Opinion, Restoration, Shaman, WoW

Chain of Healers revisited

I’m going to totally mooch off someone else’s effort by quoting from Zigi to explain this post:

Jessabelle is revisiting the meme that riveted the healing blog world, and asking past participants to revisit their answers with a few questions, to see how our opinions of our class have changed, both with experience, and with the content that has been released since then.

That refers, of course, to the Circle of Healers questionnaire which I answered in this post back in October.  I had only recently begun blogging at the time, and I think for a few weeks after that post I had more resto-shaman and miscellaneous healer visitors than elemental shaman visitors!  It was actually pretty helpful for me, both because it cemented in my mind that it was OK for me to write about things other than elemental and because it brought a very encouraging stream of steady traffic to the blog.  And of course it connected me to a whole bunch of new blogs, many of which I still follow.

So without further ado:

1. Reread your original answers to the questions. With the benefit of hindsight, score your own work in terms of its cringeworthiness.

Well on a scale stretching from that moment in Garden State where Zach Braff is trying on the shirt his aunt made for him using the bathroom wallpaper design, to when Sigourney Weaver appears in the hangar bay of the Sulaco wearing an exosuit (“Get away from her you bitch!”)… I guess it ranks as about a 7.  Three months isn’t that long even though it’s taken us from Ulduar to Icecrown, and my healing habits and theory haven’t hugely changed in that time.  While since then I’ve (successfully) healed Algalon, Firefighter and heroic Anub’arak, I’ve also been healing raids a lot less and those few I have healed have not been hard modes.  So if anything I know less about healing now than I did back then.

2. Has your class’s healing improved in the area you identified as its weakest?

I identified two weaknesses as movement and tank-saving cooldowns.  Set bonuses boosting Riptide have helped the former, but I still think coping with movement is one of the biggest challenges shaman healers have to face.  I even find myself using Gift of the Naaru as a staple of my healing-while-moving toolkit, and I use NS more often while moving than while standing still.  Which segues neatly into the second weakness: tank saving is still something we basically can’t do.  Sure we can queue up some big HPS for those scary moments but we have to rely on somebody else to provide the mitigation.  May God help me if I ever have to heal a druid through the tier 10 equivalent of Plasma Blast without the help of a priest.

3. Have you changed your “least favoured class to heal with”?

I should point out that I don’t really dislike healing with any particular class.  I singled out holy priests as probably one of the ones I found most difficult to handle simply because I didn’t (and don’t) know how to play one myself.  That’s still true, but I think my “least favoured class to heal with” answer would be different now.  On fights with heavy spikes I’d go for resto druids, simply because while I love resto druids and their healing style and am in awe of their amazing strengths, we’re both stuck without any emergency mitigation/tank-saving buttons.  Similarly, healing high-movement high-damage fights with a holy paladin requires both of us to work five times harder than normal.  This is simply because in such situations we need a healer who can cover our weak areas, not because I don’t like druids or paladins or priests.

4. Did you read the entries from others in the webring, especially your class?

I read a lot while it was still fairly small, but lost interest after that.  As I mentioned earlier, it resulted in me adding a lot of new blogs to my google reader.  The different perspectives, backgrounds and opinions were certainly very interesting to the point that I’d like an excuse to poke some new bloggers with the questionnaire (especially Rahana from Blueberry Totem, Rul from Ancestral Knowledge, and Liz from Monstarkin).  I also found it fascinating the way that differences between 10 and 25 man (and, dare I say it, “casual” and “hardcore”) environments affected answers.

5. If Yes to #4, did you learn anything that made you a better healer?

Heh, uh.  Well… if I ever wanted to play my priest or druid in a major healing role again, then yes, I would’ve found loads of useful stuff.  But I was in a sweet-spot with my shaman healing when I answered the questionnaire and wasn’t really interested in changing how I did things.  But I really do hugely value other perspectives and insights, and I did pick up a lot of those which I think are valuable in a bigger picture sense even if they didn’t directly affect how I healed at the time.

Ironically, I did learn from one of my own answers.  Zigi mentioned my “idea that mana at the end of a fight is useless”, which I guess is either how he (correctly, though extremely) interpreted my answer to “What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer?” or is somebody else’s quote being misattributed to me 🙂

In vanilla and early in WotLK (I didn’t do much serious healing in TBC), I always felt that mana regen was really important – having enough surplus regen that you could respond to the needs of a fight that goes wrong.  If DPS die and you need to keep going for an extra 2 minutes, or even if you need to help do damage to meet a timer, or if everyone is standing in a fire and not moving out or whatever.  This was an attitude that patch 3.0 supported, as healing was mostly (not always) quite easy if everyone did what they were supposed to and most of the challenge came from stuff going wrong or from being in only semi-competent PUGs.

Patch 3.1 really, really changed all that and suddenly the big deal was generating the raw throughput necessary to keep people alive.  Mana was still an issue, and I was still gearing for regen, but now there was a fine line to walk between having mana left for the last 10% of Heartbreaker and having enough DPS left alive that the last 10% was even possible.  Hence my answer to the questionnaire.  Writing that answer actually made me wonder exactly how far I could go down the “pure throughput” road before I got checked by running out of mana, and so as mana became less and less of an issue at T8+ gear levels, I began to focus far more on throughput.

The only time I’ve ever run out of mana was when one of the heroic Twins got a heal off at about 50% and the fight lasted 5 minutes instead of 3: I went dry at about 20% and had to stop healing for about 10 seconds, by which time I had somehow generated about 2500 mana through Water Shield procs and passive regen, and we made it to the end of the fight.

So now I’ve pursued that pure throughput strategy to the point of tentatively swapping out my Insightful Earthsiege for a Revitalising Skyflare.  The trouble is that I won’t really know how good an idea this is until I have to start healing hard modes, and I don’t know when that’ll be.  But I’d rather run out of mana at 20% with the entire raid alive than lose two people at 60% with a full mana bar.  In both cases I’d want to change something (swapping between regen and throughput), but at least in the latter case the raid would have experienced more of the boss fight and the problem would be easily pinpointed.

6. What tools/resources or information do you think you would need to improve as a healer and how could that help the community at large?

As an off-spec healer, the main thing I need is practice and experience.  I’m largely uninterested in the cutting edge of resto shaman theorycraft, partly because I invest so much in elemental theory and use resto as my break from that, and partly because I think healing supports personal style and preference rather more than DPS does.

In that sense I think my favoured “resource” is blogs that feature anecdotal accounts, intuitive conclusions, or general “vibes” on the subject of healing, raiding etc.  Thankfully there are already many of these around.

(Not that I entirely discount theorycraft for restoration – of course not! – and I’m very grateful for those who do continue to push the boundaries of our understanding.)

7. What did you identify as your worst habit as a healer? Have you improved in this area?

Refreshing Water Shield constantly, and no 😀  I sometimes find myself GCD locked when wanting to react to incoming damage because I’ve pointlessly refreshed it.

8. What did you list as your favorite healing spell and your least used healing spell for your class? Are these answers still true? If they have changed, what caused the change (i.e. patch fix, different healing environment, etc)?

Short answer here: they’re still the same answers, no real change.  If anything I love Chain Heal even more, because while not every fight suits its AoE aspects, it’s still a freakin’ great single target heal if you have time and mana to cast it because of its interaction with Riptide and Tidal Waves, and because of the potential of splashing to something else that hadn’t taken damage when you started casting.

Right.  These things always end up taking longer than I expect.  Rahana, Rul, Liz, if you happen to read this – why don’t you dig up the old healing questionnaire and fill it in?  It’s never too late, y’know!



4 thoughts on “Chain of Healers revisited

  1. I am MS elemental now but back when i healed naxx i would constantly refresh water shields. I still do it now, waiting for pulls, running back from wipes, standing around in dal. Also keep up the good work with ZAP 🙂

    Posted by Butterpig | February 17, 2010, 4:44 am
  2. As you can see: challenge accepted. It wasn’t at all as bad as I had predicted it might be!

    Posted by Rebella | February 18, 2010, 6:11 pm


  1. Pingback: Chain of healing bloggers « Monstarkin - February 18, 2010

  2. Pingback: The circle of healers (Original one) « Blueberry Totem - February 19, 2010

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