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Is Cataclysm Raiding Burning Out Healers?


Healing is tough in Cataclysm, so much so that beyond just heroics, healers have a much higher responsibility in raids to handle raid wide damage, large spike damage on tanks, but also now managing their own mana at a much more micro level than ever before.

Healers not only need to perform triage and figure out who they can heal at this current moment vs. who can wait for a few more moments but they have to worry about which spell do I need to cast right now to keep people alive without depleting my mana at an exponential level.

Fact is with the new pressures in heroics and then bumped up to much higher level of difficulty come the new Cataclysms raids.  The question is, is the new raiding difficulty along with the changes in healing burning out healers?

Except for the most hardcore of healers, I tend to see the healing, while challenging, is driving many healers to try DPS or even quit raiding all together.  In Burning Crusade then even in Wrath of the Lich King, raid healers were given a bit of a reprieve.  While mana was an issue in Burning Crusade, then not so much in Lich King, it prompted healers to almost slack off a bit.  It even lent the opportunity for many players to try out healing, however Cataclysm has been much less forgiving on healers.

Tanks got the vengeance buff to help with threat, DPS is same old hat.  But in an effort to make healing more fun, Blizzard decided to make mana matter more to the point where you had to triage.  However even with triage, healers are still  burning through mana.  Which I have seen first hand and talked to many people this winds up starting a fight between DPS blaming healers for not keeping them or the tank up.  Then the healers blame the DPS for either not pulling their weight or standing in the bad.

Now of course there are many healers out there who are enjoying the challenge instead of the heal spam that Lich King was.  But many others are not, there are posts after posts on the Blizzard forums raising concerns that healing is too difficult, not fun, etc.  Is Blizzard making raiding too hard on the healers, especially the normal mode or entry level raids?  Especially early fights where people are still not getting many epics to assist making the encounters easier?  Many think it is too difficult in its current implementation.  Though many healers I have talked have also said they like the idea of triage and making mana matter, but the pendulum from Lich King to Cataclysm swung too far on the difficulty side.

Almost every guild on my server is recruiting healers.  Talking to friends on other servers, sounds like my server is not the only one.  All of a sudden healers are disappearing from the raiding ranks.  Could it be healers prefer the Lich King style of heal spam?  I don’t think that’s it to be honest, I really think that Blizzard made mana management too difficult.  I think that if they reduce the cost of all spells across the board by a certain amount, or increase the potency of those spells, healers may not be getting as frustrated as they are currently.  Is it that healers aren’t being recognized by their raiding teammates and as a result feel undervalued?

As a healer what would make this expansion more fun for you?  As a raid leader do you find yourself dealing with disputes between healers and others, or even healers quitting or needing breaks?

21 Comments on Is Cataclysm Raiding Burning Out Healers?

  1. There’s a difference between being harder and the perception of being harder. There is no disputing that even the worst player could play a healer in wrath. It took very little knowledge because there was no reason to understand the class, to manage mana, or choose the right tools – you could slam your face on the keyboard, and win. And because of it being so simple, there was very little incentive for DPS or tanks to pay attention to what THEY were doing – simply pull it all and AoE down. How boring.

    Now you have to play smart, and I will TOTALLY disagree with you that it’s business as usual for tanks and healers. Mana management is not too difficult- however it doesn’t become apparent until other members of your team realize it’s NOT business as usual. Watching positioning, using cooldowns, assisting properly, utilizing CC, understanding mechanics…when all these things fall into place, things work like a well oiled machine.

    However, when they don’t, it’s a disaster. And unfortunately, usually the first finger is pointed at the healer. It sucks. I saw it a TON when Cata was released. It wasn’t the DPS fault they stood in fire, or the tank pulled 3 groups with no CC, or didn’t bother to stop for your mana; all were met with a “WTF HEALS????” And the same goes in raids – when interrupts are done right, positions are done properly, mechanics are observed, dps use bandages and warlock cookies and move out of bad shit rather than get that last cast off, it’s smooth like butter. I can tell you from first hand experience that when a fight clicks, it’s not much of a mana strain. But no one wants to play the game to constantly fail, much less have the blame fall to them.

    We do not have the mana to babysit the entire group or raid like we did in wrath. And we’re not supposed to. And I have already seen major attitude adjustments when I do venture out in pugs. As more and more people become accountable, and treat raid and dungeons like TEAM sports, the easier it gets. However, if people just show up, unprepared and expect loot, it’s going to be a frustrating experience for any healer.

    • Ceraphus

      @avalonna,I do agree to an extent with the its not business as usual, but, tanking and dps for the most part haven’t changed, sure they need to be more aware of the situation but they haven’t gone through the development iteration that healers have gone through.

      So the the point I bring up that healers are getting burned out, perhaps its some healers perception that encounters are too difficult as they are, or their spells/mana isn’t where it needs to be.

      And to your point if it truly is the dps or tanks doing something wrong, which I don’t disagree 9 times out of 10 it probably is, I think instead of throwing in the towel or getting frustrated a constructive conversation needs to be had with the raid leader on how to improve the situation.

      I am lucky in that my healers come to me with those types of suggestions and maybe its why my guild’s healers aren’t burning out like others I am seeing? Not sure but maybe its part of it.

  2. Mconniff

    Not sure about your server but I have noticed more than normal number of Shadow Priests? I am new to the Shadow realm in addition have found myself slipping into Shadow just to do my dailies. It is much faster. I get more whispers asking “Are you Disc or Shadow?” When I tell them I am Holy I am usually told they found someone else. Which I don’t mind but healing has gotten more difficult. Mana management isn’t pretty and sometimes you have to make a difficult decision of who gets healed and who doesn’t. Personally I don’t Pug anymore. If I don’t get a group from the Guild I am in. I can wait. Gives me time to go fishing.

    • Ceraphus

      @Mconniff, you aren’t the only healer who feels that way, many of my guild’s healers won’t heal for PUGs, because they don’t want to deal with stupidity, and know they are getting quality when they run in guild. Of course this also leads to the LFD tool becoming more worthless.

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  4. Actually, I think healing is perfectly fine in heroics and entry-level raids. As it stands, our guild has *too many* healers, and not enough tanks for us to actually do the 10-man raiding we’d intended to do at the beginning of Cataclysm, which is actually a shame, I prefer 10-man raiding vastly over 25-man for a variety of reasons.

    As for whether it is too difficult, I don’t believe so. All in all, I feel it’s about the same as BC, perhaps a bit more on the difficult side, which is perfectly fine. Raids aren’t meant to be easy. For that matter, neither are heroics. It would be all too simple to make raiding as easy (well, as much as you can call it “easy”) as it was in Wrath, and personally, that’s something I’d be more than happy to avoid. Rather than have people get two-shotted by unavoidable mechanics, it should be possible to keep a semblance of difficulty without having to spam heal as we did in Wrath. The problem there was that there *wasn’t* a way to avoid mechanics that could kill you if you didn’t get heals *RIGHT NOW.* It’s a new dynamic, and I personally like it.

    When I play as DPS, though, it also gives me an opportunity to see the other side of the coin – and really, it just means taking a little bit more responsibility than I would have otherwise. In comparison to most other DPS in Wrath, though, I was generally more conscious of Bad Stuff™ when I needed to be. While true that healing has become more difficult, it’s not impossible, and it’s not “too hard,” either. Not by a long shot.

    • Ceraphus

      @Tomaj, I agree with you on many points, I hope they don’t nerf the raids to wrath levels, I personally like the challenge. I just think that the overall perception many healers have, at least from my experience, and honestly wish I had your guild’s problem of too many healers, is that healing has become a lot harder, but as avalonna said, its a lot of times dps and tanks not understanding the mechanics and the healers forced to babysit the group, which isn’t fair.

  5. Logan1275

    I will agree that Heroics are MUCH harder to heal, and pugging is not easy to say the least.

    The LFD tool left such a bad taste in my mouth with getting kicked, as a Resto shaman with 333 gear, in all slots, and stil having issues healing certain bosses, that I went DPS till I was 346 halfway in my gear.

    And how dare you every critcize a DPS for breaking your hex, immediately after the pull, that was just not the right thing to ever do. Especially when they have not completed the instance and you have, cause your experience means nothing.

  6. That’s the thing though….DPS and tanks having to pay more attention IS new and not business as usual. Same with using CC. All while learning their new talents and learning to be responsible for their own health That’s a lot of .And some people don’t realize it.

    You’re correct in my point:9/10 times it is the tank or DPS doing something wrong. But the finger pointing goes to the healer, because we’ve ALWAYS compensated for stupidity. Now we can’t.

  7. On the one hand some healing classes changed so much in which heals you use when that the healers have given up because they don’t want to have to relearn their class. It’s not so much burnout as it is a huge change that people don’t want to deal with. Not that they can’t with just a little bit of practice, it’s a matter of desire and discouragement.

    As Ava pointed out, the mana issues really aren’t all that bad as long as people are doing what they’re supposed to. Standing in bad is still very high on my list of things I see people doing wrong. Next up is melee DPS standing in front of their targets and getting hit with frontal cones or cleaves. The next things is definitely the CC vs AoE issue where many people who do know how to cast their CC in the first place don’t know how to reapply it, and the people who have AoE are so used to casting it that they don’t even think about the fact that they might be removing CC by doing so.

    The first healing I did in Cataclysm was on my Druid in the CoC quest chain in TH. The first time I did it we used a Warlock pet as our tank because we couldn’t find one. The only problem I had there was people standing in the fire on the last boss. The second healing I did was also in CoC, this time with a Hunter pet as the tank. Basically the same situation here. The third was yet another CoC, this time with a Paladin tank and we had no issues at all. I never had any mana issues in those three either, it all flowed pretty well.

    The next bit of healing I did was in a 12 man raid against the elite rare spawn in Mount Hyjal (the rock elemental boss from MC) where we spent almost 2 hours trying to take him down. Healing it wasn’t really a problem as long as people got out of his AoE, but mana issues were everywhere because of how long the fight took. On our last attempt though, with me and one other Druid healer things just clicked on the mana front and I got a real feel for what spells to cast and when. Up to that point our pattern was to have one of us drop into travel form and run until we left combat to drink to restore mana and we just traded off. On the last attempt I didn’t drink once while the other Druid ran out 4 times. I hadn’t run a single dungeon on that character, and he was already chaining heroics and had far superior gear.

    So I’d go back to my original point that while mana is an issue, it’s not really the root of the problem from my perspective. I think it’s more related to people having to break old habits and relearn their class. By having to use heals with longer cast times the game of healing has changed so that sometimes you have to decide which target gets to live and which one has to die, and some people just don’t like being pressured into making that kind of decision.
    Psynister´s last blog post ..Professions Leveling- Jewelcrafting 1-525

  8. Since I forgot to point it out above, the thing with healers not wanting to relearn their class isn’t just an assumption or a perception on my part, I’ve talked to several healers on twitter and in-game in my guild who have completely given up on their healers who used to be their mains in some cases simply because they don’t like having to relearn the class, or because in relearning the class they no longer feel a desire to play it because it’s changed so much.
    Psynister´s last blog post ..Professions Leveling- Jewelcrafting 1-525

    • Ceraphus

      @Psynister, Excellent points Psynister, the fact that healing changed so much, that some healers just didn’t want to deal with that change is a very real possibility I guess I didn’t really consider, as mostly playing a DK my rotation, talents and general game mechanics change from patch to patch so I am used to that change.

      I suppose part of this is how healers deal with that change in how to play, in addition to the other points made.

  9. I think there is a combination of serveral factors which have been mentioned here.

    When Cata launched, we had so many people in our guild saying that they wanted to heal, I was afraid we would not have spots for them in raid. I estimate 10+ people saying they wanted to heal. I encouraged all to make sure they had a viable off-specs

    Then mana cost. And the classes worked very differently, slowly costing more and healing less as we leveled to 85. And many got badly burned in pugs. So now, I am down to 3 in the guild. Yes 3 declared healers for raids. Some are still waffling, but others have been playing dps off-specs only or dropped their characters in favor of others.

    Yes, it is / was hard to relearn a class , but that’s cool. It is interesting to actually pull the heal back on my tool bar and master a large spell set and use them all. But it seems that weaker heals and the costs for mana double penalize healers. I know the stress level for those healing has increased for us. I’m not sure I’d call that ‘fun’. 🙂 My hope is that the tweaks for the next patch help a bit.

    Otherwise, in the current climate, healers for all of these reasons, will continue to abandon ship.
    Ttrinity´s last blog post ..Great Balls of Fire- WoWShot 1

  10. I think that everyone is missing out on two groups of people, which have the possibility of making up a large portion of the healers. Those two groups are off-spec healers and people that heal on alt characters.

    Personally, as an off-spec healer myself, I simply hadn’t picked up enough, or the right kind of gear where I felt comfortable healing in instances. In fact, I still don’t feel comfortable with healing heroics, simply because I haven’t had enough time spent healing to re-learn the mechanics properly. So, I have simply avoided healing to an extent.

    As for the alt characters, that are healers, I just think that people haven’t picked up enough of their alt toons, or geared them enough to be useful in heroics or raids (which happens to be the case with my tank right now…he’s sitting at 84, making appearances for JC dailies & weekend leveling).

    Regardless, I have a feeling that after 4.0.6 hits, that in the next 2 months, you will begin to see more and more healers around, simply because people will have had a bit more time to gear up off-specs/alts/etc.

    Remember, not everyone is at the point of raiding right now, many people are simply still trying to get there yet.
    Spazmoosifer´s last blog post ..DoT &amp HoT Haste Calculation Made Easy

  11. Now, I haven’t healed any heroics or raids yet, but the changes in healing have been jarring, to say the least.

    I think that the mana management issue is one thing; I know I’m having problems healing just because shaman have many more healing tools than they used to, and it’s hard to keep my mind on these things.

    Also, with the high health pools, it’s really saddening to see your strongest heal barely get the tank to the level you wanted them at, and then you -know- that if you do it again your mana will be pretty much spent for the fight. It didn’t seem so bad when I was level 80 and I was experimenting with the new spells – but that’s because my health was lower. By the time I got to 84, I noticed that the biggest heals were not as effective as they were before.

    I wouldn’t object to all of the healing spells having a little more oomph, but it’s probably still a little bit too early to be calling for those changes right now, as people get more comfortable to healing.

    On a side note, I know one person in my guild who has abandoned his shaman healer due to the changes to healing (commenting about how chain heal is no longer effective, etc), and has turned to tanking instead.
    Mishaweha´s last blog post ..2010 In Review

  12. Torjak

    The experience of healing is much harder, because in wrath the only way to fail was not clicking fast enough, or gear was insufficient (a big simplification)

    Having done most of normal mode raids, I can say that healing is harder, but not overhard – IF AND ONLY IF – everyone else executes properly. If they don’t, however good a healer you are is only going to make a limited difference.

    The experience of starting heroics, and pugging them is hard not because healing is hard, but more because people refuse to acknowledge the new reality.

    If you are not in an active guild with people who have adjusted to the new reality, then clawing your way up through LFG would be demoralising for every healer. As for building rosters/depth in a guild, there must be an element of training for people, especially those who are just starting to heal, which means understanding tanks and dps in hcs who go through full cc and cds to ease people into it.

  13. None of the dedicated healers in my guild have switched specs and none of them have complained about healing being hard.

    Healing in Cata has been a slight adjustment from healing in Wrath… but then again not really. I have only added one new heal to my bar that wasn’t there in Wrath, but my basic spell usage hasn’t changed. The only thing that has changed is that now when I cast a heal I actually see that blue bar go down a little.

    I have to agree with some of the other commenters that for tanks and DPS it is not business as usual. I remember saying to tanks and DPS during Wrath “Just stay in it, I’d rather just heal you”. Now if they stay in it they die before I have a chance to react.

    Leveling from 80 to 85 and healing normal dungeons I didn’t really notice much of a difference. When I started healing heroics I would have to drink every two pulls but I had the resources to do my job. After gaining only 10 ilevels I didn’t have to stop to drink anymore and rejuv kept everyone up (assuming they were also doing their jobs). Since I have been raiding I haven’t had any mana issues that weren’t easily solved with better cooldown management.

    Ultimately the only thing that has changed from Cata to Wrath is that now everyone in a group is required to think in order to be successful as opposed to one decent player being able to make up for everyone else’s poor performance. Judging from what I have encountered in the LFD, for most people, thinking is what is too hard.

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  15. Hey there Ceraphus,

    I’m going to try really hard not to echo too many sentiments that were already laid out here. If I do, I apologize in advance.

    I have to say that I don’t feel a lot of pity for what most healers are going through, at this point. As I mentioned in my most recent post, most of the QQ is being done by healers who haven’t even begun to do their part towards being raid ready and they are placing all the emphasis on Blizz for ruining them and the tanks and DPS for making their jobs harder. I would take the complaints more seriously if the healers in question didn’t appear to be in such poor shape, themselves. If I can’t look at your Armory page and take you seriously, how am I supposed to take your issues seriously?

    I think another reason that I tend to feel less pity than before is because, let’s face it, we did this to ourselves. I was guilty of it, too. Healers were all too happy to place themselves in those tiny little boxes that Blizz laid out for us in Wrath (i.e. paladins and the int stacking, druids and the Rejuv blanketing) and most of us didn’t bother to challenge ourselves or to demand more out of our characters. Blizz knows what’s happening in their game. If they see people following disturbing trends, they’re going to do something about it and they did.

    Those of us that were tired of being robots and doing the same thing every night were happy about the changes and wanted more for ourselves. Those that were happy being in that rut and were happy falling into the role that they thought they were meant for are now crying foul. I think it’s a neat form of natural selection, to be honest. Those who really love to heal and really wanted it were willing to take the changes in stride and be better. Those that were along for the free ride that can come with being a healer and the privilege were upset they have to actually, ya know, work now.

    I can honestly say that I know only one healer in my entire immediate circle that stopped being a healer and that’s because she left the game in general, due to the changes of the game at large. Everyone else I know who was a healer from previous expansions has remained a healer and is excelling at it, including myself.

    Great post, otherwise and thanks for listening!

    🙂
    Oestrus´s last blog post ..What’s Killing Your Mages

  16. Batmunkh

    Just my observation, as a raid leader, but I’ve found that a lot of healers, tanks, and even DPS are finding that frankly there is no “wiggle” room to speak of in Cata raiding compared to Wrath or even BC. In Cataclysm it seems you are either the well oiled Corvette raking in the loot or you’re hitting a brick wall of wipes.
    Now, there have always been challenges for the Hardcore raider in WOW, even in Wrath- many hard modes took a great deal of work to complete. And that was the point of hard modes/ heroic modes, to give the hardcore raiders something difficult to work for. The point is that even in Wrath there were challenges available.
    In Cataclysm, things ARE harder. Too hard though? In my opinion I think that the casual raider could use more ”wiggle” room. I mean, as a raid leader even if I always want 100% out of my raiders, there are going to be times when people die. And that’s because people don’t pump out perfect execution on encounters 100% of the time. Hell, Raid Leaders would LEAP for joy if their Raiders performed perfectly on encounters 50% of the time.
    Now this doesn’t mean you nerf the tar out of the encounters or inflate abilities into the stratosphere. But i think it should mean if you don’t perform perfectly your shot of beating an encounter doesn’t fly out the window. It’s a hard balance to strike but an important one.

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