Thursday, September 8, 2011

On substitutions - and Healers getting the shaft?

One of the tough things about having a blog that your guild mates know about is that it can be tough to have two separate opinions on a subject.  Today's topic was inspired by some discussions going on in our guild right now, and I'll say up front that while I may not agree with the decisions that may come out of the discussions, they aren't discussions that need my input.  I'm not a healer here, so any talk about healing strategies doesn't really concern me.  When it comes to decisions about running a raid, once again - if my input is asked for I'll give it - but at the end of the day I'm just a raider, not an officer or the Raid Leader.

Damn, this could be a post on it's own.  Short version here is, while I may not agree with all the decisions, I support them and respect that they've been made.  Having said that, I'll get on to my real points today.

Raid Substitutions

Back in the day, and more so in BC, raid substitutions had to occur pretty regularly in some guilds.  In Vanilla you might have been happy just to have 40 members for a raid (or 20 for the ZG/AQ).  Unless you were a big guild (or farm night for us), you didn't have more than that showing up anyway.  When raids dropped to 25m in BC, you started seeing more players being subbed in for specific fights.  More/less AoE, different tank types, etc.  While a lot of it depended on how progressed your guild was (chasing server firsts vs server 81sts), a lot was based on what someone read was the right way to do a fight.

There's another type of substitution that occurs as well, and that's based on loot drops.  Some bosses are notoriously stingy with certain drops, and depending on your roster rotation and the fickle nature of loot - you might never see that upgrade you're looking for (shields, weapons, and trinkets are notoriously bad).  I'm sure we all have at least one tale involving a missed raid, and a specific piece of gear dropping, and never being seen again.  Except when someone opened the trade window and taunted you with it.

Unfortunately, these types of substitutions are a pain in the ass to deal with.  Depending on your guild culture, your RL probably spends a fair bit of time every week dealing with scheduling issues already.  Between making sure that all your players have an opportunity to see/kill all the bosses, meeting day off needs, and dealing with last minute misses - the RL has a lot on their plate.  Adding in the additional stress of making sure that Bob gets in for a specific kill is pretty much just asking for them to eat the muzzle of a gun.

In addition to the bother of having to keep track of who needs to swap when, changing out players can be a big hit to momentum.  This isn't as big of an issue in a 25m if you're just swapping out a single player, but in a 10m it can be a big hit (especially if it's a tank or healer swapping out).

Now I will state that there is an exception to my general dislike of substitutions, and that is when the players take the responsibility of subbing out themselves.  This includes everything from making sure you coordinate the swap appropriately (right bosses, etc), to being right outside for the swap.  You also have to make sure that you're willing to swap out for the other guy, and even be willing to give up your regular night if necessary. Of course all of this has to be run by your RL before you try and pull it off.

I'll type that again for the reading impaired.


I really can't stress that enough.  If the RL says no subs, that's the end of the conversation.  Period.  Will it suck if a drop gets wasted?  Sure.  But this is one of those situations where you have the option to either just roll with it, or vote with your feet.  Don't get sour about life if the decision doesn't go your way - just soldier on.

Healers get the shaft - again (still?), or working as intended?

More and more I believe that Blizzard really hit the nail on the head with 10m raiding.  Most of the 10m Firelands (Baelroc is the only one I'd wonder about) can be two healed right out of the gate.  I've talked before about the differences between two and three healing content, and I'll stick by the notion that it's certainly up to your specific group.  There are some distinct benefits to both types of play, and it really doesn't matter which one you do.  Most bosses are perfectly fine with the 2 tank, 2 heal model - which works well since that's what you need for two 5 man groups.

Where things take a twist though is with heroic mode bosses.  I firmly believe that not everyone is meant to go 7/7 heroic in this tier (or 13/13 in the previous one).  Heroic mode fights however are completely different.  You cannot simply adjust your DPS order or tank rotation and call it good.  DPS requirements are generally sky high, and the encounters are fairly tight for all parties.  Healing has to be spot on and higher, tanks have to be right on the mark with CDs, and the DPS needs to just pour it on.

More importantly though, the DPS has to avoid every scrap of incoming damage possible.  You cannot stand in a blaze, miss an interrupt, or let your head slip up your ass for a second.  If you have a personal CD, you have to use it.  Self heal?  Better cast it.  Losing some DPS for a few seconds to either avoid damage or heal yourself back up is completely worth it.

Now, what this will eventually lead to is most groups being forced into a two heal model to meet the DPS requirements.  Either that, or you're going to spend a lot of time getting your DPS geared up to the point that they can cover that sixth DPS.

This does a number on guilds that run a three heal model for two reasons.  First, the odds are pretty good that their healers don't have a DPS spec/gear/experience to do competitive DPS.  What this means is that the odds are good that one of your healers, someone who's put in the same amount of time getting you to this point, is now sitting out for another DPSer.  This can put a lot of stress on those healers, because they're basically being punished for playing the class you needed.  Guilds have broken up over smaller issues than this.

Now this discussion is currently happening for us, because we're running into some issues with heroic progression.  Is it a healing issue?  A DPS issue?  Who knows.  What I do know is that knee jerk reactions to change the makeup of your raid is a dangerous thing.  Personally, I think that if you're not hitting an enrage timer, you don't change anything.  Now if you don't have the DPS to kill mandatory adds or the boss, it's a different story.  Then you have to make a swap.  Again though, if you do this your DPS loses any cushion that they might have had for mistakes.


Can't stress it enough.  If your guild switches form a 3 heal to a 2 heal fight, you cannot stand in the giant big for one second without using your own heals/CDs to get through it.

Remember - it's not your call

Finally, remember that if you're not the RL, or maybe an officer in on the discussion, once the decision has been made, that's it.  Let it go, and don't keep pushing an issue.  The officers and RL have enough on their plate already, they don't need you taking an issue beyond a discussion and into the petulant child realm.


  1. Baleroc is definitely two healable (at least that is the only way we've done it). But Beth'tilac on the other hand (heroic that is), even with the nerf it's pretty dang difficult to pull off with only one healer downstairs. But I definitely agree with you, I love that they've made it possible for two healers to do just about any fight, some even get easier with fewer healers like Majordomo! So you're on to something about raids needing less healers.

  2. Hi,
    Apologies to contact so abruptly. I've recently started by own World of Warcraft blog, and was wondering if you might like to share links between our blogs. Mine tends to focus on a humorous in-character viewpoint of the game world. I've only just started, it is over on and if you are willing to link, it would seriously help me increase traffic and get some viewers.
    Thank you.


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