Are Healing Classes Losing Individual Identity?

In my recent Priest changes announcement post, Kivassha posed some excellent questions that I wanted to share.

Comment edited for length

Hi Matticus

In my mind disc priests are topping up absorbing the damage on Tanks, almost like druid heals are for raid, helping with spike damage until the big chain heals (shammy) and POH (holy priest) lands.

My concern?

I wonder if getting Disc priests to focus on MT will make it boring. I like how classes compliments each other and the unity that forms when everyone gets to know each other’s play stile and can on the fly make the right decision and heal where it is needed. It feels like the synergy will be lost between classes.

With the holy priest changes a priest will be able to heal a little bit more like a druid does with all the hot changes. Again how will the synergy between classes work? How would druids feels about this?

How boring will it be if everyone can do what every other healer class can do? Holy can main tank heal, can do big raid heals and will now be able to do really good HOT’s. Even Shammies will now have a HOT. So I wonder if Druids will get big long casting spells like POH, Chain heal?

To me it looks like they are giving each healer class similar capabilities to make them more like all round healers. Will this take away from each class the niche they have?
Yes the email sound negative, but I am curious and excited to work out how things will work in future.

[…]

I can’t say whether or not Discipline healing will be boring. Different healers I talk to just love healing. If you love what you do, you’re never going to find it boring. As for class synergy, there’s no reason for it to go away. Don’t forget that this is just a class preview of what they intend to do. There is still a long wait before Cataclysm is installed on our computers. If you look at the different things that healers can excel at, Discipline Priests are optimized best for tank healing. Does that mean it’s the only thing they can do? Nah, far from it. That’s what I’ve always liked about the game is that I can mix and match healers and not have to worry too much at all about it.

Druids should have nothing to worry about at all. We still heal in fairly different styles. While some of the mechanics might blend together, the numbers still need to be tuned and adjusted accordingly. I suspect that will help narrow the gap a bit between Priest and Druid healing.

Going back to healing styles again, I don’t think it’s going to be boring for healers. Each healing class can do something similar to each other. That’s good though. While you want to encourage a variety of healers in your raids, it doesn’t mean that you have to always have a Shaman or have to always have a Paladin. Each healing class has their own strengths and weaknesses. At the very minimum, each class can fire off some AoE heals. Each class has a large heal, a fast heal, and an efficient heal. It just so happens that their extra healing spells are done in a different way. Priests have group based healing in Prayer of Healing and Circle of Healing. Shamans have that new Healing Rain which hits everyone in a certain area. Paladins come out at the end of the week so we’re not sure what they get yet.

As far as the healing niche goes though, you are right that each class will have similar capabilities. How much would it suck if a Druid healer who loves to play a Druid has to re-roll to a Priest to heal a particularly difficult encounter because the Priest can heal a certain encounter way better than a Druid can? During Sunwell, I heard many top end guilds had to bench Paladins and some Druids for the Twins encounter. They ended up bringing in Shaman alts and Holy Priest alts for Circle of Healing and Chain Heal. The philosophy of Blizzard has always been to bring the player and not the class. A Druid should be able to heal an encounter just as well as a Priest, Shaman, or Paladin and I agree with that.

The identities of each healing class won’t be lost though. Just because each class can keep players up doesn’t mean they’ll lost their own unique style or method of doing it.

Let’s not forget what Ghostcrawler said:

We’d rather make healing fun for the players who like to heal rather than make healing easy for the players who hate to heal but do it anyway.

And I’m sure they’ll find ways to make it entertaining.

Priest Changes Announced! Your Thoughts?

Priest Changes Announced! Your Thoughts?

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Some of the announcements were those I had expected. But there were a few surprising ones too! Check out the official blue post!

Expected

Heal: Yep, I figured they’d bring this back. Flash Heal is a 1.5 second cast, Greater Heal is a 2.5 second cast (untalented) which means that Heal will lie somewhere in between. I remember using this spell quite a bit during my downranking days in Burning Crusade and Vanilla. But yes, that’s another direct heal for us to use. Flash Heal will be on the side in favor of Heal.

Prayer of Spirit is gone: I expected this would go too. Last month, I asked in a post whether or not Spirit would be removed. My logic was that since Spirit would become a mandatory stat for all the healing classes, there wouldn’t be much of a point in having a buff around that did that. They removed it from raid buffs like Kings and Gift of the Wild. It didn’t make sense for Divine Spirit to stick around either. Guess that answers that question.

Radiance: Wow, that seems a little overpowered. It’s like converting Glyph of Prayer of Healing into Glyph of Everything Healing. Every direct heal now has an additional heal-over-time at the end of it. I think several weapons in the game had an effect like this as well.

Power Word: Barrier: Totally called it. Although knowing my luck, it might not make it past the beta phase :(. Almost two years ago, Kestrel interviewed me and served me a helping of my own 20 questions (I haven’t done them in a long time actually and I kinda feel like bringing it back. Any ideas on who I should interview?). One of the questions he asked was what the Wrath of the Lich King 51 point talent would be like. I said:

Matt’s version – 12 seconds, channeling, 2650 mana: Draws on the spirits and ancestors of all party members of the Priest to create a large bubble, capable of absorbing 22945 total damage to players within a 5 yard radius. While the barrier is in place, spellcasting will not be interrupted by damage. Players in the party within the Barrier can not be affected by fear or silence effects. 5 minute cooldown.

Blizzard version – Who knows?

Ridiculous and overpowered? Yes. Thank goodness I’m not a game designer. But I’ve always secretly wanted some sort of group shield. Later on during the development cycle for Wrath, I remember reading a post saying that the devs wanted to introduce it, but ran out of time or something. Now it’s being pushed back to Cataclysm.

Anyway, so it looks like it’s just going to be a big shield that hits an entire group. I don’t think it’s going to be a smart spell in the way Circle of Healing was. I suspect it’ll hit every player within a single group which offers a fair degree of predictability like Prayer of Healing does. Nope, GC just clarified it. It’s going to be similar to the Death Knight Anti-Magic Zone. So it’s going to create a bubble somewhere on the ground and players that stand in it will have any incoming damage absorbed (and not just spell damage like AMZ since it’ll absorb all). Already in my mind, I can picture of myself casting Barrier on one group and then casting Prayer of Healing on a different group. Think of how many lives you’d be able to save even further on something as simple as Stinky! As for shield strength? Possibly on par with or stronger than an individual shield.

Internet? Can I get an internet fist bump?

Deep down inside, there’s a little me that’s screaming “Yay! Blizzard liked my idea!” but I know better. It’s probably a spell that someone deep in the dev team already coined and it just happened to be a coincidence. I’m glad to at least see that there are plans to introduce it.

Unexpected

Leap of Faith (I’m calling it Life Grip though): Oh my goodness, a defensive Death Grip that Priests can use to pull compromised players out of fires! I can see a ton of intriguing abuse for this especially in PvP. Need to get the flag to safety? Have them run below the graveyard and Life Grip them up. But yes, I can certainly see the application in raid environments. It’s got a 45 second cooldown so it can’t be too abused. Note how it says that it’s expected to help rescue players who have pulled threat. I wonder if it functions as a minor threat lowering ability. The problem now is that I foresee other players complaining and saying “Well why didn’t you life grip me out?!” and opening yet another can of raid worms.

Inner Will: It’s various Mage armors for Priests. Sort of. This one increases movement speed and reduces the cast of instant-cast spells. It’s either Inner Will or Inner Fire. I suspect in most cases, we will use Inner Fire. During phases where we need to hustle, we’ll switch over to Inner Will. I wonder if it’ll stack with Body and Soul or the 85 equivalent of Tuskarr’s Vitality.

Holy Form (sort of): There’s a new talent that tips Holy Priests into a super-saiyan form when they chain cast Prayer of Healing, Heal, or Renew three times in a row. The effect will vary based on which spells have been cast. Perhaps a stronger AoE heal, a stronger single target heal, or harder hitting ticks from the Renew? Nice to see them add some more interesting effects for the Holy Priests. [Edit]: GC also stepped in and elaborated further saying that the talent (called Chakra) allows the Priest to temporarily specialize in something like tank healing, group healing or even Smiting.

Lesser Power Word: Shield: It hasn’t been confirmed as being in the plans for Cataclysm yet, but it’s something that has been discussed. A second (and slightly less potent) Power Word: Shield that’s exclusive to Discipline only. The aim is for it to be used on multiple targets. I suspect it’s been inspired by the massive shield casting style of raid healing Discipline Priests and this does make sense. At the moment, Discipline has limited tools in handling AoE or raid wide damage. We had to rely on establishing massive shields before the attack hit and follow it up with a Prayer of Healing or something. Since Mana management is going to play a more important role, shield spamming wouldn’t be a viable option anymore unless a smaller Shield was introduced. Interesting idea!

Actually, if you look at the Mastery Passive bonuses, you’ll see Absorption is listed under Discipline. Conclusion? Increased emphasis on Power Word: Shield (and the lesser one if it’s in the game), Power Word: Barrier, and the various Divine Aegis bubbles.

Our Shadowy brothers got an interesting mechanic change with the introduction of Shadow Orbs. Reminds me of the little floating things that Troll Priests used to have back in the day. Anyone remember those?

Okay, time for bed. Tomorrow’s Raid Rx on WoW.com will have a full analysis of the dispel changes, and what the Shaman and Priest proposed changes will look like in future Cataclysm raids (at least, in theory).

Which Raiding Aspect of 2.4 are you Looking Forward To? [NEW POLL]


Image courtesy of thanx from SXC

The PTRs are chugging along. Every day there are new builds and new changes that are matched by restored abilities (such as the warlock buff). Most of the heckling now revolves around class balancing and the like. The changes to the 25 man raids are aimed at helping every guild at any level to progress in the game as much as possible before the next expansion arrives.

What are you looking forward to in raids?

So, this is a really large patch! There’s no way I can squeeze every change onto my side poll. Therefore, I’m condensing it to raid related changes only.

Increase in gold drops from 25 man bosses

This is a huge boon for players like me who don’t have the time or the energy to farm on a regular basis. It will help offset repair bills somewhat. I was told 25 man bosses would drop 500g resulting in 25 per player. On the other hand, there’s a screenshot out there in existence with Brutalis dropping 250g (10 per player).

Additional set token drops from 25 man bosses

I wonder now if they’ll end up increasing the amount of loot that drops from non-set token dropping bosses to equalize the amount of loot they provide. The extra token drops will help in terms of progression, that’s for sure.

Removal of attunements in Mount Hyjal and Black Temple

There’s been a ton of reactions to the removal of attunements. I killed Kael several weeks ago and all I’m about to get is some lousy title. I can kind of understand where players are coming from about their wasted time and such. To be honest, I’m looking forward to this change the most. Why? Because then I won’t ever have to step back into SSC and TK to attune ONE more player EVERY week. A lot of blogs I’ve read haven’t even mentioned that. I guess they’re too focused on the individual to think of the whole. Just think about all that time that is now freed up without having to go back into the T5 areas.

New raid instance and challenges

The last real world event we had was Naxx, wasn’t it? Even then, I never really participated that much. It’s nice to have another world event to participate in again as well as a new raiding instance.

Shiny new purples

Don’t kid yourself. There’s a small loot whore in every single one of us. We all want the best gear in the game. There’s a ton of new badge loot, faction rewards, and raid drops.

Honourable Mention

Druid nerfs

I was going to list druid nerfs as a possible 6th option. Somehow, I don’t think that would go over very well with several of my esteemed blogging colleagues. I might wake up one morning and find one of my wings on my shoulders shredded or something. Who knows what druids do for pranks anyway?

If what you’re looking forward to isn’t listed on the poll, then by all means leave a comment stating what you can’t wait to see!

Which Raiding Aspect of 2.4 are you Looking Forward to the Most?

  • All those new shiny purples! (30%, 136 Votes)
  • Additional set tokens from 25 man bosses! (27%, 122 Votes)
  • New raid instance and challenge! (25%, 110 Votes)
  • Removal of attunements into Mount Hyjal and Black Temple! (11%, 49 Votes)
  • Increase in Gold drops from 25 man bosses! (7%, 29 Votes)

Total Voters: 446

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