The Health Conundrum

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Hey guys! It’s been a while since I’ve talked about Warcraft instead of me waiting on Heroes of the Storm or whatever other game I’m playing that isn’t WoW, surprisingly enough considering the amount of information that has been given to us the past couple weeks, one of which linked to the image above. That’s right, pre-orders are available, and we can expect the expansion on or before the end of fall on the 20th December 2014. This post isn’t going to talk about anything like boosted level 90’s or the increased price of the expansion pack (I might make another post concerning those topics) – this article is going to be about healing and health in WoD. This intro has mainly had nothing to do with it, so let’s get right into it!

Blizzard earlier on this week released a blog article concerning how health and healing is going to change in Warlords of Draenor, and it goes to continue the discussion started last year of how there’s been this huge back and forth of balance, especially in PvP, of how players have this mindset of being able to keep people topped off at all times, and being able to heal effectively while keeping away from things that might smack you in the face a few times. This form of healing got too powerful for some classes, and Blizzard retaliated by allowing more classes to lock down these healers that are suddenly able to keep at full health and run away from them at the same time.

This was then combated by the healers that were unable to heal effectively on the move as they just ended up getting pressured too much to be able to have more options to not get locked down as easily. We’ve also seen the introduction and changes to Resilience, PvP Power, Battle Fatigue and capped item levels to further affect the survivability and lethality of players in PvP combat (while making sure that PvE-geared players don’t dominate in instanced PvP), each season the stats changing around so that it takes around as long to defeat others in similar gear, but so that you still feel more powerful in comparison to previous seasons. However, to avoid what happened in TBC with “welfare epics”, Blizzard have had to keep PvP gear weaker than PvE gear so that people don’t necessarily have to farm for gear in content they don’t enjoy playing, just to get that best-in-slot item.

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With the stat squish in WoD, this squishiness (or lack thereof) has to change yet again. Blizzard are aiming to tighten the gap between PvP and PvE, because as it stands at the moment most players feel much weaker in PvP content than they do in PvE, with reduced health pools and lower damage in comparison to PvE content. However, people still think that MoP has been “World of Burstcraft” where everything is tied around how much you can burst in the small window of CC.

This time around, when 6.0 hits Blizzard will squish people’s stats down, and then effectively double their health. To compensate in PvE, creature damage and healing will be increased so that it doesn’t affect that crowd too much, however we should see a bit more standard survivability without the need for a healer in PvP combat. This, alongside the cut in critical strike damage to only being 150% instead of 200% will hopefully slow down World of Burstcraft.

Along a similar vein, Blizz are also hitting healers so that they’re no longer as mobile while healing, turning some instant cast spells into cast-time abilities, and the ethos for WoD will be to not expect a full raid of people at max health during combat. We’re going to focus more on triage rather than reacting to burst damage. Shields and absorption effects will be less effective than they were before, so we may see heals over time leading raid content, as there will actually be things to heal this time around, instead of most of our Renewing Mists or Wild Growths go into overhealing. Whether or not Blizzard can keep it up for the entirety of the expansion is another deal, but unless there are any soothsayers out there, we’ll have to find out! To avoid the Cataclysm problem where healers in 5mans could heal 3 times before going out of mana, Blizzard are increasing mana regen at low gear levels, and with spirit only being available on jewellery the scaling shouldn’t get out of control later on in the expansion cycle.

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We’re seeing some changes to healing spells themselves, with at least one strong expensive AoE heal, one weak cheap AoE heal, one strong expensive single target heal and similarly one weak cheap ST heal. What is planned below for each class is as follows:

Druid

  • Nourish removed.
  • Wild Growth has a 1.5sec cast.
  • Higher efficiency spells: Healing Touch, Rejuvenation, Efflorescence
  • Higher throughput spells: Regrowth, Wild Growth

Monk

  • Uplift has a 1.5sec cast.
  • Higher efficiency spells: Soothing Mist, Renewing Mist
  • Higher throughput spells: Surging Mist, Spinning Crane Kick

Paladin

  • Holy Light removed.
  • Word of Glory/Eternal Flame has a 1.5sec cast when specced Holy.
  • Light of Dawn has a 1.5sec cast.
  • Divine Light renamed to Holy Light.
  • Higher efficiency spells: Holy Light, Holy Shock, Word of Glory, Light of Dawn
  • Higher throughput spells: Flash of Light, Holy Radiance

Priest

  • Heal removed.
  • Level 90 tier abilities has a 1.5sec cast time in Holy/Discipline.
  • Prayer of Mending has a 1.5sec cast.
  • Higher efficiency spells: Greater Heal, Circle of Healing, Prayer of Mending, Holy Nova (Disc-only version), Penance
  • Higher throughput spells: Flash Heal, Prayer of Healing

Shaman

  • Healing Wave removed.
  • Greater Healing Wave renamed to Healing Wave.
  • Higher efficiency spells: Healing Wave, Riptide, Healing Rain
  • Higher throughput spells: Healing Surge, Chain Heal

I can’t say I know too much to go into detail about the other classes’ healing styles, but in a Resto Druid perspective, the changes don’t seem that terrible. Rejuvenation and Lifebloom are still instant casts, along with other spells that are currently instant and not mentioned above to be changed to 1.5sec casts. Nourish doesn’t get used, I’ve even taken it off my bars for my Resto spec it’s that trash, so I’m not going to miss no longer having my weak, cheap heal any more. Getting used to the new Wild Growth will be interesting, as it’s been quite a core without many changes since the early days of Wrath when it found itself with a cooldown. It’s listed as a high throughput ability, so whether it’ll be similar to Genesis in terms of expensive to cast, but a ton of quick healing, or it’s just less efficient because of the cooldown and cast time making it a rarer ability to use, is something we’ll have to find out when beta hits.

Now, the worry I have is that healers are going to be left with nothing to do if people’s health is trickling down, but still being non-fatal enough to concern your mana about. Ion Hazzikostas (Watcher) could see these concerns and may be including more options like Atonement healing for other classes. As we know, Monks may be getting Cranedancer stance so they can split between mistweaving and fistweaving, Shamans may be getting free Lightning Bolts as filler. I wonder what kind of filler Paladins and Druids could gain? I guess Paladins could make use of Battle Healer if mechanics allowed, and Druids have Dream of Cenarius for filler (assuming Wrath is cheap to cast anyway), but I’d love something baseline like with the other classes so we’re not just sitting there watching doing nothing. Then again, homogenization and all that.

Overall, I’m all for these changes, especially if they do end up working out not just in early WoD, but in later tiers and seasons, and even progressing into the next expansion after WoD. Personally, I think Blizz will turn a 180 on something here or end up making the healer-DPS equilibrium in PvP out of whack, but that’s what alpha and beta cycles are for, right? Getting things changed before they go live and harder to revert!