A: We’d like to be more consistent about what does and doesn’t trigger Water Shield. Having the shield trigger when taking direct damage, and consume an orb, is consistent with how all shaman shields work. On some encounters though, constant pulsing damage probably burns through those charges too quickly and doesn’t need to do so – that said, if you’re having to refresh Water Shield often, that also generally means that you’re getting a large amount of extra mana from all those procs that are burning through it. A situational glyph (like we have for Lightning Shield) could help with this issue, and that may be something we consider in the future.
Shaman raid tank healing is, if anything, underrated. With a combination of Earth Shield, Riptide, and Greater Healing Wave fuelled by Tidal Waves, a shaman’s throughput can be quite impressive. Yes, a Holy paladin using Beacon can more effectively heal two tanks who are simultaneously taking damage, but on the other hand, a shaman can deal better with multi-target damage or healing clumps of players. Healers have different strengths and weaknesses, which is fine as long as it doesn’t get too extreme, but we recognize that the core functionality of being able to heal a single tank who is taking heavy damage from a boss is something all healers need to be able to do, and we’re satisfied with the current balance in that regard. We will, of course, make adjustments if inequalities begin to appear.
The Mana Tide change in 4.2 was primarily aimed at reducing the mana available to non-shaman healers in raids. In short, shaman are balanced around always having their own Mana Tide, but other healers are instead balanced around their personal cooldowns (Shadowfiend, Innervate, etc.). Adding Tide on top of those often led to other healers having access to so much mana that managing the resource became a non-issue in many situations. The change from Improved Water Shield to Resurgence was designed to offset the Mana Tide reduction’s personal impact to the shaman.
Q: Is it intended for “smart” heals and target capped aoe spells to heal companions/pets like bloodworms instead of players? Can you redesign Shaman’s Chain Heal, so that it can jump over full HP players to a target without full HP? Do you have any plans to make chain heal stronger/more appealing for 5man/10man content? – Epicfail (NA), 珍妮佛羅培根 (TW), Pikapika (NA)
A: True AoE heals (e.g. Healing Rain) will heal pets and guardians, but will not count those units towards the AoE cap. We’d prefer for “smart” heals to prioritize players over non-players whenever possible, and we’ll continue to improve the logic on such heals until that is the case – it certainly doesn’t feel particularly satisfying to see that you’ve just delivered a critical heal to a Bloodworm.
Chain Heal is inherently a situational spell – that situation tends to arise more often the more players are present, but we don’t have any plans to redesign the spell to make it the go-to heal when there are fewer players present, or they are all spread far apart. We’d rather augment other tools, or add new ones, if it appears that Shaman healing is inadequate for particular situations.
Q: At the start of Cataclysm, the the idea was given that developers wanted to step away from niche healing and let all healers be capable tank or raid healers. Has this goal since changed? Is there any plan to change the dogma “Holy Paladin = Tank healer”? As I remember, devs said that they wanted to change this formula in a past interview but Holy Paladins are still considered as a tank healer, indispensable for raid. Even thought other healers can heal tankers, there are people who say that this job is hard for other healers. – Frazlo (NA), 트롤학개론 (KR)
A: The goal hasn’t changed. We added three new heals for paladins and changed their resource model to make them a better group healer. You can argue that we didn’t go far enough and we should have given paladins even more new heals, but we didn’t want the Holy spec to be unrecognizable for a long-time player.
We suspect several paladins would turn your question around and argue that it’s not that they are indispensible tank healers, but that they can’t compete against other healers for group healing. Ultimately, we think the problem is Holy Radiance. Light of Dawn is a finisher so it’s never going to be continuously available for periods of intense group healing without unshackling it from Holy Power. Holy Radiance could be changed however. Our original concept of Holy Radiance being a tool the paladin used to heal those around her never quite panned out – we had to keep bumping the range to make it a useful heal, which removed much of the positional gameplay. Currently it is potent, but fairly “fire and forget.” A paladin is never choosing not to use Holy Radiance, unless perhaps mana is very tight. A better model for Holy Radiance, and something we are considering for the next content patch, is as a cast-time spell with no cooldown that generates Holy Power (for Holy paladins at least). This would give Holy paladins an actual area-healing rotation -- Holy Radiance and Light of Dawn -- that they could use instead of the single-target heals. Currently Holy Radiance can just be layered on top of the other heals, so the paladin isn’t shifting into group-healing mode the way a shaman can focus on Chain Heal or a priest can focus on Prayer of Healing.
Q: Are you still considering creating a new heroic class of healer? Are there any plans for adding any new class with a healing talent tree in future expansions? – Molatuna (EU-FR), Elvenadoren (EU-EN)
A: Obviously, we can’t talk about future expansions yet. What we can share is that whenever we have discussed adding a new class that can heal, the biggest question we debate is whether the healing model should be similar to the existing classes or something radically different. Something different has the potential to attract players currently burned out on healing or maybe even new healers. On the other hand, it would be much harder to balance. We know the three-heal, mana-and-Spirit based system largely works.
Q: What are the developers' thoughts on perhaps giving Discipline priests three strengths/types of shields/absorbs, in a similar manner as all other healers have three main heals? Discipline priests (especially those purely going for absorb) always were unique through this absorb, I mean: Shields. Why does this become shorter and shorter, always saying we should go for direct healing instead? In that case you could play another healing class that has better direct heals. – Kahlan (NA), Zerreshju (EU-DE)
A: Balancing the Discipline Priest is often challenging because they can provide so much more damage prevention than the other healers. If Discipline priests had all absorb spells instead of heals, it might make them mandatory for all raids but weak when healing a 5-player dungeon. That said, replacing one of the three mainstay heals with an absorb for Disc is certainly something we’ve talked about before. It’s too big a change for the current expansion but something we’d like to explore in the future. Power Word: Shield is instant so it’s hard to build a whole rotation around that spell. If Discipline had an efficient cast-time absorb and then used Power Word: Shield more for instant healing, their toolkit would feel more fleshed out. However, players who cling to the attitude of “I’m a Disc priest; I should only shield,” aren’t really understanding our design for the class. Ditto with druids who only want to cast hots, or paladins who only want to drop heal bombs on the main tank. “I’m good at something” isn’t the same as “I only do that thing.”
Q: When healing, it is hard to see the overall screen because healers must keep an eye on the Raid frame. And due to PVP balance issues, dispels are only allowed for healer’s. This situation makes it too harsh for the healers and gives to much responsibility and also a burden because healers have to heal and move at the same time during raids. Isn’t this a little too harsh? – 스페이드 (KR), 신기하군 (KR)
A: Well, raiding isn’t only hard for healers. In fact, most of the time the damage seems unhealable, it’s probably because it is intended to be unhealable and there is some aspect of the fight that you’re missing or not executing as well as you could. While raiding healers have a lot of responsibility, it is our sense that most of them want that responsibility – that it is what attracts them to healing.
While we agree that we’ve had fights with too much “urgent dispelling” as you put it, we’ve tried to be better about that in more recent content. The dispels on Valiona and Theralion or Ascendant Council need to be done at the right moment, which is emphatically not as soon as the debuff appears. You need a smart dispeller for those mechanics, not a quick dispeller. We also had fairly “urgent interrupts” in Blackwing Descent and Bastion of Twilight, which are often the responsibility of melee, we continue to have situations where tanks need to respond immediately to something (say a tank swap or incoming adds), and we have mechanics where anyone who isn’t aware of their surroundings can wipe their whole group.
We definitely use incoming damage as a tuning mechanism, but we also use berserk timers to set a high bar for the DPS specs. There is a risk that if berserk timers are too tightly tuned that raids may attempt to replace healers with more DPS, which isn’t doing the healers any favors either. Note that limiting dispels to healers isn’t just a PvP balance issue. We wanted to know for sure that every 5-player group would be able to dispel magic. The alternatives were that there could never be important debuffs to dispel or some healers just wouldn’t be viable for some content.
Q: Healers are usually responsible for the loss of the teammate, but not all the mistakes are made by healers, such as over taunt or damage zone avoidance. This also happens in the 5 man dungeons frequently. Is there any chance to add a design to punish damage classes with inappropriate behavior? Is there ever going to be a clear indicator that the indivdual died from "unhealable damage" in combat logs/on screen warning? – 明亮 (TW), Galadruin (EU-EN)
A: We see the mindset slowly changing from the notion that anytime someone dies, it’s the healer’s fault. We agree that there could be more situations where we make it obvious that the healer couldn’t realistically save the DPS from their mistake. On the other hand, saving other characters is part of the fun of playing a healer, so we don’t want to totally remove that gameplay. We also provide many specs with sprints, self-heals and emergency buttons of their owns, so the answer shouldn’t always be unhealable damage. We also are making more and more use of mechanics where “standing in the fire” doesn’t cause damage, but causes a debuff which lowers DPS, hitting those players where it hurts the most. Finally, we are exploring more on-screen warnings for dangerous debuffs in the same way we alert you when certain class procs have gone off. We just have to be careful not to turn the default UI into an unrecognizable sound and light show.