Some generic raid-heal strategies
Amazingly, you can boil most raid-heal strategies to a handful of generics, needing only a small tweak to fit both the specific encounter and the number of available healers.
First, of course, we have to account for the number of healers. Again there’s a generic solution. The most common solution is groups +1. That is, one healer per five players, plus one more. Yes, there are lots of times when it’s groups or groups +2 or 3, but groups +1 tends to show up a lot. So that’s our composition for all the following healer strategies. And for examples I will assume a 25 player raid – adjust for 10 or 20 or 40 as necessary (it should be obvious). As to the strategies themselves….
The default strategy is Free For All (FFA). Every healer heals as they see fit. This works, to a point. That point being when things get a bit hectic. At that point you see a lot of overheals and interrupted casts aimed at the Main Tank, followed by the first and second off tank. And you start seeing dead DPSers as the heals started on the MT and interrupted to recast on other players are just that tiny bit too late.
A somewhat less chaotic strategy is a Modified Free For All (MFFA). Essentially the raid is divided into two or three groups, and the healers divided between them. Within the groups it’s still FFA, but with wise grouping the players habitually last on the heal chain now are SOMEBODY’s priority. A minor variation here is to dedicate one healer to a specific player – usually the Main Tank – which lets all the other healers know they’re support for that one and able to devote MORE time to the rest of their group. A major hurdle here is getting the raid leader to make clear (through some sort of grouping) which players are in which group for the benefit of the healers.
Another common strategy is the Squared Party, with its major variation of the Round Robin. An intuitively obvious system, in the squared party every group of five has its own healer, with the extra being either whole-group support, dedicated to the main tank (or in main tank’s party), or dedicated to healing the healers. In the round robin, each party’s healer watches two groups – theirs and the one numerically higher, with the highest looking at the first. (Example – in a 25 man raid, the healer in group 4 would heal groups 4 and 5. Her group 4 would also be watched by group 3′s healer, and group 5 has its healer as well.) And the floater gets, well, you know.
Notice that with very small adjustments, all of these can handle the common raid leader instruction of “heavy heals on the Main Tank, and spread out on the rest”. For example…
Use a 2-group MFFA, with the MT and two healers in the “heavy” group, and the remaining four healers covering the remaining 22 players (counting themselves).
Use a Round Robin, assign floater to the tank AND tell healers 1 and 5 that their priority of heals is to the MT.
Squared party, with MT and two healers dedicated to the MT. Oh – this one often has the other two players being solid support for the healers — a mana battery of some sort (shadowpriest, innervating druid, shaman, etc) and a healer protection player (frequently but not always a hunter with traps unused for CC).
[Gorda in comments reminds me (thank you) that there is one more generic. Call it "Tanks Plus". Basically, the tanks (main and off, however many "off" there are) each gets a dedicated tank, and the remaining healer(s) cover the group, normally as FFA.]
Are there variations? Sure. But most of the generic healing strategies for a raid fall into these
four five systems.
Note that this can make it, well, easier to train both the healers and the raid leader(s) in planning heals in the raid. And with practice, planning a change on the fly becomes a lot easier. “OK, this time [much discussion of combat tactics]. And healers will round robin with MAXHLZ dedicating to the main tank – and MINHLZ and HLZOR will make TANKER their priority.” (RR, MT emphasis from supporting group healers, floater dedicated to MT.)