Healing on the Run – Minimizing the Nightmare


There was a post asking for advice on this subject in one of the LJ communities I follow, so I thought I’d give a bit of advice on the matter.

– There’s always some sort of introduction to my posts, since they’re so long. –

Having to run around during difficult progression fights is no fun for any healers.  Sure, it’s easier for some than others (hi, Rejuv spamming Trees!), but it’s still a general pain in the butt to have to watch hitpoint bars while running around like mad people.  I’m going to give specific advice for some of the hardest movement fights, but let’s start with some basic advice.

1) Be aware.  If you know your fight mechanics and know when you need to move, you’ll suffer from less flailing, not to mention less stress.
2) Be attentive. Sometimes it’s hard to pay attention to so many things at once, but it is absolutely necessary. Watch your feet, watch your debuffs and watch your vicinity. Don’t tunnel vision those happy green bars.
3) Be calm. You have the ability to beat these crappy running fights, so believe in yourself.
4) Practice! And no, I don’t mean in the actual raids. Find fights in heroics or easy raids that have similar mechanics. Better yet? -ARENAS.- Arenas, arenas, arenas. Heck, even battlegrounds can help you get used to running around.

– Run to the wall! –

These are the fights where you get X debuff and have to book it away from the rest of the people around you.  Fights in this category would be the Gravity Bomb in XT-hardmode, the disease on Rotface, the debuff on Freya, the disease on Grobbulus, the fire debuff on Jaraxxus, the curse on Deathwhisper trash…  It’s a pretty darn common mechanic.  Because it’s the most common, let’s hope it is also the easiest for us healers to deal with.  But let’s give some tips, anyway!

1) Go as far as you have to and no further. The biggest issue I see is that the person with the debuff runs -way- past where they need to. Running away from the other healers is a really bad idea, as we all know. If you run directly to where you need to be, you’ll most often have time to get a heal off on either yourself or someone else before the debuff expires and you run back to your position. Spending less time moving is spending more time healing.
2) Communicate that you have the debuff and have to move. It’s for times like this that Vent should be kept clear. Even if you’re a raid healer and there isn’t any real danger of your assignments biting it, it is always best to know when a healer is having to run away. If you’re a tank healer, it is absolutely necessary so that the other healers can cover for you or so the tank can be ready with a cooldown.
3) Don’t forget your instants. Every class and spec have them. Keep a sharp eye on your own HP as well as that of your healing assignment and pop that instant if either is getting low.

Class specific advice:
– Paladins, I know your finger is hovering over that bubble, but don’t let bubbling be your first reaction to this situation. Divine Shield should be your -last- resort, not your default response to anything. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use it if you’re going to explode from that debuff and die, but your other tricks should be first. Sacred Shield, Holy Shock, instant Flash of Light if it procs, cancle-aura Divine Sacrifice, Aura Mastery if it’s elemental damage, Lay on Hands if things are dire. We are a class of many tricks, but if none work and your fellows are letting you die, bubble.
– Priests, I used to never suggest taking Desperate Prayer, but I’ve seen the light. If you’re Disc (or there’s no Disc priest in the raid), Powerword: Shield is your friend. I also suggest Prayer of Mending yourself as well as putting a Renew up. If things look bad, Pain Suppression/Guardian Spirit is your friend.
– Druids, this is exactly what Barkskin is for and let me tell you, the short cooldown on it means that should be your first reaction to taking any damage. Other than that, you’re the least likely to die. Get to casting Rejuvenation and Life Bloom on yourself, with your finger on the Swiftmend if you need it and you’re golden. -Really- in a bad way? Nature’s Swiftness with Healing Touch.
– Shaman, you’re kinda screwed of all of us. (Sorry, but it’s true!) Riptide yourself like crazy and be ready with that Nature’s Swiftness with Healing Wave macro. If your Earth Shield isn’t on anyone important, like the tank, you can use it on yourself to try to not, well, -die.- Other than that, you’re at the mercy of your fellow healers.

– Run away, little girl! –

Ah, kiting fights. Probably the most stressful of all the healing on the run situations. The three big fights where this is a factor are Professor Putricide, Blood Princes and Anub’arak. The main thing about this mechanic is that you have to run and -not stop,- no matter what. That doesn’t mean that you stop healing, though. It’s really, really hard to keep a cool head with instant death running at your heels (and heals, harrharr).

1) Have a “flight path.” (Harrharr!) This means you should know where you’re running to and have your movement mapped out in your head. For Anub, you’d know where the ice patch is and the route you should take to get there. With these fights, the direct route is generally -not- the correct one, as you’re trying to use the corners of the map to get the most “kite time” as you can before it switches to the next person.
2) Communicate. Just like the above, this is what Vent is kept clear for.
3) Work those instants. Your assignments are still important, so don’t completely lose track of them, especially tanks.
4) Have a Holy Priest with Body & Soul. I’m not kidding. It’s so -nice.- Make sure it’s clear that no one else should bubble the kiter.
5) Go to Karazhan. No, I’m not kidding. A group of all healers should be able to clear to the Opera if you have a healadin to tank. If you get the Big Bad Wolf, don’t kill him. Just practice running away from him while healing. Profit from the past, my friends.

Class specific advice is pretty much the exact same as the above, only use those instants on your assignments. Bubbling for paladins should pretty much never be done, as it’ll cause the kited object to turn to someone else, giving a high chance of raid wipe.

– I just never get to stand still! –

Constant moving fights are every so much fun. I have vivid memories of learning to heal Hodir. This is probably the easiest and most useful type of movement healing to learn, as elements of it can be useful in every fight. Professor Putricide and the Blood Princes stand out most in my mind for it, but these are skills that are very useful all the time.

1) “Run, stop, cast, run, stop, cast.” That’s the pattern that I use when trying to move and heal, even as I’m running from one side of the room to the other. For instance, when the tank is moving Putricide to the other side of the room, rather than chasing after her and trying to keep her alive with Holy Shock, I’m taking the movement in chunks, stopping to cast heals between steps. I do this -proactively.- If the tank has had a good stream of dodges and doesn’t need the heal, I cancel my cast by stepping forward a few more paces and then start casting again. Unless your target is flat-out sprinting away from you (aka. they’re breaking the Be Calm rule), you’ll be able to stay in range of pretty much anyone you need to this way.
2) Fight Keristrasza. No, really! She’s great practice for this sort of healing! You can do Nexus on normal if you’re really rusty and just heal while never getting more than a single stack of the debuff on yourself. I should have done this back when we were doing Hodir-25-hardmode, so learn from my mistake and take advantage of this great learning tool.

– Running sucks that much. –

In the end, the key is to maximize your healing and minimize your movement.  I’ve given as many pointers as I can to help you out with that (long post is long!), but this really falls onto the skill end of my “knowledge and skill” slider.  Thus, the first four general suggestions will be key.  In ICC, movement is present in most of the really hard fights, so we simply can’t avoid it.  So many bosses have kiting to do or things to run away from; fights like the Blood Princes or the Putricide have multiple types of running all wrapped up into one!  So don’t be surprised if there’s a steep learning curve in all that movement.  Even the most hardened of healers will suffer from failures at times.  Just grin and bear it as best you can!

And run arenas.  Seriously.



  1. […] Also, as Codi points out, shaman suck for movement fights.  (Partially my perception on this one – I’m so used to running about with a druid now that standing still makes me cranky.) […]

  2. I only really agree with Desperate Prayer in a Discipline spec where that point can’t really be used anywhere else. For holy, Renew on yourself plus a Binding Heal really should be all you need to keep yourself up despite any running.

    A good thing to note that while you are running away, it’s easy to forget that there are other healers. Sometimes it’s best to just GTFO and lay your life in the hands of the others. Sure your instants can definitely buffer it a bit and give your friends a bit more time to react, but unless you’re a tree with a whole arsenal of instants, there probably won’t be enough spells to keep yourself up if the debuff is something like legion flames/swarming shadows.

    Body and Soul is neat but really only if you’re lacking a discipline priest and to help learn fights. Otherwise I’m not entirely a fan – the movement buff can be very helpful but a stronger bubble can help a lot more than the speed buff sometimes.

    • …what spec are you running as Holy that you get more out of 1 talent point than an “oshi- button” every few minutes? Also, in two of the three cases I gave, you simply can’t stop to cast, so Binding Heal doesn’t help you at all. Stopping to cast during, say, Legion Flames means you’re standing in -fire- while trying to heal yourself.

      I never used to like Body and Soul, but I’m starting to see the light on it. There are so many fights where it’s useful in the new ICC wings and it’s almost a must have for Anub-25-hardmode. We run one priest, so that doesn’t give us issues, but even with two, it’s all about communication. Our group has done it with running -three- priests, so I’m sure other groups can do it, too. 🙂

  3. I use this spec: http://www.wowarmory.com/talent-calc.xml?cid=5&tal=0503203100000000000000000000235500032002152530300331351000000000000000000000000000

    Depending on the fight, I go away from Serendipity completely and take a point out of Surge of Light to go 3/3 Mental Agility as well.

    Really if you’re gemming correctly and you’re on the ball, a renew/prayer of mending combination on yourself should be enough on the move. You may or may not need to use a Surge of Light proc as well, but it’s certainly not frequent or so much damage that Desperate Prayer becomes mandatory.

    Also B&S is not at all necessary for Anub’arak hard.

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