Disclaimer: Hello druids! Now that we are in another patch cycle and Blizzard is also looking to the future to decide what to do with the class, I’ve come out of my Summer Hibernation and I’m getting back on the feedback posting bandwagon. Reading my feedback posts may cause angst and feelings of frustration. However, I post these things only because highlighting these issues makes it more likely that Blizzard will fix the problems before they become catastrophic. So, please remember to bring your towel and buckle your seat belts, and leave your pitchforks at home please. Also, please post constructively.
While the game designers have to keep looking at the current-picture of 30 different talent specs, I have the luxury of only having to think about 2 druid specs (Resto & balance). This means that I remember basically every change (and the reasons stated for those changes) since way back before we had lifebloom or moonkin form.
Thus, sometimes, I like reflecting on previous things I said in previous patch/expansion cycles, since gushing wounds that receive band-aid fixes have a way of popping back up again later.
So, today, lets look more at resto druids’ AOE healing design, where it went wrong, and how the Wild Growth changes don’t actually fix anything at all. Basically, the problem is that they left druids with a Proactive AOE healing design (WG & Rejuv-spam), which they hate, and they refuse to give us any reactive multi-target direct heals to fill the huge gap missing from our toolset.
A little bit of history repeating (again and again and again).
Allison Robert’s recent WoW Insider post brought back memories of the last time we had to battle it out over druid AOE healing. The last time Wild Growth got nerfed, it lasted for a few months and then had to be re-buffed when druids got left behind (between 4.0.3 and 4.0.6). Back in Beta for Cataclysm and into December after Cataclysm’s release, I spent a LOT of time talking about the problem with druids’ healing design being all HOT-focused and how we lacked a direct AOE healing spell to have something that we could use reactively to deal with incoming AOE damage. The difference between Allison’s WoW-insider post from today and the series of posts I wrote about the problem that druids were going to have with AOE healing & Cataclysm really makes me believe that I was right all along and Blizzard should have just given us a direct healing spell in 4.0, since it would have saved us a lot of time and hassle over the last year.
- Back in August of 2010 (over a year ago), I identified the problem that druids were going to have with AOE healing in Cataclysm. The problem was that Blizzard didn’t like us spamming WG & Rejuv because it felt too mindless. Back then, I outlined two possible solutions: A) make Rejuv/WG spam healing our viable option for AOE healing, or B) Give us a direct AOE healing tool to mix into our rotation and provide us with an alternative healing strategy.
Blizzard chose the lazy Path A (let us spam rejuv/WG). Now (once again) they are forgetting that they made that decision in the first place, and forgetting that nerfing Rejuv/WG spam (again) several patches later doesn’t leave us with an alternative viable strategy, because they chose not to give us one. Since we already saw what Cataclysm looked like with a nerfed WG & Rejuv toolset (ie. it sucked), we can be pretty sure that nerfing WG again will do nothing to help anyone.
When they increase WG’s cooldown timer via the Wild Growth glyph (that we’re all stuck with because they didn’t even bother to provide us with alternative glyph options we could use instead), it just means that we’ll cast more rejuv’s per fight and our healing done by Rejuv will go up. That’s what we had to do the last time they tried increasing the cooldown on wild growth. There are no other buttons we can hit instead to fill that AOE healing role. We’re already spamming Swfitmend/Efflo as fast as we can, and we’ve been using Tranquility as much as possible (another spell where we got a broken “I win” button instead of a tool we actually needed). Our other options are… well… nothing.
Our toolset actually sucks, and I’ve been saying this for quite some time. We get a couple overpowered abilities that hide the fact that our limited toolset is like trying to throw rocks at a raging river. We ask Blizzard for bigger rocks (and we get them), but then Blizzard gets mad that our rocks are too big, and leaves us the option of drowning instead. What would be better is if we just had the right tools to do the job instead of overpowered tools that makes us artificially inflate meters (without actually having the tools we need to save people’s lives).
The band-aid buffs (along with really druid-friendly designed encounters) made us look great on paper, when in reality, we are reliant on a few overpowered abilities to make us look good and hides all the problems with the design of our spec.
My hope is that the nerf to Wild Growth will now allow the druid community to once again talk about our real problem (not having the tools we need) and maybe this time actually look at what we could do to fix it. Otherwise, I can pretty much guarantee you that they’ll just have re-buff WG spam in 4.3.1 and we’ll start this whole process all over again a few months after that.
Blizzard hates druid Proactive Healing, but won’t give us reactive heals
Blizzard has had a love-hate relationship with Wild Growth & Rejuv ever since they made WG & Rejuv our primary AOE healing tools. They hate this strategy that we always fall back on. However, they have not yet come up with any solution that provided us with an alternative. The only thing we’re actually really well is sprinkling around HOTs on everyone. It’s a proactive healing strategy, where people don’t actually have to be taking damage NOW for the healing to pay off, since they will still be ticking several seconds from now when people take damage.
On the other hand, we have to heal proactively to be viable at all. Waiting for people to take damage before we start healing them means that they’ll probably die before we’ve had a chance to spread our rejuvs on the 5 or 6 people needing help right now. It’s what drove me totally batty on Chimaeron in BWD because I always had to choose between dumping all my mana for proactive HOTs on my group or letting people die because I could only get direct heals out on one person at a time.
I’m okay with being the proactive Wild Growth Spammer when Blizzard supports that healing style. In Cataclysm, it’s a lot more fun than WotLK because we get to rotate in other abilities that we didn’t use as much before, and our single-target direct heals still get used some when we are AOE healing because of the mastery. However, we’re still basically doing a slightly more involved version of what we did in ICC because the design of resto druids’ AOE healing toolset was never fully addressed in the design of Cataclysm. We’re still Proactive Healers in a Reactive healing world.
Why I still believe in Healing Shrooms
At some point in the beta testing design, I realized that Blizzard wasn’t going to give us a new spell, and that we still needed a new spell. My alternative (back when wild mushrooms wasn’t a very good DPS ability for moonkin) was to re-purpose Shrooms (through talents or glyphs) to give us an AOE direct healing spell that wasn’t a “smart” spell. Having to set up three shrooms on the ground and then detonate them at the right time is very difficult to master, and would be particularly more difficult as a healing spell. So, around a year ago, I figured this would be the perfect alternative to the EZ-mode rejuv/WG spam that Blizzard hates so much. I still stand behind that idea today.
Resto druids need a new direct AOE healing tool to be viable in the next raid dungeon once Wild Growth gets the nerf bat. Either let us WG/Rejuv spam, OR design for us an alternative reactive healing tool that we can mix in with our proactive HOTs to take that burden off of our broken “I win” crutches. We’d also settle for a damage reduction ability in trade-off for losing some of our raw output #’s.
Either we can keep up this yearly cycle of buff/nerfs to Wild Growth and Rejuv, or we can ask for real solutions for our real problems. Boy, I can’t wait for Blizzcon….