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