Friends and Raiders: My Healing Team

Friends and Raiders: My Healing Team

As a healing lead, it’s my job to keep my healers informed and assigned to positions where they will have maximum effect. I organize, strategize and when necessary discipline the healers. Sounds like all work and no play right? Well the truth of the matter is these people are some of the best friends that I’ve ever made in and out of the game. It’s virtually impossible to spend as much time together as we do weekly and not talk about things other than the game. We laugh and joke together, talk about real life frustrations and triumphs  and when meeting up at places like Blizzcon we raise a toast and throw back some shots in the name of camaraderie.

Another truth is that I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for these folks. When I started as Healing Lead, and then moved into Raid Officer it was these folks who helped make the transition easier on me. They are my think tank, my support group and they were the ones that let me know I was doing a good job and helped me find my feet . They were my first inspiration to start blogging and lead to me writing here, as well as being a co-host of my very own podcast and if all goes well, much much more.

I can’t sing the praises of my healing team nearly enough, and as we know healers don’t often get a thank you. Today I’d like to take a moment and introduce you to the healing team of <Unpossible> as well as give them all a great big thank you for all the hard work they put in!

This terror on a motorbike is Wistoovern. A Discipline Priest. Strong of heart and stubborn of mind he has been a stalwart companion of mine both in and out of game for several years. We might not always see eye to eye (he’s almost a foot and a half taller than I am) but when asked to do something he dives right in.

Some interesting facts about Wist here

  • He’s hugged Felicia Day (saw it with my own eyes)
  • He’s “Raid Buffed” his car (if you got the raid buff bumper sticker at Blizzcon you can thank this man, he made them)
  • He innovated the “lowbie chaff” decoy maneuver (where one brings a lowbie to a city raid and then ejects them from the passenger seat while running in for boss kills)
  • He’s a twitch healing shield monkey

 

This is Shammyx the second Restoration Shaman for unpossible. Shammyx was the literal inspiration behind my first blog Way of The Totem. I needed a good place to consolidate Shaman specific raid information without cluttering the guild forums with it, and thus that blog was born. Shammy is a quiet guy with a good sense of humor. A fantastic healer with a large array of alts ranging from Mages, and Hunters up through a DK and Pally. His healing output is always fantastic and he is just awesome to have in any run we do. I can’t see going into battle without his Chain Heal chiming a chorus to my own.

This tantalizing trio of trees is my forest of win! My three ladies Dianarah, Shenweh and Bellabeast. Collectively they are my healing rock. I know I can count on them in a pinch to do everything and anything they can to keep the raid alive. Our guild leader I think said it best:

Let me introduce you to each

Dianarah is my right-hand tree. She is my second in command, my number one well.. you get the picture. Anything I miss, she catches. I know she’s got my back and isn’t afraid to call me out on anything that might be just a little too wacky. In times of need she also carries a Crit Chicken spec to help increase DPS in the raid. You can see her in Boomkin form in the article image at the top here. She is also one of our membership officers and helps make sure our guild is full of amazing people to play with. She also has great taste in tequila!

Shenweh is my left-hand tree. Modest almost to a fault, Shen is the one that will often times play down the praise she receives. She has proven herself time and time again to be just amazing both in heals and personality. She is also the Morale Officer for our guild, and her husband is the Rogue Class leader. She makes sure that our guildies are all having a good time. Thanks to her we now have the tradition of every new boss kill we kick Zabos from the guild. (If you’re on Zul’jin you know who Zabos is then you’ll understand. If you aren’t and don’t know who he is, you’re better off ;) )

Bellabeast is a recent addition to our guild. Her and her husband (Prot Pally raider) joined our ranks not too long ago but have already become members of our family. Bella is also one of those quiet types not saying much in the raid, but goes about her job with focus and determination. She rounds our the trio of Arboreal Awesomeness

 

Next up is Kaylestera our resident Holy Priest. Kay and I actually met through Twitter of all places. I had made a call out looking for new recruits during our summer raider lull. Kay responded asking some very very good questions. Eventually our conversation bled over to Google talk. Kay originally was from the Firetree server. After talking for a few weeks she took a leap of faith and transferred over to Zul’jin. She brought with her a multitude of people and the ranks of Unpossible swelled. Since then she has solidified herself as one our our key healers in the group. She brings with her Raid Leading experience, her wonderful personality and a great sense of humor. I know during our raids and in between I can count on her to offer information and solutions to encounters and problems that the guild faces.

 

This fellow you might have seen around once or twice, Thespius here is the guilds second Discipline Priest. Again another person introduced to me through that wonderful social media tool Twitter. I was looking for another healer to round out my team and a mutual acquaintance of ours suggested we talk to one another. We hit it off right away and it seemed that Unpossible was just what Thes was looking for. A fun family type atmosphere where we still progress in content but have fun doing it. He transferred servers and was welcomed into the guild very quickly. In game I know I can count on Thes to do everything and anything he can to help the raid succeed, whether it’s going along with a wacky raid strategy or switching specs so we don’t have Shield collision on certain fights. Out of game Thes has also become a fantastic addition to Team Matticus here, as well as appearing as a co-host on the podcast Raid Warning. His personality meshes perfectly with that of the guild and he’s quickly been assimilated as one of us. He wears his <Unpossible> tag proudly.

Last but not least we have an honorary member of the Unpossible Healing team. Archaan is the Priest Class lead and ranks among my oldest friends in the guild. He used to be our resident Holy Priest and eventually moved to shadow for a change of pace and to help out guild needs. Archaan will always be a member of the Unpossible Heal team in whatever form he decided to take. He pitches in and heals when we need him to, he organizes our Priest’s Divine Hymn Rotations and he is a card carrying member of the Dwarven Mafia Mechano Biker gang. Archaan is one of those people I know beyond a shadow of a doubt I can turn to both in game and out of game for advice and conversation. Oh, and he’s actually taller IRL than Wist. Which is a site to see when him and I are walking around Blizzcon. He also has amazing taste in beer!

There they are folks, the healing pulse of <Unpossible>, and a group of friends that anyone would be proud to have. I want to once again thank every single one of them for their contributions to the guild, as well as my own personal sanity. You guys are the best group of healbots this Shaman could ever ask for. You rock so hard!!!

With that I declare today Thank Your Healers Day!! You know who they are, show them a little love, it does go a long way.  From this Shaman blogger I’d also like to issue a thanks to the healing community out there. Between here, Plusheal and the various other blogs and sites the passion for the job is obvious. Thank you our readers because the truth of it is, if there wasn’t such a strong healing community we wouldn’t be here!

(Don’t worry Tanks and DPS You’ll each have a day soon too!)

Have anyone you want to say thanks to? Want to give props to the pugger who pulled off some amazing heals? Lets hear it!

Until next time, Happy Healing!

Friends and Raiders: Becoming a Leader

Friends and Raiders: Becoming a Leader

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Where do all the officers and leaders come from? I mean, they all started somewhere right? As people become leaders the workload shifts and changes for them. The community over at PlusHeal has an entire section devoted to leadership. Tools of the trade, tips and tricks, and most importantly in my opinion how to make the transition from raider to officer or healing lead. Today I’ll talk a bit about making the transition and some of the obstacles you will face as well as share some of my personal experiences with you.

A little background, I spent most of my time in Vanilla WoW and in Burning Crusade as a raider switching from DPS to Healing when Burning Crusade came out. Partway through Burning Crusade our Heal Lead and Raid Officer left the game. In his absence I was asked to take over Heal Lead and shortly thereafter was awarded the rank of officer in his place. It wasn’t expected and I had to make the transition quickly. We finished out Burning Crusade and then headed off to Northrend to go say hi to Arthas. Here’s some things that changed.

Addons

One of the first things most people tackle is the list of addons they run. After being put in charge of healers or a raid you’ll find yourself having to monitor a lot more things. It’s imperative you sit down and decide what information you need readily available to you at all times. Here’s some addons I found useful when I first started out

  • BigBrother – Like Orwell’s 1984, this see’s all and then reports it to you or the raid. This mod lets you check for buffs like flasks and other consumables as well as lets you know when CC like Shackle or sheep has been broken and by who. This is a great tool to make sure you’re raiders are using their consumables.
  • RaidCooldowns – This addon allows for you to track all the abilities with cooldowns in a raid. This will display battle rezes, innervates, Divine Hymn, Lay on Hands etc. For a complete list click the link and visit the site. Some trackable abilities like a Shaman’s Reincarnation require members of the raid to be running oRA2, CTRA, or RaidCooldowns itself  in order to display properly, however if you’re in a raiding guild, chances are your team will already have one of those.
  • CastMonitor – This lets you place a movable list of players that you can then monitor their target, as well what spell they are casting. This is great when you want to double check your healers are on the right targets or doing what they are supposed to.
  • Cellular – In your new position you’re going to be getting a lot of tells, no two ways about it. People will be confirming assigments or just checking to make sure they did ok. Cellular (or any similar mod) lets you keep them like AIM message windows and they stay nice and tidy. Helps make sure you don’t miss any important tells.

My UI is constantly changing. I’m removing and adding items frequently to find a mix that will give me all the information I need in a pretty package. Find what works for you to give you what you need.

Knowledge

I’m going to focus more on the healing aspect of it here, but the ideas stay the same for all of a raid. You are now responsible for the instruction and care of a team.You’re not going to have eight of the same class with the same spec (if you do please let me know I’d be curious at that one). Take time to familiarize yourself with the various healer classes and specs in your raid. Learn the strengths and weaknesses of each of the Specs present in your heal team and take the time to learn the encounters your team will be facing. Learn the mindset of your healers and don’t be afraid to ask them questions., after all they should have a commanding knowledge of their class. You’re in a position where you need to know whats going on and need to tell people to do. Knowing your healers mindset and asking for their input goes a long way. I make it a point to encourage my heal team to offer constructive ideas when things go wrong or are not working as well as they could be.

There are several threads over at PlusHeal that deal with how to assign people, who is better suited for what and more of the ins and outs of the various specs. My suggestion, spend time on forums like PlusHeal and see what you can learn. There is a plethora of information available to help you fill in your knowledge gaps from various strategy sites and different forums all over the internet.

Communication

This is something that I thought was the easiest part of the transition. You are a central point of communication for your raid. If you are Heal Lead, all of those healers report to you and you in turn report to the raid leader. It’s important to have ways to get information to everyone that needs to have it quickly and efficiently. For healers having a dedicated healing chat channel helps. In the same vein, class or role specific chat channels are a good idea. My guild has one channel for every class as well as one dedicated to healers and one for tanks. This allows us to easily hand out information and gives collective spots to have questions asked and answered. As a heal lead you’ll want to sit in the tank channel too. This lets you know who is going to be eating what hits and allows you to quickly and effectively assign healers for maximum effect. You are the communications hub, keep that in mind.

Sometimes raiders need to call in sick so to speak, or they’ll need information that isn’t readily available on the forums and needs an immediate reply. For this reason I have my contact information posted on the guild website. This includes my email address, AIM (msn, icq and yahoo as well),  and phone number. I’ve had several instances where I’ve been thanked by raiders for being so accessible. As another rule of thumb I have an open door policy. Anyone can come to me at anytime for anything and I’ll do what I can to help, and if I can’t I’ll do my best to find what they need or point them in the right direction.

Finding a Balance

This to me is the hardest thing a new heal lead or officer needs to do. You have to keep in mind that this is a social game. You have been dealing with at least two dozen other people for a long time and have more then likely made a few friends. When you get elevated to a position of authority sometimes it’s hard to find the line between what a friend would do and what an officer would do. In the same vein it’s often hard for people to distinguish that when looking at you. They have to understand your dual roles. Keep in mind that you are in a position of authority. You have a responsibility now to keep things moving and working at a good pace. Sometimes you will have to put friendship aside and tell a person no, but at the same time you don’t want to be so much of a jerk that no one likes you. You have two distinct roles, a friend and a leader. Let me give you an example of what I mean by finding a balance.

In BC when we were still clearing Mt. Hyjal, I was new to being a heal lead and officer. I was fairly quiet in vent aside from the friendly jibes and conversation, and I had a little less authority in my assigning of healers. Plainly put I was too nice. This came to a head when we were wiping on Archimonde. I kept seeing the same 4 people standing in the fire. After a night of wipes that had followed a week of wipes, I finally dropped a set so to speak and piped up on vent. I was assertive and authoritative in my tone. I thought I edged past normal limits and into jerk territory when everyone on vent was deathly silent. The statement was something like this

“Really? Seriously? You’re still standing in the fire? Come one people! Turn! Move! Stop whatever you are doing and move. Don’t finish your cast, don’t try to get one more instant off just turn on your heels and run. It’s not rocket science just do it. That’s all this fight is. Move. Out. Of. The. Damn. Fire.”

Next attempt saw a 25% improvement in dps on the boss (from 49% to 24% boss health) then we called it for the night. We came back and stomped him into the ground the following attempts. I received a lot of thank you tells that night. I still thought I stepped out of line. More recently I had a raiding healer whose spec was brought to our attention as not being ideal. It was missing key features we needed from that class. I was real life friends with this person for many years. The guild leader and the Class leader approached him about it before I was out of work, and he was quite upset. He turned to me on AIM and I told him I’d talk to them and see what’s up. After a lengthy discussion I agreed something needed to change. I informed the raider that yes, it would be appreciated if he respeced as the raid needed the particular talents he was missing. As a friend he expected me to back his position fully, but as a healing lead and officer I had to agree with what was better for the raid and for progression. Notice the word “was” I used when referring to my friend? He was unable to see that I had two roles and has decided that speaking to me in a non official capacity isn’t to his liking any longer. He still gets the job done and responds well to assignments, but holds a bit of a grudge. It’s very difficult to find that balance of being someone’s friend while still being an authority, its something we all constantly have to recalibrate.

How about you? Any tips for new leaders you’d like to share? Any stories about your own rise to being a leader?

That’s it for now. Until next time, happy healing!

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Image Courtesy of su.wustl.edu