Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Druid Healing in Cataclysm: A New Way of Thinking

It's been almost two weeks now and I can scarcely remember the old times where my heals were dominated with blanketing everyone with Rejuvenation. As I wiped in new dungeons numerous times, scratched my head over certain fights and slowly began to understand my heals better, I felt as though druidic heals underwent a metamorphosis and grew into something more interesting, intricate and most of all, fun! It took trial and error, some very understanding people and a lot of deep breaths to find my own groove in this new style but, at the end of the day, it's immensely rewarding.

Today I'll be sharing my lessons learned in how Cataclysm content requires a shedding of our old habits and a fresh perspective. A largely unsaid aspect of healing is the thought, assumption and attitude driving it. Old assumptions don't work here and a new world with new mechanics and challenging content has ushered in a different way of thought for healing.


 Here we go!
 
    - Don't keep everyone at 100%.  One of the easiest ways to run myself dry of mana is to try and keep everyone in the party at a 100% health. When I thought about it, I realised that keeping everyone topped to the last HP was simply an assumption I carried over from the previous expansion. Truth is, as a healer, my highest priority is for the tank to be at full health because honestly, a dps at full health and dps at 70% health does the same amount of damage. At the end of the day, the group is successful if the boss is dead and the party is alive - doesn't matter what percentage of health everyone's at. Thinking about healing in these terms went a long way in allocating mana more effectively for me.

    - Reactive vs. Preemptive. This is another huge change for druidic heals. Previously, I remember throwing out HoTs like candy on party members with the idea that they would get healed if they may at some point receive damage. Never really thought about if they actually received any damage or not. With current mana considerations, that method just doesn't work. It is imperative now to cut back on overhealing and wasted HoTs because they cost you. I personally use Rejuvenation sparingly in one of the two circumstances: a) if something is obviously charging for a non-tank target and they're going to get hit b) If they're already at 50% health and the tank's health is well enough for me to toss out heals to others. I let it tick and the dps get their health over time - no need for instant heals unless they're about to die.

    - Triage. I remember  way back when the only we could get our first-aid to a higher level was by completing the "Triage" quest in Theramore. The goal of this quest was to save 15 patients, tending first to the most injured and so on. It is this very same way of thinking that now defines healing - it's gone from "who has taken damage" to "who should I heal first" because everyone now takes a lot of damage. I had to get used to the kind of decision-making that I haven't had to do as a healer in a long time. Your heal priorities should look something like tank> healer> dps in a general setting (there are always situational exceptions). As a healer, I take into account a lot of situational/other factors in deciding who gets that heal when Omen of Clarity procs. Sure, that player might be the lowest but is it because he was ignoring boss mechanics or did he just get hit hard by an add? Decision-making as a healer is always tough, and sometimes we also need to make the decision of who dies so the rest of the party lives to down the boss.

When I thought about it, many of these things seemed like they should've been more obvious to me at first. But sometimes, I realised, when we get into the "healing-mode" old ways of thinking often take over and it takes a little bit of conscious thought and pondering before we change our outlook on healing. It's not really a switch that can just be flipped so we think a different way, but I can tell you there is a reward at the end there and its incredibly fun! =) In my next posts, I will share my lessons learned in the actual healing that goes on using our diverse healing palette.

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