Arrens, over at Through the Eyes of Death, offered me an opportunity to give an interview about my own RP history and interactions. I, of course, jumped at the chance (I get to talk more about RP? Sign me up!) – so today’s post is actually over at his blog.
Congrats to my (amazing) guildmates on being announced as the WoW Insider ‘Guild of the Month’ for April:
You guys are awesome, and you’ve breathed life into more than one of my characters and storylines through your creativity, thoughtfulness, and outright panache. I’m as proud as Aelflaed is to “wear the Black an’ Red,” and happy to call a growing number of you “real life” friends as well. Many <3s!
This is Part of Angrethar, the story of The Battle for the Wrathgate from Aelflaed’s point of view. You can see all of the posts in this story on the Story Archives page, by searching for the Wrathgate category, or through this link.
The fact that she’d tossed and turned all night in her tiny cot, dreaming of death and climbing trees, didn’t help the 4am Reveille call.
Aely stuck her nose out of the corner of the field tent. It was wetter than it had been the previous day, and the fog was thick and swirling in the pre-dawn light. The hushed noises of the night before were replaced with shouts and movement, tents packed up – even the medics seemed infected with a desire to keep busy, to stay moving, and to try and avoid thinking about the horrors they all knew were coming. They were understaffed, thanks to the earlier attacks, and the impending dread didn’t help anyone’s mood, particularly the two dwarf priests who seemed eager to battle each other instead of worrying about the soldiers.
They say there’s always a lull before the storm, for battle or for weather, and that day both the wind and the army was rising.
Men and Dwarves and Elves moved in formation, an assortment of drummers keeping march, and somewhere she heard Goblin planes roaring in the growing wind, the whir of the machines mixing with the solid tramp of booted feet on snow. Not even the clear, rhythmic ring of hoofbeats sounded without an element of anticipation as they marched on Angrathar. Time stretched as an eternity for the Combat Medic Unit, each carrying as many supplies as they could, and their two poor donkeys with a wagon behind of whiskey, water, linen, and firewood.
The closer they got to the gate the worse the wind became, and the first flurries of snow blew in and among the soldiers, whipping their cloaks into a frenzy of multi-colored flags. Angrathar loomed over them, a brooding menace that spoke to horrors within – it cracked, and hordes of scourge came into full view, pouring out of the gate – shambling towards them with the odd, shuffling gait of the mindless dead.
Then stillness settled over the Alliance forces, as tangible as the soft wisps of snow falling from the thickening clouds. The wind held its breath.
A shout, muffled – silenced. Two shouts, and a musket misfired. “HOLD FIRE!” Silence again, only the sound of each heartbeat in straining ears. “STEADY!”
And then, as suddenly as the silence fell, it vanished in a rush of swallowed heartbeats and voiced adrenaline, shouts of battle and the percussive roar of cannonfire and musketry overhead. Somewhere an elven battalion sang their arrows into the sky, and with the sickening crunch of metal on reanimated flesh the two armies began to dance.
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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