Yearly Archives: 2010

Druid raid healing design problem Redux

So, during Beta, I found a huge & obvious problem with the restoration druid design in Cata – namely that HOTs don’t make good triage tools on their own, and that druids completely lack direct multi-target heals. I posted multiple times about druids’ weakness in terms of their AOE healing toolset. However, there WAS a lot of progress (in the form of 2 steps forward, 1 step back) since my inital posting around August. We started raid healing in Beta with a good toolset for normal-mode raids (where we could spam rejuv, Wildgrowth, & swiftmend/efforescence – with effloresence not being target-limited). By the time Cata went live, Rejuv & efflorescence had been reduced in efficiency/effectiveness, and thus swung us back into the “danger zone” at the high end of raiding in Cataclysm (ie. heroic-level raids where everyone is in T11 gear).

Fortunately for single-target healing, druids have a few single-target direct heals, and an overall good toolset for single-target healing (except for regrowth’s healing numbers being low).  Our single-target healing toolset makes a nice healing design for tank healing where you can have single-target direct heals heals blended with HOTs. Unfortunately, we still get outshined in tank healing by paladins’ beacon of light, since it allows paladins to heal more than one tank at a time (and we can’t LB-roll on 2 tanks anymore). In 10 and 25-man raids, the value of a healer comes down to how well they can heal multiple people at a time, which is something that is really hit-or-miss for druids. This is NOT a problem with healing 5-man heroics – at the lower gear levels, druids are at least equivalent to other healers in terms of being able to heal 5-mans (especially since we take an early lead in mana efficiency/regen). There also doesn’t seem to be a problem with intro-level normal-mode raids

There was a point where Blizzard had buffed druid’s mana regen and had reduced rejuv’s mana cost (along with Efflorscence being crazy powerful) that we looked like we would come out okay for raiding. However, BOTH our regen & efflorescence’s healing have been nerfed since my initial raid testing, and the current Live raiding is showing that the AOE weakness I originally predicted has started to come true today. As Xaar of Paragon points out, at the higher end of cutting-edge, heroic-level, raiding in Cataclysm: “The raid healing issue is mainly a problem of available tools,” which is exactly what I predicted back in August (before even starting raid testing in the first place). I’ve been tracking druid development for so long that I’m absolutely not shocked by Xaar of Paragon’s forum post about druid raid healing for Heroic 10/25 content in Cata.

The problem with druid Heroic 10/25 Raid healing: Druids lack a full AOE healing toolset, and Blizzard didn’t care enough about balancing AOE healing toolsets for Cataclysm.

I thought it was time to return to this subject since, as Jarre of Rank 4 Healing Touch points out with math to support it, since we run a high risk of not being as desirable for high-end Heroic-level 10/25-man raids where BURST AOE healing is more desirable than HOT AOE healing. The reason R4HT and Xaar are concerned is really because we have NO tools to deal with the spiky large burst AOE that is happening in Heroic-level raid encounters (which is a problem that only druids in guilds like Paragon are having to deal with now, but unless Blizzard does something, this is going to become a bigger problem with time).

Efflorescence, Wild Growth & rejuv are all HOTs that can’t handle spike “triage”-style damage in the new Cataclysm healing paradigm. It seems to not be as bad for normal-mode raid dungeons at the current tier (where druid healing still shines), but Blizzard’s reluctance to give resto druids a direct AOE healing tool (and not wanting us to rejuv/WG spam) pretty much leaves us without a real AOE healing toolset, and we’ve been on a really brutal roller-coaster ride through all of WotLK & the beta for Cataclysm where they nerf our HOTs and then have to re-buff them so we’ll stay effective, and then nerf them in hopes we will find a different strategy than our HOT spam (HINT: there is no alternative to HOT spam for AOE healing because we never got tools to do otherwise).

While we can look good on paper in terms of HPS, and can “top meters” sometimes – we lack the tools to actually prevent deaths. If two people are low on health and about to die, then a shaman or priest healer will likely save them both, and a druid healer will cause one to die. So, the choice then becomes obvious to leave the druid behind if their numbers don’t keep up with the direct AOE healers. Add a lack of mitigation cooldowns, or other tools to sweeten the deal, and being the HOT AOE healer ends up being a crappy & expendable job.

The problem is NOT about being able to look good on HPS meters. The problem is with actually having tools to prevent deaths. HOTs look good on meters, but HOTs don’t save lives – they just top people off or provide a bumper so that someone else can come around to actually do real healing to the target.

How to fix the AOE healing problem: While Xaar suggested reducing the cooldown on Wild Growth, I’d argue that making WG more spam-able isn’t a fix to the problem – since WG is still a HOT. This is basically extending the first option I presented Blizzard with in August (which was reducing WG & rejuv’s mana cost, along with making Efflorescence not be tied to regrowth – which they did). So, just making WG better doesn’t fix the problem alone. In the end, Blizzard doesn’t want resto druids to heal by just spamming around WG & Rejuv. So, they need to give us an actual AOE healing tool to add to the rotation (and Swiftmend/Efflorescence isn’t enough now that they’ve re-balanced down Efflorescence’s healing by so much, combined with swiftmend’s moderately high cooldown that prevents spamming it). It’s past the time for “easy” fixes, and time to go with actually fixing resto druids to be viable AOE healers in Cataclysm the RIGHT way – by giving us the tools we need to be successful in Cataclysm. Druids aren’t good when HOTs aren’t good, and right now – HOTs aren’t good for AOE healing in heroic-level raids, and this problem is likely going to get worse & worse as we progress to future tiers of raiding.

What we need is a direct AOE healing tool, and I offered a great solution to that problem months ago:

“The most fun solution, however, would be to make a talent in the restoration tree that allowed our new Wild Mushroom spells to heal the people standing in that 10 yard radius when the Mushrooms are Detonated.”

So, Blizzard, I’m going to settle on… I told you so, and it’s time for Healing Shrooms (OR give us a real direct AOE heal ability). You could make healing shrooms a talent by removing Malfurion’s Gift from our talent tree and replacing it with an effect that reduced/removed Shroom’s damage done and replaced that damage with a heal of whatever value seems balanced. They could also make Efflorescence actually give our heals the buff from our mastery ability, so that our HOT & direct heal AOEs had better interplay for making mastery a worthwhile stat for us.

A talented healing shrooms in place of Malfurion’s Gift would solve 3 problems with a single change:

  • A) removing Malfurion’s Gift fixes the problem GC brought up about OOC possibly saving resto druids too much mana,
  • B) adding in healing shrooms fixes the problem of druids’ lack of AOE healing tools (without having to introduce a “smart” AOE heal or give us a whole new spell), and
  • C) “healing” shrooms makes our wild mushrooms more desirable and the spell would be used more often (even if it’s not by moonkin).
Posted in Cataclysm, Restoration Healing Trees

Heroic 5’s teach raid movement mechanics

So, with Cataclysm now upon us, many people have been running heroics and raid dungeons. One of the things that has become obvious is that we have returned to the days of “GOOTROF” (“Get out of the Rain of Fire”). The punishment for not moving in a lot of fights is not just a drain on healer mana, but is most likely just outright death. However, not all the ground effects are fire, and not all of the things that force us to move are obvious. Another problem is that some of the ground-covering effects in Cata are GOOD heals (like efflorescence, healing rain, etc).

For learning which ground effects each of the healing classes use for our AOE heals, Matt Low wrote an article on wow insider describing the GOOD ground effects to stand in. That article has pictures of what each of them looks like (though sometimes even the good effects share graphics with bad effects *grumble*).

The nice thing about heroic 5-mans is that they teach you some (but not all) of the visual queues to pay attention to in raid dungeons. Normal-mode 5’s teach some of the mechanics, too, but they tend to be less deadly than the heroic counterparts. When you are in the 5-man dungeons, it would do you good to pay attention to what is going on around you so you can learn some of the movement mechanics which will be important for your raiding experience in Cataclysm. Basically, one thing that makes heroic 5-mans hard is that they require everyone (tanks, healers, or DPS) to have fast reflexes and move at the right time.  For both 5-mans and raiding, situational awareness to your surroundings is going to be the key for success.

Here are some examples of mechanics shared by 5’s and raids:

  • Staying out of Cyclones: Altarius in the Vortex Pinacle 5-manhas some nasty cyclone effects that bounce you around and can throw you off the platform. This teaches you the mechanic used in the Conclave of Wind fight in the Throne of the Four Winds.
  • Multi-directional lines of death: General Husam in the Lost City of Tol’Vir 5-man has a shock wave that shoots out in lines from him going in 4 directions, where you basically have to stand in a safe spot between the lines. This is similar to (though not exactly the same as) Magmatron’s “Inceneration security measure” that shoots out in 4 directions from his body in the Omnitron Defense System in the Blackwing Descent raid.

In Cataclysm, we once again need to learn how to get out of “fires”. I’ve been tempted to take a guild group down to Baron Geddon in Mount Hyjal to practice running out of fires by playing “chicken” to see who can run in & out the most times without dieing. One of my biggest complaints about early WotLK is that it didn’t force people to have to pay attention to moving out of bad things, because most effects in WotLK could just be healed trough. However, most things in Cataclysm can’t be healed through. Regardless of what role we play in dungeons and raids (healing, DPS or tanking), we all have to do our part in moving out of various things happening in all the encounters, and we have to learn the difference between bad things on the ground, and good things on the ground. Once we all get better at moving at appropriate times, and learn the “dance” of all the different fights in normal & heroic 5-mans, we will be better prepared for learning the dance in raids. You should be mentally prepared for wiping A LOT, in either heroics or raids while everyone learns the dance of Cataclysm bosses.

I think that heroic 5-mans and such will get easier over time as we better learn what effects to watch for and better learn how our own abilities work in those encounters. Another important piece of advice – if your computer can’t handle all the visual effects or lags too much when grouping or raiding, you may want to look into hardware upgrades for making your Cataclysm experience smoother. We got a new video card and power supply for my computer, so that I could turn up some of the spell details for raiding without losing so much of my frame rate.

Posted in 4.0.3a, Cataclysm, Druid - General, Moonkin Balance DPS, Patches, Restoration Healing Trees

Happy Holidays from Restokin!

I’m away traveling for the holidays, but I have computer access while I’m gone. I have been enjoying the Cataclysm rush to get all geared up, and working on my professions.

If you haven’t already seen, the Team Waffle Podcast posted our first recording. I’m pretty sure that the podcast will get better as we learn how to get the recording done in better ways. We won’t be recording another one until after the Holidays, since Reesi & my travel plans don’t line up (ie. she leaves right as I get back!). The next one will probably be recorded & posted in early January.

In addition to decking my druid out with gear to prepare for raiding, I’ve also been working on the holiday quests in LotRO to deck my house with snowmen & Christmas trees. I also picked up some holiday gear and a winter horse (and that’s about all I’ve done with LotRO since Cataclysm came out for WOW!).

Anyway, I hope you all have a great Christmas and a Happy Winter’s Veil (or Yule festival as it’s called in LotRO!). I’m currently visiting my parents, though I get to play WoW with my mom & uncle, so it makes visiting home more fun. :)

Posted in Uncategorized

If resto druids get to see our armor…

Can they at least make the armor not buggy?

Okay, so today I just have a short update on a couple of things. At this point, my druid has been able to start running heroics. I’ve mostly run stuff as DPS, but I’ve solo-healed a couple of heroic bosses. I haven’t been able to run many heroics just because my pre-holiday schedule has been so hectic.

However, since I’ve been running heroics in a healer-heavy guild, it sometimes ends up working out such that we’ve 2-healed some of the heroic bosses. As several other bloggers have pointed out, the bosses don’t have real enrage timers, so having 2 healers (when we’re still undergeared for the content) turned out to be better than one. Too bad you can’t queue for double-healer PUGs. Anyway, back to the point of today’s story.

If I’m running around as resto, there is one thing that bugs me a lot, the fact that the graphic for my dress bugs out on me all the time. When I’m moonkin, I just don’t see my robe often enough to be bothered by the problem.

Here is what it is supposed to look like:

Sure, it’s a little bit drab overall, but I can live with ‘drab’. However, the vast majority of the time, it doesn’t look like that. I only get that graphic for a short period of time after I unequip and re-equip my robe. The rest of the time, it has an ugly flesh-colored band around my knees, where my skin has managed to bleed through to the outside of the graphic’s fabric and made it look super ugly, like this:

By the time they fix this bug, I’ll probably have a different chest piece (that hopefully won’t also bug out). It looks like there is a problem with the texture (and not just my computer) because it will show up with the bugged graphic on my loading screen & the armory. After I get the “right” graphic to show up, the “bugged” graphic shows up when I shapeshift, as in it’s not retaining the right texture/graphic once I’ve shifted in & out of any form. However, it looks like since my pants share the graphic with the chest piece, my pants graphic may be compensating some for the bugged chest graphic. I guess my Cursed Skardyn Vest really is cursed. Robes of the Loving Ursine have the same problem for me, since they share a graphic. I’m wearing them with Leggings of the Path. Is anyone else having a similar problem? The heroic versions of these items would still have the same graphic.

In other news, our first Team Waffle Podcast was recorded on Friday. Arielle (from Death Kitty) is currently working on editing. I guess that the main recording we were using cut out in a couple places, so he’s having to try and splice the backup copies we made to get it right.

Posted in 4.0.3a, Cataclysm

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