Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Challenging Healing

As a healer my favourite moments are those just before everything goes horribly wrong; that moment where you notice the hunter's pet accidentally move too close to a group of mobs you were skipping or when you notice that your at about 10% mana and yet the boss is still at 50% health.  It's that sinking feeling before you realise that you're going to have to  re-evaluate your healing tactics if you're going to survive the next hellish minute and a half that I live for in this game, especially now I'm out-gearing heroics by a fairly large degree.  In such a situation there's only one thing to do and that's knuckle down and get on with it, in many cases the situation may not even be salvageable anyway so, if failure should strike, remember that it was probably the initial mistake that caused it and that it's not completely your fault, but, for me, the thrill comes from being forced to think on the fly and, when you succeed, it's one of the best moments the game can provide.  As a discipline priest I'm used to responding to most situations when things get tough by popping a cooldown (Pain Suppression, Power Infusion, Power Word: Barrier etc.), which, when they're all available is usually all that needs doing (usually when the fight is going fairly by the book), but sometimes they're not available and a little cleverness, massive mana usage or a bit of both is important.

Current Cataclysm content appears to have been designed around this sort of healing style, particularly when you enter heroics for the first time with an iLevel of about 329, as it is rare that you will have mana to spare if people make mistakes and only a very clever choice of spells will aid recovery.  As you collect more gear your extra mana regeneration helps to overcome sloppy spell selection in all but the most challenging of pulls, but this is often counterbalanced by the overconfidence (or desire for greater challenge) in higher geared tanks and the challenge becomes one of managing throughput instead of worrying so much about mana usage (as long as overhealing is kept to a minimum).  In current raids both mana efficiency and throughput matter a great deal, which I feel gives the perfect level of challenge to healers, while not being so hard that if someone messes up the raid is unsalvageable, just a bit harder.

From what I've read and heard many people appear to disagree with me, saying that current content is too hard, not just in the forums but in a number of podcasts as well.  I worry that Blizzard might over-compensate and push it back to "Power Word: Shield" spam or "Flash Heal" spam which I don't enjoy, but, at least for now, there are plenty of opportunities for me to enjoy healing.