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I think the biggest question on the mind of everyone is how badly patch 4.0.1 will affect healing and raiding at level 80. The last major transition period was the month leading up to Wrath of the Lich King. I remember players were panicking and worried. Why? Because they were unsure, and they didn't know what was going to happen. As such, that's going to be the way here again -- although, to be fair, the entire healing model is changing to something that most of us may not be used to at all. I figure that healers who spent the early part of the game working with downranked spells might have a slight advantage over those who haven't, but it'll be easy to pick up. I remember using rank 3, rank 5 and rank 7 Greater Heal. Now multiply that by the different Flash Heals.
Trust me, it won't get that hectic.
The first thing you want to keep in mind is that everything is being balanced around level 85, not level 80. We're only going to be level 80 fo a few weeks, anyway, before the expansion goes live. Among other changes, you may notice that health pools and mana pools have increased. Yet despite these increases, you may also have heard that some players are having difficulty getting past the first trash. That's actually unintentional, according to Daelo:
In other words, don't stress over it.
Other than that, any questions about not knowing how to heal or running out of mana or being unable to adapt to the new game? Unfortunately, I can't help you.
I'm probably in the same shoes as you. Beta experience helps a little, but that might not be applicable here. There are just too many unknowns. I know there are probably a number of you who are still working on Lich King or other heroic bosses. I think these changes might end up making the job easier and putting you and your raids over the top. I can only draw on my experiences when I transitioned from classic to The Burning Crusade and from The Burning Crusade to Wrath. Encounters and mechanics were adjusted accordingly. I wouldn't be surprised to see a similar change come in the weeks leading up to the release of the expansion.
With that being said, I do have some advice.
Sniff out the new talents
Scout out those talents carefully! All your talent points will be resetting, anyway. Take your time and read through everything carefully before investing them. My respec costs on the beta rose higher than the cap that's currently live in the game right now. I'm not sure if that was intentional or not. Either way, the new talent trees should be fun to mess with!
Readjust your gems
The first thing I noticed when I logged on the test realms is that my Runed Cardinal Rubies instantly converted to 20 intellect gems. You may wish to convert any gems that are out of place into something useful. Remember the stat changes! Spellpower gems aren't something you can get anymore. Intellect automatically converts into spellpower for you. If you find yourself needing more mana regeneration, invest in a few spirit gems. That is now the main go-to stat for regeneration.
Pay attention to the basics
So I mentioned a little earlier in the piece about the increase to health and mana. Don't rely on that to be a crutch. No matter how much health or mana you have, standing in Defile is still going to destroy you. You still need to run out of fires, stay out of void zones and avoid getting cleaved by stuff. Pay attention. It isn't the weapon swings of the boss that are going to crush your group. It will be the shadow priest who got pulled into the middle and couldn't avoid the explosion or run out fast enough.
Yeah that's right! A shadow priest (although really, it could be any class).
Manage your mana
I have no way to know what to expect. I hustled my way from 80 to 85 and jumped into instances when I had the chance. You can't simulate the environment of a raid from a normal 5-man instance. All I can provide is the "no, duh!" answer of guessing and checking. Keep healing however you see fit, but make adjustments on the fly. Obviously, if you're draining your mana, ease off the gas for a while. You still have potions and cooldowns to use, right? I know you may not have had to use them in a while.
Should you use Heal?
Last I checked, no. That particular healing model is supposed to kick in once we all hit 85. Stick to your normal spell usages for now. Unless they throw us a curve ball, I don't expect that to start using our new and efficient heal.
If you wanted to summarize everything, I can easily do it in three words: I don't know. The numbers are being changed so often that by the time I can write something conclusively, it would be outdated anyway (or incorrect). But I do think that things won't be as terrible as some players are calling it.
Need advice on working with the healers in your guild? Raid Rx has you covered. Send your questions about raid healing to firstname.lastname@example.org. For less healer-centric raiding advice, visit Ready Check, and don't miss our strategy guides to Icecrown Citadel and Halion/the Ruby Sanctum.