So I was approached recently by a friend on a different server who also serves as the resident Cat Herder for his raid (aka – heal organizer). He was concerned about one of his healers, since she was struggling with things normally not a problem for her class and spec, but he knew she was a fully capable player.
“Anna,” he asked, “would you mind taking a look at this and see if you notice anything wrong?” And he linked me a WWS profile and an Armory page, as well as giving me a brief description of the problem and the rest of the healing group.
So I went down the list:
- Class, Spec? 71 points in the Holy Tree as a priest probably isn’t the best use of spec. (In this case, her spec looked great)
- Gear? A shaman with piles of spirit or anything else weird? Horribly under-geared? (A few unusual gem choices, but nothing particularly odd)
- Assignment? Telling a Paladin to raid heal will usually result in struggling (In this case, her assignments were also good)
- Major healing spells? – Is she healing entirely using rank 1 of something, or only using one spell when she should be using 4 or 5? (Again, everything looked fine here)
- Healing according to assignment? Is she healing the raid when she was asked to heal the tanks, or vice versa? (nope, that looked good too!)
- Other healers? Naxx 25 is tough with 6 on some fights, are all of them well geared and experienced? (This was the only thing that triggered an /eyebrow from me, since two of the healers were under-geared alts, and two were recent respecs.)
At that point I was, admittedly, a little puzzled. Her major healing spell proportions were a little off, but nothing so out of whack that I was /boggling. So I started digging around in my own raids WWS postings to find a similarly geared healer on a similar night of progression. Comparing the two was quite enlightening, due to one major change.
A Glyph change, in fact, in combination with some interesting uses of talented abilities.
So we chatted, and I made some suggestions about regemming (mostly replacing her meta gem), reglyphing, and how to better use talents/abilities to help with things like mana longevity.
Last I heard, it was working too!
So, the moral of the story is – if you have an under-performing healer, there are a LOT of factors to look at when it comes to diagnosing the problem. Some of them are obvious (are they specced properly? do they have tons of AP on their gear?) some are not so obvious (circumstances, patch changes to itemization). In this case, it was a relatively small problem with far-reaching results, and a simple one to fix.
Unfortunately, it’s not always so simple, and sometimes players get annoyed or respond poorly to helping “polish” problems.
Like all issues that eventually boil down to people, handle these situations with care and tact – and don’t assume anything, not even that your new healer has a well set up UI, or uses a casting bar that shows latency, or even knows that one of his mechanics changed drastically in the last patch.
Fortunately, that human “Diplomacy” racial ability comes in handy! Get all the info you can – WWS if at all possible – as well as a quick breakdown of what exactly was showing up as a problem, and then work your way through it, looking for red flags or oddities. Then, when you talk to the person, remember that you’re addressing a specific healing issue, not a personal one.
(If you can believe it, I was the target of such an intervention, after my first 25 man raid as a resto shaman… because I’d cast chain heal exactly 4 times in the course of a 3 hour raid. A few kind words and a nudge towards Elitist Jerks later, and the next week I showed a HUGE improvement, as well as discovering that I rather liked resto-shamming.)
Good luck, have fun, and may the Loot-Fu be with you!