Progression in WotLK – Is it still there?


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?



  1. I would absolutely hate it if there were “The Way” to do it properly honestly. I want to have my own style, and pick things that work best for how I function. I like the variation and the customizability.

    When people ask me, I can provide them cookie cutter methods, gear progressions, talents, stats, etc that will be perfectly acceptable for a new healer.

    • Ah, but you see, in TBC there were still choices to be made. It was the timing of those choices during the line of progression that is what I’m emphasizing. A truly new healer, at least in my experience, has enough going on for them that having a multitude of valid choices all at the very beginning is more confusing than it’s worth. I field questions all the time from DPS who are switching to healing and the lack of cut-and-dry answers can be hard on them. With DPS, you take the spec that gives you the biggest damage. It’s very straight-forward. With healing, it’s wishy-washy.

      Priests have always had more wiggle room than healadins, just due to the fact that they are pure casters while paladins aren’t, but it is also less likely to have what I call the “true healing noobie.” It’s very hard to go from Ret or Enchancement to healing. 🙂

  2. I don’t see what it has to do with being elitist.

    Personally, I like that there isn’t a way to do it. I wouldn’t even enjoy healing if it was cookie cutter.

    That said, I think that there is a The Way for new holy paladins. When a new paladin asks me for advice, there is a spec and stats I would recommend over others. It’s not until you get deeper into end game, late Ulduar and ToGC that options open up and you have to really reflect on your playstyle to make decisions.

    • I have to argue against that, really. Right off the bat there are speccing options (51/17/3 or 51/5/15 or 51/0/20, etc.) and just looking at available iLevel 200 gear, there are so many choices in stats. You say that you recommend one way over another, but it’s still just a recommendation. What it turns into is “if you need throughput, you should stack haste, unless you are a Flash of Light build, in which case you want to go for crit more. If you have mana issues, gem for INT, but it’s okay to take MP5 on your gear, too, if you’re running out of mana.” How is this truly new person supposed to know these things? In TBC it was cut and dry. “You’re just starting Kara? You want to go for crit and +healing.”

      Again, this is for NEW HEALERS. It wouldn’t be boring for you because you’d be past that level.

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