Healing With Confidence
Healing in Cataclysm is hard. It is much, much harder than it was in the Wrath expansion. The healing mechanics have changed for every class. Healing spells have become much more expensive and seem to heal for a paltry amount compared to health pools. Incoming damage is so great that it’s generally impossible for a healer to deal with it unless other party members are helping to mitigate the damage in some way. While some healers seem to be thrilled at having a new challenge to conquer, it seems to me that most healers, upon entering their first Cataclysm dungeon, go through a crisis of faith.
The very first Cataclysm dungeon is a shock to a healer. OMG! There’s so much damage! Am I really out of mana already? How am I supposed to handle this? Even if the first trash pull is successful – no player deaths, or at least, not a wipe – alarm bells are going off in the healer’s mind. I have to sit and drink already! If the trash is this bad, how will we survive a boss? Can I make it through this? The spells that healers used to rely on, the ones that we have ingrained into our muscle memory, are not working as they used to. We have to fight against reflex, think on the fly, try new strategies and sometimes desperately mash buttons while praying fervently to whatever WoW gods may be that we can keep the tank alive just a few seconds longer!
I spent the first week of the new expansion wondering if my days as a healer were over. I poured over all the online resources and class guides that I could find, memorizing tips and hints and struggling to put them into practice. I didn’t set foot in a dungeon unless I was in a guild group – no pugs for me! – and my heart ached as I continued to struggle. It didn’t help to know that Druid healing had been nerfed and that Paladins were considered the new “OP” healers – that just made me afraid that I’d lose my raid spot! My Druid is my first toon and still my first love, and healing raids is what I’ve always enjoyed most about this game. To not be a Resto Druid? I wasn’t sure I’d want to play the game anymore.
Of course, we are now more than three months into the new expansion, and things are much better. I’ve been healing heroic 5-man pugs with ease and we’re progressing well in our raids. I’m even at the top of the healing meters most of the time. Things feel easier now, and I think there are several reasons for that, which I shall get into in a moment. But I know that there are still new healers that are struggling. One of the Holy Pallies in my guild recently healed his first heroic in a guild group with me and his confidence was horribly shaken. Also, I just read a post on the blog Crits and Giggles about how that blogger has gone through the exact same crisis of faith:
Something I used to love so much has now become something that I never want to do again. And I sat there thinking that Elgar’s endgame experience is going to be transmuting, fishing up Mr. Pinchy, farming up herbs, and digging up artifacts. Hardly what I expected.I logged over to Rossini to DE a staff Elgar won. I like Rossini, but he’s not Elgar. No one is Elgar. I logged out and looked at the loading screen. I know Elgar still has some gear improvements, but this was a normal dungeon. Normal. And it was so horrible. I looked at him. How is it that my favorite character has now become a placeholder on the log-in screen. I truly am broken.
I guess the one positive thing about the night is this: I know what NOT to dual spec the shaman, paladin, and druid as…heals.
So yes, there are a lot of healers who dinged 85 early and have geared up, figured things out and are finding healing to be fairly easy again. But there are still many healers who are just now hitting the wall, and there will be more and more of them hitting that wall every day. I don’t want those healers to delete their toons, respec or walk away!
Cataclysm healing does get easier, and it will continue to get easier as time goes by. Here’s why:
- Better gear. It does make a difference. You will have more mana, better mana regen, and your heals will hit harder.
- People will know the fights. First of all, you will know the fights better, so you will know when there will be damage and how to deal with it. Secondly, more of the people you encounter will have experience with the fights, so tanks will know how to pull, and everyone will know how to deal with mechanics and how to avoid much of the damage.
- You will have a better knowledge of your class. Some of this knowledge may be gained by doing research on your class, but a lot of it will be trial and error. You will know what spells are mana efficient and which will send you OOM if you aren’t careful. You will know what your big heals are and when to use them. It just takes practice.
- You will have become a better player. Your “failures” will have made you strong. Remember the error part of trial and error? Yeah, that’s essential. Someone died? The group wiped? Good! You just learned what doesn’t work. You can’t learn anything from easy mode. Remember the face roll that was the end of Wrath? Yeah, we got spoiled and lazy. We learned bad habits. Now that we can fail we can learn to play well, and you WILL learn to play well. It may just take a few attempts.
So, what is a healer to do in order to make the learning process easier? Here’s a list of tips that helped me:
- Group up with friends and guildies while you’re learning the ropes.
- Do as much research about your class as possible. Read healing guides and tips, then try them out.
- Gem, enchant and reforge your gear. Every little bit helps, especially at low gear levels. You don’t need to buy the expensive stuff, of course, but do something with your gear!
- Don’t take it personally when random puggers (or even guildies!) say “u suk heals”. It’s really hard not to take it personally, (I’m not very good at this myself), but try to remember that those people are just jerks.
- Take good advice from other healers if they offer it to you. In fact, ask good healers for advice and then try what they suggest.
- Find a friend that you can talk to. I’m lucky enough to have several friends in game that I can rant to and who will support me while I’m struggling. Hopefully you do too.
- Keep trying. If you aren’t running dungeons you aren’t learning! Also, the longer you avoid it, the scarier they will seem. Try to run at least one per day if you can – think of the Justice or Valor Points you can earn!
- Remember that things will get better and don’t lose heart!