'Spread Healing' is an unacceptable weakness

100 Blood Elf Priest
12825
Until recently, I'd been assuming that the shaman toolkit issues were sort of accidental. But GC made it quite clear this week that shamans are supposed to be strong at healing a raid that's grouped up and stationary, but weak at healing a raid that's spread out or moving. In other words, 'spread healing' is supposed to be a shaman weakness.

This is not OK. Here's why:

1) Nobody else is bad at 'stack healing.'

In order for the 'strengths/weaknesses' model of class balance to work, strengths and weaknesses have to be set up to be complementary. One class's strength balances another class's weakness; if you bring complementary classes, then your team as a whole is pretty good at everything.

But nobody's weak at stack healing. The only class that even arguably might get a little weaker when the raid is grouped up and stationary is priests (due to Cascade/Halo), and that difference is pretty minor (and arguably outweighed by Power Word: Barrier for Disc). Everyone else gets stronger when people stack up.

What's more, short of redesigning another class's raid heals so they all work like Cascade/Halo, you can't even make another class weak at stack healing. So there's no complement for shamans, and there isn't going to be.

When you bring a shaman and any other class, instead of having a strong stack healer/weak spread healer paired with a strong spread healer/weak stack healer (balanced and average in any situation), what you have is a strong stack healer/weak spread healer paired with an average stack healer/average spread healer: above average and potentially OP in a stack, below average and potentially not good enough in a spread.

2) Stacking and spreading are mutually-exclusive.

Most strength/weakness pairs involve things that might happen at the same time. You can have single-target and AoE damage at the same time (every fight except Baleroc). You can have sustained damage and burst at the same time (e.g. Garalon, any council fight). You can have scattered/triage healing and raidwide AoE at the same time (most fights). Healers can play to their own strengths most of the time, complementing each other nicely.

But spreading/stacking is binary. Either the raid is spread out and moving, or it is stacked. In 10m, there is absolutely no blurring of those boundaries. In 25s, you might have the melee stacked while the ranged spreads out, but there are a number of problems with just healing the melee. Notably: Everyone else's raidhealing abilities are healing them too, while yours aren't hitting the ranged. And since Healing Rain scales with the number of targets it hits, it's not strong enough on the melee alone to compensate for your inability to heal the ranged.

3) Many well-designed and fun encounters do not include any sustained stacking.

It's fairly rare to see encounters with no single-target healing or no AoE healing or no burst healing or no sustained healing or no random damage or no raidwide AoE. These sorts of encounters are usually rather unique and widely understood as gimmick fights. They're typically not a big deal. One healing class or another might struggle on them, but they're still a valuable enough asset to the team on other encounters that the team is motivated to find a way to make it work.

On the other hand, there are plenty of encounters where the raid needs to be spread out and/or mobile the entire time. These are ordinary and common and don't feel at all gimmicky. "Moving out of fire" is a core WoW mechanic, one of the two primary ways the encounter designers use to make fights interesting for DPS (the other being target-switching). Mechanics-focused tiers, like Throne of Thunder, tend to involve a lot of fire. When a healer can't deal effectively with a raid that's moving out of fire, they're at a pretty serious disadvantage.
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100 Blood Elf Priest
12825
4) Stationary stacking isn't very fun for anyone.

This is sort of related to point 3. Basically, if youre going to design a healer whose strength is stationary stacking, you have to create situations where that strength is valuable. Doing so, however, means creating encounters that permit quite a lot of stationary stacking. And those encounters aren't very fun. They necessarily involve limited movement, which means limited fire, no adds that have to be chased down, no individual positioning responsibility, and no use of many of the other mechanics that encounter designers use to keep things interesting.

The result is that, when a class is designed as a stack healer, that class design has a negative impact on encounter design. We saw this in Dragon Soul. It wasn't fun. But I think it also played a part in making t14 fights a little bland.

On the other hand, when the encounter designers decide to do what's good for the game instead of catering to class balance, like in t15, the issues with stack healing as a niche become painfully apparent.

Healers should not have to rely on special consideration from encounter designers to be effective, and class design should not have a negative impact on encounter design.

----------

In essence, when we say that shamans should have a way to deal with spread healing, we're not saying that the strength/weakness concept of balance is bad, or that shamans shouldn't have any weaknesses, but rather that this particular implementation of the strength/weakness concept isn't working.
Edited by Kaels on 3/29/2013 7:04 PM PDT
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100 Blood Elf Mage
18255
Agree with all of the above, to say the least.
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90 Draenei Shaman
12770
/signed

(and just to be endlessly repetitive, I've raided in MoP on a Disc priest & Mistweaver monk as well as resto shaman)
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100 Blood Elf Paladin
12835
Good post, Kaels - I always like the way you word your posts, and the amount of thought you put into them, even if I don't agree with you.

In this case, I do not agree with your implied assessment of Shamans in spread or movement situations. Shamans are not as gimp as what some claim in either a spread, or a movement situation.

Their toolkit is not pretty, or awesome, but Shamans are capable of handling both situations. You might remember that Anohako and I had a very similar argument back in Cataclysm regarding Holy Paladins.

Riôt
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90 Draenei Shaman
17105
Good post, Kaels - I always like the way you word your posts, and the amount of thought you put into them, even if I don't agree with you.

In this case, I do not agree with your implied assessment of Shamans in spread or movement situations. Shamans are not as gimp as what some claim in either a spread, or a movement situation.

Their toolkit is not pretty, or awesome, but Shamans are capable of handling both situations. You might remember that Anohako and I had a very similar argument back in Cataclysm regarding Holy Paladins.

Riôt


I have asked a similar question to you multiple times, but can you elaborate on how you think the Resto Shaman toolkit is competitive and not "gimp" for spread and mobile situations, and in particular spread and mobile situations where high healing output is required more frequently than 3 minute cooldowns can adequately cover?

Holy Paladin spread and mobile healing was terrible in Cata pre-4.3. The difference was, Paladins were never really designed to be anything other than single target healers (with Beacon and PoTI "cleave") with supplemental AoE output in the form of the original design of Holy Radiance. That meant they were perfectly fine in T11/FL in their established niche of being very strong primary tank healers with supplemental raid support. Blizzard kind of decided to blow that niche up with 4.3 and the Holy Radiance redesign. Whether they should have blown up the Shaman spread healing thing at the same time is a whole other discussion.
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90 Pandaren Shaman
5690
In essence, when we say that shamans should have a way to deal with spread healing, we're not saying that the strength/weakness concept of balance is bad, or that shamans shouldn't have any weaknesses, but rather that this particular implementation of the strength/weakness concept isn't working.


Don't know what I could add that hasn't been already addressed most eloquently, but this part sums it up very nicely.

Having strengths and weaknesses is a good thing.

This weakness is crippling.
Edited by Telltale on 3/29/2013 7:35 PM PDT
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100 Blood Elf Priest
12825
Good post, Kaels - I always like the way you word your posts, and the amount of thought you put into them, even if I don't agree with you.

Thanks :)

In this case, I do not agree with your implied assessment of Shamans in spread or movement situations. Shamans are not as gimp as what some claim in either a spread, or a movement situation.

Their toolkit is not pretty, or awesome, but Shamans are capable of handling both situations. You might remember that Anohako and I had a very similar argument back in Cataclysm regarding Holy Paladins.

Well...the thing is that if you believe that shamans are OK at spread/movement, you have to also believe that they're massively overpowered in a stack.

Consider holy priests - I think most would agree that Holy is a well-balanced spec. Holy priests are pretty much the same regardless of how the raid is positioned and how much other people are moving around; we obviously prefer not to move a whole lot ourselves, but so does everyone. As long as we, personally, can stop moving and hardcast about 40-50% of the time, we don't give a damn what other people are doing.

Assume, just for the sake of argument, that a shaman can do more-or-less as well as a holy priest when healing a spread raid. Assume that some combination of HST, HTT, Riptide, Earth Shield, single-target heals, and passive procs can be arranged to be as useful and effective (despite maybe slightly lower numbers) as everything in the holy priest kit.

Now consider that same shaman and holy priest when everyone stacks. The holy priest is unaffected except for a small loss from Cascade (switching to Divine Star mostly covers it). Meanwhile, the shaman gets to use CH and Healing Rain.

CH is a relatively small gain over the ST heals, so we'll ignore it. But Healing Rain can't be ignored. Simply substituting a Healing Rain on a 10m raid for a Healing Surge every 10-15 seconds is (and I'm not exaggerating) on the order of a 40% gain in overall healing, for only slightly more mana - it should be possible to just do a direct substitution.

So in other words, when the raid stacks, the shaman should be absolutely completely blowing the holy priest out of the water. They should be hugely, massively OP. I don't see any way that could not be the case.

But I don't think shamans are hugely, massively, on the order of 40% OP in a stack.
Edited by Kaels on 3/29/2013 7:40 PM PDT
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100 Orc Shaman
15280
Hit the nail on the head very good post
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90 Pandaren Priest
7670
From what I've heard, Shamans have little to no issues with using CH on a spread raid, which implies that the drop off in strength when spread healing comes from HR. Wouldn't a simple fix be to just make HR work like Efflo?

Still, a few factors that you haven't mentioned in your comparison to Holy Priest, but unlike a Shaman, Holy Priests do not bring SLT and Vigor to the raid. They also do not provide MTT. If we're to address a Shaman's weakness, then keeping utlity like Vigor and raid-wide MTT is unacceptably strong in contrast to what the other throughput healers bring.
Edited by Ceddya on 3/29/2013 8:12 PM PDT
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90 Draenei Shaman
17105
From what I've heard, Shamans have little to no issues with using CH on a spread raid, which implies that the drop off in strength when spread healing comes from HR. Wouldn't a simple fix be to just make HR work like Efflo?

Still, a few factors that you haven't mentioned in your comparison to Holy Priest, but unlike a Shaman, Holy Priests do not bring SLT and Vigor to the raid. They also do not provide MTT. If we're to address a Shaman's weakness, then keeping utlity like Vigor and MTT is unacceptably strong in contrast to what the other throughput healers bring.


And Resto Shaman do not have a tank cooldown (let alone two), don't have life grip, and you can go on and on forever with this argument. He is talking about healer mechanics and the ability to effectively handle stacked versus spread damage patterns, not comparing utility across classes. All that you are doing is derailing the conversation.
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90 Pandaren Priest
7670
And Resto Shaman do not have a tank cooldown (let alone two), don't have life grip, and you can go on and on forever with this argument. He is talking about healer mechanics and the ability to effectively handle stacked versus spread damage patterns, not comparing utility across classes. All that you are doing is derailing the conversation.


You actually can't. Nothing a Holy Priest has comes close to what MTT or Vigor brings to the table. You also have SLT in exchange for a tank CD.

You're already more than keeping up with Holy Priests when it comes to stacked healing. Fixing your mechanics to properly address stack healing would bring you up to part with Holy Priests when it comes to throughput.

You may not like it since all you clearly care are your meters, but other throughput healers that bring much less utility have cause for concern when it comes to further throughput buffs to Shamans, especially since the latest buffs have made them really competitive on any fights with some farm of stacking.
Edited by Ceddya on 3/29/2013 8:21 PM PDT
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90 Draenei Shaman
17105
From what I've heard, Shamans have little to no issues with using CH on a spread raid, which implies that the drop off in strength when spread healing comes from HR. Wouldn't a simple fix be to just make HR work like Efflo?



Chain Heal is not specifically an issue with the raid being spread on 25 man; it can usually hit 4 targets for a lot of the fight. It's more an issue of being viable on high movement fights, due to the long cast time, the need to first have Riptide on the first jump target for it to be competitive (meaning an effective ~3.6 second ramp time), and the high probability of the chain being broken by someone either moving out of jump range, or the healing on one of the targets in the jump being sniped to 100%, preventing it from bouncing.

You can make HR work like Efflo, but I think that it would result in Shaman stacked healing being unacceptably low, because being strong in stacked situations currently fully depends on the current design of Healing Rain. If you mess with that to improve spread healing, you risk making us bad at both, given that we don't have a strong spammable HoT like Rejuv.
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100 Tauren Shaman
HC
18005
All they have to do is fix glyph of riptide, pretty sad they refuse to.
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90 Draenei Shaman
17105
03/29/2013 08:19 PMPosted by Ceddya
And Resto Shaman do not have a tank cooldown (let alone two), don't have life grip, and you can go on and on forever with this argument. He is talking about healer mechanics and the ability to effectively handle stacked versus spread damage patterns, not comparing utility across classes. All that you are doing is derailing the conversation.


You actually can't. Nothing a Holy Priest has comes close to what MTT or Vigor brings to the table. You also have SLT in exchange for a tank CD.

You're already more than keeping up with Holy Priests when it comes to stacked healing. Fixing your mechanics to properly address stack healing would bring you up to part with Holy Priests when it comes to throughput.

You may not like it since all you clearly care are your meters, but other throughput healers that bring much less utility have cause for concern when it comes to further throughput buffs to Shamans, especially since the latest buffs have made them really competitive on any fights with some farm of stacking.


If you don't think Holy Priest utility is up to par with that of other healers, then your argument should be that Holy Priests need to have more utility added. There is a difference between comparing utility between classes and comparing the viability of classes to be able to actually heal fight mechanics effectively. You don't seem to be able to tell that difference.

You are seriously complaining about the fact that Shaman are now competitive (not dominant, not ahead but competitive) in an area that is designed around being their niche when they are significantly inferior in other situations? And your argument is that they shouldn't be able to do competitive output in any situation because they should just be satisfied with dropping a totem every 3 minutes so that the real healers can play the game? You sound like the one that is selfishly only cares about personal throughput in this situation.
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90 Pandaren Priest
7670
Chain Heal is not specifically an issue with the raid being spread on 25 man; it can usually hit 4 targets for a lot of the fight. It's more an issue of being viable on high movement fights, due to the long cast time, the need to first have Riptide on the first jump target for it to be competitive (meaning an effective ~3.6 second ramp time), and the high probability of the chain being broken by someone either moving out of jump range, or the healing on one of the targets in the jump being sniped to 100%, preventing it from bouncing.


Once again, this is an issue for casted heals like PoH, moreso with the group only restriction. There's no reason why a Resto Shaman cannot cast a RT on the move, stop to cast the CH and then move again. It's what most other healers with casted heals do.

Still, the main reason Holy Priests are able to deal with movement is because we have other tools in our kit to address it - CoH, PoM and our level 90 talents. It appears to me that the main weakness with your healing when moving is the fact that you do not have such supplemetary heals as strong as what Holy Priest has. As mentioned before, addressing RT and its glyph would be more appropriate than simply buffing CH again.

You can make HR work like Efflo, but I think that it would result in Shaman stacked healing being unacceptably low, because being strong in stacked situations currently fully depends on the current design of Healing Rain. If you mess with that to improve spread healing, you risk making us bad at both, given that we don't have a strong spammable HoT like Rejuv.


Why would it? You could easily rebalance the numbers so that the new HR numbers do not drop off too much when stacked, keeping in mind that an Efflo like PBAoE heal has inherently less overhealing due to it's smart targetting nature.
Edited by Ceddya on 3/29/2013 8:33 PM PDT
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90 Pandaren Priest
7670
If you don't think Holy Priest utility is up to par with that of other healers, then your argument should be that Holy Priests need to have more utility added. There is a difference between comparing utility between classes and comparing the viability of classes to be able to actually heal fight mechanics effectively. You don't seem to be able to tell that difference.

You are seriously complaining about the fact that Shaman are now competitive (not dominant, not ahead but competitive) in an area that is designed around being their niche when they are significantly inferior in other situations? And your argument is that they shouldn't be able to do competitive output in any situation because they should just be satisfied with dropping a totem every 3 minutes so that the real healers can play the game? You sound like the one that is selfishly only cares about personal throughput in this situation.


I've said this before, and I'll say this again - addressing your mechanical issues when the raid is spread would bring you up to par with the other healers. I have absolutely no issue with that.

Expecting to keep such strong buffs like Vigor and MTT, even after you have your mechanical issues fixed, shows just how little you care about healer balance and only about your output. For the record, one single MTT boosts my output as Holy by at least 10%. You may not get the credit on the meters, but that doesn't preclude the fact that it's an exceedingly strong contribution from the Shaman.
Edited by Ceddya on 3/29/2013 8:40 PM PDT
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90 Draenei Shaman
17105
If you don't think Holy Priest utility is up to par with that of other healers, then your argument should be that Holy Priests need to have more utility added. There is a difference between comparing utility between classes and comparing the viability of classes to be able to actually heal fight mechanics effectively. You don't seem to be able to tell that difference.

You are seriously complaining about the fact that Shaman are now competitive (not dominant, not ahead but competitive) in an area that is designed around being their niche when they are significantly inferior in other situations? And your argument is that they shouldn't be able to do competitive output in any situation because they should just be satisfied with dropping a totem every 3 minutes so that the real healers can play the game? You sound like the one that is selfishly only cares about personal throughput in this situation.


I've said this before, and I'll say this again - addressing your mechanical issues when the raid is spread would bring you up to part with the other healers. I have absolutely no issue with that.

Expecting to keep such strong buffs like Vigor and MTT, even after you have your mechanical issues fixed, shows just how little you care about healer balance and only about your output.


If I "only cared about my own output", I would not be running a 21,000 raid buffed Spirit build, and would not be using static Spirit trinkets with procs that are only 1/4 as good for personal throughput as previous tier trinkets that are sitting in the bank.

This is what you are arguing basically
(1) Mana Tide is really strong and allows a heavy Spirit stacking Shaman to give every healer nearly 300,000 mana per 10 minutes, which buffs their throughput
(2) Therefore, Resto Shaman output should be crippled in all situations outside of their GC defined niche of stacked healing
(3) All Resto Shaman concerns about lacking viable methods to heal certain fight mechanics should be ignored and thrown out the window because "Mana Tide buffs everyone else so it doesn't matter".
(4) Resto Shaman should at best be on par with everyone else in stacked raid situations, and I will QQ relentlessly about Holy Priests if buffing Shaman stacked healing is even mentioned.

Even if that is the reality of class balance and the reason for things to be the way they are (which I dispute - it's PvP implications, not MTT or AV that are preventing Shaman fixes), do you really think that is good class design? Do you really think that saying "you bring this really awesome button that you hit once every 3 minutes" so therefore base all your gearing around it, and be satisfied with being 30% weaker than everyone else (on top of nearly useless on some fight mechanics) because of that one button is good game design? Do you really think it makes sense to argue that a spec should be crippled by 30% because of one ability that you drop on cooldown and takes no player skill whatsoever?

If your argument was MTT is too strong and should be nerfed to remove the Spirit scaling, or be based on a static mana return, or even made Shaman only, I wouldn't have any argument with you. However, I flat out dismiss your arguments that a spec should be crippled on some fights and fight phases, have mechanical issues ignored, and have significantly weaker total throughput rather than addressing the actual root cause of the issue. It's an excuse, and it's a distraction.
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90 Pandaren Priest
7670
If your argument was MTT is too strong and should be nerfed to remove the Spirit scaling, or be based on a static mana return, or even made Shaman only, I wouldn't have any argument with you. However, I flat out dismiss your arguments that a spec should be crippled on some fights and fight phases, have mechanical issues ignored, and have significantly weaker total throughput rather than addressing the actual root cause of the issue. It's an excuse, and it's a distraction.


If only you would actually read then. I've always said to fix Shaman's issue with spread healing and bring them up to par, but that such a buff would necessitate a rebalancing or removal of raid wide MTT.

I've actually never once said that Resto Shaman healing should be crippled by MTT.
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100 Blood Elf Paladin
12835
All they have to do is fix glyph of riptide, pretty sad they refuse to.


I'm curious as to your thoughts on my RT glyph suggestion from another thread, Sensations. Did you happen to see it?

Tiberria - I have not been ignoring or avoiding the question that you have, in fact, asked multiple times. I am trying to come up with a way to answer it in a way that...actually answers it.

It's really the same type of question that we get from new healers that say *how do I heal.* I'm not comparing you to a new healer in any way, I'm simply drawing a parallel between two similar questions that are similarly difficult to answer with specifics.

I also want to answer your question in a way that is neither condescending, nor disrespectful, believe it or not. As I said, the Shaman toolkit, while capable imo, is not as elegant as it could be, and that is something worth focusing on.

While I'm thinking about it, some information from you would be helpful, mostly regarding Shaman *conventions.* I don't want to make this about you, or single you out, but if you are willing to provide me with this information, it will help me in crafting my answer.

Riptide - do you run 3 (keep it on CD), and who are they on?
Chain Heal - do you always use it on an RT target/never use it on a non-RT target?
Healing Rain - do you drop this on CD?
Healing Stream Totem - on CD?
Spirit Link Totem - do you take advantage of the fact that you can move this totem?
Riptide glyph - have you given this an honest fair shake?

I am not looking to try to set you up, or ambush you - I am not petty, and I do not work that way. You are asking me what I would do, and it's very helpful if I know what you are doing, so I can see whether or not there is even anything for me to suggest in the first place. You also don't need to explain anything - I'm not interested in picking nits. If the answer to any of the above is Yes or No *most of the time,* then that is the answer, and it's really all I need.

Riôt
Edited by Riôt on 3/29/2013 9:01 PM PDT
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