It feels exactly the same as it always has. What I mean is that if you are so stuck in the rut as a spamming healer then you are in luck because you can still spam heal. If you were one of the Paladins who found healing to be boring then you are in luck because we have a whole bunch of new stuff that can really be leveraged to provide you with a great time while standing there healing the tank. Are you catching what I am throwing down here? To borrow a phrase (and hopefully not get sued), we are the best there was, the best there is, and the best there ever will be at healing the tanks and by the Light it is time we started acting like it.
I am not a number cruncher as I have stated numerous times. Hell, I don't even care what number crunchers are saying right now. I am a results driven man and in my world the variables of who I heal with changes too much to have a perfect world attitude that some jerks may have. [;)] (That is a wink, but hard to do you know.) So I decided that there was no better way to test out the numbers than to raid ICC fresh with those of my guild who were able to be on. Raid leader had a corrupted file which meant reinstall, off-tank was slowly downloading the patch, and several DPS were either lost in the real world or in trying to make heads and tails out of their specs. So myself and five guild members dared the pool of PuGs and trudged into ICC to start fresh and check out rotations, specs, and our intestinal fortitude.
We started with a two healer set, myself filling the role of sir spams-a-lot (the stuck in the rut healer) and my counterpart Druid. I specifically built and play tested a spec for staying true to a spamming style because I wanted to see what effects it had overall on my healing style. When spamming Holy Light, I was able to spam for what seemed an eternity with minimal loss of mana. It felt somewhat comfortable but a little bulky/slow when compared to my favorite spam spec from Flash of Light and even when compared against the Holy Light spam-fest spec. The effective healing done was somewhere between the Flash and Holy Light styles that I used up till this patch. The overall results were me having a ton of overhealing and finishing with almost the same amount of healing done as my Druid counterpart. I have to admit I was surprised that it was that close because it really felt off to me (which it should have). That was through the first wing of ICC.
For the second wing, we had a PuG Shaman switch to their off-spec for healing and proceeded to mow down that wing. The thing I noticed in a three healer set for a ten man raid was that one of the healers was always much lower than the other two healers. It basically seemed like if you were the third healer to react then there just wasn't enough damage to heal for you. In retrospect I would be interested to see how it would have went in the two healer set versus three. Had it been full guild, I would have felt much more comfortable causing a wipe due to my curiosity but we did have guests and so we owed them the courtesy of not wasting their time. We called it on night one with the first and second wings cleared completely.
On our second night we picked back up with more guild members and the blood wing. We again went with a three healer set. This time we had myself on Ruhtra, my wife on her Paladin (Eus), and our guild Druid once again. I switched my style this time to focus on healing around Holy Shock and Word of Glory. My wife right away noticed the same thing I did and remarked about how slow the healing seemed now compared to pre-patch. We knocked out the Blood wing fairly quickly with some issues coming from the off-tank having some agro issues and a gung-ho Warlock pulling the orbs off the tank who was handling the ranged member of the council. We do that fight a little unorthodox with a Warrior tanking the ranged orb member in case you were wondering. All in all, it was pretty much the same results as I felt from the previous night.
We went and healed up our green friend and that was the same old same old there. Holy Paladins in and Druid and guild Shaman outside healing. Once again we had issues with some agro and had to make a couple attempts instead of one shotting as usual. We decided that it would be best to call it prior to doing Sindi simply because our PuG members (not saying they were bad) seemed to be playing a little loose and some careless mistakes had been made that I just didn't want to deal with trying to heal through. We did do one attempt to allow the PuGs to see the fight and explain what they should be doing. In reality only one PuG survived the air phase (phase 2?) and justified my decision for having the raid called.
So now that it is all settled and done with and I have one ICC 10 run under my belt how well do I like or dislike the new abilities? I have to say I like what I saw during this past week. It is nice having some additional spells for those moments where movement is going to be required. I definitely felt the difference on Rotface while running after the slime tank and also on Profesor Putricide as well.
I think where we will need to be careful is in not using Holy Shock enough. I really struggled on the second night in the Blood Wing and Frost Wing with making sure to cast it every time it was available. I have always used Holy Shock and considered myself well prepared for the change of focus for healing spells, but found myself wanting to find a comfy spot and just spam Holy Light. Another thing I feel I could have really improved on was using Divine Light in a more balanced way. Part of it was because I wanted to test the spamming of it, but the other part was that I still mentally fight thinking of it as the Flash of Light/Holy Light spell combo and that just cannot be the case any longer.
As it stands now I am going to focus on making Holy Shock the center of my healing universe. This is going to provide me with the mobility I craved for so long and coupled with the ability to feed Holy Power into Word of Glory it just makes sense and feels right. In the downtime between cooldowns of these two spells I will fill with a combination of Flash of Light, Holy Light, and Divine Light with Holy Light being the most used for mana conservation and Divine Light being second. Flash of Light is going to be relegated for those moments where you just cannot afford the longer cast time of Holy Light in a similar sense that Divine Light is for the moments where you will need a monstrous heal to bring back your tank. Remember to throw out a Light of Dawn when everything is aligned in a good spot and keep Beacon of Light up on the tank or special assigned raid member and things will go pretty smooth. That definitely is not the old style of healing but yet it retains the base idea of one spell is going to be cast much more often than others simply because it is available.
I realize there is a lot more depth to healing now and I plan to take a little closer look at it in detail, as well as specs, gemming choices, the age old argument of haste or crit, and a multitude of other things. As for now, what do you like or don't like about our new talents? What questions do you have burning inside that you just have not seen anyone talking about?