March 10, 2009

Raid Rx: On the fly healing

Assignment-less healing. It often has unpredictable results. Sometimes your raid group will be lucky and emerge unscathed. I'm a control freak. I like to have a plan A, a plan B and even a plan for when things go wrong.

I've joined my share of pickup groups in the past few months. I usually play on my alt Shaman. I'm more of the Shatner type that hurls bolts of lightning. I've experienced mixed success. On bosses like Archavon, Anub'Rekhan and Sartharion with no drakes active, I notice not a whole lot of organized healing is done. Either that or it was organized behind the scenes via whispers.

To be fair, those types encounters can be done with little organization before hand. I know the first time I went into Naxx and Obsidian Sanctum wearing half blues, a smattering of crafted epics and the odd green or two. Having the healing set up in advance helped out a lot and reassured people. Sometimes it helps the raid morale some when they know the confidence emanating from healers who know who they're healing is there.

So today's topic: What do you do if the other raiders are scoffing at your suggestion to assign healing?

This is going to be one of those damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't-situations. If you want to take the 25 seconds to assign healing, you'll be laughed at because "this fight" is so ridiculously easy it doesn't need coordination, right?

On the other hand, what if the tanks aren't up to par? What if the DPS is sucking? What if you hit the enrage timer? Obviously it isn't entirely the healers fault if the enraged timer is hit (unless the reason for that is because half the DPS is dead).

In which case, the last thing you might see is this:

"You have joined Looking For Group"
"You have been removed from the party"

In other words, you're damned if you want to set up healing and you're damned if you don't (especially if a wipe takes place).

The best thing you can do in this situation (or the least you can do) is announce to the raid who you are healing. That's it! If you're healing Joe Tankenstein, let the raid know. If you're going to heal the this groups 4 and 5 on Loatheb, let the raid know. This cues the rest of the healers on what isn't being taken care of and they can handle that accordingly.

At the very least, you have nothing to lose. If your target dies, the raid can isolate the problem. If someone else's healing target dies, your butt's covered because you were focusing on your job (I hope).

Is there a specific way for each class to heal on the fly? Yeah, each class has their own tools and mindset. For me as a Priest, I focus on one tank or two tanks and try to keep them both alive at the same time. I'll let the rest of the healers worry about the rest of the raid.

On the fly healing isn't something that can be taught. It's more of a discretionary thing where healers have to exercise their judgment. Being able to predict damage is a big plus. A clairvoyant healer is one that will get far in this game.

With that in mind, here's a list of current bosses in the game that you should set up healing for:

Patchwerk: This a pure healing and DPS fight. If the healers stick to who they're supposed to be on, this will be cake.

Four Horsemen: Since the raid is going to be split up, it makes sense to split up your healers accordingly as well.

Kel'Thuzad: Healers on the main tank, and healers for OTs 2 and 3 (if you have 3). Dedicated healers for the melee players if they get cubed wouldn't be a bad idea.

Malygos: Phases 1 and 2 aren't so bad. But if you can get away with dropping healing drakes down to around 3 or 4, it'll noticeable boost your DPS at this time. That's assuming your healers want to DPS.

Sartharion with any Drakes up: Sartharion is an encounter that requires an exceptional level of healing coordination especially when you're working on tank saves. 1 on the MT, 1 on each OT, and possibly 1 on your frenzy dispelling Rogue.

I would've included a list for Ulduar. I still don't have as much information as I'd like but I've watched a lot of the European fights and participated in the ones for North America as well. Definitely want to set up healing for that the first time in.

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