Are you ready to heal ICC?


I get a whole lot of search hits on my blog from people wondering if they are geared enough to heal ICC or if they have enough HPS.  Figured I’d touch on it a little so that people can decide for themselves if they’re ready.

– The question of gear –

People hate hearing this, but gear really doesn’t matter all that much for normal raid content.  It matters a little, sure, in that a paladin wearing Spirit gear isn’t going to be much help, but past that it gets pretty hazy.  During this epidemic of gear score madness that seems to be going around, the simple fact that good gear doesn’t make a good raider seems to be lost.  I speak as someone who is very much into min-maxing my raiding experience!  I nitpick my gear choices, trying to squeeze every last drop of healing increase out, but at the end of the day even I realize that the difference it makes is small.  Skill is what really makes a good raider, especially a good healer.

Let me tell you a story about a little Disc priest named Nikkal.  She hit 80 not too long before 3.3 came out with its shiny new raid and her gear was largely made up of ilevel 200 blues and epics.  A group of her friends really wanted to run around ICC-10, but they had no healers for it.  So Nikkal grabbed her like-wise newly 80 and ilevel 200 wearing Tree friend and her PvP healadin friend.  The three of them rocked the place!  All four bosses downed!  Three healers who should have never been able to pull it off because of their atrocious gear made up for it with skill.  Nikkal walked away with a couple yummy upgrades for all her hard work.

Okay, that story isn’t “the norm” and I’ll freely admit it.  All our three healers were the alts of very skilled people (I can call myself that without being overly egotistical, right?) and had the support of other highly skilled people on alts.  We also had in our favor that we all knew the fights well, had a good healing comp for the fights and just in general trusted each other to do our jobs.  But the fact remains that gear wasn’t the factor that let us clear the place.

So, for those of you who came here looking for nothing more than a quick answer, I’d say you should be in as much ilevel 232 gear as you can for ICC-10 and ICC-25.  If you’re trying to run 2 healers for ICC-10, I’d suggest full ilevel 232s.  If you’re trying to run 5 healers for ICC-25, I’d suggest nothing lower than ilevel 245s.  For those of you who are still reading and really understood the story of Nikkal and her friends, you’ll know that in the end it doesn’t matter too much.  If you have skill and knowledge, the rest is icing.

– The question of HPS –

This is much harder for me to answer, as you -do- need enough healing in order to make it through encounters.  The problem is there are so many different factors to consider, such as  class, healing comp, fight mechanics, DPS, how aware your group is to fire, etc.  If it were more specific, something like “what is the minimum HPS for a healer during Twins-25-hardmode with 6 healers, adjusting for absorption,” I could handle it.  (I’d say 5k HPS minimum for that situation, by the way!)  But for ICC, we’re talking about an -entire raid- that I need to think about.

For those more interested in a flat number, I’d say that for ICC-10 with 3 healers, you’d want no lower than 2.5k HPS overall per healer (adjusting for absorption).  If you’ve got 6 healers for ICC-25, I’d give a ballpark number of 3.5k HPS per healer (adjusting for absorption).  Just as with gear, though, giving a number like that isn’t accounting for much.  Allow me to stratify a bit.

Having a healadin with high HPS who can keep up the tanks on Marrowgar and two people with Marks on Saurfang really helps and this place is really great for healadins.  Disc priests are well suited to ICC, as they can bubble and spot heal the bone spikes on Marrowgar, as well as keep the tanks up on Saurfang while minimizing gains from the Marks.  Shaman are just in general fantastic for ICC, since they’re so flexible, and should have some of the highest HPS of the group.  Trees and Holy priests are a little at a disadvantage, as there isn’t much of the constant ticking damage they do so well with, so they’ll be a bit further down the charts than what you’re used to seeing, but if they’re good on their feet at dealing with spike damage (or tank healing!), then they’ll do just as well as everyone else.

In the end, ICC on normal isn’t really all that hard.  If you know the fights, know your class and know each other, you should be able to pump out enough healing to keep people alive.

– Because people come here wanting to know –

We all know that I like numbers, yet there is a surprising lack of them in this entire post.  And there are so many anecdotes, which I tend to avoid!  The reason is that the things people seem to come here to find just can’t be answered in a general way.  If you come here asking “am I good enough to do XYZ,” there are just too many questions I have to ask in return to give you a yes or a no.  I have seen people with Val’anyr and other high level gear who just can’t keep people alive, even with 5 other healers in the raid.  I’ve seen people who push to top 10k HPS, most of it overheal, and then pat themselves on the back for “topping the charts” despite the raid wiping.  Both of these people should be “good enough” to heal whatever content is out there.  Shall I give them my seal of approval just because?

I feel like an old school marm, trying to hammer the principles of “skill and knowledge” into people’s heads.  But that’s what it comes down to!  If you have the skill and knowledge, the HPS will fall into place.  If you have the skill and knowledge, you’ll be maximizing the stats on your gear, even if it is only ilevel 200s.  If you have the skill and knowledge, you will succeed!  Huzzah!



  1. Codi! I’m so… PROUD. *tear*

    This is why you are my favorite theorycrafter & number person ever. Because you don’t just irresponsibly give people numbers without making them think about a lot of other contributing factors first.


  2. Hey Codi,

    First off I enjoy reading your blog, it has become a favourite pass time in dull moments at work so thanks for that 😉

    I fully agree on the fact that gear does not make a good healer, it is the actual knowledge the player has of the class itself and of the encounter in question.

    The healing meters do not tell the true story either as you pointed out for what good are numbers if the raid wiped (but God must have cursed me with too much vanity because I love to be on top of them :-s).

    So just curious really, how would you consider a fellow Healadin as being skilled with his class? What is a determining factor for you to decide if one has got the goods or not?

    – Tzuké –

  3. […] Source: Are you ready to heal ICC? […]

  4. Thanks to Miss Medicina on twitter, I (@reddhar) found this blog – thanks Medicina 🙂

    I have been asking myself some similar questions the last week. “When am I ready to heal ICC?”. Part of the background story to that is that 10 days ago I was fully decked in t7.5-gear – nothing from Ulduar or after. I simply had taken a long hiatus from WoW. When I returned, my gear both looked and acted old (god, those runs to HoR with failure upon failure :/)

    So, I geared up through triumph emblems, got myself the Quel’Delar MH, and some other things, and now I have had two nights of healing ICC10.

    As I blogged about on my own blog today (reddhar.wordpress.com) – I am re-evaluating my gear strategy. Even though I do agree with you that gear isnt the Most important in normal 10man, I do think it is important that I make sure to for instance not go OOM too quickly.

    I look forward to reading more of your posts (I love theorycrafting, so I look forward to this like a kid on christmas morning). Thanks for posting this!

  5. This is a really great post! My space goat priest just hit 80 about 9 days ago and she has been healing heroics like mad to gear up. I dual spec’d her disc/holy so I would have the variety the raid might need. I would consider myself very skilled in disc healing.

    Gear is super easy to get now so gear score *should* mean less than it once did. Lets put it this way: I’m a mom of 4 little ones and I stay pretty busy. I do not sit here and play all day, to put it simply. Seven days after hitting 80 my gear score is 4770 (per gear score add on). Marrilyn is in the whole t9 set and some pretty tasty gear from the ice crown 5 mans. However, all that means these days is that I have run heroics and earned emblems. People are getting way too caught up in the gear scores. I can’t tell you how many times I have entered a random dungeon and thought it was going to be a breeze because the tank was in great gear and had a ton of health, only to realize the tank couldn’t figure out how to hold aggro.

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