The list of stupid gaming terms I think should be completely abolished from people’s vocabularies is long, but today the one on the top of that list is Heal Sniping.
I first heard this term back in Ulduar. My Horde main was my Shaman back then and my go-to spells were Riptide and hasted Lesser Healing Waves. As I read through blogs and forums looking for healing tips, I noticed that many people referred to this method of healing as sniping.
What is heal sniping?
Heal sniping is healing a target that will be healed by someone else shortly. If you can get your heal off faster, you get all the credit on the healing meters, while the person whose heal lands after gets nothing but overheal. Sniping is stealing a heal from someone else. The term generally implies competition among healing teams and bad, meter-whoring intentions by the sniper.
I’ve seen people refer to all sorts of things as sniping:
- My RT/LHW example above. Fast heals = sniping
- Pre-HoTing = sniping
- Power Word: Shield = sniping
- Healing someone with a HoT on them = sniping
- Using healing cooldowns outside of emergency situations = sniping
- Healing anyone you’re not specifically assigned to heal = sniping
I call bullshit.
The biggest problem with the term heal sniping is that it implies bad intent. If I know that the other druid is casting a slow Healing Touch on target A and I cast a fast Regrowth on them before it goes off so I look good on meters then yes, technically I’m sniping. But does that really happen? Raid frames can tell you when someone has a heal incoming but they can’t tell you if the caster is going to have to stop casting to move out of something bad, may not tell you if the heal will bring them to full and there’s likely more damage coming soon anyway. Am I using a fast heal to be an asshole or am I just trying to save target A from floor-tanking for the rest of the encounter?
Healing is a team effort, and the healers work together to keep everyone alive. If we avoided any healing spells and tactics that could be considered sniping, no one would get healed. Thinking about healing in terms of sniping is the wrong mindset. It’s not a competition. If everyone gets healed and no one dies, you win – collectively.
If I’m assigned to heal the tank and I use a spare GCD when the tank’s not in danger to cast a Wild Growth on the raid am I sniping from the raid healers? No. I’m helping them. If I’m assigned to raid heal and I stack Lifebloom on the tank along with a few direct heals when I can manage them am I sniping from the tank healers? Nope, just helping out. If my assignments are at safe health levels and I pop a quick heal on someone dangerously low on health who is not my assignment am I sniping in an attempt to appear higher on the healing meter? Of course not, I’m trying to save someone from dying. Cross-healing is an important part of being a healer – knowing when you should stick to your own targets and when you can afford to help out others is one of the things that separates the good healers from the bad.
Snipe healing is often paired with another stupid concept – meter padding.
I need to clarify (because I know some people are misinformed) that overheal does not pad the meters. Healing meters (such as those on World of Logs) show the amount of effective healing done. So if I throw Rejuvs on as many people as I can even if they’re not taking damage, I’m not making myself look (superficially) better in any way. I’m just being an idiot. It is impossible to ‘pad the meter’ with overheal.
If your assignments don’t die and you’re not running out of mana too soon, tossing out your high HPS spells to put out as much healing as possible isn’t meter padding. It’s doing your job to keep the raid healed.
Every healer should be healing their ass off and working to put out as much healing as they possibly can.
There are a couple real examples of meter-padding, but I would hope they don’t happen often. If you take extra damage so you have more to heal or continue to heal after a wipe has been called, that’s meter-padding. Of course, those things are extremely obvious to anyone paying attention and those caught doing either should be laughed right out of the raid.
But what’s the real problem?
The problem with terms like sniping and meter padding is that they are non-descriptive, blanket statements that get thrown around too much. You could call any healer who does well on the meters and casts a lot of high HPS spells a meter-padder, when in reality they’re just doing their job to the best of their ability. These terms also distract from what’s really going wrong. Almost every problem that can be generically attributed one of these things has a real, specific problem behind it.
If my assigned target dies because I’m busy healing someone else’s target then I lack focus, the ability to follow assignments and the instinct to know when I can safely spare a heal for someone else.
If I run out of mana because I’ve been busy casting heals on those who aren’t taking damage or casting more heals than necessary then I’m inefficient, and need to learn how to manage my mana better.
If healers have spare GCDs and mana to heal everyone else’s targets consistently, there are too many healers in the fight.
If everything goes well, no one dies due to lack of heals and the boss goes down, congratulations! There’s no need for slinging around terms like sniping.
I’m not saying that players who’d rather place highly on the meters than play effectively don’t exist, but to any healing lead/raid leader/log analyser worth their salt it’s going to be pretty obvious who these players are. Who cares if you have the highest HPS when your targets are always dead? Or if you’re wiping? No one focused on progression does.
When your healing team runs into trouble, address it head-on and find out what the real problems are. Stop using terms like sniping and meter padding and remember that healing is a team sport.
*Just to clarify, before the comments start, this post has nothing to do with me or either of my raid teams. I read a couple posts this week that talked about snipe healing – one condemning it, one extolling its virtues. This isn’t even a direct response to either of those posts, just a tangent my brain went on after thinking about the subject for a while.*