Tag Archives: assignments

Healing Lead

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?

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?