Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Know More Than Just Your Job

It's very easy to fall into the "I know my role, and that's all I need to know" trap. I do it a lot. I could tell you the role of a healer in any non-heroic (and most heroic) ICC 25/10 fights, where they should stand, and what mechanics they have to worry about. But up until recently, the DPS and tanks were a mystery. I knew you needed 2-3 tanks depending on fight, and about an even smattering of melee and ranged.

Well, it's not your job, Bell. Why do you care what they have to do?

To be honest, it is a healer's job to know what the other roles have to deal with. Please notice, I said know, not micromanage. Keep that in mind.

It was once said to me by the Paladin Sharlet: "Good tanks make great healers; good healers make mediocre tanks." Though you can debate it until you're blue in the face, the fact is that healers who understand tanks and their mechanics are better at their jobs than healers who react to damage whack-a-mole style or blinder-zoom on their raid frames. Do you know when your tanks have to routinely pop cooldowns? I am not talking about dangerous, near-death experiences, I'm talking about boss fights in which they need a regular cooldown rotation.

Yes, I am a mediocre tank. I admit it; I tried it on Bellbell and I was just semi-competent in heroics. However, to compensate for that, I've started paying much more attention to boss abilities and cooldowns, understanding when a good tank pops cooldowns and when a mediocre or bad tank would forget to. ToC 25 is a snoozefest for many people in this game, yet on Bellwether my anxiety can shoot up if the PUG DPS is slow and the PUG tanks don't know how to use their cooldowns. That is responsible for more phase 1 tank deaths than shoddy healing, though if a healer with a cooldown had used it, it could have covered for the tank's forgetfulness.

I have never tanked ICC, but I know that tanks need to cycle cooldowns through Festergut's triple stack buff.

Knowing when the melee is all going to get hit, or understanding mechanics like Sindragosa's stacking debuff, can only help you pre-HoT or anticipate health loss for a quick chunk. Is Healbot or Grid set up to tell you who has Unchained Magic so you can pre-HoT them in preparation for the chunk of life disappearing?

It seems like pretty average stuff. Life goes down, I heal it up. Why do I need to know more? As the fights become more involved, as the battles get harder, you will need to know who is standing where, who is heading in what direction, and when tanks are powering through cooldowns so you are able to compensate.

After all, this is, in essence, no different than timing your HoTs to boss mechanics. It is understanding on a deeper level, however, than just "damage happens now." It is "damage happens now and I understand why, so I already have the best possible spell ready."

Again, I'm not telling you to micromanage everyone. Do not be a backseat raider. Just be a smarter healer!


Zelmaru said...

I'm a big fan of knowing "more than I need to." For example, I always show debuffs that I can't dispel. This lets me know that this person probably needs extra healing - or conversely, that healing him won't do a bit of good until the thing is cleansed by someone else. Druids especially need to be able to anticipate to pre-hot, so having a good idea of "what's coming next" is always good.

Kayeri said...

Sharlet has a great point, I have attempted to learn tanking twice, once on Kayeri and once on Arriell. Bear tanking was an experience in not breathing and living in terror of not capturing the mobs... I had a much easier time of it on Arriell, and I like to think I would have continued improving... After all, I'm married to a wonderful protection paladin who was teaching me.

But that's when the need for a paladin healer became greater than another so-so tank who was still trying to figure things out. I still have every spec of tank gear on her, though. I didnt put in that time and effort just to throw that all away. :) Maybe one day I'll pick it up again. :)

Hana said...

I whole-heartedly agree with this. Even as dps sometimes it's a good idea to know when there's an upcoming damage burst. I Barkskin on my moonkin when Festergut barfs up all his gas again to mitigate the damage for the healers.

I'm somewhat fortunate in that I've actually dps-ed, healed, and tanked 10 of the 12 ICC encounters, as well as tanked/dps-ed Sindragosa. So I'm very familiar with the all the roles in the raid and who has to be aware of what. It makes a world of difference knowing which parts of the fight are going to be hard and for who.

Askevar said...

I have to admit that what you say makes sense. My main is a dk tank. I also have a prot pally, prot warrior and a bear [who I am rusty on].

To experiment with healing, I rolled a disc priest. Playing her was as easy as breathing. Within an hour of hitting 80 and picking up a couple of craftables I healed H-UP and H-ToC successfully - shocking myself as much as the rest of the group. [This was back in September last year]

I think I'd fall over if all our raiders knew about the fights and how they go from more than just their perspective [some of them have a time remembering just that]

jeffo said...

I'll say that there are actually some fights that I've done many times where I've thought 'I don't actually know what's really going on here.' You can get through it (whether that says really good things about my raid team, or not-so-good things about the state of the game is open for debate) but I like really *knowing* what is going on in a fight. It allows me to help solve problems when something goes wrong, and to better anticipate when to bubble/sac, etc.

Inxhaine said...

Knowing the tank classes and paying attention to other things besides Health-bars is the sign of a good healer.

I usually have a habbit of pre-HoT'ing people that have aggro but haven't taken damage yet....mostly useful in PuG's :-)

Sarmiento said...

As someone who is purely resto with a pvp and pve spec my knowledge of the current tanks is limited. I do pretty good with healing, although as an old gal in the game sometimes learning the long fights with many elements doesn't always come easy. I find my response time is a tad slow until I am totally comfortable with the fight.

I am very concsious of the tanks heals even though I'm a raid healer the Ephemeral Snowflake
has been a lifesaver for me when the tank is in trouble. That haste with a spam of nourish is amazing to get through some tough healing.

Hopefully I make up for some mistakes I make with some saves as well:)