Blizzard – “Let healers DPS?” Good Idea?

Blizzard – “Let healers DPS?” Good Idea?

Can you hear it?

There’s a gentle hum in the ether. It’s a grinding of cogs and a rattlin’ of nuts and bolts. It’s the sound of the WoW developers thinking about us healers. Yay, they’re showing us some development love! Ah, but this time, they’re thinking about getting us to DPS. Wait, wut? I’m a healer, not a DPS! That’s like the antithesis of healer, right?

Well, that was my first thought when I read Ghostcrawler’s musings, over on MMOChampion. I’m not going to regurgitate the blue tracker verbatim here as you’ve probably already read it, but for reference the basics are that the devs are thinking about giving us healers some DPS utility. It sounds like their current plane of thought keeps healers away from having a duty to do X damage in a group setting but enables them to do some damage if they want to. That is, enabling us to damage things might make things a bit faster for the group in a Heroic, say, or fun for us if we fancy it.

Of course, this is all speculation at this stage, and there’s nothing  concrete now or definitely going to happen in the future. But if it is an option then it got me thinking. How would I feel, as a healer, about having new and improved DPS options?

The power! Now that you mention it. I mean, we don’t know any details of how much damage they’re thinking we might be able to do. But come on – having your group’s cute, fluffy priest patch the team up and then turn round and smite ye monsters seems a bit well, Heroic. The fluffy priest would be worth the utility of two single-role players. That sounds a little over-powered to me, or at least like a back-door into Hero class status. “Uber-healer” perhaps.

I’m sure the devs have already thought of the potential of too much power, too much utility. Powerful healer class also able to kick out a believable impression of another role? Surely not. So perhaps we’re going to see some kind of power trade-off. A glass ceiling on our healing capabilities to make room for DPS utility, so we’re not too good. Perhaps that ceiling will even be customizable, so that you can decide how much or little you fancy being able to DPS – in return for being a slightly less capable healer.

I wonder whether this could lead to a whole new breed of hybrid. I’m not just talking about a hybrid class, or role, made by Uber healers – although that could happen, exponentially more if it were to be customizable. I’m talking about a hybrid player type. I’m willing to bet that not all healers want or much care to be able to DPS. I know I don’t, for one. Personally I think that healing classes should be about restoring health, not subtracting it. I also think if that’s what the class’ or spec’s lore is centred around, a lot of healers might have a problem with doing damage. Mimetir herself would, as tree. Zap the enemies? No, that’s what lazer-chicken form is for.

Saying that, I’m sure it’d be fun for some healers, and there are probably healers all the way along the spectrum from “meh” to “w00t laz0rtree here I come!”

Either way we’re getting into the battle-lines drawn up between “spec ret if you want to DPS” and “healers should contribute as much as they can”.  Both are fair sides, and the latter gets me thinking about mechanics. An Uber healer putting out twice the threat to usual? Think of your holy pally dropping some huge heals and then nuking the mobs with something suitably vengeful. That’s either going to be one dead Uber-healer, one twitching tank or one game play mechanic in need of serious tweaks. So that the players don’t, you know, break.

Not to mention the brief fate met by a PvP mage who’s missed the patch notes and has just met his first Uber healer in Warsong Gulch. Or team of them in the arenas. I know I wouldn’t be amused if I was that mage, particularly if I then found the battlegrounds were overrun by these new Hero classes. Oops, Uber healers.

It also occurs to me that whatever it does or doesn’t do to healers, cataclysm does bring with it a drive to get us all to start new characters. Do we really want the capital cities to be filled with fluffy but overpowered priests months down the line? Imagine the looting.

So what do you think? Do you want to be able to DPS as well as heal? Do you see any problems with the idea? Or do you have anything you’d really like to see done with it?

This is a post by Mimetir, a druid of a raidleader on The Venture Co. (EU). You can find my twitter feed here.

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  1. Well, I don’t know about getting a truckload of DPS (if I wanted to DPS, I’d go moonkin), but I’d like to be able to cast offensive spells without all the shift out of tree-shift back to tree thing.

    (Of course, this is easily solved at higher gear levels by simply healing in caster form or in moonkin spec, but that option isn’t available for fresh 80s.)
    .-= Jen´s last blog ..Good news, everyone. We’ve saved Azeroth again. =-.

  2. I don’t think it’s a good idea at all. This will have huge effects on progression bosses with very strict enrage timers. Healers will be brought based on their effective dps, on top of their healing abilities. This is the same problem already plaguing raid tanks. (See the GC blue posts about prot warrior dps). When you are looking at a 1% enrage wipe, it’s an easy way out for raid leaders to swap out a prot warrior for, say, a feral druid.

    A good example of this Sarth 3D 10-man in t7 gear. We had always done it with a elemental shaman as third healer.

    I also know most of our healers hated dpsing in Ulduar hardmodes, when so many of them required only 3-4 healers.

  3. The idea of a healer DPSing is not a new one, but it is indeed one that I feel needs more exploration. As a resto shaman I enjoy the freedom of being able to throw lightning when I’m bored and a flame shock for for a little extra damage on a boss. I’ve actually gotten the killing blow a couple of times. They’ve done a lot to hybridize healers, and right now every healer has an ability that does some damage, however minor it is.

    What I personally would love to see (but likely will never see sadly) is a class that earns the power to heal through dealing damage. Right now a healer’s economy is dominated by the consumption, preservation and regeneration of mana. It is a very pedestrian concept that has been around since the days of DnD and MTG…. (I think I have a post idea I need to explore).

    Bottom line is I would LOVE to see more versatility for healers. I’m not looking for earth shattering 10k dps, but being able to pull 4-5k if I chose too would be good.

  4. You know.. I seriously have an issue with this…. Let’s suspend the healer is a dps’er for a second, and look at all the other classes/specs. They have either been brought so close to being the same that (according to Blizz) it shouldn’t matter which healer or tank you bring, as they can all do the same job… No longer will you need a warrior to MT a raid boss, etc… now look at the healer is a dps’er… more bringing classes closer to being the same.. IMO: Why not just make everyone roll pallys and call it good? All 3 rolls/specs are present, they are perceived to be OP anyways…

    If I wanted to have a healer that could DPS and Heal, I’d have a pally… I LIKE separate rolls, I LIKE specialties… And as a warrior tank, I don’t want that healer’s attention on anything but healing the raid/party…. Again, it is all in my humble opinion…

  5. As long as you keep the healing role GCD limited, this will work out just fine in PvE.

    I think that festergut is a great example. IF my tree could put out 9k dps on that fight it would be OP but the reality is that if I waste a global trying to dps, I will significantly hurt my team. depending on the fight, you would have to decide how to spend your GCDs to best benefit the team the team the most

    Some fights would require all healers to use every global on healing, in those fights you heal and only heal. Some fights would require less healers than others (DBS for instance) on those fights some healers switch to dps (but without having to respec as they do now) Some fights are somewhere in between and a decision must be made by healers an raid leaders as to how to best address the fight.

    That said, i am not sure I would really enjoy a role all that much so I hope that encounters would be designed to allow for some full time healers in raids.

    This could add another interesting mechanic to PvE encounter/strategy design, but since it would so horribly break PvP, don’t count on it getting implemented.

  6. Healers with DPS capability? We already have problems with one of our priests smiting during “off moments” and then getting so wrapped up that he fails to notice the dying OT, or screeching over Skype that he overdid it and is OOM. I don’t know how I feel about healers DPSing having the Blizzard imprimatur…

  7. I really don’t like the idea unless they can assure me that healers in progression content won’t be evaluated based on their healing and DPS. A healer that can do X amount of damage while healing would be a clear advantage in cutting edge content. Heroic modes have tight enrage timers and healing those types of fights is already chaotic. But I think those types of fights are the most fun for healers.

    Would it be nice on farm content when we’re bored? Sure. But I think most raids are already having a couple healers drop to DPS simply for the sake of speed in farm content.

    Duel specs and dropping healers is the answer for farm content. Giving healers respectable DPS will only create an expectation that they use every GCD in cutting edge content.

  8. In terms of PVE, considering raid “optimization”, I simply don’t think the healer-as-dps idea is viable given current game mechanics.

    As a simplistic example, let’s say you bring 6 healers to a fight; 2 of which spend half their time dpsing. And let’s say they’re pretty good healer dps (maybe they hit 3k dps in all healing gear). This means for two players dpsing for half the fight, you get a total 3k dps for the entire encounter, for 2 raid spots. On the other hand you have a really good rogue sitting the bench, if you brought him in and sat one of the healers, you could have upwards of 7k dps and simply have the healer who was dpsing half the fight, heal the entire time. Your net gain? 4k dps with no loss of healing.

    So the real question becomes, what would a raid leader gain by having healers dps during a encounter? At this point, the answer is “nothing”. The point at which Blizzard changes that answer to “[something]” is the point at which the healer-as-dps model becomes possible.
    .-= Vixsin´s last blog ..Tidal Force: Rediscovered =-.

  9. The phrasing of it being “the kind of thing you might do while soloing or running easy content (like Dungeon Finder when overgeared)” makes me think it’s more like ‘let trees cast moonfire’ rather than revamping talents to make full smite spec priests more viable.

    If they powered up the healer dps too much I’d honestly be concerned, specifically because of the same thing GC mentioned, and that’s the expectation/requirement of healing DPS’ers and DPSing healers. If it’s too powerful, it’s no longer an ‘option’
    .-= Ceralyn´s last blog ..Astral Walker =-.

  10. I think if you look at what Ghostcrawler said, you’ll see it’s not really something that’s likely to happen soon. First, he recognizes that not all healers want to dps (just look at the comments here so far — doesn’t look popular, does it?). Second, he says that they would not want to be tuning encounters around a certain amount of healer dps.

    It’s a tough call. On new fights that have high healing requirements (like Festergut, say, or Patchwerk when it was new) I don’t usually have any time at all to think about dps, unless it’s all gone to hell sub 5% and I’m throwing the kitchen sink at the boss in the hopes that it’ll kill him before he finishes the rest of us off. On farm fights where my healing is not urgently needed, we’re going to kill the boss anyway whether I’m doing 0 dps or 1500 — I’m not hurting anything by dps’ing in my Holy spec.

    I’m not sure how they’ll be able to make this work, while keeping things balanced. I don’t know if they’ll be able to bring something like that off for Cataclysm.
    .-= jeffo´s last blog ..Yesterday’s News: Tomorrow’s Problem? =-.

  11. Between SW:P, Devouring Plague, SW:D, Holy Fire and aggro-free Holy Nova group healing I’m already doing ~1.8k dps in most heroics as a Holy Priest with no DPS talents and it does help relieve the tedium of overgeared tanks taking little or no damage, so it would be nice if other healing classes could join in the fun!

  12. I don’t know about all the dps for healing thoughts out there…. but to be honest, I’d be happy to give up my shadow tree entirely just to be the best healing class in game again lol.

    In Cata I have no idea how they’re going to rework things, but I would love to see a synergy bonus for classes that dual spec into two trees that do the same thing, for example holy/disc for a priest. Or just make the off spec add some bonus to whatever spec you are currently in, based on what that spec is, for example for a hunter specing into beast mastery as your off spec gives you bonus pet power marksmen gives you extra ranged power, and survival gives you extra survival powers (or maybe replenishment).

    That way those of us that just want to heal…. can get rewarded for that.

  13. We already DPS in heroics – Glyph of Holy Nova and HN spam makes heroics go much faster with the added bonus of just one button mindless healing.

    I surely wouldn’t want to be evaluated in raids based on my DPS and HPS so quite frankly making us more viable DPS isn’t something I would look forward to.
    .-= Napps´s last blog ..On my Downtime =-.

  14. Heh, I had another idea for hybridizing roles. Currently tanks cause their threat by doing damage to things, and having bonus threat on that damage.
    What if there was a tanking class that caused its threat by healing instead of by damage? They could heal other players and gain threat that those players caused. And possibly use spells on monsters that prevented damage those monders were causing, which would cause extra threat.

  15. I wouldn’t like it much. At all. I rolled a healer to heal, not dps. I get enough remarks in partychat prompting me to do damage as it is. What, they don’t want me to have any mana left to save their bums, hm? Or is it that they think I just stand there, in the back, eating cookies?

    …I don’t think so.
    .-= Ari´s last blog ..Heroic Pit of Snark =-.

  16. I am in the same boat as people who question whether healers will be able to focus enough on raid and tank healing if they are urged to DPS as well? Healing meters are already used (falsely) as a basis to pressure healers into performing better, I feel like placing dps into the responsibilities of healers will just magnify that problem.

  17. Can’t healers heal and then turn around and smite now if extra healing isn’t needed? It’s not as if we don’t already have offensive spells..

  18. I can see it now “It was the healers fault we couldn’t DPS it fast enough, they were too busy healing!!” …DPS is what dual specs were made for.

  19. I don’t see why everyone hates this idea so much. You say that as a healer, your role is to keep everyone alive. Not true. Eventually you will HAVE to kill the boss, it’s why you bring dps in the first place. You simply keep them alive long enough for the boss to die.
    Now, overpowered healer dps would suck big time, I’d say it should be more for those moments like, as mentioned before, you’re running heroic UK with a tank with 57K health, and you’re sitting there with a thumb up your ass and a book on your desk. Or, in PvP, like they’ve currently balanced Priests, who can do some good burst. I don’t know, I trust Blizz to implement it in a way that it won’t break their own game, or if they do(*Cough* Ret Paladin’s 3.0 *Cough*) That they will fix it before any major problems occur, such as massive rerolling.

  20. I don’t see how they are going to make this work while making “mana matter” as they seem intent on doing. They want us to choose our spells intelligently come Cat and they want healers OOMing to be a real threat. How are we going to waste mana DPSing if we only have enough to heal the encounter in the first place?

    I don’t mind throwing a flame shock or moonfire now and then for fun but I would not like having it be required. When I want to DPS that is what my offspec is for.

  21. To be very honest, I’m not sure I like this idea very much. If you need 7 healers for one fight and 5 for the next in a raid, well.. that’s what we have dual-spec for. If a healer’s heals are good enough to throw in a little DPS on the side in a smaller raid or a heroic, that’s why we see healers speccing into DPS talents too, so that they can do that. Can you imagine Arena with healer/DPS running around?
    .-= Jaedia´s last blog ..Dragons and Pilla’s =-.

  22. My main is a resto druid, my other raiding alt a holy/disc priest, and I also have a mid-30’s holy pally. That being said, I think the dps ability among the healing classes is already used for some, and not at all in others.

    My poor resto druid has the spells, but can not use any of them while in Treeform. I mean the best she can do is branch a few things. How lame is that? I know that after visiting Freya’s garden, I became very jealous over the Fists of Stone ability that those trees had. Can you imagine the utility of a resto druid, caught in a mob, laying down an AOE fists of stone, causing a slow effect, damage, and maybe a little healing all in one? Like a combo of a holy nova and a tremor totem? There are many instances where I’ve been caught in a mob with little ability to get out quickly, and when in a random with a new tank, it would be incredibly useful. Think of places like old stratholme, running through the zombies. Priests run through with a holy nova and things go quickly. As a resto druid, the best I can do is toss a few hots, but definetly not dps. The dps would not need to be massive- just enough to give me an edge to get out of situations or speed things along.

    As far as dps goes, i know that on my priest and my pally I already dps as part of my role as a healer. My priest loves the Holy Nova and I use it a lot- especially when we want to move things quickly through and instance. Small heals, some dps, just keep running and things go down a little faster for the group. I also use my Judgements on my pally for some dps. When things are under control, my mana gets a little low- toss out a judgement of Wisdom, hit a few things, it is very nice.

    We just need to catch the druids up: Fists of Stone!!

    Arret of Misha
    Zarret/Xarret of Argent Dawn

  23. Interesting thoughts on GCD – and mana – useage, particularly pertaining to Cataclysm. Can we really fit everything in to that blue bar with fintie GCDs?

    I also wonder how it’ll work with the stat renovation – that’s hard to ponder without full details on said renovation, too, but looking at the current stat useage and what we know, I’m not sure that healers will have quite the right stats in their healer gear to kick out as much DPS as they might want, for whatever reason.

    Also i see a lot of folks are citing DPS/different roles being why we have dual specs. I agree, frankly. But are we missing something or being short sighted? Just wondering…

    @lilham – interesting point. GC did say that they’re aware of the problem around boss-enrage timers and wouldn’t want healer DPS to *have* to count towards that, but whether or not that’s how it would work in practice – as you say, it can happen now with tanks.

    @Vixsin – very salient points. As far as I can see at the moment the metric for this idea is “fun”, which is a good starting point but without more detail is rather vague and possibly impractical.

    @jeffo – you’re right, I don’t think it’s any time soon. Certainly not before Cata, and if ever they do it it’s got to be right. If they are going to go down this road, is it possible in time for cata (and what will no doubt by a re-balancing of classes and mechanics?)

    @Simbaria – a healing tanking class? Now, curiously, that sounds more interesting than healer-DPS to me. Anyone else got an opinion on this?

    Keep the opinions coming folks! It looks like this topic is a love-it-or-hate-it one. Has the potential for shakin’ the healer community to its very bones, I tell you!

  24. Another thought, leading on from those of you who pointed at meters already in use and a general worry about having to compete in two ways at once, or being blamed or replaced in a group.

    Correct me if I’m wrong but I think some healers feel that there is an onus or expectation placed on us, perhaps more than other roles. The raid dies it’s our fault, right? (/irony). I wonder if there’s also a worry with this HealerDPS idea that we’ll suddenly have double the expectation and burden placed on us. Perhaps a just worry. Either way, I’d suspect and hope that Blizzard have already thought of this – the actual internal effect – on their healing playerbase.

    Any thoughts on this?

  25. I’m curious to see how that would work out for us trees. I remember a blue post where Blizzard (GC?) said they weren’t entirely happy with how tree form turned out and that they were considering the idea of turning it into a temporary ability for “oh snap” moments when a lot of healing is required.

    @ Mimetir about healer burden: when I started healing I took every single death as a personal failure. I’ve since then accepted the fact that sometimes there are situations that I simply cannot heal for a plethora of reasons that aren’t my fault. Should healers become expected to DPS, I’m just afraid healing itself would become an “accepted fact” like buffs and that healers will be selected based on their DPS potential.

    There seems to be quite a few healers out there who are tired of their jobs. Personally, having started out as a mage in vanilla and having migrated to healing during BC, I find healing much more stimulating and interesting that doing the same rotations over and over again. Healing requires a bit of a proactive approach, unless you overgear whatever you are running.

    If they want to revamp healing, they should do just that: revamp healing. Try to make it more interactive or interesting or whatever, but don’t turn us into DPSers who “bring healing to the raid” in the same manner a mage brings intellect and food.

  26. Galaedria says:

    There are situations where healers have time and resources to contribute some dps and there are situations when they don’t. A healer’s job is to heal and dpsing is a distraction.

    If healers are expected to dps does that mean that tanks and dps will be expected to heal themselves? Should they have to work healing spells into their rotations? If so, why have specialised healers at all if everyone is self-sufficient?

    One thing that I think would make things more interesting would be to have a spell where the amount healed (and amount of mana used) scales to how long the spell is pressed. So for a little top-up, a quick tap, for a big heal, a longer hold. This would give us some more control over how much healing is done and reduce some of the over-healing.

  27. Definitely not.

    All classes have a, more or less, working DPS spec.

    However, the pvp ramifications have not been considered, it seems.

    Bad enough that some classes simply don’t have the damage to pressure healers, but to also give them the capacity to do damage on top of that?

    As an example; my DK partner and I, ret paladin, squared off against a pair of geared resto druids, not only could we not put a dent in either one, but they had enough damage to kill me. How do you expect something like that to be balanced?

  28. Just… no. I don’t mind lending a hand to dps if there’s time or boredom, but I became a healer to heal. Just let me do that and I’ll be happy.

    This change would go from “letting” me dps if I had time or inclination to “making” me dps. I did not roll a priest and avoid the shadow tree since inception because I wanted to dps. I rolled one because they were (at the time) the best healers in the game. I love healing and that’s what I want to do.

  29. I think they may add a mechanism similar to rune priests/shaman in WAR/LOTRO where using a specific type of spell ramps up the output of that type and takes a while to swing to the opposite spell type (healing v/sdmg).
    I am hoping that they implement a system similar to a captain for melee DPS/tanks which would be more fun than some of the systems in place now…but I am sure that’s too radical at this stage of the game.

  30. Ok dps and heal as a shaman if I my fire totem is going spare yes I will dps a little, although this is not actively dps’ing a little helps. But if dps’n means to actively dps the boss/mob then I do see this multi tasking as asking an awful lot for one class.

  31. Skiannach says:

    Personally I hate the idea. I have no trouble at all with helping out with extra non-healing raid tasks such as interrupts or frogging. But I don’t like DPSing, and I’m terrible at it.

    So if raids become balanced around factoring in healer DPS, then I’m out of a spot. Well, actually my guild are awesome and would still take me, but if it got to the point where I felt I was gimping their chances, I’d step back.

    Even if healer DPS is theoretically “optional”, I can just see healers who choose not to DPS in heroic pugs being looked at in the same way as players who join heroics with (shock, horror) a GS of less than 5000.

    Some healers would probably enjoy it and fair enough. But they’d still have the difficult job of balancing their core task with the extra stuff they’re meant to do.

    I wouldn’t mind though if the damage done to the bads was in some way directly related to the healing numbers put out – for example, for every 11000 effective heal you dump on someone, a proportional amount of damage was applied (and threat redirected to, for example, whoever is wearing the ES). Hots could generate dots. Mitigations would also have their damage equivalent…such as disc bubbles applying a holy burn to whoever does damage to them.

    No risk then of healers feeling pressured to do something they never signed up for. Their DPS numbers would be directly linked to how well they’re doing their main job. And it wouldn’t just be mindless..if it’s damage converted from effective heal, then we’d be having to think a bit more about where that heal lands, something that we have lost the habit of in today’s infinite mana endgame.


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