It has been a rather busy weekend in terms on druid news and there is a lot for us to work with. Do I think they have answered all of our burning questions? Not by a long shot, however they have come a little closer to earning our trust. The blue comment made today, which I will get into later, does seem to imply they are either looking to shuffle some stuff around still, or they think our raid healing toolbox is fine however it is sans mana cost balance. I think this will be something worth keeping an eye on.
Thoughts on the new talent tree changes
With the most recent cataclysm build we are actually brought to a point where a conscious effort will need to be made upon speccing out our toons. The common belief among many druids was that in the previous iterations we really only had one raiding spec available and that spec contained in it talents that were of little use to us. I know our tree is far from complete, but now there are important choices to be made many of which will be influenced by the play style that best suits us once we delve into raiding content. In the entry level (1st tier) raids our regen will, more than likely, be on the low side. Blizzard has stated that once you start hitting the later tiers our focus will probably start to favor throughput a bit more as the level of spirit on our gear will be significantly higher. What I think this may mean is that we will have to evaluate whether we need to push for a couple of points in Moonglow after picking up Heart of the Wild early on, and then maybe we drop those points in Moonglow for master shapeshifter once mana becomes less of a concern. In this new world of healing we are going into, I am pretty sure that Heart of the Wild will prove directly better than Moonglow. A 15% increase to our mana that will have a direct impact on our innervate strength as well as replenishment will far outweigh a flat 9% spell cost reduction. I could be completely wrong about this but right now I am sticking to the napkin math. The new Furor pretty much seems like a no-brainer as well if it remains at 6% intellect increase for everyone. Naturalist is welcomed back with open arms as, from what I’ve heard from beta testers, our healers were just god awfully slow. Tier 2 is a perfect spot for this talent as it gives us something valid to spend our points on as well.
We still do not know how much rejuvenation will play a part in our raiding scheme so the talents that prop up only rejuvenation may have their weight determined at a later date. Blessing of the Grove has the potential to be an extremely weak talent for us so more evaluation is definitely necessary.
So there were four very juicy tidbits of information given to us by the devs in these recent few days.
The first has to do with the rejuvenation’s GCD. It appears as if the old Gift of the Earthmother style effect will be applied in some form to rejuvenation (possibly up to a full .5 second reduction). The intention seems to be to unbind resto druids from the concept that we need haste more than anything to achieve maximum instant heal output. I have mixed emotions about this decision because I’m not entirely sure what their ulterior motive is…if there is one. While I appreciate them giving us this free GCD reduction, I don’t want them to use it as justification for locking Rejuvenation back in as our core still somewhat expensive raid-heal. Aside from that concern, the ability to focus on haste and crit without having a fixed haste cap over our heads is actually quite reassuring. I am looking forward to really tackling the spreadsheets and see just how effective haste/crit are relative to the spells we use and what ratio we use them. If wild growths cost is reduced significantly though this may all work out for the best.
The second small snippet that I found to be interesting:
We also might take the wounded restriction off of Nature’s Bounty, so that Regrowth just crits a lot.
Yes please. Efflorescence will be nerfed anyway as their view is that it might be overpowered. If they are going to nerf it the idea that we can rely a bit more on this proc is enticing. I’m still not a fan of them considering this one of our on demand “aoe raid heals” but if they are going to do it, giving us a reliable crit rate on the offending spell will put us in a better spot. I’ve posted on a lot of forums recently about aoe healing balance and how chain heal and circle of healing heal for less than wild growth but at a significantly lower cost. The penalty for not hitting your maximum number of people on each cast for these spells is much lower making them less painful spells to “whiff” on if you will. If Efflorescence is going to be more “reliable” then it would even the playing field slightly. Now if Wild Growths cost is reduced and we have that plus Efflorescence and 1s Rejuvenation…now we’d be cooking with gas.
The third bit of news that we have all been waiting around on for a long while is the removal of the snare of Tree of Life. It seems they have finally come around to realizing that the snare made the cooldown virtually unusable by a lot of players in the beta. I only wish I had a chance to be on there and see for myself how it played out. The only thing left to do for Tree of Life, I’m hoping, is to do a finish pass on the bonuses that it applies to our spells. Right now, pound for pound, the cooldown is on par with Power Infusion…I would like to see the spell bonuses go from mildly useful to significantly useful given that it is a once per fight “oh crap” button.
The last bit of blue news has to do with AoE raid healing:
I’ve said this before, but it’s hard for healers to evaluate their contribution based on overall meters, because those don’t really tell you much about whether the healer was a good player or not. Instead, one of the best rewards for a healer is to know that they are playing smart. A big part of playing smart is using the right heal for the right situation, which is hard to do when you only have one
This is a valid point for the developer to make and I totally agree with his thought process. There should be a right way and a wrong way to handle each situation we are asked to face. I’m not saying healing is easy right now because we’ve all found healers in PuG’s or LFD that have been god awful with rather nice gear. What I am saying is right now with mana being so generous some healers can just throw everything against a wall in order for stuff to stick. More decision making in our healing style would be fantastic. What I don’t want them to do is be complacent with the druid AoE Healing toolbox. It sounds like they want each healer to have options when trying to heal more than one person, each with varying HPM. The easiest classes to look at are priests and shaman. Priests have Power World Shield, Renew, and Circle of Healing in the less expensive category, and Pray of Healing in the more expensive category. Shaman have Chain Heal and riptide in the less expensive category, and Healing Rain in the more expensive category. Druids have Rejuvenation in the less expensive category and Wild Growth in the more expensive category. Efflorescence “may” slot in there somewhere but how much we will need to wait and see.
I can, like most long time druids, remember the days of running around with Egan’s blaster in our ranged slot because there were no other options. Idols brought about a fantastic change, however the choice at any particular level of gear was non-existent. The model that was used for the idol slot was a really cool one, almost similar to a glyph. They wanted to give us a unique bonus to a spell or group of spells that was nothing like a simple stat bonus. Once Trial of the Crusader came around and the 245 idol was shown for the first time I think it spelled the end for idols. Interesting and fun like a proc or mana cost reduction was one thing, but a straight “you gain X spellpower” really felt like more of a balancing/consolation prize than anything else.
They’ve clearly given up on the old idea for these items and the need to itemize more than one per spec per tier. The simple and easy alternative is to make them “wands” that we can equip. I think the collective response really is “meh…ok”. It is a great change and I’m definitely excited about it but honestly it was the logical progression. I want to have so much more to say about this but there is no real discussion needed on the matter.
Hopefully my wall of text didn’t deter you from reading but if you’ve skipped down this far I’ll try to sum in up: Blizzard is clearly planning on implementing a lot of quality of life changes to resto druids as well as add more than one raiding spec that may or may not be functions of our gear level; Tree of Life is losing its snare but still needs some refining; Haste and Crit will be stats that we can do healthy discussion on and not be burdened with the weight of a GCD haste cap; and lastly Idols are turning into stat sticks like wands.
I look forward to doing more posts not based solely on the news however there has simply been too much stuff released in a short period of time that required a discussion. I’ll have more talk on life in the game, raiding, and other such topics soon I hope.