Cataclysm feedback: AOE healing class balance

While it is still a little early to talk about overall class balance, I would like to take some time to talk about mana costs of AOE (multi-target) healing spells for the various classes.

Disclaimer: When reading this post, DO NOT use it as an excuse to cry about the sky falling, as the sky is definitely not falling. Please keep comments & feedback based on this post constructive, since problems examined in this post CAN (and likely will) be addressed before Cataclysm goes live. Please do not go EMO on me, as the point of this thread is to get things examined before Cataclysm actually goes live. Thanks!

Druid multi-target heal base mana costs:

  • Wild Growth: 55% base mana, 10 second cooldown, heals 5 people, HOT.
  • Tranquility: 32% of base mana, 8 minute cooldown, heals 5 people, Channeled HOT.

Priest multi-target base mana costs:

  • Circle of Healing: 21% of base mana, 10 second cooldown, heals 5 people, instant cast, direct heal
  • Devine Hymn: 41% of base mana, 8 minute cooldown, heals 3 people, channeled spell, HOT.
  • Prayer of mending: 18% of base mana, 10 second cooldown, jumps to heal up to 5 people.
  • Holy nova: instant cast, 15% of base mana, heals people within 10 yards of caster.
  • Prayer of healing: 3 second cast, 36% of base mana, heals a 5-man group, direct heal.

Shaman multi-target base mana costs:

  • Healing Rain: 46% of base mana, 10 second cooldown, heals 5 people, HOT.
  • Chain heal: 17% of base mana, 2.5 second cast, heals 3 targets, direct heal

Paladin multi-target base mana costs:

  • Healing Hands: 40% of base mana, 1 min cooldown, HOT that heals all people within 10 yards,
  • Light of the dawn: 21% of base mana, 30 second cooldown, direct heal to all people within 30 yards.
  • Paladins also have Beacon of Light to get 50% of their healing done also done to a secondary target with Beacon on them. However, their other AOE-style heals seem to be on long cooldowns.

Druid level 80 mana costs:

  • Level 80 mana costs (no mana cost reduction talents): Wild Growth is 1922 mana, Tranquility is 1006 mana.
  • Single-target heals that could be used for raid healing: Regrowth is 1223 mana, Rejuv is 874 mana, Nourish is 219 mana.

Tier 2 in the balance tree (which druids can’t get if we pick up Heart of the Wild from feral), only our single-target spells (nourish, HT, regrowth, & rejuv) are reduced by up to 9%.

Priest level 80 mana costs:

  • Circle of healing is 811 mana, Devine Hymn is 1545 mana, Holy Nova is 579 mana, Prayer of Mending is 695 mana, Prayer of healing is 1390 mana.
  • Single-target heal costs: Renew is 811 mana, Heal is 231, Flash heal is 1081, Power word: Shield costs 733 mana.

From Tier 2 in the holy tree, priests get a mana reduction of 15% on their heal, greater heal, renew, divine hymn, and Tier 1 discipline gives them another 12% mana reduction on any of their instant cast spells (which would include renew, circle of healing, Holy nova, prayer of mending, etc).

Shaman Level 80 mana costs:

  • Chain heal: 747 mana before talents, Healing Rain is 2022 mana (1922 mana after talents),
  • Riptide is 412 mana, Lesser healing wave is 1186.

Tier 1 resto for shaman has a 9% mana cost reduction on all of their healing spells.

Analysis of what it all means: I don’t have a level 80 paladin to get mana costs for their heal spells. However, with paladins’ current roles being focused on tank healing, the strength of their AOE healing tools is less of a concern than for druids, who typically put HOTs on the tank and then raid heal in the current WotLK design.

With mana problems being something likely to occur in Cataclysm, the class balance of raid healing tools is going to matter, where the people less likely to run OOM while raid healing will be the ones most likely assigned to raid healing.

Looking at the mana cost & tools available, shaman and holy priests are going to make much better raid healers than druids, because the tools available to them allow for fairly mana efficient raid healing, by mixing lower mana cost spells with higher mana cost spells.

Unfortunately, all druids have to raid heal with are either very expensive AOE heals, or very expensive single-target heals. There isn’t anything besides Nourish (a single target heal that other classes are unlikely to raid heal with) that has a reasonable mana cost out of druids’ tool set. We get no additional benefit at all if we cast nourish on non-tanks, as the Lifebloom refresh is likely to only happen if we cast nourish on the tank.

Level 83 druid mana costs: While level 80 mana costs don’t look that out of hand, if you actually take the level 83 mana costs, you can see why the mana costs might start to get out of hand for druids:

  • My total mana pool at level 83 is: 34,912. My in-combat regen is 377.
  • Druid spell amounts: Wild growth is 5,248 mana. Tranquility is 2,747.
  • Single-target heals that could be used for raid healing filler (no moonglow): Regrowth is 3,339. Rejuv is 2,385 mana. Nourish is 600 mana.

In combat, at level 83: I can last for about 20 seconds worth of healing if I cast nothing but wild growth & regrowth (no buffs, with talents, no innervate). I last 25 to 30 seconds casting rejuv & wild growth (no buffs, with talents, no innervate). In 5 minute fights, we just won’t have the mana resources in raids to work as raid healers because Wild Growth will drain our mana pool too fast.

Wild growth with rejuv & regrowth weaved between them is not going to work for AOE healing for druids, because all 3 are really mana intensive heals. While my mana pool is also larger, the smaller base mana costs for other healers’ spells (besides shaman’s healing rain) makes druid healers at a mana cost disadvantage in Cataclysm.

Conclusions & suggestions for improving:

While I’m not usually one to freak out over the current state of Beta, I would like to highlight the fact that druid AOE/raid healing tools need a second look.

The best thing to do would be to make Wild Growth cost A LOT less mana, so that we can use it every time it’s off cooldown. If Wild Growth is going to stay prohibitively high, then druids need another multi-target heal in our toolset (like chain heal that shaman have, which costs less mana than druids’ regrowth, rejuv, & wild growth). Spamming mana-expensive single-target heals between refreshing a super expensive AOE heal is not going to work as a healing style. Thus, druids are not currently a good choice for raid healing in the current class design, due to not having a lower mana cost raid heal that we can weave between our more expensive raid healing tools. Instead, all of our raid healing (AOE and single-target HOT) tools are prohibitively expensive for us to work as raid healers in the current Beta design.

Instead, we have pretty strong tank healing tools, so we’d be assigned only to tank healing, where we will save Wild Growth for Omen of Clarity procs, because by level 85, the mana cost is going to be prohibitive to cast it without an OOC proc.  Even tree form’s cooldown encourages us to spam our mana-expensive flash heal (regrowth) without a mana cost reduction on it, with tree form not having an effect for Nourish.

If we could proc effloresence from Nourish, then Nourish could possibly be used as a raid healing tool – however, effloresence is highly unreliable, and when it does proc, people could always accidently move out of it without knowing. We can’t use lifebloom as a raid heal, since lifebloom can only be on one person at a time, so our mana efficient heals don’t work as raid healing tools right now.

Another fix for resto druids could be giving us more mana reduction talents in the resto tree somewhere accessible, so that we will be able to be a competitive raid healer. Moonglow could also be moved to Tier 1 Balance, so that it’s more accessible to restoration druids (with Nature’s Grace moved to Tier 2 balance instead). Reducing rejuvenation’s mana cost could also work for helping to keep resto druids raid-heal viable – However, it would encourage druids to use the same rejuv/WG-spam that we do now (though there is not much breaking this trend in Cataclysm, anyway, since Wild Growth costs too much for us to spam regrowth between refreshing WG).

Now, they want us to have to make choices about how to not run out of mana. However, I don’t feel like we have a choice – because I don’t think Nourish will work as a raid healing tool, so at this point I feel like we have to focus mostly on tank healing, without AOE healing for druids being something very viable compared to shaman or priest AOE healing (with druids probably still being ahead of paladins on AOE healing, due to paladins having such high cooldowns on their new AOE healing tools). There is plenty of time for Blizzard to work on mana costs, and GC may be mad at me for looking at class balance this early. However, I think that looking at JUST mana costs of AOE spells is a focused enough feedback report that it was worth doing. I’m also not sure how base mana will scale for shaman & priests from 80 to 83, since I don’t have a level 83 priest or shaman. I also don’t know what class balance will actually look like at 85, and I don’t know what plans Blizzard has in store for future talent builds.

25 Comments

  1. Posted August 1, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Hrm.

    • Lissanna
      Posted August 1, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      ummm… I spent a lot of words to say that wild growth costs too much mana. :)

  2. Posted August 1, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Thanks much for posting this. Looking at these spells, and the costs associated with them, I really struggle to get an idea of how they expect me to heal. I find it difficult to picture weaving the spells together, especially as I now do, or picturing alternatives. I really dislike the direction that devs seem to be steering us, using mana as the carrot. Really fantastic, as a player of all three classes, with healing experience on them all, to see these lined up like this!

  3. Posted August 1, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    I meant 4 classes. 4!

  4. Kaelik
    Posted August 1, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Maybe I’m reading the math wrong, but it looks like rejuvenation might also be prohibitively expensive to spam on the raid like resto druids generally do now. If that’s the case, not only would we be questionable AOE raid healers, but we really won’t be good raid healers at all.

    • Lissanna
      Posted August 1, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      That’s the problem – wild growth, regrowth, AND rejuv (our 3 primary raid healing tools for Cataclysm) are all super mana expensive.

      • Kaelik
        Posted August 1, 2010 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

        Which might make sense if Blizzard was trying to encourage less spam style raid healing. The problem seems to be that other classes (notably, priests) are NOT faced with the same mana restrictions. Their single target, raid healing spam spells (renew and shield) are cheaper than rejuv, and their AOE raid heals are MUCH cheaper.

        Now one thing that you didn’t mention is how much our respective spells heal for. The different mana cost would make more sense if rejuv was stronger than renew or PWS, and WG was much better than COH. Perhaps the idea is for druids to NOT be focused on casting something every single GCD (and getting our GCD as low as possible) like we do now.

        • Lissanna
          Posted August 1, 2010 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

          It is impossible for me to see what the balance of healing done will look like at level 85, so it would be highly inappropriate for me to estimate what amount healed balance would be at level 85 for the classes.

          If our spells cost too much for us to ever be assigned to raid healing, it doesn’t matter how much they heal for, as they wouldn’t be used.

  5. Ilya
    Posted August 1, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    http://thesaurus.com/browse/prohibitive

    JK : )

    Thanks for the cata update, I will most likiely raid resto regardless of its shortfalls.

    When you consider the utility and uniqueness of each class, you can’t help but realize that druids have been built (since pre-tbc) to lack a spec in which to excel. However, this is appropriate, as it is the essence of the class.

    • Lissanna
      Posted August 1, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      but when tank healing is basically balanced across all the specs (with having a set of 3 nearly identical tank heals), the only thing that separates healing is AOE/raid healing tools, which means that if they aren’t balanced across classes, then druids risk being pigeon-holed as tank healers.

  6. Ilya
    Posted August 1, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    My point was very simple:

    Druids are unique because of the versatility aspect, regardless of the spec you may choose. Because of this, no single druid spec is really meant to compete with other classes. Blizzard had never commited to perfecting any particular spec in the druid tree. Ex. Cenarion Set : )

    However, we are still very useful for several reasons. I believe that a well played druid is the best PvP class, regardless of spec. Our raid buffs insure that we will always have a spot. Throw in solid role tanking (warriors will always be prefereed for MT, it’s a sad fact and maybe partly a bias/misconception) and you have an “overall” balanced class that does not excel in any particular spec. Lemme know what you think!

  7. MrX
    Posted August 1, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    First off remmber that spell costs wont be exactly the same due to class mana diffrences/talents.

    Also I think you are missing the point blizz are tring to make with Mana in Cata.

    WG, rej, regrowth, lifebloom

    you will only use them when the amount of damage being put out in a fight makes it a must.
    Most of the time you will be using Nourish, least from what I understand from what blizzard are saying.

    Looking at mana cost/amount healed in

    http://www.mmo-champion.com/content/1117-Druid-Cataclysm

    Looks like we will be able to keep lb*3/nourish spam the tank easily without much fear or ooming.

    Regrowth will be our ohh need more heals fast buttons(guessing will become 1.5 sec cast)

    Healing Touch our Big spike inc/top up tank

    rej doesn’t seem to have too bad of a mana cost for the healing it does so probbly used to keep tanks alive/anyone taking peroidic dmg

    on WG, blizzard said they dont want us to spam it everytime its off CD they want us to be like, “ohh lots of raid dmg now, is using WG worth the mana?”

    Although tbh on WG they need to reduce the CD, we should be able to see it when we need it and risk the mana loss if we really need it.

    • Lissanna
      Posted August 1, 2010 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

      I included both % of base mana costs, and actual mana costs as much as I had access to on the Beta server.

      We have a great tank healing toolset. It’s really our raid healing toolset that is problematic, and it’s something people won’t even notice during normal gameplay until we start raiding level 85 dungeons, and at that point, we’ll have to wait until 4.1 or 4.2 to get our AOE healing toolset problem fixed. Unless raids are going to be taking significantly less damage (unlikely), we need something that doesn’t OOM us. Now, if the raid doesn’t need any AOE healing done to them, we’ll be fine, however I don’t expect the need for AOE healing to go away, since at least two of the other healing classes are getting more or better AOE healing tools.

      Making wild growth’s mana cost so high means that a raid group with more than one healer is going to want a priest or shaman over a druid, because holy priests & shaman are going to have a better AOE/raid healing toolset than us. With the combo of direct heals & HOTs, we’re going to excel at tank healing, and fall on our faces in a raid healing role in Cata at this point. I think there is a way of making us capable of both without that much effort, and knocking down Wild Growth’s level 85 mana cost will go a long way to keeping us from being pigeon-holed as tank healers.

      At this point, if we don’t have the mana to cast a wild growth, the choice is to let people in the raid die, because we don’t have any other multi-target heal that could replace a wild growth cast. Shaman were given a WG-like ability, where they can choose to cast chain heal instead. We don’t have a Chain heal equivalent to make that decision.

      If druids expect for our primary role in raids to come in the form of tank healing, I think we’ll be fine. However, a lot of druid healers like being able to throw HOTs on the tank and then focus on healing the rest of the raid – which I don’t think is a healing strategy that our current Cataclysm toolset allows for. Nourish only heals one person at a time, requires HOTs on the target to be worthwhile, and won’t be that great on non-tanks.

  8. EnderAsha
    Posted August 1, 2010 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    I am curious what your thoughts are on the Mastery Lissanna?

    Given your math right now it seems as it stands the aoe healing is clearly in need of work. But i think that’s important to know is what % of our healing done will heal over times actually make up. That is to say, we’re clearly being repurposed to use significantly more direct heals to be in line with other casters so what does that leave us to interact with “Deep Healing”

    Rejuvenation, Lifebloom, and Wild Growth are all common heal over times we can expect to be using. If rejuv and WG are more situational and cost prohibitive beyond selective use it seems to shy away from our bonus. Lifebloom we’ll use for tank healing for sure. Regrowth seems to be a wild card to me, if it is suposed to be like flash heal, then the up front should be more and the hot weaker so I don’t know if Deep Healing will do much. Similarly do we know if the Efforvescene counts as a hot?

    I’m just trying to figure out the impact of the mastery, and just how much we are going to realize the benefit. Shaman get a 20% increase based on the health of their target (direct heals) but i would think, as they do now, a large amount of their healing could come from LHW and Chain Heal. We seem to be in a great state of flux and i’m curious just how much we’ll actually be using our HoT’s.

    This all changes if the costs of spells gets modified but right now I don’t think any of us know what to think. The idea of a 7,000 mana wild growth at level 85 seems…insane even if we have 50 or 60K mana pools.

    • Lissanna
      Posted August 2, 2010 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      You have to keep in mind that mostly I complain about things because I know they can get fixed before they go live.

      However, rejuv, lifebloom, & Regrowth’s mana costs are balanced enough that they are absolutely in line with other healers’ tools. It’s only really Wild Growth that they got too carried away with.

      At this point, I think our mastery will work out fine – because the point of triage, mana-constrained healing is that there will be times where you let people’s health fall that low because you couldn’t get to them yet. In WotLK, the job is to keep them at 100% all the time. However, Cataclysm is going to feel MUCH more like healing on Anub in the ToC raid dungeon – there will be a benefit to not spending mana overhealing people to keep them at full.

      • Enderasha
        Posted August 2, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

        I am a little hesitant on the mana cost listed in your post for regrowth. The only reason I say this is that the spell seems to suffer from much the same problem as moonfire. A spell is a nuke (or direct heal) or a DOT (or HOT). It is impossible to have both at the same time and nit pay a premium.

        I am curious how blizzard plans to balance it out. Regrowth will need to make up it’s mind. Is it going to be a spell that we spam on someone at the risk of mana issues if someone is going down fast? Is it a spell we want to cast for the hot component? Both of those situations don’t care about the other half if the spell. A spell trying to do two things at once is going to get hit with a luxury tax…one that I think could affect how we view the spell.

        Moonkin seem like they will be faced with the sane conundrum with that spam moonfire on the run talent and wanting to use moonfire as a for in their rotation. If you’re spamming moonfire in the go you are forsaking the dot component as well. Thus is a poor example because on the run there are no alternatives I’m just using it as a similar jack of all trades master if none spell

  9. Cirocco
    Posted August 2, 2010 at 2:45 am | Permalink

    I guess what I’m wondering is: if direct heals are more mana-efficient than HOTs, why would we ever use HOTs? (Other than to get the 20% bonus to Nourish.)

    • Lissanna
      Posted August 2, 2010 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      You will always want lifebloom, regrowth, & rejuv HOTs ticking on a tank when you are tank healing – because they will do a considerable amount of healing, they interact with your direct heals (per a previous post), and Nourish + HOTs will allow you to make up for not having any damage reduction abilities that you can use on the tank. They’d tick away while you queue up long nourishes.

      Our tank healing rotation works (and I’ll likely do another writeup where I cover why tank healing is going to work fine).

      • Cirocco
        Posted August 2, 2010 at 10:47 am | Permalink

        I thought the Cata healing model was that tanks won’t be getting globalled and therefore don’t need to be kept at full health all the time. That being the case, it’s hard to see the utility of burning extra mana to keep multiple HOTs ticking on a tank when you could just stack 3x Lifebloom and then spam Nourish. In a pure efficiency calculation, you’d have to go with direct heals in that situation, wouldn’t you?

        • Lissanna
          Posted August 2, 2010 at 10:55 am | Permalink

          Regrowth is your flash heal, which you will have to use on the tank, along with Regrowth having so many other potential benefits. You really don’t want the tank to sit at low health, and given that most of our talents and mastery is balanced around HOTs, our HOTs at level 85 are still going to be powerful tools.

          The point is that you don’t want to only hit the regrowth & rejuv buttons every GCD. You will have plenty of mana to use them when needed, however. This post was NOT about the mana costs of tank healing. The mana cost balance of tank healing is absolutely fine for druids right now.

          It’s not a pure mana efficiency calculation, because of the resto mastery that allows your HOTs to tick for more when the tank is low on health, and the fact that HOTs now scale with haste & crit (making them really powerful healing tools for the tank). If they keep the Nourish glyph alive, then having MORE HOTs will make nourish heal for more, and will make us really strong tank healers.

          Just using LB & Nourish won’t be possible. Your tank will die. You won’t be able to swiftmend the tank, you won’t be able to gain benefit from most of your talents, and you won’t be able to keep up the tank with just nourish-spam.

          You have enough mana to keep a rejuv, regrowth, & LB HOT on the tank. You really don’t want the tank sitting at low health for long, really, and if they are at low health, you want your HOTs boosted by the mastery to keep them up. You don’t have enough mana to spam rejuv & regrowth around the entire 25-man raid, much the same way that disc priests won’t be able to spam PW:Shield in Cataclysm, either.

          We don’t have the damage reduction tools other people have. Instead, we have multiple HOTs, and we’ll need to use them on tanks – because that is what makes us unique from other healers, and the reason why we fill a niche that is different from other healers’ niche.

          Once again – tank healing is fine. You will use a mix of HOTs and direct heals, because that is what druids’ healing style supports.

  10. Cirocco
    Posted August 2, 2010 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Hmm, I didn’t think about Swiftmend. That’s a good point.

    Thanks so much for taking the trouble to post your impressions for those of us who aren’t in the beta.

  11. Posted August 2, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    The most depressing thing about this whole thing is that I rather like raid healing over tank healing. I realize that every class is getting the change hammer slammed on them, and that not all of the changes are wanted, but the changes for Restro Druids seems to be rather ridiculous. I’d love to get in on the beta and play around with stuff.

    • Lissanna
      Posted August 2, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      A lot of druids like raid healing, which is why I’m trying to focus the conversation on our particular area of weakness in hopes of getting it fixed before Cata.

  12. Erdluf
    Posted August 3, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Base mana/second casting at zero haste (assumes OoC, but not Moonglow):

    2.2% Nourish (3s)
    3.1% Lifebloom
    3.8% Tranquility
    6.7% Swiftmend
    7.2% Revive
    8.1% Shapeshift (no NSS)
    10.7% Remove Corruption
    11.9% Healing Touch (3s)
    15.7% Rejuventation
    16.5% Regrowth (2s)
    34.5% Wild Growth

    I’d expect that in the first tier of raiding, Resto druids will have mana to sustain about 9.5%/second.

    You wouldn’t be able to sustain HT-spam, but you’d come close: Nourish+HT*3 is sustainable.

    You wouldn’t be able to sustain Rejuv or Regrowth spam, but Nourish+Rejuv*2.5 is sustainable, as is Nourish+Regrowth*2

    WG+No*2 leaves you with more mana than you started with.

    As you point out, we may be substantially weaker at raid heals than other classes. If that is so, it needs to get fixed. The new philosophy is supposed to be that you can’t spam your strongest heals.

    On the other hand if the new raid healing model (for all classes) goes from something like WG+Rj*5 to Nourish*2+Rj*5, I’m not sure that is a bad thing. Blizz will just have to build their encounters around that model.

  13. Posted August 3, 2010 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    Ignore my previous comment, I misread the post – I thought he was compiling a list of bloggers in beta, not handing out keys.

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