So, via Twitter, I was discussing with a few other healers (@Derevka, Oestrus and Sente) regarding healer rankings. But before I delve into the subject, I would like to preface that this isn’t intended to make complaints about either restoration shaman or holy priests, but merely some recent observations regarding healer rankings. It would be ignorant of me to look at average healing as a weighting, just the same as it would be ignorant to look at top healers as a weighting. Of course, this means that one needs to look at things in context as much as possible. In addition, this isn’t a healing meter e-peen contest, either. Consider this a disclaimer that this is merely a post of observation that I think that needs to be looked at for various reasons.

Test of Faith and Deep Healing

One of the things that I’ve made an observation of is that, on average (this is the key word here, on average), over the course of Tier 11 content, both normal and heroic, both 10- and 25-man, the only encounters that restoration shaman and holy priests consistently outshine other healers (discipline priests, holy paladins and restoration druids) is Chimaeron. I understand that there are other circumstances for druids on Chimaeron healing (see, Glyph of Regrowth) that are what make them able to heal the encounter in general, but this is not really the point. I just feel that I need to make it clear that I’m not oblivious to these kinds of things because I want to avoid getting too much flak (as anyone would), and hope to gather some constructive feedback on this. I’m aware the subject as I’m putting it forth is very simplified, but that’s okay. General observations usually are best taken simply.

The way it stands now

I know that State of DPS is just an average ranking of DPS, Tanks and Healers. And that’s fine. The information is pulled from World of Logs, a reliable source of information for logs and whatnot, especially since it is so widely used at this stage of raiding. But, for the purpose of this post, I’ll be referring mostly to State of DPS.

Currently, across all content in Tier 11, restoration shaman are consistently at the bottom of the rankings. Holy priests are usually 4th in these rankings, with some encounters where they sit in 3rd (generally, this position swaps with holy paladins), with restoration druids usually on top, and discipline priests or holy paladins not far behind (depending on encounter, raid size and whether it’s heroic). Obviously, there are a lot of factors that result in these conclusions, but for the sake of ease let’s take a look at this:

10N           10H           25N           25H
Resto (D)     Resto (D)     Resto (D)     Disc
Holy (Pa)     Disc          Disc          Resto (D)
Disc          Holy (Pa)     Holy (Pa)     Holy (Pr)
Holy (Pr)     Holy (Pr)     Holy (Pr)     Holy (Pa)
Resto (S)     Resto (S)     Resto (S)     Resto (S)

This is just the general rankings. But here, one can see that restoration are at the bottom (someone has to be, unfortunately), and on all but 25-man heroics, druids are on top. Now, to go into this a little further, here’s some food for thought to go along with it. For 10-man normal, the average difference between top healers and bottom is approximately 1860 HPS. For 10H, 1639. 25N sees 961, and 1950 in 25H. Just short of 2k HPS total difference. That’s not a whole lot, and it’s perfectly acceptable to note that healers are pretty well balanced at the moment in terms of raw healing. However, this doesn’t take into account other things like Aura Mastery, Hand of Sacrifice or Pain Suppression – things that aren’t logged on World of Logs because they’re pure damage reductions or transfers, not actual healing.

One could definitely argue that this gives discipline priests and holy paladins a bit more of an edge when it comes to their output, but then we can also see things like the increased healing from Guardian Spirit, physical damage reduction from Inspiration and Ancestral Healing, increased healing from Divine Hymn, and the increased critical strike chance from Holy Word: Serenity (which sees woefully low use in 25-mans) as other utility that is brought to the table that can be seen to give holy priests and shaman more of an edge, and with Spirit Link Totem soon to come, this also needs to be considered – not to mention Innervate and Replenishment from druids, Reincarnation and Mana Tide Totem from shaman, and Hymn of Hope from priests. But, when it comes down to raw healing and absorbs, druids and discipline are kings of the hill right now – even if it’s not by much.

Why it’s important

This information is important for a couple of reasons. For one, it may help with building your raid group to its fullest potential. This is in no way to say that shaman suck, and should not be viewed that way. Everything in terms of logs is stack ranked, and there’s no way to avoid that. Someone’s going to be on top, and someone’s going to be on bottom, and that’s pretty much the end of it. However, another reason this information is important is to see where you as a raid leader or healing officer can expect your healers to be as a general, as long as they’re playing well (and, admittedly, are geared to do so).

Granted, State of DPS is going to be only using the top 200 (at maximum) parses available, but it will still give you a good indication of where you can be when you’ve got the gear to pull those kinds of numbers. On a more personal level, you can see this as a goal, or something to work toward. However, this doesn’t mean work toward it at the expense of your other healers’ mana bars, because then you’re just wasting everyone’s time.

What this could mean later on

To the meat of the post. All the above was necessary for launching into what I’m about to get into, because although I am a casual raider, I do still have concerns and ideas about classes I play (and priest and shaman are my favorites), as anyone rightly should, regardless of your level of play.

My concern for this is actually not only for holy priests and restoration shaman, but also for our other healing companions as well. But first and foremost, the main topic, regarding Test of Faith and Deep Healing. As in the image above, Test of Faith and Deep Healing (restoration shaman Mastery) increase healing done on targets at low health. I think this is part of why raw healing is lower than our other healers as a general rule, more so for shaman than holy priests, and this is likely due to 25-man raiding. This is okay, but I think it could possibly have some scaling issues in later tiers of raiding. To look at this from a little bit of a broader perspective, let’s look at some of the various flat healing bonuses that different healers get (not counting armor-specific bonuses):

* I hesitate to add Protector of the Innocent and Beacon of Light. However, Beacon of Light is an additional 50% healing, and Protector of the Innocent also goes along with that. To add, healing from Judgements while Seal of Insight is active and healing from Protector of the Innocent are also transferred via Beacon of Light. In addition, those heals may or may not be compounded with increased healing via Divinity.
** A Discipline priest will generally also pick up Grace, which increases healing further, but only based on specific spells being cast.
† Discipline and Holy both have the option of picking up Evangelism and Archangel, and Discipline can also choose to pick up Atonement for Smite heals. The healing from Smite would increase accordingly with Twin Disciplines and Enlightenment, and the healing bonus from Archangel also goes along with those (including Atonement heals while re-stacking Evangelism).

Without a doubt, discipline priests and restoration druids will scale the best purely because of the increased Intellect from talents or other passive bonuses, with paladins, holy priests and shaman left somewhat behind without any straight Intellect bonuses. So where does this lead me?

Well, this has several ramifications. But most importantly, this means that we need more AoE damage, or otherwise heavy damage. This would make Test of Faith and Deep Healing much more valuable to holy priests and restoration shaman. However, this also means that holy paladins are left wanting due to their scarce abilities to truly raid heal, and how little their Mastery is valued. In addition, it lends back to discipline priests bubble spamming as we had toward the end of Wrath, especially due to Mastery. Druids, unfortunately, are left behind in this regard, save the incoming reduced cooldown on Tranquility. On the other hand, since they get a buff to their mana pool via two separate talents, this also means they get to make more use of their Mastery by being able to have more HoTs on more people when they do need to use direct heals.

My fears are that holy priests and restoration shaman are going to get left behind in later tiers of content because of Test of Faith and Deep Healing. It may not be the case, but this is one of my two biggest concerns regarding these two classes. The other is mana regeneration mechanics, but that’s for another post.