Some interesting info in the newest Healing Blog from Blizz as a intro to what to expect in WoD. Some of it expected (nerf shields), some of it not (add cast times to things like Light of Dawn/Eternal Flame), and some of it we have heard before (make triage important, have players less than 100% most of the time). It is very early to speculate what actually hits WoD Beta and then what will go live. There will be changes but the general ideology seems to be balance PvP, PvE, and gear progression healing. I think this is a good thing. The change in power from PvP to PvE is stark, the change in healing from opening expansion tier to end tier is silly. Our general healing mechanics shouldn’t change so much between all of them. Coupled with 6 healing specs to balance these changes lead to constant balance tweaks and invariably wildly overpowered classes. Helping smooth out how scaling effects our healing will be good for everyone. At least that is my take on what they want to do, but it is also what I am hoping they mean…
Rather than speculate on “this is a huge nerf to pallies” I want to share my thoughts on what I would like to see happen to the pally class. The goal is to make it the spec fun, the power of our spells would have to be balanced with everyone else, but these are my thoughts on what would make the class more fun to play:
1. WoG turns into Eternal Flame for Holy:
Casting WoG is a giant let down. It is just another version of Divine Light (to be Holy Light now). It is free, yes, but it will now have a cast time in WoD and takes considerable time to generate. The choice between LoD and WoG is not a fun one. Since we can’t sit on our Holy Power we are forced to cast a large heal when it may not be needed with the consolation our mastery shield might get used. So right now if you aren’t EF you just cast LoD to spam raid heals and put up shields. I would like us to have to choose between a HoT and a strong AoE heal. If both put out similar output when over-heal is minimized then it becomes an interesting choice between the heals. Makes for a better tool kit and more interesting play. I think this is particularly important if they truly make healing a game where we have a single target heal we spam as filler, it will make for a clear differentiation between Holy Light and our HP finisher. This would mean a new talent to compete with Selfless Healer and Sacred Shield and highlights the problems with the talent system that tries to balance 3 specs with 3 talents. They are likely going to do so much differentiation from spec to spec for each talent it is going to be almost like our old talents where each spec had its own tree! But it is still consolidated over the old model!
2. Tune our finishers properly:
This has everything to do with holy power generation and tier scaling. The Healing Blog post makes several mentions about making entry tier healing less of a mana slug fest with poor healing spell choices and more like a healing rotation where you have stuff to do. What I would like to see is our holy power generation be more standardized and not tied to mana expense. Right now we have lots of regen and can use Holy Radiance to generate HP outside of the Holy Shock CD. So we are always working toward our next 3HP finisher. But those with poor gear/regen are stuck using mostly Holy Shock and casting far fewer 3HP finishers. There is nothing fun about that. There is no reason the whole play style should change so much based on gear where more gear makes it more fun. The contrast would have been more stark from T14 to T16 if it wasn’t for t14 4pc lowering Holy Shock to 4sec. Blizzard has been pretty clear they want fun game play from entry max level play all the way to BiS and a holy paladin in 463 plays like crap compared to 574. You should be more powerful at 574 yes, use more expensive heals, but it shouldn’t change the foundation of our healing set which is generating and using Holy Power. Unless they want our HP finishers to be our “increase in power” but that makes for boring play at lower levels. Not a good way of throttling power imo.
Thus there are 2 possible paths. One is to make lots of HP generating options. Make holy light generate holy power. We will have quick HP generation and lots of EF/LOD’s to go around. Blizz can just balance us based around more frequent use of these spells. To me this is the most fun option. Generating HP and using it is fun, lets have more of that. What makes or breaks this is use of Beacon. If you have to cast Holy Light on Beacon to generate HP it would be nice if tanks needed healing again. This is a whole different topic but important for balance. Would be nice if keeping the tank up was something healers still did.
The other path is to plan on only getting HP from HS and slow our generation down. To balance this we would need super powerful finishers. Powerful finishers are nice, but having them less often is a bummer. Personally I would rather have them more often then use my CD’s to up my output. But what would be important here is when you are BiS in WoD at the end of the tier, your Holy Power generation should only scale up with a stat like Haste and not because you can start using a whole new spell frequent and often to get more HP. Because then you have boring play to start and fun to finish. Lets keep it fun start to finish. Since I like to have math in my blog here is my example:
T14 w/o 4pc tier or pvp which messed up balance (but bridged boring game play):
1 HP every 6 sec. Unable to use Holy Radiance regularly due to mana issues. 3HP finisher every 18 seconds.
T16: HS-HR-HR rotation becomes viable (with legendary meta). 3 HP Finisher every 5.54 seconds.
Change from T14 to T16 -> 325% more HP finishers at the end of the expansion!
3. A viable way to DPS:
The last thing (for now) I want to see is a way to DPS. With Challenge Modes, Proving Grounds, and in any progression fight with a hard dps check DPS from healers is here to stay AND POWERFUL (unless they end atonement). To balance all this content all healers need a decent way to dps. The rotations can be simple and scale off just spell power. This will keep the classes in line with each other. For them to work they have to be mana neutral, or even mana positive. Give us, and everyone else a way to do damage with a 1-1-1-2 like rotation. Each class can have a different bonus to dpsing. Shaman can lower a CD, Druid can increase a HoT duration, Pallies can get a healing/damage boost to Holy Shock. Something mildly interesting, easy to balance, useful and provide a way for very skilled players to add more to the raid, but not penalize new players for not yet mastering the balance between DPS and HPS. Adds complexity without adding difficulty. And doing damage during a burn is fun!! I really hope early progression fights and Challenge Mode group leaders will no longer shay away from non dps healing classes because they all can do it at least a little.
Those are my thoughts for now and I look forward to Beta to start theory crafting our new spells, talents, and itemizations!