Why would this be good for healers?
Healing is an incredibly stressful job, and while it has certainly gotten easier over the years, it is nowhere near as easy as a lot of people seem to assume. Performing well, whether it's when your first starting heroic or stepping into a raid for the first time, is a major concern for many healers. I know this for a fact since I still get a ton of emails on this very topic every day.
The problem that most healers have is that it is incredibly difficult to test yourself thoroughly before putting yourself in a situation where you are going to be scrutinized. I mean, face it -- whenever there is a wipe, the first to get blamed are usually the healers. It's a sad truth, but a truth nonetheless.
To a degree, you can test yourself out in battlegrounds and PvP. It gives you a good opportunity to test your UI out and to make sure that all your macros are in working order, but it's a magnitude different than healing in PvE. PvE is more about triage, judging incoming damage and balancing your spell usage and mana consumption for certain periods of time.
There's a big fear that if you don't know these things before healing for the first time that you will get voted off the island. This fear comes from the fact that, well, this does actually happen from time to time.
A healing test setup of some sort would give healers an opportunity and the tools to more accurately test themselves. It would also be welcome for those players who are returning to the game after long periods of time off or are maybe healing for the first time. I've had a number of raiders over the many years who swapped from a staunch DPS to healing for the first time. Yes, I know that the argument can be made that players learn these things while leveling up, but you can't always count on that being the case. They may not have had the opportunity, or in fact it might not have been their primary role or focus until now. Even for old hands, those of us who have been in the role of a healer for many years, this would be a fantastic thing to have.
Right now, a lot of our reforging and gem balancing is based on simulations, or we have to wait until we actually get into a raid or group to test them out. What if we had the ability to use something like this to see exactly how the changes we're trying out will change our spells or interactions in a semi-real environment? To me, anything that allows you get out of the spreadsheet and actively test it without having to subject other players to what may be a failed experiment is priceless. I think a few people would feel the same as well. Ultimately, it would be a very useful tool for just about any healer.
The perfect opportunity is coming
There is always an argument of how to implement something like this. How do you put it into the game without breaking things or disrupting normal gameplay? Putting the target dummies in Shat is a great idea, but I think you could go one further than that. What about the upcoming scenarios?
Think about it -- with what we know about the scenarios, they are basically events that operate outside of the normal confines of dungeons and raids. Crypt of Forgotten Kings is a dungeon crawl, sure, but instead of the normal five players, it is a three-player event. It's basically a giant zergfest with some environmental traps, sure, but the point is that it is something different than what would be considered normal content.
Why not create a scenario that could test these? We already see that there is scaling content with items like the monk's class quest at their special retreat, so having a scaling scenario could be done, I think. You can have a single-player event that plays out like a boss fight, with environmental damage, a tank NPC and some DPS, and have the healer have to triage or deal with tank spikes in damage. It would be, in my opinion, the perfect place to have something like this. We also know this is something that does in fact work, because there have been other games to implement something similar -- but I think Blizzard Entertainment could do it so much better and with such great flair. It could become the gold standard for things of this nature.
Beyond just healers
Honestly, this could be something that goes well beyond the bounds of healers. A single-player scenario like this could play out from different angle for different classes. Tanking is another stressful job in any grouping, and if tanks had the chance to step into a scenario and test their tanking abilities out, I'm confident we'd have more people willing to step into that role. DPSers could learn how to not stand in bad while still pumping out damage.
You could add different mechanics where if a player does something like not use a cooldown at the right time or stands in fire for too long, the scenario would fail and they'd have to start over. It is something that I could see working out quite well, honestly, with a lot of flexibility and a lot of potential.
Personally I would love to see something like this implemented. How about you?