Q&A Time: Healer Saturation and Looting Principles

The source for this entry comes from an idea proposed to me by Auzara from Chick GM, a fellow blogger whom I both respect and admire. Auzara is one of the leaders of a guild that is ranked 638th in the U.S., having recently killed Brutallus. I have been reading her blog since about the time I started mine and her material has become as much a source for me as I believe it should be for anyone looking to lead a guild or improve their guild management skills.

Being a leader myself, Auz has extended me the opportunity to answer some question written to her so I might provide additional perspectives to her own. Keep in mind these questions are written to her, so I am trying to respect the fact they are not directed to me. You should also read Auz’s response on her own blog!

Hey Auz!

First off, I want to tell you how much I _love_ your blog! I mean…you’re a girl, leading a guild, and a healer…it’s like me, only, you know, with better wording. Superb! It provides such a great basis of everything I want to discuss – healing, leading, raiding, and some pretty great singing to boot. However, I’m sure you’re busy so I’ll make this quick. This was titled “Ask Auz” so I thought it was kind of…a good idea to get some feedback from you on a topic that’s been bothering me.

Introductions quickly: I’m Tulani, a holy priest and Healing Leader of Lothar US, currently 208th in the US, with 4/6 SW with Mu’ru less than a week away from server first; the very first server first for my guild (stupid alliance.) However, lately I’ve been noticing a few things in the healing core:

1) overpopulation. We have TOO MANY HEALERS. But they’re, uh, generally, all great. Maybe one or two aren’t. Everyone’s antsy since sitting out half the roster week after week for Mu’ru isn’t good, and I’ve gotten a lot of “should I quit? I know we’re full” tells, or just the constant bitchingandwhining of “you always sit me!” To make matters worse, an old resto druid (previous healing lead), who is AMAZING, wants to come back, and the other officers, and I even, are all for it, I don’t think I could make room. What would you do to calm everyone down and make them realize that we’re a little full, yes, but that the only reason they’re feeling like this is because Mu’ru only take 6 healers?

2) Also, I’ve been noticing bad looting going on. Not just trying to scramble to get “that item first” but taking items over other people who could use it more. I often pass loot to those it would be better or more of an upgrade for, but the other priest has called me a DKP whore for it (I have amassed a giant pile), even though I pass to her often, do research on the items and my healers, and take upgrades for myself still. She on the other hand, like many healers, bids on ANYTHING she can use – shadow gear, holy gear, you name it. It all culminated on last week’s Twins kill – 5 shaman and 2 priests in raid, and the resto druid takes the haste offhand, which is THE BEST shaman offhand and a superb priest one. I had, yet again, passed in hopes that a shaman would grab it, because I didn’t think a druid would bid. We run flat out Zero Sum DKP, and I’m worried that loot monitoring would cause issues, and also slow raids. How can I tell my healers that SW will be on farm soon and you’ll all get more gear than you could ever want without talking down to them? I wanted to make a big forum post but we don’t have a specified “healing” forum…perhaps I should make one? I wanted to also, with our bloated roster, get down who needs in for what boss to help alleviate loot and raiding woes.

3) Finally, and I’ll make this quick, I started out raid leading and whatnot about 2 years ago, but usually only on the sidelines. I was appointed to healing lead here by the old one when he quit without me hardly knowing what was going on (I should have seen it, he had me start leading more and more healing while he sat out until I hardly realized it anymore). The odd thing was, I didn’t get as much respect as he did. I’m not bad at it in any stretch; I’m actually very good. However, I’ve realized over time it’s really because I’m a girl, and I’m younger than many of them. Over time I’ve gotten more and more respect, and I can lay down the law very easily, but I’m often afraid to make big posts or anything because, well, I’m afraid people won’t listen. Reading your blog though, along with experience, has really helped me out so much. Now I hardly find respect an issue, and people aren’t afraid to talk to me about topics anymore. I can also do more than just heal lead now too; I can actually lead entire raids, discuss issues, and stand up for points of view. It really has made an impact on my leadership career and I couldn’t be more proud of our guild and it’s progress, and feeling like I had a big part in it.

Thanks for your time Auz, I know you’re a busy woman and this turned out a lot longer than I ever expected. If you could respond it would be very much appreciated, but if not, I understand, and I hope you know that I love the work you’re putting out there, and you should know that it helps!

-Tulani

Hi there, Tulani. As a guild leader situated similarly in progression to your own guild, Auz has offered me a chance to provide answers to your questions with a slightly different flavor of opinion. Hopefully my additional perspective can help you evaluate your situation fully and make the decisions best for your guild.

1) Having a “Glut” of Healers

People expressing anxiety over healer saturation doesn’t necessarily mean your healing core is overpopulated. Rather, their frustration may simply result from the harsh strategic setup required by M’uru. Not only must you stack no more than six healers, but you must maximize your DPS and account for the fact that phase two hinges on optimal raid-wide healing. So while you stack as many restoration shamans as necessary, and perhaps a priest with improved spirit, your other healers suffer the consequences. It is important for you to explain this situation to your healers and help them understand it. It is in your best interests to sit down and have a heart to heart discussion with them, making sure you let them know you value their presence, but that the encounter is too tightly tuned for you to make too many accommodations.

As a secondary option, you could rotate between healers each week. Doing so can potentially set back your progression, so I would advise against performing such rotations unless your healers can handle it or your guild’s survival depends on keeping your healers content. And finding my guild with an extreme shortage of healers now that summer has arrived, I warn you to provide yourself with a little insurance in this regard. You need a lot of healers. You might have enough for M’uru when seven show up, but you won’t have enough for Twins.

2) “Bad” Looting Decisions Made by Members

There are certainly going to be situations where poor decisions are made on looting. However, it is very important for a leader to have an open mind regarding the decisions their players make, because you and someone else might not see eye-to-eye on what is optimal. For example, while it can be argued that the healing off-hand from the Twins is better for a shaman, it can be just as easily argued that it is better for a druid. The reason for this is because it is the only decent healing off-hand in the game with haste. And, as a druid, the only way you can increase the number of lifeblooms you’re able to roll from four to five is to stack haste. And just what that level of haste is depends on 1) whether or not the druid has a group using a full drum rotation, and 2) the druid’s latency. But unless the druid receives a full drum rotation, this number can range between the upper 200’s and the mid-300’s.

As far as people picking up off-spec items goes, it should only be a problem if these people are bidding and winning over people who would use it for their primary specs. Otherwise, having people pick up off-spec items can actually be beneficial to your raid. For example, if you ever find you need slightly more healing throughput on the Eredar Twins, and you’re not hurting for DPS, an enhancement shaman with adequate restoration gear can respec and help stabilize your healing.

You never want to talk down to your members unless it’s over something blatant, like a protection warrior trying to justify taking a glaive over a rogue. But in many situations, who a piece of loot is better for is not clear cut. And, for this reason, it is dangerous to hold your biases close. What you can do, however, is promote discussion amongst your members regarding your current efforts and where the item might be best placed to optimize those efforts. Meaning your shamans and your druids should rationally discuss the benefits specific stats have for each of them. This will help each side understand why the other bids on items and it can help them decide if they want to pass or not.

3) Stay Confident

The best way to promote confidence is by approaching everything with a level head and an objective. The longer you do so, the more your members respect you. I realize this part of your question was more of a statement, so I am merely providing reinforcement for you. ;-P

Good luck in your leadership endeavors, and I hope my input helps you as much as Auz’s!

–Lume

5 thoughts on “Q&A Time: Healer Saturation and Looting Principles

  1. Wow, ok, two responses; wasn’t expecting this! First off, may I say thank you, it really is great to have fresh outlooks. Now, long post inc.

    For my guild, we’re usually a “try to keep the same group as much as possible for content.” This leads to a few bruised egos I’m sure, but most understand it; plus, we do occassionally slot in other healers when one of the ones who was working on the current content is out, and I try to keep the “content” raiders mixed up, so it’s never always the same people. However, I think many get a sort of “coop syndrome,” which is leading to the current issues. As I said in my response over at Chick GM, I can definitely improve in my discussions with my members – as that is nearly nil right now, because I’ve always been scared to. I think I’m slowly realizing that I’m in this position for a reason, I’m not bad at the technical half, and I really need to step it up on the personal relations side of it. Which is weird, because I don’t think I’ve -ever- had an issue talking. However, my previous guild never had very much leading beyond the GM, so this is all very new for me.

    On the same note though, we definitely do need all of our healers, and they are all valued, and so I think that discussing it all over with them will be the first step in helping them to realize that. I hate seeing them feeling undervalued, and if I can help it, then they won’t!

    Next, about the looting. Perhaps I should speak specifically with my fellow priest about looting and take it more from her angle, on that note; however, her shadow set did come in handy for Mu’ru, that’s for sure. And I have no problem with healers taking offgear, provided a main spec doesn’t need it of course. I’m terrible at shadow myself, so I’ve let my shadow set lack (I’d really rather not take up a slot with my terrible DPS) however I pick up items that would be sharded as I go just in case. As I said in my response to Auz’s, my guild doesn’t allow for overruling on loot unless it’s a truly terrible decision (which we’ve never had happen that I can remember), so that isn’t an option for me, nor would I really feel comfortable doing it, as I know what I think isn’t always right.

    As for the druid: that was just a very recent example, and while I do agree that haste is a good stat for druids, I was a little soured that it didn’t go to one of the shaman who’s using a very poor shield and who is already lacking in some haste (he came in late to the raiding game, but is downright AMAZING). The druid however had a very nice offhand from what I knew. Now, I -am- glad that the druid got an upgrade that he can use, but my wish was simply that the healers would be more aware of what was going on in the core =/ However, I definitely see what you mean, and that too is something I can work on. I’d love to foster more coordination among the healers with the forum in this regard, so maybe things like this could be discussed openly. Plus, I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed getting this particular section from a druid! It really helped me to understand where my particular druid was coming from.

    As for three, thanks :) I’ve read your blog several times and right now I’m beaming that you took the time out to help me, and getting it from two experienced perspectives is great. It’s definitely given me new drive to do my best at this all, and to hopefully correct any mistakes I’ve made along the way.

  2. Very nice, on our server our healing population is extremely short, and most the time they dont want to do much besides PvP because of all the idiots that can’t run an instance or take 2-3 hours for everything..

  3. Hey, Tulani,

    Sorry for the late response. The 4th of July weekend had me pretty busy.

    I think you’ll find talking to your raiders easier than your fear would suggest. The more you keep your lines of communication open, the easier it becomes.

    As far as overruling players goes, I don’t think you should ever do it unless you use a loot council system, or set up the condition far in advance. Otherwise, I agree with you on that one.

    I’ve found coordination to be a very difficult beast to tackle. The mutability in how gearing plays out requires people to constantly shift and adjust their plans. For example, it might be decided in advance that X should get Z before Y. But if X suddenly has 10 pieces of loot drop in a week, Y begins to think it’s a bit unfair for X to loot Z first. And that’s why I never explicitly say, “Okay, X, you’re next on that piece of loot.” And I cringe when one of my fellow loot council makes that sort of promise. So while you want to encourage people to come up with loot plans, there’s a limit to what you can do.

    Anyway, I’m glad I could offer you my perspective. Good luck in finding the courage to address these issues as you progress further into your leadership career!

    –Lume

  4. I have to agree with Lume, looting honestly does suck and often you get a glut or a drought of gear, and your gear plans change a lot. My development plan is essentially every piece of warrior gear and paladin gear between MH and BT (yeah I wear both to try and get the right balance, and each new piece I add radically alters my priorities from that point on as the subtle dance of survival stats vs threat stats comes into play).

    Overruling players, especially in a DKP system when the choice is both valid and an upgrade always feels wrong to me, and I believe that you really need to respect and acknowledge your players, in a bidding DKP system the price paid reflects how much you really want an item given unlimited DKP. In a recent roll on Myrmidon’s Treads (a really nice pair of warrior boots, or a really nice pair of avoidance boots for a paladin) I went with a fairly mid bid for my DKP, the warrior that was interested decided to bid under his current DKP minimum assuming I wouldn’t roll on them because they were “warrior” loot. Of course he could have used the boots as well, however they are on part of my path, and apparently I valued them higher than he did (we have had single bids of > 1,000 DKP when the next highest bid was 20 offspec, people are encouraged to bid what they believe the item is worth rather than trying to skim it for very little, DKP is easy to get and easy to spend).

    By overruling a player, especially if the item is on their progression list (if its a warrior needing on healing cloth feel free to smack him down imo, looting should at least be sensible and generally mainspec > off spec > if its going to de > I like void crystal), you set a trend that player’s decisions cannot be trusted, and indeed its impossible for a player to guarantee their own progression within the guild. This has happened to one of my friends, she has had the highest DKP for a long time now, and was looking for the T6 gear from Archimonde (its a huge upgrade for her), a new priest to the guild is brought in and given priority over her because its an even bigger upgrade (think blues -> T6), now potentially this is the right choice, upgrading someone horribly undergeared, however in doing so they devalued her attendance, her commitment and her trust in the fairness of DKP, she was led to believe that barring required upgrades for progression (so if one of their tanks drops out the replacement would get speed geared to an appropriate level and then placed back in normal DKP) she would get a fair shot at gear. It has been resolved, but for a while she was horribly upset, and really not trusting in the system, and feelings like that can undermine and erode a guild. We play and trust our master looters, we require 24 other people to raid with us, if we don’t have trust then the system breaks down, and at that point your guild risks going under.

  5. Lume I can’t believe I’ve been remiss for so long, but thanks for taking this on. It was great for me to get a chance to see other possibilities and solutions to the same question.

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