In a couple days, the druid Cataclysm announcments will be in, but there are a few tidbits of information that sheds light on what Blizz thinks of the healing role.
First up, spell spaming:
"Most healers spam one heal now. Druids for all of their spells can do very well with just Rejuv and Wild Growth. Disc priests spam PW:S and Holy priests spam CoH on cooldown. We want to carve off niches for other spells. Flash Heal can be awesome if it runs you out of mana to hit nothing but Flash Heal."
To some extent, I see why GC thinks healers spam one heal. When we think of each class, there is an iconic spell. But, I hope that Blizz isn't saying that the healers just rely on these iconic spells in order to be great players. If so, that is just insulting.
Thankfully, GC added this:
"Even a cursory glance of the forums should suggest that a lot of healers like managing their mana and like picking the right heal for the job. It makes them feel smart, which is rewarding."
So, with this comment, perhaps the spamming comment could be read that they understand there is an iconic spell, but that the players also understand there is a smart way to play and this because they understand their respective classes. And this, I feel is true. Even paladins, for all their Beaconing and Holy Light spam, have to pay attention to what is going on.
Perhaps my experiences are different than the general raid population, though. My guild prides itself on a balanced healing team. Every role is filled and we have at least one of every type of healer. Within these healers, we play on the strengths of the individual and match that to the needs of the encounter. I personally can't say if this is boring to the players, but consider that during a best case scenario, each healer knows they will be doing X on Y encounter. This eases the stress of raiding and puts more focus on execution.
This leads to the next GC comment:
"The FSR provides some interesting gameplay (but at a pretty high complexity cost). We think we can engineer similar gameplay where choosing spell A over spell B is a mana-based decision rather than casting vs. standing still doing nothing is a (less fun) mana-based decision."
At first glance, this idea made me want to /rage. Consider the fact that almost every encounter in ICC has some sort of running around mechanic and then think about the five second rule. Now take ICC's insane amount of raid damage littered through out the dungeon and I wonder if people are really just standing around to get mana. It is a choice though and always has been. Standing to get mana- no heals go out and risk wiping. No standing- force oneself to use a consumable, mana talent, beg for innervate (drink a pot, noob), whatever.
I feel we have already had this discussion with Blizzard before. Remember when WotLK came out (ok, maybe not Naxx, but Ulduar)? At first, the encounters are a little too rough for the majority of the healing population and mana management becomes a priority. Then, as gear improves and the encounters become easier, mana is less of an issue. They also changed Replenishment, Innervate, and Consumables all in effort to make the mana game more engaging. I always felt that blizz bases their changes on things that happen toward the end of a content expansion or dungeon, rather than focusing on the whole timeline of healer role, but that is just me, I think.
I believe the most bold move out of all was the General V fight. This is not to say I want ALL encounters to be like that, but such a simple removal of the mana regen added complexity and challenge to the role of the healer. I can see where they may build on that idea.
I think we all will be keeping a close eye on what this Spell A Spell B choice will eventually mean for us. I don't think sky is falling quite yet. We still have more announcements to watch out for.