I've been receiving a steady amount of email and questions in regards to healing for the expansion. Rather than coming up with something boring, I decided to gather up what I had and answer them all here. In my classes, I know that when one person asks a question, a good number of the students are thinking the same thing. It just so happens that the one guy who raised his hand has more guts than everyone else (although personally, there have been times where I wished that one guy would just keep his hand down so we could all leave class on time -- but I digress).
The answers I'm issuing here are based on personal experience and a fairly small sample size. Take it with some salt (or if you're like me, soya sauce).
How big of a deal is it to have diverse healing classes? For example, can we operate with having two of the same classes for healing? Or is it really beneficial to have varying classes?
I think it is possible now to have a raid healing team comprised of three paladins clearing normal level 10-man raids. If you think about it, we have similar core abilities across all the classes. We have sufficient AoE healing, for one. We each have our fast, main and large single-target healing spells. Everything after that is what separates us from each other. In fact, I'd hazard a guess saying we could slip from one healing class to another and still remain proficient at doing basic healing.
Getting back to the question at hand, I feel you won't suffer too heavily with a composition like a two-druid, one-priest setup or a two-shaman, one-paladin setup. But if you make the jump to the heroic raids, where the difficulty becomes harder, you'll want the extra abilities those classes can bring.
The healing composition I'll be running in my guild will be one of each spec. I'll have two priests who are both holy and discipline. In addition, I'll have a paladin, shaman and druid. That leaves a sixth healing spot. I'm not sure what class to use there yet. Since I have all the classes covered anyway, I figured I would simply take the best healer I have left available, regardless of what class they are, and run with six for the opening raids.
How many healers is ideal for 10s and 25s?
Raids appear to be designed for two to three healers on 10s and five to six healers on 25s. The number to actually use is going to vary from boss to boss. Anything with an enrage timer is an encounter for which you may want to bring one less healer and opt for an extra DPS player.
Since the different healing classes have similar abilities, there should be some parity when it comes to healing from boss encounter to boss boss encounter. Confirm or deny?
I'd think in theory, yes. This is assuming lab conditions. The reality is that healers will have differing healing assignments. Some will specialize in tank healing (not because of their class, but because it is what they are comfortable doing). Others like me prefer raid healing due to the large amounts of awareness and micromanagement needed. Now if I were to run a test in which all five specs were to heal the same tank over the course of five weeks, with a different healer every week, I would expect the healing to be about the same.
Raid healing is a different statistic entirely, since part of that is going to be based on what the other players around you are doing. You have factor in where players are standing and how they're moving. It'll tank your AoE healing if players are standing too far away.
Which healing class is highest on the meter?
This is a landmine of a question. But since I'm a priest, I'm going to say priest. Not just that, I'm going to say holy priest. I have absolutely nothing to back that up with.
So yeah. Take that.
Is it viable for healers to play both healing and DPS roles?
Yes. I mentioned earlier that raids will want to field between five and six healers. As your guild gets better and quicker at advancing through raid instances, you'll want to drop down to five at some point for the extra damage. You could move a tank to a DPS spot or bring a new DPS player entirely.
Or if you're crafty and your healers are willing, you can request a healer to switch to DPS. Each hybrid healing class has a talent that converts spirit into a value of hit. Before this change, hybrid players had to collect two sets of gear: one for healing and one for DPS. Now, we can simply stick with healing-related gear and then talent into the spirit modifier. We might end up with a hit value of 28 percent, but look on the bright side: At least you won't need to collect hit gear.
What should the balance be between intellect and spirit?
I wish I could answer this question with absolute certainty. Perhaps I'll turn it over to the comments below in hopes someone can shed some light on the issue.
Do you want more impact heals or the resources to cast them?
I've always favored having increased regeneration, as more mana typically means more options with the spells I have. At least for the opening expansion cycle, it makes some sense to lean slightly towards regeneration. After intellect, haste would be another option.
Are there any secondary stats I should stack as a healer? Do our healing masteries still suck at max level?
I know I mentioned in an earlier question my thoughts about ideal secondary stats. I do think healers should focus on their "core" of spellpower and regeneration first. Once those reach sufficient levels, I think you can then start deviating toward additional haste or crit rating. That is what I had to do when I was still in blue gear starting out during Wrath. Don't forget about mastery. It may suck now at level 80, but don't underestimate the potential it has at level 85. Remember the video I showed from last week? Not everyone is at full capacity. The masteries are going to benefit you there.
Anyway, I hope this helps solve any questions you might have had. Feel free to offer your own insight and your experience. Mine has been strictly limited to a few 5-player heroics and a smattering of beta raid instances. Any information you have might benefit someone out there.
Need advice on working with the healers in your guild? Raid Rx has you covered. Send your questions about raid healing to email@example.com. For less healer-centric raiding advice, visit Ready Check, and don't miss our strategy guides to Icecrown Citadel and Halion/the Ruby Sanctum.