Topic Simplest Healer to Play and Learn?
In terms of 'ease to learn', I'd rank them: Shaman > Discipline Priest > Druid/Paladin > Holy Priest.
Posted this somewhere else too, but in short: In the long run, all healers sort of plateau to the same difficulty because most of the challenge, once you develop muscle memory, is usually in the environment and in reacting smartly.
In the short term though, shammies have a very linear and forgiving learning curve for the new healer.
Not as many spells as some other classes and all of them useful, most procs are unmanaged, most combinations of heals and procs are smart and don't need micro-managing.
While not the mindless CH spam it used to be (thank God), it's still fun and effective, and not too punishing, even if you make a small mistake here and there.
For progression raiding of course don't expect it will take anything less than your A-game and decent knowledge of the class and mechanics, with ANY class, in cata. But to get to 85 and do 5man, I would say Shammy or disc priest.
In terms of 'ease to learn', I'd rank them: Shaman > Discipline Priest > Druid/Paladin > Holy Priest.
To add to this though, IMO while shaman have the easiest learning curve to play alright, they compound this by having the hardest learning curve to play "good". So if your goal is endgame raiding, you'll have to work harder with your shaman than any other class to be competitive.
Shamans have weakness that other classes don't. Being a turrent healer we have huge mobility issues, So for us, we need to know a lot of the fights inside and out, and know when and how we're going to move before we do to have as little downtime as possible. And we're almost a purely reactive healer. shields and hots can be placed before damage is taken, chain heals cannot. So we need to be aware of things like raid range, incoming heals, and overall be a lot more twitchy than other classes since they can do a crapton of healing just through preemptive mindless blanketing.
If we're talking easiest endgame, I would have to go druid. if it's just 5mans though, ya shammy pretty dam easy.
I only know one class of heals and that is pally, I have been playing a pally since i started wow years ago, and i found it simple but challenging with the abilites we had to negate or lessen damage to a single person or raid. But we had most of those abilities taken away, and had other abilities given to us, and watching proc's and not wasting holy power, its a completely different healing style in terms of what holy pallys used to be, I used to do a lot of cool downs with abilities but we dont have them now so in that term it was simplified but for me.. i still say healing as a pally especially with the changes we endured has been a challenge, at least for me to keep up with what i was capable of before, but I enjoy the challenge 98% of the time. But my new toon will be a shammy just to have a little bit of a change.
Resto sham -> disc priest/resto druid -> holy paladin/holy priest
With the changes to paladins in terms of holy power and spell costs etc. they're nowhere near as faceroll/easy as they were.
Disc and resto have the same principles - spam shield/rejuv while keeping PoM/WG up. Druids get swiftmend + lifebloom on a tank while disc gets pain sup and power infusion.
I've healed with druids, paladins, and priests, and I have to say the most enjoyable for me is Discipline priest. It is also pretty straightforward. Yes, priests get a lot of buttons that do different things and it can look a little scary to have 7 different healing buttons, but you very quickly learn when to use which ability. Especially since the cataclysm changes, the whole smite-healing mechanic is fun for dungeons and probably will feel pretty natural to you as a DPSer.
Holy Paladin was a blast to play too, but they have some issues. They used to have trouble healing party-wide damage but Protector of the Innocent and Beacon of Light, along with Light of Dawn makes it a lot easier. The problems I had with the class involved generating Holy Power effectively without doing a ton of overheal with Word of Glory or LoD.
Holy Priest is pretty challenging now. TBQH, managing their Chakra buff thing and using Holy Word looks like it's not that bad on paper, but in a raid environment it becomes a lot more difficult.
Haven't played Druid since the cata patch, so I won't comment on it.
I've been playing around with each of the healing classes using low level characters recently. In my opinion druids are actually a really good starter class. This is mainly to do with rejuvenation and swiftmend being your main healing tools at lower levels. I find that durids starting spells are a bit more forgiving than some of the other classes.
While almost everyone here is recomending shamans, I found that their starting range of spells to be a little cluncky and restrictive, esecially if something happens (which will happen at low levels as there are a lot of first time players rolling tanks, and not knowing how they work) and you are forced into spamming healing wave.
I find Discipline priests to be the most fun, but that is just me.
Priests—especially holy—have a lot of different spells and mechanisms to provide healing. However, 5-man content can be healed without worrying about what half of those buttons do.
If you start healing at a low level with any healer, you'll get comfortable with your spells one at a time. My advice for the person who wants to learn to heal on an easy class would be to follow the advice in this thread (some of it is excellent) but also, make sure the character's 'main' spec is healing. Don't level up and then start healing, because you're giving up some of the best opportunities you'll get to learn how your abilities work. Plus you'll be in a good position to decide early whether the class 'feels' good to you, because at the end of the day, that's what will make you good at it. If you're not feeling it, try something else.
I mostly agree with this too.
Paladins used to either spam one button if tank healing (HL) or use three if doing 5 mans (SS+FoL, HL if that wasn't enough, rarely HS if needing to heal while moving.) They were pigeonholed as tank healers spamming HL, but it was something that they could do easily, with great efficiency allowing them to never run out of mana (even greater efficiency with FoL, but it was too weak.)
With the addition of Holy Power and the removal of efficient and potent spells, a Holy Paladin heals in much more complex ways now. There's actually call for stopcasting, reminiscent of old school Vanilla Priests, and there's a lot of watching your HP to see when you have 3HP and having to decide if the particular situation will allow you to use it or if you just NEED to get a HS or FoL on someone right quick to prevent a death (which may cause you to "waste" a HP you'd otherwise use.)
I'm not going to say it's hard, just...different. You're managing your mana, your HP (including generating it), procs on HS/WoG (Daybreak and Eternal Glory), and so on. This makes it far more complex and takes away the "comfort" of knowing you had the right tool for your assigned job...but at the same time has the potential to allow Paladins to do more than just tank heal (depending on how Holy Radiance turns out.)
Druids have always been a more...subtle...healer. It goes with their lore and fits their class very well. Hence all the HoTs. Druids right now are more different than any other healer, as they don't EXACTLY follow the, "Medium/quick/inefficient heal, small/slow/efficient heal, large/slow/somewhat efficient heal" paradigm that the other healers (possibly excluding Disc) do. So they have a lot of utility in HoTs, but also there's some weird stacking and the whole Tree of Life CD which is just...a little weird at present. (As healing CDs are wont to be.) It requires a little more forethought in picking your spells, but it's also a unique way of healing, if you're up for it.
Though you CAN be quickly overwhelmed if you fall behind in healing, and you don't have quite the tools other classes have to make up for it. That said, you have Barkskin+Tranquility...
Priests...I have a 76 Priest I leveled as Holy to 50ish, Disc to 70ish (I liked bubbling my team as they crossed the bridge to assault the Alliance base in AV. ^_^), and then Holy again to present.
Overall, the Priest is nuts, lol. Holy is probably THE most versatile healer in the game, but with great versatility comes great complexity. To play a Holy Priest well, you need to be well versed in all your different heals, how they work, and what would then be the best situations to use them in. A pretty tall order for a new healer. Though the cool thing about Priests is you have the option to start as Disc and change to Holy later if you so choose.
Disc was cool because it played (before 4.0.x) very much like a variation on the then HPaly. Just instead of the awesomeness that was Holy Light, you had Power Word: Shield that could be quickly cast on several people, a powered up Flash Heal, and still had access to all the tools of a Holy Priest, just with less efficiency/potency (well, excluding some of the talented AOE heals.) It was quick to pick up and pretty useful both in BGs and 5 mans. And, again, you have the option to change to Holy later.
Though with 4.0.x and the addition of Archangel and Chakra (the former both Holy and Disc can get, the latter just Holy), there's an added level of complexity there too. It has some cool applications (Chakra is a bad-arse spell which amps up a Holy Priest's versatile healing EVEN MORE), it also adds a LOT more complexity to the specs. Disc less than Holy, though.
Due to its relation to pre-4.0.x HPaladins, I'd say Disc is probably the second easiest to use right now.
Shaman - the one healer I don't have leveled up. :) I have three Shaman friends, though, all with Resto as an off-spec. Overall, from watching them, reading about it, and playing a little on one friend's in a BG, Shaman seem to be the simplest (which was your question) to pick up.
You have to take this with a grain of salt, though. Unlike the others which I learned as I leveled (or the Paladin which I've been relearning all this new stuff over the past few weeks), I just jumped into the Shaman knowing how to heal pretty good already. (And it really is true that if you understand healing well on one class, you can play the others decently, if not overly masterfully, if you get the chance to hop on one.)
But, the Shaman were also the closest to where Bliz wanted them before Cata, so they've had the least changes.
Shaman have a fairly small but quite versatile toolkit. They have the small/med/large heal, AOE heal, shield for the tank (Note: The Paladin one, Sacred Shield, was taken away from us for some reason no one knows), a healing totem, and an instant heal+HoT in the form of Riptide.
Their spells work together well, do the job they're supposed to do well, and each one has fairly obvious situations for using them. That is, you can almost always tell when you need to use each one (unlike, say, a Holy Priest where there's a great deal of options for any given situation and the BEST one isn't always clear.)
This combination of versatility and power is currently unmatched by the other healers. I'm not totally sure on EFFICIENCY, but Healing Stream Totem is probably one of the most efficient (if not THE most) heal per mana in the game due to its long duration.
So...as I said, take it with a grain of salt, but I think Resto Shaman are probably the easiest healers to learn to play right now. I'm not going to say which is the hardest to master (they're all hard in different ways, though I think the Shaman may be the easier one to master right now, Disc Priest and Resto Shaman are probably about even there, really...), but as far as the easiest toolkit to pick up and run with, I'm going to say it's PROBABLY Shaman.
But that's also the only one I don't have at high level (though, as I said, I am quite familiar with them), so take THAT with a grain of salt, too.
Shaman > Disc > Druid > Paly > Holy Priest
Is currently where I'd rate the difficulties. Paly closer to Holy, Disc closer to Shamy.
In the end, though...just try them all. If you get each one to level 20, you'll have a better idea of if you just LIKE the style or not. If you don't love to heal on a character, you're not going to enjoy it long (healing really is a martyr's calling.)
And, as the poster above me said, they don't stick you at 80 with all your spells at once. As you level a character, you pick up a few here and there. You have time to add them to your arsenal and get used to them before you get the next one. So by the time you DO get to the level cap, it's not quite so overwhelming as it would be if you had them all at once.
Try them out, then see which you like the best, run with that one. :) That's my advice to you.
But if you have no preference for any of them, Shaman is the easiest. (But if you already have any high level healer...hey, dual spec's only 10G now, if you don't already have it. And if you do...well, doesn't cost too much to respec for a day and try it out. ^_^ Though mind the gear.)
I think the "easiest" class will be the one that the op takes the time to learn to play. Honestly the gameplay for all healers is very similiar.
Speaking about paladins specifically though, they do have some non-intuitive mechanics, created by holy power, beacon of light, and tower of radiance. For instance the most hps/hpm you can do for healing you group it spamming holy light on your tank and healing the group with light of dawn.
However, those non-intuitive mechanics aren't something you would need to bother with when just learning how to heal. If you are starting as a healer from level 1 what you will be learning will be pretty similar across priests, druids, shaman, and paladins. You will have time to learn the basics of healing before you get into more advanced stuff.
Edited by Alyshira on 12/5/10 2:23 AM (PST)
So if your goal is endgame raiding, you'll have to work harder with your shaman than any other class to be competitive.
I don't think that's exactly true... as in, I don't think that if a meter showed all 5 healing specs contributing the same amount, that meant the shaman worked harder than all the other classes.
It is true that working harder means you will be more competitive, but I don't think a shaman has to work harder than other classes to be competitive.
shields and hots can be placed before damage is taken, chain heals cannot. So we need to be aware of things like raid range, incoming heals, and overall be a lot more twitchy than other classes since they can do a crapton of healing just through preemptive mindless blanketing.
Mindlessly spamming chain heal would be as easy as mindlessly spamming rejuvenation or pw:s. It's casting that heal for a reason makes healers equally good. Also, being aware of the encounter is just as required for other healing classes to be "good".
For example, a resto druid/disc priest who isn't aware of incoming aoe damage wouldn't have pre-emptive heals up. (On the opposite spectrum, if all they did was cast pre-emptive heals, they would never heal as well as if they knew when to spot heal.)
I feel this is the most accurate response. If you've been playing the game a while and you have a brain, I'm sure you could pick up any healer and roll with it. I've played a healer since day one so maybe I'm not much help there, but I do have an 80 of every healer class. So my conclusion = Priests have the most buttons but are the most fun, Shamans are fairly simple imo but totems make me wanna punch babies, Paladins are pretty straightforward really maybe you should start there, Druids are HOT machines which I hate so any comments I could make there would be incredibly biased. None of them are 'hard' to play, per say. All classes, healer or not, take a bit of time to get the hang of.