I wanted to take a look at the more recent changes made to resto druids in the last two beta pushes and afterwards I would like to talk a little bit about what our healing model is and where we go from here. I know there are a host of inscription changes and guild achievements, hopefully I can discuss my take on those a little later on.
Efflorescence graphic changed – The talent had its graphic changed from the green pool of healing acid to a more ethereal ring of leafy mist. This will make it slightly harder to see in raiding encounters I’m sure but if it will help the average raider not jump out of it then I consider it an improvement. The amount the talent heals for and radius have not been changed in these recent patches. This leads me to believe that the talent is where they would like it to be with the reduction in cost of wild growth. Efflorescence is simply going to be a small bonus tied to our regrowth and nothing more, it will not be a “raid healing tool” as some had hoped it would be including a blue poster or two. I am, for the most part, ok with this as it seems to accomplish what an “on proc” non over budget talent should provided. In a world where everyone isn’t topped off this marginal healing may prove useful and save us all some mana in the end.
The area of effect is still something I wish they would address moving forward. If regrowth is really going to stay at such a high crit rate then I suppose it might be ok but I really have a hard time believing that it will. If it does not, the radius needs to be increased to compensate.
Furor and Heart of the Wild swapping bonuses – The general intent seems to be that resto druids will consider getting both of these talents in the end (or dropping one for moonglow). This change does give balance druids a better option for putting points into the resto tree and I am sure they are quite grateful for the swap. Until we see what our mana situation is like I am hard pressed to give an opinion as to what effect this will have on our speccing options.
Innervate reduced from 33% total mana to 20% total mana – I have a feeling the 33% total mana number was arrived at prior to them testing with the two percentile mana increasing talents available to resto/balance druids but that is purely speculation. Without hands on experience raiding I can’t really say the effect this will have though druids in the beta running dungeons will probably have a fairly strong opinion one way or another. The information we are receiving right now seems to indicate that our mana supply is actually being balanced around the assumption that we are using our innervate on ourselves every time it is up. This coupled with the fact that feral innervates will be extremely weak lead me to wonder why this spell can even be cast on anyone else other than ourselves at this point. The feral change makes sense though, as they don’t want raids stacking feral druids to provide a crutch for healers to lean on. It is kind of amusing when you think about it, once upon a time the implied rule was that your innervate was saved for when a priest in the raid needed it as we were almost a second rate healing class.
Lifebloom increased to 10 seconds from 7 and increased cost slightly – this is an interesting change that seems to have a single purpose. With a shorter duration, lifebloom put a lot of pressure on the druid to really capitalize on the nourish refresh talent by having a small window in which to use it. Increasing the duration increases both the effect of the spell, and our likelihood of being able to use a 2 second spell at a useful time to refresh it. Given that lifebloom’s mana cost is about on par with Nourish, it was probably difficult to justify a long cast time versus an instant spell to refresh the stack.
Regrowth HoT duration reduced to 6 seconds from 21, and reduced by 60% – This is a change I think we were all expecting as it seemed difficult for Regrowth to be competitive compared to Flash Heal, in the way they intended us to use it, if we had to pay for a long HoT that may never really be recognized if another Regrowth came shortly afterwards. Numbers wise this is a 70% decrease in the length of the HoT but only a 60% decrease in the effect so we will see a slightly larger base tick. The missing information here is the change to the spell coefficient of the HoT. Ideally it would stay close to the same so the HoT can stay at least somewhat relevant as our gear scales.
Let’s get a game plan on
A lot of us healed before we had lifebloom and treeform when times were a bit simpler but when they did we adapted to our new style of play. I knew druids that were stubborn in early Burning Crusade, scorning tree form in an attempt to continue using Healing Touch like the olden days. Our play style has changed through each expansion and, rightfully so, we are skeptical with Cataclysm looming in the horizon.
The druid bailiwick is supposed to be our heal over time spells and how we intelligently place them to achieve maximum effect. Let us look at what we have at our disposal:
1. Rejuvenation – costly, 12 second heal over time, 1 second GCD in place of a talent that increased the effect by 15% (unclear if it was baked in)
2. Lifebloom – cheap, 10 second small heal over time, can only have one stack of 3 active at a time
3. Regrowth – very costly, 6 second incidental heal over time, stroger HoT healing per second than before making it better for on demand raid
healing when the total healing of the upfront and HoT are required
4. Wild Growth – very costly, 7 second heal over time, 10 second cooldown, hits 5 (or 6) targets
Right now it is difficult to figure out just how much of our healing is going to come from HoT’s in the course of a fight. Reliably we will be using lifebloom, rejuvenation in moderation and wild growth sparingly. Regrowth will be situational only as it is cost prohibitive to use it liberally. Currently our mastery provides a stock max increase of 20% to the effect of our HoT’s based on the targets health. Let’s assume that we do roughly 50% of our healing through heal over time spells (that may be a tad generous) and 50% through direct healing. Similarly let’s assume an equivalent holy priest is doing 75% of their healing through direct spells and 25% of their healing/prevention through Renew, PoM, and PWS. To gain the equivalent of their 7.5% increase from the mastery HoT we would need to average 15% on our scaling mastery. Long story short the best way to get mileage out of our mastery is to really play the triage game well and try to place HoT’s where they matter most. Having a mastery that is not constant means poor choices will directly reduce the effectiveness of your mastery and your mastery rating on gear: dropping a rejuvenation on someone who has only been reduced to 80% might not really get us the bang for the buck that we need in fights where mana is an issue. A further understanding of what % health yields a certain % mastery will allow for more in depth theorycrafting.
I can only hope that our HoT toolbox proves to be as critical to our healing model as our mastery bonus would lead us to believe. It feels like the priest has an analog to each of our spells which is fine really, it just begs the question “what will do that is unique or different”. We will all need to become very familiar with our new paradigm and develop creative tactics for each encounter so we can use our complete toolset in a way that the individual analog spells cannot.
I would love to know your opinion about how we are shaping up. Do you like where this healing model is going? Do you mind the shorter duration on Regrowth for raid healing? Did you consider Regrowth a HoT you used when tank healing due to its length? Are you comfortable with our healing shifting far away from the almost exclusively HoT centric style of Wrath of the Lich King?