Don't get freaked out just yet! I'm not actually bored of healing on my priest. But in the last week, I've tried to do a little bit of healing on my shaman and my paladin. The last time I tried to do it, I felt drowsy and nearly fell asleep during a raid. Unfortunately, these recent attempts proved no different. The Cataclysm changes can't come soon enough.
While we're on the topic of healer boredom, Ghostcrawler (lead system designer or otherwise known as the guy who has the power to nerf and buff classes at will) happened to shed a bit of light on healing philosophy. It was about cooldowns and finding ways to make healing just a little more interesting.
At first glance, how would you feel if Circle of Healing or Wild Growth had the internal cooldown extended to 8 seconds?
That is a bit of a stretch, isn't it? Those spells are "signature" spells for priests and druids respectively. It isn't set in stone yet or anything, but if the cooldown was raised hypothetically, my stomach would lurch just a little bit. I think the first thing that went through my mind was that I would need to use more filler spells before it was up again.
And that's when I realized the point.
I would need to use more spells. In other words, I'm being asked to use other spells in my arsenal other than Circle of Healing on every cooldown.
If Wild Growth was replaced by Circle of Healing, I'd agree 100%. I can begin to see a bit of distinction between vanilla players, Burning Crusade players, and Wrath players based on the reactions alone. Vanilla players seem to heave a sigh of relief, Burning Crusade players are questioning it, and Wrath players seem to be the most upset.
But don't take that seriously as that was from a sample size of 3.
I want to emphasize how simplistic raid healing was back then. It was complicated from an assignment perspective, but if we zoomed in and approached it from a micro perspective, it was incredibly easy. For me, I would alternate between low rank Flash Heal and low rank Greater Heal. Of course, I'd always have the max ranks available just in case I needed them. Healing itself wasn't all that great but the shock and awe of the encounters amazed me during my early raiding career. The closest feeling I had to working with other players on such a large scale would have been playing Battlefield: 1942 and deciding which bases to defend or assault.
Burning Crusade healing
It improved by leaps and bounds. However, this was the period where Circle of Healing did not have a cooldown and holy priests just dominated the raiding scene alongside shamans. In other words, 2-button healing was still prevalent but we had more options available to us. Did we ever use them as often? No, not really. One spell was able to do all the work. What was the point of having to rely on others?
They got most of it right. At least, priests and druids feel fine to me. As a healing shaman, I felt I could hold my own and I had to think a few times about what my targets and the spells. Yet when I heal on my paladin, I'm just not into it. Maybe it really is just me. Maybe I've grown so used to having a myriad of spells to choose from that I felt stifled when trying to heal on a paladin. The point I wanted to drive home is that while additional healing spells don't have to be further added into the game (other than the ones they were planning to add anyway), no single spell should dominate in every possible situation to the exclusion of others. Otherwise, we're going to get the same situation as we had in Burning Crusade where Circle of Healing was just too awesome and it was the answer to everything.
If you're curious and wish to learn more about how organizational healing has evolved, be sure to check out this piece.
One idea proposed was to crank up the mana required to cast Wild Growth. Make it punishing for the healers and force them to manage their mana appropriately. By making such a spell overtly expensive, it would get most healers to rethink which spells to use at which times. I suppose it would mean that I would resort to gemming hard for regeneration attributes.
Here's another idea I thought of. What if spells were made progressively stronger based on the length of time between uses? Remove the cooldown component entirely. If a player wants to rapidly spam Wild Growth, let them have it. The subsequent casts won't be as powerful as the initial one. Have the healing effectiveness increase by a scaling amount to a certain point. It could function as a power up mechanic where after a spell discharges, it takes time to rebuild the potency back up to full.
In the meantime, I suppose I'll head back in and try to find ways to make healing more interesting. There is an upside to the whole 2-button healing thing however. At least I can watch me some playoff hockey and not worry too much about losing players as much! Team Vancouver is now in the second round!
Want some more advice for working with the healers in your guild? Raid Rx has you covered with all there is to know! Need raid or guild healing advice? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and you could see a future post addressing your question. Looking for less healer-centric raiding advice? Take a look at our raiding column, Ready Check.