Lunchtime 4.2 observations – New Mastery? Yes Please

Some big druid news came out yesterday that definitely deserves some discussion. I apologize that I’ve only really put forth news as of late but life has been fairly busy. Quick personal note: we got another heroic boss down, I’m leveling my third healer through Cata content, and I’m starting up a prot warrior alt (almost entirely for the awesome rend thunderclap talent). That’s about it for wow stuff, now let’s talk changes!

General

All healing critical strikes now heal for 2 times a normal heal (+100%), up from 1.5 times a normal heal (+50%).

You will more than likely see a rather nice bump from this change if you’re sitting at roughly 20% crit raid buffed (5% crit aura, flask, food etc.). At 20% crit this change gives you approximately a 10% increase in healing done. The amount of your healing done through Effloressence cannot crit in and of itself however the swiftmend it is attached to can. This is an excellent change though not terribly exciting from a mechanic standpoint. Your first thought might be to start valuing crit a bit more however Mastery is also getting a big boost (see below) so I don’t believe our weight will change.

Shaman

Mana Tide now grants 200% of the caster’s Spirit, down from 400%.

While specifically a shaman change this will affect you in one way or another. Depending on how many restoration shamans are in your group and what level their gear is at, you’ll lose some portion of effective mp/5. My napkin math seems to indicate this will be approximately 200 mp/5 per restoration shaman. The loss will be slightly greater if you were timing +intellect on use items with their mana tide effect for the increased spirit effectiveness. This along with the innervate nerf are clearly intended to keep healer mana in check. Anything that is able to boost the healer core mana as a whole by any large amount is going to come under review one way or another.

Druid

  • Symbiosis (Mastery) has been removed and replaced with Harmony. Harmony increases direct healing by an additional 10%, and casting direct healing spells grants an additional 10% bonus to periodic healing for 10 seconds. Each point of mastery increases each bonus by an additional 1.25%. Healing Touch, Nourish, Swiftmend, and the initial heal from Regrowth are considered direct healing spells for the purposes of this Mastery. All other healing from druid spells is considered periodic.

Heck. Yes. While this is considerably more boring and less skill dependent than our Symbiosis mastery, it provides a much more constant and predictable bonus. Given that we will be casting direct heals in our rotation you can expect a near 100% uptime on this ability.

In our current situation, in order to maximize mastery we chase our own HoT targets in order to capitalize on its benefit. Very often you’ll cast wild growth and then specifically Rejuv. those six people before you look to cast another wild growth. There’s more to it than that of course but that’s roughly the game that we play when performing a more wild card raid healing strategy. Similarly if we needed a Regrowth or Healing Touch to be a bit larger, a HoT was required to give it that boost (Nourish doubly so, but the change doesn’t entirely solve that).

With the change to mastery you’re going to get that benefit all of the time (or close to it). While maintaining our usual healing method we will more than likely keep the 10 second timer rolling using Regrowth and Swiftmend alone but Nourish and Healing Touch will surely be used as well. If you were still concerned you could easily set up a power auras notification for the absence (inverted) of the mastery buff. There is little to really describe or talk about with this mastery as it is fairly bland thematically. As long as you do what you are used to doing you’ll get a substantial boost to your healing done. Emergency AoE healing also gets buffed by the change as well. If the raid is clustered, and you cast Swiftmend to get Effloressence going, your Tranquility will then gain the full mastery benefit as well.

The question is what effect does it have on your gearing choices? While Mastery and Critical Strike are both becoming more powerful and useful for us as healers, I don’t see their value switching in terms of priority. Mastery will provide close to 1.25% increased throughput per 179 rating points. Critical Strike will provide roughly 1.00% increased throughput per 179 rating points. While the spike from a critical heal can be extremely useful when it occurs, I’d general go with the constant and predictable benefit of mastery (especially when regrowth can already crit so often with Nature’s Bounty). I think our gearing plan is still increase our haste to 2005 for the WG/Efflo break point, and then stack mastery for a steady throughput gain…not much different than what we do now.

While the new Mastery is not that exciting, it still should represent a sizeable boost to our overall healing done.

Druid – Balance

Lunar Shower has been redesigned. When casting Moonfire, the druid gains Lunar Shower. Lunar Shower increases the direct damage done by Moonfire by 15/30/45%, and reduces the mana cost by 10/20/30%. This effect stacks up to 3 times and lasts 3 seconds. While under the effects of Lunar Shower, Moonfire generates 8 Solar Energy, and Sunfire generates 8 Lunar Energy. The amount of Lunar/Solar Energy gained does not change based on the number of points spent in the talent, or stacks of Lunar Shower. Those druids who wish to delay transition in or out of an Eclipse state should now cast the one of their two basic attacks which will not move the Eclipse bar (either Starfire or Wrath).

This is a rather interesting change. I was initially unsure exactly how they planned to initiate the moonfire/sunfire spam fix without hurting the single target rotation. Their solution is actually fairly elegant though not what I expected.

I suppose that is fair given that many druids were scooching forward and back while multi-dotting in order to gain the talent’s damage boost  when attacking multiple adds at once (this is in addition to the standard use of the talent which is attacking a target on the run). Clearly Blizzard felt that our movement DPS on both a single target and multiple targets as well as general multi-dotting was too powerful and required a fix.

If at any point though that you have to move and dps a target or multiple targets you will be forced to sacrifice eclipse power to do so if you are currently in eclipse mode (unless you multidot with only insect swarm). The advantage is that should you be in between eclipse states and on the move you will be generating free eclipse power. These are situations that will certainly arise but they will not be all of the time. The most important thing to note is that in your standard park and shoot single target boss rotation you will NOT be penalized for casting Moonfire/Sunfire upon reaching each eclipse state as people originally speculated (and proposed the potential DPS loss numbers). Having the ability to gain eclipse power when on the run is fairly neat but should never be the preferred method to do so.

This change will force us to think a bit more about how and when we multidot mobs as well as use our moonfire/sunfire on the go. I’m not entirely sure WHY we needed this correction though as specs like the Fire Mage have the capability to nuke effectively on the go as well as produce absolutely ridiculous AoE through Impact/Blast Wave. Perhaps that will get its attention in due time, it is hard to say.

Overall

Great news for the restoration druids and mixed reviews for balance druids. We’ll see this all shakes down as the PTR sees more attention. Right now from what I’ve read the lunar shower change hasn’t been implemented yet.

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2 responses to “Lunchtime 4.2 observations – New Mastery? Yes Please

  1. The new mastery will require a small change in healing style, but will be better overall, since Blizzard wants druids to mix HOTs & Direct heals, and Swiftmend alone can keep our new mastery up for 10 out of every 15 seconds (if you use it on CD). So, it’s not like we have to drastically go out of our way to keep it up (using either a HT, regrowth, or Nourish once every 15 to 20 seconds isn’t as bad as having to use one every 10 seconds).

    • Aye. If swiftmend didn’t trigger it then I would definitely say we’d have to change our playstyle some. I think through the use of power auras and using Swiftmend on cooldown we’ll get ourselves just about all the way there.

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