What is Triage Healing? – Classic, MoP, WoD Comparisons!

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In the upcoming WoW Expansion Warlords of Draenor, we will see the healing model once again completely overhauled to that of a Triage state echoing Classic’s foundation. In this article, I’ll be start by discussing Triage dynamics, and conclude by making some 1:1 comparisons between the model as well as answer a few common misconceptions about the changes. Let’s begin!

What Triage actually is:

Since this is a strange term, it is best to first define its usage in the English language. Knowing the actual word will help you better understand the new model.

Triage: the assignment of degrees of urgency to wounds or illnesses to decide the order of treatment of a large number of patients or casualties.triage

So from the definition we can already surmise that decision making skills are at the forefront. But what this means for the healer may not be abundantly obvious.

The most simple way to describe what is happening with 6.0 would be to say that all damage taken is much more proportional and in more regulated chunks. Imagine a boss that hits you for half your health but only does this ever 5-6 seconds. A fluent Triage situation would be this example, but with raid damage happening as well.

This makes your job as the healer simply keeping the tank with enough total health to survive each large strike, while keeping the raid out of danger.

What Triage means for WoW:

As described in the previous example, this completely flips the focus of healing on a 180. From my experience as a 14/14H 25 man raid leader who players a healer, the only way to describe healing now is “terrible.”

Essentially, if anyone takes damage they are near death, and the rest of the encounter is just spamming heals on full health people to try and do competitive HPS.

This is an oversimplification and a degradation of a model that worked pretty well at one point, but once again, we find our selves at the end of a tier just completely laughing at any damage that doesn’t one shot us. In my opinion, this is absolutely terrible, and a mockery of what healing has become.

In response, we have Triage healing, a model where there will ALWAYS be damage that matters, and its very likely that you will never get a full raid topped up in terms of health.

This is the GOAL. Whether or not it happens has yet to be seen, but for those doubters, I can say with confidence that the system worked 10 years ago, so I believe it can work again.

Triage Model in Classic WoW:

The best form of Triage I have experienced came in Classic World of Warcraft, most specifically in 40 man raiding, but also in a lot of 5 to 20 man content.

Best example I can give is Dire Maul: West. Inside the main area, there where ghosts that, as you pull them, they shoot an AOE of frost damage out to everyone in the group for about half your health. This seems very daunting at first, but when you realize that they only do it once in their expected lifespan, you get a glimpse at what we can expect coming with WoD.

This was also heavily prevalent in Raiding. There would often times be a massive AOE damage that forced healers to react quick enough to get everyone healed up before the next, but it was unlikely to be for a good 10-15 seconds.

Even more important was the lack of any real smart or AOE healing. This forced players to single target heal multiple people consecutively, and was the root of the “healing assignments” that were once such a mandatory part of the video game.

Comparison of Classic to WoD Triage:

There are a few MAJOR differences, but in my opinion, the heart of the matter is the exact same.

The most noticeable changes the model will present is simply that every healer has multiple sources of good AOE healing. This presents what I view as an inherent flaw in the procedure, especially coming off a model where spamming your smart heal meant topping the charts, and blind healing was the only way to play. triage

Another key difference is the tuning. Back in Classic, health wasn’t present on a lot of people’s gear. Resistances where what you needed to survive, and classes that couldn’t sufficiently accrue, would take a LOT more damage from sources. At the time, this really forced the hands of healers, and caused a lot of strange gimmicky mechanics like keeping all the cloth wearers out of LOS of the boss whenever he would do the damage. Literally, stop dps and run. This will NOT be happening in WoD, so those undergeared or unprepared will have an incredibly tough time surviving.

Key similarities in my eyes include 1 major factor: Spell selection.

Back in Classic, it was often pertinent to downrank your spells to conserve mana, then use the max rank when there was high damage need. At the time, Paladins only heal option was Flash of Light. You would use a 3x downrank to remain near mana neutral, and use max rank when the damage picked up, then go back to conserving when it was stymied.

This is exactly how the model is shaping up to be in WoD, especially for Paladins. We have a cheap heal, and an expensive high hps heal. That is a gross oversimplification as well, but for comparison’s sake, it is pertinent. In times of low need, you can just spam targets with Holy Light, but when things heat up you will dump your mana with Flash of Light or Holy Radiance.

Some Hurdles and Misconceptions:

To conclude, let’s discuss some of the biggest obstacles I have seen people come across since playing the Beta. I am going to directly quote the best example I’ve seen and discuss its misgivings:

Dungeons aren’t hard. Healing “is”. I understand that this was the intention of the healing change, so allow me to explain.

Example -The giant robot boss in Skytalon as a paladin. The AoE damage is -massive- and I got no good AoE healing tools. Ontop of this, ALL tanks are taking massive damage.

Misconception #1 – Healing has become more difficult. This is extremely false. What has happened as a side effect of the change, however, is that healing now requires you to think instead of letting Smart Heals handle 90 percent of your job. Healing’s difficulty has always been maximizing your role as Support, so now, it will be less about placing spells, and more about when to use what.

Misconception #2 – Damage is “massive.” This term makes no sense in the new model, as the model is built around damage per second incoming. A “massive” burst of damage is usually followed up by a complete lull, and it is your job to catch up afterwards. If the damage one-shots the team, then it is massive. Otherwise, its just damage you need to deal with.

Misconception #3 – You need AOE to heal in Triage. In my opinion, especially as a Holy Paladin, triage will reinvigorate the single target heal. As of MoP its pretty much useless unless you are healing a tank. Especially in Five Mans, the days of just tabbing through and healing every person have returned. There is no reason to be trying to cast AOE heals on 4 targets, especially in this new model. If all else fails, use your CD!

 

So that’s everything. I feel I have done a good job explaining Triage as well as helping dispel some myths about its concerns. If you guys have ANY questions, please do not hesitate to ask! See you in 6.0!

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