Healing in Cataclysm - a note for everyone
So, I've now healed through every instance as well as one heroic, and I have to say that I'm enjoying the massive overhaul that healing has received.
For the last year, I've been basically able to spam quick, poweful heals to keep a raid alive. Now, if I try to do that, I run out of mana in about ten seconds. Each cast of Flash Heal, my previous go-to spell, now costs over 5% of my mana pool.
Here's how I'm handling healing:
Instead of simply watching everyone's health, you now need to watch the rate at which they're losing health. Use your most effecient heal as default, and only switch to a painfull expensive quick or powerful heal if someone's in danger of dying (usually the tank). Every single cast counts, and overhealing is very, very bad.
Take LOTS of drinks; on the harder instances and heroics, you'll be drinking after every big pull and boss. As an aside; DPS and Tanks MUST bring a stock of food, and eat between packs. It's no good standing around watching your healer drink up, only for him to have to waste 25% of his mana then healing you all to full. I will not be healing anyone in between fights, and I would urge every other healer to take a similar approach, until everyone takes more responsibility for their own health pools.
The limiting factor on most fights, at the moment, is the mana pool of your healer. All of us have the tools to keep everyone alive through the damage that I've seen. People are only dying because I cannot use the right spell to heal them, because of its mana cost.
Last night, my group failed on the 3rd and 4th bosses in heroic BRC because I could not keep them alive without going OOM, which is really an issue of gear (not just healer gear, but everyone else, primarily tank). If the tank has better gear, he takes less damage, and if the DPS have better gear, the fight is shorter.
I hear that priests are the least efficient healing class at the moment, so maybe healing isn't as hard as I'm making it out to be. But, from my experience so far, Healing in Cata is harder and far more selective than before, and therefore more enjoyable.