Blue Post of the Day

I know I have been posting up a storm today but here is another lunch time write up that I have been meaning to post. As it was semi-thrown together I apologize in advance for any grammar errors you may encounter.

I wanted to look at a snippet of text from a lengthy blue post added to MMO-Champion today. I’d like to thank Moonra over at Resto Druid as he got me thinking about this post.

[…] For the most part, you’ll still be constantly casting. We do want to buy a little bit of bandwidth though. Making decisions takes actual time (fractions of seconds perhaps, but still time). In the LK healing environment even if you had a variety of effective healing spells, by the time you looked at someone’s bar, decided what heal would be most appropriate, and started to cast it, the dude could very well be dead.

In Cataclysm, large health pools will keep most players up for a few hits. That gives you the opportunity to decide if someone needs a little heal or a big heal, or a slow heal or a fast heal, or if they are likely to live long enough for a powerful spell to finish its cooldown. If you use the wrong spell, the target is unlikely to die immediately, but over time you’ll realize that your mana has really started to dwindle and the boss has a large health bar still left.

I’ve said this before, but I remember when tanking back in vanilla, a priest would call out on Vent, announcing that he had a big Greater Heal being cast. Other healers might call out when they were healing someone who suddenly took a lot of unexpected damage. That kind of coordination is very hard in today’s raids because you’d only get through the B in “Big heal coming,” before the target would be dead.

It’s possible to slow down combat enough to provide room for decision making and communication without going to the extreme where healers are doing nothing for large stretches of time because they are so paranoid about running out of mana if they cast a heal that isn’t at 100% efficiency or doesn’t save a life at that moment.

I think we can learn a lot from reading these particular blue posts. I understand where they are coming from and as a player who has been healing since the “ye olden days” I wanted to offer some discourse.

The first paragraph is spot on correct. There is often very little time that can be wasted between casting spells especially as a druid due to the fact that mana is a non-issue. This is exactly why blanketing works to be honest. It is not a matter of “this is how druids decided to play because we want to be braindead monkeys”. It is a matter of “we have all this haste and infinite mana, so we should be casting some form of pre-hot during every single GCD we have”. As not everyone is going to be hurt every second the exercise in maximizing healing per second turned into blanketing. Don’t take this as a support for that style of play, it is merely understanding the flaw in the system that has led to it as outlined in the first paragraph.

In the expansion you’ll see players HP go way up, and players DPS jump up due to all of the talent tree changes. Healing is not going up by talent tree alone so don’t expect to see any real buffs until we get new gear. Having health pools scale much larger relative to our heals does in fact mean that people will not die right away to random effects which will in turn allow us to choose our heals carefully over the course of a fight. That being said, in order to make encounters scary at the raid level (and make it so players fear the fight mechanics) the damage is going to have to be a sizeable percent of our life totals. It will ultimately be an onus on the encounter design teams to balance out the rates at which the damage comes in such that healers aren’t forced to use their big heals far more often. If the amount of damage being done at higher gear levels (tier Deathwing perhaps) is forced to scale dramatically with gear level we need to know that all of our heals will scale accordingly. If the only viable option after multiple people take damage equal to 50-70% of their life total is to spam all of them with our bigger heals or else they will die shortly then it draws heavily away from the slow and steady HoT plan that Restoration Druids are partially centered around (in theory at least).

The third paragraph I take a little exception to especially as a druid healer in Vanilla. Vanilla healing was fun for us but certainly not the best of times as we really didn’t have much we could do (when only one hot per type could be on a player at a time). In Naxxramas healing was fairly often broken down into group assignments because you had that many players and you had to coordinate mana usage accordingly. Druids were often assigned certain priests to innervate and we used the most mana efficient rotation we could in order to keep our own reserves adequate. I’m not saying we were entirely second class citizens but there were certainly fights where we were the priest’s pocket innervate such as Sapphiron (one priest in each of the 8 groups to PoH the aura). On Loatheb yes we did have macros to chain our heals together but that was only due to the fight mechanics. We never had anyone calling out over vent “Big Heal on <player X>” because honestly that would have been annoying as heck and caused far too much vent chatter if it happened over and over. The most anyone would do is call out “Cover <player Y> I’m out of range”. Similarly people didn’t call out that they were wanding and regaining their mana. It is OK to be nostalgic of those times and I am from time to time as I enjoyed the big push to kill Kel Thuzad. There are a lot of lessons to be taken from Vanilla, but we can’t hang our hats on it entirely.

Heck…do you remember those healers in Vanilla that actually had mods that announced every single heal they cast and who it is being cast on? I’ll admit I wanted to kick a kitten sometimes when I was grouped with them.

I am 100% fine with them changing the healing model, it needed fixing for sure. I like the direction that they are going as it, in theory, provides us with the option to think about each spell that we cast. What I worry about, and I think a lot of other druids do as well, is whether or not the raid encounters will force us to use our inefficient direct heals in large quantities on players due to the severity or speed of damage intake and shy away from our HoT’s as they may be drops in the bucket (will our mastery even apply if Rejuv is too small relative to the damage taken?). I’d just like to know that lifebloom, rejuv, and wild growth will scale appropriately to continue to be sufficient healing tools as the HP and Damage scale higher and higher.

This is me being optimistic and trying to understand just where the Blizzard Devs are coming from. It provides me an outlet to clearly list the worries players may or may not be having when looking forward to future content. Here’s hoping everything works out J


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