Thursday, June 21, 2007

One trick pally

I’m a paladin healer. I heal, heal, heal, and don’t really do anything else in instances. I’ve main healed five instances since moving to Outland, and they’ve all been totally successful. I’ve never done something that wasn’t main healing; I’m not even sure what I’d be capable of. (I suppose I could throw up Rightous Fury and gamely attempt to off-tank – I do have points in redoubt – but I’d be uncomfortable and probably unsuccessful.) What surprises me the most is that without doing anything special – just healing and cleansing, popping trinkets and short cooldown abilities when I remember to, I routinely get complimented on my healing. I don’t consider myself to be a great healer – I’m a good player only in the sense that I’m good at following directions; I’m not good at analyzing situations or reacting quickly and appropriately.

Now, there are two possible reasons why I’m drawing praise for my meager performance. The first possibility is that people are really polite to anyone who heals at least passably, because healers can be hard to find. I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for flattery, and I’d rather do further instances with people who think I’m doing alright than with people who are going to jump on me every time they pull aggro with their pyroblast crits.

The second possibility, and the one that makes for slightly more interesting discussion, is that most healers are doing it a little wrong. Before we start, everything here is the result of very little experience, just normal five mans up to Mana Tombs.

Healing is a balancing act. I don’t just mean balancing between saving mana and topping people off, or cleansing before or after the big heal. I mean it’s a balance between healing and doing stuff that isn’t healing. I have a lot of buttons on my action bar. One gets rid of debuffs. Two are normal, efficient heals. Two are situational heals. Four make my heals better or cheaper for a few seconds. All of the others don’t have as much to do with healing. Healing is a balancing act between pushing the buttons that make heals happen and pushing the thirty other buttons.

Now, it’s not fair to say that the only thing I do in an instance during combat is to use Flash of Light and Holy Light. Sometimes I use Hammer of Justice. I used to use Judgement of Justice, but have found it unnecessary since about Uldaman. One thing I very seldom do is melee. Why should I? My 41 DPS totem-hammer-thing probably isn’t going to save the mage a single fireball, and if I’m chain casting Flash of Light, I’m never going to swing it anyway. I could melee, but I’d be putting myself at risk for very little benefit to the party. If I eat cleaves or AoE damage spells, that’s more lost health I need to heal back, and even worse things can happen, like AoE knockdown or fear while I’m trying to heal.

The real primary benefit of meleeing is that I’d be able to keep Judgement of Light or Wisdom up. Realistically, however, in five-mans the amount of healing that Light would do is hardly worth the cost of running in there and judging it, especially since I’d need to connect with my mace once every ten seconds, something that’s not always possible when I’m healing. I’ve also tried using Seal of Wisdom to keep my mana up, but in practice, when mana’s tight is usually when I need to be doing things besides wailing on the hydra’s thigh.

Not meleeing has perks; I can see everything that’s happening; knowing that there’s a shadowbolt flying at the hunter a second before it actually hits him can help, and knowing where all the ranged classes are standing helps me keep them in range. (Cleanse has a 30 yard range, which means that I usually stand about 20 yards out from the tank, but if the mage decides to go all the way on the other side, they're out of my range.) I’m also unlikely to be the victim of any AoE abilities.

In the five instance runs I’ve done, I know for sure that I killed two targets. One was a shadow priest, and one was a warlock. I was mind controlled both times.

So what do you all think? Am I wasting potential by just using two spells, or am I right to avoid unnecessary risks and distractions by focusing on doing what I was brought to do well?

EDIT: Whoa, Sylvina was right. That really was a pain to read formatted like that.


Sylvina Solaris said...

I didn't get a chance to read this, but, quick heads up. Paragraphs man, they're your friend ^_^

Sylvina Solaris said...

I say any DPS is good DPS, it makes boss fights and trash go ever so slightly quicker, and helps make the fights go quicker. There is a good read on Blessing of Kings about Melee while healing. The jist is though:

You should be meleeing as long as it won't be interfering with your healing/cleansing duties you have as a Holy Paladin. I've gone for straight up melee/spell damage when I can and JoLing stuff, ESPECIALLY if the tank is well geared and doesn't take much damage. If a Shadow Priest is along, chances are he himself could be main-heal, so I just heal on bosses only.

Joyd said...

It's possible that part of the reason that I feel ineffective at melee range has to do with my style. I prefer to FoL unless people are taking damage quickly enough that HL is necessary. Because FoL is much less time-efficient - I have full points in Light's Grace - I generally chain cast it to keep up with damage dealt, which means that melee swings are few and far between. By healing from melee range, I get most of the drawbacks of standing in the middle of the action without most of the benefits. (Except for constant LoS on the tank.)

Since I tend to not come even close to running out of mana during trash fights, I suppose I could buy myself extra time by using HL more aggressively, which would give me time to do other stuff, though it's nice to know that if we get adds I have mana to spare.

I'm a very conservative healer in many ways; I tend to mostly use FoL to keep people topped off rather than waiting until there's clearly trouble to let loose with the heals. Unfortunately, this style tends to consume most of my time, reducing my effectiveness is other areas. Perhaps I'll experiment.

Megan said...

Because I am a PVP addict, I am always on the move doing different stuff even in a bland PVE 5 man. I guess it's a twitch factor that has become habit from other people trying to kill me.

When I am main healing, I focus first on whatever the MT is hitting, keeping it judged at all times (JOL if party primarily melee, JOW if caster stacked). If the pull happens to be unfriendly to melee (AE/cleaves) then I will judge and bounce, if not I will stay in and melee.

My second priority is to watch whatever soft DPS peels aggro off carelessly and be swift with FOL/HShock/HOJ (on the aggroing mob) and if it comes down to it, BOP. Granted, if the DPS is worth their salt, this should only be happening under extreme, planned conditions (such as: AE pulls, pure DPS vs time fights).

Thirdly, I will heal the Tank, and why 3rd in priority? Because he's the most aware of his survival and should be working just as hard in mitigating as I'm working on supporting---if he's anything decent (skill + gear) then slow Holy Light casts timed to perfection will keep him up. Remember, soft DPS classes when they get a spike in dmg will freak out and might do drastic things, so you shut them up and quick heal them. Good tanks will look at death in the face and stand their ground, 2.5 to 2 sec casts are gravy.


Sorry for the long read, stumbled on your blog, <3 to Pallies.