By now a lot of people have read up on the new planned nerfs to wild growth in 4.3. Almost every blogger out there has weighed in in one form or another and the response has generally been an overwhelming “Wild Growth is too much of our healing done, but that’s how you set it up for us Blizzard to keep us competitive.” I too am in this camp as I am still quite puzzled as to the rationale behind everything. Blizzard has left me waiting and wanting on promises they made and there were hopes of mine that have been dashed.
The changes planned are as follows:
-Wild Growth healing has been reduced by 20%
-Glyph of Wild Growth now also increases the cooldown of Wild Growth by 2 seconds
Let’s first take a trip back in time shall we to early Cataclysm. In poor gear restoration druids looked impressive at a glance putting up fairly decent numbers and holding out well mana wise through the aid of Furor and Heart of the Wild. At this time the limitation was not necessarily one of throughput and HPS but that of HPM which is where priests and paladins were hurting more. Once you got into Tier 11 raiding however and gear started to improve things changed. Healers gained access to better gear and large mana pools. Druids were falling behind and were unable to compete on some of the tougher, burstier, or AoE heavy fights. Xaar of Paragon said in a rather public post that druids simply cannot compete (at the time) in their high end raids because of what they do or do not bring to the table. Druids had zero mitigation cooldowns to offer and could not perform any form of group burst to assist in the more difficult encounters. As such they were benching druids.
Blizzard promised us a raid cooldown and a boost to our healing. What we received was a 3-minute tranquility, a 30% boost to a 8 second Wild Growth, and ultimately an improved Effloressence. Instead of offering us a mitigation cooldown or a bursty AoE heal we were given an option to use an already good spell more often, and “mitigate” damage through pure healing done. All of this slated us to looking good “on the meters” but all the while not necessarily being that much better than other healers at the end of the day. If you tried to put a number on how much damage a power word barrier absorbed on a heroic encounter where it was needed, I think you’d be pretty amazed. Where is my new cooldown I asked aloud. Where is my new toy that makes me a unique snowflake (irony since now Holy Priests have a 3 minute Divine Hymn).
It has been long enough for the need of this buff to be forgotten. I even wrote on my blog the day it was announced that this tranquility buff would eventually cause us a nerf down the line because people would start to pass judgment. Is it wrong to ask that we stay the way we are with a generally higher healing throughput since we lack any real utility beyond that. You have glass cannon dps in lots of games, I don’t see it as a bad thing to have a healer who offers less support and more throughput.
So ghostcrawler wrote some little bit about how restoration druids didn’t have enough choices for Major glyphs because Wild Growth was mandatory. I understand where he is coming from but there’s some very very large problems with this logic. They are as…heck who am I kidding there’s really just one monster huge problem with what he’s saying. That is: WE DON’T HAVE ANY OTHER USEFUL MAJOR GLYPHS TO USE! The only glyphs that we would ever consider as of this point in time in the major slot are Healing Touch, Rebirth, Wild Growth, Thorns, and Entangling Roots. Of those five currently Rebirth and Wild Growth are mandatory and Healing Touch is only to make a pretty frustrating ability less frustrating. If Wild Growth was a choice we could do without the only options we would put in their place are extremely suboptimal. This excuse from ghostcrawler is flat out a load of horse manure. If major glyphs HAVE to have a drawback, and I’m pretty sure most of them do not, then maybe consider swapping Wild Growth to a prime glyph and giving us a handful of useful major glyphs to force a thoughtful decision. Maybe “Glyph of Regrowth: Regrowth heals for 20% more on targets at or below 20% health”, “Glyph of Nourish: nourish extends the duration of Rejuvenation on your target by 3 seconds”, or possibly “Glyph of Barkskin: when barkskin is cast, your primary lifebloom target gains 50% of its benefit”
So…what does this mean for us? I was taking a look at my world of logs parses and trying to make some heads or tails of it all. Before I do let’s look at the theoretical result of our options at this point:
Option A: Keep glyph of Wild Growth
Option B: Do not keep glyph of Wild Growth
If during a fight you heal 2.4 million damage using Wild Growth you will average roughly 333,333 healing per target. Let’s also say that your total healing done is is 6.5 million over 5 minutes making Wild Growth roughly 37% of your total healing. This means you’re casting roughly 6.5 wild growths a minute (51.64 seconds with some downtime as this is averaged over the entire duration).
Option A: If you keep the glyph of Wild Growth you will be casting Wild Growth approximately 20% less often. Your casts per minute however will vary as there are times you would prefer to be casting it constantly off cooldown and times where you will not. In this example you’re going to be casting on average 5.2 Wild Growths every minute (52 seconds uptime). In this scenario your amount healed by Wild Growth will drop from 2.4 Million to 1.536 Million (36% drop) for an overall healing throughput loss of ~13.3%.
Option B: If you choose not to use the glyph of Wild Growth you will be casting Wild Growth the same amount of times but you will be healing one less person. Instead of 2.4 million you will be healing 20% less (before subtracting one target) for a total of 1.92 million. At this point it works out to 320,000 healing per person so the total with only 5 targets per cast is 1.6 million (33% drop) for an overall healing throughput loss of ~12.3%.
This theoretical math shows the absence of the glyph to be less of a loss however taking the glyph provides you more burst in the sense that another player is getting healed at that time. For fights where Wild Growth isn’t necessarily needed all of the time the glyph can still make it more useful but neither situation is really that ideal and both represent a large sizeable chunk of overall healing done lost. This scenario is highly flawed as, from practice, Wild Growth is not required all the time off cooldown and as such the penalty from taking the glyph is excessively magnified by this example. Let’s take a look at some real world numbers.
I’m not as addicted to Wild Growth as I probably should be. What I mean by that is I do not use it religiously on cooldown. If there is a lot of raid damage constantly coming out then I will but I really don’t love casting it on one or two targets just for the heck of it (being bored on Alysrazor is an exception). That isn’t to say that I don’t cast it because I am aware of how powerful (though easy) it is. What it does mean is that on some fights I don’t have a super high percentage uptime. Maybe my uptime is between 60% and 80%. I’m ok with that as long as when I do have to use the spell then it proves useful even if some does end up overhealing quite a bit.
Here are some actual numbers from recent kills. I know my spell choices weren’t perfect as we were learning some of the encounters but they should be useful to look at (looking at WG and Tranq)
Heroic Rhyolith –
WG – 34.2% healing done, 63% uptime, 37% overheal
Tranq – 8.5% healing done, 3.1% overheal
Note – timing wild growth for high volcano damage peaks and stomps. Could probably be popping it off on cooldown but the damage in this fight is generally in heavy pulses 20+ seconds or so and smaller pulses based on volcanos active.
Heroic Beth’tilac –
WG – 34% healing done, 56.1% uptime, 29% overheal
Tranq – 4.8% healing done, 8% overheal
Note – Hanging out in the middle on the ground healing drone tank and a handful of people. Damage spikes higher during spinners, group up phases, and Phase 2 so AoE heals are used liberally at that time. Similar to Rhyolith it is a bursty fight healing wise on the ground until she lands.
Heroic Alysrazor –
WG – 16.2% healing done, 77.5% uptime, 70.3% overheal
Tranq – 15% healing done, 14.4% overheal
Note – Fight is boring and I was looking for things to do honestly. Was using Wild Growth as a single target HoT as mana is largely a non-issue.
Heroic Majordomo Staghelm –
WG – 18% healing done, 51.6% uptime, 80% overheal
Note – this fight is not healing intensive in an AoE sense since flamescythe’s are never taken by the raid. During flame orbs I was paired off and healing my orb team primarily.
Ultimately the 2 second increase on Wild Growths cooldown isn’t something you will feel 100% of the time. If you are not casting it frivolously for only one or two people at a time then you can still make solid use of its healing done though now at a 20% loss. Even if somehow we were able to play such that the 2 second penalty was removed from the equation by timing our casts perfectly to maximize benefit, you would still be taking a 6-7.5% drop in your total throughput for fights where Wild Growth was ~30-37% of your healing done now; and a 4% throughput loss when it is only ~20% of your healing done now. Again this loss does not include the glyph penalty as that is significantly tougher to model accurately as it varies from fight to fight.
All in all this is a pretty tough pill to swallow and it feels like a poor decision to me. Poor excuses aside, they want to pull us away from Wild Growth in order to make a lower percentage of our healing done and to knock us down a peg. The problem that I see is that we really don’t have any other options for raid healing and this spell needs to stay competitive in that respect in order to work. There are other ways in which this shuffle could be done and I wish that they had pursued other avenues to do so. In my brief moment of brainstorming here is what I was thinking:
1.) If we simply do too much healing as a whole, first evaluate how much of that is from tranquility. Then evaluate how much “healing” is done through Spirit link totem’s 10% damage reduction, Aura Mastery’s resists, and Power word barrier’s 30% damage reduction. If that still has is out in the lead then make an adjustment accordingly to our Mastery rating or passive bonus as required.
2.) If you simply do not like Wild Growth being such a large amount of our healing done, and item 1 above has been analyzed, then simply weaken WG and place a buff to our single target heals as they are sorely lacking. This weakens our AoE tool set though less so.
3.) Similar to 2, but instead place the buff in a situational area such as have Nature’s bounty also increase the nourish’s amount healed by some percent or have it also reduce rejuvenation’s mana cost by a percent while active. This would shift some of the healing from wild Growth over to an AoE role primarily.