Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thoughts on Cataclysm Healing

To set the mood for the post.

There is a lot of information flowing around the internet about what everything is going to be like when Cataclysm hits us. It seems impossible to avoid, and if you don't want to know anything about Cataclysm before you have it installed on to your computer you're probably going to have to play WoW in your closet the next couple of months (no wait that's not going to help...).

I am trying to stay updated on healing changes, and especially priest healing, in Cataclysm to build a general idea on what it will be like. I'm not fanatical about Cata though, I didn't bother to get a beta key or anything, but as with any oncoming expansion I am excited about what the changes will mean for my way of healing. As it looks now things will change pretty much. So what are we looking forward to? Since I don't have a beta key there is no way for me to go about this than to speculate based on what I've read about it across the bloggosphere ( has a nice round up on priest changes), but speculating is pretty fun too!

Stat changes again, yay!
Alot of stats have been removed and some stats have taken over the roles of the removed ones. In this way we'll see intellect turn into our spellpower provider and spirit goes back to being the mana regen stat number one (can't wait to see shamans actually gearing for spirit!). I welcome these changes. I prefer keeping it neat and clean when it comes to stats and it has bothered me that one stat can be fairly good for one spec of priests (like spirit/haste for holy) but not so good for another spec of priests. Or mp5 which is great for resto shamans but sucks for elemental shamans. I realize you might want a diffence in stats between melee and caster classes (for rp reasons if anything, no one wants intellect on a warrior), although I wouldn't mind a stat source that worked for all classes either. But having different stats for different kind of casters is taking it a little too far.

Start running
It is clear we're going to be running around a lot more. I already do this, alot, and love it and can only welcome shamans and paladins to join in on the fun. I mentioned it earlier in a post on the importance of good movement, and I personally feel like I get a better overview of my healing and the general situation by running around. All the healers seem to get a bunch of tools that will make it possible to run and heal somewhat, probably simply to stop penalizing a good act like moving around by having someone die because of lack of healing. As it is right now, moving around is highly inefficient for a shamans/paladins healing although it might be required in the fight. This isn't good planning of a class and Blizzard have realized this. Thank you Blizzard!
I have some qualms about whether my keyboard will be able to handle it though. It can only process two key presses at the same time, which means that if I am running diagonally I won't be able to throw a spell *cough*.

Smite priest, I never thought you'd show up
I'm also seeing that we're supposed to dps while healing. All healers seem to have gotten this possibility to some extent, but some more than others. I am divided as to what to think about this. I see great potential in this idea but there are some questionmarks about it. First of all I can hear people say that "if I wanted to dps I would've chosen a dps class". A very valid point. Secondly, considering we still have the whole healing business going on, I am quite sure any dps we try to do won't be very effective or an important part of a boss fight. I'm not sure if you've tried to heal and dps at the same time, but even counting the lack of hit and proper dps talents, it never works especially well. I don't see that we're going to get the opportunity to focus on the dpsing as healers in Cata either. This makes me draw the conclusion that it is there for two reasons;

  • Either Blizzard has decided to make healing less of a sucky leveling spec. That would be the first time they adapted endgame healing to leveling healing. But we might also choose not to use dps-healing at all at endgame because it's just not efficient enough and so this change will merely affect leveling healers (see below for why this could be). Time will tell.
  • Or Blizzard has decided that they want healing to be less whack-a-mole and engage healers in the actual fight. It is true, and I doubt that I am alone as a healer about this, that there are parts of a fight that I never get to know about until I decide to join as a dps/tank, just because they don't affect the healers. One good example are the flasks at Professor Putricide. I knew what they did but never thought anything about them when running around while healing. Joining with my hunter however these flasks suddenly turn into yet another factor to think about when moving around. Maybe Blizzard want healers more active in the actual fight and not just stationary healbots. Although I think this is a good notion, it will as mentioned be interesting to see if we're at all able to implement even more into what already is pretty much to think about. Healing might be whack-a-mole, but it's some pretty intense whack-a-mole. Using dps-healing might make healing more interesting/fun/challenging where there is little of that today, like in say Heroics. But I'm finding it hard to think I can cram yet another thing to think about in fights such as Putricide HC or LK hc. No one switches target during a fight as much as a healer, even with addons and mouse-over macros and it seems counter-productive to use a heal style that forces us to keep one target more or less all the whilst having healing people. But it could also turn out to be completely awesome and fun, and that is what I'll hope until proven otherwise ;).
What, I have to choose now?
On the matter of making healing less whack-a-mole and healbottish, I can see that Blizzard want us to make more choices while healing instead of before we're healing. Today we decide how we're going to heal a fight pretty much beforehand, through the glyphs and talents (not to mention class) we choose to play with. In Cataclysm I can see that Blizzard will give us the choice to heal in different ways while fighting. If a fight is aoe-intensive, we can decide to buff our aoe-heals. I see here yet another thing to think about while fighting and I can imagine it will either turn out one way out of two;
  • Either we just heal and the bonuses are just that, bonuses. Not something actively sought or planned for while healing but something that activates itself according to our healing. This means that something like Chakra won't actually be much affected by our skillfulness. The situation decides our healing just as today and Chakra will merely be an effect of our healing. Remember when you had to heal according to the 5second rule? Remember last time you bothered configuring your healing by that rule? Chakra could turn out like that.
  • Or we will plan all our healing according to these buffs, because they will be absolutely crucial to healing something successfully. What chakra we're in (or equivalent for the other heal classes) will determine how we heal. Whether the harder encounters will be successful or not is determined on how good the healer is in using these kind of bonuses. Like the 5second rule used to be.
It's tricky to tell which way this will take, and I know from personal experience that the aim of Blizzard could land far from what something turns into, which not always has to be a bad thing. Some things are just impossible to predict. In any case I am looking forward to what's coming (unlike the poor resto druids).

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