(Edited based on comments! Thanks guys and gals!)

Ah the magic of healing assignments!  Don’t let your raid leader fool you.  You need them.  If he says “WTF JUST HEAL!!!” it’s a good sign to get out now.

If you don’t have your assignments click NO to the ready check.

Now the raid leader is pissed and tells you: do it yourself.  OK!  FINE!  I WILL!

Know Your Classes and Specs

Well duh!  Here’s a cheat sheet for assignments.


  • Generally a raid healer.  Wild growth is effective even if raid slightly spread out.
  • Mediocre tank healer
  • Hots are good for predictable incoming damage. Can anticipate rather than react.
  • Very mobile
  • Limited burst healing.
  • Few oh-shit buttons


  • Generally Single Target healer.  Assign to the tank if possible.
  • Good for fights where 2+ tanks are taking roughly equal damage (Bacon!)
  • Can be a decent raid healer on fights where people are spread out and splash heals will not work.  The Pally may bacon the tank and then raid heal.
  • Mostly reactive healer
  • Not very mobile
  • Decent single-target burst healing
  • Exceptional oh-shit buttons
Disc Priest
  • Generally Single Target Healer.
  • Good for raid healing if raid spread out and if raid members take damage “in turn” rather than a blanket aoe.
  • A proactive healer that can anticipate incoming damage
  • Medium mobility.  A few spells can be cast on the go.
  • Good single-target burst healing.
  • Good aoe and single-target oh-shit buttons
Holy Priest
  • Generally raid healer, as long as raid is not too spread out.
  • Can tank heal, preferably with Serendipity and in tandem with another healer.  May run out of mana.
  • Slow cast times but high thoroughput
  • Mostly a reactive healer
  • Medium mobility.  A few spells can be cast on the go.
  • Good aoe burst healing
  • Good aoe and single-target oh-shit buttons
  • Generally raid healer.  Efficiency as a raid healer drops as the raid spreads out.
  • Very good single-target healer, glyphed properly.
  • A reactive healer
  • Low mobility
  • Good single target burst healing.
  • Few oh-shit buttons
  • High utility to the raid with unique abilities (tremor totem, grounding totem, heroism)

Know Your Encounter

Think about:
  • How fast does damage come in for the tank?  Is it predictable or spiky?
  • What is raid damage like?  Is an individual person hit at random, or is it blanket aoe damage?
  • Are there phases in which healing needs to be switched?
  • What is the normal positioning?
  • When do healers have to move out of the way?
  • Is there a situation in which a healer is incapacitated?  Have a backup plan for covering that healer’s assignment.
  • Is there burst damage from the boss?  If so, plan cooldowns (oh-shit buttons) around that.

Know Your Team

Hopefully you’re not running with the jerk from Hell as listed above.  Hopefully you’re running with people whom you know and like.  And if you’re familiar with them, you know their strengths and weaknesses.  If you love Joebob, but he dies in the fire 25% of the time, you might not want to put him on main tank duty, even if he’s your only paladin.  If Billy has a terrible internet connection and lags out a lot, you might want to put him on an easy assignment.
Remember, just because a certain class isn’t “ideal” for a specific healing duty, that doesn’t mean that the person playing the class can’t adapt.  Your better players will be able to do whatever you need with the tools available to their class.  Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.

Think Fast

In the middle of the fight, one of your healers may die or disconnect.  Don’t be shy to figure out a strategy and just yell it out.  Just hurry up.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, but your quick thinking may prevent a wipe.

If you are calling for a battle rez and there is more than one druid, make sure you call out that druid by name (no point in having more than one person stopping DPS/healing to rez).  Always use the dps battle rezes if available.  The healer is far too busy trying to keep up now that his or her fellow healer is face-down.

Get Feedback

If you wipe, ask your healers how they found the assignments, and if tweaks need to be made.  Run Skada or Recount if your computer will support it to give you a rough idea of how the healing was distributed.  If, for example, the druid assigned to raid healing is having an easy time and the tank healers are struggling, have the druid throw hots at the tank.  In some fights the off-tank can be covered with bacon alone, freeing up a healer to help with the raid, if raid damage is particularly heavy.  If one of your healers complains about lag, trade him or her to an assignment where a late heal doesn’t mean the difference between a wipe and success.

Above All, Be Flexible

Whatever it takes to get it done.  Call for cooldowns from your non-healing hybrids (the feral druid can pause for a moment to hit tranquility).  Switch to unconventional assignments.  Whatever you need to do in order to make the encounter work for your particular healing team.


Doing Healing Assignments — 12 Comments

  1. This is one thing I'm horrible about when leading raids. I almost never give healing assignments. Fortunately for me, my guild's veteran healers have been together a long time and generally understand how to work with each other. If they're having issues, they do a pretty good job of working them out amongst themselves.

  2. Druids get three "lousy" ratings. Ouch.

    In my completely unbiased opinion, druids are awesome and can fill any healing role.

  3. You have some good points, and I basically agree with most of what you wrote here.

    I have only one quibble, and that is with your incorrect claim that a Druid is weak for tank healing. In fact, Druids are extremely good at tank healing — easily competitive with a Discipline priest, even accounting for absorption as equivalent healing. That isn't to say you SHOULDN'T assign a tree to raid-heal, but in my view it's actually not the tree's strongest role, except in certain contexts. On fights with a lot of steady, low-level raid-wide aura damage, trees are certainly quite good for raid healing — but it's been my experience that a tree can generally outperform just about anything but a Holy paladin for tank healing. This is particularly true in Icecrown, where everything requires at least two tanks. A Discipline priest is excellent for a single target, but may struggle with multiple high-damage healing targets.

    A tree's main weakness as a tank healer is a lack of targeted damage-mitigation cooldowns. Transitions like the tank swap on Festergut or the beginning of phase 3 on Putricide, or large spike damage situations like Mimiron's Plasma Blast (when that was a progression fight, shield-wall abilities and Pain Suppression were the preferred solutions). However, a tree can keep a full stack of HoTs and glyph-buffed Nourish hits on two or even three targets (depending on glyphs and talents), even in a highly mobile fight, close to full time. As long as one-shotting is not the expected cause of tank death, only a Holy paladin can generally sustain superior healing per second on two targets.

    Apart from that, however, this is all very good advice, thank you for the post!

  4. I never knew a disc priest was a good single point healer. I've played a holy priest for years and always struggled in 5 mans to heal. I'll have to try disc. The problem is WoW changes too much and I can't keep up with the times.

  5. There are disagreements about whether a druid is good tank healer. It's been a hot topic lately: http://fallingleavesandwings.wordpress.com/2010/04/08/http4haelz-blogspot-com201004restos-bad-at-tank-healing-htmlbell/ and http://4haelz.blogspot.com/2010/04/restos-bad-at-tank-healing.html And there are opinions on both sides of the issue. I personally think that I'm better off assigning another class to tank healing if there's an option, and there's usually an option.

  6. Ummm…shamans have a pretty good 'oh shit' macro actually. It may only be one but it is not 'lousy/nonexistant'. I've saved many a tank with natures swiftness+the auto crit + a 25K heal.

    But other than that….thanks for the info!

  7. Funny, I don't even think of "NS" as a good "oh shit" macro because I
    find it relatively weak with a relatively long cooldown. But you are
    right, combined with the auto-crit… I smell edits!!!

  8. Thanks for the feedback! I've fleshed-out the explanations of oh-shit buttons, clarified druid healing of tanks, and added reactive versus proactive healing bullet points.

  9. I guess I see your point. When I say "proactive versus reactive" what
    I mean is that the heals of some classes have to hit AFTER damage
    happens. Priest bubbles and druid hots, those should be applied
    beforehand. But short of pre-casting, there isn't much healing a
    paladin can do before the damage happens.

  10. Making class generalizations is definitely a difficult undertaking–no one likes to have their class' healing flaws pointed out.

    To provide a little feedback on your shaman assessment … As the only other class aside from Disc Priests who bring a damage reduction buff to our targets, I would venture to suggest that having a shaman on the tank is a fairly good idea from a raid leading perspective. And our single-target burst output is incredibly powerful–an instant Riptide plus a 1.1sec Healing Wave is only equaled in terms of HPS by a pally's Holy Shock plus Holy Light combo.

    Also, in terms of your raid's flexibility to adapt to damage, definitely don't forget priest's Hymns. They are an amazing way to blanket the raid in on-demand healing (eg: during Blood Queen's Bloodbolt Whirl).

  11. Are you referring to the priest talent inspiration? If so, it's in the holy tree and USUALLY both holy and disc priests will have it. I agree, that is very nice.

    As for D. Hymn, it's such a long cooldown I consider it an "oh shit" button, that makes me drool compared to tranquility.

    Moar edits!