When Patch 4.0 was originally released, I’d heard that Healing had changed drastically in the game.
I have read Blue posts, both before and after the Patch release, that talked about the state of Mana regeneration, and how Wrath of the Lich King had shown that healers had it far too easy. In Wrath, Healers did not have to watch their Mana apparently, and thus could cast any spell they liked irrespective of what Blizzards’ designers intended.
I’d read that healing was now much more difficult, and also that it was now just right; that a challenge that had been lacking was returned to the healing game.
From the majority of comments and thoughts I read, I gathered that healing was much harder than it used to be, but that it is now exactly where it should be. A challenge, rather than a relaxed route to easy Justice and Valor points.
Of course there were opposing points of view, people who claimed that it was far more difficult now than it really needed to be. But such views have generally been met with disdain and scorn. I’ve seen a rise in claims that such complaints or concerns come from those who didn’t know what real playing was like back in Vanilla WoW or Burning Crusade. I’ve seen the term “Wrath baby” bandied about repeatedly, apparently directed at people who played during the Wrath expansion and committed the unforgiveable sin of liking it.
I haven’t shared any of my thoughts on the subject at all before, because I had not healed any group activity since Patch 4.0, long before Cataclysm itself was released.
I hadn’t healed… that is, until now.
That’s changed. I’ve healed some pugs. I’ve experienced the changes first hand, months after everyone else granted, and unsurprisingly I’ve got an opinion about it.
I have multiple characters that could heal, but the character I have the most experience with is my Druid, so that’s what I went with.
I leveled my Druid to 85 as pure Feral Bear tank spec. No, I didn’t tank my way to 85.
I know it probably sounds silly, but I like playing my Druid with a full Bear tank spec, even when I know I’m going to be solo questing as a Cat through the game. I couldn’t explain why, except to say, you just never know what may pop up. Like a sudden request to tank the CoC ‘Ring of Blood’ style quests in Twilight Highlands. It is, after all, the Feral Druid marching song: Be Pre-Beared!
Sure, I would have done more damage soloing in Kitty if I specced appropriately, but why bother? Fast or slow, they all die regardless.
I had not, not even once while leveling, considered healing something. I was too busy killing stuffs.
Once I reached level 85 it was time to try healing. Well, okay, once I’d leveled all my professions on 8 different characters, and leveled three characters to 85, and did this and that and bunches of other stuff… oh yeah, right, they changed up healing didn’t they.
I did everything I could in advance to make sure I would NOT hurt other players while I learned how things had changed.
First, I as a level 85 Druid decided to only attempt to heal the first two instances of normals, Blackrock and Throne. No true randoms until I knew what was up. Level 85 does not mean ‘ready to rock’.
Second, I went to Keeva’s brilliant RestoDruid.info website, and carefully read and worked to understand everything she had to say concerning desired Stats, changes to spells, suggested Resto Druid specs and what situations they were for, everything.
Third, after respeccing and accumulating the best gear I could, I set up my VuhDo to incorporate my understanding of the new importance of Lifebloom, Nourish, Rejuvenation and the rest.
Now, my gear wasn’t the best, obviously. I had chosen leather spellcaster quest rewards as I leveled and kept them, IF there weren’t feral items available. I hadn’t gone out and worked at it. What I had done, though, was keep any spellcaster leather I made while leveling Leatherworking, and there was some good stuff in there. My eventual Resto set ended at an average iLevel of about 315. Not good enough to unlock Heroics, but that wasn’t what I wanted, anyway. I optimistically hoped that an 85 Resto Druid with iLevel 315 gear should be able to successfully heal a regular level 82 instance or two while I tried things out.
Right? I mean, that’s not out of line, is it? I know I’m rusty, but I was healing at level 80 quite a bit for fun, and yes, I know things have changed a LOT, but I have the instant responsiveness and visual awareness VuhDo provides, which is more than the default UI would provide for a healer.
Blizzard has to balance content with the understanding that people without VuhDo can successfully heal, right? That there could be as much as a .5 second delay between selecting a party member and casting the appropriate heal?
Yeah, that’s what I tell myself. Right now, I’m not really believing it.
My first healing instance was Blackrock Caverns. About as easy as you can get, and probably the single instance I know best other than Stonecore. I know exactly where to be, how things hit, what to expect, no problem.
Beyond that, I expect that if the instance is designed that an 82 could heal through it, it should be possible that I can do it at 85 with better gear.
I said possible, not likely.
The very first trash pull, and indeed the entire instance, I forgot that according to RestoDruid.info, I should be prioritizing Lifebloom on the tank, along with Nourish. Instead I fell back on old habits and used Rejuvenation 100% uptime, Wild Growth for party heals at an almost 100% uptime, and Regrowth for my “fast top up” spell. Nourish occasionally showed up, but Lifebloom was nowhere, NOWHERE to be found as part of my toolset. Terrible, terrible bear.
By definition, the healing went fine, because I kept everyone alive. I did burn through nearly my entire 67000 Mana pool on the very first trash fight.
There is something obscene about bring given stupid high numbers for health and mana after all these years, only to have the costs of things increased to make those high numbers feel puny and insignificant. It doesn’t feel right at all. The numbers now feel meaningless to me in and of themselves.
“Oh, 1500 more health? Oh well, that’s nothing. Nothing at all. It’s not even worth eating the food, the mob will hit for 8,000 a pop. What, Runic Healing Pots? They don’t even heal 5000, might as well toss ‘em.”
That’s pretty sad. When advancement within the game is based strongly on improvements to stats, the value of those stats need to have meaning. I feel when you’re reduced to looking at an iLevel, ignoring the number on a stat in favor of just checking which categories of stats are present, “I want crit more than haste, so I’ll pass on this iLevel 300 in favor of this other iLevel 300”, things have gone just that bit too far. Reforging just exacerbates the problem, by making it feel that how much of the stat is moved ain’t important, just move as much as is available over to a more useful category.
Just my opinion as a former theorycrafter for the past whatever years; the numbers aren’t impressive at all, because they do NOT correspond to an equivalent feeling of capability.
Why not? 5000 strength has to be more impressive than 500, right? It would seem so, but the higher your characters level, the more of a stat you need to gain the same effect. Sure, you ARE more powerful with that 5000 strength… but at 85 with 5000 strength you aren’t as comparatively powerful as a level 60 character with 5000 strength. That’s always felt like a deceptive design practice to me; to visibly give you more of a stat on items as you level, but behind the scenes reduce the effectiveness of those same stats so they do less.
You feel like you’re leaping forward, but mostly you’re just treading water. In Cata, the stat imbalance almost feels like you’re drowning.
It gets too noticeable when the bad guys leap ahead in power faster than you do, even when your stats are getting all bloated and ridonkulous.
Enough about my little soapbox on the stat changes. It’s old news anyway, but it is how I feel, and it certainly applies to my shock at watching 67000 Mana evaporate by casting Rejuvenation and Regrowth during a single trash fight.
I felt, overall, as I adjusted to the changes the run went well. I used the wrong spells from the point of view of mana conservation, I spent a lot of time drinking espresso, but everyone was alive and nobody was ever even close to being in danger of dying. Wow, I could heal a level 82 instance. Cool!
What I took away from the experience was an awareness that the game had really changed from a healing point of view, if the fight takes just a little teeny bit too long and you don’t use the ‘right’ spells, you’re sucking vapor in your mana pool fast.
Even more urgent to consider, this was an 85 healing a level 82 instance. If I’m struggling on that, clearly I need to really get my head wrapped around the importance of Lifebloom and Nourish for tank healing.
It was a bit of a shock, but I wasn’t disheartened. I could make it work. I just needed to improve my gear and practice, practice, practice.
Last night, I accidentally queued up for a true random, and got Grim Batol. Not just GB, but a group that had apparently wiped already, because we formed up in the starting chamber with the three quests, but we ran straight to the drakes and rode quite a good ways into the instance before being offloaded.
I was not pleased. I don’t want to mess up other players while I’m trying to relearn the ropes.
But, the mistake was made, I was there, and I had improved my gear a little more. What’s more, I felt confident I was ready to use the proper healing spells in their place as directed by Keeva.
Our very first pull was complete and utter fail.
Everybody was below half health the entire fight, I abandoned half the party to fend for themselves as I tried to keep the tank at least above 25% health, by the time the fight was over, a Warlock in the group had died, and for most of the fight I was frantically trying to use anything in the toolbox just to get people up to half health.
I still don’t know what happened, but I do know that I put my Lifeblooms on the tank, and used Nourish, and it didn’t seem to do anything much to increase his health at all. If I didn’t spam Rejuve or Regrowth along with Wild Growth, my bad old habits returning halfway through, everyone would have died.
I didn’t stay past that pull. I apologized for being a completely worthless healer, rezzed the Warlock and left them to find someone that knew what they were doing.
I was shocked. And this was on normal!
I would like to keep trying, but after the complete and utter fail of healing a single trash pull at 85, do I have what it takes in this new WoW order?
Maybe I am a Wrath baby. I like tanking, maybe I should stick to that.
I walked away feeling pretty discouraged and demoralized. I knew I didn’t feel ready for the 85 normals, but I didn’t expect to be dropped in one and feel completely useless.
I dunno… am I the only one that feels like, in order to be halfway competent requires a really steep learning curve? Or, and this is totally possible, do I really just suck that bad?