Perils of Druids not scaling well (re: Xaar of Paragon’s post)

(This is another lunchtime napkin math post. There may be some slight errors in the math but the logic is sound for the most part. Please read on but take what I write here with a grain of salt as it is mostly theoretical)

So by now it’s no secret about Xaar’s (of Paragon) post on the Warcraft forums. In his post he calls out some rather serious issues with restoration druids at the higher end of this current tier of content. As of right now, due to poor scaling with gear and lack of burst AoE healing druids have fallen pretty low on their healer priority list for heroic content. He even went so far as to say that their resto druids are willingly benching themselves for new heroic content. I assume this might be boss dependent as some have massive raid wide life threatening situations. Shaman seem to get a pass because mana tide is still very powerful especially with on-use spirit trinkets.

When tank healing and taking full advantage of our mastery we are, according to Xaar, on par with paladins. This balance, as he cites, does not include any additional healing generated on the tank through Beacon of Light (putting us at a disadvantage I’m led to believe). When it comes to raid healing priests clearly start to pull ahead with high levels of gear. With Chakra benefiting Renew and Prayer of Healing simultaneous it creates an analog of our two “best” raid healing tools (Renew/PoH for Rejuv/WG). Given that Prayer of Healing has no cooldown and is entirely up front healing it seems to have a definitive edge when it comes down to “heal these people now or they die” effects. Now this analysis I’m going to do to investigate his claims is HIGHLY limited in its focus. These spells are difficult to compare as they function very different from one another. Wild Growth is, of course, a smart heal and will hit whoever is most in need (not necessarily your healing assignment if you have one). PoH heals only one group and only people within range of the initial target but in times of raid wide Decimate effects (as often is the case when looking at burst AoE) you will generally realize a much higher potential for the spell and pull it ahead significantly (HPS, not HPM or HPET).

For these numbers I’m going to leave out a couple of factors so let’s get that out of the way now. I’m not going to factor in mastery to either spell and I’m not going to factor in chakra or additional targets via Tree of Life. I just want to look at core statistics and use raid haste/crit buffs. I have slightly different numbers than TreeCalcs (by Hamlet) generates for the spellpower total I am going to use but he has taken a much more detailed simulation approach where I am just crunching some basic numbers. Please reference TreeCalcs if you have not already it is exceptionally useful.


Prayer of Healing

So I found a priest willing to give me some numbers in a pinch and here’s what he gave me – @6202 Spellpower his Prayer of Healing was averaging 7450 on himself at a mana cost of 5353

Assuming a situation where all five members of a group are healed for the full amount of PoH the numbers are:

Total healing done: 7450*5 = 37,250

Assuming 25% crit chance, average healing done: 41,906

HPM: 41,906 / 5353 = 7.83

HPS at Cast time of 2.1 seconds: 19,955 (sustainable, no cooldown)

Wild Growth

I took off a piece of gear and dropped down to a spellpower of 6175 which was close enough to the priest for the sake of this test. At a mana cost of 4578 here is what Wild Growth healed for:

865, 817, 768, 720, 671, 622, 574, 525

These numbers also show that the decay of Wild Growth is 5.5% of the initial heal per tick (not a percentage of the previous tick).

Total healing done: 5562*6 = 33,372

Assuming 25% crit chance, average healing done: 37,544

HPM: 37,544 / 4578 = 8.20

Average HPS: 37,544 / 7 = 5,364 (not sustainable, 10s cooldown)

Sustained HPS (distributing the healing done over 10 seconds): 3,754

What do these numbers tell us?

First off I know this is a basic overview and there are a lot of other factors to look into. The first of which is probably Chakra as its uptime is more than that of Tree of Life. That being said there are some interesting things to take away from this. At first glance, assuming no special conditions, Wild Growth is the superior spell which is why it has a cooldown. WG is a smart heal meaning it will generally have a higher efficiency, it has a larger area of effect meaning no clustering is required, and it has superior HPM. Given a situation where no player is in a life threatening situation but the raid as a whole needs healing, Wild Growth will always be the more effective and mana efficient heal. The range on Wild Growth also makes it viable in fights where clustering is or is not required.

Efficiency however is not always going to be the limiting factor in a fight. There are times when you are going to need to be inefficient to handle the mechanics of a rather difficult (in this case heroic) encounter. Raid wide (or just a lot of people) “decimates” with other lethal sources of damage floating around is one of them. Having the ability to cast a front loaded multitarget heal (with no cooldown) gives you an edge when it comes to bringing people away from the brink of death. Prayer of Healing serves you well in this role and will come out as the superior tool for the job. Once Wild Growth is on cooldown, and you’ve dropped Efflorescence the only real tool you have to heal ciritcally wounded raiders is Rejuvenation (and Regrowth to some degree) and its slow ticks may not be nearly fast enough. In Wrath of the Lich king you had access to the old version of Nourish which was fast and benefited well from your blanket of Rejuv’s to top people off quickly (you even had glyph’d Healing Touch that some used healing Penetrating Cold during Heroic Anub). Without efficient raid healing tools to use alongside Wild Growth druids are put at a significant disadvantage in these particular situations.

Now you can’t balance these two spells versus each other on a 1:1 basis because PoH has a lot of restrictions on it that can limit its effectiveness significantly. The problem is that when gear improves to the all 359 or 372 ilevel and priests have enough mana and regen to use Prayer of Healing that much more without fear of running out of mana, it will outstrip the advantages of Wild Growth which are Smart Healing and HPM. This is why you might find Wild Growth doing better when raiding normal mode content and most of the healers are still geared in 346 heroic gear.

So what do they do?

Druid’s need more burst AoE healing, though you could argue they need a more defined AoE healing tool set in general. Xaar had a few suggestions that ranged from making WG heal for more and increase its cost accordingly or make Wild Growth significantly more front loaded in its decaying HoT but keep the amount healed the same. These are both pretty solid suggestions but are not without some potential drawbacks. Given that it has its cooldown, it feels like you’d need to increase the healing done and cost of Wild Growth by a sizeable amount to get it to feel as front loaded as you’d like. Frontloading the HoT itself so that most of the healing is done in the first few seconds trivializes its haste break points but that may just need to be an acceptable loss.

One wacky thought that I had was to have Wild Growth last a full ten seconds. Now I’m not saying to drastically increase its healing proportionately. I’d like it to heal for as much as it does now over the first seven seconds but front loaded. Its decay would need to not be linear but slow at first and faster at the end. This would mean the last 4 seconds of the HoT would not heal for very much at all but they would count for Symbiosis. This is a partial improvement to the issue at hand while also boosting our mastery usage.

The second thought I had, though it isn’t new, is to have Efflorescence place a buff on anyone standing inside of it. This wouldn’t be a HoT or have a duration just something that shows up in your buff list while you are being affected by the pool’s healing. Have this buff count as a HoT for the purpose of triggering our mastery and Nourish. This would allow us to benefit more from mastery as well as change the sequence of our AoE heals to boost Wild Growth when clustered up.

The more extreme approach would be to have Wild Growth scale differently with haste. You could possibly have its decay rate change with haste or even have any additional ticks gained through haste follow the first tick of the HoT with zero decay. This would mean you’d get 2, or 3 ticks at full strength before it decays.

I’m sure there are other ideas out there and I’m curious if anyone has given this some thought. The goal of this post was not to complain about the state of druids but more to investigate the claims being made by someone in a high-end guild that are pretty serious. Hopefully blizzard can give some thought to this while they start toying with how to nerf Omen of Clarity. Not doing these heroics myself leaves me at a disadvantage because I’m not feeling this scaling “squeeze” at all right now and I’m sure most of you aren’t as well.



10 responses to “Perils of Druids not scaling well (re: Xaar of Paragon’s post)

  1. I deff like the idea of you to make our Effl. provide a buff so that our mastery kicks in because our mastery is a bit dodgy as it is for raid healing. I would like to be able to “aim” Effl instead of proccing it on SM like the holy priest’s circle, this way we could get more out of Effl and mastery if you add your idea about the buff

  2. Is there any chance you could add a link to Xaar’s post or did I miss it?

  3. I’ve been asking for a direct burst AOE heal for druids for a couple months, since I started running 85 dungeons in beta. I was pushing for “healing shrooms” because it would fit in well.

  4. I really like the idea of making Efflorescence trigger our Master (or they could just give us a better mastery…)

    I find it hard to get concerned about these kind of ‘the sky is falling posts’ (Xaar’s not yours) because as a Druid I’ve never felt inadequate or unable to work with the spells I have. Perhaps it’s overconfidence, or perhaps you need to be in a top guild like Paragon to experience it, but for the majority of raiders I think talk of not bringing certain classes to raid is completely unwarranted.

    • I agree, I don’t think anyone shoulder entertain the notion of preventing someone from raiding due to their class.

      When there is a disparity in DPS classes it is very evident in parses and it shows up in enough places that blizzard can get a good look at it. Healer scaling balance is a lot harder and it seems like what Paragon is seeing is what happens when mana becomes less of an issue and time is everything. For myself any many others who are not at that level we see absolutely none of it so it can be really frustrating.

      All of that aside the glaring issue in our ability to quickly recover a portion of a raid team after a debilitating AoE effect is definitely there and it might be good that these high end raiders are speaking up (even if it is a sky is falling moment).

    • At the level of content where most of us are at (running 5-mans or starting to get into normal-mode raids), it’s not a problem. The problem only really starts at the point where raid damage hits hard enough that if you can’t heal multiple people with a burst direct heal RIGHT NOW, they’ll probably die. Druid HOT AOE healing shines at non-heroic content where the AOE damage is less bursty & deadly.

  5. Is this when I get to say “I told you so”, since the lack of a direct AOE healing ability is something I’ve been QQ’ing about A LOT since around August from playing in Beta. Sometimes, being right actually sucks, since I was really hoping that Blizzard’s lack of fixing that problem wouldn’t come around to bite our tails… Ranting blog post incoming, lol

  6. Pingback: Druid raid healing design problem Redux | Restokin

  7. Before doing a lot of analysis, it’s worth noting just how our current high-intensity raid healing works. We cast wild growth and swiftment on cooldown, and then we cast as many rejuvs as our mana will allow. For emergencies, there will be an occasional regrowth thrown in. At higher mana levels, we’ll be able to cast rejuvenate on every GCD, but currently we have to cast fewer.

    As such, the healing done by wild growth and efflorescence is only all that important at low gear levels. At low gear levels, we can’t cast many rejuvenates, so we get must of our healing through these true aoe spells. At higher gear levels, though, which is what everyone seems to be discussing here, we’ll get a larger and larger chunk of our healing from rejuvenate. Thus at high gear levels, the hpct of wild growth is not the big issue. It’s the hpct of the spell we cast much more often, which is rejuvenate.

    (At even higher gear levels, we can regrowth spam instead of rejuv spam, but that will be a long way away.)

    Xaar claims that rejuvenate has a bad hpct of 17k., compared to other classes that get 23.5k and 25-30k for their spammed heals. That’s a powerful argument with a simple answer: buff rejuv! If our top throughput really just isn’t enough, we either have to buff rejuv or add another cooldown. I wouldn’t object to healing mushrooms — how fun! — but I don’t think we’re broken in any fundamental way if they simply rebalance what we have. My favorite buff to rejuv would simply be to add a few more seconds of duration to it.

    A side complaint that some people are making is that rejuvenate is weak due to its slowness. Is this really the concern that’s bothering people, though? We HOTed our way through multiple expansions and it worked well. What about Cataclysm would make HOTs — especially the new, shorter HOTs — be fundamentally problematic?

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