What Did You Want? Future of Healing Assignments – Part 1

What Did You Want? Future of Healing Assignments – Part 1

A couple of weeks ago I gave you all a quest – what did you want me to write about. A fair number of you responded to the quest and Jooles completed it by way of winning my RNG ingame /roll. So now here I am, a giant oversized owl ready to hand over the quest reward with a yellow question mark ruffling my ear feathers. Which, let me tell you, does nothing to help the usually-aggrieved furrow of a boomkin’s brow.

Joole’s question was this:

The future of healing assignments. Have they gone the way of crowd control due to smart heals and class pigeon-holing? Is it Paladins heal tanks, Shammy’s heal melee, Priests + Druids heal raid forever or is this going to change in Cataclysm? Which way are Disc priests going to go?

With four healing classes to look at and changes happening all the time in beta it’s taken a brief spell to get going on this. This ‘ere is the first of a two-post answer. I’m not stumping up precisely calculated answers; with things not nailed down in beta I’d have to be a physic owl to do so. Which I’m really not, given I can’t remember what I had for dinner tonight and I’m not playing in the beta.

I am looking at the beta information for healing classes and talking about the picture it gives me of their healing style. I’ll look at two classes a week and include a summary of my predictions for healing assignments at the end of the second post.

So without further ado, let’s have a look at Cataclysmic druids and paladins.

Druids:

Anyone got an axe? Tree druids are going to be split into two camps. Blizzard have said they want the difference between a druid’s direct healing spells and their HoTs to be more noticeable, and boy, are we going to notice it.

Tree druids are losing the permanence of tree form but gaining the ability to tank-heal more seriously. At least that’s what Blizzard want: according to blue posts they want trees to be capable tank healers who can spot heal when the going gets tough. But I foresee it not quite playing out like that in healing assignments.

Sure, druids are going to be able to keep tanks up.

But they’re also going to be your “oh nitwibble” guy when things go wrong. Given that we know there’s going to be more damage flying around affecting everyone in the group and that druids’ tree form is going to be the “it’s all gone wrong and I need to pump out extra healing for a bit” cooldown, you’re going to need someone who waits for those “oh nitwibble we’re all dying” times and reacts the second it hits.

Your tree druid is the guy breaking out the roots for the extra healing when everyone’s taking more damage. He’ll stand there (with the current speed penalty to tree form he’s not going anywhere if things are that bad) madly spamming HoTs, the effectiveness of which now scales the more injured the target is, on the group when things go wrong. Not to mention the new talent “efflorescence” which spawns a patch of healing flowers underneath the recipient of a critical-hit Regrowth. So while your druid’s standing there setting his limbs on fire spamming HoTs, the rest of the group could be running madly to stand in the good stuff on the floor. I can hear it now – raid leaders yelling “things are going to piffle! Go stand in the healing fauna!”

Which is a little worrying to my mind. I have a feeling trees won’t be able to be both your tank healer and your “oh nitwibble guy” given healers are going to have less mana. You’re going to have to choose between the tree who heals your tank and the tree who stems the mass-damage spike. Given that Blizzard are trying to homogenize the healers so we can all handle 10 and 25 man content, I’m a little worried that tree druids are going to be irreplaceable.

Paladins:

I can see the paladin running around. Groans from paladins, eh? Hear me out.

First of all, holy paladins are going to need to accrue globules of this new ‘Holy Power’ combo-point like thing. Holy paladins can do this three ways; their primary is by healing (duh). Specifically, by using Holy Shock or healing their Beacon of Light target if they’re talented into Tower of Radience.

Sure they can stand anywhere to use this, but Holy Shock has a 6 second cooldown and healing their beacon target might not always be the smartest move. Maybe the beacon target doesn’t need healing, or maybe it’s more mana efficient to get Holy Power another way rather than casting a heal right this second. So a a secondary Holy Power gatherer they can also stick Crusader Strike up on something, which requires Mr. Holy to be doing the hokee-kokee into melee range.

Now, Blizzard have said flat out they’re trying to remove the “tank healer” label from paladins, though it’s stuck so well they’ve had to scrape it off with new tools in the holy toolbox. So how to make the paladins less like a tank healer?

They’ve given them AoE capability. What with the new “Healing Hands” and talent-based “Light of Dawn” AoE cone/wave heal, paladins could find themselves on their toes. Popping Healing Hands will allow paladins to act like a sparkly version of Healing Spring totem, giving out a short range aura-like AoE heal and “Light of Dawn” could be useful for both clusters of melee and slightly more spread out ranged, depending on your positioning relative to them.

So holy paladins might be donning the headless chicken suit to run around and AoE/aura heal. They’ll need to be spacially aware at all times of who’s standing where so that if they want to use “Light of Dawn” on a few ranged they have to stand a distance away to catch everyone in the cone. Want to use “Healing hands”? Go near the people who need it. Need more Holy Power but can’t heal to get it? Run into melee and stick up Crusader Strike.

 

To my mind druids and paladins are going to be shaken up. Possibly even mixed up, as if we put on the over-generalization goggles for a moment it looks like they’re swapping some of their current iconic roles of trees running around, paladins being the big healers.

Having recently started playing a paladin I’m somewhere between excitement and terror that they’re getting yet more bells and whistles. Druids might not getting that much, but it looks like they don’t need new spells for their role to be flexible. That’s either quite admirable or a tad worrying.

What do you think? Do you see druids and paladins completely differently, or has this opened up new ideas for what Cataclysm will look like?

This is an article by Mimetir, an owl (and resto shaman) of a raid leader on The Venture Co. (EU) You can find my website MMO Melting Pot here and my twitter feed here.

Article image courtesy of Chris Campbell @ flickr

Second Verse, Different than the First

Second Verse, Different than the First

**Image is text from one of my favorite Shakespeare plays, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

In the week since the infamous post, I’ve been able to see the wide spectrum of responses and views on the topic. I’ve been condemned and praised for it. The praise came mostly because of points made in the post; the condemnation referred to the tone I used. I let the post simmer a few days, and it’s become clear to me that the tone definitely deserves the condemnation. Anyone that has read my posts here before has come to expect different of me (I hope). That’s true. I normally don’t write with vehemence, but this time I let my professionalism go and was wrong to do so.

The Apology

It was unprofessional of me to “attack” Dills as I did. Funny enough, those that know me in real life knew my tone was lighter than it’s been made out to be. That doesn’t excuse it, nor does it allow me to assume that anyone else would be able to tell the playfulness from some letters on a screen.  We talk all the time about how it’s impossible to tell tone from a text message or an email. Something that’s meant as a tongue-in-cheek comment could be taken the complete opposite; something meant as an important conversation could be shrugged off as an “April Fool’s”-style joke. That’s the danger of writing/blogging like we do. Especially with the type of person I am outside of this game, I lost the foresight that I usually exemplify in my posts. It was never meant to be a “lol noob” type of phrasing at all (I’ll explain the Billy Madison quote in a minute). Was it meant to be a sharp criticism? Absolutely. However, the extra teeth–which came across even worse than intended–were uncalled for. I’m perfectly capable of writing a post that reflects my viewpoints and expresses my counterpoints in a clear and concise argument. Well, the argument got lost. My “bridge” comment was never meant to imply that anyone (including me) should jump off it. In Chicago, the Chicago River is actually used to move some of our sewage. People are not allowed to swim in it for fear of infection. I didn’t write the comparison to imply suicide but to simply say, “I could do this, but it wouldn’t be smart because it’s a gross river.”

The Billy Madison quote: I admit that this was a huge mistake. In drafting that post, that quote came into my head–not as a means to further slam someone but as a sort of ironic chuckle. It made me think of a movie that I know I get a kick out of. When I transcribed it, I never thought, “Ha! This’ll really show him!! RAWR!”. I thought it was a funny reference, and WoW!! was I wrong. Since I didn’t realize how my words would be interpreted, I also didn’t see the poor taste of that joke. Matt was right to remove it. I didn’t remove it originally because I was defensive and felt compelled to stand up for what I wrote. I was standing up for the wrong reasons.

Minus the tone, I still maintain the points I made about Dills’s post. It was unfair of me to attack him, but no one should be immune from criticism (even me, of course). In “An Instance of Fail”, there were rumblings of true debate in the comment section. This, to me, signified that there is real discussion in the points and counterpoints that were made. In writing the post, and even in the days following, I continued to read Dills’s entry. With all due respect, I stand by the inferences I made. There is nothing in the post that lead me to believe otherwise. I’d like to make my points in a much more civil way.

Lightwell

I really have no problem with Lightwell either coming or going. I think it’s a very interesting mechanic and can be situationally used. If it were fixed, I’m sure it’d be a great spell. It could be dropped right before a Bone Storm in Marrowgar or dropped behind the ice blocks in Sindragosa. It would be very beneficial during the 3rd phase of Professor Putricide for casters moving out of slime. Just a quick click as they’re running to the closest safe spot.  Essentially, it could benefit any fight situation where the ability to dps is hindered by movement or transition phases. It’s a great alternative to spells like Divine Hymn or Tranquility. With both of those spells, the caster (Priest and Druid, respectively) has to remain still to channel it. This allows the Priest or Druid to continue moving during a transition, put distance between himself/herself and “the bad”, or simply cast spells on others that are nearer to visiting the graveyard.

Although the fate of Lightwell doesn’t really matter, I disagree with the following phrases:

“I know when I’m dpsing or tanking the last thing I want to think about is healing.”

“That’s what the healer is for.”

I remember when I was a lowly Warlock back in SSC/TK, I was excited to start a Priest, because I wanted to be a help to the raid in whatever way I could; healing seemed to be a great fit for me. Leveling to 70 wasn’t instantaneous, obviously. I then looked at my own Warlock spellbook to see how I could help the raid beyond just my Shadow Bolt spam. When it was deemed appropriate, I would put Curse of Weakness on the boss. I was always happy to throw up Curse of Tongues on Fathom-Guard Caribdis (in the Fathom-Lord fight in SSC) to give the Shaman and Rogues enough time to interrupt his huge heal. If everyone was taking a lot of damage, I would throw Siphon Life (when it was a spell) and then Drain Life the boss to give healers some more wiggle room. I would do this even if it was a hit to my DPS. Whatever was the best way for the raid to succeed, I did it.

It’s how I continue to play today. Even when I’m DPS’ing on my Enhancement Shaman, I’ll throw out an instant Healing Wave (via Maelstrom Weapon) to help out the healers when they need it.  When I heal, if I have global cooldowns and mana to spare, I readily start DPSing the boss.  It’s the mentality that I try to encourage in the people I play with. Of course it’s our job to fill our roles, but it’s also our job to help out the rest of the raid where we can. I remember when raid members carried bandages, and used health pots (when you could chain-pot, anyways). It was always more about “us” rather than “you” and “me.” It’s the “us” mindset that helps make our in-game community strong.

Dampen/Amplify Magic

“I know, we use Amplify Magic on the Saurfang fight.  I’m aware of that.  However; one fight does not make a spell useful or necessary.”

Although that may or may not be true for the current level of progression, look at other older bosses that stood to benefit from Amplify magic: Gruul, Patchwerk, General Vezax, Icehowl. Gruul hammers on the tank for physical damage. He doesn’t have a dedicated enrage. With Amplify Magic, you were able to squeeze a couple more Growths out of him. When Patchwerk was the gear check, we worked hard to gear up our off-tank to take the Hateful Strikes. Having Amplify Magic on the off-tanks made our heals hit harder, thereby saving our mana so we could make it to the enrage, if need be. As for Vezax, a fight where mana regen is negligible, any additional help for the healer was welcomed with open arms, especially on heroic when you’re not using the Saronite Vapor mechanic. There’s usually always at least one boss in each tier of progression that uses purely (or mostly) physical damage. If it can be used, there’s really no reason it shouldn’t be cast on a tank (or the raid, for that matter) that’s taking mostly physical damage. It’s hugely beneficial on Valithria Dreamwalker. Cast it on her and heal her quickly to 100%. Makes heroic a lot more manageable (more on this later).

“Dampen Magic is especially useless unless you are in pvp and there are no healers which usually means you will be failing no matter what you do.”

As for Dampen Magic, well of course it’s situational. A lot of mages use it for leveling. My friend Andrew plays a mage. Anytime he’s on his 56 mage and I’m on my 56 warrior, we have Dampen Magic on. It helps us out quite a bit. Some use it for farming. In those situations, less incoming damage means less time bandaging/eating. Like Dills says, it’s beneficial in PvP as well, especially world PvP or certain arena matchups. There’s some misinformation that PvP is pointless without a healer, and that’s actually not the case.  When I’m up against a mage, Dampen Magic (or Amplify, too) is just one more thing I have to dispel off of him to get to his Ice Barrier. PvP is not necessarily who has the heals, but who plays his/her character better. ArenaJunkies.com is peppered heavily with purely dps teams. A team combining a mage with any other non-healing class(es) stands to gain a lot from Dampen Magic. Everytime I see a Mage/Rogue pairing that knows how to play, it’s very tough to beat. All of that CC, and then Dampen Magic makes it that much harder. Especially in PvP, people look for whatever edge they can get, no matter how small. It doesn’t serve the PvE benefit that many would like, but that doesn’t mean it’s useless by any means.

“I do think the idea is solid but in practicality it comes up so rarely that these spells are often completely forgotten about by many Mages.”

My argument: Just because a spell is used only on the occasional fight or on a situational basis, it does not mean it’s useless. People choose not to use it, and that’s fine. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a wasted spot in the spellbook. That’s the fun of the game. Each encounter is different and calls for different abilities. I would find the game pretty boring if I had to do the same thing each and every fight. It makes me sad that interesting abilities like these are being shed.

Mind Soothe/Soothe Animal

I have to admit, I never really knew about the value of Mind Soothe and Soothe Animal until I was in SSC back in Burning Crusade. Those were the days when CC was absolutely needed. Humanoids feared us, Beasts bled us, Dragonkin healed their friends. We had to have Saps, Sheeps, Repents, and anything we could think of. My friend Jayme plays a mage. A nice, squishy clothie. I could tell he’d be nervous stepping up to ready his Polymorph. One wrong step, and that pack comes charging at him. Death would be his likely end. I could even feel the anxiety across vent. A Priest and Druid then stepped up to Mind Soothe and Soothe Animal the mobs nearest to my friend. A sense of ease fell over him. Now, it didn’t need to be so precise where his character was placed. He had a little wiggle room. The pull went as planned, and no one died.

That brings us to Instructor Razuvious, the first boss in the Military Quarter of Naxxramas. Obviously, in 25man, you need to have two Priests to Mind Control two of his Understudies. Because of their aggro range and the range of Mind Control, this pull has the potential to be hectic. The first time I tried this fight, we had to have a countdown on when to run in, hoping that my Mind Control was able to take hold before the Understudy decided I’d be better used as a doormat.  Another tactic was for our tank to run in, grab everything (and run his own risk of becoming a doormat) and possibly pull the mobs out of our range. It got frustrating, and it got frustrating fast, even with a team that I felt confident raiding. Once Mind Soothe was brought into the mix, it made everyone’s lives so much easier. I could settle into my spot, and the countdown was now when to cast Mind Control, not frantically to set up.

How about Zul’Aman? I always was so sad when they removed the Amani War Bear. We never were able to get ahead of the timer after a little while. That raid was full of Humanoids, as well as Beasts. The perfect place to use both of those spells to sneak by mobs and get the edge on that timer. Someone commented on Dills’s post that using those two spells was a great way to solidify that awesome bear for someone in his raid. I wish I would’ve thought of it at the time.

It serves a much bigger benefit than what Dills refers to as “…spells that sneaked in there because Blizzard need to give players something new around level 20 and ran out of ideas” or as a “[d]umb spell with almost no uses at all.” Keep in mind that we’re heading into an expansion that Blizzard wants to have more dependent on crowd control. I know I’d much rather be settled and ready for each pull in the new raids than have each one be a mad dash to gain control. Pulls like those lead to sloppy wipes and wasted raid time. As my buddy Dralo says, “Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast. Fast is deadly.” I’ve always found that Mind Soothe and Soothe Animal help that.

Thinking Outside the Box

Lodur’s guild, Unpossible, is still hammering proudly through ICC hardmodes. Valithria Dreamwalker is no cakewalk. The Emerald Dream is actually the Nightmare. Each orb applies a DoT to whoever consumes it. Simply being in the Nightmare ticks away at your health. VD’s health decays over time, which means you need more bang for your buck. Your heals need to hit has hard as possible in order to assure victory. Unpossible utilized an unorthodox technique also used by other guilds in order to get the job done. They took a BM Hunter with a bear pet. Tenacity pets have a 2-point talent called Blood of the Rhino. All heals on the pet are increased by 40%. They coupled that with Beacon of Light from their Holy Paladin. Beaconing the dragon and healing the bear resulted in a huge boost in healing. It saved mana and helped counteract the health decay. Needless to say, they won the day. That’s the beauty of this game. It’s not simply point and shoot. Takes some thinking to come up with a strategy like that. Post note: I’m aware that the mechanic was nerfed. Still took some brains to think of using those skills together, which is the point.

There are tons of ways that we can all use different spells in the game to make our playtime more enjoyable and unique. Rather than dismiss certain spells as “useless” and “dumb”, we should look for unique ways to utilize our spellbooks and challenge our minds. If someone new to the game wants advice on how to begin this journey, I try to encourage him/her to think about team before self.  Don’t shrug things off as “my job” and “your job”. Embrace the idea that defeating the raid is “our job”. Look for how your class’s lesser-known abilities could stand to help the group. Read your spellbook; try different things out. I think you might be surprised what you might find. Remember, raiding is a Team Sport. Let’s welcome the newest WoW generation with that in mind.

Email: Elder.Thespius@gmail.com | Twitter: @Thespius

Another Battle Rez?

In my morning perusal of MMO-Champion, I came across a Blue Post from our friendly neighborhood crab (AKA Ghostcrawler) about the mandatory nature of Shamans. You can read the whole post if you like, since there are some compelling arguments on both sides.  However, I want to draw your attention to one specific part that caught my eye:

For now, in Cataclysm, we are just sharing even more of the buffs and debuffs across a wide gamut, especially very powerful ones like Bloodlust and Battle Rez,….

Say what now?!! We can all agree that Rebirth is a very nice ability to have in progression fights. It’s the only ability to bring someone else back to life in the middle of combat. Sure, Shamans have Reincarnation, but Rebirth allows any class to return to the land of the living.

Even our beloved Goblin Jumper Cables XL lack the ability to rez in combat.

Another Battle Rez?! What an awesome addition, if you ask me. Especially if the intent is to make 10man raids more appealing. There won’t be a need to stack druids on harder fights where a lot of people are “off’ed”. Take a look at a couple other skills that are being shared:

Who is going to get it, though? The new class abilities show no sign of another in-combat resurrection, even amongst non-healing classes. Will it be something that can be learned like the Jumper Cables? Or will it be assigned to one specific class? With the latest tweaks to Guild Perks, we can’t expect it to be one of those. Blizzard doesn’t want those to be game-changing abilities.

So, who do you think it will be?

Email: Elder.Thespius@gmail.com | Twitter: @Thespius

Configuring the Healing UI: What’s on Your Wishlist?

Configuring the Healing UI: What’s on Your Wishlist?

You can see elements of the default healing UI in place in a recent post. A number of you asked what the configuration window for it was like.

Don’t laugh.

Here it is.

healing-ui-config

Yeah, that’s it.

I should also add that it’s certainly possible to drag it the frames around. I can’t seem to find a way to lock it but maybe that’s a user error.

You’ll notice a c heck box that says Keep Groups Together.

Unchecked, it allows you to sort groups by role, group or name.

Now I don’t expect the default interface to outright replace addons like our beloved Vuhdo or Grid. But I do believe there are some aspects of it that could use additional improvement. It’s important to discern between must have and nice to have but can probably heal without it type changes.

  • I’ve already mentioned the need for clearer debuffs to appear on the frames
  • Resizeable bars would be excellent to have because not everyone plays on the same setup
  • Customizable energy bars. I don’t need to see rage, focus, or energy bars but I do need to see mana bars of other players (healers specifically)

What about you? What would you like to see added? What do you think is important to have on your healing UI? What can you get away without having?