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Good Times and Drama on the Healing Forums

December 17, 2010

If you’ve not stopped by WoW’s official Healing Forums recently …. well then don’t.  I’ll save you the headache and sum up what you’ve missed in the last week.  The fight over whether healers prefer Cataclysm’s new style of healing has gotten ugly, really ugly.  When I say “ugly,” I mean name-calling, ultimatum-giving, boycott-calling, mean-spirited haiku-writing ugly.  It’s bad out there.

It’s hard to say what the low point has been thus far.  I’ve seen posts calling for all healers to queue as DPS to make the already lengthy LFD wait times even longer, essentially holding the LFD system hostage until Blizzard makes the changes they want.  I’ve seen people evoking, again and again, their right to play the game the way they want to play it because they pay Blizzard $15 every month.  I’ve seen people telling such notable druids as Keeva and Lissanna that they need to learn how to play their class.  O.O

The argument now seems to have mostly settled into two camps: seasoned “elitist” veterans who think people with complaints need to shut up and L2P, and spoiled so-called “Wrath babies” who are too used to having epics handed to them upon hitting the level cap.  Somewhere in there you’ll find an occasional post by a player who is actually attempting to give constructive advice about ways to make the healing load easier, but this generally gets shot down by a barrage of “No, you obviously didn’t read my post because you’re not getting my point.”  The point, of course, being that healing mechanics must return to their pre-Cata state or all the healers in the game will up and run for the hills.

I’m trying hard to figure out whether the entire WoW population has had a significant long-term memory loss, or if there are truly this many people playing now who weren’t around for the beginning of Wrath.  (It’s really difficult to tell just how much experience the posters on the Healing forums really have, since most are claiming such illustrious credentials as having downed C’thun a few dozen times during Vanilla in order to avoid being labeled “Wrath babies.”)  Here’s the thing that strikes me as odd about the entire arguement – heroics weren’t exactly easy at the beginning of Wrath, either.  In fact, some of them – and some bosses in particular – were damned hard.

My fellow blogger and guildmate, Squelchy, wrote about this a few months ago.  We as a player base seem to have developed a collective amnesia about just how rough it could be to run Wrath heroics in regular dungeon blues.  He mentions the Bronzebeard event in Halls of Stone in particular; the one that sticks out in my mind is Loken in Halls of Lightning.  There were days when you just didn’t get him down.  Loken was a serious gear-check for everyone in the group.  If you had less than 13k health, you probably weren’t going to survive Lightning Nova if you stood in for it – which, by the way, was not a given at the beginning of the xpac.  It was customary to check with your healer as to whether she was comfortable healing through the blast if the group stood in.  (I wonder how many people are even aware that there’s another strategy for how to do that fight?)  Remember that, with DPS barely cracking 2k at that point, you weren’t going to be healing through just one Lightning Nova, but more like 3-4.  That’s significantly more than any healing class would have cooldowns for.

I don’t mean to get all “We walked uphill ten miles in the snow!” here, but what I’m trying to offer is some perspective.  WoW’s dirty little secret is that everything gets easier with better gear, and that’s no less true about Cata than it was for Wrath.  Until more of us have access to epics from the first tier of raiding, heroics will be pretty unforgiving.  In the meantime, we need to be helping ourselves out as much as possible by gemming, enchanting, and reforging correctly.  It’s also absolutely essential that we stay within our own armor type – Leather Specialization gives us a free 5% increase in our Intellect, which is much better than choosing a cloth piece because it has a bit more haste on it.  If you’re spending Justice Points on cloth gear, I’m sorry to say that you’re wasting them.

The other important thing to keep in mind is that the rest of your group is just as responsible for your success right now as you are.  There are really very few bosses in Cata heroics that do massive AoE damage spells at some point during a fight which cannot be avoided.  In the case that a boss does have something that simply must be “healed through,” it doesn’t happen more than once a fight and you should be saving your largest cooldown for then.  Nine times out of ten, if your group is taking too much damage for you to heal through, the issue isn’t that you’re healing incorrectly; the issue is that the encounter is not designed to require as much healing as you’re having to do.  The vast majority of the wipes I’ve seen in heroics so far, both when I’ve been healing and when I’ve run with other guild healers, have been due to flaws in execution and not in healing.

It’s probably beyond obvious by now which side of the argument I’m on.  Personally, I’m loving the changes to druid healing – particularly the fact that I have a good reason to use each and every spell in my spellbook now.  I like the challenge of new content, even though I do occasionally get frustrated by it.  In a recent blog post about tanks and threat mechanics, Ghostcrawler explained, “We want encounters to be fun, and for most players, that includes both rewards and risks.”  For me, that means enjoying these first few weeks of Cataclysm, even with the repair bills and corpse runs, because progressing through new and challenging content is what keeps me playing this game.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. December 17, 2010 10:18 am


    Thank you for the link. And needless to say, I agree with you. I don’t have much to add from a healing perspective, except that I’m terrified of leveling my resto shaman at this point. I am definitely a “Wrath baby” as far as heals are concerned, and I looked at mana as a pretty blue bar that went down less than Energy.

    We’ll see. Perhaps the gnome priest will get there first, anyway. 🙂

    • Tzufit permalink
      December 17, 2010 11:19 am

      You’re welcome!

      I think you’re probably not giving yourself enough credit when it comes to the shaman. You certainly more than made up for my under-geared, under-played priest alt on those Saturday night ICC runs. 🙂

  2. Osi permalink
    December 17, 2010 12:24 pm

    I came in under BC. Both BC and Wrath had NO unlimited mana pools. The only exception was when healers were decked out in raid BiS gear (which was an extremely small minority of the player base). It is extremely frusterating that Blizz wants to punish the majority of the players due to the minority of the players who raid.

    So there are three groups, elitests (aka no lifes), Wrath babies (everything handed to them), and players who know their class (everybody else).

    Healers are just plain broken right now. You should not run out of mana 1/2 or even the last 10% of any fight.

    Vanilla we hardly saw any growth (nobody wants to play a clunky/broken game), BC we saw slow but steady progress (good thing), Wrath we saw a huge growth due to (hand me everything mentality). And now in Cata, which is basically like BC but much worse with broken threat and healer mechanics, we see people leaving in droves.

    It is amazing that Blizzard did all this work on the expansion for years, but chose not to test it before release.

    • Tzufit permalink
      December 17, 2010 2:30 pm

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

      I agree with you that, for all of Wrath, we never had to worry about mana pools even when the content was still new and relatively difficult. The main problem we faced during Wrath was keeping tanks and DPS topped off at all time because there were abilities that could easily one-shot them and that could not be avoided. That part, at least, isn’t really the case anymore.

      I’m a little confused when people throw around the word “broken” to describe the current status of healing. Generally, when I’ve heard us talk about something being “broken” in-game, it means that an ability is either so obviously overpowered in the player’s favor that it is clear it couldn’t have been the developers’ intent (such as the recent nerf to rake); or it means that an ability is so tuned against the players that it is impossible to complete an encounter (like, for example, when warlock severed essences were hitting everyone in ICC for 100k+ on a single hit). Neither of these is true for healing mechanics. Making mana matter has not made encounters impossible – we still see Paragon and Ensidia clearing all of the new hardmodes in Cata as quickly as they did in Wrath. We still see players reaching the level cap, gearing through heroics, and preparing to raid. If the healing model were truly “broken,” none of this could be happening. Now, that’s not to say that I don’t agree with you that healing is harder now. But harder and broken are two different things. Developers have already come out to say that healing is working as intended for shaman and druids.

      Cataclysm content and the healing model were tested extensively before its release. Healers who participated in the beta test spoke out early and often about the increased difficulty of heroics, and about the essential need for mana management. Blizzard (via Ghostcrawler, again) spoke out about this nearly a month ago as well, explaining that every other role in the game is dependent upon its good usage of resource systems, and that healers should be no different.

      And I agree – you shouldn’t be running out of mana in the middle of a boss fight. A lot of this, though, as I described in the post is dependent upon the rest of your group doing their jobs well. A group I was in last night cleared the final boss in Heroic Grim Batol after several dicey attempts on him. We were able to do so because the DPS executed their jobs nearly perfectly, the tank managed his cooldowns well, and I used my mana responsibly. When that fight ended, I had 65% mana remaining, having not even used my Innervate. It’s not just because I’m being more thoughtful about the spells I use than I was a week ago – it’s because my group knows that it’s their responsibility to make sure I’m not OOMing myself healing avoidable damage.

  3. Dyna permalink
    December 18, 2010 10:36 pm

    Healing is hard right now, not just because of the new mechanics- but because of the resistance to those new mechanics. I think that once everyone becomes accustomed to How Things Should Be Done, it’s going to get a lot easier.

    Right now, I’m really, really, really struggling as a resto shaman. But I haven’t given up yet, I’m thinking I just need to give it some time- and beat Eddrick until he levels to max and gears up so I can have a pocket tank. My primary issue isn’t that healing is hard- yes, it is- but that I keep encountering groups who are quick to blame the healer… and worse, my own guilt when things go south. I’ve only been groupkicked for not healing an undergeared tank through five mob pull with no CC the one time. That was clearly not my fault, but I was the one punished for it. However, now, any time anyone dies I have to reanalyze everything I did in the fight. “I should have been able to heal through that second group of adds!” “Someone broke the CC but I should have been able to manage it!” “OH MY GOD I FAILED BECAUSE SOMEONE DIED!”

    The pressure is starting to get to me. Because of the actions of a few groups that seem to think I should heal through everything, I’m now extraordinarily paranoid about if I am doing my job well enough, and whether I’m going to be kicked for a series of wipes. It’s bad enough that I’ve started queuing as DPS.

    But again, I think things are going to get better when people start to realize that, yes, CC is needed. Yes, interrupts are needed. No, you can’t Stand In The Bad. No, you can’t tank things in the Bad. Yes, you really, really need to move things when you’re tanking them in the Bad. And for the love of god, PLEASE STOP SHATTERING THE TANK IN STONECORE. I am looking at you, melee. (Also, let my group kick go through on the melee that got a brez in time to destroy the tank and die himself on yet another shatter. 😐 )

    • Tzufit permalink
      December 19, 2010 12:46 pm

      Dyna!! 😀

      The horror stories I’ve seen on the forums and in other people’s blogs about getting votekicked are really frustrating. I think I’m starting to understand where a lot of the disconnect is, too, between people who enjoy the new mechanics and those who are still having a lot of trouble – it’s about whether you’re PuGing.

      I’m not. I haven’t touched LFD since Cata started except to let it pick a random dungeon for me and 4 other guild members who are already in a group. I realize that’s not a viable option for everyone out there, but I just don’t really trust running with people I don’t know right now. Not only do you have no idea what you’re going to get in terms of the quality of the group, but you also have to deal with explaining some fairly complex boss mechanics in text rather than over vent.

      You’re right – this should get better with time as people adjust to the ways that Cataclysm has changed heroics. But since that’s dependent upon the WoW playerbase having an acceptable learning curve (and we both know how dependable that is), I’m still not going anywhere near LFD anytime soon.

  4. Osi permalink
    December 19, 2010 12:14 pm

    I have a macro that says the following. I press this every time I join groups:

    Hello! Due to Cata dungeon mechanics, healers are expected to drink while tanks and dps eat to top off bars between pulls. CC is of the utmost importance for survival. It is impossible for me to heal when mechanics do not permit it. If the Cata mechanics is of concern, feel free to kick me. With that said, let’s have some fun!

    • Tzufit permalink
      December 19, 2010 12:51 pm

      I think that’s a really good idea, Osi. If the tanks and DPS you’re finding are that oblivious to the fact that the wipes are because of the way that they’re pulling and not the way that you’re healing, they need to learn what they’re doing wrong. Maybe they’ll get it and maybe they won’t, but at least you’ve been upfront with them from the start.


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