UPDATE: I wrote a follow-up piece to this after I completed the MSQ and had a chance to get some raiding done.
So, with the weekend behind me, I feel like I can at least begin to comment a little bit. Considering the amount of salt regarding healers and the fact that I’m maining what appeared to be the least popular job of the least popular role, Astrologian.
First though, I think I need to talk about before 5.0. See, I tended to use the “nocturnal sect,” a shielding spec, unless I was in an 8-man with a scholar. This had never tended to be an issue for me, though it wasn’t always the mathematically superior choice. Functionally it worked very well, shield the tank, heal the tank, poke and/or use cards as required, then see where I’m at, healing and shielding and/or DPS as needed.
The first thing I noticed after the patch was that I could barely keep up. If felt like the damage inflicted on the group was extremely intense and I had to stay on the tank to keep them alive, spamming heals, spamming shields, and using Lucid Dreaming on cooldown to maintain MP. I was struggling and confused because I didn’t feel like I was doing anything different, but even in content I knew and was familiar with I could barely keep up.
Now, when I went to do the first dungeon in ShB, we had a mentor tank who suggested very early on that “as a former astro, you would be better using diurnal in dungeons.” I shrugged that off at first, because it was fine before, right? As time went on, though, I had to admit that maybe it was fine. Maybe it just isn’t anymore. For what it’s worth, Diurnal does seem to be a much better deal, having tried it.
Just as a quick comparison, when you use Aspected Benefic, you get a 200 potency heal and one of two effects depending on stance. Nocturnal grants a shield for 250% of the amount healed, 500 potency, basically. Diurnal gives a regen with a 200 potency for 15 seconds. I believe the tick rate is every 3s, so that’s around 1000 potency, about double the effectiveness. If that wasn’t bad enough, Nocturnal Benefic costs 1000 MP now, 1/10 of my MP with the new cap, and Diurnal Benefic costs only 500, so double the “healing” for half the cost, and it shows. Nocturnal just doesn’t feel viable when compared to Diurnal. Certainly not in 4-man content, and since the Astro regen stacks with Whm regen and the shield doesn’t stack with Scholar, the only reason to use Diurnal is Dual Astro.
On top of all that, the card system is much more hands on now. The days of loading on AoE buff and plastering the first buff that takes your fancy all over the group are more or less gone. All individual cards are single target, which means you’re constantly switching targets to get them on the correct roles, though if you’re lazy you can dump them all on the tank, I suppose. It’s just much busier than it was before. You can only get the seals used for the group buff Divination if you play a card while in combat, so you wait for the tank to pull, drop a regen, switch target, drop card, switch back, heal tank. Give or take. I might be able to streamline the process by setting up a macro to play cards on specific party slots without switching targets, but I’d have to try it.
I have had my brother heal a little bit to see if it was all just me or if some of the changes are universal, and he did confirm that there seems to be a bit more healing involved than before, but I believe we’ve sorted the basics out at least. So to those chanting that (Healers/Scholar/Astro/Whm) is dead, I say to you, long live the healers. Also, the role in need (healer) and the healer insta-queues are sweet.