Valithria Dreamwalker - why I'm disappointed

So my raid force recently downed upped Valithria Dreamwalker both on ten-man and twenty-five-man. Everywhere I looked that fight had been touted as "the healer fight", a fight on which healers in raid forces all over the world would finally get their chance to stand in the spotlight. Maybe that made me expect too much from it, but fact of the matter is that I simply ended up feeling disappointed by the fight, for a variety of reasons.

Confusing raid composition is confusing

First off, I simply have to question how sensible it is to create a single raid boss in a large raid instance that requires healing instead of dpsing. For every other fight in the game you want to bring just enough tanks and healers to get the job done, that is to say as few as possible, and then fill the rest of your raid spots with damage dealers. More dps = boss goes down faster = win. On a boss that requires healing up instead of killing, this suddenly gets reversed. You only want to have just enough dps to keep the adds under control, but as many healers as possible. More healing = fight finishes faster = win. I see two problems with this.

Firstly I'm simply afraid that many people might not get it, not because they are dumb, but because they didn't give the problem too much thought and it's so counter-intuitive. I boggled when our raid leader announced that we'd only have six healers on our first attempt, and other people chimed in with comments about how the people doing the Tankspot video had also managed to do it with only six healers, as if that was something to be proud of - it's not; it only means that you'll draw out the fight to its maximum length before hitting the soft enrage. It's like suggesting that maybe we could do Festergut with only fifteen dpsers while using eight healers... I don't know, maybe we could, but why would we want to? I can only imagine what a nightmare that fight would be in a pug: "You can two-heal this, right?" Maybe we could, but it would also be utterly missing the point!

However, even leaving the issue of understanding aside, fights which favour a completely different raid composition than the rest of the instance simply suck. I know dual specs have alleviated the problem somewhat, but they shouldn't be required. Nobody liked suddenly needing five tanks in the middle of SSC back in the day and WOTLK had given me hope that the developers had learned from that and moved on. Pushing through most of ICC with five healers and then suddenly facing a fight where you want tons of them is neither fun nor good design in my opinion.

DPS by any other name...

One thing I like about healing is that it plays very differently from doing damage. I won't go into the whys and hows, and certainly won't claim that one or the other is harder or more fun... but me, I like healing, and I like it the way it is. The problem I have with Valithria is that unless you are on raid healing (which is business as usual), it doesn't really feel like healing to me, even if you are pushing your healing buttons. There is no target switching, no on the fly decision-making, no watching for damage spikes... all you do is target Valithria and then spam your highest single-target HPS rotation until she's healed up, as if you were a dpser in a tank-and-spank fight. Worse yet, dps rotations these days are generally designed to be somewhat interesting, but high HPS on a single target doesn't involve using more than one or two healing spells. Bo-ring. I signed up as a healer because I enjoy healing, not because I want to play pretend-dps with my healing spells. When we finally downed upped her, the healer who seemed the giddiest was a shaman who has restoration as his off-spec and makes no bones about not liking it very much. But oh, in this fight healing is so much fun, look at the big HPS numbers! I think that says enough really.

Lost in space

When the Oculus discussion was making the rounds, Miss Medicina made several interesting posts highlighting one of the things she dislikes the most about that instance: having to navigate in three dimensions. For me personally this hadn't been a problem at the time, neither during Malygos phase three, nor in the Oculus itself. To be fair though, what I did there was often still effectively two-dimensional movement, along the lines of "straight up, then straight left".

Now Valithria, she truly is one to instil hatred of three-dimensional movement in you. Most healers will have to take portals into the Emerald Dream throughout the fight, where they fly around and have to burst through green clouds to buff themselves. It's like some 3D Mario or Sonic game. And I think it stinks! This is of course my completely subjective opinion and I'm sure there are people out there who love it, but to me it's just another one of those weird gimmicks. Hey, I just flew right through that cloud, why didn't it pop? Up a bit? Down a bit? Oh look, my timer in the dream has run out again, aaargh. It's annoying.

Do we need healer fights?

I guess I have to give Blizzard credit for having good intentions with the Valithria fight, but at least for this healer they completely failed at actually making it an enjoyable "healer fight". But you know what? I don't think we need them anyway. Sometimes it's easy to feel underappreciated as a healer, but to an extent it's part of the job. If you want to be able to brag about your awesome performance all the time, you probably shouldn't be a healer, because that's really not what it's all about.

Also, personally I found that my favourite raid fights in the game so far were those that challenge healers simply in the same way as everyone else, by requiring awareness and good teamwork. Give me more of those and I'll be happy.


  1. I think you make some really good points, Shintar. The Valithria fight was particularly frustrating for our ten-man group - already arguing about whether to bring three healers for progression content, here is a fight where even four might be advisable. Some people just didn't seem to "get" why we'd want more healing than DPSing here. I personally love healing in the fight as well, but, it's no secret that my primary role is often DPS so I have a healthy dose of the "pew pew!" mentality. At least I recognize that it's counterproductive to being a real healer, in most cases. You aren't trying to "win" at healing meters, you're part of a team!
    But yeah, my biggest gripe is the necessity of changing up raid composition for this. If you have people to utilize with off-specs (such as my mostly boomkin/sometime resto druid) that's fine, but such dependencies can cause trouble, especially for smaller groups like all tens focused guilds.

  2. I can understand your point about raid composition, but I find a number of other fights require changing raid comp anyway. What I like is that rather than make healers spec dps, which is something I've seen happen over and over again since Ulduar, with Valithria the spec change goes the other way. It's the one fight where the answer isn't to throw more dpsers at the boss.

    What I don't like about it is that for most of the healers, it's really no different than any other fight. If you're raid healing, there's no extra gimmmick. However, I do find being the one to go in the portal and stack the buff quite fun. The buff stacking mechanic is novel and as a resto druid my healing "rotation" is completely different than it is on any other fight. The big numbers are fun too.

    I agree that we don't need healer fights though. It was a neat experiment, but I don't think it's neccessary. Keeping everyone healed through a challenging boss fight is much more rewarding for me than seeing a healing touch hit for 94,000.

  3. The cloud popping is really annoying, especially since you know that if you fail to stack the buffs you'll fail to do your job.

    Slight all-around lag and the odd lag spikes, slow computer and me having trouble judging the distance between me and my fellow healers in there made me suck at it.

    Sure, it will get better with practice but this is something you can only practise in there, and it's not likely even in my lovely raid guild that 24 people will patiently hang around while I practise co-healer hugging and cloud popping :-(

  4. "But oh, in this fight healing is so much fun, look at the big HPS numbers!"

    Well, that's what I like about it!

    While I love healing in raids for it's teamwork component, I really enjoy the Dreamwalker fight because, for 7 minutes in the night, I can feel like a dps. All I worry about is maxing my HPS (and the occasional void zone). I wouldn't want to do that all the time, but for one fight, it's a nice change of pace.

  5. I only did (tried to do) this once. I was excited. I had read up on how to heal (I'm a tree, so I really don't know what to do with a single target). And then the portals. I sucked. Bad. I couldn't get more than 8 stacks, and that was a coincidence. I just can't navigate 3D properly in WoW and I'm pretty sure the wipes were because of me. The other healer had 30+ stacks and if I'd managed at least half of that we wouldn't have died at 99%.

    So wholeheartedly /agree with Tessy - I'm sure I'd get better with practice, but who has the patience to let me fail until I get it right?