Midgame Moves: To Heal, or to Fight?

July 9th by Samantha Cruse

The gates have opened and the opening moves have been made. Now, it’s time to follow through on a successful opener—or recover, regroup, and work on the next setup. Welcome to the first installment of World of Warcraft Arena Midgame Moves, a continuation of the Opening Moves series which you can catch up on here.

The Best Defense Is a Good Offense

The initial clash can set the mood for a match, but may have little impact on how the rest of the encounter plays out. Here is where each team’s healer has a decision to make: fall back and help your teammates stay in the fight, or dive into the fray and help set up the conditions for victory.

Both teams’ goal is to keep their opponent on the back foot, draw out their cooldowns while conserving your own, and shut down mounting counterpressure. One way to turn the match in your team’s favor is the healer opting to go on the offense, rather than just sitting at max range, keeping everyone topped off. To learn how a healer can contribute to the combined offensive measure of their team, we spoke with Andrew “Rubcub” Woods, current member of Noble, who previously took second place at the 2017 Arena World Championship at BlizzCon under the Panda Global banner. Rubcub is best known for his aggressive play as a Holy Paladin.

“Always look to be aggressive,” said Rubcub. “[But] try not to overextend so far you’ll have to use a lot more cooldowns than you’re getting. As a Holy Paladin, you try to get close enough to cast Hammer of Justice. At the same time, you need to worry about what that’s going to do in terms of positioning, what you’re going to get out of it, and whether it’s worth it or not.”

With Aggression Comes a Price

The choice to play aggressively is not without consequence. Typically, offensive abilities are incredibly mana-intensive: a Priest’s Mass Dispel and a Shaman’s Purge cost 8% and 20% base mana, respectively. Getting behind on mana can be an insurmountable disadvantage, especially if the match goes into deep Dampening—a stacking debuff applied at the five-minute mark that reduces healing and absorption effects by 1% per stack every 10 seconds.

“Always be thinking about what your mana state is,” Rubcub said. To counter the threat of running out of mana, an aggressive healer will look for opportunities to drop combat, which takes six seconds, so they can drink to recover that lost mana. “You’ll want to try and get a drink in on the next aggressive push,” Rubcub added. “Try to top your teammates off and go get a tick or two off before the enemy notices.” Further into the match, that extra 5–10% mana might just mean the difference between victory and defeat.

While many factors go into a victory, a confident healer who stays several moves ahead of the competition can flip the midgame in their team’s favor with a well-timed application of crowd control, dispels, or clutch damage-dealing abilities.

Tune in tomorrow for the next installment of Midgame Moves, focusing on how damage-dealers stay alive while keeping up pressure and not taxing their healers too heavily.