The other day, I was listening to a podcast that I did with Kurn which was released slightly before opening night of Cataclysm. It was fun to compare the changes that we were predicting would happen and the ones that actually took place and have stuck. I would like to think we were pretty spot on about most things, but one change that we and most healers felt pretty strongly about never seemed to take hold. That change was the advent of a new way of thinking and healing called “triage healing.”
The concept of triage healing was pretty simple. Players would need to get used to the idea that not everyone would need to be topped off at all times and we would have to get comfortable seeing ourselves sitting at 75% health or even 50% health at any given time. This would lead to healers not having to feel like healing was such a reflexive action or like “Whack a Mole,” as some have described and it would lead to DPS having to play smarter, knowing they wouldn’t be allowed to continue making stupid mistakes and expecting their healer to heal them through it. These changes were made to not only change how healing is done, but also because there were sizeable changes being made to how mana works in the game and how healers would need to start managing their resources again.
Cut to today and it feels like that idea is all but gone, except for 5 man Heroics. Healers are still racing to be the first to top off that errant ret paladin’s health or that entire group they have been assigned. I know triage healing was a controversial idea and not every healer reacted positively to it, but I assumed we would still see some evidence of it being practiced. Where did it go? Why did the idea not take off, the way some of us had hoped?
Let’s go over some of the reasons why triage healing didn’t seem to last too long, with the help of some friends and fellow bloggers that I posed these questions to.
Reason #1: Gear
Borsk was the first one to respond, stating he felt that Tier 11 gear was causing raiders to possibly outgear current content already. This is a valid argument, one that was supported by the “Every little bit helps” mindset that motivated people to take the time to better themselves in smaller ways to prepare themselves for 5 man Heroics and beyond. I know when I started Heroics, I had the attitude of “It’s just a bracer enchant. What does it matter?” Slapping that extra spirit on my bracers made my mana regen better, so I could make it through healing those initial Heroic boss fights much better.
People were finding that even the most basic upgrades were setting themselves worlds apart from the competition. Compare your mana and health that you have now from what it was when you first hit 85 and were running regular dungeons. You will find that you and your stats have come a long way. You can probably afford to go all out a little more and even more so with a full spread of raid buffs. This could be one reason that players are healing more, because higher stats on gear have given them the means to do so.
Reason #2: Boss fight mechanics
Lissanna suggested that one reason triage healing may have lost some allure was because of the burst AOE damage that goes out on a lot of boss fights in beginning raid content. This is true, beginning with what are considered entry level bosses, such as Magmaw or Halfus Wyrmbreaker. Granted, there is damage on both fights that can be avoided, but there is also a lot of damage that everyone will just have to eat and that will need to be healed through. Much of this damage could easily kill someone, if they’re not healed up to full or close to it. Cooldowns like healthstones, health pots or Lightwell charges can only do so much. They are still going to need heals from you and probably more than the triage style of healing would normally allow or suggest.
Reason #3: More healers
It’s a pretty common reaction when someone is taking damage to want to heal them. If the other healers in your raid are anything like you, they will probably have that same reaction. So that person sitting at 35% is probably going to attract the attention of other healers and your carefully thought out heal could end up being just one of a slew of heals suddenly thrown at them. It’s not that you weren’t practicing the triage style of healing, but that everyone else was, too and you all reacted at the same time. I wouldn’t say this is a bad thing, but having more heals to go around will almost certainly lead to nobody staying below a certain threshold of health, unless your healers are asked to keep it that way or you’re on a particularly taxing encounter.
These are just some of the reasons why triage healing may not have grown in popularity as an acceptable style of healing. What do you think? Do you still practice triage healing? If you don’t, why did you stop?