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Raid Rx: It's all about trust and confidence

Matt Low

Every week, Raid Rx will help you quarterback your healers to victory! Your host is Matt Low, the grand poobah of World of Matticus and a founder of No Stock UI, a WoW blog for all things UI-, macro- and addon-related.

I am going to let you all in on a secret. It's something I'm a little ashamed and sad to admit. You readers of all players would probably hold me to a higher standard than that and I wouldn't be surprised if you immediately unsubscribe from me.

You see, I have trust issues. I'm not kidding. Tonight after I ran Icecrown-25 with my guild, I decided to join a pickup group for Trial of the Crusader-25. It was 10 p.m. and I was bored, okay?! I managed to sucker a few guildies to join me in the killing of an hour. Out of the various characters I had, I opted to heal on my priest. Look, I won't lie -- I do get a slight kick jumping into a random pickup group dropping Val'anyr bubbles everywhere while I do my job. I always get an interesting reaction out of someone in the raid.

Anyway, I want to get to the main point. Some of you veteran healers might feel the same way as I do about this, but I feel more calm and less anxious in a raid when I'm one of the healers as opposed to being a DPS player. It takes me an extremely long time before I get over my healing paranoia with new players.

As the healing lead

When I work with new players or healers in my guild, I'll typically give them the easy jobs. By easy, I mean the low-stress roles that aren't as important as other ones. As time passes and we continue working together, I'll gradually give them increasingly difficult roles, to see if they can do it. One day, I might start a healer off exclusively on tanks like on the Festergut encounter. They'll stand at the middle and won't be under too much pressure, but then I might change it up so that they're healing from one of the outside groups (just in case we're stocked on melee one day). Another example of an important role is someone who handles the disease cleansing on Rotface (or the Lich King himself). I'm not sure if there is a specific term or phrase, but I suppose it could be referred to as "graduated responsibility."

The need for redundancy

Why bother with switching roles around? Why not just have players stick to individual roles and just leave it at that? That's a question I get asked every so often. Again, this is one of my personality flaws (or strengths, depending on your standpoint). When I was young, I used to play a lot of Chinese Chess. You had to think several moves ahead. You had to think like your opponent and anticipate all sorts of variables and scenarios. As a GM, I know that our healing roster isn't always going to be here 100% of the time. These guys are allowed to take days off or deal with other emergencies in their life. As such, I want to strengthen and develop my healers to be flexible. I might send in holy priests into Dreamwalker's portals. Are they the best ones suited for it? Well no, they're not optimal, but sometimes it just has to be done. There could be a day where I don't have any paladins or druids. I'll be forced to rely on players whose class isn't the best choice for the job at hand. At the same time, knowing that they can do it gives me something infinitely more valuable:

Peace of mind.

You have to start somewhere

For me personally, I have a real tough time trusting healers that are new to the guild. I don't know what they're capable of other than what is said on the application. In most cases, I've never participated in raids alongside them. Keep in mind that this is during some trial period, and the point here is to try them out just to see what they can and can't do.

Earning the confidence

The deal with trust and confidence is that it needs to be constantly earned. Obviously the best-case scenario is that players new to the guild pick up their roles instantly and can do what is asked of them. But on most encounters, there is a learning curve for healers. Some healers learn faster than others and can execute. Even if they struggle, as long as they show signs of learning and improving, then they'll slowly earn my confidence. I suspect any other GM or raid leader would agree with that. If they continually get better, I'll keep assigning them that same role until we get that encounter down. Eventually, they'll reach the point where healers will succeed consistently.

Just remember that there needs to be some improvement. If a healer stays stagnant and for whatever reason their role isn't clicking with them, and you've exhausted every possible explanation and solution, there isn't much left you can really do. Like I said earlier, ideally healers will learn and get better over time. Sometimes it doesn't always work out. When that happens, it's entirely up to you to decide what the next course of action is.
  • Release them. Easiest answer. Let them go and look for new players.
  • Give them more time. You can always not give up on them. Bring them exclusively on farm content or let them develop on 10-mans on the mechanics.
There is one more thing I want to add. While the raid leader or healing lead might be willing to give new healers extended time, the rest of the raid might not. With each failed attempt, you have to assume that the patience of the raid will gradually wear thin. With me, I set a deadline of three failed attempts (assuming they're healing-related). If new healers don't show signs of significant improvement, I'll mix up and reassign the healing into a formation where succeed is virtually guaranteed.

Want some more advice for working with the healers in your guild? Raid Rx has you covered with all there is to know! Need raid or guild healing advice? Email me at and you could see a future post addressing your question. Looking for less healer-centric raiding advice? Take a look at our raiding column, Ready Check.

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