All players are created equal…

In between waiting for the cowardly Horde to queue to Alterac Valley, I’ve been thinking about Blizzard’s new Healing Philosophy and why it worries me. To quote Ghostcrawler:

Prior to LK, healers could run out of mana, and for the most part it worked. They didn’t just use their efficient heals, because sometimes their group would die if they did. They didn’t just use their big heals though, because they’d run out of mana (and then the group would die).

I think of healing like a cross-continental road race. If you go too slow, you’ll lose the race, but if you just floor it the whole time, you’ll run out of fuel a lot and waste time stopping to fill it up again. There is a happy medium somewhere in between. However the encounter specifics push you out of that medium, sometimes asking you to choose big numbers over efficiency and sometimes vice-versa.

I know it sounds like we are picking on healers all the time, but once you can run out of mana again, I think everything will just feel better, your choices about what spell to cast next become more compelling, and the healing game overall will be more engaging.

Borrowed from this thread. Now maybe I’m nitpicking but he doesn’t seem to be addressing a couple of important points. Firstly running out of mana even though you’re doing everything right but your group is hugging the fire, not using cc properly and the like is not engaging.  Frustrating, annoying and likely to drive you mad perhaps, but engaging or fun, no.

PvP Implictions.

Now we all know PvP isn’t balanced around 1 v 1 and that’s fine, Warcraft is a multiplayer game. However when you want healers to have mana issues PvP becomes a problem. At the moment as a Disc Priest I have a chance to beat all classes in a 1 v 1. It comes down to how well I play versus how badly they play. Which in my mind is how it should play out, the best player of the two should win.

In theory Dpsers should have high damage to compensate for the fact that they are A. squishy and B. can’t heal. Healers on the other hand, should have weak dps but can heal. However over the years the lines have blurred and with Cataclysm it seems as if all the classes who currently have no self heals whatsoever are gaining them. Take hunters for example, at the moment they are usually a win for me. Yes, they can have high damage but since they have no way of healing, with dots, shadowfiend and reflective shield, I usually have no problems in a 1 v 1. It might take me a while but I can wear them down.

Fast forward to Cataclysm, they get a heal mechanic, their damage will scale up and we get less regen across the board and our fast heals get a hefty mana hike. Unfortunately fast flash heal type spells have to be bread and butter in PvP because even if people’s time to live is increased to the point where you can happily use greater heal to keep them up, kicks and interupts become a problem. Add in the fact that anti healing debuffs are being reduced across the board to 25 percent and I can’t help thinking that whilst health pools are definitely increasing, healing won’t scale at all well.

I fully admit when my Boomkin sees a well geared Disc Priest my little feathery heart sinks and like most if not all dpsers, I hate going 1 v 1 against a healer but even without nerfing healing, Cataclysm is already giving us more tools for dealing with the “cheating swine”. Classes without interrupts are gaining interrupts which will make beating healers easier.

Is that a problem? For me yes. I like healing in PvP, I’ve always healed in PvP. Yet, if I can’t beat anyone in a 1 v 1, it lessens my options in group PvP as well. Why bring a healer who is a squishy liability when you could just bring another dps. Things will die faster and it’s not as if said healer will bring anything when it only takes one member of the opposing team to deal with them, with the healer having to focus 100 percent on keeping themselves alive. Having the philosophy of fast expensive spells versus slow cheap efficient ones is ok in PvE when damage is predictable but less good in PvP when the choice is a simple cast X expensive spell or die.

Gearing and Levelling.

There will always be a sweet spot when gear reaches a certain point. Let’s say it’s tier 14, grab this gear and suddenly you have mana to spare again. If Blizzard hold the faith on their philosophy, they would have to nerf regen which then negatively effects everyone who is below the gear curve. If you start levelling a healer six months into the expansion, things could be worse than levelling one at the start and by the sound of it, levelling as a healer at the start will be no walk in the park. Neither is it good for the healers in tier 14 who are all excited about their new shinies only to log in a month later and find they are back where they were when they had tier 13.

Wow is all about character progression and having one of the three roles either remaining stationary or even worse going backwards whilst the other two move forwards is bad design plain and simple. No one wants to be weaker as they level up and yet that’s what is happening to the healers on the beta right now.

Looking for Group.

At the moment the Looking for Group finder just picks 3 dpsers, 1 tank and 1 healer and pops you all into a dungeon together. That design really won’t work if CC is as crucial to 5 mans as Blizzard seem to want. Will people be leaving group immediately if the party doesn’t contain say a rogue (sap, blind, stuns), hunter (traps, pet to offtank perhaps) and a mage (everyone’s favourite CC polymorph)? Quite possibly I would imagine, especially if healers and/or tanks have instant queues they may turn out to be very picky. In fact I’m not sure I would blame them, if running a certain instance was considerably easier with a particular group composition then I might be in trade looking for the perfect group rather than just joining the LFG as well.

The flavour of CC you bring might be the new gearscore, which for certain classes is a bit nasty. Take priests, our CC comes into two basic flavours, fear (which really isn’t great in an instance unless you pull each trash pack way back) and mind control (which also effectively crowd controls the priest). Neither of those is good enough to keep a mob out of action for long periods of time, especially when compared to the likes of polymorph. On top of that, shadowpriests bring psychic horror but a 10 second cc on a two minute cooldown is hardly ground shatteringly exciting or useful.

General thoughts.

Is Blizzard balancing around raid content, where it’s likely everyone will have replenishment available to them? If they want healers to struggle it’s likely that they are, otherwise in raid conditions, mana would be less of an issue which leads me to another problem I have with this design chance.

Back in vanilla, I was the master of my fate. I had a huge stack of mana pots, nights dragon breath and bandages. Sure, I got the odd innervate but by and large, I had to stand on my own two feet and I was balanced around my ability, not some random buff that class Y might bring. This is the perfect chance to remove replenishment, make mana tide shaman only, alter hymn of hope slightly so it only works for the priest and so on. Give us control and let us live or die by our mistakes not our party makeup.

I fully support healing requiring some thought but I think Blizzard are going about it all wrong. Remove buffs like replenishment or give them to everyone so you can balance content around them (obviously I would prefer removal). Give us the five second rule back and downranking, so that smart play is rewarded, rather than just tying one hand behind our backs.

As things stand at the moment, I won’t be healing a dungeon whilst levelling and for the first ever  in the five years I’ve played WoW, I’m considering making a dpser my main for Cataclysm. Not because I shy away from a challenge, I’ve two manned plenty of heroics in both this and the previous expansion (back when gear was an issue and we actually had to use CC) and I still remember healing a 10 man Stratholme virtually solo the day our tank got his arcanite reaper. It’s not because I think Cataclysm will be too hard, but basically I pay the same amount per month as everyone else and I really don’t appreciate the fact that it seems as if I will be a second class citizen.

Also if you play Horde in Misery EU and are between lvs 71 and 79, queue for AV please. I’m sick of WSG, AB and EotS and my little warrior wants to slam her new shield in your face 😀

6 Responses

  1. These are some good points. I too hate running out of mana; it definitely gets you down, especially if you were conserving mana in the first place. Plus with the emphasis on healers to ‘save the group’ (priests (possibly) getting life grip, all dispels going to healers), players will get more angry when the healer is unable to dispel/heal them due to mana issues, which could make it less enjoyable. I think this is something that sounds good in theory, but may not be the best. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how it balances out – it could be that it actually is better.

    Also – in MY battlegroup it is the cowardly Aliiance who don’t queue for AV! We win it a lot. :3 Of course, that’s US Stormstrike, so I don’t think it really helps you. XD I think the ‘random BG’ feature really decreased participation in AV, which is a shame, since it’s one of my favorites BGs.

    • It’s my favourite battleground as well and the random (cough Strand of the Ancients cough) feature at 80 means I never get them on my mains. Unfortunately the Alliance have a crazy win rate in the low level AV (my warrior has played 36 and won 34) so the Horde don’t queue.

      I definitely think levelling dungeons/heroics at 85 will be difficult depending on your player makeup. Now hard heroics isn’t necessarily a bad thing but if the healers are having to drink every pull and are struggling to keep people alive, then it doesn’t seem like fun. Nor does doing it with randoms seem very rewarding.

  2. This is a topic I’ve been really grumbling about lately to my friends. I was planning to write about it this week because it bothers me so much.

    Someone needs to take off those rose tinted glasses and realize what a mistake this will be to the general population. Honestly if it doesn’t get better than it is in beta right now, I might move on again.

    I am so disappointing as I wanted to heal again, I don’t want to deal with this crap though.

    Being oom all the time is not a good thing. You can’t revert things and expect players to change a mindset without causing a lot of havoc and chaos in the process. In the end it becomes something not even worth the trouble. So we go from GO GO GO in heroics to this red-light green-light.

    • I think the first few weeks/months will definitely be painful as people either adapt or yell a lot.

  3. I can only agree. I don’t play my priest outside 5 mans for the most part – but I actually still CAN run out of mana (cause she’s not awesomely geared.. and only really in HoR admittedly.. but that means that if I took her into ICC or something she’d be oom within the first 2 minutes of the boss fight).

    I don’t mind them making it more difficult, but I think you’re right in that they’re going the wrong way about it. I healed back in vanilla and sure you have to watch your mana and learn when to use your mana potion so that it would be available at the right time again for the second use – but you could learn to do it and you could do it well.

    I guess we can learn this new way too.. but that’s.. the third or fourth version of how we have to do it? It’s getting a bit silly.

    I still don’t know what I want to do in Cataclysm. I don’t think I want to tank.. every time I read the notes on warriors I get sad. And the healing doesn’t sound awesome either, so I doubt I’ll go back to that. Maybe I’ll go back to being dps as well.

    • I suppose my biggest issue is that they are leaving out all the bits which made healing fun in vanilla, 5 second rule, downranking, multiple mana pots per fight, nights dragon breathe/dark runes (neither of which have been buffed in any expansion). In return, well, I’m not too sure what exactly we’re getting apart from higher mana costs.

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