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Raid Rx: Cataclysm healing overview

Matt Low

Every week, Raid Rx will help you quarterback your healers to victory! Your host is Matt Low, the grand pooh-bah of World of Matticus and a founder of No Stock UI, a WoW blog for all things UI-, macro- and addon-related.

There is a ton of information that is now available for Cataclysm. During the class previews, I covered on some of the healing changes from class perspectives. Most of those still stand and there has been little change since then. This week, I wanted to help clarify some of the more general changes that are impacting healing.

I guess we'll start with the burning question first.

What's up with the DPS talents in the healing trees?

Good thing Ghostcrawler (lead systems designer) stepped in and provided a few reasons for the inclusion of select DPS talents in some of the healing trees. Discipline priests will gain access to Atonement, Evangelism and Archangel. Restoration shamans get another talent that's way down in their tree called Telluric Currents.

Don't expect to see healers competing against warlocks or anything, though. Let's break down some of the reasons.

We've had many threads on this topic already, some with blue posts, so I feel like I'm starting to sound like the proverbial broken record here, but I'll give it a go one more time:

-- We want to add talents that are more than just +healing. You've got plenty of those.
-- There are opportunities for *every* healer to dps.
-- Opportunity 1. Leveling or soloing. Not every healer wants to use their dual spec on say Elemental or Shadow.
-- Opportunity 2. PvP. Good healers, especially priests in today's game, can contribute a lot of damage.
-- Opportunity 3. Dungeons. This is particularly true when the content is easy and you want to get through it quickly. Healing more doesn't make things go any faster. Dealing damage does.
-- Opportunity 4. Raids. No matter how challenging the content, there are moments when nobody is taking damage and you can spare the mana. Your choices are do nothing, tab out to YouTube, or maybe do a little damage.
-- If you are the kind of healer that never, ever, ever wants to do damage under any circumstances, then don't. You'll have choices to avoid anything dps-related.

One thing we healers need to remember is that not every talent is going to be inherently useful for what we're doing. I think somewhere along the way, the developers realized that some players preferred to level as a healing spec instead of just having a DPS off spec such as balance or shadow. Therefore, some talents were introduced to help ease that process.

Soloing Even though we're only going to level once on our healing character of choice, there is going to still be some soloing content to do. There will still be daily quests for us to do, and you can bet that some of them will involve crushing mobs.

PvP Participating in arenas or battlegrounds, I notice that I'll start unloading DPS on a kill target if it happens to be called for. But I'll now do that if there are no friendly players around me in imminent danger of dying.

PvE DPSing during trash or on bosses will help accelerate the process. On most progression content, it won't really be an issue at all, since we're going to be way too busy healing. Personally, during idle time on farm bosses, I'll open a browser and catch up on some reading on some of my favourite blogs.

The last point still stands though. If you don't like the idea of casting any sort of damage spells, you don't need to.

Shifting to triage-style healing

I'm hoping all healers will get a quest like Triage in Cataclysm. For Alliance, it was out there in Theramore and for the Horde, it was in Arathi Highlands. This level 35 quest involved your applying bandages to soldiers with varying degrees of injuries.

That's exactly what the new approach to healing is. That's why we've got additional spells like Divine Light, Heal and Greater Healing Wave. We get a fast heal, a medium heal and a large heal. The fast heal is obviously going to be fast, but it won't be very efficient in terms of healing per mana. The medium heal will be the one used most often, as it strikes a balance between time, healing throughput and mana cost. The large heal will provide the most healing throughput and will be the most efficient. Downside is that it's going to take forever (in healing time) to get the spell off.

Increased health pools and other such changes are going to slow down healing. By slow down, I mean that we're not going to see tanks getting dropped in one or two shots as much anymore during raids. While I suspect reaction time is still going to be important, at least the collective blood pressures of healers can ease up somewhat. The trade-off is that our spells aren't going to immediately bring players from near death to full. It becomes more about maintaining health.

To summarize

  • Everyone gets larger health pools.
  • Tanks are not going to get two-shot.
  • Focus is on keeping players alive instead of topping them off.

What about mana management?

Intellect is still going to have some effect on the size of mana pools. When it comes to regeneration, spirit is ultimately going to be the key stat to look for, as it will have a stronger impact on rate of regeneration. Yes, this applies to all healing classes. Meditation-like talents will need to be acquired by all healers.

Really though, it is still way too early to say how this will play out in raid settings. We still have assorted mana cooldowns to use. The best way to manage your mana is to make sure you really use the right spells for the right situation. You don't really have to watch your mana bars like a hawk, but that doesn't mean you should carelessly spam your largest spells without any kind of consequence.

I wish I had access to a beta. I would love to try out this new healing stuff for myself.

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 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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