A Healer, at its core, plays the role of keeping players, including DPS, Tanks, themselves and other Healers, alive. This is done by controlling a healing-based character, using spells and abilities to keep a player’s Health Points(HP) bar higher than empty. When a player’s HP reaches empty, that player will die.
Here’s an example of a Health Point (HP) Bar that needs to stay as full (or green) as possible:
Spells and abilities that a healer uses ranges from Buffs, Direct Heals, Direct Area of Effect (AOE) Heals, Heals over Time (HoTs), Area of Effects Heals over Time (AOE HoTs) and utilities or cool downs(CDs). Note that not all of the healing classes have access to all kinds of abilities.
A Healer’s task can be (and usually is) two-fold, no matter what class you choose. You need to be proactive (knowing what’s coming and preparing for it) as well as reactive (reacting to situations after they have happened) to the damage that you and your fellow party & raid members suffer from low-level enemies (often called trash) and bosses. Healing can be difficult at times but the challenge is half the fun.
All Healers use the same resource: Mana. Mana is what you use to cast most of your spells and abilities. You start with a certain amount of mana which is dependent on your intellect stat and as you cast your spells, your mana is reduced. As combat goes on, you will use more and more mana, until you run out at which point you can no longer cast spells. However, there are methods and mechanics that each class has to slowly increase or return mana to you and other party/raid members. It’s one of the most important aspects of gameplay and we’ll cover it further at a later stage, but basically if you don’t have mana, you can’t cast spells or Heal. Two of the 5 Healing classes also use another Resource. A Holy Paladin uses Mana as well as Holy Power, while a Mistweaver Monk uses Mana as well as Chi.
Here’s an example of a Mana Bar that starts full and will deplete as you use it:
Here’s a Holy Paladins Holy Power Bar that starts empty, fills up after using certain abilities, and empties when using others:
Here’s a Mistweaver Monk’s Chi Bar that starts empty, fills up after using certain abilities, and empties when using others:
There are 5 healing classes to choose from in World of Warcraft at this point in time, each having one healing specialization, except for the Priest class, which has 2 healing specializations.
Healing isn’t for everyone of course. It requires concentration and quick reflexes. If you can’t react to damage fast enough then your party/raid members are going to die. If you haven’t got the fastest reaction times, you may find it hard to heal some of the harder content. You can (and most likely will) improve your reaction time as you play the game, but this is just something to keep in mind when you get started as a Healer.
In terms of the game’s current need for healers, the game always needs more healers, as there is usually an abundance of DPS players who are in need of someone to heal them. This means that should you choose to become a healer, you will almost always be able to find a group that you can heal to progress through the game(subject to realm populations of course).
Now you know what Healing is, it’s time to choose your class and your healing specialization and to learn how to succeed as a healer using your spells and abilities. To get an idea of what it’s like to play each specialization, head on over to the Healing Class Summaries page, which will take you through the differences and similarities of each class and spec.