Ask The Blogger #1 – Healing
I really can’t believe the questions that were asked. I also really really can’t believe the questions that were chosen. If that wasn’t bad enough, the answers given were so nondescript that I’m not sure they’re appeasing anyone.
In response to this, I have chosen to answer the questions myself, and I highly encourage you to do the same. Considering that most of the questions weren’t development questions, but instead “Why isn’t this working for me?” questions, I think the community at large are best equipped to answer.
Q: I spend a lot of my time in raids keeping Water Shield up, which I rely on to maintain enough mana. There have been times I’ve neglected to heal someone because I had to refresh Water Shield. Why are shaman healers less effective compared to other healing classes?
Water Shield is a great mana resource. If you think about it, most healers have to sacrifice a lot more healing time or healing effectiveness than shaman to replenish their mana. If any class should be complaining about replenished mechanics it’s paladins. If you don’t know other healers mana cooldowns and mechanics, it would serve you well to get familiar with them.
As for refreshing Water Shield when someone needs a heal, you have to prioritize healing over mana cooldowns.
Also, if you’re using Water Shield mechanics as a reason that shaman are less effective you’re focusing on the wrong area. All healing specs have their strength and maybe the playstyle of shaman isn’t for you. Shaman is an excellent “hybrid” healing spec in the way that you can provide significant tank healing, and also significant raid healing. Going between these two strengths can be quite fluid with practice.
Q: Is it intended for “smart” heals and target capped aoe spells to heal companions/pets like bloodworms instead of players? Can you redesign Shaman’s Chain Heal, so that it can jump over full HP players to a target without full HP? Do you have any plans to make chain heal stronger/more appealing for 5man/10man content?
If Chain Heal is hitting things like bloodworms or full health targets, I would argue that you didn’t actually need to use Chain Heal. The heal can hit 4 total targets, and to use it on less than 3 injured target is a waste. I would even say it’s a waste on less than 4 targets unless they are taking sustained AoE damage. In general, a Riptide and then two quick Healing Waves (from Tidal Waves proc) is a more efficient and precise way to heal than a Chain Heal.
If you’re asking for Chain heal to be able to jump indefinite range that would be far too powerful of a heal spell.
I would encourage you to get used to using Riptide, Healing Wave x2, and then Chain Heal on the target with Riptide, Healing Wave x2, etc.
I personally use Chain Heal quite effectively in 10 man content. It was a bit hard to make good decisions with it at first, but you soon learn to see the lay of the land, and understand logically when the spell will be worthwhile. If you really are having issues using it efficiently, I highly recommend GridStatusChainHeal in conjunction with the addon Grid. The basic rule I follow with Chain Heal is this: Use Chain heal if a visible group of players will be taking sustained damage or if a visible group of players will need several heals to get to full health. Even when I do use chain heal, it’s almost never twice in a row unless it’s incredible sustained damage, otherwise I’ll weave in Healing or Greater Healing Waves.
Q: At the start of Cataclysm, the the idea was given that developers wanted to step away from niche healing and let all healers be capable tank or raid healers. Has this goal since changed? Is there any plan to change the dogma “Holy Paladin = Tank healer”? As I remember, devs said that they wanted to change this formula in a past interview but Holy Paladins are still considered as a tank healer, indispensable for raid. Even thought other healers can heal tankers, there are people who say that this job is hard for other healers.
As I mentioned in a previous answer, every healing class has strengths and weaknesses. Also, every player has strengths and weaknesses. Add this to the stereotypes we developed during Wrath of the Lich King and you’ve got a formula for class/spec specific healer roles.
It would be a serious mistake to make all healers equally good at all aspects of healing. If that were the case, you would instead be complaining about “why don’t all healers have identical cooldowns, buffs, and utility based abilities.
I hate to repeat myself even more, but “If you don’t know other healers mana cooldowns and mechanics, it would serve you well to get familiar with them.” I have raided on every healing class and spec since Cataclysm started. I would go so far as to say that I’m fairly competent with all of my healers.
That being said, while Paladins do have a great single-target arsenal, they are also capable of doing excellent raid healing. Just because a healing class doesn’t have several multi-target spells doesn’t mean they can’t raid heal. Paladins for instance can beacon a target, while using Holy Shock, Holy Light, and Word of Glory on multiple targets in quick succession. Combine this, with their Protector of the Innocent talent which heals yourself and you’ve got quite a bit of quick healing going out.
Shaman, as I’ve talked about already, have the ability to heal many targets quickly, as well as focus fire those heals all into one target to tank heal. Add Earth Shield to the mix, and they can cover any role.
Priests have great tools in both specs. Power Word: Shield for Discipline Priests is a great way to buy healers some time to get to a player in need of some help. Prayer of Mending is excellent and efficient healing for both specs. Circle of Healing does wonders if you know where to aim it. Both specs have great single-target throughput.
Druids are also quite versatile. Usually falling under the opposite extreme of the stereotype, Druids have great raid healing options. Wild Growth is an Smart HoT with a huge range. Lifebloom can be kept up on a tank, along with Rejuvenation and Nourish spamming will do wonders on a tank. Procs of Omen of Clarity allow for free casts of Healing Touch or Regrowth giving you even more great single-target throughput.
All of that being said, it’s about your playstyle. Once I realized that each healer has to view the battlefield and treatment of situations very differently, I realized that it wasn’t the class that was the issue in a situation, it was my lack of knowledge in how to best deal with it given my toolkit. Are certain roles easier on certain specs? That really just depends on you. Blizzard has done a great job of helping to eliminate the role gaps.
Q: Are you still considering creating a new heroic class of healer? Are there any plans for adding any new class with a healing talent tree in future expansions?
While I can’t give an “answer” response to this, I’d like to weight-in and say that I don’t think Blizzard should make a “healer” hero class. They should make a hero “caster” class. Since our one and only current precedent for defining what a hero class is would be Death Knights, I would make the claim that they’re not a “DPS” or “Tank” hero class, so why should we have a hero “Healer” class? Death Knights are a hero “Melee” class, with a tanking option. I would personally love a hero caster class. One tree can definitely be for healing, but the other two should be for DPS and, Devs willing, the first caster Tank?
Q: What are the developers’ thoughts on perhaps giving Discipline priests three strengths/types of shields/absorbs, in a similar manner as all other healers have three main heals? Discipline priests (especially those purely going for absorb) always were unique through this absorb, I mean: Shields. Why does this become shorter and shorter, always saying we should go for direct healing instead? In that case you could play another healing class that has better direct heals.
Discipline Priest has Heal, Flash Heal, and Greater Heal. I count 3. Add to this Penance. Add to that Power Word: Shield. I count 5 spells that help undo or prevent damage. It’s all about knowing when to use what. Discipline Priest also has the option to spec into Smite providing a Smart heal which is situationally optimal.
As for having different strengths and types of absorbs, they actually already do. Don’t forget about Divine Aegis and Power Word: Barrier. With Power Word: Shield, that’s 3.
I’m not exactly sure what the question is asking when they say “those purely going for absorb”. Discipline Priest have never been about absorbs only and no direct healing. If that’s what you’re hoping for, it simply doesn’t exist. They changed the way Power Word: Shield worked because it was approaching a severely reduced need for direct healing model. By the end of Wrath of the Lich King Discipline Priests were able to contribute a huge amount of damage mitigation via shields alone. The Cataclysm change led to a definite playstyle difference, but an overall more versatile one.
Q: When healing, it is hard to see the overall screen because healers must keep an eye on the Raid frame. And due to PVP balance issues, dispels are only allowed for healer’s. This situation makes it too harsh for the healers and gives to much responsibility and also a burden because healers have to heal and move at the same time during raids. Isn’t this a little too harsh?
I’m not sure I would use the word “harsh”. Maybe “hard” instead? But even then I wouldn’t use it because it’s equally difficult for all other roles during raids.
It sounds to me like the problem is being able to see both the field of battle and the Raid Frames at the same time. If that’s your issue, getting a Unit Frames addon for healing (Grid, Heablbot, Vuhdo, etc.) might be your solution. You can resize any of these addons and also place them wherever is most convenient for you. I have my Raid Frames just off to the left from where my character is centered on my screen.
I’m assuming the player that asked this question doesn’t drive, or at least, I hope they don’t. Let’s rephrase this question from the viewpoint of a driver:
When driving, it is hard to see the overall surroundings because drivers must keep an eye on the road. And due to safety issues, licences are only allowed for certain ages. This situation makes it too harsh for the drivers and gives too much responsibility and also a burden because drivers have to watch their speed and navigate turns at the same time while driving. Isn’t this a little too harsh?
Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Well for many drivers, at first, it can be a lot to keep track of. With experience, the bulk of it becomes second nature, and all you do have to worry about are the variables such as when to stop or turn etc. It’s the same with raiding and PVP. I’ve got a feeling that with more experience the person that asked this question will come back to it and have a good laugh.
Q: Healers are usually responsible for the loss of the teammate, but not all the mistakes are made by healers, such as over taunt or damage zone avoidance. This also happens in the 5 man dungeons frequently. Is there any chance to add a design to punish damage classes with inappropriate behavior? Is there ever going to be a clear indicator that the indivdual died from “unhealable damage” in combat logs/on screen warning?
There already are clear indicators. They just fly by on your combat log way too fast. It would definitely be nice for Blizzard to add some kind of option for the chat that announces what killed someone.
Even this though, can be misleading. Say for instance someone was low on health from damage that could have been healed through, but then was killed by something else that should not have killed them. This data can be read in the wrong way.
There are addons, such as Recount, that not only keep track of who has died, but also will show you a short timeline of what damage and healing the player took leading up to their death. This sheds huge light on what was really responsible for the player’s death. If Blizzard has a system that said “Nofuneral was killed by Engulfing Magic” for instance. On the face of it it would look like the player with Engulfing Magic, which explodes damage all around the player with the debuff, didn’t move fast enough. After close examination of an addon like Recount, you might discover that Nofuneral actually didn’t receive any healing for 20 seconds prior to his death, and that Engulfing Magic should not have been able to kill him.
Most groups I have ever been a part of either understand how to determine the cause of a death, or they do not. Groups that have to guess, are usually incorrect. Then someone whips out the Blame-thrower and tempers flare, people leave, etc.
As for 5-mans, I assume the player asking the question has had negative experiences using the Looking For Group tool. I think it’s very very bad idea to punish players that are still learning and making mistakes. You already the ability to kick players that are doing things that are beyond tolerable.
Q: How do you plan on addressing our inflating spirit and mana pools later in the expansion to keep mana a resource, rather than a solid blue bar? Do you plan to preserve a principle of rational use of mana, which makes it interesting to play a healer? In the beginning of Cataclysm we had to use almost every spell to succeed, while now everything is about pushing a couple of your best healing spells. With the release of a new patch the level of equipment will raise significantly, and we won’t have to think about mana regeneration any more. Do you plan to somehow adjust encounters or healing mechanics perhaps?
If I remember correctly, and I do, they are reducing the number of items in tier 12 that have spirit. So, while I can’t speak directly for the Devs, I’d say yes, they do have a plan.
Q: Are there any plans to give Holy Priests access to a viable 3-minute raid cooldown? There are concerns that without a cooldown along the lines of Power Word: Barrier, Spirit Link Totem, or Tranquility, we may need to play disc a lot in firelands. Maybe simply an improved Divine Hymn?
Firstly, I find it interesting that this is a Holy Priest specific question. No mention of giving Paladins a raid cooldown…
Holy Priests have some of the most amazing raid heals. Prayer of Mending is great. Prayer of Healing is amazing AND has no cooldown. Holy Word: Sanctuary has some definitely great uses. I’m not really sure where the need for a healing cooldown comes into play. That said, it sure would be nice for Divine Hymn to have a shorter cooldown…
Q: Looking at the healer changes with patch 4.2, there are changes being made to paladins and druids, but there doesn’t appear to be any for either the priest or shaman. Do you feel comfortable with where these two classes are? Where do you feel the other healers are at currently?
Paladins and Druids were in serious need of a change. Paladins had a virtually inexhaustible mana supply, and that needed to be accounted for. By increasing the cost of most of the Paladin’s direct healing arsenal, Paladins are forced to be more mindful of efficiency
Druids on the other hand needed an increase to their direct healing to really be competitive (not viable) as single-target healers. The change to their mastery helps this quite a bit, and I’m speaking from direct and recent experience.
Priests and Shaman were fairly balanced with regard to mana use and healing in single and multi-target situations. I know that I feel comfortable with where these two classes are.
As for the other healers, I personally didn’t gel well with Druid healing until they made this change, and it couldn’t come at a better time as I’m having to heal on and off on my Feral Druid in order to keep my Druid in the raid. Paladins don’t feel any different to me because I always try to heal as efficiently as possible, even when I really don’t need to. It’s just more fun to me that way. I have heard many Paladins elaborate on new efficiency tactics that you might want to look in to if you’re having issues with the changes.
Q: What is the reasoning behind certain classes that lack a healing spec (such as a rogue) being able to self-heal better than a dps spec of a healing class (such as a balance druid)?
More guesswork for me. I’ll say this- each DPS class that lacks a healing spec has a means with which to heal themselves. They may not all be ideal for every scenario, but they have their ways. This was not always the case.
It’s also quite difficult to balance this within the PVP environment. Classes that don’t have endless control abilities, or that have to do their damage from close range generally will need more healing abilities than ones that can do everything from range and have lots of spacing and control abilities. It’s quite a leap to make the claim that Rogues have better self healing than Balance Druids, but even if they mathematically do, it goes back to the statement that ranged/control classes don’t need the healing as much.
Q: With the changes being made to critical heals, do you feel that crit will become a more prominent stat for healers, up there with haste and mastery? Or is it a less important change aimed at balancing between the pve and pvp aspects of the game?
Let me answer your question with another question:
Q: Would you rather gamble to ensure your needs are met, or get a dependable paycheck?
My answer to my question that answers your question is this- I’d rather get a dependable paycheck, especially since I’m doing some gambling on the side no matter what.
Things like Haste and Mastery in general are better stats for healers, with exception being Shaman because it’s generally best to reforge for whatever best fits the situation. They are better because they are consistent. Adding Haste will ensure that spells are consistently faster, which yields a consistent increase. Crits, even at higher Crit rates, are a gamble. The spell might Crit. It might ever be extremely likely to Crit. But that’s still a scenario you can’t count on due to inconsistency.
As for the changed being aimed at balancing between PVE and PVP, how much a heal that might Crit heals for isn’t a good way to balance, and PVP players won’t be able to get enough Crit to really make it an impressive change.
Q: Do you feel that the three-heal model you implemented at the start of Cataclysm is a success? Have you changed your expectations or goals in regards to the three-heal model after watching a tier of raiding? How do you feel about how the various specs are using or avoiding these three core heals?
I’m not sure how you would gauge that the system is a success unless you first state what you’re trying to accomplish. Let’s look at some of the interpretations and their “success”:
If the three-heal model was trying to…
…force healers to be more efficient then it has worked to a certain extent. No healing class can continuously cast their fast-inefficient heal or their slow-large-amount heal without running out of mana. Each healing class has options in their toolkit outside of their base three heals that make them unique and diverse.
…homogenize the basics of the healing classes then it definitely was successful. That was the very first thing I noticed when the changes were implemented prior to Cataclysm. It’s not making any of the specs any less unique, but what it does do is give them all equal ground to start from. Tanking specs and DPS specs have worked from the same kind of basic framework forever. It’s nice that healers have a primer now as well.
…fix World of Warcraft for everyone and also save Giftsmas then it was a terrible failure and everyone hates you for reminding us of how bad things really are.
What’s truly nice about the three core heals is that they weave in and out of each classes unique abilities to help accommodate a wide range of playstyles, and that’s really the best case scenario in a game with millions of different users.
And now, since I answered questions, I have one of my own…
Q: Why can’t Druid Tree Form just be something that you can’t be locked out of so that way we can have it back as a permanent form like every other Druid still has?
Because I am not a Dev.
If you want to steal my idea, please do so. If you think I’m wrong, let’s get a discussion going.
Also, please please please check out https://nofuneral.wordpress.com/2011/07/09/developing-wow-podcast-seeks-input/