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Raid Rx: Cataclysm raid healing thoughts

Every week, Raid Rx will help you quarterback your healers to victory! Your host is Matt Low, the grand poobah of World of Matticus and a founder of No Stock UI, a WoW blog for all things UI-, macro- and addon-related.

There are some Dispel changes, shaman additions and priest additions coming. Have you read Joe's shaman thoughts and Dawn's priest thoughts yet? Be sure to check them out! I think the spell that will have the biggest impact for all healers is the addition of the Heal-type spell. It is designed to be the most efficient, single target healing spell in our arsenals. With Healing Rain and Power Word: Barrier, we're going to see a new element in healing assignments: Player locations. Lastly, we have the new dispel changes.

Are you excited about being a healer for Cataclysm?

Location-based healing


In the current end game of Wrath of the Lich King, I can see resto shamans and discipline priests utilizing their new skills.

With Healing Rain available in raids, it adds another group healing direction to take. Currently, there are two types of group heals:
  • Smart group healing: These are spells like Circle of Healing, Wild Growth and Chain Heal. They do the thinking for you. You target a player, you cast the spells and the players around them have their health restored appropriately.
  • Group-based healing: Basically, this is just Prayer of Healing and Holy Nova. You pick a player, and everyone in the group gets healed up appropriately. Perfect against Stinky since you can assign specific groups to specific players
Now we can add location-based healing. The closest thing to it was the Anti-Magic Zone of death knights. Need to heal a group of players fast? You don't even have to rely on your raid frames anymore! Players standing on a Void Zone or AoE of some sort? Resort to heads-up healing and just drop a rain of healing on them to buy them more time to get out.

The same thing works with Power Word: Barrier. Drop it on a location where players are expected to take a bunch of damage. One case I can think of is on Rotface when he's blasting players in front of him with a Slime Spray. The smart players are standing behind him when he does it. The slower ones are standing in front, so you might as well set up a Barrier to mitigate some of that damage anyway. I think priests will have a much easier time with this since we're accustomed to using Mass Dispel, anyway.

Look, I know you can't heal stupid. But sometimes we have to do it anyway.

Addition of the baseline heal

I'm really happy to see this addition go through. It isn't just the shamans and priests getting it, but it appears that druids and paladins will be receiving a medium-sized heal as well. We can hazard a guess then that in raids, the situations will go something like this:
  • Flash Heal, Lesser Healing Wave, Nourish: Inefficient spells but are designed to be fast. These spells will be used when players are in imminent danger of dying. However, these will also be weak. I might chain cast Flash of Light to keep a player just from dying, but it won't be enough to catapult them up into a safe zone.
  • Heal, Healing Wave: Not sure what the paladin or druid equivalents will be called. My suggestions would be Flourish and Burst of Light or something. These are the main spells we'll be using for single target healing. They won't be as quick as Flash Heal, but they'll be enough for the standard day-to-day healing that healers do.
  • Greater Heal, Healing Touch, Greater Healing Wave, Holy Light: I anticipate that these spells will be the rocket launchers of healers. In the fast heal example above, after I chain cast Flash of Light to prevent a player death, another player could come in and drop a Healing Touch to rocket them back to full, allowing me to switch off.
All in all, I suspect there's going to be a greater healing coordination just because of the increased stamina that players will be receiving. Back during classic Warcraft when we raided instances like Molten Core and Blackwing Lair, there were eight to 10 of us healers who sat in our own healing channel. Communication was rapid and furious. Picture a diner where waitresses are bustling about bringing in orders, cooks are preparing the meals, and the same waitresses are bringing out meals to the right tables. That just about summarizes the environment that we were in, as we had to anticipate the damage coming in and any errors that were made. It took a tremendous amount of coordination and it wasn't something easily managed.

It isn't a "flashy" change like Spirit Link or Life Grip (Leap of Faith), but sometimes the monumental changes that affect our healing are the ones that often sneak by under the radar.

Dispel changes

Here's the full list of Dispel changes. There are several things that jumped out at me here.
"In Cataclysm we are raising the mana costs, making it possible to waste mana by casting a dispel when there is nothing to dispel, and removing Cleansing Totem, Abolish Disease, and Abolish Poison from the game."

The raising of mana costs is something that will also force healers to pause and think. Now, we don't know the cost of our dispels or our new heals at level 85 yet. We also don't know what kind of mana pools we'll have. So from a cost/benefit standpoint, there are two options: Keep the debuff on a friendly player and use a heal over time spell to negate it, or dispel it entirely. When there is only one person to consider, it becomes an easy decision. But when there are multiple players affected, the mentality then changes. For example, I can bust a global cooldown or two in order to remove a debuff, or I can use a group wide healing spell to mitigate that damage. The correct answer is going to vary from encounter to encounter.

The second point is the wasting of mana. I have to admit, I'm a dispel spammer. I'll keep hitting my Dispel key until I hear the satisfied chime that says a debuff has been removed. In the Iron Council fight, if I knew a Fusion Punch is coming on the tank, I'd just keep slamming my dispel key (with my fastest dispel time being 0.213 seconds, I might add). I can't do that anymore, since dispel will fire off and be a waste of mana if my timing is off.

Lastly, Cleansing Totem played a big part in raid composition. All we had to do was make sure there was a shaman in every group to negate any nasty poisons or diseases. We don't have that option anymore.

What if we don't have a class that can dispel a certain type of debuff?

Tough luck, unfortunately. Either you've got the class to remove the debuff or you don't. If there isn't a druid or paladin around to remove it, then the other healers will have to overlay HoTs or shields or something on top to counteract the effects. I don't think it's that big of a deal to ensure that you have one of each healing class. Is it ideal? Yes. Is it possible to have a healing team that's missing one or two classes? Yes. Don't forget that encounters are being structured with these system changes in account.

It will be a new game healing game for everyone to learn, but we just have to wait and see. Don't worry, I'll be right there learning with the rest of you.

Want some more advice for working with the healers in your guild? Raid Rx has you covered with all there is to know! Need raid or guild healing advice? Email me at matticus@wow.com and you could see a future post addressing your question. Looking for less healer-centric raiding advice? Take a look at our raiding column, Ready Check.

Filed under: Priest, Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Raid Rx (Raid Healing)

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