Symbiosis Balancing – Dizzying First Thoughts

It was released to the masses last week that Druids would be granted a new ability while progressing to level 90 called Symbiosis. This ability, once active, would grant us a spell or ability from another member in the raid and they in turn would be granted a druid power all based upon spec. This ability lasts one hour and persists through death. While I applaud the versatile and fun nature of this ability (and do wish for it to succeed) I had some reservations about how it will need to be balanced and how it will affect our balance as a result. Similar to the apprehensions we had about the “meter inflation” caused by tranquility and its perception by the masses (among other things, already covered by many) this has raised some questions and concerns.

 Really. In that case, I challenge you to a battle of wits.

On a fundamental level the ability itself is creative and offers some rather unique experiences gameplay wise when it comes to borrowing an ability from another player. While we may not have any talents innately to support said ability it can, provided it was useful enough, enhance our performance in our current role. What I like is that this is a way to add some fluidity to the druid paradigm without going through the awkward motion of forcing us into offspec roles or other such shenanigans. We will be able to adapt to each situation based on encounter type and raid make-up. Ultimately though, and I’ll talk more about this later, there will be a correct ability to symbiosis per encounter and you will potentially be hamstrung by your raid make-up if you are in a ten man group.

Are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet or his enemy’s?


In order for this ability to work properly and be potent enough to be integral to our raiding experience it needs to provide a significant enough benefit once activated. The unpredictable nature of the ability, however, means that it might need to be extremely limited in what it can offer.

Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given.


It’s dangerous to accept a gift without knowing just we’re getting out of it and what price is paid for it. As mentioned before this ability will be highly erratic in its effectiveness depending on how strict the requirements are for the player targeted. If I target an enhancement shaman in my raid, will I be granted an ability to help me out that might be included in the restoration specialization specific list of spells or will I get something marginally useful but limited by what the enhancement shaman can cast. There are lots of important questions about the functionality of the spell that Blizzard isn’t forced to disclose at this time and are more than likely subject to change. I am going to go on the assumption, for the moment, that we are granted an ability of their class best suited for our current role regardless of the other persons current specialization.

Restoration must be balanced in both healing throughput, versatility, and usefulness without the ability granted by Symbiosis. The very nature of unpredictable raid make-up makes this a requirement. With the creation of healing mushrooms and ironbark coupled with tranquility and our normal raw throughput we need must be as good (doesn’t need to be better) as any other healer out there. We can’t foolishly accept, not that we have a choice really, an ability that adds immense flexibility if it comes with a tradeoff of being reliant on that ability to be competitive.

In a fictitious scenario, restoration druids would gain access to Power Word: Shield from priests when symbiosis is cast upon them. While we have nothing to boost power word shield talent wise this would offer us another option for healing and would somewhat increase our throughput. If without this granted ability we are some percentage, however small it may be, less effective or efficient at healing than that priest then we are at a disadvantage. Being unable to bring all of the tools you need to raid, or perform well, yourself is a liability and not a fun obstacle to deal with. This is why, in my opinion, the spell gained cannot be a core healing, damaging, or tanking ability that we would be expected to work into our rotations. One only needs to look back on shadow priests being reliant on the old Dark Intent to see the flaw in that design anyway.

But you must have known I was not a great fool, you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.


Given the logic outlined above, and given the fact that not all classes have a direct healing ability to offer we clearly cannot expect it to grant us that type of benefit. If not a direct healing ability, your thoughts might turn to a throughput cooldown as a borrowed ability such as Arcane Power, Avenging Wrath, or perhaps Elemental Mastery. These seem like rather awesome abilities however the list of potential candidates runs short once you leave the ranks of casters. There’s really no caster throughput that can be offered from any of the classes with only physical damage dealing specializations (for druid casters anyway). An extremely exaggerated example of a broken 10 man group for this might be: Tanks: Warrior/Death Knight, Healers: Druid/Druid, DPS: Rogue/Warrior/Death Knight/Hunter/Hunter/Druid. You’ve made your decision then?


 Not Remotely. Criminals are used to having people not trust them, as you are not trusted by me, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you.


Now, now, no one here is a criminal but clearly we are at an impasse. If the ability granted by Symbiosis is a movement or get out of an emergency type ability then I think we’d be in a state of overkill. With access to dash, stampeding roar, engineering speed boosts, worgen dash, cheetah, increased cat form movement, and ‘fly to a friend’ (and its ilk) we’d be swimming in more ways to get out of danger with the addition of one more. While I love having access to all of that mobility I think that it would be completely unnecessary. Oh Blizzard your intellect clearly is dizzying.



Hopefully trying to help me understand your Symbiosis ability.

And you must have suspected I would have known the powder’s origin, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.


You’re just stalling now.

You’d like to think that, wouldn’t you? You’ve beaten my raid bosses, which means you’re exceptionally strong, so you could’ve put the poison in your own goblet, trusting on your strength to save you, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But, you’ve also bested foes in arena, which means you must have studied, and in studying you must have learned that man is mortal, so you would have put the poison as far from yourself as possible, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.


You’re trying to trick me into giving away something. It won’t work.



I’m not so sure. It would be extremely difficult to make the ability granted something role specific that would slot into rotation and it can’t reliably be a throughput cooldown. Making in a movement type would only add redundancy to a class known for its mobility to start with. All that’s left is niche utility abilities. Things that fit into this category might be spells such as death grip or ‘life grip’. There are others but my brain is clearly too tired to comprehend them at this time. These would be neat of course but more than likely would be a take it or leave it type thing in my opinion. I give up Blizzard, you tell me how this is supposed to work, be balanced, and still make it feel like we’re getting something useful for our primary role.

 I will, and I choose– What in the world can that be?

What’s what? *looks at level 90 talents in the talent calculator* You didn’t try some kind of switcheroo while I was looking at that talents did you? I sincerely hope that you’re not going to give me some type of ability that doesn’t in any way help me heal and instead give me some kind of offspec funky utility….right?

 Well, I- I could have sworn I saw something. No matter.

Why are you smiling?

 I’ll tell you in a minute. First, let’s drink. Me from my glass, and you from yours.

I sincerely hope you know what you’re doing…



2 responses to “Symbiosis Balancing – Dizzying First Thoughts

  1. I suspect if we are unlucky enough to get a non-caster raid group (or 5 man) then the ability we get will have to be survival CD (DK AMS) or movement related (Warrior Heroic Leap). At that point Sym will be as much about buffing your target as yourself (Tank gains Ironskin).

    In fact this is one of the harder balancing issues. If our healing is slightly lower to take into account the new spell we learn then whoever we cast it on will gain a buff (compared to us).

    Another balancing issue is if we do give a tank a defensive CD then we may end up giving it them despite not getting improved healing ourselves because its what the raid needs.

    • I would agree with that concern. I was writing that post in a slightly comical light but the reverse to what I’ve discussed, and you have brought up here, is certainly true. If we are stripped of any choice on who to cast symbiosis on because it is best for one class or role above all others than I’d rather not cast the spell at all. I don’t want to be pinned into one way to use it and I certainly don’t love the idea of paying a penalty only to have someone else leap well ahead of me in the balance department. In that sense I don’t see how they can make the ability full balanced across the board AND still provide enough of a benefit to us that it feels like a new useful raiding perk.

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