Thursday, January 13, 2011

Why Heal in Cataclysm?

A great statement on healing from World of Matticus

When Cataclysm dropped a month ago, many players raced to 85 on their mains and prepared them for raiding.  As is always the case with a new expansion, players saw this as a perfect opportunity to try something new or switch main characters.  Now that raiding has begun in most guilds, it may be a little late to change a raiding character.  However, this also makes it the perfect time to try something new (perhaps a worgen or goblin) and see if you like it. Most people try out every role in the game within the first year, but many players try healing and leave it forever. With the release of Cataclysm, there are five reasons why you should roll or respec into a healer:

1. The Game Will Never Get Stale - One complaint that seemed to fill the world of warcraft in the twelve months of Icecrown Citadel was how the game was so stale and the same thing every week. Even though there are three new raids and many new instances to try out with Cataclysm, even all this new content will grow stale with time. No matter how thrilling taking down a raid boss may be, after defeating Lord Marrowgar 12 times, the only thing left to do is make bad "Bone" jokes. This happens because the boss abilities do not change. The same strategy the tanks used to manage threat and the same rotations used to maximize DPS applies every week.

By contrast, healing an encounter 12 times will offer twelve unique challenges. No matter how good a raid team becomes, there will always be an off night or a fight that gives a certain player fits, which leads to unexpected damage to deal with. This changes every single week. A common misconception is that healing is more simple than anything else because it is green bar "whack-a-mole." Healing in Cataclysm is not a spam your best spell over and over endeavor like healing in Wrath was. Now the renewed concept of triage healing has forced healers to learn how to use all the tools supplied to them. Especially for priests and druids, choosing an appropriate amount of healing to spread around in a raid or a 5-man dungeon makes all the difference between passing the content and wiping over and over.  And even as Lord Marrowgar becomes completely boring to everyone else, the fight changes every time and challenges a healer in new a different ways.

2. Healing is a Real Challenge - Perhaps all that needs to be said about healing in Cataclysm is that Ghostcrawler's first blog entry for the Blizzard community site was entitled "Why does Blizzard hate healers?" But the gauntlet has indeed been thrown and healers must rise to the new challenge. Thankfully the gear ramps up quickly in this expansion so regular dungeons and heroic dungeons that are nearly impossible at the early levels and right after hitting 85 become more and more manageable after only a small handful of instance runs. Mana will remain an issue throughout this expansion by design, but the 5-man content at least becomes manageable on mana once the other players learn to limit unnecessary incoming damage and the healer learns the art of triage instead of keeping everyone at full health all the time. That being said, healing is the hardest role currently in the game and that makes healing rewarding to those who like a challenge. As Ghostcrawler stated, god mode is only compelling for a short time. A challenging game makes you strive to be better and better.

3. Healing Provides Leadership Opportunities - Tanks have always been natural leaders of groups in Azeroth because tanks dictate how fast a group pulls new mobs and can set up success by marking groups of mobs. To succeed in Cataclysm, a leader must coordinate more than kill order. A leader must make sure cooldowns are managed, healers are keeping up and full of mana before each pull, and DPS with crowd control abilities are using them at every opportunity. Tanks are not the only players who can mark mobs! With healing becoming the glue of most groups in Cataclysm, this is a perfect opportunity to take leadership roles in raids and pick up groups! After all, the healer mana is really the factor that dictates the speed of moving through an instance now. A tank can pull with a healer at half full on mana, but that is a strategy doomed to fail more often than not. So if you are not a natural tank but want to be a leader, this respected role in the game is a perfect place to find your leadership niche.

4. With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility - As I just alluded to, quality healers are highly respected and always have been. However, a poor healer is generally the first one to get blamed whether rightly or wrongly. Healing is a great challenge and provides a huge sense of reward and accomplishment for helping a group survive encounters. But with those great rewards come the high level of responsibility for doing the job well or making the entire group suffer. Gone are the days of multitasking while running heroics, at least until another tier of raid gear comes out to over-gear most heroics. Healing is high risk, high reward. For most players, that scenario is worth the effort.

5. Shorter LFG Queue Times - Leaving this for the end because as shown above, healing in pick up groups is kidn of like playing Russian Roulette with yourself right now. Most players in LFG are truly decent people and decent players, but it only takes one bad seed or one bad player who does not know how to move out of the green stuff on the floor to tear a group apart. Especially when gear is underpowered for the current content, jumping into LFG rather than running instances with fellow guild members can be a recipe for disaster. However, even though this can be a disaster, it is much better to wait 0-10 minutes to get into an instance rather than 20-45 minutes as a DPS. Even if the group ends up being full of fail, the wait for another group is not that bad. Perhaps it is just dumb luck, but LFG has placed me in a fair number of groups with a tank and 1-3 others from a single guild numerous times, and those runs are always the best because guild members are considerate in front of people they know. LFG is a tough place to play right now, but patience is much easier to have as a healer with a short queue time than as a DPS with another 45 minutes of mining or archaeology on the horizon.

This is the perfect time to roll up a new character and dive into all the renewed content from 1-60 and 80-85, and I highly recommend a class that can heal. Even if healing has not worked out in the past, this is the right time to step up to the challenge and become a healer that enjoys a different challenge every single fight but still pushes the group through to survive for another day and another raid. In the words of the television show my daughter is addicted to right now (Yo Gabba Gabba): Try It, You'll Like It!



On an unrelated note, I finally broke my drive to level two main characters equally. Once again, the priest class called me with her sweet siren's call. And just like that, Ekaterinae is level 85. While she works her way to heroics, the leveling focus is again on Arielae the druid. Also, leveling professions is now also on the docket. But the competition for mining nodes in Hyjal is so fierce. Anybody having any luck mining elsewhere?


  1. Good on ya. I am also trying something new. I am giving up tanking on my druid for dps/heals, and giving up heals on my pally main for Tank/dps. The whole dps thing is actually new for me, and there really is a learning curve. Of course that is because I never had a sole dps toon before, and leveling was a get a tank or healer to level cap experience.

    Because I was so good at healing I was generally called to do that, unless a tank was needed. Now the tanks are scared, and I leveled with a healer buddy, so she is my healer, and I became her tank. It felt so dirty giving up Holy for Ret, but it is fun, and sometimes I get to spend a whole regular or heroic doing it. I still prefer tanking though. It's a sickness.

  2. Nice post :) I'm dabbling in druid healing now and it's certainly an say the least. I think the process of learning which heal is best for when is going to be a long one, but as I'm starting at low level, hopefully I'll have some time to experiment before the content really gets tough.

    As far as mining, Hyjal was where I farmed obsidium up to the point where I could start on elementium (but I play at weird hours, so it worked better). If you're already 85, Deepholm (around the Temple of Earth, or anywhere really) or the Elementium Depths in the Twilight Highlands are well worth a look. Good luck - nothing worse than trying to mine around the competition!

  3. There is indeed potential in healing, so I can agree to a few of the points you make, certainly. I would however question that it's only the "poor healers" that get blamed for everything - all healers are subject to this because 9 out of 10 times a wipe gets blamed on the healer no matter whether it is his fault or not. you can be the greatest healer in the world and still get a lot of heat from PuGs. that is the major qualm most of us have with Pugs, after all.

    By the by, that picture you used there was made by me (taken from my post @ matticus).

  4. @Arka - Tanking is not a sickness, it is the cure! At least the cure to long queue times for everyone else. I love playing ret on my paladin, honestly. Healing instances on her is fun, but not quite the same as druid healing and priest healing.

    @8paws - Welcome and thanks for visiting! Druid healing can be tough at low levels, but you do have a lot of tools quickly which is nice. Thanks for the mining advice, I may level this character to 82 to gain access to deepholm at least.

    @Syl - Ahh good point. The correct terms to use would have been "successful" healers versus "unsuccessful" healers. Because whether or not we are good or bad, wiping is unsuccessful. Excellent image by the way, and your article made me giggle.

  5. I have tried playing many classes but I always come back to healing. It's just the most interesting way of playing the game (in my opinion anyway).

    For mining, what I did was first I went to Sholazar Basin to get some easy points from Saronite and the occasional Titanium, it really takes the edge off. Then Deepholme was great for the rest. Not as much competition as Hyjal and there is both Obsidium and Elementium (not sure I got the names right, my memory is like a sieve).

  6. @Iris - I agree, and hence the blog. Healing is an excellent endeavor that extends the life of this game much beyond what I would have played otherwise. Good idea on S Basin as well, I may try that.

  7. A great post, I really agree with your points. I think each role is "hard", in its own way, and depending on how hard you work at it, but I've always loved that as a healer nothing is ever the same, the rush of high risk/high reward, and yes, the shorter LFD queue times (which is less relevant these days, not really using LFD anymore).