Healing Assignments

I’m wondering how other guilds do healing assignments and how useful people think they are. I’ve had very different experiences with healing assignments in my two guilds.

Alliance guild:

We don’t really do healing assignments. The raid leader does not give people healing targets, and for most fights, we just go in and heal without much discussion. It seems to work for us. I think there are a couple reasons for this. First, we have a perfect healing composition. Our core 5-healers are a disc priest, holy priest, shaman, pally and druid. Second, we’ve been healing together for a while. Four of us have been healing in this guild for over two years now. I think we’ve got a good groove going and the feeling of “omg, I need to heal everyone myself or they’ll die!” that stems from lack of trust is mostly absent.

There are the occasional small assignments we work out for some fights. Mostly they are used when a tank or portion of the raid needs to go out of range from the main group and a healer needs to tag along to heal them.

We recently recruited a new healer. During a boss attempt he asked what the healing assignments were. His question was met by silence on vent and what I assume were blank stares by the rest of the healers. Eventually someone piped up that we don’t really do healing assignments. As a new healer in the guild, I can see how this could be a little disconcerting, but it’s just not the way we do things. I’m sure he’ll adapt.

Horde guild:

The healer make-up in my Horde guild is quite different. We tend to run most fights with seven healers, rather than five. The breakdown of classes is also much more fluid as we have a pool of about 10 healers in the guild. We have very specific healing assignments. Tanks get specific healers assigned to them, raid healers get assigned to heal specific groups, someone is assigned to heal people with debuffs, pallies get told who to put their Beacons on. There is a lot of micromanaging going on.

When I healed in this guild (as a shaman), I found the specific assignments difficult to stick to. I couldn’t help but heal anything with a health deficit. This was likely due to not being used to healing assignments when on my druid, as well as raiding with a rotating roster of healers. The fact that seven healers was overkill for most fights probably didn’t help either.

When I lead raids on occasion (mostly 10-mans) I often get thrown off guard when the healers ask me for assignments. Somehow I don’t think my answer of “Just heal whatever isn’t at full health” is too helpful (hey, I never said I was a good raid leader), but I kinda consider healing assignments to be hand-holding, especially in 10s.

The Good and the Bad

Advantages of Healing Assignments:

  • If someone dies due to lack of heals (not from standing in fire), you know who’s responsible. The healer in question will know they should be doing something differently or the raid leader will be able to recognize a weak spot and reorganize accordingly. Of course this benefit can become a detriment if it turns into a blame game.
  • Gives the raid leader more control over the raid.
  • It’s easier to focus if you have a specific assignment. If you’re tank healing, the hunter in group 4 who’s dying from Vile Gas isn’t your concern. Having to stare at a few health bars is easier than having to watch over 25.

Disadvantages of Healing Assignments:

  • Can lead to a rigid playstyle and increased tunnel vision. When you are given an assignment and are intent on doing it, it can be easy to miss what’s going on in the rest of the raid and see if others could use your help.
  • When people don’t fully know/trust trust the other healers, they may not stick to their assignments.
  • It’s boring. Why pay attention to 5 health bars when you could be paying attention to 25?

What do others think of healing assignments? Do you always use them?

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6 Responses to Healing Assignments

  1. I've been in some guilds that use assignments and others that don't. My current guild uses them.

    I think in some of the earlier fights you can probably get away with not using them, but other newer fights such as Festergut are a lot smoother with assignments.

    We do use fairly general assigments though and fluidly move to where healing is used most. Ohter than tanks we don't really assign specific people to heal only specific roles. (ie Druids, holy priests on raid, Pallies on tanks.)

    • Yeah, those types of roles (disc/pallies on tanks, others on raid) are logical.

      But unless the raid has a really wonky healing class distribution, where the roles are not so obvious, I would think that each healer would instinctively gravitate towards the roles best suited to them, without discussion or formal assignments. Maybe I expect too much.

  2. instinct?

    sorry, I may have a darker view but I know from experience that expecting people to do the right thing will get you burned. There will always be that one idiot doing the worst possible thing.

  3. Good post.

    I rarely see assignments used in 10 mans, but I couldn't imagine doing 25 mans without them. When I started raiding back in BC, we didn't use assignments, but in early SSC and TK, we realized that they were necessary.

    Both guilds I've raided with use assignments, but they're decided amongst the healers themselves with a healing lead to keep discussion short. Assignments are pretty flexible, as a paladin I'm assigned a target and my beacon usage is up to my discretion. While I do have a target, it doesn't stop me from helping out on raid as needed and adjusting to healer deaths or anything else that might occur.

    • @Ophelie

      Neither of my guilds have a healing lead, or any other class leads.

      It's funny, a week after writing this post, my alli guild made more use of healing assignments than we ever have before. Blood Princes would be difficult without them.

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