LFD and Healer Burnout

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Burnout: noun \ˈbərn-ˌat\ exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration (Webster)

We’ve all seen it happen. But just a reminder, let’s grab our popcorn and take a look at how an attempt at completing the daily heroic in the random LFD plays out majority of the time.

Heroic Halls of Origination (Anraphet):
Mely: Please remember to move out of goo.
Tank does a ready check and pulls. Evil purple spawns on the floor. The hunter doesn’t move.
Mely: Goo!
Hunter remains and dies.
Hunter: Wtf Healz??
Other dps: Healer fails.
*You have been removed from the group*

Heroic Shadowfang Keep:
*Tank pulls trash while party is buffing. We barely make it through with zero cc and I’m down to my last drop of mana.*
Shadowpriest: Dude do a readycheck or something.
Mely: Please use cc for these pulls – they hit hard.
Tank: We don’t need cc for this – never had a problem with any other healer. Heal though this crap
*Tank pulls while I’m still drinking, group wipes*

By now, these scenarios should have you wincing at your own less-than-pleasant experience with LFD PuGs. I’d like to say one thing: It’s not you.

I chose to bring this up today because after almost two months of Cataclysm being released, it would seem as though the high probablity of failure in PuGs has brought down much of the great changes to dungeons and healing with a resounding crash. And, in my opinion, this crash seems bigger to healers because majority of the time when a group wipes, the healer takes the brunt of the blame regardless of where the mistake was. A thick skin and persistance seem to be the short term solution, but everything has a limit.

It is inevitable that a constant rain of blame, kicks and healing-on-the-edge without smart cc is nothing short of incredibly stressful, with little or no thanks at the end of it. A few weeks of this sort of grind wore me down and burnout of a different sort was just around the corner. Whenever I pressed the LFD button it was with a feeling of dread, and it had somehow become associated with inviting insults rather than running a dungeon. I was rather in a dilemma because I love healing and always have…and yet random dungeons with a very few exceptions usually spelt disaster.

Burnouts happen and pugging is no exception, particularly with the required level of coordination in the new dungeons. Here are some of lessons learnt on dealing with this, as a fellow healer who’s been there:

  • Diversify into alts: The best thing one can do is take a solid break from that particular character or healing in general. If you’re at the point where healing is more work than play, step back and don’t put yourself through any more. Cataclysm brought much more than just endgame content – we have new races and entire new quest chains to explore.There’s more to Azeroth than just dungeons.
  • Professions: Taking a break means you now have two hours to gather herbs or level up your professions instead of spending it in a dungeon. Archaeology is another great profession to relax with and whats more, you might get lucky and get yourself a shiny!
  • RP or PvP: These are great alternatives to PvE and offer a different perspective even if you’re playing the same character. There’s nothing quite like killing a member of the opposing faction to vent your rage. Better still if you do in a cute outfit!
  • Or try an entirely new hobby: I’m serious! =) Sometimes a balancing act is all it takes to bring back a little bit of enthusiasm and positive side of other hobbies. I ended up reading a book that I’d been wanting to but never got a chance to.

When you’re ready to go back in and give it another shot:

  • Starting off on the right foot: I always greet members of my party. It might seem trivial at first but it does wonders in opening up communication between members from the get go be it the tank requesting, the dps offering it…or simply me asking for a mana break. =)  Ofcourse there are always those who choose to play stupid regardless, but hey atleast you tried.
  • Offering to lead: Noone ever really likes to lead but in my experience if the rest of the members have obviously never been to the place before, leading the group and explaining the fights is your best chance of success. Whats more, members often appreciate it when a complete stranger takes the time to fill them in and it makes for a happy PuG overall.
  • Hold your Ground: This is pretty much dealing with obnoxious jerks. I am open to constructive criticism and discussing alternate strategies to fights. However obnoxious, uncalled for insults is where I draw the line. I am a healer – not a personal punch bag. The hunter who stood in purple goo can yell at me all he likes but he isn’t going to get healed unless he makes an effort to move out. All I can say is try not to let it get to you – its easier said than done, but having support goes a long way.

As a final thought, I have met some amazing groups through the random dungeon finder. While they may be few and far between, they exist. It’s groups like those that make me wish the designers put in a cross-realm friend system of sorts. It would go a long way in making the LFD experience a lot more fun. In the meantime, happy healing!

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