Does Communication Make Us Better Risk Takers?

My raid on Sunday night gave me pause for thought.

A couple of weeks ago I talked about a few aspects to help healing and raid leading at once. Last night I realised that, of those, communication is vital. Why? Because I think healers are fragile. Even that they can be a danger to themselves. And because last night my raid wouldn’t have worked so well without good communication. Let me put you in the picture.

You’re a healer raid leader about to lead a progresion 10 man. Your group’s bouncing with energy as the run starts. You’ve all got a burning desire to see Putricide go down as you’ve been carrying a grudge against him for a while. He’s public enemy #1 for your group tonight, followed by a vote on Princes or Sindragosa. Holy smokes, things are gonna go well.

Then half the group is hit by disconnection issues as the EU login servers go down.

Two hours later your group is back online, now a bit bedraggled and a whole lot more tired. It’s midnight already for some. You hit Putricide and he goes down in a few attempts. So far so good. It’s late now but the group wants to go to Princes. This is what crosses your mind:

  1. We’ve downed Princes before. It was messy but we can do it again, and the practice won’t kill us. That often. I hope.
  2. We have someone different on kinetic bomb bouncing this time. He’s going to need time to learn it.
  3. It’s midnight, for cripes sake. The elements alone know what time it is for our Herd members in Finland. We don’t have many tries in us.

You’re now in my shoes as of about midnight on Sunday. The outcome was cheery; we got the Princes down in four attempts. But it was messy from 50ish-0%. The successful attempt saw half the raid dead by the end – both myself and the other shaman healer died twice. Our discy priest heroically kept the rest up for 5%. Both shamans had been helping with kinetic bomb bouncing.

From my leader viewpoint communication was crucial. For one thing, there’s a lot going on in that fight and I admit I fail at watching everything.

It’s important to know which Prince is empowered at any time because the entire raid’s tactics change depending which it is, as does the healing output. But watching the empowerment changes is something I just can’t do yet. So I simply have one person dedicated to calling which Prince is empowered when it changes.

It’s also essential to have information in order to make good decisions, right? Right, but it’s more important for healer raid leaders. Each role is inclined towards taking risks, perhaps several times during each fight. Double the risk-inclination means double the chance we’ll make the wrong call; things go wrong or we overburden ourselves, probably wiping the raid.

So I’m realistic – i can’t do everything. Keeping track of boss health is another task I ‘outsource’ to others. As a healer I don’t have time to watch health meters other than those on Grid, but as a raid leader I need to know boss health. For example, the fight was a mess by the time Princes hit 23% health. But I knew we were close, and that was the deciding factor in the split second decision to urge the group to hang in there and pop cooldowns rather than to call a wipe.

Both of the above examples – knowing when we’re at health-wise in a fight and which tactical stage we’re at also means I have valuable information allowing me to make cooldown judgements. Not my cooldowns – I’m talking about calling Divine Guardian from our paladin tank or cycling the raid’s mana regen abilities when and for whom they’re needed.

The most dangerous risk of all on Sunday, though, was one a healer-raid leader was in the best position to make. On later attempts I had myself and another healer helping our warlock on bouncing kinetic bombs: I knew we could both multitask. Controversial decision? Yes. Bad practice? No.

It wasn’t because I thought our warlock couldn’t learn it by himself – far from it. It was because we had a lack of time, the group was tired and wanted victory in the face of server instability. Not only that, I knew the healers involved could do it without healing suffering too much. It benefited us too: we got a perspective on another aspect of the fight and it probably improved our spacial awareness as were constantly looking round. I admit, it was also really fun in an already adrenaline-fuelled fight.

Later on when it got hectic and our DK died? Not a problem. Rather than completely loose a resource and have a player feel useless, I asked him to watch out for falling bombs and tell me where they were.

So there we go, folks. I say that healers are fragile and inclined to risk: there is a lot resting on us in a raid. Add leading on top of that and it can be a recipe for disaster. But I say organising information ‘feeds’ to and from your team will put you in control of the situation and your raid one step closer to settling scores in Icecrown.

What do you think? Do you agree with my analysis of healers’ potential towards fragility and danger or do you prefer safe-rather-than-sorry? Would you have made any of those decisions differently to me? Do you know which types of information you need more of, or are you still working it out?

This is a post by Mimetir, a druid of a raidleader on The Venture Co. (EU). You can find my twitter feed here.

11 thoughts on “Does Communication Make Us Better Risk Takers?”

  1. If you base too much on caution you’ll be more inclined to call wipes when there’s a potential kill. There’s no harm in keeping going, especially if people are still learning the fight. On that fight I’d personally have left the orb handler to it. Using a pet they can keep up 3 orbs at a time if they’re placed well enough.

    On fights like BQL where the vampire dies after the incite, thats when there is no point going on.

    I honestly think you’re overthinking this. If your healing team can’t handle it then they’ll let you know. Underchallenging them means they’ll be used to having that extra third healer to help out (although on some fights admittedly you certainly need the extra). I’m firmly of the belief that stacking healers causes them to stagnate. Whereas stacking DPS shortens the fights and means your healers are finishing closer to oom.

    I could never lead while healing because I find it too involving. Whilst DPSing I could maintain my “cruising” DPS rotation without really focusing on it, which enables me to spend more time focusing on what’s happening and why. It also means I’m better placed to make decisions about heroisms etc.
    .-= Echo´s last blog ..Passing Loot =-.

  2. Thanks for the comments guys! I feel I should clarify a few things.

    @Spinks – aye, I agree generally, as my previous articles regarding raid leading and particularly the one on regular breaks (or ‘slack’) prove 🙂 However, as regards the raid on Sunday I should point two things out.

    Firstly, we only raid regularly 1 to 2 times a week so the bosses might be there the next night but we’re not. Secondly – as I said, the group chose to go to Blood Princes. The vote I gave them was a choice of 1. Blood Princes 2. Sindragosa or 3. sleep. Not one of them wanted to sleep – indeed, the result was almost unanimous for Princes.

    @Echo – Thanks for your thoughts. I appreciate that you prefer to lead while DPSing – it certainly gives more time to watch things. I do still believe that healers are also well placed if they practice enough, as I’ve talked about here and in the post I linked back to, but it’s personal preference in the end.

    Regarding your other thoughts – I did say I believed the bomb handler could have dealt with it. Whether the reasons I listed above for getting others to help are good reasons is a matter of opinion. Personally, given it was a one off situation brought about by time constraints and group hopes, I stand by my reasons.

    Also, my raid group runs with two healers on some fights, three healers on others. Princes is one of the latter. It’s necessary for us at this point and instigates no healer slacking. 3-healing Princes may or may not be so necessary for other groups

    Keep the the comments coming folks!.

  3. I’ve decided as a healing raid leader I’m going to avoid calling it a wipe until the last man is down. Either it’s so bad the wipe is gonna happen in the next 10 sec anyway, or it becomes clear we’re gonna fail an enrage. In the latter case, I figure let the living players practice the mechanics more, and the dead players see what they may have been doing wrong without having to worry about maximizing dps at the same time.
    A few of our ICC10 core were running pretty fresh 80’s through reg ToC10, and I see the other healer go down to the first fire bomb on Gormok. It crossed my mind to call it then, but I decided to take it as a challenge to see how far I could solo heal. As Icehowl went down, I was really glad I hadn’t called it. I haven’t had that much fun in a while, not only healing my little shammy heart out, but also helping manage players who weren’t used to raiding with their current class yet. Like when three dps got hit with bile at once and the ret’s instincts weren’t in place to bubble.

  4. It’s understandable that your dps on bombs might have some time getting used to it but it’s quick to learn. Your warlock shouldn’t have any issues on that so you might want to consider replacing such person for someone who doesn’t have a severe tunnel view syndrom.
    It’s not for healers to make up for dumb dps’ inability to deal with more than just pressing 1234. Just my 2c.

  5. In this wow, min/ maxing is has become less important. But when u really want too progress, in terms of hard modes etc. You will have too do just that.

    Same goes for raidleaders. Sure u can be a raid leader as a healer in normal icc modes, 25 and 10. But if u want too be a very good RL, and do challenging content, u are much better off letting a dps class do it. Since in hard content, u will be watching these green bars a lot. And not have much time actually doing the leading.

  6. @mimetir – Full credit to you if you can lead while healing!

    Sorry if I implied your healers weren’t up to scratch I simply read using healers to help bounce bombs as – healers who had too little to do.

    Why I prefer DPSing to healing is also that I can see where the biggest sources of damage are coming from and on Princes for example – who’s failing to avoid empowered vortexes etc.
    .-= Echo´s last blog ..Passing Loot =-.

  7. @Graam – good on you! Good luck 🙂

    @Pak – surely. We actually do have someone comfortable with orb duty but since he wasn’t available last Sunday we thought we’d give our lock here some practice to get a second person introduced to the role. Personally I believe – as I said – that the newer person could comfortably learn the role, just time didn’t allow us the luxury of practice. This time.

    @Echo – no worries, just figured I’d clear it up. As a raid leader who’s part of our healing team I’m doubly fiercely proud of my healers 🙂 I can understand your preference to RL as a DPS though, I think it’s a popular choice. Saying that, I think healers and DPS are both privy to feeds of information, just different types come easier to each role. Perhaps all in all it’s personal preference. What do you think? 🙂

    Some really strong opinions coming through here folks… keep them coming!

  8. @mimetir – well one of our healers has stepped up and it makes things a lot easier for us as a squad to have someone dedicated to the healing squad doing assignments because I think amongst the other officers we have minimal healing experience. Given the nature of addons these days the data available is roughly similar, and its mainly in planning that I find a dedicated healer “guy” is useful.

    We did have a weird night the other night. No assigments done previously on LK 25 and we went in and oneshot. The only noise of vent was occasionally an officer shouting for misdirects or calling positioning. Realising we hadn’t assigned Valkyr dps our strategy was literally “nuke that shit”. I think to be honest once you’ve played with people long enough you know what information to look for and what to discard and after a while it gets to quite a lean stream of dataflow.

    I also think too much communication on vent can be bad. We don’t shout a lot of things now purely because we found some people were only doing things when we told them.
    .-= Echo´s last blog ..Ulduar Achievement Happy Fun Time =-.


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