When the Healer says “Pull Bigger”

Rhii has a tale of level 20 SFK and a paladin healer who (in my opinion) shouldn’t be healing over on Oh My, Kurenai!. Level 20 SFK is my specialty. Mostly because it’s probably the dungeon I’ve healed most often.

I’ve healed in there with asshole tanks. I’ve healed in there with newb tanks. I’ve healed in there with paladin tanks who don’t seem to realize how squishy paladin tanks are at that level. I’ve taken my husband with me to be a tank I trust so I can pay more attention to my own performance and what’s going on in the dungeon. What I HAVE NOT done is go in there and start demanding that a tank “pull bigger”.

I didn’t do that in Wailing Caverns, either. Or Gnomeregan. Or any wing of the Scarlet Monastery. Not in Zul’Farrak, and not in Scholomance. I can tell you now that I won’t do it in whatever the next dungeon I heal is, either.


I saw that happen so often in Wrath, and everyone said it was because healers pretty much had infinite health and could heal anything. No, that’s not why it happened. I’m not saying healers didn’t end up with near infinite mana… I’m saying there’s nothing in the game that makes it so that when a healer sits and almost full man for a certain amount of time, it just automatically makes their character say, “Pull bigger! I can heal through it!” That happened because there were healers who didn’t understand/care that what the tanks pulls isn’t all about what you can heal through.

The tank should pull what the tank can control. The healer has no right to insist that a tank put the whole group at unnecessary risk by doing their own job poorly just so the healer won’t be bored.

If you find yourself getting bored because the tank isn’t requiring a whole lot of healing, there are other things you can do… especially if you’re a holy paladin.

Maybe throw a little dps in there. Remember, your Holy Shock does damage to enemies. And you are using your Judgement anyway for the haste boost, right?

Heal the dps. Notice in Rhii’s post that the healer complained about not having enough healing to do, but apparently they weren’t insterested in healing anyone except the tank. (Okay, it looks like they were only pretending to be interested in healing the tank. But they didn’t even pretend with anyone else!) Also note that Rhii was playing a shadow priest alt. The shadow priest was doing more healing than the actual healer. Do we see what’s wrong with that picture?

Personally, I feel bad about it when I can’t heal the dps in SFK. In some of those fights, everyone in melee range is going to take damage. If I have to let a melee dps die so I can guarantee the tank stays up, then it just has to happen. But I feel for them. I wish I could have kept them up along with the tank. And if the tank isn’t moving Springvale out of the bad stuff, it really makes me sad to let melee dps go unhealed. That becomes a situation where I have to heal according to what’s best for the group’s success, but I wish I could heal according to who deserves it.

I’m not usually inclined to tell people what they should or shouldn’t be playing. But if you consistently are bored as healer and feel like demanding that the rest of the group perform poorly just so you’ll have something more exciting to do, maybe you shouldn’t be healing.

Why do I feel so strongly about this? Because I also have a story about a druid tank and a bad healer. I was one of the dps in that group, and it was the dungeon that made me finally start speaking up when a healer demands big pulls. I started telling tanks, “Pull what you can control, not what the healer can heal through.”

It was Heroic Ahn’kahet* , and the group was a bear druid tank, a holy priest healer, my husband as a ret pally, some third dps who managed to be not be noticed very much in all this (probably a rogue), and myself as a hunter.

I was in the habit of checking a tank’s gear where we zoned in so I’d know just how much I’d need to watch Misdirect to make sure I kept using it. If the tank was heroic-geared I needed to use it more often than if they were ICC-geared. I checked the bear out of habit. I knew I needed to keep Misdirect up almost non-stop with bear druids, no matter what gear they had.

This one was a fresh 80. She was decked in a mix of quest rewards and regular dungeon drops. I’d been there about a month before. I knew she was probably running heroics to get better gear.

The priest started demanding after the first trash pack that the bear pull big because “I can heal through it”. And so the bear did. And the bear almost instantly died. And then I Feigned Death while other people died.

Once everyone was back in, the priest again demanded big pulls and the bear again gave him big pulls. There were multiple rounds of death, and I’m not sure anymore exactly how that happened. But I do know my husband spoke up at some point and told the bear not to pull big, and then I reassured the bear that healer’s don’t get to tell you what to pull… you pull what you’re comfortable with handling. The bear seemed to appreciate that in a way that showed she felt like it should be that way, but had been led to believe it’s not so.

So the priest go pissy because dps was backing the tank up, and he started putting his shield up and then pulling extra things after the bear pulled. My husband called him out on it, and he did it again anyway. That’s when I did something I know I shouldn’t do, but I’m still not sorry I did it.

I Misdirected to the healer. The healer went down first that time, and when everyone else followed my husband told the healer that’s what happens when the healer pulls things.

My husband knew, even as he said that to the healer, that I had Misdirected like that.  Sometimes, though, you just want to teach somebody a hard lesson.

The healer pulled extra things again, so I Misdirected to him again. And he died again. So he suddenly decided he had better things to do and dropped group.

The problem was that the bear was broken at this point. Her gear was broken so badly she didn’t feel she could risk tanking it even if the rest of the dungeon went fine. Her spirit was broken so badly she just didn’t want to risk getting another healer like him. She apologized for not being able to keep going and dropped group.

I will not do that to a bear. I won’t do it to a warrior. I won’t do it to a paladin or death knight. I won’t even do that to an elf.

I also won’t do that to the three dps. When the healer starts demanding bad performance (and pulling more than you can handle IS poor performance) from a tank, they are demanding that the tank create an unreasonable situation for the dps. All that damage the healer wants to see because “they can heal through it”? It’s damage that should not be happening!

I will not demand that four other people do it wrong just so I can have fun. If that’s what it takes for me to have fun with what I’m doing, I should really go find something else to do.






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16 Responses to When the Healer says “Pull Bigger”

  1. Orvillius says:

    As a tank *THANK YOU.* I’ve pulled more before when a healer has told me they could heal me through bigger pulls, but only if I thought I could control a bigger pull. I hate when dps or healers ask for bigger pulls when I’m not comfortable controlling that many mobs. It’s one thing if I’m in a guild group in vent and can call out what target to go after in what order, or if I’ve been able to mark up a kill order and can count on everyone to follow it, but in random PUGS that rarely seems to be the case.

    • I’ve asked tanks to pull smaller a few times when they went in and pulled bigger than they should, assuming I could/would heal through it. Sometimes that’s lead to the assumption that I’m a fail healer. Usually they just pull smaller groups. If the tank says they could handle bigger pulls if nobody minds, I’m fine with that. But I just will not tell a tank to pull bigger. One thing I’ve had to learn is that the right size is always “what the tank can handle”. Even if it’s a bigger pull than I would have expected, as long as they can handle it my job won’t be any harder.

  2. Rhii says:

    This is absolutely right on, I’ve noticed an attitude a lot in low level dungeons especially, that the best way to play it is to maximize your own fun, and if that happens to be at the expense of the rest of the group who cares? It makes me spitting mad. Five people queued up to have fun. One person running roughshod over the other four, IMO, ought to be considered griefing.

    Heirlooms make this SO MUCH WORSE. I used to be a big fan of them, but I’m starting to hate them, the more I go on. 😦

    (Thanks for the link, btw!)

  3. Faeldray says:

    I’ve played all three roles and I will say that I’ve encouraged tanks to pull more, as well as heard it myself on my tank. So I’d have to disagree with your statement to never tell your tank to “pull bigger”.

    However! I do know what you’re trying to get at and I think the important part is in HOW you say it and how you treat the tank’s reaction.

    Saying something like “Pull more, noob” is exactly what we don’t want. But say you’re in a pug and the tank is being timid with their pulls because they can’t have 100% trust in the group. As a healer, if I see that my mana is staying at full and the tank and dps are doing a good job and could probably handle more, I don’t think I’m being a bad person for saying “Let’s try pulling some bigger groups, I think we can take them ;)”. And as a tank, I wouldn’t resent someone for suggesting I could handle a little more in that fashion. It becomes a fun challenge to see how much I truly can handle in the role of a healer or a tank. It not only improves my skill but my confidence.

    Having said that, if the tank doesn’t think they’re up for it, then it’s okay! There’s no reason to push them as horribly as the priest in your story or the paladin in Rhii’s story did. That’s just downright cruel. But maybe by making that suggestion (the keyword is “suggestion”), it may show them that you have some confidence in their abilities as well as your own. And well, if it doesn’t work out, then lesson learned. You’ll never find the limit on your skills unless you test them.

    So perhaps we could make an addendum and have “DO NOT TELL YOUR TANK TO “PULL BIGGER”!…unless you’re confident about their skill and yours (as a healer), you say it politely, and you don’t freak out if they don’t want to.”

    Just my 2 cents anyways. 😉

    • I can definitely see your point there. I think I’d be okay with saying, “If you can handle bigger pulls, I’ve got you. But only if you’re okay with it.” I’d be too afraid that if I said I think we can handle it, a tank might think they need to do it or I won’t be nice about things anymore. But that’s also because I’m still in the lower levels. I’m seeing tanks who have never tanked before (just like I’m new to healing after two years of nothing but dps), and I’m even seeing tanks come in who are completely new to the game. If they don’t queue for a dungeon until their level 20 quest, SFK is their first time. In higher levels… not “end game” high, but maybe around Scholomance and Stratholme… I might be more okay with politely encouring the tank if I think they could handle it. I would expect they have a better grasp on what they’re doing by then, even if this is their first tank.

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  5. Shintar says:

    It’s kind of funny, isn’t it: on the one hand we healers always have to plead for people to please not stand in the bad stuff, keep an eye on their own health as well, and then you get healers like that who want people to stand in the bad stuff and take more damage. /shakes head

    I think it’s a mark of a good healer, or heck, a good *anything* that they can adjust to the needs of the group and still have fun.

  6. Apple says:

    Faeldray definitely has a point – when I was levelling Lis and had started feeling confident in the fact that I was actually not a shitty healer, I would have groups where the tank would start by pulling smallish groups, and it would be so completely under control that I’d shoot them a whisper (just one, never in party chat!) letting them know that if they wanted to pull a bit bigger, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be swamped.

    The key words there, though, were “if they wanted”. I had a couple tanks say they were kind of new and they wanted to be sure nothing got out of hand, to which I responded with a smile and a “you’re doing great so far, then! I’m not brave enough to try tanking.” I had a few who said “Okay!” and started pulling bigger gradually, until we hit the point where keeping threat (for them) and keeping everyone alive (for me) was challenging but not impossible, just enough to let us stretch our wings, as it were. And then there were a couple times they translated “pull a bit bigger” into “PULL TEH ROOOOOM!!!1!” and we’d wipe (or nearly so) and I’d say “well, maybe not quite THAT big, heh”. But it was always private, it was always up to the tank, and I never complained or asked again if they said no.

    I’ve run one non-RFK (which doesn’t really count since everybody always pulls whatever and no one worries about threat) as a babytank, and it was stressful, and some DPS kept telling me to pull bigger. I kept pulling my small groups. Eventually, I told him “Look, this is my very first time tanking. EVER. I am going to pull what I’m comfortable pulling.” He dropped. While we waited for a new DPS, the healer told me that I was doing really well for a first-timer, and one of the other DPS told me not to worry about that dick because he obviously couldn’t understand that not everyone likes to pull a room, mash buttons, and assume the healer’s got it covered. (I will forever love those two, though I never wrote down their names. Even if I haven’t tried tanking since. ^^;;) It was so stressful being told what to do and how to pull when I was still not comfortable with the number of mobs I was getting in the first place. Bears are HARD, man…

  7. Saga says:

    I recently did a low level SFK and was rather non-plussed by the fact that the healer seemed to be tanking. It was a disc priest and he/she just ran around smiting everything. We didn’t even have a tank until around boss number two, and the priest seemed to be able to stay alive, and keep everyone else alive too.

    Maybe at that level that’s possible, but it kind of scares me for later when they have to learn that tanks should have aggro and that you can’t go around pulling anything.

    I think you make a good point about the “pull more” comment. It’s not so much about what the healer can heal through, but what the tank can hold aggro on. I know that I, for one, on a new tank don’t always feel comfortable with huge amounts of mobs because my AoE threat isn’t necessarily the best. Pulling additional mobs when you’re not sure you can hold aggro on the initial four seems like a bad idea. It doesn’t help if the healer could heal the tank through it if the tank loses aggro and suddenly those mobs are beating on everyone in the party.

  8. Dharmabhum says:

    Aaaaand /subscribe!

    Good, kind words to a player that needed it, and it still didn’t help. I wish people were considerate and nice all the time.

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  10. Ohken says:

    Agreed about dps demanding bigger pulls. Likewise for the infamous “go go go!”.

    However, between the tank and the healer, the healer generally has a better idea of how hard or easy the pull size is. The tank generally has no idea how hard the healer is sweating to keep them alive. They can get some idea if they are smart enough to look at the healer’s mana bar, but even that takes some interpretation. The healer, meanwhile, really KNOWS how hard they are working.

    Likewise in healing groups in a raid, I see healers always asking each other “how hard is it healing Bob” or “how hard is it healing the raid”? Even healers can’t glance at each other and tell how easy or hard it is.

    • This is something I won’t really feel qualified to respond to until I have healed some higher level dungeons. I only know that, for now, healing has only been a lot of work for me when someone is doing something wrong. I’ve also only experience two kinds of groups – groups that go really well, and groups that go really bad. The groups that work really well together are no problem for me to heal, and the groups that go really bad just mean that’s when I have to work. I also don’t know what it’s like to heal in dungeons as any class other than a paladin.

      I’m kind of keeping my fingers crossed and hoping healing will always be easy for me. I’ve spent two years being told how one dps class or another is “easy mode”, rolling one up, and finding out I fail at it. With a lot of work, I could become reasonably acceptable, but that’s still “fail” to a lot of groups. If paladin healing stays easy for, I won’t be one to tell other people that it’s so easy anybody could heal that way. I’m just hoping I’ve finally found something that works for me the way dps works for so many other people.

      I do think the healer probably has a good idea of how different classes compare to each other, though. The healer can tell you who is squishy and who isn’t. The healer can tell you if holding aggro is an issue with the player, or with the class. The healer can tell you which dps classes/specs need help keeping their threat down, and which dps players just need to learn about threat management.

  11. Nebet says:

    Oh man. Can I come learn to tank with all you guys? 😦

    About a month ago I made an abortive attempt at learning to tank on my dwarf warrior over about 30 levels. I finally got so disheartened by everyone pulling around me, rushing ahead, or else grumbling behind my back that I was “going too slow, just PULL ALREADY” that I finally gave up, and my character cut her hair and respecced Arms in a fit of pique.

    • It breaks my heart to think of someone who wants to learn to tank being driven away from it by assholes. I know that could have been me with healing. My first night was horrible, and the next couple of weeks were only marginally better, because of the groups I ended up in. But usually one of those group members was my husband, so I had some immediate support. And the WoW players on Twitter have all been very supportive and helpful. That support system is what kept me healing.

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