Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Hear Me Baby? Hold Together: Energy and Smuggler Healing

I don't have quite enough experience with Smuggler healing yet to make a full-blown guide, but I can offer you some delicious food for thought in the meantime. Besides, I've been writing some puffy stuff lately, I have to throw a (saw)bone to you hardcore Smugglers.

Let's talk about energy.

As a longtime healer in WoW, I'm used to tracking a mana bar while healing. For all intents and purposes, you had a finite amount of resources (and therefore time) for each fight. When you ran out of mana, the fight was over. Exercising restraint in managing your casts, i.e.using mana-regenerating abilities or not always casting the most expensive heal, was a huge part of healing strategy.

Now, with our rechargeable energy bar (sounds like something you eat before a marathon), we can heal forever. Instead of having a countdown until we must stop healing, we have a limit placed on how many heals we can cast or how hard we can heal per unit of time. For instance, you might be able to cast five average heals or 2 big heals in any given 10 second window. And should you be overzealous at any point in the encounter, you risk not being able to heal at all.

This conceptual shift has to change the way we approach healing. Some rules have become apparent:

1. Never Cap on Energy: If at any point you allow your energy to cap, you are sacrificing healing throughput. You can always be stacking Slow-Release Medpacs if there isn't a lot of damage going around.

2. Never Stop Casting: Similar to the first rule, every second you stop casting is a throughput reduction. Regardless of your energy or incoming damage, you can at least cast Diagnostic Scan during lulls. It provides energy return (and thus more heals) even if the actual healing done is pitiful.

3. Keep Something in Reserve: The biggest challenge for Sawbones Smugglers right now is not getting too aggressive, especially if DPS is taking damage they shouldn't be. It's difficult, but try to hold a bit of energy just in case. Emergency Medpacs are a boon, allowing you to exploit Upper Hand as a second resource if need be.

4. Use Energy Regen Abilities: If there is HP to be healed, don't keep Cool Head on cooldown. The sooner you use it, the sooner you can use it again. More energy equals more healing.

I don't know about you guys, but I would be a bit scared to tank heal in a raid situation with the energy system. I feel like blanketing the raid with a stream of Slow-Release Medpacs, spot heals, and Kolto Clouds is more conducive to our heals/unit time limit. At that point, if we can't keep up with the damage it is the DPS' fault. Conversely, I would be hesitant to heal anybody but the tank if I were tank healing, which is neither productive nor fun. Could I get used to it? Yes, but I'm not sure I would want to.

How are you guys getting along with the energy healing system? Any horror stories? For those who may already be raiding: tank or raid heals?

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