Saturday, November 17, 2012

The current state of healing

I spoke about off-spec healing, and while writing I found that I was meandering into a post about,  what I believe, are currently some of the major issues with healing.

So I finished that post, and today I'll continue with where I left off.

What is the current state of healing?

To be honest I am not entirely sure. What I can personally see is that LFRs seem to always be waiting for healers to fill up the group. What I can also see is that I would get the incentive baggy about 50% of the time if I would join solo as a healer. I see this as often, if not more often than the tank baggy.

If I look at my feelings about healing, and explore them on a deeper level I think that there are a couple of reasons for this.

A healer is no longer the hero. This is partly due to off-spec healers, but I think the biggest reason for this is the way Blizzard has currently designed healers.

I am often told that numbers do not matter. I can do a boatload of healing, but if I heal the wrong people...But, if my success is not measured in healing numbers, than how do I know if I am succesful?

If my success is measured in keeping the raid alive, but I have no influence over who lives and dies, other than doing my normal rotation as good as I can and shouting at people to not stand in the bad, than how do I measure my success?

If keeping your feet out of the fire is an individual success, than I'm back to how do you measure the healer's success?

Let me list some things that I believe could help the healer position in the game.

Dps heals should be just that, dps heals. 

Limit the healing dps can do to self-heal only. And then only so much what they need in emergencies, so they can live a few seconds longer until the healer comes by and does the actual healer job. Dps should not be the ones responsible for healing, they should keep themselves out of trouble as much as possible, and be able to survive a moment while the healer is busy elsewhere, that's their job.

Find a way to bring the saviour aspect back to the healer role. 

We need more woah! moments in the healer specs, instead of rotation. It will give the healers their sense of importancy back, and it might even make more people chose for the healer role. I haven't had a woah! healer moment since Icecrown btw. Lifegrip was fun in Cata, but I don't need to be a healer for that.

And even my biggest woah! heal as a monk, Revival, is used only in specific moments of the fight since the fights are built around having spells like that. As long as that is true, it is not a save people's asses move, it is a rotational move.

People should die, guaranteed, if they try certain things without a healer. 

This comes with the whole, healers should be important thing. If you do not have the amount of healing only a healer can put out, the damage should be too big to live through. After all, nobody would think of going into a raid without a tank, right? Right. Healers should be necesary.

Don't get me wrong, I'm really glad that we can 2-heal the whole of Mogu'Shan Vaults, but it's pretty bad for the healer population if Blizzard starts building their encounters around having only 2 healers instead of 3 because there are not enough healers. I would rather have them spend that design time and thinking in how to make it such that enough people will want to be a healer.

Solve the cause, instead of the symptom.

Kill Mana Management. 

I mentioned it earlier, but mana management is NOT fun. And only since mana management was back with a vengeance in Cata, there's a shortage of healers everywhere.

Healing, in my opinion, should be about saving people. About finding the right tool for the right situation. And if you screw up in finding the correct tool, or using it correctly, on the person who needs it, people die. Simple as that.

Healing should not be about carefully pre-planning the entire fight in your head. Holding back at times because you know if you don't it will be a wipe at a later moment anyways due to mana shortage.

I let one of the tanks die this weekend on Will of the Emperor because if I had saved him, he would've fallen over 20 seconds later anyway due to me being oom. I made the conscious choice of using mana efficient spells because otherwise I would not be able to keep up enough healing for the fight so I hoped he would pull through with the smaller heals. Not fun.

Should it go back to whack-a-mole? Maybe sometimes, yes. Should it go back to one-button healing only? No, but that's easily preventable. If one heal is dependent on the other heal to work properly (combos) healers cannot possibly be a one-button healer.

Should there be no watching your mana bar at all? Nah, if you go overboard you should run out of mana still. However, if the heals are tuned differently you should just be able to react to what the fight calls for, without worrying about your mana bar.

What I miss most?

I wish I was able to heal when needed. I wish I was able to react to the fight, without having to sit back and just let the damage happen because I will be out of mana if I don't sit back.

I am capable of more, but my character is not, and I find that endlessly frustrating.

I wish I wish...but oh well.


  1. The specific server / server group must have a lot to do with the queues. I have not seen a Healer goody bag since I hit 90. Ever. Tank ones are always up tho. (Shadow Council-US, Alliance)

  2. I managed to grab myself 4 healer baggies in a row the other day.

  3. I'm not sure if WoW can provide what you are looking for without a total overhaul.
    What you may find more enjoyable is the healing style used in The Secret World:
    Healers have to stack the Heal stat, which means other roles are inneffective at healing unless they completely nerf themselves.
    You don't have mana, you cast small heals on cooldown, to build resources (max 5) which you then spend on larger "consumer" heals. Intermitantly you can use cooldowns for free (often saved for those "wow" moments when things go wrong)
    You mix and match seven active abilities and seven passive abilities. Meaning it's all about bringing the right tools for the job and building best synergy with your limited abilities.
    I will admit that the healing becomes trivial as soon as you outgear content, but I enjoyed it more than WoW healing.

    I can see some similarities between Mistweavers and this style, but it's still pretty far off.

  4. It definitely sounds as something I may want to try :)

    On the other hand, my main reason for playing WoW still are my friends and my guild. After playing together for several years, and also meeting at least half of them for real, I wouldn't want to leave them behind.

  5. I'd like to say while I didn't experience MoP yet, I liked the early Cata model for a simple reason: I see a problem with the "I want to experience a woah moment and be a saviour" argument. I can't speak for others but I simply can't experience a woah moment more than a couple of times during a boss fight. If I'm forced to - as was the case during ICC - it ceases to be a woah moment and becomes business as usual instead. I saved someone from a brink of death every couple of seconds but none of the saves were woah. On the other hand, the saves in T11 felt important because I felt I had to sacrifice something (the ability to save someone in the future).

  6. Yeah, to me it just felt as if I was just standing around half the time doing nothing.

    And some fights it still feels like that. Waiting, standing around to save my mana. So that I can push my button at 2.45 into the fight when the developers exactly planned for it.

    I loved ICC, but I don't mind less strain. I do mind not having options at all the save people. Everything, every fight, the whole fight feels pre-planned now. And if people take a step out of the planning...well, too bad, no compensation. Less bad now than in Cata, but still pretty much that.

    Maybe a middle road has to be found somewhere.

  7. Interesting, it felt the opposite for me. If I compare patches 3.3 and 4.0, I felt that I had no ability to compensate in ICC but had it in T11. Maybe it's because of the class I played (paladin), maybe it's because I didn't have what was needed to plan the whole encounter...

    I'm hoping saying this doesn't make you feel bad but my interest about MoP healing is definitely piqued. Although I'm hoping Blizzard will change it so it will be fun for you too. :)

  8. Thanks :) I definitely recognize that this is something that people might like. However, there is a shortage of healers.

    Every time I queue for an LFR it's the healers that we're waiting for. And I have guildies asking me if I could please let them know when I go so they can join with me.

    And to me it has seemed that this healer shortage has set in since wrath. So if it is not the healing style, what then?

  9. I was very impressed by this post. I loved Icecrown. Still my favorite raid ever! I was more excited to get LK down on normal, then I was when I got Deathwing down on Heroic. There are two major reasons for that. One, I love tank healing, and I loved being the class that best did that. When they made all the healers able to fill all the roles, they made it so I was forced to heal in ways I dont want to. I can get over this change, because adjustment is part of the game, but I miss the days of if I didn't do my job, the tank died, the raid wiped, and I knew it was my fault. Nowadays, if tank dies, all the healers blame someone else, because nobody is really "in charge" of keeping the tanks up. Second, I felt I was a master at split second decisions. I did triage, not because blizzard made me, but because it was the best way to maximize your healing output. And even at the very end, when my pally became a Holy Light spammer, I still had to make sure I was flawless in my approach, because one missed heal could mean a tank wipe. I knew what my job was, I knew how to measure it, and when we got LK down, I knew I played a big role, because keeping tanks up on LK was really hard. I agree with what you said, and wish blizzard would reanalyze the healing system, because my last woah moment was doing a cata dungeon a month after release with four people because one dropped and we couldn't get a fifth, so we just four manned it. I miss the woah moments.

  10. @Shy, LFR was not there in Wrath and I think LFD has traditionally lacked both tanks and healers. Although maybe there are players who did not play during ICC but would appreciate the healing model more than the current one?

    I wonder if there is a way to give both groups of healers the model they want...

  11. Oh, I know. I organized a pug 25man each Sunday from start of Ulduar until the end of ICC. And while I eventually had quite a few regulars eventually we seemed to have less of a problem with the heals.

    Also maybe because people would be more willing to switch to their offspec? If you get joined in the wrong spec now there is no chance for offspec gear, so dps with a healing offspec will not join as heals.

    I personally still miss the action from ICC :)

  12. I had regulars eventually, but less problems overall with heals...that was oddly phrased.