Monday, December 22, 2008

Trust Me?

“He who does not trust enough, will not be trusted.” Lao Tzu

Tonight we finished off Heroic Naxxramas, killing Kel'thuzad for the first time as a guild. Afterward, we headed to Heroic Eye of Eternity. It was my first time facing Malygos in a 25 man raid, and although we did not walk away victorious, it was a fun time and should set us up to kill him soon.

We ran with seven healers tonight, which is fairly standard for our guild. There were three Priests, two Holy and one Discipline; two Resto Druids; and two Resto Shamans. We managed phase one pretty well once we had figured out the positioning when returning to the platform after a vortex. Phase two was a little tricky for the tanks to reliably pick up all the Lords so they didn't kill DPS, but we'll get it next time. But our learning curve isn't what this post is about.

This post is about trust. (See the clever way I named it. Tricky I am.) Specifically trust among healers.

As I have stated before, I do not think that any one healing class is better than the others--at least not in all situations. I believe there is a synergy inherent in Blizzard's design of the classes and their respective skills that makes us strongest when we work together. I guess since I have leveled all four classes that have healing buttons (even though I've only raid healed as a Priest, Druid, and Shaman) I've always thought this concept was obvious.

I was wrong.

When WotLK came out we had several people change mains--including me. A few other people switched specs. A couple of these switches brought people who had never really raid healed before (and here I'm talking more than 10 mans with two-three healers) into our healing corps. One of those individuals was in the raid tonight. Before WotLK he had always played DPS classes, and he played those classes very well. In the expansion he chose to level his Holy Priest.

Tonight after one of the attempts on Malygos, he said in vent "I go OOM so fast in this fight." This comment prompted our raid leader, a Resto Druid, to ask what he was doing to run out of mana that fast--he was completely tapped before Phase 2 every attempt. His response was that he was hitting Circle of Healing constantly since the raid was taking so much damage. When we explored this further, we found that he was spamming CoH during the vortex and after a blast. I explained that Chain Heal is not an instant spell, but will help to top up the raid within a few seconds, and that with two Resto Shamans he needed to trust us to heal after a blast. His somewhat joking response was that there is only one healer he trusts...himself.

I blame his DPS background for this mentality. When you play a Warlock, your only job during most fights is to do damage, and to do the most damage you possibly can. You are not part of a "DPS Team." Most of the time you do not have to think about who else is also damaging that mob, you just have to hit the boss as often and as hard as you can with your spells (while also making sure to GTFO of any bad things).

Healing is a whole different ballgame, and I guess it takes longer to acquire the proper mentality. Healing is not about topping the meters. It isn't about healing harder, it's about healing smarter. And to be a smart healer, you have to be aware of a lot of different things: the mechanics of the fight, so you know who will be taking damage and when; the strengths and weaknesses of your raid members (like knowing which squishy mage is likely to forget to GTFO of the AoE and will need extra healing); and how your healing style meshes with the rest of the healers. The last requires trust. You have to trust that your healing corps isn't watching The Family Guy and not paying attention. You have to trust that your healers will manage their mana so that they can last to the end of the fight. You have to trust that they will follow the tank who has gone out of your range and keep him alive. You have to trust each other to know which spells to use to maximize the synergy. Without this trust, you turn into a one-man army that runs out of mana within the first 2 minutes of a 10 minute fight.

This individual was close to the top of the healing meters for the night, but, to me, this means nothing. The raid leader actually told him to stop worrying about the meters and to trust the rest of us. I don't know that it sunk in, but it's good advice for all of us. If topping the healing meters is all you care about, I can't trust you to heal smart. And if you aren't healing smart, why are you in my raid? Like the Chinese guy said, trust me or I can't trust you.


  1. Congrats to cleaning up Naxx25!

    I strongly agree that an excellent healer has to know his fights. Malygos is a great example. The raid damage in Phase 2 is coming in very very slowly. You have all the time in the world to mop it up. I even prefer to throw some heals at the MT whenever I see his healtbar drop too much than go all crazy grouphealing. This changes completly in Phase 2. Heal like a madman and keep the whole raid (especially tanks) near to 100% is top priority. For additional thoughts on malygos check my blog for some tips.

    Ok and now the trust-thingy: In most guilds the healers are a strong little team, most of the time communicating over a seperate healer channel. But the healing reality on my level of raiding is that there are always going to be slackers as well. Druids who throw around WG even when assigned to tank healing. People who forget to refresh earthshield/HoTs on tanks. And ofc there are connection issues and lags.

    And that's why I'd rate situational awareness way over trust. Even if im assigned to grouphealing I'll throw 2 hastend LHW on the tank right after vortex on malygos in case a tank healer sleeps or isn't in range. The first time on patchwerk I was assigned third MT healer, but MT took nearly no damage so I switched to both hateful tanks and helped bring them up. I try to memorize healing assignments so that if a healer dies I'll be helping out with his assignment before he'll ask for it in teamspeak. Of course it is best to stick to healing assignements (there is nothing worse than healers who all the time just do what they want) but if you know what you're doing and know the fights you can prevent wipes with a little bit of flexibility and situational awareness.

  2. I agree that situational awareness is extremely important. And being able to toss heals to someone who is not your main priority may mean the difference between looting or running back. But spamming a heal mindlessly because you do not trust anyone else to do their jobs is not productive and is a waste of resources. Flexibility, yes. Trying to do it all alone, no.

  3. I agree, there's nothing worse than a healer who tries to fix every raid situation, especially if it covers up little mistakes of other healers or if he fails at his primary assignement.

    I personally trust nearly every healer in my guild. I loose some trust on some guys on friday nights but those raids are always memorable and that's just the way it is. What I don't trust is:
    -People to provide 100% focus over 4 hours
    -People to perform on the same level every night

    Most healers are far from perfect, I sure am. And that's what I love about healing. Sometimes I just have a bad day and people die because I was too slow. And a healer channel is a fantastic tool to discuss something like that or sometimes just rant about your day at work. And because I like being part of a healing team that much there's nothing more annoying than people who just can't stop flooding the channel with healmeters.