What’s a hybrid good for?

September 30, 2009 at 6:11 am (Raid leading)

One thing that you can count on Matticus for is thoughtful pieces.  Take this one from a guest blogger Mimetir.

Basically the premise of this post is that your average hybrid should spend more time out of form (druids and priests particularly) healing in crises.  I have a basic problem with this position though.  There are probably a heap of different hybrid paradigms but I want to highlight 3

  1. Mr DPS – he doesn’t ever drop form to heal, healing isn’t his job.  Much like a dps warrior who refuses to even train the tanking skills, he is a hybrid only because he likes the playstyle, not because of the flexibility.
  2. Mr Right – drops form at exactly the right time to drop the perfect heal to save the wipe.  Fucking rare!
  3. Mr Do-Everything – a dps get low on health?  drop a quick heal.  Tank taking big swings? drop a few heals to stabilise.  More often than not, this is the kind of person that espouses the theory put forward by Mimetir.  Their dps is never that good because they are always out of form healing.

You want to know something?  As a raid leader, I’d rather have a number 1 than a number 3!

There are a few reasons for this but easily the most important is that healing is a GCD game these days.  Especially as a holy pally I am planning my heals in GCDs.  For example, in theory you could let beacon / sacred shield run for nearly a minute each and refresh them (like the old mage buff scorch – it was a dps loss to recast it too often so you wanted to reapply it at the last second) but I don’t do it that way.  I almost always refresh them early (around the 40 sec mark) because in hard content I don’t know if I am going to have two spare GCDs in the next 60 secs but I do know if I have them now.

So why is this relevant?  Simply because, as a dps, by the time you (1) recognise the situation (at least 2 GCDs), shift form (1 GCD), select the target and find the spell (be honest – at least 1 GCD), cast the heal and let it land (1.5 GCDs) you’ve gone probably 6 GCDs since the problem arose.  In 6 GCDs the entire fight is likely to have changed.  In 6 GCD that tank that was struggling is dead, those dps?  yeah they are dead too. 

You may ask, “but if its a wipe either way, and you COULD react quicker, isn’t it at worst no difference and at best a save?”.  No its not.  Its not because there are only so many things you can track at once.  I know this because I heal and raid lead.  There are important things you need to keep track of and there are other things you don’t.  As a dps you should be focussing on extracting as much dps as you can, avoiding fire, managing mana (casters) or positioning (melee).  Tracking the progress of the fight, if you are a dispelling class watching for dispels.  You should NOT be tracking the health of the tank in case you need to heal.  There are only so many things you can focus on, focussing on someone else’s job means doing yours slightly less well.  Its means in general, you perform less well at your job than you could.

The simple fact is that its the healers (and tanks – THAT is definitely another post, things tanks should do to keep themselves alive) job to look after these situations (including crises, especially crises).  One thing you learn as a healer – trust your teammates to do their job.  It gets drummed into you over and over again every time your tank dies cause you were saving the dps from the fire (or vice versa).   You can’t do everything and you shouldn’t try.

Other considerations?

Two big ones.  First, as a raid leader I need to know that heals are struggling.  I need to know this because there are plenty of hard mode fights where you take the bare minimum heals.  If I see our guys 5 heal something then I assume that they can 5 heal it.  If they can only 5 heal it if a hybrid heals for half the fight then you are distorting the information being presented.  Sure, a one-off clutch healis important, but a surprising number of hybrids have a surprising number of “clutch” heals.  I don’t want a hybrid dps basically retuning the strategy (converting one dps into a sub-par healer) on their say so.  If the strategy is wrong (and often it is) then you need to know so you can change it.

Second, you are gutting your dps every second you are out of form healing.  You are (especially in 10 mans) gutting the raids dps.  Worse still, usually you have no idea what the other healers and tanks are doing in response to whatever has occurred.  In other words, most of the time you are reacting to something that someone else, better suited to the job than you, has already reacted to.  That cat druid who taunts adds / boss off clothies?  That mob might now be taunt immune, unlucky tank.  The shadow priest dropping a G-Heal?  Lay on hands + holy shock = full health bar.  However you are now behind on damage, the raid is behind on damage.  On a fight like, for example H Anub, you can’t afford to lose the damage.  You wipe either up front (by not healing) or at the end (through overwhelming damage) but the result is the same.

 I don’t mean this as a criticism, I just tend to find that hybrids with the out of form healing mindset tend to heal too much.  I think you are better off wiping occassionally and learning from it than permanently losing dps to being a “hybrid”.



  1. Jafari said,

    In XT, it can be really helpful for one of the “backfield add” hybrid dpsers to offheal if you’re not doing hardmode, but that’s less of a hybrid moment and more of a keep yourself busy between waves kind of thing.

  2. silk82 said,

    I’ve almost always tried to have the stronger AOE classes (hunters – their frost trap is pretty win, warlocks – infinite mana, and mages – frost nova also win) on add duty. I think given the damage boost from hitting the heart you are probably better off dps the heart (even if only for a little while) between add waves than healing.

    I do think there is some merit in hybrid heals during the tantrum, particularly on hard modes (especially say an Enh shammy hitting the melee).

  3. Whats my main? « WoW – Silk's Blog said,

    […] they are noticeably better than others at.  I could get clever and link this to my stance on hybrids.  How do these things even fit together?  Its because in a crisis you automatically revert back […]

  4. The year in review « WoW – Silk's Blog said,

    […] put into it this post on my spec is worth feeling proud of.  I also think that this piece on hybrids is well argued – not that I suspect people will support my […]

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