I took a moment yesterday to catch up with an old friend from my World of Warcraft days, whom I consider to be a respected authority and someone that I have a lot of love and respect for. At some point in the conversation, I mentioned that I felt a whole lot more comfortable with the idea of healing as a discipline priest, when she added that she was starting to learn how to be a shadow priest. I couldn’t help but laugh at the thought of the two of us both trying things that were so outside of our comfort zones and imagining how well each endeavor would ultimately pan out.
This got me thinking about just how flexible healers should be. In World of Warcraft, each healing class has the ability to perform other roles, as well. Druids and paladins can tank or DPS. All 4 classes can do DPS. Priests could also choose to heal one of two ways. I admit that I didn’t really understand the need to be flexible and how important it was until I started playing Rift. Maybe this is because the idea of performing multiple roles is something that was ingrained into the game from the start and not something that was added in later. I knew going into Rift that this would be expected of me and so I took to it much easier than I did before. I think it also helped that I was so overwhelmingly curious about all of the potential souls that I didn’t want to settle for having just one set of three souls. I wanted to try a little of everything and did not want to feel tied to just one role.
While I had become more comfortable with the idea of being a general healer and not being defined by one spec, I was less comfortable with the idea of being asked to tank or DPS, when needed. During the last couple of raids, I have felt incredibly bored. I feel as if either my group takes too many healers or the ones that we do have perform so well that there isn’t really anything to do. Some healers are asked to go DPS because of this and this is something that I don’t feel comfortable enough to volunteer to do. Even when we reduce our healing roster, I still don’t feel like I have enough to do. I don’t feel like there is imminent danger coming from a lack of healing. I’m really and truly bored.
Things kind of came to a head last night, during one of our farm nights. I think we were running the bare minimum of healers that we needed to clear the zone and I still had very little to do. Some people are fine with that, but I am not one of them. I need constant stimulation or I’ll start to tab out and lose interest. I saw that one of our rogues had been benched or was sitting out, so I asked if he could take my place. I wasn’t mad or upset. I just wanted something to do and I wasn’t finding that in my raid. I knew that they would be fine without me and that they would have more than enough healing to get them through what they wanted to accomplish for the night.
When I logged on this morning, I found that I had been demoted to a casual status in the guild. I can’t say that I was surprised or terribly upset about it. But, it did get me thinking again about healer flexibility in the games that I enjoy.
I’m sure I could have offered to go DPS and I would have been entertained enough where I wouldn’t have felt the need to leave and find something else to keep me occupied. I didn’t have to sit out for a DPS, when I could have just re-specced and performed that role myself. I had opened myself up to being a better healer by learning how to heal in various ways. But now, I feel like I have to take that one step further and be a better cleric or priest, in general. It’s not enough to just be a healer. I have to be a tank and a DPS, too?
The number of healers required in Firelands seemed to bounce back and forth. This seems to be the case in Rift, too. I was open to being a Purifier in Rift. I am now open to the idea of being discipline in World of Warcraft. Why don’t I feel like that’s enough? Why do I feel like healers are being asked to be something they’re not, in order to get a raid spot? What happened to the days when we were asked to heal and do nothing but heal? Am I the only who feels this way? Mind you, nobody has ever asked me to perform any of these roles. But, if you only need so many healers to get past an encounter and you have more healers than are necessary, what else are they supposed to?
I’m a healer. I love to heal. I love seeing 20 health bars falling dangerously low and knowing that I have to pick them back up again. I get a rush from seeing a tank’s health bar bounce back and forth, from full to half-full to really low. It gives me purpose and it gives me something to do. I know that if I’m not there, those health bars may not fill up as fast. It gives me a reason to log on, to sign up for a raid. That’s how passionate I am about what I do.
When you have mages who can heal and do damage, plus clerics who can DPS while healing, and both seem to provide more utility and healing than a healing cleric can, what’s the point of even showing up? To me, there isn’t one. I feel that the original intent of make healing more inclusive by allowing more people to be able to heal is doing more excluding than anything else. There are only so many spots to go around and far too many healers to fill them all up with.