So, one of the things that healers have complained about over the course of Cataclysm is the complete lack of “triage” healing, which they pushed as a new feature for Cataclysm healers, and the healing model. While it sounded great on paper, and actually worked to a degree in 5-mans and heroics, it fell flat on its face in raids. Mostly, we see this with the constant changes to Circle of Healing, Wild Growth and Prayer of Healing, not to mention various ground effects, such as Healing Rain, Efflorescence, Power Word: Barrier and Holy Word: Sanctuary. Obviously, there’s something going on here that Blizzard may just not be seeing able to pull through.

Holy Word: Sanctuary

To that end, what is it that could be done differently? Currently, on the latest 4.2 PTR build, increases mana costs have come through for Divine Light, Holy Light, Flash of Light and Holy Shock. Naturally, we’d expect more nerfs to mana costs to come through for other healers as well, but is this really the right way to go about it? What was done wrong in Tier 11 content that they could change in Tier 12 content without necessarily raising mana costs again (and therefore, creating possible issues for people that are getting into heroics later in the expansion)? What could be done that might bring “triage” healing back to the forefront?

Back before 3.0 hit, we actually had some blue posts that mentioned they were going to cool off on the AoE raid damage. If you raided at all in Wrath, that was a sure joke. If I were to bring some examples of what I would consider “triage” healing in Wrath to compare to current content, I’d actually have to say Razorscale, Ignis and Kologarn were likely the closest we had to triage healing – occasional to semi-frequent raid damage, with particular mechanics that caused there to be need for specific single-target healing outside of the tank(s). With Razorscale, this would be anyone getting hit with a Fireball. For Ignis, whenever someone got put in the slag pot. And for Kologarn, any time he grabbed a raid member. On the other end of the spectrum, we have, say, Thorim, Hodir or XT. Thorim (specifically arena and phase 2), there’s a lot of AoE healing to be done due to the nature of the encounter. Hodir, the whole raid is taking damage constantly. XT, for tantrums, it’s all about keeping everyone in the raid alive at all times, since it’s based on percentage health. One might also throw Vezax in for triage healing due to mana regen mechanics, but that was more about “ZOMG STAY OUT OF SHIT” than anything – especially hardmode.

Fast forward to this tier’s raiding. The only times that I really see any semblance of triage healing are Maloriak (blue phase only), Chimaeron (phase 1, non-Feud), Omnotron Defense System (Magmatron’s Acquiring Target), and Ascendant Council (Gravity Crush). With all the other encounters, there’s little to no “triage” to be had, because there’s so much AoE damage going out. As en example, take Magmaw. There’s his Magma Spit, which hits a few designated targets, sure, but then it’s very closely followed with Lava Spew, which hits in an AoE fashion. So, you’ll want to heal through the Magma Spit fairly quickly, but you’re also preparing for Lava Spew. In 10-man, as a holy priest, this is basically PoH, PoH, CoH, PoH til CoH is off cooldown again, with some PoMs mixed in. “Triage” is anything but.

On that note, what can be done differently? Well, say we have mechanics similar to Prince Malchezaar’s Enfeeblement or Chimaeron’s Caustic Slime come up more often, or perhaps with a larger time to react, as it’ll be hitting more people more often. As it stands, we’re forced to keep people topped off due to raid mechanics are otherwise not able to be survived (see, Crackles on Nefarian, Al’akir’s Wind Bursts). The concept of triage is to not have people topped off consistently (save maybe the tanks), and that damage is survivable past a certain threshold. Indeed, rehashing the same mechanics over and over again will cause some issues with all the bosses being the same, so what can be done to countered that?

Well, I did mention Maloriak blue phase and Magmatron. These are different from Chimaeron in that it’s only one target on a particular interval, and only during certain phases. Would it be so bad to have these types of mechanics come up a little more often, too? Granted, it can be a little dangerous for your raid group if they happen to stay in the raid, but on the whole, it makes things more like triage and less like spamming your AoE heals to kingdom come, because you’re having to ignore some players in favor of others. There’s always been some semblance of triage healing, but it’s never been pronounced except in very particular encounters, and to a very limited degree. Still, as healers, we’ve always had our priorities: Tanks > Healers > DPS. That likely won’t change any time soon, unless we see more things that cause us to want to heal particular targets RIGHT NOW versus healing everyone else.

To that end, my hope is that they rid us of having to rely too much on passive healing (see, Lightwell, 4-piece healing priest set bonus for T12), and actively make use want to use certain other spells more (and make them more useful), like Holy Word: Sanctuary. What also needs to happen, though, is less AoE damage, which we were told was going to be the case an expansion ago. Or at the very least, not as frequent. AoE damage is fine – we should have reason to use our AoE heals – but it shouldn’t be the staple heal like Flash Heal was in Wrath. Make our set bonuses worthwhile. Give us a reason to use the other buttons. Give 25-man priests the ability to use Chakra: Serenity.