Progression in WotLK – Is it still there?11/29/2009
Mmm, more thoughts on the state of healing from yours truly! I apologize in advance for so much “back in the day” thinking, but I’m a firm believer that you need to know your past to know where you’re going in the future.
A quick note about my own history before we get started here: I didn’t start healing until about the middle of Burning Crusade. Before that, I was all DPS all the time. So I have no experience as a Vanilla healer, only as DPS. So if I’m totally out to lunch on what gearing for Vanilla healing was like, you have my apologies.
In Vanilla, one of the most glaring things when it came to gearing, was that Blizzard itself really had no idea what it wanted people to go for. Generally, you just went for completing sets or focused on a single stat over all others. It wasn’t until around Naxxramas (don’t get me started on their reuse of that place) that Blizzard got it into their heads that certain stats were better for some than others.
When I first started healing on my paladin (my raiding group needed more healers), I was very lucky in that I started during a period of time where it was easy to distinguish good gearing practices from bad. Illumination was our main-stay for mana regeneration and healing was a different stat from spell damage. All I had to do as a new healer was to look up that I wanted +healing and critical strike rating. All speccing entailed was to copy the “cookie cutter” build that everyone used.
Being a beginner healer was -easy,- in so far as the not actually doing the healing part went. It wasn’t until you were more raiding savvy that any gearing questions really came up. At low levels, there was only The Way to Do It. It allowed me to focus on other things, more important things, like how to keep people alive on Shade of Aran. (Remember that one?! X_x) Theory crafting was considered a “hardcore raider” thing, especially with Sunwell and the sudden influx of haste. The move from using Flash of Light almost exclusively to Holy Light was almost a rite of passage for healadins.
Then came the Wrath of the Lich King, with Blizzard’s seeming dislike of there being any sort of The Way to Do It. The change over didn’t happen all at once, of course, but in small bits and at different rates for different classes. Healadins were really hit the hardest, since they truly were very “cookie cutter” based, having only one casting tree at all to choose points from. No longer can I say to a new healer that they need to get such-and-such stats to be able to keep people alive in New Naxxramas. Now it’s become a matter of “feelings.” Do you feel you have enough mana regen? Do you feel your heals are hitting fast enough? These questions were left to the more comfortable healadins to contemplate. Now those new to healing are thrown in head first to wallow in.
Blizzard has often said that they have made things so that healers have valid choices in how they want to heal. It is supposed to be more new healer friendly, since things aren’t set in stone; one can almost pick their gear at random so long as it follows a few basic rules and still heal just fine, it claims! The trouble is that the new healers who want to be -good- no longer have a clear path to follow. They must muddle through the best they can, sometimes getting lost in the wilderness.
Is it really elitist of me to want the process of being a good healer to have stages?