My raid on Sunday night gave me pause for thought.
A couple of weeks ago I talked about a few aspects to help healing and raid leading at once. Last night I realised that, of those, communication is vital. Why? Because I think healers are fragile. Even that they can be a danger to themselves. And because last night my raid wouldn’t have worked so well without good communication. Let me put you in the picture.
You’re a healer raid leader about to lead a progresion 10 man. Your group’s bouncing with energy as the run starts. You’ve all got a burning desire to see Putricide go down as you’ve been carrying a grudge against him for a while. He’s public enemy #1 for your group tonight, followed by a vote on Princes or Sindragosa. Holy smokes, things are gonna go well.
Then half the group is hit by disconnection issues as the EU login servers go down.
Two hours later your group is back online, now a bit bedraggled and a whole lot more tired. It’s midnight already for some. You hit Putricide and he goes down in a few attempts. So far so good. It’s late now but the group wants to go to Princes. This is what crosses your mind:
- We’ve downed Princes before. It was messy but we can do it again, and the practice won’t kill us. That often. I hope.
- We have someone different on kinetic bomb bouncing this time. He’s going to need time to learn it.
- It’s midnight, for cripes sake. The elements alone know what time it is for our Herd members in Finland. We don’t have many tries in us.
You’re now in my shoes as of about midnight on Sunday. The outcome was cheery; we got the Princes down in four attempts. But it was messy from 50ish-0%. The successful attempt saw half the raid dead by the end – both myself and the other shaman healer died twice. Our discy priest heroically kept the rest up for 5%. Both shamans had been helping with kinetic bomb bouncing.
From my leader viewpoint communication was crucial. For one thing, there’s a lot going on in that fight and I admit I fail at watching everything.
It’s important to know which Prince is empowered at any time because the entire raid’s tactics change depending which it is, as does the healing output. But watching the empowerment changes is something I just can’t do yet. So I simply have one person dedicated to calling which Prince is empowered when it changes.
It’s also essential to have information in order to make good decisions, right? Right, but it’s more important for healer raid leaders. Each role is inclined towards taking risks, perhaps several times during each fight. Double the risk-inclination means double the chance we’ll make the wrong call; things go wrong or we overburden ourselves, probably wiping the raid.
So I’m realistic – i can’t do everything. Keeping track of boss health is another task I ‘outsource’ to others. As a healer I don’t have time to watch health meters other than those on Grid, but as a raid leader I need to know boss health. For example, the fight was a mess by the time Princes hit 23% health. But I knew we were close, and that was the deciding factor in the split second decision to urge the group to hang in there and pop cooldowns rather than to call a wipe.
Both of the above examples – knowing when we’re at health-wise in a fight and which tactical stage we’re at also means I have valuable information allowing me to make cooldown judgements. Not my cooldowns – I’m talking about calling Divine Guardian from our paladin tank or cycling the raid’s mana regen abilities when and for whom they’re needed.
The most dangerous risk of all on Sunday, though, was one a healer-raid leader was in the best position to make. On later attempts I had myself and another healer helping our warlock on bouncing kinetic bombs: I knew we could both multitask. Controversial decision? Yes. Bad practice? No.
It wasn’t because I thought our warlock couldn’t learn it by himself – far from it. It was because we had a lack of time, the group was tired and wanted victory in the face of server instability. Not only that, I knew the healers involved could do it without healing suffering too much. It benefited us too: we got a perspective on another aspect of the fight and it probably improved our spacial awareness as were constantly looking round. I admit, it was also really fun in an already adrenaline-fuelled fight.
Later on when it got hectic and our DK died? Not a problem. Rather than completely loose a resource and have a player feel useless, I asked him to watch out for falling bombs and tell me where they were.
So there we go, folks. I say that healers are fragile and inclined to risk: there is a lot resting on us in a raid. Add leading on top of that and it can be a recipe for disaster. But I say organising information ‘feeds’ to and from your team will put you in control of the situation and your raid one step closer to settling scores in Icecrown.
What do you think? Do you agree with my analysis of healers’ potential towards fragility and danger or do you prefer safe-rather-than-sorry? Would you have made any of those decisions differently to me? Do you know which types of information you need more of, or are you still working it out?
This is a post by Mimetir, a druid of a raidleader on The Venture Co. (EU). You can find my twitter feed here.