Friday, December 11, 2009

How To Heal a BG, Part 2

Time for part two of this series on how to heal a BG -- if you missed part one, you can find it here. Then, we talked about managing yourself, your addons, and your spells. Today we're talking about something more finicky and unreliable : managing group interactions with your friendly teammates. I am going to center this around a concept I call Battleground Inertia. Basically what that boils down to is: people are sheep. People follow whatever the prevailing mood, strategy, chat settings appears to be. If you are a dominant, take-charge person, you win what Richard Nixon I believe famously labeled the Silent Majority. It's important to remember that it was NIXON who coined this phrase because we all know Nixon was a crook, protestations to the contrary, and I think when he coined this particular phrase he was referencing the fact that he could pursue whatever policy he wanted and then claim that the people who opposed him were just a vocal minority and really, most people supported what he was doing. You shape opinion, by making an opinion. With that in mind, onwards!

Rule #4 : Setting the mood in chat

Conscious of the lack of promised pictures in the last post, I have endeavoured to make up that gap somewhat here, using an EotS match I did this morning. Step One is figuring out who your other healers are in the BG. I try to do something like this at the start of any BG I go into:

Sometimes this helps, and sometimes you get asinine comments like "I can bandage". So you have to be more proactive, for the people who are (remember!) sheep. Take a quick look at the people you have with you in the BG. In the case of my EotS match that went like this:

Now, this is where it becomes important that you have downloaded some kind of unit frames addon like I suggested (nay, ordered, even) you do in part one. Identify possible healers. Disregarding the straight-DPS classes, we have in this BG besides me (I heal, but presumably I knew that already) two pallies, a priest, and a shammy, all of whom could be potential healers. Pallies are easy: look at the mana bar. I don't have mana bars on my raid-frame, but when they're targeted they do. Each of those pallies had between 5-7k mana. That screams RET. Very rarely, they could be tanks, but you don't take tanks into BGs except maybe AV, and in any case, whichever it is, it's not a healer. A pally with 15k mana, on the other hand, definitely is. Similarly, a shaman with 10-12k mana is enhancement, not resto. Unfortunately they have a caster-dps spec (ditto that problem with boomkin druids and s-priests) and so you have no choice but to inspect them. This does not take long. Right-click, inspect, click talents. You don't even have to page through the different trees; the dominant one will come out on top. The shammy I was pretty sure was a healer, from

but I inspected anyway to make sure. Sure enough, he was. The priest, tenfour, also. If you look at my chat pic, you can see that by that point I had figured out who the healers were and had proceeded to

STEP TWO: Direct. Direct with a soft touch. People do not respond well to being ordered. I could have said, "tenfour, go MT -> FRR" but I don't find that works very well. Hence I just asked, with the intention that I would go somewhere else. There's a bizarre law of gravity that Cassandri over at Hots & Dots observed, that healers tend to clump up. It's not intentional, I don't think, but our mass causes some kind of gravitic interaction that sucks us together if you don't take strenuous efforts to avoid it. I regret to say that in this instance, tenfour did not tell me where he was going, leaving me to guess. But most people will respond to a direct inquiry with their name involved. I could have whispered him, I suppose, but I ran out of time here. Whispering is fine, it builds a sense of cameraderie.

Now you might ask : why ask who the healers are, when you can just inspect and find out yourself? This goes back to Battleground Inertia, and serves a secondary purpose beyond gaining knowledge. If you are in a BG where there is no bg chat, nobody will start it. If you're in a BG where there is angry bg chat with people blaming each other and telling everyone else how much they suck, then that will breed more of the same. What you are doing is hijacking the bg chat to serve your own ends. The end in mind here is "use BG chat to win the BG", which theoretically should be everyone's end, but frequently isn't. Set the tone right off: we are going to be helpful, we are going to coordinate. Also it helps reassure the dps, who tend to have bad self-esteem about things like this, that there are in fact healers here who are trying to keep them alive.

Rule #5 : Master the "Charge of Hesitancy"

Dilemma: How do you physically lead, without leading? I am firmly of the opinion that healers must be leaders in battlegrounds, for the simple reason that you stay alive longer than dps (generally) and so you tend to have a better overall view of the battlefield then someone who goes to point A, dies in four seconds, gets popped back over to point B to rez, and then wanders off to point C because point A now holds painful memories for him.

Given that, it is often your responsibility to lead the cavalry in a charge on another node (in AB/EotS/IoC), getting the flag back (WSG), or re-capping defensive towers (AV). However, as a healer, it is not good for you to be in the front because, well, we all know that the first one in is the first one targeted.

So how do you both? *Inertia*. People will rarely leave you to run off to a node by yourself, I find, and particularly at the beginning of one of those node-style games people tend to follow the ones who dash out the gate looking like they have a Serious Plan (even if they don't). So be the lead, charge forward. Here's the key part of this plan: when you start getting close to the node (crossing the bridge to the BS, or halfway across a bridge in EOTS, for example), take your finger off the forward key. Then charge again. Do this repeatedly, in quick, spasmodic stops. What this does is gradually put you towards the back, where all good healers should be, while gradually passing the lead torch to a DPS who, because of inertia, held down his forward key and doesn't know how to change directions or momentum. The point is that you STARTED the charge, and once the ball is rolling the other people will just roll with it even after you are no longer leading it. Like rolling a big rock down a mountain.

Rule #6 : Save someone's life

I generally do not advocate pocket-healing; it's too focused on one person at the expense of the overall picture. I do do it on occasion, as a fun change of pace and because I like people to hero-worship me *cough*, but overall, not recommended. Generally you can get the puppy-DPS to follow you with a short, sustained effort at the beginning. What you are trying to do is raise their awareness of you. To do this, an excellent tactic is to save someone's life, in a dramatic fashion. Standard healing here is not what you're looking for; people notice being healed from 70-100%; they will die for someone who just ostentatiously blew all their cds to bring them fom 1-60-100 (or whatever it is you do). Your healing of them can be subpar after that, or back to regular, but investing a burst of super-effort on someone once in a while goes a long way to making friends. And more importantly, encouraging cooperation. I had a pair of rogues in this game who basically circled me wherever I went like watchful puppies because I had heroically sacrificed myself to save them a few times. It also pays off more if you pull this stunt on classes who have NO SELF-HEALING whatsoever...they tend to notice it more.

Rule #7 : Be Situationally Aware

Use the M key. Seriously. Use it often, and know what you're looking at. Familiarize yourself with the maps, if you're new to BGs entirely. If you know the maps already, the next step is to build a connection between your map, and your raid frames. Particularly, try to keep tabs on where the other healers are, and try not to be there. Another good thing to do is to look for strategic places on the map that are poorly defended. Not that you have to go there immediately to defend it -- maybe it's poorly defended because it's in the back and doesn't need to be heavily guarded -- but mouse over the node on your map and see who exactly is there. Then close your map. Hunt on your raidframes for where that person (or persons) is. Try to keep an eye on that raid frame's health. If they start getting hurt, the node is under attack, even if they didn't call it in BG chat. Run over there and heal them up and protect the node. Call that it's under attack, obviously, since the original defence failed to do that. In this EotS game I was able to stave off an attack on two different occasions doing this. On another occasion I noticed that DR was being guarded by only the resto shammy. Since I knew he was a resto shammy from the beginning, I knew it wasn't smart to leave thim there so I politely asked in /bg for a dps to go back him up, even though he was not under immediate attack. He was attacked shortly thereafter, though I don't take credit for magically foreseeing that happening. The point is you are trying to keep control of the BG and see trouble spots before they develop. If you are not in a vent premade, reaction times go way down because you don't have that instant communication, so PREVENTATIVE action becomes more important, as well as anything you can do to speed up your (and others') reactions.


That's it for this section. Next time, how to fight the bad men!


Cynwise of Stormwind said...

At first, I was like, Puppy DPS?

Then I realized how much that describes me. Heal me, and I'm your dog.

I'm okay with that, actually!

Anonymous said...

Healer's make or break any battleground. I'm your dog even before you heal me.

Only a flag carrier is worthy of more defense than a healer.