I also played a holy priest in vanilla wow, but I don't have the same nostalgia about it. It was more strategic than today, but it was also very stressful. Some points I remember
- A solid BWL tank had 6,000 or so health. Tanks were constantly getting hit for 50%-75% of their health on a single boss hit.
- This was in part due to the 40-man set up, where you might have 5-8 healers in there. Most of the healers were assigned tank duty, and it became a game of healing at just the right time. Start cast, stop, start again, stop, start again, tank got it let heal land! Do this for 10 minutes, usually standing in place the entire time.
- Blizzard reps once posted that downranking surprised them. They didn't expect epic geared level 60s to be using a level 40 heal as their base cast. Thus began the battle of healers not wanting to care as much about mana, via downranking, and Bliz trying to figure out how to keep healers challenged.
- Healers like new gear too, and that is part of Bliz's problem. As healers geared up, content was quickly marginalized. The next boss would then hit harder, and there would be more raid damage. Couple of raid additions later, you're right back at where we are now.
I like the idea of more strategic healing again. I just don't know if Bliz can pull it off.