Lots of new healer changes announced for Warlords of Draenor

Healers finally got a nice big Dev Watercooler today and had a great deal of information tp finetooth comb over about the upcoming expansion and how it will affect healers in Warlords of Draenor.

First, we also have posts on the individual classes if you want more specifics where I am adding all the class specific tweets the Blues are making today, so definitely check them out for even more detail…. Resto Druid, Resto Shaman, Holy Pally, Holy & Disc Priest, and Mistweaver Monk

Rethinking Health Bars

Blizzard doesn’t really like how the healing game has changed from thinking about every heal and every individual player’s health pool, to the current “spam them as fast as you can to heal them to 100%” with *absorb* *smartheal* *absorb* that is happening now.  And this is actually the reason why we saw a lot more bursty damage this tier than in previous tiers, because bursty damage was the only way to challenge healers – and really, that’s not a challenge, its all about who has the fastest trigger finger and the most haste after the mass absorbs fall off.

One of our goals for healing in Warlords of Draenor is to tone down the raw throughput of healers relative to the size of player health pools. Currently, as healers and their allies acquire better and better gear, the percentage of a player’s health that any given heal restores increases significantly. As a result, healers are able to refill health bars so fast that we have to make damage more and more “bursty” in order to challenge them. Ideally, we want players to spend some time below full health without having healers feel like the players they’re responsible for are in danger of dying at any moment. We also think that healer gameplay would be more varied, interesting, and skillful if your allies spent more time between 0% and 100%, rather than just getting damaged quickly to low health, forcing the healer to then scramble to get them back to 100% as quickly as possible.

Watcher also tweeted the same sentiment about how it isn’t an ideal situation.

When healers can top off critically injured players in seconds, encounters have to try to kill players before healers can react. Not ideal.

Blizzard wants to see things back to the time where the raid wasn’t at 100% health, but you didn’t have the “OMG he/she is going to DIE!!!!” you sometimes get now.

To that end, we’re buffing heals less than we’re increasing creature damage. Heals will be deliberately less potent compared to health pools than before the item squish. Additionally, as gear improves, the scaling rates of health and healing will now be very similar, so the relative power of any given healing spell shouldn’t climb so much over the course of this expansion. For those concerned about what this means for raiding, don’t worry—we’re taking all of these changes into account when designing Raid content for Warlords of Draenor.

This will be nice and make healing a lot more challenging to healers over the course of an entire expac, rather than generally getting less challenging overall (raid mechanics aside) when healing.

Percentage of Health Spells

Blizzard is making changes to many spells based off percentage of health, although they say the changes are actually in line with the changes to other healing spells.  They haven’t gone into specifics yet, but hopefully we will know more soon.

Added: Gift of the Naaru is one that will be changing.  It is currently “Heals the target for 20% of the caster’s total health over 15 sec.”.  Will now be “Gift of the Naaru heals for 4% of your max HP, every 1sec, for 5sec.”

Many Instant Casts now have a 1.5 second cast time

Many, many instant cast heals have gotten reworked with a significant 1.5 second cast time.  Blizzard felt the mechanic of running and healing at the same time removed some of the complexity and decision making behind healing.   For instant casts, all of the following have been hit with a 1.5 second cast time: Druid’s Wild Growth; Monk’s Uplift; Paladin’s Eternal Flame, Word of Glory and Light of Dawn; Priest’s Cascade, Divine Star, Halo, and Prayer of Mending.  Shaman’s did not have their one instant cast (Riptide) reworked with the cast time.

The loss of insta-cast heals will be pretty significant from a “OMG, save the tank!” moments when all the healers decided to target someone else in those crucial seconds or if the tank missed a cooldown and the other tank forgot to taunt and you need to attempt to keep him up.

Right now, these are the only instant-cast heals being affected by the new 1.5 second cast time, so you can breathe a sigh of relief over anything left.

Yes. The only currently planned changed to cast times are the ones listed in the blog.

That said, Nethaera says (in comment on the watercooler) they are planning raid encounters in WoD to take into account these changes.

We’re also taking a look at Raid design as a larger part of all of these changes. So, rather than having to make encounters that do a lot of damage to counter the large health pools and player healing ability, we can pace the damage in these encounters a bit better and allow healers to make better healing choices as a part of the gameplay.

However that won’t really help save people who stand in bad for a tick too long or don’t use personals.  And a bitter part of me suspects PVP also had a role in this change, since these are now interruptible.

Mana in WoD

They are planning to focus on making healers be but much aware of their mana and their subsequent healing decisions based on it.   However, there are changes to spirit and baseline regen according to Watcher.

Baseline regen will be higher, Spirit will still be good where you can get it.

But they did make one nice change – healers are so used to sucking mana dry at the start of an expansion, but they are making it easier for healers this time around.

All of this discussion of efficiency may cause most healers to start worrying about mana regeneration and their mana pool. To allay those concerns, we’ve increased base mana regen a great deal at early gear levels, while having it scale up less at later gear levels. This will make all of these changes play well even in early content such as Heroic Dungeons and the first tier of Raid content, and also play well in the final Raid tier without mana and efficiency becoming irrelevant due to extremely high regeneration values.

For some healers, it has almost become a game to see how low they can get their spirit (and then cry for Mana Tides).

Speaking of Mana Tide, Blizzard has not said anything about MTT, so it is unclear if it will be reworked yet again.  I do miss the Cataclysm days when it became an art to drop Mana Tide when your Tsunami Darkmoon Card Trinket proc’d, I would love to see there be some wiggle room again by allowing spirit proc trinkets work with Mana Tide, even if other tricks don’t work.

Baseline spirit is going to be higher, which is important since healers won’t be getting as many gear pieces with spirit, which is a definite turnaround from the usual “every piece has spirit unless you specifically choose a non-spirit one”.  Celestalon stresses that gear will not matter less to healers because of the change, although many guilds tend to gear DPS first to meet early DPS checks in early expansions.

Low Cost Spammable Heals Gone

Blizzard has given the axe to many heals they saw as being both “low-throughput, low-mana-cost heals” – basically the healing spells healers do when everyone is topped off, there is no imminent incoming damage, and you want to maybe spam heal the tanks without wasting mana if it is an overheal.

While it seems they haven’t included all the heals, they have listed several kinds as being removed including Nourish, Holy Light, Heal, and Healing Wave.  They are reusing some of these names with the less mana efficient big brother of the heals, such as Greater Healing Wave being renamed Healing Wave (yes, I can see this causing all kinds of confusion when it goes live).

I can see why Blizzard did this, as they want to make healers think about every heal they make, and lose some of the “afk spam” type heals we all do at some time or another.  The comparison was made that these low cost heals end up as being like an auto-attack for healers, which is probably a fair comparison.

However, how does this affect the “always be casting” mentality and the goal to have 100% uptime – even if healers feel this isn’t ideal, many raid leaders who don’t know much about healing will cite “But your uptime was only 82% according to logs!  FIX IT!!”  Perhaps that 18% was everyone topped off and it was a non-absorb class.  And by the same accord, healers don’t generally like fights where they sit around twiddling their thumbs with nothing to heal either.

Low throughput heals served a role of feeling like the auto attack for healers. Do healers frequently do nothing during combat?
Your efficient single-target heal (Healing Wave, Holy Light, etc.) should still be a mainstay. Unrelated: Big fan of Healer:ALitD (WatcherDev)

Having a heal you can always be casting without worrying about the mana cost seems important to prevent healers just watching.
Agreed, I see the value there. For some, a DPS filler can work fine (free Lightning Bolt for shaman, Atonement for Disc, etc.). (WatcherDev)

Which heals for which jobs

Along with the changes to the low-mana low-efficiency heals, they are also prioritizing which heals they feel healers should be using depending on the situation:

Druid Higher Efficiency: Healing Touch, Rejuvenation, Efflorescence
Druid Higher Throughput: Regrowth, Wild Growth

Monk Higher Efficiency: Soothing Mist, Renewing Mist
Monk Higher Throughput: Surging Mist, Spinning Crane Kick

Paladin Higher Efficiency: Holy Light, Holy Shock, Word of Glory, Light of Dawn
Paladin Higher Throughput: Flash of Light, Holy Radiance

Priest Higher Efficiency: Greater Heal, Circle of Healing, Prayer of Mending, Holy Nova (new Discipline-only version), Penance
Priest Higher Throughput: Flash Heal, Prayer of Healing

Shaman Higher Efficiency: Healing Wave, Riptide, Healing Rain
Shaman Higher Throughput: Healing Surge, Chain Heal

Watcher has also said that it will be your efficient single target heals that will be a big part of your healing toolkit.

Your efficient single-target heal (Healing Wave, Holy Light, etc.) should still be a mainstay.

Along with this, they want to stress that healers should be in the business of decision making which heals to use, rather than just using your go-to heal as many do currently.

The goal isn’t to make healing harder, actually. I’d say it’s to replace testing reaction time with testing decision-making.

Passive and Smart Heals

There has been a lot of backlash against passive and smart heals this time.  We had two trinkets this time around that did some form of smart healing (Cleave and Multistrike), heals have become “smarter” and it means a lot less healing is left to be done by true targeted healing.

We also took a look at healing spells that were passive or auto-targeted (so-called “smart” heals).

We want healers to care about who they’re targeting and which heals they’re using, because that makes healer gameplay more interactive and fun. To that end, we’re reducing the healing of many passive and auto-targeted heals, and making smart heals a little less smart. Smart heals will now randomly pick any injured target within range instead of always picking the most injured target. Priority will still be given to players over pets, of course.

On one hand while this will bring some cheers, it will also be jeers with the mechanics.  Remember some of the “dumb heals” we got from trinkets/weapons in previous expansions where we would see a trinket heal go and heal someone missing 2 health points and bypassing the tank who was about to die?  It became a contest of sorts after every boss to see whose trinkets actually did real healing instead of overhealing.

I’d almost rather see it go to the most injured player within a closer distance (ie. heals the most injured player within 20y instead of 40y) but then I could also see that cause a huge issue with Mistweavers rocking those heals because range healers had to be 30-40y out because of some boss mechanic.

So I am not sure what the real solution is, since smart heals have been so dominant, but I can see a lot more overhealing.

Celastalon has also confirmed that all smart heals will be changing.

It’s safe to say that we’re changing all smart heals.

Blizzard also likes the idea that “smart heals” will turn into “not-so-smart” heals, making them random and unpredictable.

That’s the point. It also emphasizes single target heals in supplement.

We are also going to see the 6 player cap on “smart heals” for performance issues.

Probably will have a target cap of 6 for better client/server performance. Will hit 6 random injured players.

Absorbs

Ah, absorbs, the bane of every healer’s existence but Discs and Holy Pallies.  While it wasn’t such a headache for non-absorb healers earlier this expac, this tier has been pretty painful.  Blizzard had previously said they were going to make some changes to absorbs, but while they once again acknowledge the problem, they haven’t really said specifics, other than they will stay true to Disc being an absorb class.

Additionally, we’re toning down the power of absorbs in general. When they get too strong, absorption effects are often used in place of direct healing instead of as a way to supplement it. We will, of course, take these changes into account when tuning specializations that rely heavily on absorbs, such as Discipline Priests.

But with the changes to the health pool, where Blizzard doesn’t necessarily want everyone at 100% nor healers have the ability to just easily top the entire raid off quickly and efficiently, absorbs will have a lot less of an impact to overall healing numbers, and could make them quite poor on some fights (think of a fight like Valithria Dreamwalker, Tsuong or Chimaeron where raw HPS output is needed)

Single versus Multi-Target

Blizzard wants to make healers have to think about what kind of heal they want to use, a single target or multi-target heal.   As such, they are reducing the mana efficiency for many multi-target heals.

Another of our goals for healing in this expansion is to strike a better balance between single-target and multi-target healing spells. We’ve taken a close look at the mana efficiency of our multi-target heals, and in many cases, we’re reducing their efficiency, usually by reducing the amount they heal. Sometimes, but more rarely, raising their mana cost was a better decision. We want players to use multi-target heals, but they should only be better than their single-target equivalents when they heal more than two players without any overhealing. This way, players will face an interesting choice between whether to use a single-target heal or a multi-target heal based on the situation.

There is no word on how this change will affect Shamans, whose toolkit is really geared towards multi-target healing with Chain Heal and Healing Rain, and it really is their niche.

Back to Cataclysm?

The changes seem to be another throwback to Cataclysm, and I am not the only one who sees that and is concerned about it for the health of healing overall (no pun intended!), but Watcher had a bit of reassurance for those with bad memories of the start of the first Cataclysm raiding tier.

Cata’s healing had upsides and downsides. We’re capturing the upsides, and preventing the downsides.

But Cataclysm also brought a fair amount of healing issues with healing being so difficult and painful that a lot of healers switched to tank or DPS instead.  And don’t even mention the abuse we endured back them while trying to heal a some of those dugeons, like heroic Grim Batol – if you got past the first boss, you were #winning.

It may give exceptional healers more room to distinguish themselves. But we plan to avoid the pitfalls of early Cata healing.

Fortunately, Blizzard does acknowledge that mana regen was a serious issue in early Cataclysm days.  I remember farming non-stop for the Darkmoon Card: Tsunami trinket and the Archaeology trinket Tyrande’s Favorite Doll just so I had a tiny bit more mana and mana regen for bosses because going OOM was such a real issue.  And yes, it would be really awesome to have another version of Tyrande’s Favorite Doll for WoD, so those who are really suffering (or want to be super awesome) can farm it.  It was a real shame that the Archaeology items this expac were only blue quality and not epics, and no decent healing item.

Mana regen was a huge issue early Cata, along with overtuning. Created a trap for many healers; too easy to OOM.

Final thoughts

Fortunately, Blizzard says they will keep a close eye on how testing goes with the changes (speaking of which, hopefully we get beta soon, especially since we will have to do the 90-100 grind to get true level 100 testing in for healing).

The developers plan to keep a close eye on how testing goes in the beta with all of these changes. It’s a lot of interconnected systems changes so there’s a lot to take into account. Hopefully, with some great focused (and constructive) feedback, they’ll be able to continue making solid decisions to get the results they (and the community) are looking for. (Nethaera)

And don’t forget this is just a slice of the current changes – I have many things in my mind I think would be pretty awesome if they changed for healers, so my fingers are crossed that some of them could possibly happen.

What do you think?  And don’t forget the indivudual class posts which have more class-specific info from the Dev Watercooler and all the zillions of tweets the blues are doing today: Resto Druid, Resto Shaman, Holy Pally, Holy & Disc Priest, and Mistweaver Monk

Happy healing :)

New Holy Paladin Changes in Warlords of Draenor announced

We have new Pally healing info from the Healer Watercooler today.

Instacast heals are being removed.  Eternal Flame & Word of Glory now have a 1.5 second cast time for Holy Pallies.  Light of Dawn is now also a 1.5 second cast time.

Holy Light as been removed, although they are re-using the spell name for a different heal.  So now Divine Light is called Holy Light.

Paladin Higher Efficiency: Holy Light, Holy Shock, Word of Glory, Light of Dawn
Paladin Higher Throughput: Flash of Light, Holy Radiance

They plan to dampen down the amount of absorbs in the game, and while this won’t affect Paladins as much as Disc Priests, it should be noted.

Additionally, we’re toning down the power of absorbs in general. When they get too strong, absorption effects are often used in place of direct healing instead of as a way to supplement it. We will, of course, take these changes into account when tuning specializations that rely heavily on absorbs, such as Discipline Priests.

No plans to remove the dispelling CD

Remember the days (oh how we loved you Heroic Sinestra and Heroic Spine of Deathwing) when healers could lovingly dispel their fellow raiders every global?  And the much beloved Cleansing Totem?  Ever since Blizzard made the change to put a cooldown on dispelling, there have been cries from healers to remove it.  While a CD makes sense for PVP, when it comes to PVE, you sometimes have to plan comp around which healers you have to dispel (cough, Horridon).  Well, Blizzard has officially said there are no plans to remove the dispel cooldown in Warlords of Draenor :(

What do you think about removing the cooldown on dispel in the near future?
Holinka: We don’t plan to remove it. (Source)

Sorry to crush all your hopeful dispelling dreams for Warlords.

Paladin’s Dual Beacon of Light – what happens when a third is placed?

Beacon of LightWhen Blizzard announced “The Light Within” tier talent for Holy Paladins at level 100, many people were pretty excited about the idea of being able to place a Beacon of Light on each tank.  However, in the current form, if a healer swaps beacon from one person to another, it just overwrites the previous one.  But what about when there are two?

Blizzard has confirmed that currently, placing a third Beacon of Light will overwrite the oldest Beacon that was placed on a player.  So if you place a Beacon on Tank A, then the second on Tank B, but say you have a third tank or a player soaking damage, and you then place a Beacon on that player, your Tank A (who has the oldest Beacon between Tank A and Tank B) would lose the Beacon.

Quick question. What if I cast beacon of light on someone else with duel BOL talent in WOD? Will the first gone or i may choose?
Celastalon: If you BoL when you already have 2 out, it’ll remove it from the older existing one. Somewhat awkward; alternative is two buttons. (Source)

It is an interesting idea to have two buttons, but I doubt it would really be that big of a deal to replace a Beacon if you lose the first.  On the other hand, I can definitely see a wipe occuring and a raid leader asking “Why didn’t Tank A have a Beacon?” when he looks at incoming heals prior to a lack of healing death, to which the Pally will go “Uh oh”.

How haste will affect Paladin’s Eternal Flame & Sacred Shield in Warlords of Draenor

With all the changes with haste and haste breakpoints for Warlords of Draenor, Blizzard answered some questions about how haste will affect Paly’s Eternal Flame and Sacred Shield in WoD.

With all the changes to haste breakpoints in Warlords, will Eternal Flame and Sacred Shield continue to work as on live?
Eternal Flame is a HoT like any other, so the changes apply. Sacred Shield is unusual; intend will be the same, may be custom. (Source)

So Eternal Flame will be affected by haste changes, but we could still see some changes made to Sacred Shield before the expansion drops.

Many updates on Holy Pally Tier 100 talents

There have been many teens about the new Holy Pally tier talents and how things like the different Seals work.  Here is all the scoop via Twitter.

Hiya! Quick Question, so you have fistweaving, and atonement. Any plans for a paladin (seems a natch) or druid version in WoD?
Druids already have it in Dream of Cenarius. Seal of Faith is doing that for Paladins, though in a different way. (Source)

Seal of Faith=terrible talent, scrap it
I suppose that’s better feedback than none at all, but reasoning and thoughts would be even better. (Source)

Unless you give holy a reliable baseline dps HP generator. /4

Assume you have access to all of the spec’s builders/finishers that you want. (Source)

Holy does not have a reliable dps builder.We have to spec SH for Judgment to grant HP&crusader strike is not reliable

How is Crusader Strike not reliable? (Source)

We don’t have melee mechanics immunity for one.

OK, what if you did, with Seal of Faith? (Source)

I’d spec the talent to gain said immunity and use Insight anyway.

I sincerely doubt that you’d give up your other lvl 100 talents for that. Could make it only work while active. (Source)

Can seal swap dance if required on dangerous mechanic. Besides lvl 100 talents for H Pala = bad/situational

Let’s try to back up a step. Don’t get stuck in ‘how’ nitpicking. Feedback on the general intent of the talent? (Source)

The biggest issue is that, as a paladin, DPS-based healing doesn’t feeling natural.

How so? It’d be new functionality that you’re not used to, but that could be said for anything. (Source)

Talenting into Stance Dancing just sounds horrible period in both feel and power.

The intent is no dancing. It’s a committed thing. (Source)

You can’t really expect a healer not to dance, too many variables in a fight

You can expect them not to dance if they aren’t able to. (Source)

While Paladins seem to love or hate the new talents (although double Beacons is pretty awesome for two tank fights), they are hinting a bit that we might see some changes upcoming.

New Paladin Level 100 talents for Warlords of Draenor

We have the new talents that were on preview today for the new expansion Warlords of Draenor.  Here are the Paladin talents (I am including the Prot & Ret talents for reference as well:

First Talent Choice: The Light Within

Holy
Bastions of Light
Passive
Beacon of Light can now be placed on up to two targets

Protection & Retribution
Empowered Seals
Passive
Your Seals also cause your Judgment to empower you with an additional beneficial effect:
Judgment of Justice – increases your movement speed by 10% for 20 seconds
Judgment of Insight – heals you for 3% of your maximum health every 2.00 seconds for 20 seconds
Judgment of Righteousness – increases your attack speed by 10% for 20 seconds
Judgement of Truth – increases your attack power by 10% for 20 seconds.

Second Talent Choice: Seal of Faith

623 Mana
Instant
Fills you with Holy Light, causing you to gain Faith equal to all damage dealt.  Faith acts as spell power toward the next healing spell you cast.

Holy
While Seal of Faith is active, all damage dealt is increased by 30%

Protection & Retribution
While Seal of Faith is active, all damage dealt is reduced by 30%

Third Talent Choice: Divine Conviction

Holy
Saved by the Light
Passive
When you or your Beacon of Light target drop below 30% health, you instantly grant the injured target a protective shield, absorbing up to 30% of their maximum health for 10 seconds.  You cannot shield the same person this way twice within 60 seconds.

Protection
Holy Shield
Passive
Increases your block chance by 10% and when you block, you deal 2000 Holy damage to your attacker.

Retribution
Final Verdict
3 Holy Power – melee range
Instant
Requires Melee Weapon
Empowers your weapon with holy energy, and performs a devastating strike, dealing 250% weapon damage as Holy.  Replaces Templar’s Verdict.

It would appear that Divine Conviction would likely be the go to talent for Holy Pallies (except for perhaps fights with certain tank mechanics), but since it appears that this can be triggered multiple times per minute, as long as it isn’t the same target, Paladins will probably be doing a lot of Beacon swapping with this talent if running with more than one Holy Pally.

Huge Holy Radiance bug fixed

If your Holy Radiance seems to be healing for less than you think it should, the good news is that it was an unintended bug that was causing it to only heal 5 players.   There is a bug report here if you are wanting to know specifics.

[quote]Fixed an issue where Holy Radiance may sometimes heal less players than intended.[/quote]

There is plenty of speculation over the “sometimes” part, but the good news is it is hotfixed :)

Guardian of Ancient Kings healing buffed to 100% from 30% of healing

guardian of ancient kingsAnother update to the Guardian of Ancient Kings change we saw this week, they have now increased the healing it does, from 30% to 100%.

Guardian of Ancient Kings will heal the targets of your heals for an additional 100% of the amount healed, up from 30%.

It still grants the 10% haste buff for the duration of it, but doesn’t heal nearby friendly targets.

This goes along with the change we saw earlier, where Guardian of Ancient Kings had its CD reduced from 5 minutes to 3 minutes, bringing it inline with other healing CDs.