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Raid Rx: A history of organizational healing, Part 2

Matt Low

Healing during Wrath of the Lich King Instances such as:

  • Naxxramas
  • Obsidian Sanctum
  • Eye of Eternity
  • Vault of Archavon
  • Ulduar
  • Trial of the Crusader
  • Icecrown Citadel
Here we are today. No different in the ratio of healers to DPS to tanks. The healing demands have been roughly equal throughout the expansion and has stayed fairly constant. Standard count of healer is usually around 5 with 1 in either direction depending on the encounter.

Spell ranks were penalized in an effort to kill the use of downranking. We use max rank spells now. When it comes to healing, the decisions of which spells to use have narrowed. Healers didn't have to think about which spell to use and which rank of that spell to cast. Perhaps a cost-saving measure for healers is that mana potions could not be chained anymore. Once one was used, that's it for the rest of the attempt. We did receive more mana returning abilities in various forms.

The trend of disciplined healing organization still continues. Assignments become tedious on progression raids or hard modes. But they're a little simpler and quicker for leaders of pugs to pull off. Precision planning in hard mode encounters still ruled but normal raids didn't require that level of energy. In other words, it was challenging enough for the career heal officer but light enough so that anyone could understand what was going on and pick up the mechanics easily.

Healing in this expansion felt more frantic to me. The way the content had scaled, we were getting to the point where tanks could easily be 2 or 3 shot. It wasn't quite as bad as the parry-hasting gibs but it was pretty darn annoying. It seemed like in order for the tank to have any chance of surviving, we had to overload him with as much overhealing as possible.

My professor refers to this as the crap on the wall of approach for answering exam questions. If you threw enough crap against the wall, eventually some will stick. Likewise, if you throw enough heals on a tank, one of them will be effective while the rest might be overheal. This isn't exactly a fun style of healing to play. It just feels like players were either near dead or maxed out.

I'm very grateful that this is changing in the next expansion.

The future...?

Here are my thoughts and what Cataclysm healing would be like.

Biggest change for healers isn't so much the stat explanations. Yes, we'll need to learn about how mana regeneration works and such. Yes, we'll need to figure out how to allocate our stats with reforging. But I don't think those are the big changes that healers will have to face. To me, it's going to be learning how to heal all over again. The stamina of every class and player is expected to increase by a ton. The developers called for more triage healing. Players aren't as likely to be topped up as much anymore since our healing spells may not scale as high as the extra health we have. Since our spells aren't hitting as hard, we have to spend more mana. Unfortunately, we don't have unlimited mana so our resources need to be planned out.

With higher health pools, damage dealt will increase slightly but not to the point of 3 shotting players anymore. I'm thinking that the encounters will be a little more forgiving. Healers will have more time to make the right healing choices. If they screw up, their mistakes won't be as immediate (or at least, the raid won't wipe in a blink of an eye).

I think future raids might involve more healers than there are now. 5-6 might be a good number, but depending on future raids, we could be seeing as much as 7-8 (or about a third of an expected raid size) for progression fights. Having that extra safety net of healers just helps. Enrage timers or soft enrages could limit the number of healers being brought in, however.
I can't help but wonder if each class is going to receive an additional direct healing spell. We have a fast one, and a "power" heal. Perhaps a healing spell in between? It gives us a bit more variety in terms of the strength of direct healing spells to use.
With luck, healing will become a little more "fun" and interesting. I seriously can't wait for it. I just want to kill Arthas and get this expansion over with. I suppose the upcoming Ruby Sanctum can help satiate my desire for some time though.

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? E-mail me at 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.

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