Ask Elb: Can Captains Main Heal Grand Stairs?

Psychobabble asks:

I was wondering whether you thought a captain could main heal the grand stairs? If so, what does it require other than a skilled captain? is there a certain party makeup that’s needed to support it (eg. burg for green FMs, LM for spot healing)?

I’m asking because I was putting together a PUG the other day and I asked the captain (L61) whether he was comfortable main healing it and the group laughed at me and said I was a noob for even asking the question – “A L58 character should know that a captain can’t main heal GS” etc. However I could have sworn in the CSTM podcast you and/or others on the cast said that properly traited and skilled captains could main heal most 6-mans and I thought GS was specifically mentioned as one they could main heal.

Was I stupid for asking that question? Can captains main heal GS?

This is a great question and you’re right, it was said that captains (as a class, individual results may vary) can successfully main heal many, if not all of the 6-man content the game currently has to offer. But I can’t simply leave it at that.. I’m going to tell you the whats,  hows and whys of it…

What a Main-Healing Captain Needs

Key Class Traits:

  • Fear No Darkness- This class trait will increase the morale restored by a captain’s Words of Courage. WoC is the captain’s “bread and butter” targeted heal so making it as potent as possible is important.
  • Strength from Within- This class trait attaches a self heal to the captain’s fear removal skill, Muster Courage. If you die, your group is probably going down with you, therefore having an additional way to heal yourself is key.
  • Strong Voice- This reduces the power cost of Words of Courage as well as your cries and shouts. Running out of power means you stop healing, therefore saving power is important.
  • Now for Wrath- This restores power to you and your fellows when you use Rallying Cry. More power is always more better.
  • Hands of Healing- This legendary trait improves all healing by 10% and converts Valiant Strike into a group-wide Heal over Time.

Key Legacies:

  • Rallying Cry Cooldown- This legacy will drop your defeat response group-wide heal’s cooldown from 45 seconds down to 15 seconds.
  • Vocal Skills Healing- This legacy will increase the healing from Words of Courage, Rallying Cry and the Muster Courage self-heal.
  • Healing from Rallying Cry- This legacy will increase the healing from Rallying Cry, it also increases the power restored by Rallying Cry when Now for Wrath is traited.
  • Healing from Strength of Will- This legacy will increase your Shield-brother’s incoming healing bonus from 5% to 20%.

These class traits and legacies (all of which are found on the Captain’s Emblem) are what I consider to be the most critical in a “main healing” role. Can you do without some of these and get the job done? Yes, but it’ll be more difficult and/or require a lot more experience and skill. Also, this is not a complete list of things than can help, it’s more of a “Best of” listing, especially since it’s neither practical nor possible to use every possible “helper” trait and legacy.

How a Main-Healing Captain Will “Get it done”

Tips for Main-healing as a Captain:

  • Don’t Heal Right Away!: Don’t heal the tank immediately unless it’s dire, especially in multi-enemy scenarios, if you pull too many enemies onto yourself you’re going to be at an early disadvantage in the fight.
  • Withdraw, know it and love it- Captains have a skill that will reduce their threat with all enemies withing a 10 meter radius. This skill does have a 5 minute cooldown so be careful about making yourself need it too often.
  • Shield-Brother: Make sure you’re keeping shield brother and it’s corresponding skills, Strength of Will and Inspire on the character who is “Tanking” or taking the most damage. Maintaining these will make your job a lot easier
  • Don’t Forget to Self-heal: As a captain it’s easy to forget to self-heal since our self heal capability is very limited. Use your muster courage self-heal (if you’ve traited “Strength from Within”) early and often and hit rallying cry when it’s available. Words of Courage will cost you morale as well as power to use so it’s important to maintain your own morale as high as possible.
  • Don’t be Afraid to use In Harm’s Way- In harm’s way will transfer half the damage being done to players in your fellowship to you. If you’re smart about how you use it, you can use your own morale to get through a sticky spot. Think of it as trading morale on you to keep on them. If in using this you get into trouble you can always use Last Stand to weather the storm, I recommend perfecting using in harm’s way without needing last stand… it’s a valuable skill.
  • Stay on Target and use “Skill Target Forwarding”: As a healing captain, it’s ok for you to do damage and cycle your normal melee skills especially when things are going well, however you don’t want to pull any aggro if you can help it, so make sure you’re staying on the tank’s target. If you don’t already know, what “skill target forwarding” does is it redirects damage to your target’s target (if your target isn’t a valid damage target) or it will redirect heals to your target’s target (if the target isn’t a valid heal target). In this way you can, for example target your tank, who in turn is targeting an orc, when you use, words of courage it will hit the guardian, when you use a melee damage skill, such as defensive strike, it will hit the orc. The same would work if you’re targeting the orc who’s targeting your guardian. skilltargforw

Why Main-Healing on a Captain Can and Does Work

A captain can pull off main-healing because of their ability to string together single target healing that is comparable to other healing classes and without the risk of interruptions (captain’s heal are all “instant-cast” (not to be confused with “immediate skills that fire as soon as they’re clicked), no inductions. Captain’s also have the advantage of having Medium-strong heals with medium-strong heal over time effects attached. Once everything is fully cycled, a captain’s potential on a single target is very very good.

The captain’s ability to heal an entire group is not to be overlooked either. Despite being largely dependent on the availability of defeat responses, rallying cry is an excellent group heal that, under the absolute optimum conditions, can be fired off every 6 seconds. To get that astounding condition a captain needs to have the rallying cry cooldown (mentioned above) maxed out and have 4 pieces of the level 65 helegrod set and then something needs to be dying every 6 seconds (or the captain can be getting critical hits on either Devastating Blow or Pressing Attack [pressing attack target legacy on the weapon can help with this] to fill the gaps ).

One final piece of the puzzle is met either with support healing or careful placement and damage avoidance. Support healing can come from Fellowship Maneuvers or a Loremaster or even a second captain (second captain arguably takes away the designation of “main healing”). Careful placement and damage avoidance refers to the group being away of frontal area effect attacks of the enemy and avoiding taking unnecessary damage in this way or in the way of staying out of various “Puddles” (aka “Don’t Stand in the Poop”).

In Conclusion

This is another case where perception of what a class can and can’t do is just a matter of uneducated opinion. Ultimately, like I have in the past, I’d advise people to “Do What you Want” in these situations. It’s great to challenge one’s self or a group to doing things a bit different from the norm. All that aside, I can tell you from having healed every single six man instance in the game on the captain (save for Dark Delvings, haven’t yet tried healing that, nor do I much desire to) that it’s very possible and actually a lot easier than you’d think.

This article is part of the “Ask Elborigorn” series, where I encourage CSTM readers to send questions to me at: . I then will answer the question either with an entire article or as part of a multi-question weekly article.

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20 Responses to “Ask Elb: Can Captains Main Heal Grand Stairs?”

  1. Gantoris Says:

    Good write up, I’ve main healed GS on my cappy many times. It’s a lot of fun healing with that class.


  2. Thomas Says:

    I would to love to see a captain heal GS, because if I can heal it when not even traited for healing on my RK it technically should be possible. Also my old kin ran it with just wardens & guards & everything went fine with only the heals from the wardens.


  3. Nerves Says:

    Something to add here is the critical-cry captain build. The premise behind it is to increase the captain’s melee crit chance as much as possible on pressing and devastating to generate more Rally-cry opportunities. This build is highly gear dependent, but can provide a way to both contribute meaningful DPS as well as main heal. Captain healers are great, and my kin uses Captains to heal SG as well. As long as there are lots of defeat responses, captains make excellent healers.


  4. Niscadae Says:

    I think it may have been last week one of our kin’s captains (lvl58 I think) heal our group in GS just fine. He wasn’t even traited for healing. Group make-up was a Captain, a Hunter, a Guardian, 2 Champions, and a Burglar (me). We did the full clear and did okay. I did help heal through setting off fellowship maneuvers, of course, because I just can’t help myself.

    I like it when people try to go beyond what their class is ‘designed’ to do. Experimenting with your skills to see what else you can do is part of what I consider fun in this game. A lot of players are in a habit of the old school MMO tactics of tank, dps, and healer. I don’t mind trying out ‘unconventional’ methods if there’s a slight chance of it working.

    “Certainty of death, *small* chance of success… What are we waiting for?” — Gimli (Return of the King)


    • Gantoris Says:

      Thing about it is a captain is designed to heal… and dps and tank and support. The trait lines built for each of these. Granted they can’t do as well as a class that is designed to do only that one function and thats why i think a lot of people don’t understand that captains can do all of these fairly well. It does take some finesse to main heal on a cappy, but it is very satisfying to do.


  5. Avatar of Ketani
    Ketani Says:

    I don’t often get the opportunity to, but I love main-healing on my captain. Also fun is running with two or more captains in a group. :D


  6. Doyce (Geiri/Finn) Says:

    It should suprise no one that I agree with Elb’s post.

    I don’t run exactly the same build as him (I have no power issues on my captain, so I drop Strong Voice in favor of Deeds Before Words which – combined with an LI legacy that ups my melee skills healing – makes Inspire an extremely effective heal over time), but like him I’ve solo-healed all the Moria six-man except for Dark Delvings, and main-healed SG in Mirkwood with ease.

    My backup healer in SG was the Conviction-popping warden who tanked the run (we’ve teamed up that way many times, including very successful Sword Hall Challenge runs — I think “warden + captain” is one of the most effective tank/healing combos for 3 or six-mans; HoTs for the win.)

    My wife loves running six-mans with her minstrel when I bring my captain – she runs everything but the bosses in War Speech.


  7. Alphaman Says:

    How come I keep reading this as Man-healing? Anyway, good guide esp for a class I’m often frustrated with (I need to really research it more, and this helps).


  8. Angel Says:

    I find the captain *can* do everything… but that’s not the intent. The Captain is to Support What is being done. He is the Jack-of-All-Trades. (perhaps slightly more buffing focused )
    Personally, I find the healing Trait line to be very strong to relieve the Healers (either Minstrels, RKs, or Loremasters) of a heavy Job, while then being able to allieviate the tank with a few aggro skills, while still being capable of some minor CC, while… well you get the point :)


  9. Khloin Says:

    My kin has done GS hard mode successfully with a Captain as our only healer. It helps to have a really good tank who can take a lot of punishment (at risk of being boastful, because I was the tank in this situation).

    The Captain and the Guard were both 65 and decently geared when we did it. If you’re doing it with 61s and 58s and quest reward armor, it could be a little rougher.


  10. Cathdien Says:

    I healed GS with non hoh build at level 63 – It depends on your group as much as on your own perfomance.


  11. Flosiin Says:

    A while ago I main healed a 3 man GS run. A kin mate want to try it with her lvl 65 hunter and I on my lvl 65 cappy. Didn’t go so well. So we restarted and got another kin mate- lvl 65 RK. We did it in easy mode. It took a while but we did it.
    It was a little hard getting the 2 melee heals off with 2 range dps classes :)
    I got very lucky with a 1st age lvl 60 emblem with RC cd and all the healing legacies available.


  12. Scott Says:

    We attempted a GS run the other day with only a Captain healing (plus me spamming Conviction). It was fine and good (we were only doing a Challenge run, not a full clear) until the Igash fight. Granted, I have trouble at times healing the Igash battle on my 60 Minstrel, but the Captain flat told us he did not yet have the traits, etc. we told him he would likely need. We didn’t even come close to downing Igash so he bowed out when a Minstrel offered to pop in just for the Igash fight.


  13. Estendir Says:

    The problem with mainhealing instances lies often in the others. You can have godly equipment and indepth knowledge of your class and can do nothing about the guy dying in the fire puddle or group staing in front of that big bad guy.
    For pluses you didn’t mention: captain is a heavy armour and has high morale pool (it’s iritating that even LM can have higher now, but it’s another story), so even if he pulls a mob or two it’s not a big problem. Also he generates less threat than other healers.


    • Ajay Says:

      Very true, GS is a common instance run for getting medallions and sometimes you find yourself with new or inexperienced players who have not had much instance experience. In those cases, I attempt to drill in people’s heads how the boss fight goes since challenge mode is a bit overwhelming if you don’t assign roles to a few people. I’ve been in groups with the Captain as a main healer and have not had any problems. The versatility of the captain is quite amazing and one reason why I’m looking into leveling up my captain alt to level cap one day!


  14. F1 Says:

    GS? Lol. Cap can heal SG easily


  15. Solariela Says:

    I’ve seen a captain main-heal SG just fine. I’ve also seen a warden main-heal the same instance. A captain can main heal really well, as long as the other group members aren’t noobs and stand in the fire or in front of an AoE mob when they have no reason to.


  16. padyndas Says:

    Captain’s can heal any instance in the game short of maybe raids. I’ve seen Cappy’s heal SG and HoC among others. Heck, I’m a Warden and I’ve actually main healed GS. It’s not really that hard to heal GS.


  17. Intruderb Says:

    I have main healed, and main tanked GS with my cappie; and I’m not even that good at the game ;)


  18. Margrech Says:

    I’ve main healed many instances with mi cappy, It’s a lot of fun! .. So, the really noobs are the ppl who says u can’t :)


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