Q: How do you plan on addressing our inflating spirit and mana pools later in the expansion to keep mana a resource, rather than a solid blue bar? Do you plan to preserve a principle of rational use of mana, which makes it interesting to play a healer? In the beginning of Cataclysm we had to use almost every spell to succeed, while now everything is about pushing a couple of your best healing spells. With the release of a new patch the level of equipment will raise significantly, and we won’t have to think about mana regeneration any more. Do you plan to somehow adjust encounters or healing mechanics perhaps?
– Nehalim (NA), Ксенас (EU-RU)
Q: Are there any plans to give Holy Priests access to a viable 3-minute raid cooldown? There are concerns that without a cooldown along the lines of Power Word: Barrier, Spirit Link Totem, or Tranquility, we may need to play disc a lot in firelands. Maybe simply an improved Divine Hymn?
A: Our plan was always that healers could gradually grow out of being very mana-limited, but we didn’t want that to happen in the very first tier of content. If it happens in the final tier of content, that’s fine. It will help healers feel like they have actually become more powerful from accumulating so much gear. Consider that tank health, mitigation and avoidance increase with each tier, as does the size of heals and the rate at which you cast them, and those are probably sufficient to offset the increased damage being done by bosses and trash.
In heroic raids, even today, healers often rely on their inefficient heals a great deal, so there isn’t a ton of room to expand into becoming even more inefficient (and therefore requiring more mana regeneration). As such, you should consider Spirit somewhere in between the stat continuum of hit and something like haste or crit. For the former, there are hard caps. For the latter, there are inflexion points where the value of a stat grows faster or slower, but in general more is always helpful. For Spirit you need enough to feel good about your healing longevity and anything beyond that is probably of diminishing value. We think this actually makes itemization as a healer more interesting for the player than just grabbing more and more of a particular uber stat.
With the raid content we have released for Cataclysm so far, we feel like we can put pressure on healers to keep tanks alive without repeating the gameplay we had in Wrath of the Lich King, where the smart way to play was to keep heals constantly going because of the risk of the tank dying in two back to back hits. Even with increasing regeneration, we don’t think we’ll get back to a two-shot the tank situation for Cataclysm. If your tanks are dying faster than you can heal them currently, again, you’re probably missing something about the encounter or aren’t quite ready for it yet.
We had originally planned on having bosses in later tiers scale so that players would need more crit, hit, expertise, dodge and parry for later tiers. We ultimately decided not to do this, at least for the current expansion. That decision was driven partially because we couldn’t figure out an elegant way for stats like haste to scale with boss power and partially because we weren’t convinced our planned UI would communicate the concept clearly enough to players. For example, would just bosses be affected? Just raid bosses? If not, would you want separate sets of gear for dungeons vs. raids? Those are solvable problems, but we weren’t convinced the path we were on would solve them as well as we would like.
Our current numbers wouldn’t work if we had a dozen raid tiers before increasing the level cap, but that’s not our plan.
– Maladi (NA)
Q: Looking at the healer changes with patch 4.2, there are changes being made to paladins and druids, but there doesn't appear to be any for either the priest or shaman. Do you feel comfortable with where these two classes are? Where do you feel the other healers are at currently?
A: You can make the argument that the Holy priest doesn’t have a similar raid cooldown like Power Word: Barrier, or that Divine Hymn isn’t as powerful as Tranquility. However, we feel the Holy priest toolkit overall is strong, that they provide meaningful contributions to raid healing, and are well represented in actual raid groups. It’s possible we may make Divine Hymn more of a Holy (rather than Discipline) priest thing in the future, and bump it up to around where Tranquility is, if the need presents itself. Overall, Holy priests are fine. They have enough benefits that few guilds seem to be sitting them for want of yet another raid cooldown, and Guardian Spirit remains an exceptional tank cooldown.
– Sergan (LA)
Q: What is the reasoning behind certain classes that lack a healing spec (such as a rogue) being able to self-heal better than a dps spec of a healing class (such as a balance druid)?
A: As we write this, heroic attempts on the Firelands raid have just begun and the new PvP season has started. At this time, we are happy with all five of the healing specs. We don’t think there is a weak or mandatory healer. We try not to change things just for the sake of change. We know that constant changes can be exhausting for players, so we try to resist the urge to tinker with mechanics, specs or classes that are basically working fine. We suspect that sometimes players fall into a mode where if they don’t see copious patch notes for their character that they feel like we don’t love them anymore. We love all of our classes. If you don’t see any changes in patch notes it either means that we don’t think changes are warranted yet, or that we have future plans to change things that we haven’t quite solidified or lack the ability to implement exactly how we want. This doesn’t mean every class is now perfect and requires no additional tweaks – far from it. Just try and distinguish between “my dude hasn’t changed lately” and “my dude is fundamentally broken and the developers don’t know or don’t care.” We can assure you the latter sentiment is never the case.
– Idej (NA)
Q: With the changes being made to critical heals, do you feel that crit will become a more prominent stat for healers, up there with haste and mastery? Or is it a less important change aimed at balancing between the pve and pvp aspects of the game?
A: A great recipe for class homogenization is to go down the list of every ability and make sure that every class has their own version of that ability. We don’t think powerful self-healing is mandatory for every character. Some classes are inherently better at it than others. As long as the overall package is competitive, it’s okay for specs or classes to have strengths and weaknesses. If the overall package isn’t competitive, we’ll certainly hear about it.
Our definition of hybrid class is a class that has a tank or healing spec. We don’t spend much effort to make sure that the DPS specs of hybrid classes are more “hybridy” than the DPS specs of mage, warlock, rogue or hunter. Sometimes hybrid DPS specs might be able to throw out a heal, but unless used very strategically, those contributions are often in the rounding error of the healing provided by the dedicated healers. And when DPS specs are healing themselves (Frost and Unholy DKs before 4.2) or others (Ret paladins before 4.1) too much, we take action there as well. So it’s not a priority for us that Balance druids are great healers. We recognized going into Cataclysm that rogues had a lot of down time while solo, that they didn’t have many options for spending combo points after a target died prematurely, and that too much rogue survivability was based around crowd controlling an opponent. Thus we thought there was a need for Recuperate. If Balance druids have similar challenges, then we’d look for solutions for them as well, but they would hopefully be unique or at least kit-appropriate solutions.
– Derëk (LA)
Q: Do you feel that the three-heal model you implemented at the start of Cataclysm is a success? Have you changed your expectations or goals in regards to the three-heal model after watching a tier of raiding? How do you feel about how the various specs are using or avoiding these three core heals?
A: Even with the 4.2 changes, haste may very well be a more attractive stat for healers. We’re just trying to narrow the gap. It’s not important for all stats to be identical as long as they aren’t so far apart that you’re tempted to keep perfectly optimized gear from a previous tier instead of less perfectly optimized gear from a new tier. We want a healer to take gear with crit seriously (even if he would ultimately prefer haste) rather than passing or sharding it. We made the change mostly for itemization reasons and not for any PvP vs. PvE concerns. PvP healers tend to have low crit chances anyway and we have other ways to balance healing in PvP should it become too powerful (predominantly the Mortal Strike and related debuffs).
– Anohako (NA)
A: Overall, we still like the model and we intend to keep supporting it. One flaw with the system is that healers in 5-player dungeons often have to make harder choices about which of the three core heals to use at any given moment. In raids, especially in 25-player mode, healers can afford to specialize more. To be fair, raids often replace spell-choice complexity with encounter complexity, but overall it would be nice if players graduated from less complexity to more complexity as they went into more challenging content rather than the reverse. As a theoretical example, imagine that priests didn’t have access to Greater Heal in 5-player dungeons, so the choice would be between the fast, expensive Flash Heal vs. the slower, efficient Heal (in addition to all their other tools of course). It’s hard to develop a system that would make such a restriction make sense, but you get the idea.
When comparing classes, the intent was always that the druid and Disc priest would use those three core heals the least. It is a design problem (though not a massive one) that those two specs can specialize so much in 25-player raids that they can forsake their three core heals to a great extent. In smaller groups, they still need to look at their full toolbox. We like the way the shaman works, particularly with Tidal Waves providing synergy among the three core heals. The paladin model is close but as mentioned above, they have to rely on the three heals too much because they don’t have another heal like Riptide or Penance to add to the mix. Holy priests still suffer a bit of the reverse where there are so many heals that it’s hard to provide niches for them all. We’ve talked about a spec model where there are even more specialization spells (like the ones you get at level 10) so that we can have more spells for each healer without players having to spend talent points on them.
Ask the Devs - Answers #1: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2228225718
Ask the Devs - Answers #2: PvP http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2267599521
Ask the Devs - Answers #3: UI http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2301722463
Ask the Devs - Answers #4: Armor and Weapons http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2353015977
Ask the Devs - Answers #5: Achievements http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2369681189
Ask the Devs - Answers #6: Guild Advancement http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2416158906
Ask the Devs - Answers #7: Professions http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2522165843
Ask the Devs - Answers #8: Firelands http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2580388888
Ask the Devs - Answers #9: Tanking http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2649805301
Ask the Devs - Answers #10: Damage Dealing http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2721582834