Oke i thought we went over this during the PTR thread but i guess it's back. If your class/spec has a niche... sorry that means it's broken. This isn't American football where you have the special tactics players who come on the field 4 times a night(Sorry euro here i might be wrong but i think it's semi-valid example). Now don't get me wrong being better at something and worse at others isn't a niche. Going back to no aoe for paladins and tank healing that is a niche and something that is not required in today's raiding.
If you go over all the boss abilities from cataclysm till the current tier you can easily see why we have so "many" healers in the raid. The only reason we bring so many healers during a fight is because of AOE damage that is hurting the entire raid. If there isn't enough damage groups will simply drop healers for more dps. These days most aoe bursts will need to be mitigated and/or healed fast because of the next boss abilities that are about to hit us. Gone are the days of loosing 80% of your health and healing it up in the next 30 seconds with the most mana efficient spells. It needs to be healed in 3 seconds flat. Because there are so many random target abilities that still do ~50% of your hp if you get hit and they tend to follow up or hit just before that lovely aoe burst that will do 75% of your hp Give you perhaps 1 castbar of time to fix it.
And when the big aoe damage isn't happening or there isn't a constant aura hurting people the healers are basicly sniping each others heals because there is fucking nothing to do except not stand in fire or dpsing. It's why we went to this HR HR EF spam having EF rolling all the time building shields to prepare for the big aoe damage. In cataclysm we saved holy power and then unloaded after the damage was done. Same shit still healing when there is nothing to heal to get HoPo. paladin/disc/monk/druid they all spam non-stop playing against each other on the healing meters. And i'm pretty sure shamans almost do the same to keep healing raid active now? Obviously paladin main here :P
Simple fact is we want to be balanced. In order for that to happen we need to be similar to other healers at the higher levels of play. And these days that requires AOE healing. Because for the life of me i can't figure out any other mechanic that a healer is required to do.Dps / Utility? Nope all those are done by dps at the same level or better. Spot healing? we can all play whack-a-mole. Tank healing? can all do that especially with the lame cloaks and massive amounts of smart heals/Shields/Hots around. Yay paladins might have that holy shock/WoG burst.. Big deal other classes have similar abilities. Same thing can be said for every other spell we have in our spell book.
We are never going to be unique. For the same reason classes like hunters and rogues have issues with this. Because you can't fucking reinvent the wheel. As much as the devs might try it's really hard to create something unique and balanced. Yay they create 1 truly unique spec/class everybody rejoice... oh wait everybody wants to be unique. Unless they really revamp the entire game i do not see this happening. Latest addition to reinventing the wheel. A third resources for all classes to manage yay. Be it buff stacks or actually HoPo/Embers/Orbs/etc.
DPS : keep up buffs on self --- debuffs on target --- hit big ability --- use filler
Tank: Keep up buffs on self --- debuffs on target --- resource generation abilities - use active mitigation
Heal: Keep up buffs on self --- Keep buffs on raid --- generate resources(or hots to prepare.) --- Use cooldowns --- play whack-a-mole.
This basicly sums up EVERY spec we have in the game. And this is not such a bad thing! You can say you want to be unique but what we all want is to play a good and useful class/spec. This doesn't mean we can't have "unique" abilities. But you have to remember they have the same roots somewhere in the past. Something that is very visible by just looking at our basic heals. This tiny list will include a lot of abilities from multiple classes:
Heal on hit.
self + target heal.
Sorry for the long post. Really bored at work.