So, you just jumped a healer

by AJ "Tyron" Martinez @ • November 27 2021

Hey. Here’s a quick guide for new FFXIV healers who can, like, read or something.

Cooldowns aren’t just for emergencies

Your healing kit is divided into halves. One half is spells—they usually cost mana, usually have cast times, and are always on the global cooldown.1 The other half is abilities—no mana costs, no cast times, and no GCD restrictions, so you can weave them after your spells.

The bulk of your healing output should come from your abilities, not your spells; they’re more powerful, less costly, and a predictable element that you can plan your healing around. This saves you time, allowing you to use your spells to heal unplanned damage or attack the boss, and saves you mana, allowing you to heal more unplanned damage and raise more often.

Basically, your cooldowns aren’t for energencies—they prevent emergencies. This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, though, and if you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s better to hit a spell than to do nothing at all.

Shields, regens, and you

Heal-over-time effects, or “regens”, usually heal for more than equivalent up-front heals.2 They’re best used on steady sources of moderate damage, like boss auto-attacks or dungeon packs, or to heal huge amounts of damage during downtime or lulls between attacks.

Shields are sort of the opposite—they shine versus huge bursts of high damage, since they can be prepped ahead of time and combined with group mitigation tools. They’re also a helpful buffer if you expect players to take avoidable damage right after unavoidable damage.

Ultimately, both types of tools get the job done, but look for situations where your job’s specific tools shine.

Mana isn’t real, it can’t hurt you

Mana will never be an issue unless multiple party members die in quick succession, or a wall-to-wall pull lasts far longer than it should. Make sure to press Lucid Dreaming whenever you’re below 8000 MP, and use your abilities instead of your spells whenever possible—do that, and you’re guaranteed to be fine outside of high-end prog.

Freecure and Enhanced Benefic are traps, and trying to make use of them will make your healing worse; weak healing spells are wastes of mana and time.

You have damage spells, and they’re important

Healing efficiently leaves you with a lot of downtime, and the best way to use that downtime is dealing damage. Healing is still your primary responsibility, but you deal more than half the damage of a DPS, and that’s not something to take lightly!3

In dungeons, your AoE damage spells can help kill packs dramatically faster, which lets your tank save more cooldowns for the next pack—so healing less and doing more damage doesn’t just make the dungeon faster, it makes it safer. Use your abilities to apply strong shields or heal-over-time effects, go ham until your tank’s near danger, then hit ‘em with a spot-heal or two and go back to churning butter on your AoE button.

On the other hand, bosses typically deal much less damage than dungeon trash, almost always at spaced and predictable intervals. Even if you top players off the moment they take damage,4 there’s often nothing left to heal besides inconsequential auto-attacks; when this happens, put your DoT on the boss and blast your filler damage spell until the next attack goes out. Killing the boss faster means fewer mechanics that can be failed, less damage that needs to be healed, and (in fights with checks/enrages) can often make the difference between a kill and a frustrating wipe.

Healing seriously isn’t that complicated, and almost everyone will be understanding if you’re new to the role. Above all, try not to lock up—doing something, no matter what it is, is better than doing nothing—and pay attention to outgoing damage. If you’re trying to make the most of the tools you’ve got, everything else should follow naturally.

(Oh, and it bears repeating one more time; Freecure and Enhanced Benefic are worthless, I promise.)

  1. Blue Mage is weird, and breaks these rules with spells like Off-guard. This doesn’t matter at all but I’m compelled to include it for completeness’s sake. ↩︎

  2. For instance, WHM’s Regen is an 18-second heal with 200 listed potency; since “over time” effects tick every 3 seconds, it does 1200 potency of healing in total. Cure II, by comparison, does 700. ↩︎

  3. If you want a “pure healing” experience, try PvP! Players deal tons of damage, mana management is super important, and your ability to quickly react to unpredictable bursts (while keeping yourself safe) can often make the difference between a win and a loss. It’s very different than PvE, and it’s pretty rewarding despite the stress. ↩︎

  4. It can be stressful to leave your party members injured, but it’s often really efficient to do all your healing at once, rather than aggressively topping everyone off as soon as they’re hurt—it can prevent wasted “overheal”, allow you to heal multiple targets with AoEs, or let you wait for an ability to come off cooldown instead of using a spell.

    This is advanced stuff, and you don’t need to worry about it right away, but start paying attention in fights; when someone takes damage, how long does it take until they take damage again? Would both sources of damage combined have killed them? ↩︎