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
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.