One thing that drives me NUTS when I'm sitting in a pug raid as it forms is those raid leaders who have no idea what they have in the raid. You know, those RLs that keep spamming "press 1 if ur heals," and they invite "healers" who are actually dps, or invite a dps and then forget that they're a dps and assume that they're healers just because of the color of their name? Quite often when a bunch of the healers have tabbed out or AFKed or just aren't paying attention because it's taking so long to start, and thus aren't even going to respond to the query on how many healers are in the raid?
I've pugged too much. It may drive me insane, some day, but I've met some cool people through it, too, so it's balanced out so far. But, I digress.
First of all, if you're going to lead a pug raid, please have raid frames for the raid on your screen. Trust me, it will make things easier. You can remove them later when the raid gets going, if you don't want them cluttering your screen (though it's very helpful as a raid leader to have them up at all times, so you can tell how many dead/debuffed you have). What the raid frames will give you is a targetable interface through which to take a look at people, nevermind will it prevent you from having to tab back and forth between the LFG tool and the raid social tab.
Second, if you have a bad memory on who in your group were healers... write down a list. Even if you don't do that, though, for laziness or lack of paper, you can still actually LOOK at the players in your raid and tell usually, at a targeted glance, whether they're a healer or not.
When you target someone, these things will normally come up:
- Health Pool
- Mana Pool
- Spec-specific auras
Someone with over 30k health (unbuffed) is likely a tank. Someone with over 40k health is most certainly a tank. Generally, if they have much higher HP than the rest of the raid, they're in some kind of tank spec or tank gear. If this is someone you didn't expect to tank, question them; they may not have gone to their second (dps or healer) spec yet, or they might be confused, or they might just be a better-geared tank than your currently selected MT!
- A ret pally will have less health than a prot pally.
- A DPS warrior will have less health than a prot warrior.
- A feral kitty druid will have less health than a feral bear druid (and, often, a yellow energy bar rather than a near-or-empty rage bar). Yes, cat and bear require different specs to optimize.
- A DPS DK will have less health than a tanking DK.
- ...the rest of the casters all tend to be pretty squishy in health pools, though you can use health pools compared to members of their own class to compare their relative gear levels, stamina being a stat mostly unavoidable on all gear upgrades. Be sure to account for any buffs that individuals may have on them already when doing such a comparison: kings, fort, mark, and blood pact.
This is one of the easiest ways to tell apart druid and paladin healers from the crowd.
- Druids: if they are significantly low mana, or if there's a complete absence of a mana bar, they're feral (in most cases; even travel forms have mana bars, though sometimes a waiting caster-druid may be goofing off in cat or bear). Otherwise, they are either healers or moonkin. Move on to auras from here.
- Paladins: if they are significantly low on mana, they are either prot or ret. Look at their health to decide from there. The only pallies who have high mana pools are healers.
This is your final at-a-glance indicator of talent spec. Many specs will have passive auras that are specific to their spec alone, and are an easy way to further delineate specs.
- Tree druids have a leaf-shaped "Tree of Life Form" aura; turkeys have a bird-faced "Moonkin Form" aura. If they are out of shapeshift form, you will have to whisper them or armory them. For the tree aura, make sure you are looking for the *form* aura, rather than the party buff aura.
- Shadow Priests have a dark "Shadow Form" aura, when shifted. They will often be in this form as the raid is forming, cuz it looks cool and they probably want to intentionally use it to announce "hey, I'm not a healer!!"
- Other classes have spec-specific auras as well, though all of their specs may be the same raid-role (dps), such as BM Hunters' Spirit Bond vs Marksman Hunters' Trueshot Aura.
When you've figured out your healers and tanks, remember who they are. Stick them in a party together, if that helps you remember them: spreading out healers to each party is a thing of the past and is no longer "required" for raiding. That way, if they drop the raid before you start, you'll know what you're missing, and you'll save time and the raid's sanity by not having to re-count your healers every 30 seconds!