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Raid Rx: Delivering and receiving healer feedback

Matt Low

Every week, Raid Rx will help you quarterback your healers to victory! Your host is Matt Low, the grand pooh-bah of World of Matticus and a founder of No Stock UI, a WoW blog for all things UI-, macro- and addon-related. If you're looking for more healing advice, check out the Plus Heal community and the new healing, raiding, and guild management podcast, Matticast.

You ever get called out for being bad? I'm sure you have at some point. It might have been in a pickup group within the dungeon finder. Maybe it was in an organized raid with random players. Or perhaps it was by members of your own guild? It could happen at any level. You could be a lowbie working your way through The Deadmines alongside a bunch of players leveling alts.

It really destroys your pride. You start reeking of self-doubt. People start whispering and talking about you when you're not around. "Why is that player so bad? He's terrible at this game. We need to find a replacement immediately."

Something along those lines sound familiar? I daresay every healer has experienced the receiving end of words like that before. I know the immediate reaction is to lash back right away. As much as we healers like to wish it were true, we are not always right, and there are times where the reason the group isn't "getting there" is because of us. I think one of the hardest aspects about the game to learn is swallowing your own pride and really taking stock of your own abilities from an objective standpoint.

I am much harder on myself than others. If I know I'm not doing enough of something, I have the tendency to dwell on it for a long time. This past week, attempts were made against Cho'gall on 25-man. He is the last boss in the Bastion of Twilight (and has many eyes). We were able to get through 95% of the encounter consistently.

In post discussion raids and forums, our healers came under scrutiny. To be specific, I was under the microscope. I was being dissected at every point in the fight. The main problem is that we could not keep players alive past the third wave of tentacles near the end of the fight. As Cho'gall's health steadily dropped past 8%, we just did not have enough gas left in the tank.

We examined the problem from both a macro perspective and a micro perspective.

The big picture

The first step was to look at the different cooldowns we had available and determine when was the best time to use them. With three druids (Tranquility), three priests (Divine Hymn), and holy paladins (Aura Mastery), we had the theoretical health and resistance cooldowns to float everyone in a safe range. We figured if we could keep players alive through four waves of tentacles, then the raid just might have enough to Cho'gall down the rest of the way.

The second step was to determine if there was enough mana to do it. The healers were definitely pushing past their mana limits at the end of the fight. We had to really dig down and find ways to extend our mana for another 20 seconds or so.

Being the critic

First, going off on a healer in a condescending manner doesn't help matters at all. You immediately put your healer on the defensive, and any credibility you had beforehand gets thrown out the window. Why would you believe anyone who belittles you? That's a form of resistance, and your healers will just tune you out.

So if you really want to help your healers out, you'd better keep a few things in mind.

Be armed with facts. Have a basic understanding of what you plan to address them with. Have parses of other, similar players with similar gear. Between parsing sites like World of Logs and the official WoW armory, it's easy to get the data you need.

Compare assignments. You can't expect someone who is tank healing to really keep up with raid healing. Tank healers are generally responsible for one to three players. Raid healers can cherry pick off of everyone else in the group, including the tanks. Classes and specs do matter as well. You can't really do much between a discipline priest and a holy priest just because the playstyles are different from each other.

Keep the context of the encounter in mind. If healing per second is low, it could be attributed to any number of reasons. Perhaps the player needs more tweaking with spell usage. Maybe he's not getting enough mana to really deliver the big throughput bombs that are needed. In this case, the Corruption debuff on Cho'gall stacked high to the point where all heals on affected players were reduced to 0. Yeah, this definitely had a big factor on healing throughput.

On the receiving end

For healers on the other side, getting that feedback, there are a few things to do as well.

Bite your tongue. This is the most important thing to do. You can choose to listen or not to listen. Sometimes the other
player might have a valid point of technique that you haven't considered yet. Other times, you're already doing something that they've suggested. (I've seen this happen multiple times.) Then there's the odd suggestion, when you're told to do something that's just ludicrous and you end up jeopardizing more players instead.

Get your own facts. If you're being confronted about the things you are or aren't doing, then you'd do well to have your side of the argument ready to go. Think about the fight and the different difficulties you had throughout it. Where were you struggling? Why were you struggling? Talk about it, and see if there are any other solutions that can help ease it up.

The reason why I enjoy some of these after-raid discussions is because something comes up that no one thinks of. There might be an obstacle restricting someone from doing his job effectively. For example, one of my healers brought up the point that players mind-controlled by Cho'gall were frequently hit by the shadow ability he does. The stuns used to get rid of the Mind Control would keep those players in place. We started exploring the option of using disorient abilities instead.

Ultimately, you and your group are here to take down bosses. No one is really out to get you (unless they actually are out to get you -- then you have a different problem). Anything that helps you get to that goal is a positive thing. Your officers and your guild want you to get better.

Need advice on working with the healers in your guild? Raid Rx has you covered. Send your questions about raid healing to For less healer-centric raiding advice, visit Ready Check for advanced tactics and advice for the endgame raider.

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