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.
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.
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?
Article image courtesy of Chris Campbell @ flickr