Rejoice! A New Mastery Cometh

This news was actually broken last night by a few sites but as I had a couple of posts yesterday already I thought I’d fire this off in the morning. In case you missed it we have a new mastery and some new questions to ponder. On the whole my initial impressions are VERY positive.

New Restoration Mastery
New Resto druid mastery: Increases the potency of your heals on targets upon which you have a hot.

It benefits both hots and direct heals equally while still supporting Resto being a healer that cares a lot about hots. It encourages layering different spells while disincentivizing Rejuv blanketing.

Examples:

1) You cast Regrowth on someone who has a Rejuv = bonus healing.
2) You cast Nourish on someone who has a Lifebloom = bonus healing.
3) You Swiftmend a Rejuv = bonus healing.
4) You cast a Rejuv on someone who does not have a Regrowth, LB or WG on them = no bonus healing.
5) You cast Rejuv on someone who has a Rejuv = no bonus healing. (You merely refreshed Rejuv.)
6) You cast a Wild Growth = bonus healing on those with preexisting hots.

C). Rejuv, then LBx3. Rejuv falls off, and LBx3 is refreshed by Nourish. Will the LB ticks retain the mastery benefit?
Yes. There was a hot on the target, so Nourish benefits (from the mastery in addition to Nourish just working that way).

So, our new mastery is clearly more effective than our previous one however I can’t say for certain if It is a stat we will keep in large quantities on our gear. This new mastery has quite a few new perks and will help out a lot more often than our previous iteration. As the examples above show, it will work in many situations both tank healing and raid healing and is something you can predictably count on when you need it. Let’s look at some pros and cons

Pros:

Tank healing – the mastery directly benefits our tank healing by the full percent dictated in our mastery skill + rating. You will always have a HoT active on the tank at any time and you can prop up your Lifebloom stacks by pre-HoT’ing with Rejuvenation if need be. This mastery is perfectly suited for tank healing whereas our previous one did not.

Affects all of our spells – Similar to the priest and shaman (only by lack of diversity on their part) our mastery now affects all of our spells when the condition is met. This allows us to mix and match and tweak our rotations when raid healing in order to maximize our mastery’s efficiency.

Predictable percentage – Since our mastery will not scale upon player life totals we have a predictable known value by which all of our spells are going to be increase by should our target be HoT’d.

Cons:

HoT Duration – right now we don’t have as good a selection of HoT’s with long durations as we’d like to best support this mastery from a raid healing perspective though they definitely are serviceable. Regrowth and Wild Growth are 6 seconds long, Rejuvenation is 12 seconds long, and Lifebloom will not be an option for raid healing more than likely (unless when raid healing we keep placing a single stack of lifebloom on each person as a lead-in and overwriting it). Our windows of opportunity to cash in on the mastery when raid healing outside of laying out rejuvenations to cover players might feel small. If healing teams can play more group focused like back in the old days then we might be able to safely rejuvenate (and regrowth) the people in our target groups prior to known damage events and minimize this danger. A simple way to combat this issue could be to decrease the amount healed per tick of the regrowth HoT and extend its duration to 12 seconds. Since Regrowth is our emergency heal having a longer HoT after it could allow for a third heal on the target a few seconds after the immediate follow up one if necessary.

Nourish double dips – a lot of the veteran druids posting on the forums are calling for Nourish to lose its innate increased healing on HoT targets so it can take advantage of the mastery without double dipping. This would, in theory, allow blizzard to increase the amount healed by Nourish baseline to bring it more in line with the other medium heals when cast on non-HoT’d targets. I personally agree with this as I think we do need our medium heal to be on par with everyone else in the case we can’t get that initial hot on the target in time (especially when raid healing). GC’s statement above, though it incorrectly answers the question does seem to go the opposite way.

NOTE If it is their intention that in any situation where we are forced to get a heal out on someone without the time to pre-HoT them that Regrowth is the one we use that becomes another issue entirely. This would mean that they expect a HoT to be on our nourish target much more often than not.

Overvaluing Haste – This could just be me using some rather incorrect logic so bear with me. I’m not on the beta but I would guess that having higher haste allows us to cast our medium heals even faster making them less of a burden to squeeze into smaller windows of opportunity. With some of our HoT’s working in compressed time frames it seems like a good idea to have the opportunity to fit more heals into those time frames. This may be a rather antiquated thought process as it really should only apply to Nourish. Once I have a better idea of what our mana efficiency is like at level 85 in proper gear I might be less paranoid about maximizing the output/speed of Nourish.

Mana Concern – In wrath of the lich king people often refer to druid feral DPS as a “John F’ing Madden” rotation due to its complexity. Our raid healing now, with this mastery, has definitely stepped up in its complexity. We are going to need to weave together a whole chain of spells to maximize our output per mana spent when tackling multiple deeply wounded targets in a raid. It is unfortunately very easy to draw a connection to the shaman solution to the same problem which very well may be a couple of Chain Heals which automatically benefit from their mastery without any prep work.  The complexity to our AoE healing rotation is independent of this Mastery (it was going to be there regardless) however I do worry some that our Mastery is going to encourage us to cast more HoT’s and spend more mana just to take advantage of its bonus.

NOTE Cataclysm healing may render this mana argument completely irrelevant! Given the health pools it may always require multiple heals to top anyone off to begin with in a raid (e.g. regrowth + rejuvenation then perhaps a nourish, in such cases Chain Heal spam may even be inadequate) so it might not matter at all. This is very much in the wait and see category for sure!

Conclusion

Despite my rather long winded concerns (you know by now I ramble a bit) I think this is an absolutely fantastic change and with some tweaking could be a very potent mastery. If anything it gives us a predictable effect we can actively capitalize on and a very potent tank healing tool that directly boosts our output. Thank you for the change Ghostcrawler and we appreciate the fact that you continue to listen to the community’s concerns.

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