I’ve been healing lead of my guild for about 9 months. To be honest, it’s a job I have mixed feelings about. Up until some point in Cata, I didn’t even like healing assignments. I thought healing teams should be like well-oiled machines that didn’t need to be micromanaged.
Now I understand that some assignments are necessary. The extent of my ‘who heals who’ assignments are generally limited to who heals the tanks and who heals the raid – sometimes I split healers up between melee and ranged or, depending on the fight mechanics, assign healers to other specific targets. Doing this gives the benefit of accountability and makes troubleshooting easier when people die.
But then there are also assignments for when people use certain abilities. A number of heroic fights in Cata required a set order of cooldowns on the tank to prevent him from getting gibbed. Other fights required raid-wide throughput or damage mitigation cooldowns to be used in sequence.
As much as I like to be organized the amount of cooldowns there are to coordinate is getting a little ridiculous. I run 25s, typically with 6 healers per encounter. We have all healer classes and specs. So on any given fight the cooldowns available for me to assign are:
- Output cooldowns – Tranq, Divine Hymn, Healing Tide Totem, Revival
- Raid-wide damage mitigation – Spirit Link Totem, Power Word: Barrier, Devotion Aura, Zen Meditaton
- Single target cooldowns – Ironbark, Pain Suppression, Guardian Spirit
And it’s not just the healers’ abilities I need to be concerned with. There are also:
- Tank cooldowns – Survial Instincts, Might of Ursoc, Avert Harm, Fortifying Brew, Shield Wall, Ardent Defender, Icebound Fortitude, etc.
- Ret and Prot Pallies also have Devotion Aura
- Ele and Enhance Shaman may have Healing Tide Totem
- Warriors have Rallying Cry
- Death Knights have Anti-Magic Shell
- Feral or Boomkin can Tranq
- If I use my Symbiosis on a Shadow Priest, they can Tranq too.
…this is making my head hurt.
My biggest frustration in doing these assignments is that I’m always getting whispered or having comments made in healer chat saying “you didn’t assign my cooldown, when should I use it?” or “don’t forget, so-and-so has a cooldown too”. I’m appreciative that people are trying to help, but at the same time, it bothers me for two reasons. First, the idea of assigning exactly when to use 18 different abilities for every fight strikes me as absurd. Second, I generally have a pretty good idea of why we’re wiping or why people are dying and a lot of the time it has nothing to do with how many or few cooldowns were used.
Here’s an example – we did an exploratory raid a week ago and did Stone Guard. We wiped a number of times because we were getting destroyed by the Overload. Some people have the reaction “Aah! Damage! Assign more stuff!” I don’t have that reaction. My reaction is that the Petrifications and the Overloads aren’t lining up correctly. The raid should be taking ~25k each from Overloads, not ~125k – this is what needs to be fixed, it’s not a problem that’s solved by throwing healer cooldowns at it. The healers should be able to handle a bad Overload or two by popping a Tranq or a Hymn after it hits but, in my opinion, cooldowns shouldn’t be assigned around the expectation of poor execution.
Some organization is necessary. Certain abilities require cooldowns so we can get through them and you don’t want 6 healers blowing their loads at once and having nothing left when the next big damage ability comes around.
Then again, there’s something to be said for people thinking for themselves. Have a damage mitigation ability that would be helpful? Use it before raid-wide damage and use it often. Have a big heal? Use it when lots of people are low on health and healer mana is running low.
I’m looking for some other perspectives. If you are a healing lead or raid lead how do you handle these kinds of assignments? Do you assign ALL the cooldowns? Do you just assign a few of the big ones? Do you change your assignments to make up for mechanics being missed or players taking too much avoidable damage, or do you expect those things to be fixed rather than try to bandage them with cooldowns?