(or, Why the Hell do I Have All Four Healing Classes??!?!)
Yep. It’s true. I finally have all four healing classes at max level. I’m still not sure why, exactly, but I do. As such, I feel the need to discuss some of the differences and such between them. This isn’t going to be a direct comparison between all the four classes and five specs, but more my own history and views on each. I feel that I’ve spent a lot of time recently giving out information, which I love to do, but haven’t spent a ton of time on me/my classes/my history, despite the whole “I hate my guild” post last week. So this is a fair amount of rambling about my history with my healers in the game. You’ve been warned. ;)
For those of you who don’t know, I started out playing WoW in October of 2005. I was a hunter. A male night elf hunter. I knew I wanted to be Alliance and I knew that I wanted to be a hunter, since I’ve always enjoyed ranged gameplay (Thief and arrows!) and I knew I wanted to be a male for two reasons:
1) I didn’t want to be treated any differently because I’m a woman. Having a male toon is the first step in blending in with a world that is, to this day, still dominated by males and their attitudes. Having spent a lot of time in online communities who would freak out (in a variety of ways) when a GIRL would open her mouth, I knew I wanted people to assume I was male.
2) The female night elves bounce as their idle animation. I knew I didn’t want to stare at a bouncing bimbo for the next however long I’d be playing. :P (Apologies, nelf ladies, but it’s true.)
I wasn’t bad at DPSing. I actually was pretty good and I enjoyed it. A lot, really. I loved being at range and was able to assist in raids easily or even lead them easily, back in the day. Granted, there was one time I was the main assist and I literally could not find the fourth sheep on Venoxis’ adds, but most of the time, I had a great view of everything. And there was even one night where I topped damage in Molten Core.
However, DPSing was getting dull. My days in WoW consisted of farming for my Beaststalker Helm (28 Gandling kills, thank you) and Beaststalker Tunic (I think the number was 58?) along with running out to Silithus to farm Essence of Air to make Mongoose Boots, which were my big seller as a leatherworker.
It was in the summer of 2006 that I started levelling my bank alt, a human female paladin, who was named Madrana. The name came from the fact that I was actually angry with my guild at the time for some reason, although it’s pronounced “Mah-DRAW-na” and not “MAD-rayna”. ;) I decided to level Madrana because I wanted to see how this hybrid class actually was when it came to healing and tanking. I already had a DPS toon with Kurn, so I didn’t really care to go ret. Besides, ret back in those days was laughable.
I tanked one run of Stocks on Madrana in my 20s and healed every single instance thereafter. I couldn’t stand being so close to the action and I didn’t like the focus on melee as a tank. So I went holy. I wore anything with intellect, cloth, leather, mail, plate. I crafted myself some of the Blue Dragon Mail set which were amazing pieces even back then. I stepped in to Zul’Gurub one night, long after we’d already cleared the instance for the first time, and though I was nervous as hell, I felt like this was what I was supposed to do. I really felt like I was supposed to heal. It came naturally to me although I was still more proficient on my hunter. So I went to more and more raids as my healer, leaving poor Kurn on the sidelines. But when you don’t have enough healers, you do what you can for the guild, right?
Although, if you wanted me to bubble pull Garr, I would often chicken out and beg another paladin to do it. ;)
When things blew up in my guild as the Burning Cruade came out, I levelled Kurn. And then Madrana. And then apped to a guild on Madrana. As a healer. In crappy greens with 800 spellpower, I got in and helped a guild clear through Curator (plus Chess, but no Aran) and got the first piece of T4 in that guild. The guild subsequently lost its entire first Kara team except for me and a rogue. They had been ninjaed by the top guild on the server.
At about this point, my buddies from my first guild were languishing in their current guild and we decided screw it, we’d set up our own guild together.
So Apotheosis was born and, since I was “uber geared” on Madrana, compared to Kurn, and since we had a healer shortage as per usual, I got to heal for, oh, all of Burning Crusade. So I healed. I was healing lead and raid lead and I healed. Everything. Kara, Gruul, Mag, SSC, TK, Hyjal, BT and even one sad night of Sunwell Plateau. :)
However, through BC, I was getting bored. I hated the instances and heroics back then. I just had no desire to go through and heal them, or even DPS them on Kurn. I levelled a mage and then got bored with her. And then I discovered one of my RL friends played WoW and had a shammy alt around 60.
Now, my brother had levelled a dwarf priest from 1-47 or so and then abandoned the poor thing. I had subsequently occasionally played the priest and gotten him to 62ish. I didn’t hate it. Holy was fun! Smite spam was fun! So I ninja transferred my brother’s priest to my account and to my friend’s server and we levelled together to 70. I healed and I had FUN healing as a holy priest. I went out of mana ridiculously quickly, but I still enjoyed the mobility of it, the concept of hots, the idea of group healers, the bouncing of PoM… It was great. I even joined a guild and raided Gruul’s a couple of times, even did some SSC with my friend’s friend’s guild. I had a lot of fun on the priest.
But then, that guild fell apart and my being GM/RL really took up a lot of my time so my time on the priest was really just me logging in to my friend’s server after my own raids. I’d mount up on my ram and do circles in Nagrand for ore and gas clouds and chat with my friend in a custom chat channel where, every 10 minutes or so, I’d see “WIPE!!!” while they were pushing through Sunwell. :)
At the start of Wrath, when my guild fell apart (yes, this is apparently a theme), I decided to level my shammy while raiding on my paladin on Bronzebeard. I made my shammy enhance/resto and she became my miner/herbalist to complement Madrana’s trade skills of jewelcrafting/alchemy. I healed almost all the instances I went to, particularly since dual spec came out just after I hit 40. But I didn’t go to a lot of dungeons. I spent a lot of time questing. It was just easy, being an OP class. Hell, any class where you can heal yourself mid-battle without issue is awesome. (Maelstrom Weapon procs FTMFW.)
And so the shammy hit 80 and is mostly in T9 resto gear. I haven’t put a lot of effort into her and I don’t play her much. She really is my farmer and I’ll do an occasional heroic or weekly raid on her, but doing five or six random heroics on separate toons is really just unmanageable at this point, especially when the queues for two of them are in excess of 12-15 minutes.
Still, I feel comfortable on the shaman. I am confident in my abilities to keep a tank up and I do okay on raid healing. Truth be told, raid healing is my weakness, which is silly when I have Chain Heal. I just don’t think to use it enough, because I’m hard-wired to spam Flash of Light on everyone who needs a quick heal. Overall, though, the shammy has the most similar playstyle to the paladin, which contributes to my comfort. I still reach for Divine Plea and Divine Shield, mind you, but mostly remember Mana Tide and Heroism. I’ve healed on the shammy in TOC10, 25 and ICC25 now and again, but mostly, she’s my farmer, like I said.
So at some point in Wrath, my brother decides he wants to make a return to the game. Not on his druid (stuck at level 60 for the rest of his days) or his rogue (I think he dinged him 71), but his hunter. His 19 twink hunter.
Well, I had a level 20 druid, so we got my brother over to my RL friend’s server (where my druid was) and we levelled together. Naturally, I levelled as feral and resto, so I could tank or heal anything. I have to say that though I’m not a huge fan of tanking in general, I really like tanking on the druid. 360 degree Swipe is totally OP. I also love the cooldowns. Survival Instincts, Barkskin, Frenzied Regeneration… all awesome.
But it was when our buddy Majik started levelling with us in the 70s on a DK tank that I really learned how to heal on a druid. I’m not awesome. I’m pretty much the weakest on the druid as compared to any other class, but the three of us had a BLAST tearing up instances together with the random dungeon finder. I’ve got my Clique bindings such that healing on my druid is almost as elegant as playing the piano. Alt-click, shift-click, etc, it’s beautiful. I really feel the elegance in playing a druid. They’re not the brute-force healing class that a paladin or even a shaman can be. They’re the “here, have a hot or four!” class that will sort of clean up after the mess of raid damage. I really do enjoy it, but my major weakness here is that I’m impatient. I won’t wait for my hots to tick. It’s something that comes from playing a paladin, I guess, where you can’t toss hots on everyone at half-health and then they’re like, all up at 85%+ six seconds later. As a paladin, you basically have to keep everyone topped off all of the time and rely on your ability to cast fast heals to heal people up after party-wide damage. So the major issue for me here is trusting that my hots are doing enough healing.
Then came the priest. My brother bored of his hunter (he’s geared well, too! The jerk!) and decided to level a paladin. Well, I decided that if he was going to level a paladin, I may as well level a priest. It’s not like I had a choice in doing another character — if my brother rolls one, I roll one too. It’s just How It Is. That’s how my mage came to be, to be honest, rolled alongside my brother’s warrior, which he subsequently abandoned.
With my brother intent on DPSing and tanking, I decided to heal as disc, since I’d already had a smattering of experience as holy on my brother’s priest (which I returned to him on our original server prior to Wrath). The tank/healer combination ensured virtual instant queues for us anytime we queued for a random dungeon, which is great. It’s how we levelled. My brother learned how to tank and I learned how to heal by, er, not healing. Shield, shield, shield, shield, shield. Renew. Shield. Done. Things got a little more complicated when my brother got Spiritual Attunement and before he got Divine Plea, so I just stopped shielding him to begin with, since I didn’t have Rapture yet, and that worked a lot better.
My biggest issue with healing as a priest, at least as disc, is the lack of Circle of Healing. I loved that as holy in BC, though it’s true, there was no cooldown. ;) But really, it’s about getting a lot of people up to full health quickly. I’m not a good priest yet. I save Power Infusion for myself for OH SHIT moments where I need to spam Prayer of Healing. I am much better at keeping POM up, too, thanks to POM Tracker and my Grid shows me PW:S and Weakened Soul and Renews and things like Pain Suppression/etc. But I’m not awesome and I probably won’t be awesome, because the priest is just so different from the paladin.
It’s so much more mobile. It’s about mitigating damage more than healing, which is so weird and alien to me. Still, I know that, without a doubt, I am better than approximately 87% of the WoW players out there. :P
So, 2000 words into this post, we get to the point of it.
The shaman is the most similar class in terms of mobility to the paladin, which is why I am so comfortable with it. You stand. You cast. If you move, you hit your instant Riptide which is on, surprise, the same cooldown as a paladin’s Holy Shock.
Druids are still foreign to me and I cannot get out of the paladin/shaman mindset of letting hots do their jobs. Three seconds per tick of Rejuvenation? REALLY? I mean, barring Glyph of Rapid Rejuvenation. But seriously. That’s a long-ass time.
Priests, both healing specs, are interesting. They have direct heals. They have a hot. But they both provide mitigation (albeit a holy priest’s PW:S is pretty weaksauce) and cooldowns. It’s a whole new dynamic to play with. I CAN spam Flash Heal like I would have spammed Flash of Light, once upon a time, but I have so many other tools. POM, Renew, PW:S, Binding Heal even. Like, really. A built-in self-beacon? How awesome. I vaguely remember casting this a couple of times on my brother’s priest. And Desperate Prayer is just hacks. I love that it’s a talent and no longer limited to a dwarven racial.
Really, it’s weird, but the more I think about it, the more it’s the vast utility priests can bring that really attracts me to the class. Extra stam, extra spirit, shadow resistance, mitigation, hots, direct heals, passive heals (POM), group heals (POH) and cooldowns. I mean, how awesome is it when someone gets Harvest Soul on Lich King and a holy priest slaps Guardian Spirit on them, it doesn’t get consumed (but helps keep them up) and then is usable again on the next Harvest Soul? Beauty, I tell you. And Pain Suppression is just completely overpowered.
Granted, they wear the equivalent of wet toilet paper as armor and, coming from wearing plate and mail, with an invulnerable shield, that’s hard to swallow. There is nothing worse than praying for Weakened Soul to finish on you so you can cast another shield on yourself when you’re taking lots of damage.
I think it’s the challenge of playing a priest well that has kept me playing the priest and got me to 80. I’ve been a healing lead in three separate guilds this expansion — Apotheosis, my Bronzebeard guild and temporarily in my current guild — and I THINK I know what I’m doing with priests, shammies and druids, but it’s one thing to know the theory behind the class and it’s another to know how to play the class. I think that having played each class has really expanded my knowledge of each of their abilities by a fair amount and has let me assign them more efficiently.
Obviously, I’m not done yet, since the priest is still a wee baby 80, but I do plan to dual disc/holy and play around with that a bit in VOAs and weeklies and the like. As soon as my gear doesn’t totally SUCK.
And now I feel better, having explained to you guys (but mostly myself) why, precisely, I have four healers.