I spread the love around a little over my characters trying to get the last few of them to 35 before Wrath hits. With only 3 days to go this seems a very manageable goal which only my warrior most likely will fail at.
As a result I was spending a little bit of time on my priest (now lvl 35): spent a dazzling hour as shadow priest before throwing the spec out of the window in sheer disgust. I don't know what they did to shadow... but it doesn't quite feel right.
So instead I swapped my mindflay spam for smite spam by digging into the holy tree for all those lovely smite improvers.
This by no means helped the monotony of things but gave me time to think about this that or the other thing. Apart from the fact that lesser heal for some strange reason seems to be hideously expensive there seems to be very little in terms of options for a holy / disc build to do damage (I know lesser heal has nothing to do with damage but I just had to point out how bloody expensive it is).
We have the classic dots from the shadow side that we'll stick on but beyond that at around level 35 I am looking at smite and holy fire carrying most of the damage where holy fire is on a pretty long cooldown preventing it from being used all the time.
So for lack of anything other to press my rotation consisted of shield->smite->smite->smite->smite which as you can imagine is hardly a blisteringly exciting experience.
This leaves holy as well as discipline severely lacking in terms of being able to do damage (and all resto builds too for that matter). A complaint that's by no means new amongst people that have tried and are trying to level as any kind of healer.
Blizzard has often tried to address these issues but found themselves causing balancing issues for non-holy trees by adjusting the damage output for holy/resto classes.
The reason for this is simply that holy/resto builds rely on the same damage concepts as other trees in order to be viable in combat. Take a look at a holy paladin for example and you will see that next to holy shock the holy paladin is reliant on seals to do damage. If we then buff the damage of these seals (seal of the righteous comes to mind) we improve the situation for holy but we also skew the results for the ret and protection tree who can also benefit from this extra damage.
This often causes a back and forth between nerfs and buffs where blizzard is desperately trying to maintain balance between two or three completely different trees.
But this shows a whole different problem than what blizzard is working on. Blizzard is attempting to intrinsically balance 3 trees that are heavily tied together by their abilities.
The problem that is showing however is one of not being able to individually balance a tree without affecting other trees... Which results in balancing acts on 1 tree directly affecting performance of other trees.
What I propose is drastically different but by no means new in terms of the gaming industry. Holy and restoration builds have a certain amount of spells and abilities that they are using already which are independant from other trees. Their healing spells. And even though non-resto/non-holy builds will regularly use these spells too they suffer from the fact that they don't have enough supporting attributes to really push up the power of these spells.
Holy/Resto on the other hand is purely investing in these spells since a healer should reasonably be expected to put effort into healing (yes even in a pre-wrath post 3.0.2 world).
So what if we now add a damage component to a healing spell? What if we could cast our greater heals, our flashes of light, our renews and various other hots, instants and heals on an enemy instead of an ally and have them do a (spell coefficient based) percent of their healing power as damage on the target?
The damage coefficients that could be attached to healing spells can be individually scaled from other damage abilities that other trees rely on. Keeping the coefficient low enough means that no self-respecting non-holy/non-resto spec would even consider using them as damage spells. However the fact that these healing spells now can cause damage means they're infinitely more useful for holy/resto builds.
Just imagine 50% (an arbitrary value of course, may as well be 75% or 32% depending on effect) of your normal HoT ticks healing power converted to damage if you cast them on an enemy...
All of a sudden you're not looking at your healing spells from a pure group perspective anymore but you can actually consider rotating in HoTs and other heal spells into your damage rotation allowing you to really focus on your healing spells/abilities.
The fun part of this is that unless you really go overboard with your damage coefficient of your heals you can individually balance holy/resto seperate from other trees. All of a sudden you're not looking at how balancing seal of the righteous is affecting holy anymore because seal of the righteous no longer has to be a primary damage component.
So what if a HoT were also a DoT? What if your heals can inflict pain and suffering (damage) on a non-friendly target. Is it really so far fetched to assume a mighty healer can also cause a mighty amount of damage with his/her heals?
Sure sure you'd be looking at a whole new concept with all the balancing issues thereof... but achieving a split between healer and non-healer trees would make balancing significantly easier, could improve the situation of solo levelling healers tremendously and would even make healers viable as off-DPS... something I rarely hear about unless you're talking about a tank swinging a two hander.