Tea Talk and Healer Exploration

My latest insanity project have consisted of levelling all the healer classes to level 100. This is technically not a new project since it has been an obsession since – wait, I’m going to need some tea for this.

Okay, one earl grey ready for drinking. So, ever since I started out as a Mistweaver I have loved the spec to bits and pieces. But back in the panda days, or more precisely 5.4 in this case, you were sort of a crazy person to main a fist-tornadoing melee healer. It was a new spec that had trouble finding its niche in the healer rooster, other than simply being able to throw some punches. Meanwhile, the Disc Priest were buffed beyond reason coupled with being the best-suited type of healer for the boss mechanics. Our health pools were relatively small back then and our heals relatively large. The raid’s health whiplashed back and forth in the matter of seconds. Disc’s shields were always used to full effect while throughput healers had to have reflexes quick as lightning to be able to heal anything at all.

Mistweaver healing was seldom used efficiently because of this, and I would argue that Shamans suffered somewhat of the same problem. Paladins still had shields and Druids HoT’s went into effect as soon as anyone’s health dropped. Holy Priests had their mana regen broken beyond repair and was incredibly hard to handle without going OoM (except the starshine that solo healed Garrosh!)

If anyone ever mentioned how to improve as a Mistweaver on a forum, they immediately got the advice to reroll Disc or Druid. Which was sad, because even though Disc were overpowered, it was never a good idea to stack them. You needed a healer team composed by different specs to fully take advantage of the plethora of cooldowns that were available. Mistweavers could still fit into such a team.

But I was curious on the other healer classes, not because I wanted to reroll, simply because I wanted to know the mechanics of those healers and how they worked in the large scheme of things. So I levelled all healer classes, or technically I got 9 characters to level 90. The only two classes I didn’t finish all the way was Rogue and Warlock. But I’ll get to those.

I tried my hand at healing as a Shaman and a Druid but I never really got around to do any in-depth studies. I was still figuring the nooks and crannies of the Mistweaver spec back then and had my hands full.

Fast-forward to the Draenor expansion. The healer rooster finally became somewhat balanced (at least compared to before) and healing had never been so much fun. Now I really started thinking about healer compositions and what type of healers are best suited for each other. To explore this avenue I had to start levelling my characters and get first-hand experience. I had reluctantly levelled my Druid after the race to lvl 100 with my Mistweaver and was mildly amused to go through the whole process again.

Then something happened. Yeah, heirlooms. In a menu. That you could collect. Oh boy, how much didn’t your OCD twitch when you saw those empty spaces in your collection menu. I just had to have heirlooms at least for the chars I meant to level to 100. One bankruptcy later, I was quite loaded. With heirlooms that is. Gold had become the stuff of farfetched dreams.

But now I just had to level my characters to justify such spending! So I did. With a vengeance. I got my Priest, Paladin and Shaman up from 90 to level 100 in three days. And here are all my pretties;

Healers

I love healing and I love testing out all the possible and quirky ways to go about it. It took some time to figure out each spec and I’m only halfway to get a complete grasp of them. But that’s just understanding the basics. I’ll be the first one to testify that to heal basic challenges versus really putting your healer to the test are two complete different animals. I will never fully understand the depth of each class until I’ve done some really hard content with each and single one. But that’s a future project. Right now I’m only focusing on the basic mechanics and spells to understand the larger picture.

Let’s start with the Restoration Shaman. Shamans are a classic throughput healers and highly niched to reactive healing. I’ve always liked shaman’s healing animations; all that sparkly blue water. Unfortunately, I never took a fancy to shaman’s gameplay. It’s hard to put my finger on it, but I think the simplicity of Chain Heal and Riptide spam have never been really compelling. But there is a huge potential to dig in with all the available totems, so I’m fairly sure that Shamans are more fun at higher difficulties.

Their mastery allow them to heal more depending on their targets health. If the player is at low health, the Shaman heals will become larger. So they are very neat to have in hard progression content where you spend a lot of time on low health. I also understand why it’s one of the classes that are recommended for new healers. It’s straightforward and easy to get a grasp of.

Holy Priest is also a throughput class and equally straightforward. But while Shamans are bound by their cast spells and totems, Holy Priests combine HoTs with a lot of sparkly glitter that jumps around between players. I progressed as a Holy Priest way back in Cata and I remember it being quite a lot of fun. It seems that not much have changed mechanic-wise with the spec since then. There’s the Lightwell which heal automatically injured players, and the Prayer of Mending that jumps around with a life of its own. The main HoT Renew is a strong periodic that is backed up by Holy’s mastery; Echo of Light. It is a HoT that procs by the Priest’s direct healing spells and is quite neat.

What makes Holy Priest unique are their Chakras. They work like stances, of which there are three; one for single-target healing, one for AoE healing and one for offense. Each stance unlocks a new ability while also buffing their current spells to accommodate each niched Chakra. Unfortunately, there’s not much reason to switch actively while in an encounter. Holy Priest usually keeps to one of the Chakras during the same fight, as I’ve understood it. But it still gives a little potential for some fun gameplay!

Their cousin spec, Discipline, is a whole ‘nother type of healer. Discs main niche is absorption shields, which they apply both actively and automatically. Their passive skill Divine Aegis converts all crits and multistrike heals automatically into a protective shield on the target. They also have their very strong Power Word: Shield ability coupled with the stronger cooldown version Power Word: Barrier. Oh and they have Clarity of Will which is a super strong shield best used on tanks. Discs love shields and they’re always happy to put some more shields on their shields!

Discipline Priests are also offensive healers. When they cast Penance, Power Word: Solace and Smite on their enemies, they Atonement heal their allies, kind of like Eminence, but stronger. Much of their toolkit is also instant spells or castable while moving (Penance is if it’s glyphed). So basically, they are just incredibly strong healers.

When I tried Disc in Proving Grounds I cleared Silver without a bother. But I can’t say I got a feel for the spec. It’s hard to estimate how much overhealing you are doing, which in Discs version of healing would be that the absorption shields fall off unused. I really had no idea what I was doing, but apparently it worked. I just don’t know how. I’ve always played as a throughput healer, so this was completely new.

Restoration Druid is familiar territory however, though I had never played the spec before. It is a slightly more predictive healer spec than reactive, since some HoTs should be up on the targets in preparation for heavy damage. But really, Druid’s toolkit is a cornucopia of Heal over Time spells, of which so many are instant. They are undeniably blessed with the ability to heal on the move. Which is why Druids are always chosen for the crap jobs like jumping up and help on conveyor belts, arena stands, Iron Horde ships etc. They also possess the strongest raid cooldown Tranquillity, which thankfully is a channelled spell. They can’t have it too easy, now can they?

Druids are not unlike the other throughput healers otherwise. All the classic healing spells have just been converted to instant HoT spells. There still are the expensive ones and the cheap efficient ones. It’s fairly straightforward and it dubs Druids to the second, or maybe first, class new healers should try their hand at. You won’t get that punished if you screw up a healing rotation or spell selection, so it’s great for new ones.

Okay, last spec. The Holy Paladins. This is the spec I’ve had least experience with. I had never touched it before and I had very seldom healed together with another Holy Paladin. All I knew was that had Beacons on tanks and they were a hybrid throughput / shield healers. Like Mistweavers, they rock a secondary resource system called Holy Power. But unlike Mistweavers, they are not equally dependent of it. Chi unlocks our two primary healing spells while refunding some of our mana with Mana Tea. Holy Power unlock some spells, but not necessarily the strongest ones. For AoE it’s Light of Dawn and for single target it’s Word of Glory or Eternal Flame if you have the talent.

They also have Flash of Light and Holy Light that are single target spells that don’t contribute to Holy Power. However, the spell Holy Radiance does, which is a mana-costly AoE spell. It also gives the buff Daybreak which turns your Holy Shock into an AoE Spell. Yeah, as you can see, it’s a bit more complicated than your normal healing specs. The shields I mentioned earlier are quite simple however. Holy Paladin’s mastery is called Illuminated Healing which is an absorption shield that is procced on each normal heal, equal to your mastery percentage. If I do Holy Shock on myself that does 100 healing and I have 20% mastery, I will get an Illuminated Healing shield that equals 20% of that 100 healing.

Then there’s the bacon- sorry, Beacon. If you place the beacon on a tank, that tank will receive 50% of all healing you do. Period. That means all AoE healing and multistrike, everything you cast on your raid will also heal your tanks for 50% of that amount. It also refunds some of your mana if you heal the beacon target directly. Hello, tank healers!

To wrap things up and but a bow on it; here are some of my first impressions. Paladin and Discs are great to have in a raid because they stabilize the raid’s health and also is great for healing the tanks. Holy Priest, Resto Druid, Shaman and Mistweavers are throughput healers that work best when the raid is at low health. If you look at logs, throughout healers spike their healing at chosen moments and they can burst quite hard. I think a combination of the two types are best for any sort of healing composition.

Shaman, Druids and Holy Priest are quite easy to understand and is a great choice for new healers. Disc, Holy Paladin and of course Mistweavers are slightly more complicated to start with. I included Discs not because of their healing spells, which are few and easy to use properly, but more because healing with just shields is not as easy as just react at incoming damage and put some healing water on it. It requires a little more predictive thinking and anticipation to heal efficiently. Holy Paladins and Mistweavers are harder because they have a secondary resource system and both have spells that interact with each other in complex ways.

I just realised that this post grew to thrice the intended size… Ops. Well, these are my first impressions and I’ll probably continue this discussion in the near future when I have more experience of all the specs. If you have any experience with healing in the other specs, please share your stories and tell me what you think of them as well!

10 thoughts on “Tea Talk and Healer Exploration”

  1. Interesting read. I played a disc since classic in raiding and arena to 2.2k lvl back when glad was in the 2.4/5 range. Never got glad but achieved Duelist. I retired my Disc just has Blackrock was released. The class, especially in pvp, lost much of its utility and felt dull and boring.

    So I rolleed a Mistweaver. Was I ever missing out! MW healing is far more interesting than disc, and I love the mobility both in raids and pvp. That said, I find myself struggling with mana and my healing when using “ask mr. robot” which captures the raid performance of every player and compares to other players with same gear lvl. The breakdown is very detailed. I highly recommend it.

    My performance is quite poor in pve, I have read all your stuff but seem to be failing somewhere. Now, my HPS is fair when I’m on tanks with EM & SM, but when i switch to uplift healing I seem to struggling in the HPS arena.

    Perhaps you could record some of your raids, and then after the raid narrate what you are doing for a particular boss. So we can get a feel for the pace and movements of a good MW in combat.

    1. Videos with commentary is an interesting idea. I’m just a bit hesitant to put my own voice on it. I do not have a good voice for video guides! xD
      But I’m gonna chew a little on it.

      Thank you for your comment! :)

    2. Yeah, I have almost the exact same problem. I’m doing everything I “should” be doing for Uplift Healing, but when I look at the logs on Ask MrRobot, I’m terrible as far as HPS and performance vs. gear. Not sure where I’m going wrong.

      1. Well, HPS is not a great indicator to show skill. A lot can decrease it without having anything to do with skill. For example, if you have a Disc Priest that have first dibs on healing, or if you need to handle a certain mechanic or switch to single-target healing to save people from dying.

        If you look at Warcraftlogs, the Mistweavers that have highest HPS on Heroics always have almost 30 people in their raid and rotate Revival on cooldown. That could mean 90 hits of Revival per fight, which greatly increases the HPS but it doesn’t necessarily mark the healers as skillful (though they likely are that as well).

        Point being, don’t stare yourself blind on the HPS meter. That said, what is actually defining a good Mistweaver is difficult to pinpoint. According to AskMrRobot, I did a performance of 95% on heroic Blackhand for my gear. That was done with a heavy use of Uplift and almost nothing from tier 6 talents.

        But I believe using Uplift is already common knowledge, so the stark difference HPS must lie in something other than spell use. Most likely it has to do with timing and the amount of Chi gathered and spent per minute. That is much harder to teach in a text guide and Luck’s above proposal about a raid video with commentary would likely be a better medium for that purpose.

        I just wished I could use someone else’s voice than my own… ^^

  2. Interesting conversation. I actually downloaded FRAPS the other day with the intent of recording some fights. I was having some mana issues using renewing mist on cd and then uplift – I started doing some fistweaving (per comments on this site) during low damage situations to build up mana tea so that I could use a lot of surging mist / enveloping during high damage times. I feel like I don’t waste renewing / uplift during low damage and then have the mana to go all out during high damage times. Things have improved.

    Fights where we are bunched up or damage is pretty predictable are not an issue. Its the fights where people are spread out I was struggling with. Dropping into Crane and hitting the boss then unloading when the time is right has increased my HPS in total but has greatly increased my HPS when the raid really needs it, especially towards end of fights where I have the mana to use big heals. So, in my estimation, MW Monks thrive if they have mana at the end of the fight! I’m paying more attention to the timing of fights (duration)… I’ve been able to use revival more than twice on a couple of fights – this really helps the raid. Lastly, finding set times on fights to use LC (our bubble) has been important.

    I’m finding that my choice of trinks matter. I have 4 level 670 or higher trinks. Mr. Robot doesn’t like my alchemy 485 trink or the chew toy (that has a spirit proc). I’m using the intellect crit proc one right now along with Chew Toy (int / spirit). I could tell a difference when I didn’t have the spirit proc.

    But all in all, the fistweaving has made all the difference. I can’t emphasize the difference having mana at the end of the fight makes. Also, beware of the meters. Concentrate on keeping people alive and killing bosses. If you are progressing and learning to play the spec, you’ll be fine. HPS is a horrible way to measure skill – if you want to beat the meters – play a druid! Honestly, i just watch the dps meters now – don’t pay attention to the healing meters.

    Heroic progression wise, we are on Maidens. I’ve got everything but Blackhand on normal. I have been practicing fistweaving in LFR just to get used to changing from stance to stance. On Mr. Robot, I’m usually in the 65%-75% range. Couple fights I’m at 85%. I’m learning – have been a windwalker monk since the beginning of MoP – so as long as I keep getting better, I’m having fun learning. I did finally get my spirit above 1200. I think the spirit proc on weapon and trink helps.

    I’m with you on Paladin healing. Can’t even get through proving grounds. I have a smite healer, but apparently that isn’t as effective as it was. I love all three Monk specs – so I have two max level monks I play.

  3. Just curious as to what strategy you took in regards to purchasing your heirlooms and roughly how much it cost you?

    I only currently have a Monk at 100 and all the other classes between 90-93. I know say giving a Holy Paladin the Mail heirlooms means losing out on the armor specialization but the exp boost in return is certainly worth it. Just want to get an idea on how others have approached it to level multiple characters “quickly”.

    1. I always level my characters either as tank or dps and have the appropriate heirlooms for it. As for how much I’ve spent… I don’t want to think about it… xD But probably 70,000 gold so far.

  4. Just coming back to encourage you to do a video w commentary. I and others would like to see your rhythm, timing etc.

  5. I personally find paladin healing very natural to me and not difficult at all. Of course, I differentiate healers on reactionary vs proactive which imo Paladins, Shaman, Holy priests and Monks are more reactionary while druids and disc priest lean more towards proactive (disc especially, given it’s absorb shields). Certainly every healer has a bit of both and i’m over generalizing but that’s how I always see it.

    The paladin being “easy” to me could be because I have played one since Burning Crusade, though not specifically at raiding levels. I suppose I undervalue the complexity that Holy Power adds.

    A commentary video would be pretty cool, as watching you play without it is fairly difficult to understand exactly what is going on, aside from cool phase swaps and that people are taking lots of damage.

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