I started playing World of Warcraft in October of 2005, as a hunter named Kurnmogh. I primarily raided as a hunter throughout Vanilla, although I was certainly asked to swap to my alt holy paladin, Madrana, for several raids. (I remember healing Sulfuron and Golemagg in MC as Madrana, in particular, not to mention a couple of ZG clears and some AQ20 partial runs.)

When Burning Crusade came out, I dinged 70 on my hunter first. And then I didn’t really have any place to raid. So I dinged Madrana 70 and promptly got snatched up by a guild that was looking for healers. When that situation didn’t work out (8 of the 12 people on the main raid team in that guild got poached by another guild on the server), Majik, myself and a bunch of old Fated Heroes members (our Vanilla guild) formed Apotheosis.

Here’s the thing — I was so well-geared as Madrana, and we had so few healers, that I basically didn’t have a choice but to continue to heal as Madrana in raids.

It was okay. I wasn’t upset. It was very weird to me to progress as a healer, mind, but it wasn’t a problem for me. I just hadn’t really had the ability to choose what I wanted to do during BC. I mean, I wanted my guild to succeed, so I healed because I had the gear and because we needed healers. As time went by, I could have recruited another healer or two in order to replace me, but I didn’t. Over time, I’d made the decision that Kurn would get all the holiday titles and such (primarily for the free epic flying that came with the violet proto-drake) while Madrana would get all the raid titles and mounts and stuff. I’d made my peace with Kurn being my non-raiding character.

When Wrath of the Lich King came out, I was on the fence over what to do. I really enjoyed playing Kurn. I always had. So while I levelled Kurn to 80 first (as always, Kurn is the first to hit level cap), I was debating whether or not I’d raid as Kurn. Almost as soon as I dinged 80 on Kurn, I started levelling Madrana to 80. But I also dipped my toes into casual 10-man Naxxramas runs that my guildies were doing — as Kurn. I figured that it would be a good way to see if I wanted to change how I played the game.

It was the Abomination wing that made up my mind for me. We were trying to down Grobbulus. I’m sure most people in the 10-man raid were undergeared, not hit-capped and such, but we were dying to stupid things. People weren’t dropping things where they were needed to be dropped, adds were running amok and the like.

It was then that I realized that I was just one DPS. No matter what I did, I could not, single-handedly, kill everything. I was doing everything right and still, that was not enough. More to the point, it would never be enough. I, as a single DPS, would never, ever be enough to make up for all the other DPS in a raid situation.

By contrast, a single healer can make a huge difference. A massive difference. Our very first Vashj kill happened because I threw Lay on Hands on our sole remaining tank and it crit, buying us the precious few seconds we needed to get the kill. A well-timed cooldown here, a clutch heal there… Even one healer out of six or seven can make a huge difference, at least compared to one DPS out of 17. And, personally, I like being someone who really makes a difference on a fight.

Why am I talking about this?

I’ve been on a bit of an LFR binge. As of this writing, I have done all the LFRs relating to Tier 14 once. (And gained 5 Sigils of Wisdom and 8 Sigils of Power or something like that.) Of course, I’ve been doing these on my hunter, who has gotten a chunk of gear over the last few days. Madrana, much as I love healing with her, is still sitting pretty at 85, although it’s tempting to start the grind to 90.

We were on Wind Lord Mel’jarak and both tanks were dead by the three-minute mark. The fight continued for another four and a half minutes (total time was 7:22!) and I was literally mashing my buttons and trying to do anything I possibly could to get more damage out. At one point, I realized that was it: I could not put out any more damage. Everything (Rapid Fire, Murder of Crows, Stampede, agi potion, even my cat’s Rabid) was on cooldown and all I could do was wait for something to come back up and try to keep a perfect rotation while I waited.

As we whittled the boss down, I sat there thinking about how I could have made a difference as a healer. Maybe I could have kept at least one of the tanks alive. Maybe a druid would have given me Symbiosis, granting me a battle rez, allowing me to rez one of the tanks. The boss’ health kept dropping, I kept mashing my buttons and watching as OmniCC’s 1m started counting down in seconds on a couple of my abilities, rather than minutes.

Throughout it all, I knew that even that boost granted me by Rapid Fire and Murder of Crows was, ultimately, not the make-it-or-break-it portion of the fight. Even if the fight were extended by another 15 or 20 seconds, we would probably down it. Of course, it was LFR. In a normal or, more likely, heroic version of a fight where there are unforgiving enrage timers, DPS makes more of a difference. They have to put out a lot of damage or the entire raid will die. But even in those cases, I don’t think that I can ever feel as though I, personally, made a difference. Anyone can do damage. The fact that I’ve ranked on World of Logs on the majority of my LFR excursions, after not playing for 13 months, attests to that. ;)

There have always been jokes in my guild, and among my friends, that I’ve always wanted to raid as my hunter. I got teased a lot about it in Cataclysm as new people would join the guild and go “what the fuck, you don’t raid as Kurn but you want us to call you that and you refer to your non-raiding character as your main? What is up with THAT, you freak?!” (Well, perhaps they were a bit more polite than that, at least until they’d been in the guild for a while.) People made the assumption that because I wanted them to call me Kurn and because Kurn was my so-called “main”, that I wanted to raid as Kurn.

Nope. Healing is my preferred raid role. I could easily blame it on being used to healing, but that wouldn’t really be honest. I like being someone who is a difference-maker. That’s not to say DPS can’t make a difference, because they can — we had lots of people in Apotheosis whose presence would be the key to downing a new fight. But individually, I personally feel a lot more useful as a healer than as a DPS.

The fringe benefits (shorter queues for various content) are nice, too, but, for me,  it’s really all about keeping those other people alive so THEY can do crazy amounts of damage, as a solid group of 17ish DPS. As for myself, I’ll take being part of a kick-ass team of healers over disappearing into the huge group of DPS any day of the week.

As for my plans for the last three days of this trial: I have one mob left for the Glorious! achievement and I plan to try to do all of Throne of Thunder and Siege of Orgrimmar’s LFRs over the course of the weekend. (Wish me luck!) And I’d also like to get Gold Proving Grounds, too. :)

What are you doing in WoW this weekend?