As requested, this post will be all about the touchy-feely aspects of healing as disc.
So gimmie just a minute to get myself all cozy on the couch and start off by telling you about my mother…
OK, OK, I won’t go all Freud on you.
But how a class/spec/role *feels* is a very valid and legitimate subject.
I don’t like the way fire *feels* on my mage. I understood it, I even geared for it once upon a time, but I never liked the way it felt, too frantic and reactionary. Arcane had an order, a flow, and I was in control of it. If I wanted more damage, *I* could take steps to burst while my fire cohorts were sacrificing gnomes and praying to the gods of RNG.
(I still sacrificed the gnomes, that part was too fun to pass up.)
(And yes, this was pre-Cata, I have not tried fire in many, many moons.)
(But I’m still sacrificing gnomes. Goblins too, now.)
Imagine that you are a concert pianist. You walk on to stage to the roar of the crowd (OK, very hearty yet still polite and restrained applause). You take your seat on the bench, stretch your fingers, wiggle them about a bit, and prepare to launch in to a piece you’ve performed flawlessly a million times.
But the black keys are white. The white keys are black. The peddles are missing. Every key struck produces a sound that is nothing like it should have been. Try as you might, you cannot get any coherent melody coaxed from the infernal contraption before you that had been your most familiar of companions only the day before.
The audience is confused, grows restless, and even as you try harder and harder, they begin shifting in their seats, muttering to their neighbors, and ultimately walking out. One particularly fine example of humanity yells “L2HEAL NOOB” before he exits, leaving the concert hall empty but for the echoes of your failure. Head hanging low, you contemplate a change in career as well as name, removing all traces of this past life.
And that is what the first few weeks of healing as disc felt like.
Steaming, putrid, shit.
I had to level my priest first in Cata since that’s my established raiding toon in the guild. Like most guilds, we run heavy on DPS and lighter on heals/tanks.
So I’m out and about in the world, smiting my little heart out and enjoying the scenery. Quests are being completed in rather short order and I don’t feel gimped in any particular way for being heal spec while completing solo combat.
I went through Vashj’ir first and eventually found the entrance to Throne of the Tides.
First thing I noticed is that I almost always had more health than my tanks. Scary!
The DPS had no concept of crowd control or how to move out of the bad.
I was OOM from trying to keep a 45k HP tank standing while he ate Dark Fissures like they were candy.
We would wipe and run back and try again.
Eventually, the quality of tanks got better as I found more dungeons and finished the journey to 85. Things were usually a little dicey, I was generally out of mana, and there was almost always at least one death per boss fight, but I could chalk it all up to us having crap gear and learning the encounters.
With a little help from Tir and the rest of the guild, it wasn’t long (about an hour) after hitting 85 before I was ready (per the game’s ilevel meter) to enter heroics.
And so the mad marathon of running heroics for loot and reputation began. As one of the few healers in the guild eligible to run heroics, I was constantly in a group. Log in, get an invite. Not logged in, people bugging Tir asking if I was logging on.
And the heroics were hard. With a group of guildies, all in vent, in the best gear we had come by, using CC, familiar with the strategies of the fights, and it was hard.
And it was frustrating.
By the end of Wrath, if someone died in a heroic with me it was because they fell off something and died. Or I didn’t like them and got them killed. But it was a very, very rare event for someone to die because I couldn’t save them.
We were wiping left and right. And I know these guys, I’ve raided with some of them off and on since Ulduar. These are not bad players by any means.
And so it felt like the only place left for blame to rest was on me.
The straw that very nearly broke the camel’s back was my first (and possibly only, now that I think about it) heroic Grim Batol run.
I had just finished farming the hell out of the place on regular, trying to get enough gear to move in to heroics. I hit 85 and one of the first heroics the guild pulls me into is GM.
They had already downed the first boss and the healer had to step out. I logged in and was snatched up. They were at the second boss, the Forgemaster (who drops a nice wand for me). They had wiped a couple times but were pretty sure that they had it figured out now.
And so we pulled.
And wiped some more.
The tank stepped out to let a higher-HP tank take a stab at it.
And we wiped some more.
Finally, we downed him and moved through the rest of the instance with relative ease. (Compared to that Forgemaster fight, brain surgery would be easier.)
We cleaned up and zoned out.
I broke down.
I made it through the entire instance and then just lost it.
In between sobs, I questioned if I wanted to continue healing. I was tempted to just delete the character and never look back. Healing had been difficult for me to learn at first, but it had never been like this, never felt so futile and aggravating. It had never before felt like such utter failure.
I got another invite to heal another heroic within a few minutes. I accepted and through the tears, healed something a little less strenuous. There were deaths and there were wipes, but it was no where near the magnitude of raw suckage that the previous GM run had been.
Slowly, I became accustomed to the black keys being white and the white being black. The little boxes are rarely all green and they are noticeably missing their little yellow borders, but more often than not, the entire party is standing at the end.
I don’t feel like the healing powerhouse I felt like in Wrath, where I could heal through stupid if I wanted to and often did.
I have to triage now. Keep a mental checklist of what players have what abilities to save themselves and if I’ve noticed if the ability has been used. (Hey, all that bragged about hitting max First Aid in the first week of release? USE your goddamn bandages!) Too good for CC? Then my heals aren’t good enough for you, either.
I have to keep a list of who’s important to save. Obviously myself, the tanks and the other healers, but which of the DPS doesn’t die to stupid shit? Nothing more frustrating than bring someone back form the brink of death only to have them stand in the next void zone. Smart players get rewarded with heals. Lazy or bads get left to die. Survival of the fittest determines where my very finite supply of mana gets sent.
I’m getting into the groove of healing again and I know things will get better. Already the drops I got out of heroics made a significant difference in the longevity of my mana pool, alleviating much of the strain. I seem to be doing fine in raids, both 10s and 25s, so I’m not worried too much anymore.
Shortly, I do plan on putting a holy spec together so I have a little more flexibility in raids. Currently as disc, I just don’t feel as powerful as the other classes for group heals. When I get around to that and have some fights under my belt, I’ll look at doing a comparison between disc and holy since this post was mostly about how healing in general felt and not just disc.