need to be very careful, because I think Zan is right in a lot of ways - it is easier to throw a Disc priest on raid heals than a Holy Pally.

  28. Zan Says:

    I honestly don't think anyone else's tank healing abilities are terribly behind. (Either that or I have a godly healing core.)

    I got marked early on in Deathbringer Saurfang the other night. I was the only specced tank healer (our discs were MIA and I'm still recruiting a second healadin).

    I wound up putting beacon on one of our top DPS who was also marked, running to the back, and doing nothing but healing MYSELF as I felt it was important that the two still living marked people not die in order to beat the boss. (I topped out at ~5174 effective HPS.)

    I trusted my healing core to keep the tanks up and they did. The tank healing (and raid healing) was covered entirely by two holy priests, a resto druid, and a(n undergeared alt) resto shaman. None of the people who wound up healing the tanks were specced for it.

  29. Gravity Says:

    I was in a VoA 25 pug where the most peculiar thing happened, the resto druid said "I can't tank heal" and the shaman said the same thing.

    The RL suggested getting more healers to make up for it. I was the tank.

    I was so surprised and a bit disheartened, and tried to talk them out of pigeon-holing themselves.

    In most levels of content below ICC, a heal is a heal is a heal.

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