The State of Healing
Posted by Blessing of Kings [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 21 July 2013, 11:08 pm
I saw this post by Vixsin on The State of Healing, and I wanted to comment on the general subject. Please note that I'm not really doing organized raiding this tier, so you should take my thoughts with a grain of salt.

I think there has been a general problem healing this expansion, and perhaps taking a step back, a general problem in the design of healing since TBC.

The problem this expansion is that there is too much "ambient" healing. Compared to previous expansions, there's lots of aoe heals, lots of hots, and lots of absorbs that kind of buffer the entire raid. There seems to be a lot less triage and healing assignments.

The problem with this is that boss damage needs to balance out healing. Lots of ambient healing leads to lots of ambient damage. This means if the ambient, background healing ever dips down, then all of a sudden the damage can seem overwhelming. Second, and you see this in LFR a fair bit, healers that do not heal in an ambient style do far less healing than they should.

Now, the problem with healing development in general is a bit more subtle. It seems that when Blizzard is looking at the healing classes, the thought process is, "X is pretty cool, let's make more use of X". So they use X a lot more and the game breaks.

The obvious example this expansion is absorbs. Power Word: Shield is a cool spell. It does something slightly different than all the other spells, and wasn't too broken on its own (at least when it was more restricted). Blizzard saw that PW:S was good, and spread it around when they needed new spells and abilities. Paladin master, spirit shell, etc. And then the game broke.

It's not just absorbs. Cooldowns and AoE spells have followed the same pattern. Rare at first, with only one or two specs with access to a version that usually had a significant downside. Then everyone got access and the healing game became unbalanced.

Older paladins will remember that critical strike and Illumination did something similar. The original Illumination made critical strike interesting, but crit was a rare stat for paladins. Then Blizzard saw that paladins were chasing crit, embraced it, and ended up breaking Holy paladins.

In my mind, healing works best when it is fairly basic. A couple direct heals, a signature heal, and weak (non-spammable) AoE heal is all you really need for a good healing environment. Making healing more complicated, in some sort of arms race, just leads to less fun healing environments. Damage has to keep up with healing. The more powerful healing is, the more powerful boss damage is, and the healing environment becomes less forgiving and less fun.

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