Resto druids on the forums seem to be having problems looking at the bigger picture of how restoration healing will work in Cataclysm. Most of that is because resto druids have such HUGE changes coming that it is hard to really put together what the bigger picture will be for resto druids in Cataclysm, and this is something I’m still struggling with.
So, lets take a moment to step back and look at the bigger picture of resto PvE healing in Cataclysm. It is still early in Beta, but I can still talk about how things are shaping up now (based on the data we have as of build 12694). However, a lot depends on what happens over the next several months, so it’s too early to let our weaknesses get us down.
What are PvE Resto druids in Cataclysm?
Some druids are worried about losing our HOTs, but Blizzard still has their focus set on them. Here is the description you see when choosing talent trees:
Uses heal-over-time Nature spells to keep allies alive, taking on the form of a tree when the need is most urgent.
So, our focus is still on our HOTs. However, rejuvenation & lifebloom won’t be the only buttons we push in Cataclysm. So, lets look at the tools we have:
Tank Healing as a druid in Cataclysm PvE:
The tank healing role has the most clear set of tools and comes together really well for druids.
- We have Lifebloom, which we will keep rolling on a single tank, since LB can only be on one target now.
- Rejuvenation will go on all tanks, since putting HOTs on multiple tanks is part of what druids do.
- Regrowth will be the fast flash-heal on tanks, in addition to being a HOT we should keep up on multiple tanks. Regrowth will be used when we need a fast heal and as a HOT. In this way, it serves a dual purpose role in our tank healing toolset.
- Nourish is a long cast, mana efficient heal. This is going to be our go-to spell to make sure we don’t run out of mana. It will also refresh the duration of lifebloom, so that you won’t have to cast lifebloom as often (though you will still have to refresh it directly some, since Nourish’s cast time is so long).
- Healing Touch has made it back into our healing toolset, since sometimes we will need a healing spell that hits harder than Nourish. HT is going to be a long cast, mana expensive tool, where we will need it when we need to heal up a big chunk of our tank’s health pool.
- Swiftmend is our instant-cast, short cooldown spell that requires a regrowth or rejuv to be on a tank (which is why our HOTs should be on all tanks at all times when tank healing).
So, tank healing will still be: keep HOTs on tanks, cast direct heals between HOT refreshes. I think this toolset will work great, and that we will be using a large variety of spells as tank healers in Cataclysm, and this will be a lot of fun.
Raid/AOE healing confusion:
While we have a very clear tank healing toolset, our way of being able to deal with raid damage done to targets has not really changed in Cataclysm.
- Wild Growth is a mana expensive, 10 second cooldown spell, that we won’t be able to use every 10 seconds due to mana costs.
- Rejuv will still be one of our primary AOE healing spells, although it’s a single-target spell. We’ll still have to use it proactively to have HOTs on targets to be able to swiftmend, and it will have an instant heal component when we put it on someone already taking damage
- Regrowth is going to be a raid healing tool, where we will gain an AOE HOT from an Effloresence proc when regrowth crits. We have a talent that increases the crit chance for regrowth on targets at low health, so Regrowth will be our go-to spell as a reactive HOT on people who are close to dieing.
- Swiftmend will be what we use after a rejuv or regrowth if we need more healing on the target
- Due to mana concerns, we’ll still have to sometimes cast Nourish, but hopefully we’d only cast nourish on tanks when we’re having mana issues and need to take a break from raid healing
- The best thing happening is that Tranquility is being changed, so that it will be more viable in Cataclysm. However, tranquility is still an 8 minute cooldown, meaning that we won’t get to use it very often.
The only change for druids in terms of raid healing is that we get to introduce Regrowth into the Rejuv/WG spam. So, now we have Rejuv/Regrowth/WG spam. This is the area of healing where we still fall short. Since our current style of Pre-HOT for raid healing isn’t supposed to be what we do in Cataclysm, I’m still not sure how this is going to come together, so raid healing is where I have gone on a crusade to save druids.
So, in conclusion, we have a great tank healing toolset, but we don’t have a good raid healing toolset. We have a ton of choice, flexibility, and fun in our single-target healing toolset, and we really don’t have a good multi-target healing toolset. We’ll have to see how this shapes up, but I could easily see druids going back to WG/Rejuv pre-HOTs around the raid just for lack of a better thing to do in Cataclysm, and that would make me sad.
But what about tree form?!?
Tree form is going to be a cooldown in Cataclysm. What the tree form cooldown needs is:
- The slow needs to be changed to be about 20%, rather than 50%. We’re supposed to use tree form when the healing gets tough, but the healing is always the toughest during times where we need to be moving.
- Instant-cast regrowths becomes incompatible with a 50% slow that requires us to stand still, and thus tree form’s limitation prevents us from being able to benefit from the things designed to allow us to cast on the run.
- In addition, the limitation of lifebloom to one target (and nourish refreshing it) prevents the lifebloom bonus (applies 2 LB’s on a target instead of 1) from being useful, based on how it is worded. If it allowed us to keep LB on 2 targets instead of one, that would be more helpful for PvP, but that seems to be unlikely how the wording is intended.
- Maybe tree form could help us not run out of mana. A mana cost reduction would allow us to spam regrowth & wild growth (the only worthwhile healing spell boosts we get from the talent). Right now, tree form seems to be designed to make us run OOM faster.
- My focus right now is on making the tree form cooldown better, rather than fighting it’s becoming a cooldown. Right now, the cooldown isn’t quite right, but it’s close. My hope is that by the time Cataclysm comes out, they’ll have a nice tree form that we’ll want to use, rather than the currently somewhat confused tree form design.
Seeing the forest through the trees:
- Druids have a great interaction between HOTs and direct heals in Cataclysm for tank healing.
- Druids don’t have a good AOE healing toolset, and this is a particularly troublesome area of weakness that needs work.
- Tree form as a cooldown may be great when Cata comes out, but we aren’t there yet, and there is still a lot of work to do.
- The Beta is being patched every week, and so it’s too early to freak out or abandon the class. Instead, we need to focus on how to fix the things that are coming up short.
- We still do have a strength in HOT healing, and it’s a strength that Blizzard wants us to have. We’re going to be good healers in Cataclysm, but we still have a long way to go.