Cataclysm: New druid healing model

So, the druid class’ biggest concern seems to be about how the healing model will work in Cataclysm.

Here is what I’ve been able to gather about resto druids’ HOT Topics:

  • Why Blizzard wants all healing specs to have the same 3 heals (some homogenization isn’t evil)

So, Blizzard’s plan is to have mana be a problem for classes in Cataclysm. The easiest way for Blizzard to do that was to have efficient and not efficient heals. In their process of trying to do this, they realized that having 3 equivalent spells across the healing classes would make it better for them to be able to balance the other unique & signature heals around a solid base.

These 3 heals ended up being: A short cast, inefficient “flash” heal; a long-cast, mana expensive big nuke-heal; and a low mana long-cast heal that doesn’t hit as hard as the inefficient big nuke-heal.

Equal starting points gave Blizzard more flexibility for designing encounters and “bring the player not the class”. The biggest problem through all of WoW’s history is that healers never has equal starting points, and so we were never, ever balanced. Just because all melee classes have a chunk of their damage come from auto-attacks doesn’t mean that all melee classes are the same. The 3 single-target equivalent heals still leave open a lot of room for differences in how the classes heal.

  • I’m feeling Hot Hot Hot (what makes resto druids special in Cata)

While everyone wants to cry “OMG homogenization”, having equal starting points for our main-tank direct healing doesn’t mean that all healing is going to be exactly the same. We all still have our unique tools & flavor. They didn’t homogenize raid healing, and they left some unique tank healing tools, as well. Our HOTs are still going to be meaningful (Nourish still retains it’s interaction with HOTs, making HOTs important tank healing tools for our efficient heal to actually heal enough to be worthwhile).

Only being able to maintain lifebloom on one target is fine, since HOTs are going to have less overheal in a world where everyone isn’t always topped off. Triage-style healing doesn’t work when you have one class that sucks at triage healing… you need everyone capable of filling a triage-style healing role, and then “flavor” comes from having enough unique tools to have their own style of how they use their whole toolset.

  • The AOE healing problem – why resto druids’ AOE healing tools could be either insufficient or totally overpowered.

The biggest problem for druids in Cataclysm is not having good raid multi-target heals. In a world where triage-healing is the rule, we don’t have the direct healing multi-target spells. Instead, we have to still do preemptive raid healing, which could be seriously problematic if we run ourselves OOM trying to HOT a raid. In a world where tank healing is equal, it may be raid healing abilities where classes are judged.

However, in a world where HOTs overheal less often (because people aren’t instantly topped off), HOT AOE healing could potentially come out as a strong contender, since people will have lots of time for the HOTs to tick away before the person would die. So, the changes to health pools and raid/healing mechanics could either be very good for resto healers or very bad. Hopefully, our unexplored mastery (increased HOT healing on low targets) will fill that much needed strength in raid healing. If things don’t work out with HOT AOE healing, I wouldn’t be surprised if we got a chain-heal type ability in 4.1.

  • Why tree got the axe - and why the cooldown version is better for the class

Blizzard ran into the problem where they had to strip a lot of passive bonuses from the talent trees. When I first saw the new version of moonkin form (where we get basically nothing from the talent it’s self, and have to invest in a lot of other talents to get useful bonuses), I can see why tree form got the axe – because it was going to be a totally wasted talent point that didn’t fit in their “healers can do damage, too” philosophy. Either tree form was purely cosemtic, or it had to get changed to something new & different.

At this point, tree form is always going to be a cooldown for Cataclysm. However, this is good, since our starting point out of tree form is going to be balanced with other classes, and our tree shift gets to be super powerful ontop of that. It’s actually a buff in terms of the balance of resto druids versus other classes – because we’re going to be balanced out of tree form and we were going to lose all those secondary bonuses anyway.

So, my focus at this point is making the “sometimes shift” more worthwhile. First, the speed debuff needs to go (or be significantly reduced). In addition, the secondary effects need to be re-evaluated (ie. the lifebloom one sucks because adding another lifebloom application won’t help if we’re already maintaining a 3 rolling stack, and should be something more useful now that you can only have lifebloom on one target).

  • Conclusions (or why the sky isn’t falling)

So, while things look bad now, we still have a lot of time for changes and improvements that are going to help druid healing for the better. Focusing on things that won’t change (such as tree form becoming a cooldown, having 3 standardized nuke heals) is really not going to be helpful at this point in testing. Instead, focus on things that are likely to change (such as trying to make tree form’s cooldown more useful, improving our AOE healing toolset to stay AOE healing viable). If we focus on things we CAN change over things we can’t change, then resto druids have a much more hopeful outlook in Cataclysm.

Keep in mind that right now, HOTs are mostly overheal (stomped on by other heals). Under the Cataclysm healing model, everyone won’t necessarily sit at full health all the time – instead, Cataclysm is potentially a world with less overhealing, and that could be really awesome for our HOTs to shine.

20 Comments

  1. Amradorn
    Posted July 2, 2010 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    I would have much preferred that the would have just become a cosmetic shifting spell and then they could have still made a buff talent in it’s place. That way the decision to be in tree form all the time or when ever would be completely up to the player and independent of the buffs.

  2. Zafil
    Posted July 2, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Honestly, I’d rather see the the cooldown do something more interesting like making the Bloom AoE for the duration…but this is based on what I’m looking at, saying it applies two stacks at once instead of one while you’re in tree.

    Being able to pop your tree, then let the tank bloom and it gives a burst heal to all the melee would be nice.

  3. Chezza
    Posted July 2, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Given that I originally based my druid, Chezza, on Cheza from “Wolf’s Rain”…I’m not completely sure I want her doing damage in a group setting. It just doesn’t seem to be true to the character… Oh well, just have to see how things play out I guess. I think the idea of Tree form on cooldown could work really well, but I admit to normally being apprehensive of change (including change to a game, pathetic, I know).

  4. Posted July 2, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think things look bad at all right now. HoTs will be super-powerful with little overheal and we get a boost to tank healing. People have been overreacting since these changes were announced.

    I’m not overly concerned with AoE healing either. Wild Growth is still good even with a slightly longer cooldown. Isn’t Tranquility also being changed to be much more useful?

  5. Bennet
    Posted July 2, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    This is one of the first places I’ve started reading about druid changes in Cataclysm and I found one phrase rather alarming. Only being able to maintain lifebloom on one target at a time? Is that because of mana issues or a mechanics change?

  6. Hamlet
    Posted July 2, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    I think Resto is overall looking pretty promising, although it will be much easier to tell after seeing how it plays. Although I have thought the Tree Form bonuses are not that compelling also.

    I’m starting to grow somewhat concerned about the state of Moonkin. Maybe I should talk to you about that more at some point–it is in large part a community issue as well.

  7. Lissanna
    Posted July 2, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Hamlet – moonkin issues are something I’ve been ontop of on the Cata Beta forums an aweful lot. I’ll do more posting on moonkin design problems soon for sure.

  8. Chiraa
    Posted July 2, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I also noticed “…and should be something more useful now that you can only have lifebloom on one target).” Whut!!!?

    What does this mean? Is this spell now a single target spell, so that if you cast it on someone, it cancels the spell that was was already in place on a previous target? Like Prayer of Mending? Would if be possible for you to make a list of the tool tips of trainable spells where the mechanics have changed in such a major manner? This would be really helpful.

    Thanks.

  9. Mariane
    Posted July 2, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    How often do you heal vs go boomkin?

  10. Chiraa
    Posted July 2, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    And, I see now that you have done this… my bad for not finding it… Thanks Lissanna.

  11. Lissanna
    Posted July 2, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    The page with the basics of resto spells are here:
    http://www.restokin.com/cataclysm-druid-beta-info/cata-resto-druid-spells-abilities/

    With lifebloom, right now – it can only be on one target at a time – meaning that it should end on the current target when you put it on a new person. However, this mechanic change should be fine because of all the other spell & talent mechanic changes that will compensate for it.

  12. Lissanna
    Posted July 2, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    On the live servers, I raid as moonkin about 3/4ths of the time and I heal about 1/4th right now. However, before about 3.3, I healed in raids like 7/8ths of the time.

    In Beta testing, I split my time between a lot of different things (including 3 different druids between level 10 & 35 along with my 82 druid and a couple other characters) to test out all sorts of mechanics.

  13. Posted July 2, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Interesting. I still really want a cosmetic tree form – but I guess I can live with things as they are. I think druids without forms are like shaman without totems, but shamans don’t drop their totems every fight, so… shrug.

  14. Aelinna
    Posted July 3, 2010 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Basically we’re losing LB. I justify this on the basis of one stack, renewed by Nourish. It’s not part of our toolkit anymore, it’s a precombat buff.

    I’m worried about Efflorescence too, it sounds too good. I can easily see us using RJ+RG for melee, RJ+WG for ranged, Nourish just to refresh LB. The goal is for us to use Nourish to save mana over RG, but Efflo (F-lo?) drops a 10kg weight on RG’s side.

    Compared to the crazy hijinks I pull on my warr tank, this is just not enough to be satisfying. Maybe it’s me but healing seems to be getting more and more simplistic. Other classes are getting abilities (Healing Hands/Rain) that pull them into the world, ie force them to be more spatially aware, druids are becoming terribly mindless. They also already have these wonderful toys (hands, totems, purge/interrupt/stun) that let really awesome players shine.

    I *am* looking forward to being able to DPS more. I already spend half my time in heroics Hurricaning. I guess our real Cata goodies are Cyclone and Entangling Roots.

    Concerned of Argent Dawn

  15. Lissanna
    Posted July 3, 2010 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Lifebloom will go on the tank. Nourish is a 3 second cast time now, so it’s not going to be a trivial task to keep up your lifebloom stack. It’s not going to be a trivial task.

    The AOE heals that center on the caster and force them to be in melee range and such is actually a really big pain in the neck, and we’re lucky not to have them.

    Also, Blizzard wants us to use ALL our spells, so this is going to end up being something where we’ll have a lot of tools we’re using.

  16. Elbeghast
    Posted July 3, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Set to the music of Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind”.

    Goodbye Druid tree
    Though I never knew you at all
    You had the brains to heal yourself
    While those around you lol’d
    You called out for pug group
    And they whispered you from trade
    They said “you are the raid heals”
    And they made fun of your name

    And it seems to me you lived your life
    Like a sapling in the wind
    Never knowing who to raid heal
    You just spammed HoTs then
    And I would have tanked it for you
    But I was level ten
    Your forests burned down long before
    Your legendary did

    Battlegrounds were tough
    The toughest role you ever played
    Arena created a superstar
    And nerfs were the price you paid
    Even when you died
    Your HoTs were ticking true
    All the players had to say
    Was “someone needs to nerf that dude”

    And it seems to me you lived your life
    Like a sapling in the wind
    Never knowing who to raid heal
    You just spammed HoTs then
    And I would have tanked it for you
    But I was level ten
    Your forests burned down long before
    Your legendary did

    Goodbye Druid Tree
    Though I never knew you at all
    You had the brains to heal yourself
    While those around you lol’d

    Goodbye Druid Tree
    From the young tank in the guild nobody knows
    Who sees you as more than a b-rez
    More than just some cheap broccoli joke

    And it seems to me you lived your life
    Like a sapling in the wind
    Never knowing who to raid heal
    You just spammed HoTs then
    And I would have tanked it for you
    But I was level ten
    Your forests burned down long before
    Your legendary did

  17. Posted July 4, 2010 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    Omg, the previous comment… so awesome :D

    Ahem, what I was actually going to ask was…

    “The biggest problem for druids in Cataclysm is not having good raid multi-target heals.”
    Is Wild Growth not so great anymore then? I’d be sad if it was being nerfed, it’s such an integral part of raid healing at the moment :-/

  18. Lissanna
    Posted July 4, 2010 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    We can only use wild growth 1 time every 10 seconds. We’ll have to do something between wild growth refreshes. ;)

  19. John W. Redelfs
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Normally a mage, I got really excited about being a druid because I played with a number of them in tree form, and they seemed to do much better keeping my health bar full than shamans, paladin, or priests. I wanted to be a bear/tree druid with dual spec. I cannot tell you how disappointed I am that tree form will no longer be passive and the HOTs will be different. I just leveled from 1-80 for this, and now I’m not going to get it. That is the pits.

  20. Lissanna
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    I’m still hoping that they’ll put in a minor glyph for making the graphic show up all the time…