25 man raiding puts a different set of stresses on healers than does 10 or 5 man healing.
Of course, you still have tanks to heal, and AOE damage – but you’re balancing it for a substantially larger number of people, and organization becomes a lot more important. In a 10 man group, a simple “I’ll keep the tanks, you want to snag the raid/AOE damage, and you want to go between the two and fill in where it’s needed” is usually all you need to keep a group together healing wise, other than possibly the occasional positioning tip.
When you add in the complexity of a 25 man raid, rather than choosing between one and two healers for the tank or one and two healers for the raid… you’ve got 7 healers floating around. You can, as it were, afford to specialize some.
As a raid leader, healing leader, or other assorted cat herder in charge of dealing with healing assignments, it’s now your responsibility to make sure that you’ve got a balanced healing team – and one that can work together. (The best time to do this is BEFORE you’re sending invites to the raid)
Balancing a Healing Team
- Keep an assortment of healers in your team. Given 7 healers, you probably don’t want more than three of any one variety, and two is probably the best to create balance. My ideal healing team right now is 2 priests (one disc, one holy), 2 pallies, and then either 2 druids and one shaman or one druid and 2 shamans.
- Know your healers, and what they can do. Shaman have a lot of versatility right now, and can either tank or raid heal. Druids and Holy Priests can crank out the raid healing like nobody’s business, and those Trees are still the HoTness. Paladins can keep one (or two – <3 beacon!) tanks alive for EVER, and Disc priests just won’t run out of mana.
- Don’t pidgeonhole healers. Obviously asking your Holy Priest to tank heal and your Paladin to raid heal is a poor use of abilities, but keep in mind that some people thrive on consistency while others want variety, and different healers have different strengths. Also, it’s generally a good idea to have more than one person who is capable of doing any specific job, in case you have to find a replacement.
- Remember that healers do more than just heal. They also bring buffs and cleansing abilities. Showing up for Naxx-25 with only a resto Druid as your decurser is… short sighted, as is having a bunch of Paladins, but nobody with Blessing of Kings. Make sure that you know who can cleanse what abilities as well, since it’s no good yelling at your Priests for not removing poisons!
- Be considerate of respecs. Sometimes you might have your long time shadow priest dig up his healing gear so you can have the numbers to be able to raid. Remember that respecs often aren’t familiar with fights from a healing perspective, and that their gear is often lacking. (Also – it’s generally recommended to work out how loot will work in such situations, to avoid /drama)
Building teamwork and communication within your Healer Corps
- Have a healer channel. The only people in the healer channel should be healers and raid leaders. Use that channel to give assignments, ask questions, and find out how people are generally feeling. People should be comfortable saying “I don’t feel like I can handle this job” in the healer channel, even if they aren’t comfortable saying it in /raid, and you want to know in advance if your Disc Priest just got home from a 14 hour bus trip and is feeling rather laggy.
- Lead communication by example. If something went great – say so. If you’re struggling – ask if people can see problems. You’re not looking to start a community bitchfest, so keep an eye on things, but you do want people to say “hey, it looks like there’s a large group over on the left that repeatedly don’t run the spiders to the OT”.
- Trust your people. (And, alternately, don’t bring people you can’t trust). Healing requires everyone on the team to do his or her own job – and to trust other people to do their jobs as well. Allstars and Meter Monkeys don’t make good members of any team.
- Encourage discussion OUTSIDE the raid. Most raids have a forum – start an “Official Healer Communication Thread” or sub forum – and post there yourself. Dig through the WWS encourage others to do the same, point out things you’ve learned, and if something goes badly, try to start discussion on how to make it better. Plus, giving everyone some time away from the actual experience allows for some distance and more rational thought.
- If things get boring, let one or two people DPS on trash. Obviously, you need more healers for some fights than others – and generally you need fewer healers on trash. Why not let one or two people hop into their DPS gear (or just nuke in their healing gear) to give them a break once in awhile. Boredom leads to complacency – and that leads to laziness and wipes. Obviously this is not something to do while you are struggling with trash (or on particularly difficult trash pulls). Communication is the key to making this work – people have to know when to DPS and when to switch back to healing – as is trusting your healers to realize that things just went shitfan and they need to heal regardless.
Creating balance is a little easier than creating a working team, but both are important as you build your corps of healers (to avoid having an overabundance of corpses of tanks). The end result, ideally, is a balanced healing team that works like a unit – everyone knows what to do and how to do it, and they trust each other to get all the different parts of the job done.
Will it happen in one week?
No, probably not.
Part of the process is getting to know each other, and the only real way to do that is to heal together, talk to each other, win and lose and fight bosses tooth and nail for that last 3% health while you’re all digging mana out of your toenails to keep the tank alive. Fortunately, as a team, you don’t get truly tested until farther into most 25 man raids. At first, you get to ease into things.
Don’t be lazy though. Get used to communicating now, and not cutting corners – at least until the group gels. You – and your raid – will be thankful when things get harder farther in.
Good luck, happy healing, and may the Loot-Fu be with you!
*image credit to forwardcom
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