5 Barriers of a Raid Healer – Part 5: Healing Against Your Will

Image courtesy of andrewatla

Each Saturday for the next five weeks, I will be writing about one barrier of the raid healer. Healers are often overshadowed and looked over since we are expected to simply know what to do. With luck, this five part series will help you to become a better raid healer whether you are a varsity or a freshman.

So far, I have covered:

Barrier 5: Healing Under Duress

"It’s choice – not chance – that determines your destiny."
Jean Nidetch

I firmly believe that different people are catered for different skills. Some players are meant to DPS. Some are meant to heal. Some are destined to stand toe to toe with a boss and his attention for as long as possible. Then there are the rare few who excel at any task demanded of them. These players are special. Why? Because not everyone can fulfill dual roles. Need an extra tank? Drop 50 gold for a Paladin’s respec and they can do it in a pinch

Unfortunately, not all of us can fulfill dual positions like that. My friends and guildmates can tell you I’m a worldclass healer but I can’t DPS worth crap.

Now imagine the reverse.

Let me introduce to you the Raid Leaders dilemma:

  • Short a healer
  • Excess DPS
  • Does not want a pickup player

The thought process going through his head is to take a DPS hybrid and ask that player to switch to a healing spec. If the player has no qualms or issues about doing so, then by all means go for it. But you should realize that this is only a temporary solution to a temporary problem. Sooner or later, the grind of switching back and forth between holy and DPS is going to take it’s toll on that player. The fact is, that Shadow Priest you asked to go holy does not want to raid holy.

So why is he doing it? Two reasons:

  1. Wants to raid
  2. Wants to progress

Loyal guild members will obviously take the hit to go forward because they want to see some real progress made. But it’s not the best thing to do. Players that have DPS’d their entire WoW career undergo a period of adjustment. They need to get familiar with spell cast sequence, positioning, healing strategy and so forth.

I’ve seen extreme cases where GM’s have asked players to either respec or risk not raiding. I understand where they are coming from since some encounters require a certain number of healers. Depending on your server, you might have a limited pool of talented players to choose from. But don’t force a respec in the name of Guild progression. The player you get after the respec could be turn out to be a disgruntled player who will not enjoy his new role in the game. Given enough time, the bitterness could result in that player leaving the Guild. You are now back in square one without a healer. Instead, you have suffered a net loss of a player.

Solutions for the GM

Recruiting is the first viable option. If you can somehow find yourself a full time healer, then you will never need to ask a DPS player to respec again.

This one might be not-so-smart option, but consider grabbing a pickup healer from a different Guild. It might be possible to find a healer who isn’t raiding that week or anything with their Guild to fill in a spot for you. Do your research in armory and do some background checks of that player.

Solutions for the player

Assuming you don’t want to heal, make it known right away how long this arrangement can go on for. Give a set number of raids or pick a date. Having a deadline will apply a bit of pressure to your GM to get the ball rolling instead of not actively looking and being lazy. But have a talk with him or her and let them know that if it continues to go on, you’ll have to consider leaving and looking for another Guild that’s more receptive of your abilities.

5 Barriers of a Raid Healer – Part 1: Indecision

Photo courtesy of dnabil

Each Saturday for the next five weeks, I will be writing about one barrier of the raid healer. Healers are often overshadowed and looked over since we are expected to simply know what to do. With luck, this five part series will help you to become a better raid healer whether you are a varsity or a freshman.

Barrier 1: No definable targets

I want to share with you a real life example. The connection will become apparent soon enough. Whenever I go out to the mall with my friends, we would idly go through every single clothing store in every part of the mall (especially true when travelling with companions of the female persuasion)

The guys would mill about at the front of a store like American Eagle and the girls would actually go into the store to do their shopping (and gossiping). Us men would talk business such as the latest sports news (“did you see that last fight at the game?”), discuss recent stuff in tech (“do you think that video card makes my PC look fat?”) or chat about gaming (“she thinks I pay more attention to that level 70 warrior from Tichon then I do to her!”).

And then 12 PM would strike.

Someone (usually me) would clasp their hands together and say it’s time for lunch! This is inevitable followed by a chorus of “where to’s?”. All that walking around (and shopping bag holding by the guys) does work up a healthy appetite. And no one would have any idea where to go for lunch.

Lack of targets

Everyone had all sorts of ideas. Here’s a typical example:

“Let’s go for dim sum!”
“Fast food sounds good!”
“Food court will be packed. How about the pub?”
“I’m okay with anything. You guys pick!”
“I don’t care as long as I eat something in the next 15 minutes!”

(For bonus points, can you guess which one was my catch phrase?)

Does this sound similar to your healing channel? I often find myself unsure of who to heal when I’m the odd Dwarf out in another Guild’s raid. There are no assignments being issued. It’s quite apparent that there seems to be a lack of an infrastructure. No one was taking charge. No one knows who to heal. All the healers are free healing which leads to an occasional tank death or 2.

During the 40 man raid chaos era, I found out quickly that it was impossible to do it all. I restricted myself to a set number of targets. Learn which players are most likely to take damage and stay on target. Don’t wander around with your mouse. Every spell, every action, every movement should be done with a purpose. Heal with a player and a purpose in mind.

This does not mean that it’s against the rules to heal outside your targets. If I notice another player in the raid who isn’t a part of my assignments take a big hit, I will switch to that player to shield and PoM them. That’s generally enough time to absorb another hit and it keeps that person alive long enough for someone else to pick them back up again.

Playing the transition game from 5 to 25 players is a big leap. It can be very difficult to adjust to. The problem isn’t your healing. It’s who you’re healing. And until you get those targets straightened out with your colleagues, you’re going to continue to suck without the proper direction.

Signs of an indecisive healer:

  • You constantly switch back and forth among players which results in raid deaths because you don’t actually heal them.
  • You have a full mana bar almost all the time because of inaction.
  • You feel helpless, dazed, and confused.
  • Your healing is fair, but the difference between you and other healers on meters is a pretty significant difference.

If you begin displaying any of these symptoms, take a step back and analyze your technique. Ask for help. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. There are times I’ve wanted to scream at players in my own raid because we wiped when they didn’t know what to do and they never spoke up about it. So the next time you’re in a raid and no one appears to be taking charge, announce your intentions about who your healing target is. It’s one step in the right direction.