Jov sez: What Trash Says About You

September 23, 2008

No, I’m not talking about McDonalds bags or kitty litter, I’m talking about instance trash. This is actually a bit of a tie-in with Seri’s post about apping to a raid guild. It was prompted by problems our guild has faced in the past with new recruits, so I wanted to bring it up. There is more to joining a raid guild than having the gear for the content. Finding the right “fit” is a process, and very open to pitfalls. I think we all have a tendency to just go shopping for a guild at the right level of progression, without thinking first about what sort of raid environment we enjoy. I’m not just talking about the people and vent chatter, I’m also talking about the actual process of raiding. Knowing what you need and want is your responsibility to consider before accepting a guild invite, and should be brought up by you in the interview process. The simplest, and perhaps most telling, would be to ask how the guild handles trash.

Two examples to illustrate what I feel are two ends of a spectrum:

The Meticulous Style

This is many group’s default, at least while learning content. Every pull is marked, every tank and CC’er has their target, everyone is careful. There is very little FFA healing, each healer assigned to a specific person or group/party and sticking with it. It’s also very much healing by the rules. Lots of cancel-casting, letting hots tick without being overwritten, there’s a general focus on doing what is needed and conserving resources. Healing is not a competition, you’re doing what is most needed to get the boss down cleanly. This style is very good when things go wrong, there’s usually a back-up plan in place. Also, this style is very friendly to low-healer groups. Doing content with fewer than the recommended number of healers pretty much demands this style of gameplay.

The Aggressive Style

This is almost the opposite of Meticulous. It’s perhaps best considered a controlled chaos. This is much more common on the instance you’ve farmed to death and just want to get through as quickly as possible. Tanks fight each other for aggro on multiple targets (Tank A decides he wants all his targets, plus a few of Tank B’s) AoE occurs more often than single-target DPS, and beyond assigning tank heal assignments, the rest is FFA healing. Most pulls have a “seat of your pants” feel, and you spend a good deal of the evening riding the line of something going very wrong. This sort of style usually occurs with a very strong, overgeared group. However sloppy it may look, however, it is done by people who know their capability. Tanks will steal targets, but not more than they know they (and their healers) can handle. Healers will cross-heal with abandon, but only as far as they know their mana will stretch.

The Problem

As is probably obvious, problems can occur when someone who is used to raiding with a group who uses one extreme applies to a group who goes the other way. If you were happy with the style of raiding of your previous guild, you need to also ensure your application goes to a guild which follows the same style. (If you’re not happy with the style, by all means, find a guild of the opposite style to apply to.)

If you are a meticulous healer, you’re healing by-the-books, the right way. Your target is staying up, you’re doing everything the right way. However, if you join an aggressive guild, you’re either going to be bored (because someone else is always going to have a heal land first, or overwrite your hot) or going to cause red flags with your class lead when WWS reports your effective healing numbers are half that of those who share your spec/assignment.

Conversely, if you’re an aggressive healer and join a meticulous guild, you’re going to spend your time feeling like you’re surrounded by a bunch of slackers. You’re not going to want to watch the DPS’s health slowly climb as hots tick, you’re going to want to give ’em a boost now. You’re also likely to cause just as many red flags with your class lead for your flagrant cross-healing. At the end of the day, your healing numbers may blow everyone else out of the water, but you’re going to cause people to worry about your conservation and what will happen if things go wrong.

The Solution

Neither healer nor guild in either of my previous examples is wrong, they are only wrong for each other. Where the wrongness occurs is before the first raid, it’s in the interview, or even the application. It is the applicant’s responsibility to know what their style is, and to find out if that meshes with the guild they are applying to. Guilds also have the responsibility to be open and upfront with what sort of healing environment they will provide.

No guild is going to follow either style 100% of the time, nor are they always going to adhere to the extreme. Most guilds are probably somewhere in the middle. Know where you stand, so when you apply, you know you’re not setting yourself up for failure.


  1. So what’re you? :O

    Personally, I consider myself to be the pseudo aggressive healer. With the switch to IDS, I can’t do that as much any longer :(.

  2. I’m a happily aggressive cog in an extremely aggressive raid team.

    Our raid leader has actually commented we should start pulling Behemoths with the packs leading up to Bloodboil intentionally, just because we manage it faster that way.

  3. I agree if you are used to one style you are going to not fit in the other style very well. However, I am not sure it needs to be a main concern when finding a guild. It seems that as a good healer it is my responsibility to change my healing style to mesh with the guild, and if I am a good healer I should be able to.
    I am pretty sure most every guild is going to use the meticulous style almost always for bosses, even sometimes for farm bosses, so it is not like the healers aren’t going to have any experience with it. Going the other way from meticulous to aggressive might be a bit harder, however as a priest, I think this is just another area where we need to adapt our healing style to fit the situation.

  4. As I commented in the post itself, this -is- actually something that has caused our guild problems in the past. We had someone transfer, they had the gear, they were progressed to within a couple bosses of us… Three weeks in, we were told that our aggressive healing style was stupid, we were doin’ it wrong and needed to lrn2play. They /gquit and… did something, I don’t know what.

    The point being: they came from a meticulous raid group, and as I commented above to Matt, ours is VERY aggressive. They were unhappy raiding with us, and the fit was just bad. Communication before the $25 was paid would have resolved it before it could have become an issue.

  5. On the up side, I now am sure to mention to all potential recruits that our raid healing team is extremely aggressive. 🙂

  6. Hmmm, interesting. I hadn’t thought of this as much.

    Most of the guilds I’ve been in have been aggressive healing guilds, often due to my influence.

    Thank goodness I got lucky. ^_^

  7. Indeed ^^

  8. Thanks, interesting article to ponder about. As someone that aspires to raid heal in the future, I now know that I should be looking for a “meticulous” guild, as I strongly believe that strategy > tactics =)

  9. I’ve been thinking about this a bit and I think it’s not quite as cut and dried as you present, Jov. How a raid group handles healing and how they handle trash pulls may be very different because there are different personalities at work. The same person that decides how trash is handled isn’t always in charge of healing assignments.

    A guild that is very Meticulous about marking/tanking might have Aggressive healing on the back end. An Aggressive FFA tanking group might be Meticulous about their healing assignments because, let’s face it, things could go south fast if they’re not on the ball.

    Or maybe I’m totally misunderstanding what you’re trying to say. 🙂

  10. I am definately also in the aggressive boat 🙂 Lets just say mages love to aoe eh? samownall – Wow Blogger

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