Sunday, 8 January 2012

State of Healing in 4.3

I'm not going to start by saying anything particularly new, I'm pretty sure that anyone who is healing Dragon Soul at the moment knows that the healing model is horribly broken (even those Paladins currently posting in forums arguing that Paladin healing is totally balanced must have some inkling that something isn't right assuming that they have the capability to carry out simple reasoning of course, which is not guaranteed considering that they're posting on the World of Warcraft forums).  The main issue with healing as it stands is the pure dominance of Holy Paladins over all other healing classes when it comes to healing output, which, has been argued is no different to the extremely high throughput enjoyed by Restoration Druids during 4.2.  This argument only stands up to the simplest of scrutiny (ie. the sort of scrutiny usually applied to DPS as they spam their Recount scores in Party or Raid chat while the rest of the Raid is busy telling them to move their arse so they don't die horribly to some easily avoided void zone or other) as currently, not only do Paladins bring insane throughput to a raid they also bring a huge number of fun and exciting utility cooldowns, while Druids bring nothing other than their healing to a raid. In addition to very high healing throughput Paladins can also:

1) Make themselves completely invulnerable every 5 minutes with Divine Shield (ideally used to test those tricky instant death mechanics that Blizzard includes, this invariably goes wrong and results in a horribly embarrassing death, which is difficult to explain.  For extra fun, try casting it just behind the Ice Wave on Hagara and then running through it.  Current results suggest that you don't move fast enough to get through before it ends),

2) Reduce raid damage from Fire/Ice and Shadow abilities by an average of 15% every 2 minutes with Aura Mastery (any Holy Paladin who doesn't spec this should be taken out the back behind the shed and shot, out of sight of the children of course, it's the kindest thing to do),

3) Reduce damage on a single target by 30%, once every 90 seconds with Hand of Sacrifice (redirects damage to the Paladin which can result in hilarious deaths when used incorrectly, but generally Paladins heal themselves just by healing others so it's not really a big deal),

4) Increase throughput by a large amount with Divine Favour for 20 seconds (30 seconds with the glyph), every 3 minutes or with Avenging Wrath for 20 seconds every 2 minutes (both functionally better than the next nearest healer equivalent, Power Infusion for Discipline Priests which lasts 12 seconds),

5) Massively increase single target healing with Guardian of Ancient Kings (an utterly bizarre cooldown really, effectively turns Divine Light into a way of fully healing a target from 1% health, while causing splash AoE healing, I've yet to work out when's actually best to blow it and tend just to use it when I'm bored or my Paladin would like a friend),

6) Make another member of the raid completely immune to physical damage for 12 seconds and convince whatever's hitting them to go hit something else for a bit (also prevents all physical attacks from being used, great to cast on a Rogue/Warrior/Death Knight/Feral Druid DPS that's been annoying you, pretty sure there's other uses but that's by far the best),

7) Instantly save a raid member from death by healing them to 100% health instantly with Lay on Hands (great fun for playing tank chicken, where you let the tank's health drop to near 0 and watch them panic).

In contrast druids bring:

1) Tranquility, a less good version of Divine Hymn that can now almost be matched by a Paladin blowing Avenging Wrath and spamming Holy Radiance,

2) Tree Form, increased healing throughput by a bit which will cost you vast amounts of mana or similar throughput potential as normal very cheaply,

3) Erm, that's about it really.

All through Cataclysm Paladins have been close to the top for pure throughput among healers, although this was tempered by their weak AoE healing potential, Holy Radiance only being available every 20 seconds and requiring the group to be stacked up on the Paladin to make it particularly useful. Now that Holy Radiance is probably the best spammable AoE heal in the game this is not the case and this has completely destroyed any semblance of balance between healing classes.  It can be summed up as, if a boss is hard then the best option is to bring a Holy paladin and drop another healer for an extra DPS, which should NOT be the case, hopefully Blizzard will hit Paladins with the nerf bat in 4.3.2 or this tier is going to be remembered as a bit painful for other healing classes.

I'll write up some thoughts on Druid healing in a future post as I feel that the changes with 4.3 really hit them hard and make it difficult to justify taking them in a progression minded raid group.


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