It is nice to see both Nature's Swiftness and Holy Word: Sanctuary get a little love. I know a number of druids and priests opt not to use those spells for a variety of reasons, but both spells are becoming increasingly attractive. Nature's Swiftness not only makes the next spell instant but way stronger -- it makes me wonder if the shaman version of Nature's Swiftness is going to need it (but my gut feeling says no).
Holy Word: Sanctuary was another spell that needed some improvements. Pound for pound, it didn't quite match up to Healing Rain. One of the arguments against it was that the AoE healing of priests would become much more powerful, as well. Either way, it wasn't being used much simply because it wasn't cost-effective. I'm not sure if the change will stick; we'll have to wait and see.
The change to Cleansing Waters actually surprised me. An internal cooldown on the talent? Was the healing component of it too overpowered relative to the other healing buffs that are slated to arrive in the next patch?
The art of calling wipes
Chaotic situations are one of those times when the players around you can see who can clutch out the heals and who can't. Players are dying. Healers are doing what they can, jumping from one player to the next. I know my mind shifts into overdrive when a tank dies.
As one of the raid leaders, though, it's a little different for me. The call to immediately wipe the raid depend on my immediate assessment of what healers we have still alive, what the incoming damage is like and whether or not we can salvage the situation. First, I analyze which tanks are still alive and measure their incoming rate of damage. It's purely a graphical check (how much their health bars are dropping from boss hits versus increasing from healing).
The next check is DBM spell timers on the side of my screen telling me what cooldowns players have available. If I see that Tranquility, Divine Hymn, Pain Suppression or other such spells are free, I can either decide to save the cooldowns for the next attempt or use them now to stabilize the raid.
Lastly, I look at where we are on boss health. Calling a wipe at 2% is just silly. Calling a wipe at 98% and just restarting it is a no-brainer. The hard calls to make come at the 30% - 70% range. On the one hand, you can make the call to keep going and get additional practice time in on phases or abilities. On the other hand, you can stop it now and not waste any further time. It's all about probability. The higher the casualties, the higher the failure rate.
Now, try doing all of that in the space of 1 second.
The worst thing you can do is freeze up and not give a command. You've got 24 (or 9) other players looking to you and wondering if they should keep going or ease off the gas pedal and turn it into a wipe. You can rest assured that whoever makes the call on what to do is going to get second-guessed.
"We could have had that!"
"Just a few more seconds longer!"
"Urgh, why was that call made?!"
The death of indecision about death
Deal with it. You can't predict what's going to happen. As the raid leader or healing leader, you can only make an educated guess. Just make a call. Being indecisive is the worst thing you can do. You're either going to make the right call or a bad one; either way, you'll learn from it. Speed is of the essence here because you can't tell Deathwing to pause his attacks for the moment while you measure everything that's going on to determine whether your raid should wipe it.
I'm going to reiterate one more time: Indecision is the worst thing for a raid healer in this situation. If you're not sure whether to keep going or wipe, just keep going, because you'll wipe eventually if your raid can't pull it off.
Healers are going to panic. Give them some direction. Ultimately, continued practice will help cut down on panic as they settle in on their groove.
If your raid leader tells the raid to keep going, that's the cue to the rest of the healers to keep healing. Start blasting those cooldowns one after the other. Your healers are waiting for the green light to use their cooldowns. On spells that require targeting like Power Word: Barrier, let the healers determine where to best use it. Spend less time micromanaging.
The priority is to stabilize the raid. Use the Tranquility you have available -- heck, use two if you need to. As a priest, I'll snap off a Pain Suppression on the tank if I have it free and peel off to help with the raid healing for a few seconds. Have your DPS druids exercise their Rebirths (or get your death knights to do it, after the next patch).
We'll come back next week and take a closer look from a micro perspective on who to heal and how to best make that determination on the fly.
Need advice on working with the healers in your guild? Raid Rx has you covered. Send your questions about raid healing to firstname.lastname@example.org. For less healer-centric raiding advice, visit Ready Check for advanced tactics and advice for the endgame raider.