Posted by: Makakai | September 8, 2011

New Healer

A recent forum question asked which healer is the “easiest to learn and pick up on”? I saw the question and thought “well, isn’t that subjective”… but then I wondered…

First, how do you define “easiest to learn and pick up on”? Learning a new class is complicated by how much experience you have in learning a specific task or activity such as healing in a MMORPG. If you have previous experience on a healer then a similar play-style healer will be easier to learn because you are only learning the specific mechanics/toolbox of the new healer and not “how to heal”. If you don’t have previous experience then two different factors come into play: 1) healing style preference and 2) toolbox size. Although, a new healer might not know their own healing style preference until they have a chance to try a couple.

Experienced healers in WoW would probably recognize that you can pair up the 5 healing specs according to those categories and get what could be termed cognate healers i.e., two specs that are similar within either healing play-style or toolbox size. Shaman and Paladins have similar healing play-styles because they both have a “tank buff” (ES/BoL) and two AoE heals as their class features. Druids and Disc Priests to me actually feel like they have similar healing styles because they both rely on pro-active healing, they HoT (or shield) the target(s) to smooth out or prevent incoming damage. Holy Priests and Paladins are similar because they both have the same level of cool-down toolbox as well as having a very reactive healing play-style.

Interestingly, the question might be better answered with what are the typical stumbling blocks new players have with the different healing specs. Holy Priests have gotten more complex in Cataclysm with the Chakra system, which can difficult for new healers to grasp (e.g., the number of folks that I’ve heard switched to disc for just this reason), and the fact that they have a HUGE toolbox. Druids are complex because they require the new healer to be in the mindset of pre-hotting before the damage is incoming. Shaman as mentioned above have OMG Totems and multiple shields to keep track of. Disc Priest also require the new healer to have a preventive mindset to effectively use the shield mechanic, as well as having the HUGE toolbox to draw from. Finally, Paladins have a large cooldown toolbox, but are largely reactive healers and the toolbox only really becomes complex at endgame. Hint: most new players pick up reactive healing quicker because “fill the green bars” is a straightforward concept.

TL;DR Complex question without an easy answer, but experienced healers should start with learning a similar healing style and new healers start with either a Paladin or a Druid to get a feel for one of the two extremes to determine if they like it and switch to the other if they don’t.

Happy Healing!

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