How do you communicate with your healers?
At the basic level, establish a private channel just for you and your healers. Ban all DPS if you must. The last thing you need is DPS in the channel requesting their own healers just for them. We'll get to that later in a moment. For now, your directions and questions will be done in here in private.
Most guilds use Ventrilo to communicate via voice. It's a huge asset especially if you happen to lose a few healers and you need to refocus and redirect the rest of your healers accordingly. It helps to have a loud and booming voice to ensure that your instructions cut through anything else. I've heard being the only woman also helps since everyone quiets down rather quickly. But do what you can.
Figure out your needs
Before you start thinking about what you want your healers to be doing, figure out what needs to be done! As the healing lead, you are the central liaison between your tanks and your healers. Tanks pass their requests to you and you pass your instructions to your healers.
For most encounters, I default to having two healers on the MT and everyone else on the raid. Feel free to adjust this as you see fit.
Naturally fights like Four Horsemen and Patchwerk will have completely different assignments. Four Horsemen involves 4 tanks being used and you'll have to split up your healers in such a way to maintain the health of all four tanks along with your raid.
Let's use the Four Horsemen example. Two Feral druids are tanking Lady Blameaux and Sir Zelik. A Death Knight and a Warrior are tackling Thane Kor'thazz and Baron Rivendare up front respectively.
You have at your disposal:
- 1 Discipline Priest
- 1 Holy Priest (undergeared, low mana regen)
- 2 Resto Druids
- 1 Holy Paladin
- 1 Resto Shaman
Assuming your raid is going for the traditional nuking strat of Thane first, how do you setup your healers? (I'll give my answer at the bottom of the post).
How much do they expect from you in terms of instructions or advice?
The art of healing is like mathematics: It's largely trial and error.
Expect to be wrong. Expect to cause wipes because your assignments are slightly off. Expect to tinker and retool your assignments. Expect to shuffle a lot until you manage to get to the "Ah ha!" moment. You'll know it when the raid manages to last a significant amount of time into the encounter before collapsing.
I've been on both the issuing and receiving end of things. Last week, I mentioned the outcome oriented approach. In a nutshell, it means you as the healing lead expect a certain ideal result using whatever means necessary. I don't like to tell my healers to use X spell or Y ability. I expect them to rely on their gut and experience to get the job done. Even if it's Flash Heal spamming, or a combination thereof, as an entry level healing leader you'll want to aim for the plan A result of overall success. Everything else is secondary. If you're not able to reach that goal, that's when you want to step in which I will explain in a second.
Don't crush your healers because they used the wrong spell rotations. They managed to successfully heal through a boss. Let them savor that moment.
Once healing becomes a problem, start taking a closer look. It becomes obvious when certain things aren't working or a healer isn't doing something right (especially after 24 wipes).
Here's a real example I used several weeks ago when I was still progressing through Naxxramas. Apollo's one of my Resto Shamans and Archimedes is the main tank on Patchwerk.
"Look Apollo. I know you've been doing nothing but Chain Healing on Patchwerk. But we're not getting the results we need. I'd like you try doing nothing but Lesser Healing Wave instead on Archimedes instead. Let's see if there's a noticeable difference, okay?"
Your healers will be different from each other. Try to determine how they best respond to you. Some prefer it when you talk to them out in the open and respond better. Some prefer you speak to them in whispers. Some will come to you. Others will want your help but won't come to you because they're shy or something. As such, you may have to go to them and "check in".
How can you get the raid leader to understand that healing assignments other than "don't let people die" are important and make things go better (especially if it is a tank with a healer alt)?
This is going to sound absolutely hypocritical about what I said above regarding the Plan A road to success. Not letting people die is the overarching objective that you and your team want to accomplish.
The best way to get your raid leader to understand healing assignments is for you to take charge of it yourself. By knowing what classes and specs are better for certain jobs, you can play to their strengths.
Remember that some classes are better at certain situations than others. Use that to your advantage. Show initiative, take over the job yourself and if things go well your raid should notice a marked increase in survivability.
Unless your raid leader is a healer, I suspect they'll be eternally grateful to hand the reins to you so they can focus on other roles.
This last piece of advice comes from Anna.
Trust your people. (And, alternately, don't bring people you can't trust). Healing requires everyone on the team to do his or her own job - and to trust other people to do their jobs as well. Allstars and Meter Monkeys don't make good members of any team.
Incidentally, her blog has just passed the 1 year mark! Send her a big grats! Anna has some great tips on building your healing team from scratch.
Okay, back to the earlier question I posed:
1 Holy Priest and a Shaman healing Thane's tank and group
1 Holy Paladin healing Rivendare's tank and any DPS or 2 in the area
1 Discipline Priest and 2 Resto Druids on the central platform healing the 2 Druid tanks accordingly
Since the Holy Priest is slightly undergeared, my logic is to stress him as least as possible. Heal the tank that's going to be finished first: Namely, the one on Kor'thazz. This way, the Priest can break off and regen for a while before jumping back into the fray.
Note that there's no right or wrong answer. The goal of this exercise was to get you to think and allocate your resources accordingly.
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Want some more advice for working with the healers in your guild? Raid Rx
has you covered with all there is to know! Looking for less healer-centric raiding advice? Take a look at our raiding column Ready Check