The life of a healer in Cataclysm is new, exciting, and often times terrifying. The new expansion does something quite well, it makes healing really really hard. Since hitting level 85, I quickly geared up for healing and DPS just in case a guild group had a DPS slot available. Guild groups have been an absolute delight. Coordinating CC, figuring out new mechanics, and having a blast in new content and trying for achievements. Random groups however have been, to be honest here, full of suck.
This is mostly due not to the new healing mechanics, but to the new requirements in CC management and smart tanking. Over the course of the last week, I have queued for random heroics as a healer at least three times a day. This endeavor has met with slightly less mixed results than I would have anticipated. In the vast majority of cases the tank has been the problem. Not waiting for CC assignments or for the CC to go off. Breaking CC early, or to be perfectly honest here, pulling like a jack-ass. Now what I mean by this is that the tank is either pulling multiple groups, not waiting for the healer to have mana, not conserving mitigation cooldowns for when they are needed and generally ignoring any sort of logic or strategic approach. This is what I like to call the “Wrath Tanking Mentality”, which will be referred to from this point on in the post as WTM.
What is WTM you may be asking. Well, it’s the idea that heroics are stupidly easy, and require no forward thinking. That as soon as you reach maximum level, you are ENTITLED to the loot contained therein, and the actual running of the dungeon is merely a formality. This honestly wasn’t a problem the first few days as Blizzard instituted a gear requirement before even allowing people to queue randomly for the dungeons, but as players figured out how to raise their GS early the queues began to get worse and worse. In Wrath it wasn’t uncommon for a healer to just say “go ahead and pull 1/2 of the zone, I’ll be just fine.” or some variation therein. Honestly as a fresh 80 running heroics, very few reports of having difficulty healing existed. In Cataclysm though, it’s all about conserving mana, using the right heal for the job, and having a group that avoids all unnecessary damage while following CC assignments. As a healer you may have experienced this, but WTM is very very strong right now. I fear that the learning curve may actually be too steep for some people. I fear this, because inevitably what these people do is cry the loudest for dungeons to be nerfed, and they are very very quick to blame healers. Let me share with you some lovely examples from this week.
Day 1 of heroic ready healer
Throne of Tides: First boss
The tank was a warrior with LESS hit-points than my healer. My healer clocks in at 106k health right now, the tank only had 105k This was red flag number 1. I would have vote kicked him on the spot for that, but he had a voting block with two other guildies with him. We make it to the first boss through all the trash and it feels like a miracle. The tank seems to be made of paper, until I inspect them and see they are still wearing some ilvl 251 gear mixed in with sub-par greens. How this person got into the instance is a mystery to me at the time, but I go along with it. After all I’m a shaman and made of infinite win right? The first boss has a couple abilities that will tax a healer, and outright kill a stupid DPS. One of these abilities is a geyser that she casts beneath a player. You have ample time to move out of it, but if you don’t it will deal enough damage that it will one shot you. Funny thing here is, the first time she casts it even after being warned what it was, the tank does NOT move out of it and dies. That’s right folks, the tank. His comment “You suck healer you should have healed me through that.” I calmly explain that it is an instant kill and he needs to move off of it, and luckily one of his guildies backs me up on this. He drops the matter. The boss also has a phase where she summons three adds, two casters and a melee. The mage polymorphs one caster and I hex the other, which is pretty much standard operating procedure at this point. The tank, tags ALL three adds breaking the polymorph and the hex. The tank proceeds to die, and I am promptly vote-kicked from the group. Clearly both wipes were my fault. I write it off, tack myself to a guild group and a call it a night.
Day 2 of heroic ready healer
Halls of Origination: First Pull
The tank was much better off than the first one. Also a warrior he had a considerably larger health total, and his gear looked to be on par for heroic content. I was feeling optimistic about this run right until the first pull. This pull consists of five mobs that all do many different things. Usually the group marks 2-3 for CC and burns down the two biggest threats fast while pulling out of line of sight. The tank for this run however, rushed blindly in. No CC went out, and we had none besides my hex that could withstand damage so it was a wipe. Second attempt, someone in the group explains what we need to do, and this time we get our CC’s off . The tank however goes rushing in and dies a fiery death as he runs out of my healing range. Third attempt, the tank rushes in, and drops group as soon as everything is angry with us. Right gear, wrong mentality. I do some random heroics with guildies, call it a night.
Day 3 of heroic ready healer
Grim Batol: First boss
Interestingly enough, I got in this one as DPS. I forgot to uncheck DPS from the previous night’s heroic runs with the guild. We get to the first boss easy enough, I explain the fight on heroic and we engage. The healer, a holy priest, is doing a kick ass job and things are going great. Umbriss kicks into high gear and smears the tank pretty good. We wipe, go back in, tank drops group. We get a second tank and the same thing happens. I ask if he’s saving mitigation cooldowns (which I already know the answer to thanks to oRA3) and the only response I get is that the tank drops group. We get a third tank and the same thing happens. oRA3 in all cases shows me that the tank is just blowing tanking cooldowns at odd times. Times when healing isn’t tight and damage is manageable. This bothers me quite a bit and after three more failed tanks all doing the same exact thing I just call it a night and go to bed.
This continues on for what seems like many, many days. Now, not every experience was bad and there was some shinning hope here.
Day 5 of heroic ready healer
This was the first time that the group was all from random servers and guilds. No repeats of anything. The composition was a druid tank, me healing, a hunter a mage and a warlock for DPS. A lot of viable CC in this group, and best of all, they all listened. We worked together through the whole instance. For every one of us it was the first time setting foot in it since the change. We looked up encounters, made up our own strategies and fought all the way to the end. The druid was an amazing tank watching my mana closely and knowing when it was safe to pull and when it was time to sit back and take a break. Honestly I was impressed with the way the group was communicating without voice chat and getting along. Through normal conversation I find out that the group is made up entirely of players from the vanilla days who used to raid 40 man content. This is new and exciting to me as recently I’ve been running with “wrath babies” so it was good to reminisce about the good old days. We get to the end, figure out the cookie fight without looking it up, earn a few achievements and then begin the VanCleef event. I call it an event because, well, it is very much so an event and not a boss fight (coincidently, Kudos to you on this one Blizzard, A plus all the way on this fight). We get through a few wipes and then we realize it’s already 5 am and we just can’t keep going anymore. We drop group, but it was seriously the best healing experience I’ve had so far in a heroic, and one that hasn’t been replicated yet.
Long journey, but here’s the short of it. Healing is much harder than it was before. Most healers in my experience are making the transition pretty well thanks to the strong healing community feeding information into the media. Tanking and smart DPS is an entirely different story now. I don’t say this a lot, but right now the fail boat has a lot of passengers. I know there will always be a string of bad runs, or players that haven’t been keeping up on every change, but it feels as though we really do have a lot of players behind the curve.
Is the tanking learning curve too steep? Is WTM too strong after having used it for two years? What experiences have you had as a healer in the LFG system? Have you encountered the WTM a
That’s it for now, I’m going to head back in to the LFD tool with my head up and my mana potions stacked high. I’ll be sure to bring you back some awesome, and awful stories. Until next time, happy healing and may your mana be plentiful.