Anyone who’s been following Khaeli of Shadow Weaving fame knows that she’s been having problems with her healing team during raids lately. Some of it has to do with alts, some with people just not paying attentions, but it really looks like the issue might also be stemming from an overabundance of heal sniping. What is heal sniping, you ask? Well I’m glad you did because it just so happens I have this handy dandy post here to explain it all!
Imagine this scenario, if you will: You’re in Naxxramas about to go up against Sapphiron. The heal assignments are passed out and you’re given the job of healing the MT while Johnny Everypriest over there is on group heals. No problem, let’s get this uggo down, you think to yourself as everyone runs in and you get in position, ready to start slinging heals like a pro. The tank begins taking damage and you start casting until halfway through your cast time you see the tank’s health go from half to full. Your heal still goes off because you were a second too late in stopping it, resulting in 100% overheal. Congratulations, Johnny Everypriest has just heal sniped your target.
Now heal sniping happens often in a raid environment, usually when healing trash or on particularly easy bosses and usually it’s not a big problem. There’s hardly ever a raid environment where heal assignments are so anal as to have dedicated healers during trash pulls. Some bosses are also so easy that you’ll have three or four healers just standing around with no one to heal because of focused damage on the tanks. In situations like that heal sniping will spike without any issues due to the nature of the encounter. It’s when you come to the really difficult big baddies where it starts to become an issue, one that can possibly bring your whole raid down if too many people are doing it.
Though Blizzard has come a long way in diversifying classes in order to make healers better at all sorts of situations, there are some areas where certain healers will excel over others. Discipline Priests, for example, have their mitigation talents and are very ably suited to keeping a tank on his or her feet. Shamans, with their chain heals, are going to excel at raidwide heals. It’s for these reasons that healing assignments are passed out and some people are told to focus their heals and work on one particular target. It has nothing to do with wanting you to be lower on healing meters or do only one job cause you suck at the rest, it’s because, as far as the raid is concerned, that’s where you’re going to accomplish the most.
Sometimes people just simply won’t pay attention to their assignments though. They decide they’re going to become a rogue healer, sniping all over the raid and trying to get their healing totals up and here’s where things can start to go wrong. The problem is, everytime someone roams out of their assigned healing target, that leaves the people they were assigned to vulnerable. Even someone assigned to heal raid wide damage can cause problems with this sort of attitude if they’re too focused on keeping someone else’s target up or they’ve blown a cooldown in order to heal a tank that doesn’t need it. Part of being a raider means knowing your role and sticking to it.
Now of course, some heal sniping is unavoidable. When a priest tosses a Prayer of Mending or Circle of Healing, or a shaman throws out a Chain Heal, they can’t direct where it’ll end up. Unintentional heal sniping will happen often when you’re with a good heal team who’s watching raid wide damage and trying to keep it low. It’s when you come to a boss and someone gets trigger happy and starts healing up the MT when they’re assigned to the OT just because the OT hasn’t taken damage yet that problems arise. They can lose precious seconds trying to switch back in case of an emergency, plus it’s a waste of both their mana and yours. There’s nothing wrong with ending a fight with a full bar of mana if your target managed to avoid taking damage. It doesn’t mean you have to find a reason to spend it because the fact of the matter is you might just need it later.
As I’ve said, a little heal sniping is fine as long as you’re aware of when and where to do it. When you hit up a big, fugly boss and people are told what they need to be doing, well, they need to be doing that. They have to focus and make sure that their job is accomplished before they start trying to patch holes that aren’t there. If someone is consistently going off target just so they can see their names rise on the healing meter then they’re the equivalent of a lolrogue who’s pulling aggro in a PuG because they think it’s all about whoever does the most damage. Please, gentle jerkwads, don’t be that guy.