Welcome to the first installment of The Crossroads our new weekly feature where Ercles and Wulfy jointly attempt to answer the questions and issues that you raise. The twist is that we write our contributions separately and without any peeking at what each other has written, providing you with unedited insights into the scary recesses of our minds. This week we respond to a question by Jakkru about what our views are on playing a healer and which aspects of healing we find the most frustrating. Read on to discover our opinions!
Righto, I’ll try to keep this short. What I like about healing, what I dislike and what I would like to see change. I’ll start with the easy one, what I dislike.
Above all the things that annoys me the most is other people making my job unnecessarily hard. I’ll heal you when you stand in the fire™ once or twice and tell you not to do it again. But if you blatantly ignore it and go “lolz u can heel thru it” I won’t heal you. As a guildy said “I heal damage, not stupidity”. Just to clarify, standing the fire™ because the fight or the mechanics are new to you that’s fine, you can’t expect anything else. But those people who refuse to move because they are lazy or absolutely have to do half a million DPS in heroic Utgarde Keep really do my head in.
The other major thing that bugs me about healing is something Blizzard luckily is looking into, how spiky healing as become. Mana efficiency has almost become a non-issue, instead it’s about pumping out the highest HPS you can no matter how you do it. Healing used to feel more tactical. “Do I use the sparkly chain thing or the instant cast water thingymajig?” and “Do I heal that mage or that kitty druid?”. The way things are at the moment, one second of hesitation will quite often mean that someone dies. Tam made a graph that sums it up nicely.
Right, time to settle down. Deep breaths, happy thoughts. As I’ve probably said in earlier post, one of the reasons I tend to prefer healing over DPS-ing is how I always have to react to what goes on around me. I’m not saying I don’t have to have situational awareness when playing a DPS-specc, healing just feels less static. Once I’ve learned a fight as DPS there usually is very little variation to it, when I’m healing I’ve always got to be ready for someone accidentally taunting the boss, jumping off a ledge or hitting on a big angry murloc’s girlfriend.
The other major thing I enjoy about healing is what I talked about in the whiny bit. Making decisions and calculations as you go. When healing and tanking I’m making decisions every few seconds. I constantly have to think about where I’m standing, what spell to use, what target to use it on and if I have enough rage/mana/DK-stuff or not. It adds a lot of variation to my gameplay. While fight mechanics are the same every time, the “healing experience” will always be slightly different.
If Blizzard do what they have said and make damage less spiky and nerf mana regen and mana pools there really isn’t much I would like to see change about healing. Sure, there are minor annoying things that just seem arbitrary and only exist to annoy you, but I think healing overall would be in a good place if they do fix this.
It was a long time before I grew to like healing. As a Shaman it was always a third of my existence but it was mostly something I did only in specific circumstances. For example: “OMG our priest has been eaten by an angry ogre – quickly someone heal us NOW!“. However upon hitting 80 I underwent a rapid change of heart when it came to theart of reverse-dps, mostly because I came to realise how good it felt to be the saviour of the group. For a DPS the only important thing is that you keep hurting the bad guys. Whilst your epeen may be measured by how quickly you do this its generally ok to be a bit lax in your damage, the boss will probably die eventually. However the same cannot be said for your party’s healer. As a healer you have to be on the ball all the time, or people WILL die. Thats a lot of responsiblity to have, which translates into a lot of fun because your actions really mean something. Its always nice when things go horribly horribly wrong and its up to your rapid key presses to save the day – it really gives you a sense of purpose and benevolent awesomeness.
That said however, I’ve now been resto spec full-time for well over a year and some things do start to become annoying. First among these is idiots. Its all very well me being a paragon of healing but if someone is standing in the fire, picking his nose and spamming “BEWBS!” in the raid channel, then theres only so much I can do to keep them alive. Or more accurately, I won’t do anything to keep them alive. Fortunately I have an awesome guild so its not much of a problem, but the recent invention of the cross-realm LFG feature has exposed me to some people who ended up mysteriously dying over and over.
In a more general sense though my main gripe with healing is that its very spammy. As long as you have decent mana regeneration (which isnt hard to achieve) you can spend most boss fights just spamming your heal abilities with a complete disregard for mana efficiency or overhealing because it simply doesn’t matter, you can power through. I’m a max-level alchemist and I cant remember the last time I chugged a mana pot or used a mojo flask. As such my time as a raid healer is divided into two distinct states. The first is where I am coasting and spamming as and when required. this occupies about 95% of my time. The other state is where everything is going to hell and the raid is in danger of wiping due to massive spikes in damage. As I mentioned above, these times can be immensely challenging and fun. However the fact that they only occur rarely, and usually only when something has gone wrong, is disappointing. To be fair Blizzard has mentioned this as something they will try to fix in Cataclysm, but for now, its rather frustrating to be a spam bot. But I’ll keep on healing, at least spiky damage gives me a pleasurable adrenaline rush!