Monday, September 13, 2010

Prayer of Mending is a dumb heal.

I’ve been playing my Priest again. I feel silly for not twigging earlier to the fact that she’s another toon I’ve got that loses nothing in progressing now rather than waiting for Cata. So I’ve been getting a feel for the Discipline spec as I level through the dungeon finder, and at the moment enjoying the hell out of it.

Similar to how a warrior tanks, I love the way this very CD-focused spec forces you to actually think about what buttons to press in what situation, rather than just using the same two spells 90% of the time. Though I have to admit, Prayer of Mending is a distinct disappointment after being spoiled by Shaman smart heals.

While Priest is as of right now the only class I haven’t healed with at endgame, I’ve never found raid healing to be terribly satisfying to play. When you DPS, you get a visceral image of your character smacking the boss with all his might, and you have that wonderful number at the end to gauge your impact on the fight. Of course a smart raider understands that parts of that damage, for instance damage to adds, is “high priority” damage and will take this into account when judging their own performance.

When you heal, again you get that big number, but unlike DPS, “high priority” healing is not something you can monitor with an add-on, and it can be very hard to understand whether your healing contribution even mattered to the fight. This is especially true of druids, the first healing class I tried. Trees have always rocked the meters, but I am fairly confident to assume that a large proportion of their total healing will inevitably be supplementary -- topping people off who are in no immediate danger of death at the time your healing is done to them. For me at least [this goes back to what I was talking about in my last post], once I lose the sense that I’m actually impacting the outcome, the sense of challenge becomes very hard to maintain, and following that goes the fun.

I’m extremely optimistic, though, about what the healing game is going to look like in Cataclysm. When I was healing Heroics on my druid, not long after hitting 80, I found immense fun in the game of trying to be as mana-efficient as possible, playing to the class’ strengths by anticipating incoming damage with the appropriate HoTs. Of course this was all unnecessary because it soon became apparent that mana-efficiency wasn’t going to be an issue in this expansion. In Cata, they promise, we’ll all be forced to play like this. They’re giving me exactly the game I want to play.

So I’m pondering, assuming I don’t lose interest in my priest before I get her to 80, whether she might be an excellent choice to finally give raid healing a proper try.

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