Okay. I will admit it beforehand, for this post I am willing to adapt nickname Captain Obvious. What I am going to share is obviously a thing every progression raiding healer knows and loves and goes unspoken. Which is why I am speaking about it. So people actually stop and give it the thought. This post is about synergy in healing team. About collective experience of the team – how and why it’s such a great thing.
Raiding of course is a team effort. All roles are somewhat equal in boss encounter to the point that you need tanks to keep baddies from dps, healers to keep tanks alive and dps to keep healers well saturated with mana. One contradiction comes in the point that loosing a single dps does not by far mean such disaster as loosing one tank or one healer (which is for most of ICC10 half of your healing or tanking squad), but we will leave it there.
As I wrote at the very beginning of this blog healing community is very special and although we form “insider” groups in our raids as dpsers and tanks do, we our groups have a bit different spirit. While the dps groups are usually full of friendly banter and competition, the tank group is mostly tossing around and showing off who outtpsed whom where, the healer group (when not fooling around) is quite calm relaxed and stressed community at the same time.
We just worry too much. It’s the very nature of a healer. We use our resources to let someone else to do the job and kill the boss. Although in PuGs we are often able to adapt the “don’t care that you died” attitude towards strangers, it’s quite different in guild raids. When you know the person who just died for some time, when you share a bond as brothers (sisters) in the arena, beating the odds to raise your hand in a final shout of victory. Okay, derailed. We healers are care-bears. And for the best results, we need to click not only on raid composition side. We need to click on personal side and learn to work like one. Rely on your comrade to heal the person you back if you are busy saving some pity ass over there. Trust them with your virtual life in order to do your job to the fullest. If the Appletree said he’s got me, then he’s got me. Period. No “ifs” no “buts”.
The importance of knowing your co-healers
About a month ago, my super awesome healing core started falling apart. First I lost a restoration druid who was able to clock insane 9+K effective healing on Blood Queen in tandem with Paladin healer (pre buff), end the fight with quite some mana left and even laugh about it. We are talking about loosing a Paladin who was able to kite zombies on Gluth while solo-healing the encounter (well, okay, it was late into T10 content with a bit of gear buff for Naxxramas) or solo healing Saurfang with 5% buff for the giggles. A paladin who (don’t ask me why) made look my hasted out LHW healing like damn slow sniping everything before me and keeping to his assigments. We are talking about loosing awesome tri-spec priest willing to respec for each raid, dps or heal as needed, rocking any meter and mastering bubbles to the point where Saurfang was unable to reach more than 40 runic (pre buff). But most importantly – it was loosing 3 other healers that progressed Icecrown Citadel alongside me. Bunch of fellows that we learned to heal the fights with, dipped our toes in the deep water before jumping in. Creating healing stereotypes for bosses to the point where you knew what healing you don’t really have to bother with.
After this leave we struggled to even get a raid going (add holiday and exam period as well) and only last week we managed to fill in the healing channel with a Druid and a Paladin. And we went for Icecrown Citadel. And it was terrible. Okay, I gotta admit the raid was bad for many reasons – just one regular tank, two unknown puggers, one healer in mostly i200 gear, the other one in i232 and both of them without any experience in Icecrown Citadel. In hindsight, the raid went fairly well. Just saying this in case any of my guildies will read this and will assume I think they are shit – because I don’t. Time proves very quickly those two know how to heal and that it was just the lack of experience and team play that made the raid so painful
We three healed everything up to Putricide, and yet we were struggling. It was mess. Even if I did assignments (which I haven’t done in ages), I could feel the uncertainty of us all – we were constantly on the look-out to compensate for others, which often led us to abandon our assignments in good hope to help others who seemed to be falling behind. Absolute ill practice and breaking all healing commandments (if there are any) leading us to many wipes. We weren’t ready and used to trust each other. I couldn’t yet trust the Tree to pick the raid up, I didn’t know him.
A week has passed. What has changed? A lot. Granted the buff went up by 5%, we geared the Paladin to average i232+ and our Tree picked some shinies as well, but the main difference was in the flow of the fights. We were trying out each other’s trust. Sure, we were still cautious but we gave each other chance to pull our weights before stepping in. And it worked. I am not saying we are where I want us to be. Yet. It’s been a week and there is long way ahead for us to learn to play as one. But we are definitely on the good way. We still overheal a bit too much on the assigment overstepping but that’s fine. It will mellow out over time.
From a raid leader perspective
I think I didn’t fully appreciate it before. As healer I was always happy it’s there and as raid leader I liked that I can count on those people to get us through anything. But I don’t think I ever realized how much a successful raid relies on the silent strong force of healers and their ability to cope with each other and with any bad situation together.
It’s saving huge amount of resources if your healers are used to work together and if they click. Less communication required, better assignment overstepping and better judgement of situation. No blame shifting – if healer screws up while being in comfortable place, they admit it and works with others to possible fix. If only by asking for help at certain moment (debuff landing, AoE connecting). It’s giving their raid leader a time to breathe if he can fully count on the healer crew and their ability to push through anything.
For me, getting this synergy back, will be like rediscovering my place again and getting into my comfort zone, as raider, healer and raid leader. I am looking forward for the day when there will be no re-explanation of assignments or tasks in healer channel because we will all know what will be going on, we will know that first few seconds of fight we can focus each on different tasks and tunnel on them because others will carry their weight to the fullest.
We will, without a doubt, close our eyes and take the leap into the abyss, trusting those healers down there to catch us. We will learn to heal like one, move like one, raid like one. And at that point, my task as a healer lead will be fulfilled. I helped to forge yet another excellent healer force.
So, as a healer, do you have appreciation for your healing team as a whole? And do you feel appreciation from your fellow raiders, raid leader and healers?
Are you still stuck in the raidforce with healer(s) that will do anything just to top meters, being useless and oomed halfway through fight but boasting how they had to cover for you “like all the time, dude”.
Or are you at the wonderful place when all your fellow healers are at same page, when cooldowns to pump up healing synchronise yet the healing gets distributed without (too much) overlapping?
And a final note for raid leaders outside the healing crowd – look at your healers and if they are indeed the stars they should be, cater to them. They are your precious. I am not saying to pat their back when they manage to heal your raid through Naxxramas weekly. But realize how much luck you have having such amazing squad to refill your raid’s health.