But I Can Be A Paladin Too! Right?   11 comments

Yesterday I opened up my mailbag and found the following question:

“I was recently “informed” that resto druids are “Dead Last” in effectiveness of tank healing. I realize our raid heals are kick ass, but to have someone tell me we suck as tank healers, or that we should be last priority when assigning a healer to a tank, struck a nerve. I’m curious as to what your thoughts are! To be quite honest this has enraged me a bit… obviously I’m a bit biased… but I am wondering if there is proof to back me up that resto druids are fantastic tank healers, as well as raid healers.”

Now, I noticed that Bell had a similar query and provided her thoughts on the topic. She has some very good points, so I very much suggest that you go read what she had to say on the matter! However, I thought I’d share my two cents as well.

My first comment would be that what you were told, and what you were perceived to have been told, seem to be a little bit different, at least from an outsider’s view =). The comment that was made, being that we are the least effective tank healers, is, well, it is pretty spot on. However, I don’t read that as saying “Druids suck as tank heals” as much as “There are others that can do the job better”. And there is a big difference in the two.

Every class is going to have strengths and weaknesses that it will need to play towards. The key is finding where each will excel, and playing towards those strengths, and maximizing your raid so that everyone can utilize those strengths. I’ve always viewed druids as the sort of “safety” net of healers. We are there to provide blankets for damage, with our HoTs adding support for the other healers. And, for me, I’ve always included the tanks into that net. It is rare that I don’t have some hots up on my tanks regardless of my healing assignment.

I feel a bit like this safety net is what we bring to the raid. A cushion that helps everyone out. And I like that. I’ve always liked the heal over time aspect of druids and feel this is what makes them so interesting…and in my opinion makes them the most dynamic of the four healing classes. Our strength, if you will, is to be able to cushion. Even back in TBC where you almost always had a druid on the tank rolling LB, and that person’s role was “tank healing”, you were still a cushion. Your HoTs in there keeping the tank stable in between your bomb heals from your direct healing classes.

Now, other classes have other strengths as well. I don’t think that you will find a Holy Paladin who will tell you “I’m the most effective raid healer”, or a disc priest that will tell you “I am the most effective raid healer”. It’s not that they cannot do the job, it’s just that there is likely to be another class that can do it better. And that is really what the question above is asking, is it not? Can’t Druids be the best at tank healing? And unfortunately, I feel the answer to that is “no”.

Can we tank heal? Absolutely! Can we do a good job at tank healing? For sure! Is there a class that can do it better than we can? Yes.

Well Beru, I hear you wonder, substantiate that! *sigh* alright, if you insist!

Throughput – While we can put out really impressive numbers, I think that you will find a full HoT rotation plus Nourish spam will start to play on your mana pool. It’s sustainable, sure, but let’s think about the throughput of the other two stereotyped “tank” healing classes: The Holy Paladin and the Disc Priest.

A holy paladin, for all intents and purposes, has unlimited mana. This is no joke! They have a 1.2-1.3 second heal that will hit the tank for ~16k and upwards…and they can heal two tanks at once. Which makes them almost broken overpowered on any multi tank encounter. I do not think you will find a more mana efficient tank healer or effective out there. Their single target healing throughput is far beyond anything that we can provide.

The Disc Priest is not as crazy good throughput wise as a holy paladin is, but they too have amazing mana returns anytime their shields “heal” (prevent damage). If they shield smartly, and utilize their other heals wisely, as long as their targets are taking damage and eating up their shields, they can also go on almost forever. Their direct heals may not be as juicy, although there is probably a good argument out there for penance, but their contributions are still quite significant.

Damage Mitigation – This is where I feel that this is where it becomes pretty cut and dry that we are the least effective as far as tank healers go. Tank healing isn’t just making the green bar move up, but it is also providing a benefit that will prevent the tank for taking damage to begin with. This is one thing that druids completely lack. I think the argument is that we are keeping a steady, constant stream of life flowing, which is true! But it’s also something I do even when I’m “raid” healing. I have nothing extra to offer to the tank, I have nothing that could have caused him to take less damage.

A Shaman has Ancestral Fortitude, which acts just like a priest’s inspiration, which reduces the targets physical damage taken by a whopping 10%! Most encounters where tank damage is a concern, you want at least one of these two buff’s gracing your tank. Less damage to the tank means, well, less heals the tank needs!

A Paladin in addition to having a completely overpowered *ahem*, and juicy direct heal, also offers sacred shield, which is a damage absorber. Damage absorbed, again, means less heals needed for the tank!

The Disc Priest offers the almighty beefed up Power Word: Shield, and Divine Aegis. Both of which are very large damage absorbers on the tanks, again meaning that the tank needs less healing!

Priests also offer mitigation in the form of Pain Suppression (Disc) and Guardian Spirit (Holy). While both abilities have a healthy cool down, they also both can save a tank’s life in a pinch.

Unfortunately, druids have…HoTs. We have no equivalent mitigation abilities other than being able to keep our heals active over a period of time, and on the move. These aren’t things to be discounted, by any means, however it also mean that as far as tank healers go, we are really the least effective. Not because we can’t do the job well, but because we have the least to offer in that role.

When you raid, you want to maximize your team. Often that is going to mean that you want to put the best person in the job that fits them best and offers the most to your raid. While I understand that you aren’t happy to be told that you aren’t effective at doing something, the truth is that if there is someone on your team that can do the job better, they should be tasked with playing to their strengths.

It is my personal belief that druids are very capable of performing the role of tank healing if needed, and will probably put up some very respectable numbers in that role; but, I also would have to agree that where we are in the game right now, we truly are the least effective tank healers. It’s not that we are bad at it, or can’t do it…it’s just that there are others who fill that role better!

Does anyone else have any insight on this topic? Are there any druids that solely tank heal for their raids that would like to offer up their thoughts?

Posted April 8, 2010 by Beruthiel in Druid Healing, Healing

11 responses to “But I Can Be A Paladin Too! Right?

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  1. I often get “stuck” tank healing for lack of better options (when you’re in a casual guild, you roll out the 10 man with whoever signed up). However, I agree with you, totally, and a few additions:

    Discipline priests receive a huge bonus from borrowed time. After a bubble, they can hit Gheal immediately and benefit from borrowed time with a <2 sec Gheal (hawt). That delivers a LOT of healing in a small amount of time. Between hasted Gheals, Penance, and points in the disc tree to improve Fheal, it's not surprising that they are excellent single-target healers.

    Druids have an exceptionally good aggregate "bonus" in tree form. Instead of ancestral healing etc, they have tree form that increases healing taken by everyone. So that's good for the group as a whole, but not awesome for any individual member. The tank gets this small bonus regardless of whom the druid is healing.

    Druids have few "oh crap" buttons. Swiftmend is up pretty often, and NS delivers a punch, but those don't hold a candle to a single-target awesome cooldown like pain suppression. (Druids do have a good AOE emergency button, Tranq, but it's not that useful for when the tank is getting pummeled.)

    I think druids can do exceptionally well being assigned to the tank as part of a healing TEAM. Then 2 or more healers can play off each other's strengths and do what you were mentioning with the Lifebloom scenario – fill in padding between big heals, throw in an appropriate swiftmend, or handle a lingering bleed on a tank who no longer has aggro.

  2. By the way, I’m the evil GM that started all of this with the original poster/question/statement.

    The druids in our guild are amazing healers and I would not have any qualms about one of them tank healing if we needed it. As other people here and on other boards who fielded this same question have stated there are other classes that are just better at it. That does not mean that an individual could not still do a great job, it just means that when we have to pass out jobs in a 25 man raid we are going to think of what class is strongest in what job. Simple as that.

    In 10 mans we really could care less and put whatever healer we have on tank or raid healing but 25 mans are usualy a different story. I am not apposed to switching things up to help keep people from getting bored with the same job but the strengths of each class are pretty well known so druids can expect to be used on raid healing most of the time, especialy if the raid has paladin healers to deal with the tanks.

    I really appreciate the unbiased feedback and responses this question has received and I feel good about the ranking system we use for jobs. Thanks and great site.

  3. Ancestral Fortitude and Inspiration can’t stack; one will overwrite the other.

    • “you want at least one of these two buff’s gracing your tank” 😉

      • Saying “at least one” implies that “both” is also an option. The clarification is really for the benefit of anyone who isn’t familiar with the abilities and thinks they ought to be stacking. 🙂

      • @monkey – yes, and no. Keep in mind that neither inspiration or ancestral fortitude has 100% uptime. Both are activate by the healer having a critical effect on their target, and the buff is somewhat short in duration at 15 seconds (iirc).

        So while it is true that they do not stack, if you have multiple healers on the target that have the ability to provide the benefit, you ultimatly increase the uptime of the effect, which is a net benefit. Sure, the counter argument would be that your healer would have a crit at least once every 15 seconds, but that is not a guarantee.

        Now, I am not saying that you should put two healers with the talents in that spot, but you should have at least one of them providing it to your tank. However, there is no downside to having multiple sources of the buff on the tank. I hope that clarifies my phrasing some. 🙂

      • With mana being a non-issue, keeping virtually 100% uptime on this buff is really (or ought to be) part of the job of healing as a shaman / priest.

      • That does clarify quite well, thank you. The buff is indeed 15 seconds. I also agree. While there are ways to increase crit chance if the buff falls off, it’s much less likely that anyone has to worry about it if there’s more than one person providing the buff.

        I’m looking forward to the healing changes in Cataclysm. I think they’re going to go a long way toward making it such that you’ll always want your best healers on the tank regardless of class. That’s sort of the case now, but from everything I’ve seen so far regarding the changes, the devs are making that a priority.

  4. If I get assigned to heal a tank, it’s usually the second or third tank in the encounter. If that happens, I usually whisper the holy paladin assigned to one of the other tanks and suggest to him that we “team up” on our tanks. I roll HoTs on both and he fills the gaps with direct heals on both. We work best as part of a tank-healing team rather than just to be assigned to an individual tank.

    The best example of this is the Valithria fight. We usually have a pally, a shaman and me go through the portals. I never feel embarassed by my output and we win this fight more often than not, but I rarely beat the shaman and never beat the pally on pure throughput on a single target.

    I can adequately fill the need for a tank healer solo by using HoTs and Nourish. I never feel like I’m not up to the task of keeping my tank alive if needed. However, that isn’t where I’m most efficient.

    There’s nothing wrong with that! Ask the pally to raid heal and he can probably do it, but not as well as me. There’s nothing wrong with have other classes be better than us at certain things as long as we have something we can excel at.

    The safety net analogy is a great description. That’s what we do. We had a discussion about effective healing the other day and how much of my HoTs were overhealed and one of the tank officers spoke up in my defense and mentioned that my numbers explode on a fight where we lose a healer or two early and people aren’t sniping my HoTs all the time.

    I just wouldn’t get that upset about it. We’re not as good as pallys at tank healing, but we’re not inadequate to the task if asked to fill the role.


  5. One druid, one disc priest, 10-man raid. For the love of the gods, run split roles. HoT stacks, but no Nourish, on the tanks, shield spam from the disc priest, with the disc Penancing to fill in individual spikes, and the druid WGing to fill in raid drops.

    Everything that is really great about Disc is brought with less than half their time, so please, please, use that throughput to let them do something more useful than spam Flash Heal – and they, in turn, will smooth out raid damage, and shield anyone who gets low, so your hots get used to maximum effect.

    Not a fan of strict assignments. They always seem to make disc priests go to waste.

  6. This really depends upon the encounter also, back in Naxxramus I was puggin with a group since my guild wasnt ready to raid, we got to the one boss (cannot remember his name) nad he had a very short cast time spell that my instant hots could not deal with and my direct healing spells had too long of a cast time, I could with my panic button keep every other player alive due to the CD.
    I eventually convinced the RL to put me on Tank heals as the tank wasnt taking significant damage and put the Priest on raid heals, he/she was able to keep the people alive ahem by spamming flash heals and I was able to keep the tank alive.

    Yes I agree we do much better on raid heals but Blizz does like to switch things up to keep us on our toes.


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