A guildie comment sparked some curiosity in my mind. I saw a 359 staff with stam, int, spirit, and crit...and thought that it looked good to me. He said that crit had no place in healer gear. I pointed out that the compendiums indicated otherwise, but he held that no healers chose crit over any other caster-related stats. I suppose he is correct, but it got me thinking about what would be best for a player in my circumstances.
In the holy tree, inspiration adds survivability to tanks. This is entirely crit based. In the disc tree, crits proc additional bubbles, which I estimate are almost always effective healing. But the bigger picture here is really whether or not crit is useful in the long run. I have to say that personally, crits are responsible for many of the good saves, and have prevented many wipes under my current circumstances.
Here is an example: with about 2000ms latency, if a tank gets below 50%, he is immediately a priority one heal target. This is because greater heal has a long cast time and penance doesn’t heal for quite enough. Shield is probably already on cooldown, because I use PW:S on 5-man tanks on cd anyways. PoM is a good choice, but it will only heal for so much and that takes up a global cooldown. An inner focus greater heal is simply my best option for saving a tank where a lot of damage is coming in. For instance, a 5 pack pull of heroic trash with no CC, or a boss that is putting some hurt on a tank. And, of course, the all too common “5 second bandwidth choke” that practically puts your game on pause. When that happens, you better be queuing your ultimate lifesaving spell, because when your internet catches up to real-time, your tank will simply not be where he was. And at that point, you’re crossing your fingers for a crit to buy you even more time as you catch back up.
The other option, as infeasible as it was with brand new gear at level 85, is a flash heal triple cocktail. If your latency is low but your bandwidth chokes periodically, this is an outstanding way to save a single player. It is a ton of mana, but it will top him off and put him back on the bottom of your healing priority. With crit, though, the game changes some for me. First of all, I love the feeling of critting a greater heal for 60k and watching the bar fill up completely.
Here’s the deal. DPS players love crit, because any extra damage caters to their final goal of higher damage throughput. They get the gratification, from level 1 to 85, of seeing large numbers that mean they just owned something or someone. This is one of the simplest game dynamics that makes it a blast to play a mage or a rogue, or a warrior, or a DK, or a shammy...well, pretty much any DPS class. Healers will whittle their way to a new level cap if they quest, or they’ll spec for DPS and enjoy it for a little while. Perhaps you’ll have a viable shadow set alongside your healing set, but I typically did not when I was raiding at the highest levels, because I spent DKP on healing items. As far as I’m concerned, healing is what I enjoy and why I play a priest. I am gratified by the knowledge that I singlehandedly support a group and allow them to succeed at some kind of team goal.
BUT...just because I’m healing doesn’t mean that I don’t also want to see those numbers flickering on my screen that say, “You just owned at what you do.” I intensely dislike sliding by in any fight or encounter. If I’m oom and everybody ends up with 80% or more health, I feel awesome. If I’m full blue and everybody is nearly dead, well that means my connection sucks. (If you are full blue and everybody is nearly dead, that means your connection sucks or YOU suck, btw.) Crit allows me to enjoy a role that is in high demand. And, as far as I’m concerned, if I’m doing my job and you aren’t dead, let me have my crit. If I’ve got the spirit to maintain my casting rotation and I want to pommel some tank with flash heals because it’s fun and it’s a normal instance...I’m enjoying the same kind of thing that a mage enjoys when he’s popping his cooldowns and nuking a boss. When you’re squeezing every bit of mana out of your gear that you can, I suppose there really is a smaller role for crit, but I’d like to see a breakdown of inspiration and the damage reduction, as well as the AOE healing average gains from crit. I am not convinced that it is irrelevant. There aren’t enough talents that support a hands-down crit build, but I have a hunch that it is still worth keeping an eye on, especially at the higher levels of gear. Crit will perform independently of the global cooldown, and it will apply to nearly every spell, and every individual heal of a prayer of healing/mending/circle of healing/10 minute AOE. Add both heals in binding heal to that list, on top of every other single target heal on my bar.
Anyways, impressive screenshots and videos will visually lean toward crit for any class, because it is simply bigger and bolder and more fun to see. I’m a healer, and I like having fun too, not just being the robot that sits in the background while everyone else gets credit.