PvE

To HoT or Hammer

Once upon a time, before I played on Ysera or hit the level cap or really got into instancing at all, I rolled a Tauren druid named Ilaah. I levelled her slowly over three or four months, eventually getting her to level 20 before abandoning her to roll a new DK (Aislinn!) on Ysera, so I could join Natural Order and play with Hano.

Then came my baby Paladin, Lizzy, harking back to the very very very first character I ever rolled on WoW (Kaadri, how I miss thee…), and my impulsive decision to spec her into Holy, and the discovery that I really liked healing. As someone who’d declared she would always be a DPSer at heart, this was a startling revelation, but a welcome one, and I now consider myself a Healer first, and anything else second. (This seems to be a theme with me, as I was ABSOLUTELY ADAMANT about being heterosexual until I met my girlfriend, and I now don’t even bother paying attention to boys. Our five year anniversary was this week, incidentally.)

So, since I liked healing so much, I decided I wanted to try out healing on another character, and preferably on Ysera where I knew people who did endgame stuff and could get advice that I trusted. I wasn’t really thrilled by the idea of starting fresh again, especially since Lizzy was only level 22 at the time, so I splurged and got Ilaah a server transfer and a faction change, and she started life afresh as Kassina. I eagerly got her some better casting gear off the AH, and queued up as a healer.

Which brings us to the actual topic of this post: I suck at druid healing. Now, considering Kass is still only level 22, it’s safe to say I don’t have much experience in druid healing, but the whole thing seems to end up with me constantly draining my mana and wanting to weep because even though everyone’s alive, I’m not entirely sure how I managed to keep them that way, which means I’m not sure I can replicate it for the next pull.

The problem is that I have a very paladin-influenced healing mindset. My first experiences in proper healing (as opposed to just slapping a healing spell on myself or a friend while questing) were on Lizzy (who, incidentally, is probably getting a name change soon, so if you see me referring to Lisan in the future, that’s who I’m talking about), and my whole approach to healing is based on paladin mechanics. And, in my opinion, druid healing is pretty much the polar opposite of paladin healing.

To offer a brief tangent to illustrate my point (and to incorporate my love of the Avatar: the Last Airbender cartoon), I find that my attempts at druid healing are similar to Aang’s first attempts at earthbending. Aang was born and raised an airbender before he ever found out he was the Avatar, and that colours a lot of how he approaches obstacles and learns new skills. Earthbending was extremely difficult for him to learn because it required him to re-learn how to bend, almost from scratch. Earth and air are opposites, in the Avatar universe, and the mentality and mindset of an earthbender is completely opposite from his own.

Druid healing is, from what I have seen and gathered, a very elegant process. It’s a complex dance of different heals, of HoTs and procs and making sure that you don’t pre-emptively refresh a HoT when it still has a couple of ticks left while still not letting it drop off of your target. Stacking Lifebloom, keeping that spell ticking along with other HoTs, and choosing just when to let it finally bloom, is a perfect example, in my opinion.

Paladin healing, on the other hand, reminds me of nothing so much as the whole reason I rolled a paladin in the first place: I wanted to wield holy power and hit things with a big hammer. Paladin healing is like that – you swing around a metaphorical healing hammer, and hit your allies with it to bring their health back up. Even the “small” heal, Flash of Light, can bring up most tanks I run with these days from 80% health or so to 97-100% with one 1.5-sec cast. I see your health go down, I hit you with a FoL. It drops a little more drastically, I hit two FoL’s to get you up a bit, then hit Holy Light, which will almost completely fill up most tank health bars even from 20 or 30% health. For me, it’s all about seeing a threat (falling HP) and hitting it with a hammer (healing) and seeing immediate results.

Druid healing is different in a couple of ways – first of all, most of their heals don’t hit quite as hard, which necessitates a little planning and pre-emptive casting, but then you come to the second major difference, in that you don’t get immediate results.

I cannot, for the life of me, trust my HoTs. I mean, rationally, logically, I know how HoTs work, and I know that they do work. But then I’m actually in an instance healing, and all my pally instinct kicks in saying “GET THAT PINK BAR UP STAT” (my vuhdo settings show health bars in pink. I’m a sometimes a pretty little princess, get over it. :P), so I throw Rejuvenation on. And when the pink bar doesn’t go up significantly, my instinct goes “AUGH BIGGER HEAL” and I throw on Healing Touch and then when more damage happens and Rejuv hasn’t ticked in a whole second, I spaz and throw on Regrowth, which initially takes them back up to 100% (or close to), and then overheals like a maniac when paired with the remaining Rejuv ticks. Lather, rinse, repeat, while my mana plummets and I look like a panicking idiot in front of anybody who might actually know how to heal. Which, granted, I am, but it’s frustrating because I know I can heal. I just can’t quite heal as a druid yet.

So all the myriad frustrations in trying to learn the steps to the Druid Healing Dance has left poor Kass stuck at level 22 while I level Lizzy, and this other holy pally that I’m RPing with, and a shadow priest I rolled two days ago and have managed to get to level 16 already. On one hand, I feel bad for abandoning her, and druid healing (especially after having put MONEY into getting her over to Ysera), but on the other… I just don’t think I’m ready for the dance just yet. I’ve never had to be patient when it comes to healing or damage, and I’m hoping that levelling Kili, my priest, will help ease me in that direction a little bit. Maybe once I’ve had a bit of a warm-up, I’ll be able to really get to work.

Until then, I’ll just keep swinging that healing hammer like the good little pally I am.

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10 thoughts on “To HoT or Hammer

  1. On my first attempt at healing heroics on my druid, I failed so badly that I almost deleted the character. I kept spamming my HoTs on the tank, which worked out pretty well on simple trash pulls (except I burned all my mana), but after some time, the tank had that brilliant idea of pulling 4 packs at once. Of course all the dpsers were attacking different targets, so everyone was taking tons of damage. All I could do was spamming those god damned HoTs on everyone. I burned all my mana, the HoTs didnt do enough healing, so we ended up biting the dust. I’ve got a lvl80 of every class that is capable of healing (I’m that healer type of guy y’know), I’ve got Kingslayer both on my paladin and my priest. So, my point is, HoTs are not for everyone. I love the druid class because of its versatility, but I totally fail at playing it. If you feel the same, just stick to those Holy Lights and Beacons of Awesomeness, and lvl up your priest if you got bored of being the most awesome class in the world. :p

    Also, the Last Airbender was a totally awesome cartoon.

    1. There’s always the chance I just will NOT get the hang of HoTs… I’m hoping that my priest (having, y’know, two heals right now, one of which is a HoT) will help me wrap my mind around it, a bit. If worse comes to worse, though, I’ll re-spec her boomkin and rain DEATH FROM ON HIGH!

      And it totally was, right? I’m in love with it. Also, Sokka’s brilliance is SO under-appreciated in the first two seasons.

  2. I feel the exact opposite! I have an 80 druid and a 70 disc priest, and being used to HoTs/bubbles makes it so weird to try my new Holy Paladin. I keep longing for the “buffer” of Rejuv or PW:S and find it so strange to have to be spamming direct heals. I’m used to applying my stuff and then relaxing as they trivialize damage…instead of reacting and panicking as the green bars drop!

    I’m just a lowbie paladin but so far the lack of a HoT KILLS me inside. Haha.

    1. Yeah, I really think it’s one of those things that is different for everyone based on the first healing class they really got into. Which now makes me want to do a survey of healers: HoTs or Direct Heals, which are you most comfortable using?

  3. I started with a Priest, and I think the flexibility of the class suits me well. A druid was the second healing class I leveled, and it took a bit of getting used to (in spite of it playing a lot like a holy priest.) There were two hard things for me. The first was that I was used to giving the tank a shield and Prayer of Mending pre-pull, giving me a nice buffer to start laying in heals as needed. But the biggest was that druids don’t get a solid go-to “Heal” spell until way late in the game. I found ways to make the toolkit work for me, but by god, sometimes I just wanted to directly heal my target efficiently…and Healing Touch always felt clunky.

    You really do have to trust your HoTs…and it helps when you get more of them. A Rejuvenation, Regrowth, Lifebloom, and Wild Growth together are a very potent combination to keep a tank stable, and a glyphed Nourish on top of that is a heal any Paladin could learn to love. Nature’s Swiftness (macroed to Healing Touch) at 30, and Swiftmend at 40 help out quite a bit as well while leveling.

    That said, sometimes a class just won’t gel for us…it might just not be the right class for you to play or the right time for you to do it.

    1. Yeah. I’ll be very sad if it doesn’t gel, because despite the fact that I’ve never really levelled a druid, I really love them and want badly to enjoy healing on them. But waiting and getting used to another healing class as well (to an extent, anyway, as my priest has seven talent points in shadow for levelling ease, but can still heal at low levels without a problem) will, I hope, give me that little boot out of pally-heal mentality that I need to really get into it.

  4. This is sort of cheesy, but Staff of the Shade with Enchant Weapon: Healing Power and Healing Power on gloves and bracers would allow you to heal any LFD group that’s not deliberately trying to wipe. That’s what I did. Think of them as training wheels…

    1. Ooo, that’s a nice tip, thank you! Training wheels would definitely be nice, and I’ll keep this in mind for when I pick her up again!

  5. You can retrain yourself, but it takes doing. I have healers of every stripe now, but my first real happy raid healing experience was with a paladin. (I healed before that with a priest, but I’ve never enjoyed it — even doing well led to drinking and crying on my sig other.) While I’m still more zen closer to the paladin end of the spectrum (I am currently in love with my resto shaman), I’m a competent tree in both 5mans and raids. Raid. One. But I was super valuable dangit. And said tree is gonna head into ICC for the first time tomorrow! Woo?

    1. Woo! Good luck! :D I rolled a priest recently to try retraining myself from thinking ONLY in terms of pally healing – a disc priest (also my second male toon, and the only one not meant for RP) – and it’s pretty fun now that I’ve stopped panicking. Being able to bubble people helps my state of mind significantly, though. XD

      I’ve actually currently respecced Kass as feralkitty for the time being, for levelling – I’ve only got so much patience for levelling through instances, and since I’m doing that with my paladin and my priest, I figured I should PROBABLY let Kass run around clawing things up. ^^ Which, of course, leads to me recreating an XKCD strip and squeeing “I’m a kitty!” from time to time, but my girlfriend finds it amusing, so that’s good, I suppose.

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