Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Old Tools, New Tools: Changing with the Times

Lodur had a great post over at World of Matticus this morning on the state of Chain Heal and Resto Shaman. His post was a response to a now-23 page thread on the O-boards lamenting the state of chain heal compared to other AoE heals in the game. Lodur examines the shaman toolbox and concludes that shamans are not broken, it’s just a matter of reaching in and pulling out a different tool than the trusty old Chain Heal.

I don’t play a shaman so I’m really not qualified to comment on whether or not they’re broken. My guild is also not pushing the progression envelope of hard modes at this time (we’ve taken down Flame Leviathan in 25’s, woohoo), so I can’t really look compare our shammies with Lodur’s. What prompted this post was the following comment Lodur made near the end of his piece:

‘[Chain Heal] not the crutch it used to be. I think people should stop looking to it to be the spell it was in Sunwell, and should accept that it is one of many tools to be used with great effect.

Lodur’s point sums things up very nicely; I think the source of most of the complaints on the O-Boards is change, and how people adjust to change.

The game has changed since TBC. Classes have had major talent overhauls and upgrades (and downgrades and sidegrades), and things no longer work the way they used to; developers have made an endless series of tweaks and adjustments, i.e. change. Change makes us uncomfortable; it takes us out of our comfort zone and disrupts our routine. Even the anticipation of a change is enough to make the O-Boards light up with ‘OMG, NERF, I QUIT!’ When the change is actually implemented there’s usually a brief period of complaining, and then things settle down. We adjust. We move forward, we discover that the change is not so bad, and might even be a good thing!

I think particularly of Beacon of Light. When this shiny, new tool was placed in the Paladin’s toolbox there were tons of complaints: It’s not a true AoE heal, costs too much mana, doesn’t last long enough. There’s nothing really inherently wrong in any of these complaints, but much of the problem seemed to be that many just couldn’t figure out how to use it – the new tool didn’t have an instruction manual! Does it get used on the tank? A dps? Yourself? Should it be used all the time? Instead of asking those questions, the paladin community just blasted the tool itself – until we played around with it more and figured it out. Take a glance at the O-boards now, when’s the last time you saw a true ‘Beacon Sucks’ thread? The last Beacon-specific thread turns up on page 7 dated 5/14, and it’s not an ‘I hate Beacon’ rant. Once people figured out how to use it, the complaining stopped. It’s not a perfect spell, but it’s much more useful than most initially believed.

I suspect that many Shaman will come to the same conclusions about shaman healing as the Paladins did with Beacon of Light. Maybe Chain Heal doesn’t work the same way it did in Sunwell. It doesn’t mean the class or heal is broken. It just means it’s no longer the All-Purpose tool that it used to be; it’s time to reach into the toolbox and find something that will work for the job at hand. And when you do get a shiny new tool? Don’t look for the instruction manual. Just play around with it until you figure out how it works. It’s more fun that way, and you might even discover a use for it that the developers didn’t think about.


  1. Jeffo. Thanks for the mention, very well written post and glad you enjoyed mine =D

  2. Thank you, Lodur. I appreciate it and hope to improve as I go.