Monday, June 12, 2006

Is +Heal a Mistake?

A very common complaint among healing classes is that upgrading their gear only helps them in one area of the game: raiding. This is in contrast to the DPS classes, where raid gear is often just as good for PvP and farming as it is for raiding.

Perhaps stepping back a bit will provide some perspective. As a caster levels, you often find gear with very specific bonuses: +Fire, +Frost, +Shadow, +Arcane, +Heal. However, as you get closer and closer to 60, the more specific bonuses tend to get subsumed into +damage/heal. At 60, there are essentially only two categories of gear that makes your spells more powerful: +damage/heal, and +heal.

So the gear naturally gets split up into two categories. Damage casters go for +damage/heal, while healers go for +heal. The problem, though, is that +heal does not help you pvp or solo. So healers would also like some +damage/heal gear to make them more effective in non-raiding situations. This starts fights with the damage casters who see +damage/heal as their gear, and healers being in less "need" of it.

Now, imagine if +heal had also disappeared as endgame approached. Or that you wake up tomorrow and every +heal bonus on epic items has been replaced by the equivalent (lower) amount of +damage/heal. What would that change? Obviously, healing spells would be significantly reduced in power. But now healer gear, such as class sets, help in all situations. There is no longer a divide between damage casters and healers, there are only casters. All of whom get the same rights as each other.

Honestly, I think that this would be a much better situation than what we have now. But it would probably be a lot of work to try to retune all the boss encounters to work with a reduced amount of +damage/heal. As unfortunate as it sounds, the best hope is to wait for the Burning Crusade expansion. In BC, Blizzard should phase out +heal as people reach level 70, much like they phased out +fire or +shadow. Then at level 70, all casters will be using +damage/heal, which will allow them to be effective in all areas of the game.


  1. That would be nice, to do away with +Heal and just give everyone +Spells (if you will, like Hunters can use +AP on a sword to help their ranged?!) because that truly would open up the game some for the hybrids. Shamans have specific damage spells to cast and those benefit from +Damage. They have an entire Talent Tree, Elemental, that makes them casters that really can do DPS if given the chance.

    In our guild the Mana Igniting Cord, Waist, Cloth, 61 Armor, +16 Intellect, +12 Stamina, +25 Damage/Healing, +1% spell crit, became a contentious item. Our Elemental Shamans really wanted it.

    For a Shaman otherwise wearing Earthfury, this belt nearly doubled their +Damage. "But why?" others, as good in PvP as in PvE and raiding, asked. "You're supposed to be in back dropping totems, particularly Mana Tide, and healing."

    The Tier 3 armor was very disappointing to see. All the +Damage that was found in the Tier 1, and even more found in the Tier 2, appears to be gone. Replaced by +Healing. That effectively makes the Shamans nothing more than Priests in Mail armor with a different set/manner of buffs and decurses.

    I'm not raiding for the time being, having moved ahead of my guild by 6 hours, but I've got 8/8 Earthfury so I can put out the healing when I need to, and I've got some nice enhancement gear like the Bloodstained Hauberk from ZG and the Black Brood Pauldrons from BWL, when I need to melee. Going more solo, PvE, it'll be a godsend to be Enhancement, once again, and have some decent Enhancement gear.

    But, as you said, +Spells (Damage and/or Healing) would go a long way to opening up choices for some folks. Maybe Shammy's more than Pally's since the Shammy's seem to have a "Caster Tree" that the Pally's don't. (Is that correct? I've only played a Pally up to level 25 so don't really know much about their spell casting dps potential.)

  2. They changed us up in 1.9. Our damage Seals now get a larger benefit from +Damage/Heal gear. So a lot of paladins prefer +Damage/Heal because it boosts both damage and healing. A lot of our itemization has also changed to reflect this (Plate of the Shaman King is actually good now).

    I believe that, for the most part, +AP boosts damage more, and +Heal boosts healing more, but +Damage/Heal is a nice compromise.

  3. I actually would like the opposite. I would like there to be +damage, +heal and +damage and heal. Reason being I think it would create less contention for items.

    There are some really nice healer specific items out here. I think it would really suck if those replaced with more generic stuff. Why take away personality from the game?

  4. Hmm. That's another possibility, Maybe. I was kind of just following the trend of losing +Frost/+Fire. Maybe it would have been better to keep those modifiers in the game.

    Force the dps classes to carry multiple sets: a Frost set and a Fire Set. :)

  5. Actully we've always had some bonus from +damage and healing. It wasn't untill 1.9 that Paladins had access to much plate with it. The major turning point was the changes to the Judgement set.