Posted by: Kro | April 22, 2010

Healing Hands and Healer Role Dynamics in Cataclysm

So talking with some guildies and reading more of Ghostcrawler’s responses from the Healing Hands thread on the wow community forums, I’d like to talk a little more about what I see coming in the next expansion for all healers.

I’ve been under the impression that the healer role (tank healer, raid healer, aoe healer) will be by and large going away in Cataclysm as they relate to class. Or I should say, under the impression that is their goal, whether it ends up that way or not is up for grabs.

You can have several people read 1000 Ghostcrawler quotes and each of them could make a different case as to how they’ve interpreted them correctly. GC needs to remain as ambiguous as possible in order to disappoint the least amount of people and I don’t fault him for that.

With all that out of the way I’d like to start with my impression. I could swear I’ve read in plain English somewhere that they want all healers to be able to tank heal and raid heal equally.

If they have said that.. anyone have a link?

If they haven’t, perhaps the reason I’ve come to this conclusion is what I gather from certain GC quotes.

1) If Paladins lose their current standing as OP tank healers then they need to be reliable raid healers
2) To be a reliable raid healer we need to be able to raid heal in multiple situations
3) HH is not set up in such a way as to allow Paladins to heal in multiple situations


I would say it thusly:

1) If Paladins lose their current standing as OP tank healers then they need to be reliable raid healers
2) To be a reliable raid healers, we need to be reliable raid healers.

I don’t think your point 2 and 3 follow from point 1.



This quote is pretty interesting (and reassuring that paladins will either have a tank healing niche or be “reliable” raid healers). Taking into account the introduction of Healing Hands, and the plan to remove Holy Light (or the Greater Holy Light or whatever will be the main mamma-jamma healing spell for paladins) from Beacon of Light, we can extrapolate that they are toning down paladin tank healing and beefing up raid healing.

The removal of big heals from Beacon of Light would substantially reduce paladin OP tank healing. In this instance, OP meaning able to effectively or solely heal 2 tanks simultaneously or able to whack a mole raid heal without losing HPS on a singular tank. In an environment where we expect little overhealing to occur (assuming smart play and mana conservation), it’s fair to also expect the necessity to use those greater heals we’ve all being given (as opposed to exclusively using fast/inefficient). If we are using those greater heals, and they aren’t on beacon, the argument that paladins tank heal the best, or can heal the raid while tank healing lose a lot of water.

We don’t know the exact amount of damage, or life expectancy without attention tanks in Cataclysm will have but if memory serves, the intention is that the raid will be at a constant state of sub 100% hp comfortably, and tanks may be able to go a few seconds without heals and without the danger of being gibbed.

What is concerning (and reassuring) is the “IF” included in the statement by the player and in Ghostcrawlers response. The “If paladins lose their premiere tank healing title belt” statement leaves this option for paladins to remain THE tank healer class in the air. This is further supported in my previous Healing Hands post where GC is quoted saying “We might be okay with the tendency for groups to still assign paladins to tank healing because they are particularly good at it.”

The contradictory portion is in the words, might, tendency, and particularly. After discussion with a few of the players whose analytical skills I most respect, I will submit that it’s quite possible Paladins will still be the go to tank healer. However, the presence of those 3 words from GC encourages my belief that Blizzard intends to balance the 4 healing classes to seamlessly fit each healing role. I believe the whole statement to be a catch-all, cover your butt statement that loosely confirms the opposite intention but accepts the likelihood of coming up short of that goal. (I concede my interpretation could be completely wrong here.)

The difference between the players assertion that “to be a reliable raid healer, you must be able to raid heal in multiple situations” and GC’s correction that “to be a reliable raid healer, you must be able to reliably raid heal” is very basic and true. GC is absolutely correct and the player is both right and wrong. I believe the correction by GC is to underline his previous example “Sometimes you’ll have to spread out and your group healing won’t be as efficient (in the same way a shaman’s group healing isn’t as good in the same scenario)”

What makes GC correct in his shaman analogy is that Shamans group healing (pre healing rain) is very dependant on how many people are grouped up or how many yards people are away from each other. What it skates over is that when a raid is grouped up both pally and shaman will have great AE healing capability, but when many small groups are spread out shaman will still shine and paladins will be outclassed. I’m purposely ignoring priest and druid because I believe both to have a capable tool box for raid healing whether grouped up or not.

I believe what makes the player correct is that paladins will have the least amount of raid healing utility. HH may have a 10 yard radius; it may heal enough to continuously keep everyone in a 20 yard diameter topped off (no small feat in what we expect Cataclysm raid damage to be like) but it will not allow paladins to fulfill a straight raid healing role.

Now one point I should have thought of that struck me considerably is .. what are the other healers doing?
“Basically blizzard doesn’t want Holy Paladins to have a clear cut position in a raid when it comes to healing but they don’t want to give us the tools necessary to actually be interchangeable with druids/priests/shamans.”


We never said this. In fact we pretty regularly try and encourage you not to challenge our goals on the basis of specific mechanics or spells. (“X is a bad spell for Y, therefore clearly Blizzard has given up on their notion that we can do Y.”)

We are trying to further banish the notion that you need X to raid, where X is anything other than “a good player.” If you were earning your raid spot because nobody else had the powers that your class had, I would try to improve your personal contribution or find another group.


As well as

What we want to avoid are those cases where a group feels like they can’t possibly keep tanks alive because they lack a paladin or they can’t possibly keep groups alive because they have too many paladins.


These two GC quotes may be where I interpreted that all healers will be equally capable of raid or tank healing. Taking into account the other healers in compliment of a raid healing, Healing Hands paladin,  I’ll try to describe with a few examples the class make up of presumed healing teams in Cataclysm, assuming for the sake of argument, 2 tank healers and 4 raid healers.

Team 1 (Classic Model)

Holy Pally x2, Druid x1, Priest x2 (both flavors), Shaman x1

Loose assignments can be, Paladins tank healing, with the 4 others raid healing (albeit differently, some washing hots, chaining groups of people, pre damage bubbling, and large direct group healing)

Team 2 (raid healing paladin)

Holy Pally x1, Druid x2, Priest x1, Shaman x2

Priest and Shaman1 well say are on tanks, Shaman2 plus druids/paladin on the raid. 3 raid healers are able to throw group heals at anyone in the raid while the paladin heals the largest mass of players (likely the melee/tanks)

Team 3 (all your friends are paladins)

Holy Pally x4, Druid x1, Shaman x1

To really exaggerate the concept of ” If you were earning your raid spot because nobody else had the powers that your class had, I would try to improve your personal contribution or find another group.” we’ll put all 4 paladins on raid healing. This will also test the statement that Blizz wants to avoid “they can’t possibly keep groups alive because they have too many paladins.”

Druid and Shaman heal the tanks while each of the 4 paladins spread out across the room. Maybe 1-2 are in melee, 1 is in range, and the last is somewhere with obscure group X for mechanic Y.

The funny thing about team 2 and 3 is that this would likely work. It confirms the counter points from my discussion with guildies the assertion that the other healers would support a solely raid healing paladin enough to make him a “reliable” raid healer.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts it would seem.

I still believe paladins will be on par tank healers with the other 3 healers (a justifiable downgrade). I also believe Healing Hand paladins pound for pound will be worse raid healers than the other 3 healers, forced to lean on other raid healers to justify their own spot, chained to their assignment and unable to cross/cheat heal.  In a 25 man raid situation, the goal of  making the abscense of a paladin or having to many paladins (or any class) less of an issue is achieved even if paladins are deficient pound for pound in AE healing proficiency. However can I even still say paladins are deficient if they are capable of being brought into a raid and pulling the same weight? (assuming stringent assignments)

Perhaps you can’t if they can be propped up by the other 3 raid healers or by 3 other supposedly deficient paladin raid healers equally. Also consider that paladins are somewhat of a (don’t hate me) beginner class. From the start they’ve had easier “rotations” and smaller tool boxes (in some senses) that allow them to play at relatively higher levels with less effort. I’m completely discounting the buffing, dispels, hand spells that require talent in pvp or for going from 90% to 100% proficient players (as opposed to other classes where button mashing only takes them 60% and their rotations/sense bring them to 100%). Maybe it’s the intention of Blizzard to give paladins reliable raid healing without allowing them to cross heal on par with other classes. You can’t stretch your healing to the limit propping up less talented raid healing compatriots however you can’t cheat on your own assignment so you are forced to heal the “right” people. It could be another fail safe to keep paladins from the top of the world but almost difficult to play at the bottom.

Maybe this is where I veered off into Kro land where obscure ideas aren’t transmitted through osmosis. (It’s good I’m keeping a blog and have people nice enough to call me out so I can learn to present my ideas differently.)

Will Healing Hands make paladins reliable raid healers…? In the context of a raid healing team rather than one player, yes it’s quite possible they will be (contrary to what I boldly stated in my original healing hands post). Will Healing Hands hold back paladins from growing beyond their assignment (something I hold essential as an end game healer but is not technically a healing requirement for any role).. It’s quite possible as well.

I suppose it comes down to how you define reliable; capability or potentiality.



  1. This is a truly well rounded look at the issue, complete with a ton of thought provoking insight. Bravo!

  2. many thanks, I couldn’t have presented it this way without help.

  3. Seems your avatar is now outdated, Dwarf!

  4. […] Healing Hands and Healer Role Dynamics in Cataclysm This was written by PwnerAdmin. Posted on Sunday, June 6, 2010, at 8:58 pm. Filed under Paladin. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments here with the RSS feed. Post a comment or leave a trackback. […]

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