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