Friday, December 26, 2008

When Did Healing Become So Hard?

I bit the bullet and respecced to Holy today. I very quickly got into a Heroic Utgarde Keep run. My immediate thought:

"Wow, when did healing become so hard?"

Maybe I've just gotten used to face-rolling my way through instances as DPS, or maybe I'm just undergeared and out of practice, but it feels like paladin healing has gotten a lot more complex.

The following is my thought process throughout the instance:

Begin Stream of Consciousness.

Okay, I have to keep up Beacon of Light, Sacred Shield and a Seal. I've pretty much abandoned Flash of Light and am mainly using Holy Light. Nothing else seemed to keep up with the tank's damage intake. Does Sacred Shield even do anything? You know, Sacred Shield is a lot more expensive than I remembered. Why is the tank's health not going up? Oh, Beacon fell off again! I'm supposed to Judge to do something or the other, but I can't stop spamming Holy Light.

Who thought an AoE silence/interrupt on the final boss of Utgarde Keep was a good idea? Why did the DPSer who does 2K+ DPS just take a 24K Smash? Couldn't you have Smashed one of the other two who are doing less than 1K DPS? Let's try Holy Shock. Yeah, that really did a lot. Back to Holy Light. Sweet, sweet Holy Light. Why are there axes attacking me? Where are you, AoE heal! Oh I see, Beacon fell off yet again. Divine Plea, thank the Light!

End Stream of Consciousness.

What this game really needs is some way to challenge the DPS without affecting the healer. Healing is hard enough without the added worry of standing in the fire. Or more accurately for paladins, spell interrupts and silences.

The thing is that because environmental hazards affect both healers and DPS, they are necessarily less challenging than they could be. They have to be easy enough that a distracted healer can avoid them, and that leads to a difference in challenge level for the two roles. Since a DPS only has to look out for herself, an environmental challenge that is complex enough to challenge her is probably going to kill the healer.


  1. The new holy tree does take getting used to. I leveled Holy from 70 and I still forget beacon sometimes and have it fall off.

    Basically get in practice of sealing seal, BoL and sacred shield before every pull. The more you do it, the more natural it will start to feel. Basically whenever everybody is topped off, go back to the tank and rebuff sacred shield and beacon.

    Sacred Shield is really nice. It's 2k health every 6 seconds, which means that at worst its an extra 2k health. The only way your tank should die in that much time is if he's severely undergeared w/ 20k so even then it's an extra 10% hp, which is really nice. It lets you soften down any burst.

    If you sockets favor intellect and u divine favor on cooldown you shouldnt be having trouble with the healing. Int is much better than crit at early gear levels. I just hit 19k and feel comfortable to the point where I can socket more pure spellpower red gems.

    Ingvar's interrupt in UK is fine. It's a 3 second cast, so if you mark him as focus you can see when he's casting it. Immediately stop healing when he does it and then you're free to heal without worry for a good 15 seconds.

    Strasbourg -Area 52-

  2. A lot of the frustration you ran into can be dealt with on the player side.

    Judging will give haste, increasing your healing output, and potentially making FoL safe to use for a few casts: FoLx and HL, or some variation depending on the amount of incoming damage. JoL also gives a decent bit of AoE healing, so sometimes you won't even need beacon.

    For the last boss there, set him as a focus. The interrupt is preceded by a shout and has a cast time, so if you watch for it, you can avoid it. The axes can be moved away from or dealt with for a short time with DS. The smash is a frontal cone. As long as the tank doesn't move and the DPS stand properly, only the tank should get hit. In their case, they can at least back up to buy a second or two while the boss runs closer.

    I do agree with the environmental issue though. Too often these 'challenges' take the form of random damage, which instead of pressuring the DPS, they just stress the healers. Instead of random AoE damage, have random AoE damage reductions.

    It is frustrating that challenges so often translate to: annoyance for healers. 95% of challenges are ways to stress healers. 4% stress the tanks. 1% just kill everyone instantly, with no particular emphasis on anyone.

    Still, holy has gotten a lot better. The healing debuff on DP isn't nice, but 25% mana every 60 seconds is a big deal for a class that used to have no regen that didn't involve already having mana. Beacon can allow for huge output and efficiency, however it is counter-intuitive to heal everyone except the tank, and the duration is pretty short. SS is a nice tool to even out damage spikes a bit and can be extremely useful on fights like the last boss of AN where you're likely to have a few weak adds on you.

    Keep working at it and try to find good tanks, you might start to enjoy it. I've been surprised every time I went holy and wasn't miserable. Except for that H HoS group tonight...

  3. I would love to see a "fire" that didn't do damage when you stand in it... it would stun/freeze you so that you couldn't dps.

    Less healer work..... moar dps shame...when silly mistakes are made.

  4. Setting the boss as the Focus is a really good idea. Great for cast timers, and I even think my Judgement macro hits the focus first.

  5. Couple of tips:

    1. Use Grid or another click healing solution, this lets you keep the boss as a target but heal your group. I used Pitbull + Clique through all of TBC but finally moved to Grid when I got sick of just seeing unitframes in AV ;-)

    2. Use Grid anyway. I have it set up with a dot in the top left for aggro, top right for dispellable debuff, bottom left to show Beacon is up and bottom right for incoming heals. The beacon dot goes red when it's about to fall off to remind me to recast it.

    3. As everyone say, judge and sacred shield every pull. Free haste and a free smart HoT on the tank. It's amazingly good.

    Healing is just different, and different now to how it was even in TBC. It's still enjoyable amazingly enough...

  6. Yes, at the final boss of UK it is essential to set the boss as focus to see him cast.

    Normally I set my tank as focus with my castable buffs set to huge so I see if ss and BoL are up.

    It will get better with better gear. With the haste buff up I pretty much only use FoL and HS.

    But yes, you have to pay way more attention now. So much more things to watch out for. I was ret from 70 to 80 and for quite a while of lvl 80 (till I had decent holy gear). At the start I actually forget to train the higher ranks of Holy shock...

  7. Two things about your group:
    1. It sounds like your tank was way under the defense cap (or you have a way too little spellpower).

    2. No one, but especially the dps, should be getting hit by smash or dark smash. It's a 5 yard frontal cone with a 3 sec cast. The dps should never be in front of it and the tank should clear it every time. It's hard to heal a group that allows itself to be needlessly damaged.

    I have yet to do many heroics but hUK is one I have done. I do not normally need BoL up except during boss fights. I use DoTimer to keep me aware of BoL as well as the JoL healing debuff on the boss. I rejudge enough to keep that up because it keeps me from having to heal the melee dps too much and keeps my haste buff up.

    It boils down to keeping BoL up and not healing the tank directly unless there is no one else with that much damage on them.

  8. @Scribbl:

    I use GRID nearly with the same setup. :)

    top-left : aggro
    top-right : debuff
    bottom-left : beacon
    bottom-right : sacred shield

    With this setup I manage to keep Sacred Shield up on 5 targets, sometimes it is more effective than healing (Telestra in Nexus, NPC event in HoS).

    For judgements, I have a macro that casts judgement on the targettarget (usually tank's target).

  9. For environmental challenges, it would be nice if bosses had an ability that they fired at the top X DPSers. Challenge DPS, and thus challenge healers with more targets, without leaving healers helpless. It's pure win for everyone.

  10. I was actually working on a post for my own blog about this exact thing. Healing use be "spam Flash of Light/Holy Shock" and throw in a Holy Light when things got iffy. Now, I use holy light quite a bit, partly because of the damage being done but also party because of the incredibly amounts of health tanks have these days. When a druid has 37k in a 5 man run, even my crits on flash of light aren't going to do a whole lot to his health pool. It's interesting, and I think the changes make healing a more intense experience.

  11. I don't see why seals can't be 30min buff in the first place, and beacon of light for that matter. The constantly having to refresh just those two eats up way too much mana and causes you to miss out on casting heals (which wouldn't be a problem if we had a HoT).

  12. The learning curve is also daunting, especially coming from the DPS side of things. My mage got invited to the Obsidian Sanctum for the sole purpose of decursing on the trash, and I still somewhat failed my job because I didn't have the pet health bars displayed on my UI.

    I don't see how you're supposed to learn to heal at 80 even if you wanted to, short of running regular level 70 dungeons until you get the hang of it.

  13. The attitude "DPS only needs to watch out for themselves" is one I've come across way too much as a tank. To the point where after facerolling through instances to 80, then not running any 80 instances and jumping right into heroics.

    Just today I had mage who wouldn't sheep, a hunter can't trap, ret pallies that wouldn't use a stun when specifically asked to on a boss fight (the caster that splits in the Nexus)... the list can go on and on.

    Make sure you're running with tanks over 540 def (War/pally - Druids, well, they don't need defense), if you're not, they will get squashed in heroics. Don't be afraid to say "Hey, lets CC some of these 5 mobs here, since we can."

    Keep healing. Us tanks need good healers!

  14. For me the problem is that in WoW to heal efficiently you need an addon.

    Any other class can deal with the game without addons, but for healers its a must have.

    It feels so wrong!

  15. I will also add that lately with AoE tanking avaliable to all classes of tanks you see less and less CC. This makes things hard for the healer but who cares!

    The tanks say "look how good I am I can hold 5 at a time"
    The DPS say "look how much DPS I do with AoE, please join them"

    Meanwhile the healer goes crazy trying to keep everybody alive!

  16. I will also add that lately with AoE tanking avaliable to all classes of tanks you see less and less CC. This makes things hard for the healer but who cares!

    The tanks say "look how good I am I can hold 5 at a time"
    The DPS say "look how much DPS I do with AoE, please join them"

    Meanwhile the healer goes crazy trying to keep everybody alive!

  17. For Pete's sake, people, enough!

    It used to be 'Paladin healing is boring, all we do is spam Flash of Light over and over'. Now we've gotten new tools to work with, and now everyone's complaining that they can't manage it, the learning curve is too high, the durations are too quick. You want a 30 minute duration on Seals? You want a 30 minute duration on Beacon? You want a true AoE heal? You want a true HoT? Do you want Paladins to be the only healers in the game?

    The new stuff means we have to think about healing differently. I personally love it, it feels much more active, a little more frenetic. Embrace the change! Keep working at it! Soon you will wonder what you were complaining about, it will be second nature. And then we can find something else to gripe about!

    Note: this is not directed so much at Rohan as at some of the commenters above. /rant off :)

    Anonymous 6

  18. Dear Holy Pally Friend, I feel your pain.

    I just made my own post actually on the terror that is healing in Wrath as a Holy Pally.

    I do agree with the comments above: Grid makes getting to those who need a heal much quicker and indeed if you get in the practice of Seal/BoL/SS/JoL it becomes second nature.

    Another thing I do is macro Divine Favor to Holy Shock. If you are talented correctly that will give you an instant FoL, very helpful when you're on the move and things get hairy.

    Lastly a word on the UK boss. I actually don't target him at all or have him set as a focus. He makes a noise before the silence, which I quickly learned to listen for and stop casting.

    Glad to know I'm not the only one having trouble!

  19. Zuramat the Obliterator, one of the random boss encounters in Violet Citadel, has a mechanic that I think could be used more to stress dps instead of healers: His Shroud of Darkness-spell sometimes means you must stop attacking him or you get a debuff that makes it impossible to heal you (20% reduced healing pr stack, stacks to 5), and at the same time he has adds that do damage to the whole party. So if someone don't pay attention, they die, and it is clear (or should be) that if you get yourself a 100% healing reduction debuff, you can't blame the healer..

  20. keep in mind that healing heroics are much much harder than healing raids.

  21. I think alot of the problem is that with healing, timing is everything. i.e. cast the heal too soon, and you'll completely overheal, and then while you are mid cast on the next heal your tank takes 2 giant dmg spikes. Blizz really needs to figure out a good way to deal with overhealing.

  22. I think that Blizzard went to considerable effort to make the classes more convoluted and unpleasant to play - e.g. affliction warlock.

    And a certain small, vocal minority approve of the changes. Myself and IMHO the majority do not really want to be doing a raid dance while managing a 10-spell rotation.

    Oh well, after Blizzard "adresses" healing like they promised, I predict things will be much worse.

  23. I respec'd to resto from enhance to make getting heroic groups easier. And yes, 1 - healing is much trickier in heroics this time around, and 2 - DPS have it pretty easy.

    Honestly, the way blizz made instances this go around, they should be embarrassed with the default UI.

    I use healbot, which is similar to grid but easier to set up I found.

    I've since respec'd back to Enhance (waiting for dual specs) but managed to heal through every heroic pretty much. Although I failed at the last boss in HoL. Only got 2 attempts in though.

    In a boss fight, DPS usually have to know 1 or 2 gimmicks. Don't stand in the cloud, Kill the adds, break the thing that's encased a group member.

    Healers have to deal with the gimmick of lots of splash damage, AoE silences, Random charges interrupting casting. Dots and all the other crap the DPS have to worry about.

    As a DPS I could go in to a heroic pretty much blind and be caught up on the strat after once sentence.

    As a healer I wouldn't step foot in a roic without knowing the ins and outs of each boss, and sometimes the trash.

    It's a steep learning curve. Stick with it.

  24. If dps dies to the last boss of UK that means they don't know the fight. Please inform them to run away when dark smash is being cast. Ivagnar(or whatever his name is?) does not hit very hard except for his smash/dark smash. Provided everyone cleared away from that attack you should be keeping the tank up with ease...while running behind the pillars for the silence and avoiding the axe.

    Now I'm not saying healing that boss is easy for a paladin. A paladin healing Ivagnar is probably the worst class for that boss. However UK is one of the easiest heroics out there so you should be able to make it through. Remember you can bubble if your silenced and the tank is near dead.....

    Point being tank should never be close to dead and the guy doesn't hit hard, so maybe the tank just sucked? Obviously the dps needed some coaching.

  25. You are exactly right when you say "face rolling through instances as DPS". DPS is easily the easiest, most boring job I've done in WoW as a Paladin. Tanking is a bit harder, but not overly so. Healing is the most challenging thing I've done in game and that's why I'm sticking with it. It's the only thing that can get my heart pumping.

    Some thoughts: I really struggled with healing heroics until I got to where I am now at 1400 Spell Power. I also have _almost_ 30% crit. Those two together makes healing heroics a lot easier because my FoL's crit for great amounts.

    One thing that you can't underestimate as a healer is the brain activity of your DPS. The final battle in hUK is a prime example as well as Loken in HoL. DPS can't just "take the damage" anymore.

    Keep up the good fight! Paladin healers don't need an HoT. We don't need an AoE heal either. We are a very powerful healing class with a TON to offer.

  26. Nevermind that part about Spell Power. I just checked your armory and you're better equipped than I am ;)

  27. I have felt your pain. I also agree with fellow posters you will develop a routine and it will become second nature to you to cast SS before the pull and judge at the pull. I only use BoL when I know that two people will be taking a lot of damage or when we hit a sticky situation due to the high mana cost. It is definately a steep learning curve with all the new spells.
    Hang in there you will get it.

  28. I have felt your pain. I also agree with fellow posters you will develop a routine and it will become second nature to you to cast SS before the pull and judge at the pull. I only use BoL when I know that two people will be taking a lot of damage or when we hit a sticky situation due to the high mana cost. It is definately a steep learning curve with all the new spells.
    Hang in there you will get it.

  29. Holy pally healing is now about preparation. If you don't have a beacon and a seal up before the pull, you'll need to burn some GCDs to get caught-up.

    Talk with your tank before you start the instance. Tell them to 'Wait for Bacon' before pulling. Then make sure to re-seal yourself before beacon-ing the tank.

    I must say that it is a lot more of a challenge to heal these days

  30. @Absitively: I think one of the reasons some folks like me when in "Ret Mode" is that I *do* watch what's going on around me and throw a Repentence on an extra mob or drop a few heals if things get a little messy on a pull.

    @Rohan: Some of the things that have made healing more manageable for me when raiding (as we are still short healers - though I got to go Ret this weekend for a couple bosses)...

    -- Mini-PW:Shield (SS) and Bacon can be tracked by ZOMGBuffs. Visual button with timer and click to recast FTW.

    -- Linking a "+SP on use" trinket via macro with Divine Plea will mitigate a good amount of the 20% healing loss when DP is active.

    -- Despite its cost, I keep Bacon up on the tank 90%+ of the time. In 5-mans, it is invaluable for topping off AoE damage while ensuring the tank gets healed.

    -- For raiding, BoK is the responsibility of the Ret paladin so I don't spec for it. In 5-mans, probably a good thing to spec for.

    -- Judgement of Light... DoTimer... already mentioned in another post, but I'll mention it again. Passive healing for melee (and next patch applies JoL procs to ranged stuff, too, I think), and you keep the Haste buff on yourself without worry.

    -- Divine Favor/Holy Shock combo (macroed, even better) will set up a fast HL behind it in tight spots. If Light's Grace is active and you have haste of any sort, that HL will cast < 1 sec.

    -- Though not live yet, plan on getting FoL glyph for another 5% crit!

  31. Great post. Couldn't agree more, when I first started doing heroics as a holy paladin I was overwhelmed. But as you get more sp and haste (or crit) you'll notice you won't use the Beacon as much. I basically only use it on Patchwerk in 10 man naxx currently, besides that I feel like it's overkill on trash pulls and most folks I know use it to inflate their HPS in recount. /cry

    One little tip, if you quest as all at holy, I learned this weekend if you keep sacred shield on yourself, most mobs can't touch ya. I use blessing/judgement of wisdom and while doing Hodir dailies, my mana nor health go down, as long as I keep both up. Saves good money on food (barely even use divine plea while grinding anymore) and makes it fun to run around "invicibile" as a holy pally blowing multiple mobs up.

  32. As Ret, i take pride in using my Repent, using my HOJ to interupt a fear (those pesky DK trolls in Drak'theron Keep)judging wisdom or Light if i know the fight will be a longer one with no enrage timer. Throwing a SS on the tank, or anyone else taking splash damage. These types of things can be the difference between a wipe and a one shot agains King Dred on heroic. we arent a pure dps class so we need to use all the tricks at our disposal. i do it so i dont have to pay a 50g repair bill, but you can justify it anyway you want.

    oh and BTW,
    Sacred Shield+Art of War Proc+FOL HOT glyph= 2INSTANT HOT's on a Ret Pally at once. Art of War Proc's Constantly. Get an addon like Proculus that tells you when you have an Art of War proc. your FOL crit chance should be over 70% even in marginal gear. great for grinding.

  33. I want to ask one question: If you don't like being Holy but are speccing that way to get groups, have you considered Prot? Tanks are not quite as in demand as healers, but they are in far more demand than DPSers. Prot is probably the best it's ever been now, as well.

    I find Prot enjoyable, first and foremost. I also find it pretty easy to start my own groups as Prot or to join PUGs as Prot, particularly raid PUGs.

    Now, getting uncrittable right at 80 can be tough without having chosen the right quest rewards. A lot of crafted stuff (Tempered Saronite, Dauntless stuff) has very high Defense on it. Getting gear/glyph from Revered with Wyrmrest and then Argent Crusade plus that crafted stuff might get you there all by itself.

    Just a thought. I'm sure you know about Maintankadin, but I'll throw it out there as a resource.

    Anytime I've thought about going Ret, I've immediately thought about how DPS is a dime a dozen. Looking forward to dual specs, but for now it's good to play a role that is in demand.

    Last note I'll make about Ret, since that seems to be your spec of choice - a DPSer who is known to put up good numbers can still get groups, and Ret can definitely do that right now. But you'll have to get to know people first, or else advertise yourself as doing 2000+ (or whatever) DPS.

    While DPS is a dime a dozen, really GOOD DPS is not as commoditized.


  34. I leveled my paladin from 10 to 70 holy but this time I went ret to get to 80.

    Tried to go back to holy at 80 did all right but the only way I found to keep the tank up is by spamming flash of light as fast as I could.

    As strange as it may sound the guild I'm in has a lot of healers and not that many DPS so I switched back to ret but now I just need to get my DPS up it stays around 1500 to 1700 and it drives me crazy the DK doing 2200 DPS...

  35. "I bit the bullet and respecced to Holy today. I very quickly got into a Heroic Utgarde Keep run. My immediate thought:

    'Wow, when did healing become so hard?'"

    I apologize if this sounds blunt, but it became hard when you decided to learn how to heal in a heroic.

    My latest character (after 3 dps & 2 tanks) is a healer. At 76 now, I haven't really had any major problems, largely because I've been playing as a healer since 68. I learned how to heal in regular instances before I jumped to the heroics.

    There are level 80 non-heroic instances you can learn in. There are instances below 80 you can learn in. There are group quests you can learn to heal in. Find the level of difficulty that you are comfortable with, and start learning there. Heroics and raids are not the place to learn the basics of your class.

  36. @anon - I only have 2 80s, but my experience was that non-heroics were significantly easier than heroics. I.e., non-heroics were a bit easier (AOE not CC) than I expected and heroics were a bit harder. YMMV. But when your 76 gets to 80 you may find heroics more challenging. Regardless, Good Luck!

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