Sometimes I think the best solution to understanding where other players are coming from is to walk in their shoes and really grasp the nuances of their class. It helps if you are comparing apples to apples though and the role is similar to one that you are already familiar with for the purposes of comparison, but don’t get me wrong I’m not advocating that you not try out other roles! I honestly would love it if every player who predominantly runs damager dealer characters tried out raiding as a healer or tank just to understand the pressure others can have on your own quality of life and raid. This goes all three ways of course, I think making sure you are familiar with all aspects of the game makes you a better raider and a much more understanding person.
I think we have all run into those players who will start the blame game and not really understand that a certain situation is extremely difficult for the parties involved or that something they did might have inadvertently made things a lot harder for the parties involved. I have already written on this some in an earlier post “https://r4healingtouch.wordpress.com/2010/08/20/we-have-your-back-to-a-degree-do-you-have-ours/” dealing with the close relationship DPS and Healers will have with each other and how we can work to improve it.
What I want to write about today is actually healer to healer comparison. I’m sure you’ve heard some healers say “Well yeah if I could spam rejuv like a monkey I could do that kind of healing” or “Sure if I had chain heal it’d be easy mode”. Some people can be very quick to assume that their shortcoming might be due to some inadequacy in their own class and spec. As someone who loves to heal I have, over the course of this expansion with the addition of dual spec, made it a point to get an active toon of each healing type. I have managed to get my restoration Shaman up to ICC25 man level (and even a handful of heroic bosses), as well buy my holy paladin some welfare 264 epics to try some raiding with. My priest is still hovering at 76 but I’m definitely hoping to have her at 80 prior to the release of cataclysm. Playing each of the healing classes has actually opened my eyes to just how similar and different they all are.
I’ll be honest the first issue that I had once I started doing raids with all three of these healing classes was my damned keybinds! You’d think that the playstyle would be the greater barrier to entry but after playing with each and developing the preferred key mappings I started to notice issues. The muscle memory that had me refreshing Watershield on my shaman kept getting hit when I played my paladin and similarly my Wild Growth ability clearly isn’t present on my shaman. I’m not even going to get started on the keybinds for the heals with cast times. With healing being so reflexive and intricate with all of the spells in our toolbox I think everyone has their own custom setup that works for them. Anyone else out there run into this issue all the time; hitting a button for one toon while you’re on another toon and not understanding why the desired effect isn’t happening?
Having not healed on either my shaman or paladin at a raid level prior to Wrath of the Lich King I don’t have nearly the same experience to draw upon and make comparisons to that I do on my druid. I haven’t decided if this is a good thing or not as it did allow me an unbiased look but it also doesn’t let me know just what it was like to heal without the newest and hottest abilities given to the class. Before I say anything more please bear in mind nothing in this post is a knock on any type of healer because I thoroughly enjoy healing with all of them.
What did I learn to enjoy about my Shaman
So…I do like Chain Heal a lot. I know it has kind of garnered this stigma as the EZ mode fire and forget heal but I really enjoy the graphics for it. There is something appealing about shooting laser beams of healing and seeing them bounce from player to player that is exhilarating. Perhaps it is some form of gratification? Perhaps it is nice to get a visual representation of just who your heal is going to. During any fight with constant damage of any kind I found myself always always casting. Is a Rejuvenation/Wild Growth centered healing archetype really that different than Riptide/Chain Heal spam? Not that much it seems. Playing as a direct-cast time healer versus a druid does take a little getting used to honestly. As a druid there is a comfort that exists once you have laid some ground work on a player that once you stop casting and focusing your attention on that player they are still receiving aid from you over some period of time. Not having that as much on the shaman was interesting and I fell that I played more catch-up on people due to that fact. I’m not a veteran Shaman healer so if there are things that I have missed please write and let me know as this is FAR from a comprehensive list.
What did I learn to enjoy about my Paladin
Not buffing. Good lord I honestly give full time raiding paladins a lot of credit managing pally power and buffs is an atrocity to mankind. That being said paladins are a rather unusual creature that it took some time getting used to. Having done a lot of raid healing as both a druid and shaman using the paladin toolset felt like going into a gunfight armed with a wooden sword at times. What this did do however was force me to step up and make very critical decisions on who to heal first and when as my time was insanely valuable. Call me a bad player but I enjoyed choosing between Flash of Light and holy Light. From what I recall once upon a time dropping Holy Light bombs was apparently the best way to play but I can’t comment on how things are now. The limitation did seem to be that I lacked something in the middle as far as size-of-heal so you were forced to heal for a little or a lot. Beacon is think was the hardest thing to get used to and I would constantly think that something had happened to cause it to bug out because my beacon target took a split second to get the health. I admit there were times I even stopped to queue up a heal on that person only to realize that everything was in fact ok. I don’t want to sound too negative about my paladin because as the title of this section indicates I do very much enjoy him. While it does feel like you have far less to work with as far as spell selection, you have a lot of choices to make as a paladin and I feel that does help to make you a better player (though I can’t say it does all the time). I also really like some of the tools that you bring to the table such as hand of sacrifice, hand of freedom, hand of protection, Lay on Hands, Divine Shield as well as the ability to save your butt from something bad once a fight. There is something to be said for offering very strong utility.
What I still like about my Druid
Mobility mobility mobility! While everyone’s heals can functionally do the same thing as our druid counterparts the amount of healing we can do while moving is clearly unmatched compared to these two classes (priests have about as much as we do if you count PW:S I’d think). This is usually not a show stopper for most fights but there are always times where it is remarkably handy. I also just like to run around and jump while I heal for fun. What I did learn though is just how difficult mobility is on other classes and where those shortcomings may be exposed the most.
Healing over time is fun. Let’s face it you probably aren’t playing a druid healer these days if you don’t like the concept of HoT’s. I think I just fundamentally like the idea of casting spells that offer lasting protection to a player allowing me to feel like I can divert attention elsewhere. If a raid member is taking 4,000 damage every two seconds then a single rejuvenation can cover a fairly sizeable portion of that whereas another healer might need to parse out direct heals on them at regular intervals. One thing that I need to get used to is the fact that our ability to throw hots on people will be severely diminished come cataclysm. This is not to say that we won’t be HoT based, just that the new shorter HoT durations will change up how we handle things moving forward.
Part of my influence for this post stemmed from my repeated habbit of pressing the wrong key binds on the wrong toon however I had another influence and that was over at TreeBarkJacket: http://treebarkjacket.com/2010/10/05/habitual-and-negligent-intolerance-or-how-i-came-to-realise-that-i-enable-bigotry/. Her post about tolerance or intolerance in the gaming industry ( which is incredibly interesting and worth the read!) sparked some thoughts in my head. On top of the very serious racial terms and questionable word choices in WoW there seems to be this friction between players of different classes and roles that seemed to fester into more drama than its worth. I wanted to write about my experiences branching out and trying to really understand what other classes are going through so I can be more prepared to talk to them about the mechanics of a fight. So far it has been very rewarding and I highly suggest that you do the same.