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The morning of the all hands summon to the Blasted Lands, Aely went for a walk. The late fall air was clear and cool, and leaves crunched under their feet in the less-traveled parts of the streets. She and Roger took the long way around Old Town, south through Tanner Circle and down Bulwarks, across […]

filed under Feature, Guides, Healing, Paladin, Priest, Shaman
Are your problems healer caused?
comment Comments Off Written by on May 12, 2009 – 11:31 am

I got the following email a week or so ago from a reader:

Hi Anna,

I’m a cat herder (healing lead) and I am concerned that I may not know enough to properly evaluate if our healers are doing their job appropriately.  How do you evaluate the performance of the healers in your raid and at what point do you pull them aside for ‘a talk?’

I read your Diagnosing Healer trouble, but I’m not even sure if are ‘having’ healer trouble, and it’s not a factor of other raid elements getting in the way.

Thanks for any help in advance!

That’s a hard question (I love you guys, but you never email me easy questions!) – but I’m happy to take a stab at it.  In some ways it’s easier to work on once you figure out exactly what the problem is than it is to decide who/what is the problem.  Anyway!

1.  Are people dying?

If yes, and if it’s the cause of the majority of your wipes, look at why/how they’re dying.  If they stood in instagib shadow pancakes of doom… not a healer problem.  If they got hit by a periodic AOE and just didn’t get heals – more likely a healer problem.  If your tank is dying repeatedly, check in WWS for the actual combat log right around his death.  If he gets hit and doesn’t get any heals within 3 seconds?  Healer problem.  If he gets /oneshot/ – well, there could be a number of issues, including lack of gear, improper gearing, or running past an enrage timer and getting pwnt for 340K damage in one shot.

Also keep in mind how many healers were alive at this point – if you only have two healers that are capable of not standing in shadow pancakes of doom, that’s a healer problem, but not related to healing!

2. How are your healers feeling? How is their general attitude and morale?

Are they seriously stressed out?  Do they say things like “man I know there’s 6 of us, but it really feels like 5″?  Are they butting up against problems with the rest of the raid (melee standing in stuff, not using damage prevention abilities) or is there a serious shortage when you should have the people you need to cover your bases.  I’m in a team of 7 in Ulduar, and that’s a little thin sometimes for a group with 7-8 melee DPS every week, especially if the DPS have a tunnel vision week and forget to use things like feint and cloak of shadows and divine protection (etc).

3. What does the WWS say?

Do you have a disc priest that never casts power word shield?  A resto druid that’s raid healing but doesn’t use wild growth?  There are some big red flags that you’ll see if you start to look at individual WWS parses.  The other thing to look at, from the individual player’s stats page, is the breakdowns tab.  If your tank-healing paladin doesn’t have the VAST MAJORITY of his/her healing on the tanks, and then themself, and then smaller amounts for the raid (primarily melee that get HL Glyph splash) – he’s doing it wrong.  If your raid healing holy priest is almost exclusively healing the tank, then she’s doing it wrong.  You’ll have to have a pretty good handle on who usually does what kind of assignments, but keeping an eye on where your healers individual foci are will tell you a lot.

It’ll also tell you if you’ve got a healer with a god complex making up for a slacker.  Rankings are less important overall, but seeing something like a holy paladin who is a tank healer outhealing a holy priest who is a raid healer is cause to at least look into what was going on.

4. Double check their spec:

Elitist Jerks and PlusHeal both have good posts and suggestions about sample specs – particularly the first posts in the EJ “[Spec Class] in 3.1″ and/or Theorycrafting Thinktank posts.  If you’ve got a shaman who isn’t taking Riptide… she’s doing it wrong.  This isn’t about minutae, but about someone skipping things that are crucial to their efficiency as a healer.  It’s also something to broach to the healing team as a whole – we recently had a long discussion about whether I might try out a Holy/Prot hybrid build (to take Divine Guardian), as a way to promote some tank healing synergy.  The final discussion was maybe to pick it up later as a dual spec, but to get more used to Ulduar now.

5. Double check the gear – esp. enchants and gems:

Are they stacking crit as a resto shaman?  Spirit as a paladin?  Those kinds of things.  Also – do they have their gear enchanted.  I generally “allow” a little grace period, but stuff needs gems and enchants by the next week’s raid at the VERY least, especially for major upgrades.  If there’s a cash or time problem, that’s something to talk about and work out between yourself and the healer in question.  Sometimes weirdnesses are actually experiments, and (like SO many things I talk about with regard to healers) communication is key.

Both “double checks” can be made easier through wowarmory checks of other people of that class that you know are on top of their game.

As I’m sure you’re noticing, figuring out just what exactly is the problem can be a pretty difficult task, especially for the raid leadership.  Of course, all of this takes TIME, particularly since it involves a lot of knowledge and research on your part – so take it one step at a time.  Obviously the first bit is the most important – if people aren’t dying, you’re both more likely to be OK and under less of a crunch to figure out the problem.

I hope that helps, both for your particular raid, and for raids in general that are banging their heads against any particular progression wall and are wondering if the problem is the healers or not (no matter WHAT people say, the adage “it’s always the healer’s fault” is … uh… horsefeathers).

So good luck, happy healing, and as always – May the Loot-Fu be with you!

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No Responses to “Are your problems healer caused?”

  1. There’s nothing wrong with crit on a Resto Shaman. Perhaps they don’t stand to gain as much as a Paladin from it, but with Improved Water Shield, Ancestral Awakening, and Ancestral Healing all procing from crits, a Shaman healer would be irresponsible not not be collecting crit rating. I advise a balanced approach to haste/crit for Shaman healing.

    Interestingly, it looks like the Shaman T8 4pc set bonus (0.2 second faster chain heal cast) appears to be designed to lessen the dependence on haste. And I am noticing a higher proportion of mail spellpower gear with crit than Naxx’s 50/50 approach. So I think we’ll start seeing higher crit numbers on Shaman as people gear up.

    Llyras last blog post..Clutch healing article

  2. With Ulduar there is a steep learning curve. It’s harder than anything some guilds have faced before. Remember folks, not all the guilds in MC are around anymore, not all the guilds that did progression in KARA are around anymore. For a lot of folks, Ulduar is the first real progression they have ever encountered.

    I have a lot of people in my guild who are just not used to wiping. They see wipes as failures and not as learning. What we do to determine why we are wiping we use a lot of different things. Failbot mod helps tell us if somebody stood in something that they were not supposed to. Recount tells us (approximately) if dps were doing their job, and to a lesser degree, if the healers are. The WWS gives us the best feedback. That is where we refine our healing strategy. To see if individuals need to do better, I look at reports from other guilds for the same boss. Otherwise I look at other toons in other guilds and see how they are building their toons. There is room for variety there too. If you have a priest who consistently goes OOM, maybe it is spell selection instead of gear. . .

    Our overall strategy is usually the culprit for wipes. We can’t always run a boss the way it is done on tankspot. Sometimes we have to mix it up due to the skill and variety of OUR raid team.

    But the biggest way to FIX these things is just as Anna said – communication. Our raid leaders exchange ideas all week on the website. They talk strat for a few minutes before the raid. We wiped for 8-12 hours worth of raiding before we got Razorscale down the first time. The tankspot strategy was not working for us. Healers were getting aggro for some reason and dps was not killing mobs fast enough. We reworked it and now we just AoE everything into the dust. But it took DAYS to figure that out. We did not blame the dps, or the heals, or the tanks . . . we looked for ways to get better in all 3 areas.

    Bhorgias last blog post..Feilurei Application

  3. Not to be a douche, but this made me chuckle:

    1. Are people dying?
    If yes, and if it’s the cause of the majority of your wipes

    All I could think of, is “Has there ever been any other way to wipe?”

    By ivyleaves on May 12, 2009 | Reply
  4. @ivyleaves:

    Well, there’s the “we hit the enrage timer” wipe, the “oops I forgot the boss did that” wipe, and the “tank forgot to equip his resistance set” wipe.

    So yes, while everyone does die during a wipe… I think you know what I mean.

    By Anna on May 12, 2009 | Reply
  5. Good article. I think that with Naxx, it bred bad habits and also allowed healers that weren’t great to slip through the cracks. You offered good tips to figure out who is the weak link in the healing core. For progression, the backbone is the healer team though the glory goes to the tanks =X

  6. “Do you have a disc priest that never casts power word shield?”

    Yes, and it makes me cry. T_T

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