The Wrath Healing Model
I remember when I first heard the news that the whole design of healing was being turned on its head for Cataclysm. As it is now, there are people who specialise in spam healing tanks, and people who are best placed shielding/HoTing/Chain healing the raid group. There are probably some specialised in-between roles here and there, but that’s the long and short of it. The classes and specs fall into definite roles.
As a Holy Paladin, my clear job is to heal the Main Tank and one other target (usually an Off Tank) with my Beacon. At a stretch, I can manage three targets, but I’m not built for it. There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that I could keep the raid alive as efficiently as a Disc Priest or Resto Druid. The tools just aren’t there (yet). No, my domain lies in Tank healing. In Heroic fights such as Blood Princes, Lich King, Festergut, Marrowgar etc, my role is cemented firm. I have to keep the tanks alive through random, spiky damage, that will get easier and worse over time.
But that’s sugar coating it. That sounds easy, right? Only having to select and heal one person and make sure your beacon count doesn’t overrun? No, it’s not. Because on fights like the ones I spoke of above, there’s no way you can ever stop casting. The damage output on the tanks is such that it’s always much safer to be spamming Holy Light on the Main Tank, whether they’re taking damage or not. Simply because, in the space of ONE Holy Light cast, they can take more damage than a Holy Light (non-crit) can return. And sometimes (I’m looking at you, Heroic Deathbring Saurfang) even that’s not enough. Looking at the parses after our last Saurfang, our tanks have copped it after taking three 31k hits within the time I could cast one Holy Light. And the other in two 42k hits, similar space of time. Really, that fight could do with two Holy Paladins, each healing whilst the other is halfway through the next cast, but we had to make-do with signups on that occasion.
If you look at the screenshot I started this post with, that was the state of my scrolling combat text at the end of Lord Marrowgar HC. In case you’re wondering, the bracketed stuff is <Overheal> and the first number is actual healing. Not much of it going on, is there. Could I stop healing? No, because either my main target or my beacon target could take 40k damage at any second. The only actual healing I’m doing in that shot is the free return the raid gets from attacking a target I’ve judged.
I’m coming round to the Cataclysm Idea.
The Cataclysm Concept is one of Triage. If the Tanks have far more health, and take less damage, then there isn’t this need for frantic spamming. If we couple this with heals costing lots of mana (as they apparently will) you break into a situation where you heal when it’s most needed, on who needs it most. If the tank can’t be taken down within 20 seconds of solid boss battering, that’s enough time for me to Holy Shock some raid members, reposition myself, enjoy a Coffee, and throw the heals they need onto them. It makes for a different scenario, and barely any over-healing. You may think ‘But that’ll make it easy.’ Well, no, it won’t. Imagine the tank has 100k health, and my biggest heal heals for 10k. If the boss is doing a 3k swing every few seconds, as well as various secondary abilities, the tank will still be slowly ground down. There’s no danger of losing the tank if stop hammering Holy Light for one second. If my biggest heal costs 10k mana out of my 100k mana pool, then I’d throw a couple of those heals on the Tank when he was at about 40%, and use some regen abilities, or focus on the cheaper heals like Holy Shock will be in Cata to keep the tank slowly rising in health.
It may take time to get used to, but I like the sound of it.
There is a need for all healers to have all the right tools. Let me give you an example. I’ll take you back to Marrowgar heroic. When he does his Bonestorm, the raid stays on one spot – to deal with the Bone spikes that occur during the Storm, and to aid AoE healing. In that little 5ft square, there’s Chain heals and Wild growths and Prayers of Healing and Mending bouncing around all over the place. And there’s me, stood in the middle, like a lemon. I’m throwing the occasional Holy Shock on someone who gets suddenly spiked, but it often goes to overheal since AoE abilities catch them first. I’m essentially a third wheel. If I had the Holy spells the expansion will grant me Healing hands (Pulse AoE heals from caster) and Light of Dawn (Heal everything infront of you) I could stand at the back of the group, pop Healing Hands and aim Light of Dawn at the spikes when they come up. I’d be able to help out just as well as my fellow healers do now.
Take a second example. Deathbringer Saurfang (Taste the power the Lich King has bestowed upon him, in three unique flavours) has a heavy single target healing component. There are the tanks, taking large damage, and there are the Marked people, also taking large single target damage. A Resto druid can only HoT the target up, and/or spam Nourish, and that’s not going to touch on how effective a Holy Paladin could be on them. If they had the tools (like say, a tweak in the mana cost and healing output of Nourish or Healing touch, or even a Tree of Life cooldown to pop) to keep those folk alive just as well as I could, things would work much better.
The main thing Cata’s healing model seems to be doing is taking the horrible button mashing stress out of healing, and making into more of a thinking & awareness game. If they can pull it off, I’ll be very impressed. It looks to be a great step forward.