Friday, October 19, 2007

Healer Classes Defined

Last night, we had a very difficult time with Shade of Aran. In the transition, we lost a lot of healers. And for various reasons (Internet/computer went down for days, RL issues, etc), we have been extremely limited on our healing this week. For healing, we had an undergeared shaman, a moderately geared shaman, and a moderetly geared paladin. We oddly enough had some huge issues with the Flame Wreath. Why anyone was moving when everyone knows that fight and has done it successfully on multiple occasions is beyond me.

So, I thought I'd take a moment today to talk about the different types of healers and how they function, or at least how I understand they heal. I'll be making some over simplifications, but feel free to correct me if I'm flat out wrong. I won't go into the buffs that each brings to a group; that's beyond the scope of this post, but is a good discussion for the future.

This class is the king (or queen) of the Heal-Over-Time spells (HoTs). With the proper spell rotation, they can keep HoTs up on 3 people at a time. Their spells are generally quick casting, if not instant-cast, but they do not have strong direct heal spells. Because of the quick casting times, they can generally be mobile, but have the disadvantage that in Treant form, they move slower. Having a resto druid can help keep a tank up during periods of mass silence. They also have Innervate that can replenish mana for themselves or any target they choose. Also, they have a Tranquility which is an AoE heal but is on a 10-minute cooldown timer. As a warlock does damage, a druid does heals.

King of the direct heals. For the most part, paladin spells take time to cast. They do have the intant-cast Lay on Hands which replenishes health up to the maximum health of the caster, but it's on an hour cooldown and leaves the paladin with exactly zero remaining mana. No HoTs, and no AoE heals. I'd probably equate the rogues damage with a paladin's heals.

From my best understanding, Shamans are one of those classes that basically make everyone else look really good. They have some decent spells of their own, mind you, as well. They've got the preventative maintenance of Earth Shield. They have the extremely slow HoT of a Healing Stream Totem. And they have the unpredictable heal of Chain Heal. But their totems are appreciated by all. (Oops... I said I wouldn't go into that discussion.) From what I've seen and read, it's kind of silly to use the Healing Stream Totem when you can use the Mana Stream Totem (which can effectively translate into more health by way of heals). They probably equate most to, well... Shaman in damage.

Priests have a little bit of everything. They've got HoTs, but not as strong as the Druid. They have direct heals, but not as well as the Paladin. They've got preventative maintenance by way of Prayer of Mending. They can heal themselves as well as another because of Binding Heal. Probably the best AoE heal with Prayer of Healing. They also have Circle of Healing and Lightwell, which both seem like great spells, but are rarely used that I've seen. There's also Holy Nova (another AoE Heal). So, looking at all that AoE, I'd probably have to say their damage equivelant is a mage.

So, is one way better to bring than another? Of course not. They compliment each other and help each other out. If you're in a 25-man run, bring all four. If you're in Karazhan, you're probably going to have to limit it to just 3. Ideally though, it's advantageous to have 3 different classes for your healers so that you have those different abilities. (Plus, they all use different armor types, so no gear is wasted.)


Elinor said...

I'm not quite sure I agree with your assessment, I'm not quite sure why a Paladin would be "king of direct heals".

I know my comparison is somewhat simplistic, but taking away +healing gear (should be the same for priest or paladin) a paladin's biggest heal with appropriate talents is a 2.5 sec cast for 2740(840 mana). A priest with appropriate talents has a 2.5 sec cast for 3062(825 mana)

Of course there is a talent for paladins to reduce that cast time by .5 for the next 15 sec, and the 3062 for priest doesn't include the talent to increase it by 25% of spirit.

Also a druid has a 3.0 sec direct heal for 3517 (935 mana).

So maybe I'm missing something, but that doesn't seem to fit.

P.S. all mana costs are base cost without talent etc.

Leiandra said...

Hmm... good point. These were mainly observations from the experiences I've had with different healers. Kind of more experiences I've had. So, I had to dig into the math a bit myself. So, since we're theorycrafting...

Comparing the two big heals, and over a long fight, you can take the paladins Light's Grace talent down to 2 seconds since he could be continually casting Holy Light and renewing that buff. (I assume that's how it works.) That brings him, to the assumptions above of about 1370 HPS. The priest, with his 2.5 second cast would have a 1225 HPS on the Greater Heal. That's a 145 HPS difference. And that's just on the upper range of the heals. The average heal for a priest is going to be more like 2849 (1140 HPS) and 2600 for a paladin (1300). That's a difference of 160 HPS.

As to the increase to healing by 25% of Spirit for the priest, the paladin can increase healing by 35% of Intellect. IIRC, for item values, Int is valued more than Spirit, so I'm gonna oversimplify again and call that a wash.

And as for the increase in mana cost, the critical hits and guaranteed crits from Divine Favor give you back mana from Illumination. So, probably about a wash.

All that said about the Paladins Holy Light. I was looking at a Gruul's run we had recorded for WowWebStats, and pretty much all of our paladins used Flash of Light at least 67% of the time. Yeah... I really don't know that class, do I?

You're right about the druid. I just didn't mention it. In that same raid setting, our druids cast Healing Touch once each. Obviously in a 5-man setting it would be used much more.

All that said. If I'm wrong, please let me know.

Elinor said...

I don't really raid, so I'm sure there are a lot of factors that go into healing a raid, all the buffs, and auras, and totems etc, but all that aside, the following is the feeling I got playing my priest:

As you've stated the paladins use flash of light a lot more than their holy light. They tend to top the healing charts because they get more heals off hands down. As a priest, I noticed that I was canceling a lot of my heals because someone (usually a paladin) got off a heal quicker. Also I know there are some very nice paladin trinkets that improve flash of light even more.

I think the priest shines when it comes to long endurance fights. My priests in combat in the 5 sec rule mana regen is about 113 and 347 out of the 5 sec rule. I rarely if ever run out of mana, and seldom need to take a potion.

My point is that I think paladins are getting the "king of direct healing" name because they top the healing meters a lot. I just don't believe that top of the meter necessarily equals better healer :)

Overall I think you are right in that all the healing classes have their different styles, a mix of them all is almost always the best.

DadGuy said...

Druids can use healing touch, but it's much less mana efficient than a priest (for both raw healing and how much mana/time it takes). Additionally, the BC druid talent trees really promote healing over time as opposed to the healing touch method. You simply get a ton more healing for your mana using the hots.

I'm fuzzy on paladin healing, but I do know with the right gear and talents a paladin basically has no mana issues and can heal almost indefinitely. They're the #1 spot healers, but they really don't have a major heal other than the lay on hands. Shamans seem to fill a similar niche, but I've not grouped with many resto shaman so it's hard to say there.

All that said, a well played priest sets the bar, and can do 90% of each other healer's specialty as well as covering their own specialty... in addition to being able to do any kind of healing needed. Priests are the bar that other classes are compared against for sure. They just have it so easy that I think many don't live up to their potential.

Elinor said...

This discussion has really sparked my interest of the mechanics and numbers behind healing, I'll have to bust into some more theorycraft.

Notlok said...

Time to retire my priest. I am rolling a pally for healing :)

No in all serious and regardless of what the base numbers equate too, I think BC has been a hard advance for priests. Look to the decline in holy priests, and the increase to shadow priests. For many in a class that felt they where masters of heal, have realized that maybe with blizzards game progression they are no longer masters. First time that I was told that priests responsibility was OH kind of surprised me. Does anyone recall having priest off heal before BC?

Being a priest after BC I have realized that it is a great advantage to have all of the healer classes involved in the healing. If played right they all bring something to the table.

I think the only issue that I have is if blizzard wants all things equal in healing GIVE ME PLATE :) hehe

Leiandra said...

Here, here, Notlok! And mages should have plate too. (See what I did there?)

Let me know if you want to see the Wow Web Stats we have for a few fights, Elinor. Might help for some of the raid based fights. I did notice that the priest seemed to have a higher HPS (didn't notice that on Friday). Again, I'm just writing what seems to be correct to me. I'm more than open to being corrected. Not playing a healer myself, these are really just observations. And keep in mind, I wasn't trying to put any class down. (Just don't want anyone getting unnecessarily defensive.)

Notlok said...

Leiandra, not sure you saw my point. I don't really think there should be equality in all classes. If I did I would be like to try and tank Kara :)
Just an general observation from my perspective that it is much harder for a priest to define its roll in a group post BC. I guess my thing regardless of stats is did the group succeed and in what fashion?

I would also hope that no offense would be taken. I think this is a great conversation and is fun to see others perspectives!

Elinor said...

There is no defensiveness, or offense taken. I think this is a fun discussion.

This isn't the first time I've heard pallies being called "king of healing", and I'm just trying to figure out why. I'm of the mind that no hybrid class should be better than a main class. (not bashing pallies by the way, I have a level 60 pally and will probably get it to 70, I really like pallies)

Taking a quick look at the numbers, there doesn't seem to be a reason for pallies pushing ahead, so either i'm missing something in the numbers or it is in the play style, or in the gear.

From my experience I think that it is both the pallies quicker heals, and some very nice pally healing gear.

Leiandra said...

I was just trying to be funny, Notlok. (I guess I failed. lol.) I've long joked that I want a Battle Mage - full plate with amazing spells. I've liked the idea that you can wear any type of armor you want, but it may have adverse effects on your spells. But that's a different game, and a different conversation.

I agree, I think there was a real role reversal when BC came out. Before the priests were always MH. Playing Alliance and having pallies, they just weren't all that good at healing. Druids were okay (better than pallies), and Shaman were non-existent to us. Enter BC. I think it really brought all the healers "equal". (And I'm using that word very freely.) There's advantages and disadvantages of each class. Throw a Power Word: Fortitude on everyone and increase Stamina by 79. Power Word: Shield essentially "increases" the target's health by 1125. Prayer of Mending "increases" health by 800. It's no plate armor, but there's a lot of advantages to it.

All healers seem to be able to heal the 5-mans in BC. I don't really think that was an option before.

Leiandra said...

@ Elinor - So, maybe pallies are "King of the quick, direct heals". Does that qualifier make it more true? It certainly could be play style. Maybe the priests are more like "Healing Spanish Galleons" and pallies are "Clippers". The Galleons would have a huge punch, but would take a long time to turn. Where the Clippers could go very fast, but generally didn't have the armament. I'll edit my post, it that seems more true. (I could live with that.)

Leiandra said...

Okay... here's a few more comments because of Elinor. hehe. You're now famous... Matticus is quoting you.

Leiandra said...

Doh.. hit the wrong button... meant to hit "preview". Let me see if I can break apart this link (Copy and Paste the whole thing and remove the line, folks):

Matticus said...

The day I am a household name in WoW Guilds everywhere is the day I am truly famous. Without readers, I am nothing. =)

Logan said...

I have hear a lot of discussion from people in the later endgame content (Hyjal and BT) stating that the plate healing gear from Kara is a bit overpowered (compared to the healing gear for other healing classes at the same level). These people have also indicated that the differences level out in Tier 5 and especially in Tier 6. Perhaps this could be the reason behind the common conception that paladins have become healing superstars in BC.

It makes sense, since the majority of level 70 raiders out there have spent a lot of time in Kara. As the raids get harder and harder, the number of players who have even stepped in their doors goes down dramatically. Most of us have been to Kara, so logically most of us have been healed by paladins in Kara-level gear. I've come across a lot of prot paladins who have been successful healing heroics and even Kara in that gear. So, maybe the disparity in healing classes will level out in the later instances. Maybe there is no true King or Queen of Healing in Hyjal and BT. I'll let you know when my guild gets there... :)

Curtis said...

I have a lvl 70 pally, and have raided kara, gruul's, and ssc. Pallys really shine when it comes to providing burst heals over a long period. I have sacrificed about 70 +healing for as much mp5 as possible, which has paid off, as I never go oom. Having just pallys/shammys can be a bit tough in raiding, as you need the combination of HoT healing and burst healing, they're meant to complement each other.

One of my smoothest kara runs was when we 2-man healed it. Druid and myself. Druid's skill is amazing, and helps w/ raid healing tremendously. During nightbane's fears, having HoTs on gives me enough time cast holy light to regain the tank's deficit during fear.

As a pally healer, I, personally find it much harder to compensate for a bad tank, than, say, a druid. If we consider heroic BM, and the tank can't stay up long enough for me to heal one or two party members, then it's probably not going to be a good run. To try and make my party/raid healing as efficient as possible, I flash of light one party member, and immediately follow up on another member with holy shock (instant cast heal, on a 15s timer). Depending on the tank's mitigation/hp, I return to tank w/ flash or holy light, and go back to other party members. It's easy to get behind on party healing if tank is bad enough.

Flash of light is your bread-and-butter spell, as it has the most efficient HPM. If I have a spriest and/or ele shammy present, I can heal heroics without going below 90% mana.

Printcurtis, Tichondrius