I think that, even in these early days of rated Battlegrounds and Arenas, it has become clear that healers need more survivability. The problem is simple: since the changes to healing, healers just can't keep up with the damage being output in PvP. At the same time, the developers are more or less happy with where healing is right now in PvE. Any suggestion to remedy the situation in PvP for healers needs to not affect PvE by any significant margin.
We see people are more or less happy with how survivable Holy Paladins are in PvP. Examining closely, we see that there are two main reasons why this is the case:
- Holy Paladins have appreciably more armor than Priests and Druids, and slightly more than Shamans, due to having plate mail and shield.
- Holy Paladins have a lot of passive self healing through Protector of the Innocent and Enlightened Judgements talents. Every time a Paladin heals another target or casts judgement, he heals himself for a non-trivial amount of health. I'll also note that Holy Paladins have their hit talent integrated into the already powerful Enlightened Judgements, whereas other healers do not.
In PvE content, if a healer heals himself, something wrong is happening: unless it's part of the encounter design or some random AoE, this means he's being targetted, and the group is in trouble. The conclusion we can draw from this is that buffing passive self-healing or survivability mechanics to healers shouldn't appreciably affect PvE.
The weakness of healing right now is such that the optimal strategy in arena PvP is to just zerg the enemy healer, who will quickly go OOM trying to keep himself up using his mana-intensive heals.
During WotLK, PvP considerations directly affected healing output in PvE. Specifically, Ghostcrawler stated that a healing is balanced around 3v3 arena, and that a healer should be able to keep up 2 other players against 2 DPS. The result was very powerful healing in all areas of the game. I disagreed with this balance perspective Ghostcrawler has taken because we ended up with silly situations where battleground skirmishes were decided by who had more healers, and double healer comps in 3v3 and triple healer comps in 5v5 were dominant; not to mention the PvE ramifications where healing was a game of wack-a-mole.
A simple fact is that when a healer is casting a damage spell, he is not healing (ignoring exceptions like Atonement), thus the damage a healer is capable of doing is far less relevant in PvE. This is also true in PvP situations. Hence, I don't think the developers should be too afraid with giving healers more offensive capability.
To summarize, my suggestions are:
- give healers more powerful self-healing and survival mechanics so that they can keep themselves up in PvP
- give healers more capability to do damage without hurting their healing
Hence, my suggestions are as follows:
- Denounce: the Exorcism spell procced by this talent also does not trigger the GCD
- Desperate Prayer: cooldown reduced to 30 seconds
- Archangel: reduce the stacks needed to trigger to 3 casts of Smite (with a commensurately reduced effect for mana recovery)
- Smite: Atonement talent effect should be baked-in to the spell, Atonement talent removed, smart heal range should be extended to 40 yards.
- Smite: cast time reduced to 2 seconds baseline (1.5 talented), but keep the same spell damage coefficient
- Holy Fire: increase the damage 50%, and it should automatically make your next Heal spell instant cast and cost no mana
- Holy Fire: decrease mana cost to 9% of base mana
- Telluric Currents: redesign talent...
Casting Lightning Bolt grants the caster mana equal to 20/40% of the damage done, and reduces the cast time of the next Healing Wave spell by 0.5/1 second. Casting Chain Lightning grants the caster mana equal to 10/20% of the damage done, and reduces the cast time of the next Chain Heal by 1 second.
and so forth. These are just some ideas of how to give healers additional tools to deal damage and not sacrifice too much in terms of healing, both in terms of mana and GCDs.
Healers need to have ways to deal damage and more survivability for PvP without affecting healing output in PvE.