Head? Meet Keyboard.
My experience with the two-trick pony healer over the weekend left me pondering the nuances of a skilled healer.

Of course, much like the Pretentious Priest, it is possible to make your way through a lot of content by merely bashing your face against your keyboard in rhythm to Tchaikovsky, as long as you bind all your keys to Flash Heal or Circle of Healing/ Penance. I mean, let's face it - it's not actually that difficult to buy yourself some top notch gear these days, and especially for healers, once you outgear an instance, you end up healing yourself out of a job.

There's all this talk going around about how much harder healing is going to be in Icecrown. Health pools will be larger! Heals will be smaller! There's a debuff thingie that will make your tanks weep with pansy-fication!

Rubbish, say I.

Well okay, maybe not total rubbish, but I do remain skeptical. I remember all the hubbub about Ulduar as well - how it was actually going to be HARD on healers. How mana regen was going to be tricky, you would have to choose your heals wisely. You would need to coordinate better with your fellow healers. Sound familiar to anyone else?

It didn't take long before healing was no real challenge in the first half of Ulduar. And it was the gear that made it so easy.

I'm not standing up here on my soapbox to tell you all that zomg healing is soooooo easy, why are you struggling?! This is a cakewalk! I could solo heal this lol. Especially since I'll be the first to tell you, I'm a middle of the road raider. I haven't seen most of the hard modes, and I'm certainly not on the cutting edge of the raiding scene.

What troubles me is how quickly healers are made obsolete. How, the better we get, the more we improve our gear, the harder we fight to learn all the best ways to use our spells, the nuances within the trigger finger dynamic... what ends up happening is that we heal ourselves out of a job.

Suddenly those 6 slots that were set aside for healers become 5. Because if you don't do that, then your healers CAN get away with Easy-button face smashing to fulfill their duties. You might as well turn that 6th slot into a DPS, so that we can take down the bosses faster. I'm not complaining about this decision - it is a practical one, and I understand it.

When the content is new, and your gear is beginner level for the instance, it's fun. It's a challenge. You have to think, and you have to make real choices. This person needs healing NOW. Should I use Renew? Or Circle of Healing to give others around him a little boost? Should I bubble or is there no risk of more damage coming at him. Should I use GrittedTeeth or AngelWings?

It doesn't matter how much health you add to the bosses, or even to the tanks. You can nerf regen all to hell. Gear is so easy to get due to the way badges are handed out like candy. The gear gap is traversed so quickly that it's not worth blinking. It's not worth worrying over. Oh you want to ninja my epics? Meh. I've got 18 more in my back pocket. Yawn.

We are able to upgrade our gear so quickly, and so easily, that Blizz is shooting themselves in the foot - the easier new gear is to acquire, the shorter our attention span becomes. This is due not only to us finding ourselves with no desire for anything that drops in the instance, but also because we gear up so fast, the instance is quickly turned into a moot point. A challengeless chasm.

Don't you love when people criticize something but have no solution to the problem? >.>

I have hopes for ICC, despite my skepticism. I hear murmurs of a healer glory encounter. I hope there are more of those in the future - Incinerate Flesh is my favorite fight mechanic so far (though I'm not as fond when I'm running Disc). But I am again brought back to the question: How can Developers fix healing? It doesn't scale with gear and encounter difficulty properly. At least for DPS, if you outgear the place, you get it done faster.

This is a question I'm still pondering, but I leave this for you readers to think about as well. I'm thinking some creative solutions lie in the D&D world. I'd love to read some creative thoughts on how to address this problem. Or do you see no problem at all? Tell me all about it by clicking that little comment button down below XD
7 Responses
  1. Charles Says:

    I actually feel like healers have the hardest of all the jobs in the raid when we hit new content, as it's the healers who soak up the result of all the undergearing, inexperience and general mistakes that happen.

    Then just when normal mode is getting easy, you experience the same phenomenon starting on heroic modes - except ten times worse :D

    I sort of feel that the easier periods after everyone's geared up and experienced are the reward for the harder periods - and you can still have challenging mechanics or moments (especially if someone screws up). And if any of the heal team want to try their hands at a different role, you can run with fewer healers to make things more fun.

    (though admittedly that last one is thorny as it can lead to healers being excluded against their will :( )

  2. Fuubaar Says:

    Tanking is in a similar situation regarding new content verse old.

    New content where the tank is less geared, tanking can be a struggle so as to not die in two hits with the weaving in major cooldowns.

    Our situational awareness turns into Panic mode. Being a little shaky of the gimicks makes it for a very frustrating & stressful environment. I would believe that this is very similar to healing.

    What I believe is actually better from the healers standpoint is that they know when this just isn't going to happen.

    Knowing when you &/or your crew isn't geared enough for the situation is unknown by the DPS & most of the times the tanks. The healers know what they are capible of and have the best knowledge of how to make it work.

    Healers have the say (well Raid leaders do but they often times just ask the healers how to handle it) who needs to switch back to healing the raid because everyone's just taking too much damage or if the tank is dropping like a rock to have the Druid roll hots as well to make everyone's life easier.

    Regarding the second point (healing yourself out of a job) again, tanks do a similar thing.

    At the beginning, it's more of a "let's share the damage", near the end, just load up the tank & DPS it down.

    I remember when you had to bring 3 tanks into 10-man naxx to help with Adds & ot things.

    Example of this is KT & his adds.

    I remember having to have atleast two tanks for that fight because the adds got worse & worse the longer it took. Now, I would tank all three so that we could have that additional DPS.

    I guess I'm tanking myself out of a job too ;)

  3. Fricassee Says:

    I think I'd like to see a fight where allied NPCs need healers dedicated to them, kind of like instructor.

    Imagine a fight were healers have to follow NPCs that tank the adds (which put some kind of debuff that makes player-tanking impossible). Several different NPCs can follow preprogrammed paths that support a need for a mix of movement-capable healers heavy hitting stationary healers.

  4. Hinenuitepo Says:

    Good points, and so similar to RL.
    I'm actually constantly TRYING to work myself out of a job as a RL healer - but there's always the next one!

    At the end of content, when you outgear it, yes, less healers are needed, but they'll always be needed again.

    On the other hand, it does suggest the healer who builds a good dps/tank set and knows how to use it will indeed ultimately be of more use than someone who is heals only. Sorry. :(

    Just the way it is.

  5. Velidra Says:

    I put this down in part to the way hard modes have worked out in wow.

    Taking Uld10 -> ToC10 as a example.

    Uld10 drops 219 gear
    ToC10 is designed to be cleared in 219 gear. All is fine and dandy.
    ToC10 drops 232 gear.
    Everyone has gear that's 13+ item levels over the instance and it gets way to easy

    This wouldn't be so bad if either the gap between content levels wasn't so large (imo ToC10 should drop 226 gear... but then ToC10 weapons are still on par with Naxx25) or if there was a gradient of boss difficulty, ie

    ToC10 NRB is designed to be cleared in 219 gear
    ToC10 Anub is designed to be cleared in 232 gear

  6. Snottydin Says:
    This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Tamarind Says:

    (Forgive the run of frivolous comments - I am not feeling massively intellectual at the moment)

    "Merely bashing your face against your keyboard in rhythm to Tchaikovsky"

    Oh my God, all these years - I've been doing it wrong. I've been bashing my face against my keyboard in rhythm to Beethoven! Curses!

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