First, I just want to say that members of my guild and I scored ourselves a set of drake mounts from Glory of the Icecrown Raider. Took a few weeks, but we managed to pull it off. Hard modes and other achievements are an excellent way to keep your healing in form!
Anyway, those experiences can come at a later time. Some big announcements this week about talents! Have you seen the new looks yet? They're by no means finalized. We're still months away from anything resembling completion. Many talents have been removed from the tree entirely.
General thoughts on healing
The first thing you might notice is that a number of trademark spells (Penance, Swiftmend, etc.) are granted to you at level 10. Consider them bonuses for the moment you invest your first talent point. For example, once I decide to start my path in the holy tree for paladins, I'll gain immediate access to Holy Shock, Meditation and Healing Bonus. This is a massive departure from the current talent method, since an ability like Holy Shock had to be talented into.
I love the idea. Getting healers healing right from the beginning and giving them access to iconic talents and abilities will help them get into that mindset.
I've read observations and spoken to a few players who felt exasperated about the return of cookie-cutter specs. Essentially, a cookie-cutter spec is a standard spec that almost every player will choose simply because it is considered the most optimal. There is little to no variance at all. I do remember this being a point that the developers wanted to address. What we really need to keep at the forefront of our minds is that this stuff isn't done yet. Half the talents were destroyed, redesigned or repackaged.
They're still not done yet.
A member in my guild suggested this, and I really liked the idea. As a healer, at some point in your healing career, you are going to be concerned about your throughput and your endurance. It would be interesting to see a spec that leans slightly towards a spec where mana regeneration is beneficial and another spec where healing spells were amplified in some form -- in other words, a mana bonus spec versus a healing bonus spec.
It doesn't have to be one extreme or the other, but something that will give a healer pause and allow them to evaluate where points should be invested. What could end up happening again is that there will be talent point distributions that are universally considered the best. So if we want some diversity, we need to have some type of incentive or trade-off.
It looks like Meditation is a staple in all of the healing trees except for paladins. I found that odd, but I'm pretty sure that all paladin talents are supposed to change in the next build so that they will gain it. This talent will increase the mana regeneration of healers. For now, 50% of your mana regeneration will kick in while casting. That does seem like a lot, but don't forget, a number of regeneration talents and buffs have been removed.
You'll notice that the other healing classes have some baseline form of pushback resistance, but paladins will be getting theirs as well. If you're not sure what pushback is, typically what happens is that when you get struck by a mob and you're casting a spell, the time it takes to cast the spell gets lengthened. The casting bar might have gone back a little bit. What normally takes you 1.5 seconds to cast might take you 2.3 seconds to cast, because a random wolf is attacking you and causing you to momentarily lose your concentration. Now what pushback resistance means is that you have a chance to resist this effect. If you get attacked by something, it won't push back your spell cast.
Let's check out some of the classes.
I'm a little hesitant about going too in depth about paladins, since they are getting a fairly large overhaul. The one thing that stands out to me the most is the various mechanics that seems to revolve around judgements. Purifying Power? Pull off a Cleanse on an ally and watch as the target gets nailed by a judgement. Inspired Judgement? Whenever you judge a boss, it will also heal your beacon for half the amount. Very intriguing to see other abilities triggering judgement effects, although that might be more of a global cooldown saver than anything else. It saves you time from having to keep up some judgment on the primary target.
Check out paladin expert Gregg Reece's thoughts.
Druids are another class whose talents aren't as far along as the others.
There are two big talents that jumped out at me here. Efflorescence happens to be one of them. I might have mentioned it in an earlier column, but position matters. If a druid gets this talent activated, anyone standing on it gets to benefit from some of the heals. At the same time, the onus is also going to be on other players to spot the friendly void zone and stand on it.
I guess the question to ask now is if we can teach other players new tricks.
Tree of Life is the other big change, as it isn't a "form" anymore. Druids will be doing most of their healing in humanoid form. Personally, I find that fantastic. I can finally see what druid tier armor looks like! When Tree of Life is used, some spells become enhanced. I'd love to see how they're buffed. I'm hoping an extra line or two will be added on the descriptions of the affected spells.
For example, casting Wrath with Tree of Life is active causes multiple lasers to fire from the heavens, leaving a 200-yard crater.
I wrote about my initial reaction about some of the priest changes but I'll touch on a few other things here. I didn't realize it until today, but there's no Power Infusion! It was one of those spiffy offensive or defensive situation spells that you could place on yourself to heal faster or feed to a mage to get them to squeeze more DPS time in. Did it become a baseline spell that's trainable? I have no idea.
I was a little surprised at Desperate Prayer's being the main thing that holy priests get, until it was clarified that the Desperate Prayer of tomorrow isn't the same as the Desperate Prayer of today.
What about Lightwell?
I am not quite sold on that yet. But, I haven't yet experienced it first hand, so I can't say.
The Earth Shield talents were removed. They're one of the first things you pick up at level 10 when you start going down the resto tree.
The talents feel a bit rough around the edges. It does appear that your shock spells will be seeing some love due to Focused Insight. I am very curious to see how that will pan out. Telluric Currents' being way down that tree feels a bit odd. I figured if you were leveling as a resto shaman, you'd want access to that a little earlier. Maybe in the second or third tiers, perhaps? Who knows?
Anyway, I can't wait to see what's coming up in the next build of the beta! The wait is just killing me. How are you liking the direction healing is going right now?
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.