Recent experiences in dungeons in Battle for Azeroth prompted me to think again of a topic that crops up on occasion – how much should healers in trinity (tank, healer, damage dealer) group content be required to do damage as well?
Back when I played Final Fantasy 14 it was a norm among many players that healers should dps as much as possible. If you weren’t using “cleric stance” (I read this has changed…) to enhance your damage spells in-between bouts of healing then you were a lazy White Mage/Scholar! It’s not something I ever adjusted to and I swapped mid way to cap to mostly play Bard partially because of this. I’m not that great at multi-tasking to be honest so any gameplay that involves switching playstyles repeatedly is likely to tire/confuse me quickly.
Fast forward to now and I find myself often casting some damage spells in our levelling quartet Horde-side because otherwise I’d be pretty redundant. Out in the public questing areas a full-time healer is not needed. With a tank and two DPS characters we cut through monsters like a hot knife through butter. However, when we swap to dungeons I do need to be focused on healing most of the time, we’re still doing normal-mode, circa level 117. All dungeons scale to some extent so there’s no outgearing the earlier dungeons anymore. Until we hit 120 and have majorly boosted our gear quality via world quests and mythic runs I do not expect this to change.
Given that I do not raid in WoW as a rule, and am not particularly interested in mythic plus, even mythic difficulty dungeons do eventually become trivialised by gear upgrades. That was the way for previous expansions including Legion. Past a certain point we can easily underman a dungeon or ‘carry’ the less-well geared character of a friend or family member with just a core trinity group, for example.
In that context suddenly the role of healer is a lot less distinct. If I’m not also doing damage then the dungeon run becomes rote and boring. This is one aspect of playing healing characters that can differentiate between classes in a perhaps unintended way. Starting with WoW as the example: resto Shamans can spam chain lightning for good enough effect and have a good ‘proc’ instant-cast for a punchy boost in damage. With their healing totems and targetted area heals it is particularly easy, with good gear, to mix roles up a bit.
By contrast my holy Priest has very poor and bland damage spells – she can spam holy nova for combined healing and close range damage – but a healer that close to almost any boss monster is likely to be dead in short order. Otherwise holy fire is great but on a longish cooldown and ‘smite spam’ is the definition of boring. I use divine star for an extra ability while questing but in dungeons it’s hard-to-judge range often sets off additional fights or breaks crowd-control abilities.
Paladins are, or at least during Legion, were probably my favourite healer class for mixing in damage dealing. It requires a lot of short or melee range positioning, so you’d better be ready to bubble and run if things go bad, but offers a lot more active a damage rotation compared to the other two. I haven’t played my Paladin in BfA to compare, but during Legion the combination of ranged attacks like judgement & holy prism with close in attacks such as consecration and crusader strike made for a fun rotation.
It may well be that my confidence playing healing classes in World of Warcraft tempers my views on this: I never felt that comfortable playing White Mage or Scholar in FFXIV that I was happy damage dealing as well. Likewise in Rift I would either play my Cleric and do next to no damage during dungeons, or during a more recent stint in the game, Chloromancer which is all about doing damage to power heals so being a healer/damage dealer was second nature to the spec.
What are your thoughts on healers doing damage in group content?