10 March 2009

Stomping on each other's heals

Raid healing. That post is coming Soon. No really!

Before I take that topic on, though, I want to explain one common raid healing issue that I'm not going to discuss. That's the issue of different healers sending heals to the same raid target — and specifically, which heals are better at stopping it.

Heal crowding like this is something you don't want. Most raid damage is low enough that one heal can take care of it. When two or three healers are healing the same (non-tank) toon, it wastes both mana and time. I know that mana in particular is rarely a concern now, but all evidence says that this will change with 3.1. Better to learn good habits now.

Heal crowding is a particular problem for Druids. Healers all react to a low health bar. If every healer sees the same bar, they'll instinctively want to deal with it. Most druid heals are instant cast HoTs, right? So a Druid can react quickly, but his heals won't be effective for several seconds. Meanwhile, a Priest or Paladin will start up a short cast time heal, which will arrive after the HoT but before it ticks much. Group heal spells like Wild Growth, Circle of Healing, and Chain Heal also contribute to the problem, especially because the caster can't predetermine who they will hit.

Now, truth is, many healers are having an easy enough time at this point that it's not worth the effort, and we just stomp on each others' heals without thinking too much about it. It's also part of the alternative game "who can top the healing meters?" But if (when) you find yourself tackling some challenging encounter, you'll have better chances of success if you're cooperating with other healers, rather than competing.

It's a legitimate issue and one that raids should work to avoid. But what I don't want to get into is analyzing Druid heals based on which ones are most likely to avoid the problem. Because, in a nutshell, the problem isn't the heals, it's the healers. If your raid heals are getting stomped on, the answer isn't to change what you're casting, it's to work with your healers to coordinate better.

I've read a lot of analysis of raid heals that comes down to, for instance, "Regrowth is better than Rejuvenation because other healers will heal over my Rejuv, which wastes it." For me, that analysis is both true and misleading. Sure, a direct heal may be more obvious to other healers (the toon's health bar goes up). But the HoT is probably both more efficient and faster to cast. Or, possibly, the other healer's spell is more appropriate to the situation.

There are a few things you can do to avoid the problem. First, work out healing assignments and know who's supposed to be doing what. Second, know your other healers — both the classes and the people playing them. Know what they're good at, what spells they cast, how they'll react (and how fast). And then hold back on that HoT if someone else will be healing the same toon.

Doing that won't help you win the healing meters. But it will help you beat the encounters.

1 comment:

David said...

One more important thing to keep in mind is the kind of damage you are healing. If it's random splash damage and you know that character won't (or at least shouldn't) take damage again in the next 10 seconds or so, a single rejuvenation (or renew, etc) will be the best choice. A rejuv allowed to heal all of its tick will heal for more than 7,500, all for less than 400 mana (if my memory serves correct). If someone pulled aggro or took a hit where they are in danger of taking another hit soon, that is when you whip out a regrowth or NS+HT, or comparable low efficiency, high throughput heal. But of course if two or people do the same healing at the same time, any consideration is for naught as mana gets wasted.

It's the decisions that are made in these select situations that will decide how much mana your healers will have left over collectively for when Boss X is spewing lava out his butt onto the whole raid, and you really need to concentrate and heal through it all.

I agree healers are too loose with their mana at the moment. I predict a lot of wipes right after 3.1 when heal spammers find themselves oom half-way through an encounter.