Where are my healers at?
Since Wrath of the Lich King came out, one of Blizzard’s major concerns was addressing the lack of tanks in the game. They were able to do this by implementing the Death Knight class which could both dps and tank. Today with the release of patch 3.1 we have dual specs so more and more players are speccing for dps and tanking roles.
However even after the 3.1 content patch I still see a disturbing trend, the” Looking For Group” channel is constantly being spammed for need 1 healer for daily, need 3 healers for 10 man naxx, looking for 4 healers for 25 man. Where are all the healers? Every pug on WoW is fighting each other for the few healers that exist. That population seems to have dwindled significantly since Wrath of the Lich King.
What are the main reasons for seeing a decline in healing and what can be done to increase the fun factor to bring more back?
Well a few reasons I see for why healers aren’t as available as they used to lets explore each.
1. Healers are Hybrids, and Hybrids can now competitively compete with other DPS and Tanking classes.
First lets look at the priest. They have HOTs, they have AoE Heals, they have great single target heals, but Shadow now is a very competitive dps spec, and is almost mandatory to have in your raid. In fact most raiding guilds run with 1-2 of them at all times, if not more.
Paladins, once again a jack of all trades. They are hands down one of the best AoE tanks in the game, ideal on multiple mob pulls, and they build threat at an alarming rate. With the release of Wrath of the Lich King, the Retribution tree became bloated with a huge amount of damage increasing talents, and can now keep up with other melee dps.
Next lets look at Druids. Druids have Bear form, and their health pools are insane, which makes them ideal candidates for being a main tank. Well now feral also has a sub-spec for cat form, and they can put out some incredible dps and can compete with other melee dps. Their Boomkin form while not itemized the best, is once again a huge boost to raid dps through their buffs and they can put out a great amount of damage also.
Shamans, with their great chain heals are trading it in for Enhancement, once again another melee class that does great things. Even going elemental with the right gear can be pushing at the top of the meters. Where does that leave resto and the spamming of one of the most powerful AoE heals in the game?
2. Healing is not as gratifying as the other roles.
When in pugs or listening to guild chatter you always hear, oh wow we need to push 16000 dps on this fight to beat the enrage timer. Or tanks need to constantly be moving the boss around. you never hear ok healers this fight is really fun for you. Its always a gear check, they have to bust their ass and if they can’t do it the group fails. Its almost like they are painted into the corner of having all the pressure but not of the payout. They are like the offensive linemen, they are the work-horses, doing the heavy lifting, but the Quarterback or running backs are getting the credit.
3. Healing is like Whack-a-Mole.
Most healers (not all) have a Grid mod or Heal Bot setup to where all they need to do is click on the boxes where they see health go down. With very few situational skills needed, as many are passive, it doesn’t necessarily create a fun atmosphere to those who aren’t the hardcore healing fans. Whereas DPS and Tanks get to see the action on the screen and enjoy it, most of the time the healer is resigned to staring at their little healing boxes and clicking on them to get the health bars to go up, with little movement on their part. Granted Ulduar changes this but healers really don’t get that chance to look around, because stopping for even a moment could spell disaster.
These are not all the reasons but are the 3 reasons why I believe we have seen a good amount of healers migrate to other classes or spec DPS. These reasons lead to healer burnout, and probably one of the fastest roles that get it over others. Those who have been healing forever usually like it, love that power of knowing they saved the raid, but for many its a thankless chore and something that was almost an after thought in Blizzard’s design for the healing role.
So now how do we fix it?
Well the answer isn’t so simple. We need something from Blizzard and we need something from the players.
1. Blizzard needs to make healing more fun.
Easier said than done I know but maybe have fights less healing intensive and let the healers have dps type attacks that also do heals perhaps. Maybe make the interface for healing more efficient to where they aren’t relying on mods like
Grid, and doing their whack a mole. Perhaps something thats intuitive to heal the Main Tank and the raiders with options for spells. This would make it so they could do more, make the fights less healing intensive so its not as stressful on them and we need less because lets face it the population of healers is smaller, so require more dps and less
healing so that way guilds don’t need to rely on the same healers night after night and it would allow some rotation.
2. Guilds and pugs need to show appreciation for the healers
When you run pugs, thank the healer let them know they did a good job and you appreciate their choice of role in the game. Guilds reward players who spec healing, give them free flasks, food, praise them in front of other guildies. Compliments are always appreciated and sometimes some players are a little apprehensive to be nice, but once the ball gets rolling its contagious.