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Raid Rx: How to stop worrying about healing

Matt Low

Every week, Raid Rx will help you quarterback your healers to victory! Your host is Matt Low, the grand poohbah of World of Matticus and a founder of Plus Heal, a discussion community for healers of all experience levels and interests. Catch his weekly podcast on healing, raiding and leading, the Matticast.

Annnd the BlizzCon hangover continues. I think we should have two BlizzCons a year. Perhaps one out in the east (or maybe a separate one in Europe)? I think it'd be neat! But alas, I'm digressing. This week in how to maintain your healing sanity, I wanted to discuss a problem that most healers have experienced at some point in their healing careers. Ever go to bed sweating stressing about your healing? Felt particularly bad about your performance because you just kept dropping the ball? Have that sinking feeling in your stomach after a particularly bad night?

If this happens to you consistently, then you just might be suffering from worry!

I'm a chronic worrier type of person. I'm worried about the players I recruit and whether or not they can pull off kills. I'm worried about the upcoming raid bosses and what it means for my guild. I get worried wondering what is the next thing that could possibly shatter my organization or my team of healers. It's a game, and I shouldn't be stressing out over stuff like this -- and that's what my friends keep telling me. But knowing that doesn't help make it any easier, because that's just how I am. I've been doing a little reading and conversing with other players to find out how they handle that anxiety.

But let's focus on healing worries. As healers, we're just about prone to all sorts of healing criticism. Here's how I've been trying to cope.

You can't control the direction the dice lands. I was off in Las Vegas recently. It was my first time there ever, and I was playing this table game called craps (with the dice and stuff). Healing, like gambling, involves elements of RNG (otherwise known as the random number generator).

As healers, we have a little more control on what we do in terms of healing targets and spell usage and the like. However, there are healing aspects that are entirely out of our hands. We cannot control the one-shot kills that players will undoubtedly experience. Generally, it is up to the victims to dodge or avoid the one-shot ability. We cannot control things like Ragnaros' shooting his waves of fire in a direction you're standing in while you're slowly Levitating down and being hit by it.

The best we can do is to look forward. If the dice ends up snake eyes and you didn't bet on it, that's unfortunate. We can't afford to stress over the stuff that has already happened to us. We learn from it, and we move on.

The Aristotle method

I mentioned the critiquing process the other week, but it bears repeating again (especially for heroic mode). I know I feel better when I lay out exactly what happened. If you're not happy to analyzing everything on your behalf, I find it helps to pretend that you're accumulating the different facts for someone else (like maybe for an officer or a GM or something).

I think it was Aristotle that employed a straightforward process:
  1. Get the facts.
  2. Analyze them.
  3. Come to a decision.
When you're working through this process, generally it's advisable to start after the raid is over. If you need to do it during the raid, try to do it without disrupting it (such as during breaks or maybe on trash pulls).

Get the facts. Find out exactly what happened. Scour your combat logs. There are a few addons that can assist with a recap of deaths. (Recount and Death Note are some popular ones.) If you're in a higher-end guild, consider using some screen capturing and video recording tools. I know some organizations like to record their attempts and get instant video playback when things go wrong.

Analyze them. Start examining everything that happened. Go through the facts you collected. This is the stage where you start rethinking about what you were doing and what was going on. Try to mentally play it back and figure out where the attempt started to unravel. If you were one of the causes of it, then it should be pretty obvious to figure out with all the information you have at your disposal. If you're pretty sure you weren't the guy at fault, that doesn't mean you should stop. It means you should keep analyzing and look for other ways where you could have helped prevent the wipe from occurring. Maybe if you had been in a better location, you could've been in range of the tank and helped out the tank healer who had to avoid a meteor or something.

Come to a decision. Well? You know what you did wrong! Generally speaking, there are only one or two things you can do to correct it in future. Try to minimize your own repeat mistakes. As an example, I noticed on our initial attempts on heroic Rhyolith, I was running out of mana just before final phase (which is arguably the most demanding part of the encounter). Some parts of it I wasn't able to control (such as players being hit with magma and such). What I could control were raid mana cooldowns and spell selections.

After that, if you're still worried about your actions or inactions, then try this to see if it helps. Quickly whip out a sheet of paper or fire up a word processor, and write down these two questions.
  1. What are you worrying about?
  2. What can you do about it?

I find that if I'm really distraught over something, writing it down helps. If the answer to question #2 is something simple, then just go out and do it. Then you can move on to the next thing that's troubling you. I know it seems really silly, but give it a shot and you might find out that it works for you.

As a final thought, can you imagine playing craps with D20s? Yeesh.

Anyway, what about you? Do you have any advice or lessons about handling worry?
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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