Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Healing Assignments and Execution Thereof

Imagine you’re in Kel’Thuzad’s room, finishing up 25 Naxx. You have an assignment to heal one of the add tanks. Spacing is everything; there needs to be at least one healer in range of everyone, and at least one healer in range to heal if one should get trapped in a block of ice. You have a place you’re supposed to stand and people you’re supposed to heal, with a little leeway. Everything’s going well.

Then KT whines to the Lich King and there’s scarab lords running through the raid. The OT’s pick them up and drag them to opposite sides and you find…your OT is on the other side of the raid. You can’t reach him, not without running through a crowd of people and leaving a portion of the raid without its healer. You watch with apprehension as the tank you’re assigned to has his health drop dramatically. You start getting heals up on the tank next to you and try to explain the situation in clipped, quick terms over Ventrilo in order to halt the progress of the paladin who has started to abandon his post and run over towards you. Disaster? Possibly.

Healing in a raid can be terribly easy or extremely difficult depending on a variety of situations. However, probably the most influential aspect of healing success is synergy. How well do you know the other healers? How well do you trust them? Were the healing assignments handed out appropriately?

Following the healing assignment given to you is of utmost importance in most cases. You were given that assignment in the hopes that you would actually heal who you were assigned to, obviously. There may be only one person besides you on your assignment, and it’s not always possible for one person to heal through all the incoming damage. And if you’re the only one on raid and are ignoring them in favor of the tank, it’s quite possible you could lose all your DPS and your other healers. Or if you’re splitting your attention away from the tank in order to heal the raid, your tank may go down faster than you’re expecting.

Trust is an important part of healing. Being able to trust the other healers to do what they should do is what keeps people alive. In 25’s, at the least, one healer cannot do the work for everyone. There is just too much incoming damage. There is some leeway, especially with HoTs, but not always. And as much as it may go against your own survival instincts, sometimes there is just no room between global cooldowns to heal yourself. You have to rely on the other healers to catch you as your bar is falling. It might not be the most comfortable of experiences, but often times it’s your only choice.

And just like you need to trust others to know what to do with the healing assignment, it’s important to also be flexible. Like in the example that the post began with, without flexibility, the attempt would most likely be a wipe. Excuse me, without flexibility and communication the raid would most likely wipe. If you are adjusting your healing assignment, it’s important to let your other healers know so they can adjust as well. You can’t just do it and expect them to pick it up (exceptions do apply, especially if you’re working within a guild that has incredible, even psychic, synergy).

Healing requires a good amount of attention to detail, and few misclicks (alt+right mouse button = Nourish, alt+left mouse button = Abolish Poison…always messing those up…). It also means relying on your other healers, understanding your assignment, knowing your limits and just plain doing your job.

And, please…if I battle rez you while we’re fighting Kel’Thuzad, go back to your spot. Don’t stand on me, and don’t run to the opposite side of the room from where your spot was. You’re going to get people killed.


Icedragon said...

/agree on all points. One of the issues that can come up is people being too rigid and not able to think on their own when, Elune forbid, someone moves out of range or something goes wrong. Adaptation is just as important as following instructions.

Sadly, some healers (or DPS or tanks) get blamed wrongly because they acted outside of the plan in order to help the group. As unnerving as it can be to see someone doing something different from the plan ("Why is Ice standing right in Heigan's Aura?!") communication can help everyone figure out how you're adapting and thinking ("Oh she does insta-heals and isn't affected!").

Brilliant post!

krizzlybear said...

Healing assignments are also a two-way street. It is also the healee's responsibility to stay within reasonable range of the healer. For DPS classes, they should try to take as little damage as possible to minimize mana strain, while at the same time not to significantly gimp their own DPS.

Kayeri said...

That is a tough one, because so much is going on... Even when each of your off-tanks is stationed in the place the adds come out, sometimes all four come out on one side... Not often, but I've seen it happen. I was very lucky the one time I did have to move through the raid.

In our raids, the dps has instructions that if a healer must re-position, they must adjust to accommodate us and that does help, as does quick, clear Vent communication.

Our last takedown of him on 25 was a thing of beauty... the melee dps was interrupting the shadowbolts the majority of the time... it sure made the healers' job a lot easier!

Elleiras said...

Excellent post!

I will sheepishly admit to causing several wipes in our recent 10-man 3D attempts. We kept losing the MT to one-shot breaths (he'd be at less than full health prior to a breath, so even a perfectly executed cooldown wasn't enough to save him) , so I tried to help heal him ... which left *my* assignments uncovered. It turns out that the MT healer was doing the same thingL he'd see my assignments get dangerously low at a time that the MT was at full health, and would try to help me out.

Our raid leader gave us a much needed lecture on trusting each other. Thanks for reinforcing it here! The reminder helps.

Antimoni said...

Soooo true!! I handle healing assignments for our raid group, and although i do trust our healers, sometimes i need to give them suggestions or instruct them if they mess up ><; sometimes people either don't think - or think too much! lol

And communication / paying attention is SO important. Ever since I've started healing assignments I keep switching healers/tanks up because I want everyone to be watching the healer channel. Especially if changes need to be made, I dont like the excuse later on: "I didnt know.."

We also have this one wonderful healer, who is also a friend, but he refuses to use vent :/ and because of that we haven't taken him to Sarth3d runs, because something like communication is SO SO SO important in a fight like that!