So, in the midst of trying to finish up my dissertation, I did manage to hit level 90 and heal a few instances last weekend. I was planning to get more beta time this weekend, but the game has decided not to let me log in today. The main topic I’ll be covering in the state of beta update is about not having enough GCDs to manage all the things while still being able to focus on keeping people alive, along with the problems with the current Healing Shrooms implementation that add to this problem.
Manage all the GCDs!
So, resto druids have lots of things to keep track of:
- 3 stacks of lifebloom (3x LB with a 10 sec duration). Need to time direct single-target heals for refreshing or use LB to refresh LB directly. Making the wrong decision here means it takes 3 GCDs to get your LB stacked back up.
- Harmony Mastery (a 10 second buff) – Right now, our mastery requires more active maintenance and attention than any of the other healers’ mastery abilities. It only procs off one of your three single-target direct heals or swiftmend (and the cooldown on swiftmend is longer than the buff duration of Harmony).
- Rejuv (12 second duration) - You want to keep this up on tanks and sometimes other raid members (3 people to get the cast time reduction on Nourish for tank healing)
- Wild growth (8 to 10 second cooldown) – You want to cast this whenever it comes off cooldown
- Swiftmend (15 second cooldown) – You want to cast this whenever it comes off cooldown.
- Omen of Clarity procs need to be used on a Healing Touch or Regrowth, even in an AOE healing situation, otherwise the proc gets lost.
- the new Wild Mushrooms (10 second cooldown). It takes 3 GCDs to set down all the shrooms plus a detonate button and this requires a lot of attention & management. While I never anticipated this being used more than once every 30 seconds, the fact of the matter is that in heavy AOE situations requiring burst healing, this actually could require the druid to spend 3 GCDs every 10 seconds on setting up shrooms, leaving only 7 GCDs to do everything else (and if your lifebloom falls off while you are setting up shrooms, there goes a huge chunk of that time).
- Nature’s Cure now on an 8 second cooldown making cleansing more about CD management, too, since sometimes the debuffs happen faster than you can cleanse them.
This above list doesn’t include tranquility (where you have to restart all the above processes by the time you finish channeling), barkskin/ironbark, and all the new talented spells & abilities (where every time you try to do some Utility thing, all the above buffs/procs/cooldowns fall behind and you have to start re-stacking things again). You still have to maintain lifebloom even when no one is taking damage, which is a drain on mana resources, and you need to then cast a direct heal to get Harmony back up and get all your other spells set up. So, even when nothing is going on, you are still spending mana to manage things so that you don’t fall behind when people start taking damage again.
This management problem was pretty bad before we got wild mushrooms, and has only gotten worse since then, since WM hasn’t been integrated at all into our toolset – it just got tacked on with zero interaction with our existing spells.
Maintaining Harmony and Lifebloom are probably the biggest headaches in a resto druid situation. You don’t benefit at all from your mastery if you don’t have harmony up, and Lifebloom in a PvE situation should almost never fall off your tank. The 10 second timers on both of these things means that you either always have to use a direct healing spell to refresh your lifebloom (which can take away a lot of time from all the other things you need to do), or you use swiftmend to refresh harmony and then directly refresh your LB that time. Either way, maintaining LB and harmony have nothing to do with actually healing your raid/party. They are just awkward management jobs. Even then, we make very few decisions about keeping people alive and way more time tracking and managing buffs/debuffs/cooldowns/procs. For as much as I like healing shrooms, they add more management on top of an already management-heavy job.
Possible solutions to free up Resto GCDs to actually spend more time healing & less time managing our tools:
- Healing Shrooms absolutely have to activate the Harmony mastery. They need to be the alternative to having to cast a single-target heal just to activate the Harmony mastery. Shrooms do direct healing, and harmony needs to proc off ALL direct heals, not just single-target direct heals.
- Harmony could last longer. Originally, the 10 second duration was likely so that we couldn’t just swiftmend every 15 seconds and always have it up. However, managing harmony isn’t really interesting, and in MOP it is actually distracting from being able to do our job. Having a “rotation” for a healer class to manage all the things isn’t really appropriate. You should just always expect for a good healing playstyle to automatically end up with Harmony being up most of the time. So, extending Harmony to a 15 or 20 second buff duration would mean we wouldn’t have to stress over managing it all the time because just using swiftmend for Efflo procs would pretty much guarantee we wouldn’t need to worry about it. The truth is that a short duration Harmony is just creating quality of life problems in MOP, and even a small duration extension would make a huge difference.
- Lifebloom’s duration should probably be longer. This may be the more controversial of my recommendations. However, having to refresh both LB and Harmony every 10 seconds is too much management and distracts too much from actually healing targets that need the healing. Extending Lifebloom’s duration would also provide a really helpful quality of life change for allowing us to do more than just manage lifebloom all day and would free up GCDs to be able to fit healing shrooms into our healing playstyle.
Fixing some of the Healing Shroom problems would also help with resto druid management issues:
- Healing shrooms need to be better integrated into the resto toolset & interact with other abilities & the Harmony mastery. Repeating myself again here: healing shrooms need to activate the Harmony mastery. However, there could also be other ways they interact with our spells (ie. refreshing lifebloom. Maybe efflorescence could be tied to Healing Shrooms instead of swiftmend, to let swiftmend be a single-target tank saver again instead of just another AOE healing tool). Just turning a damage spell into a healing spell, without integrating it into the resto toolset, leaves resto druids with a toolset that feels really disconnected and awkward.
- Living Seed should also proc from healing shrooms. Living seed was something I never expected would actually make it to MOP because it was one of the more terrible talents in our talent tree, and nothing has been done to improve living seed. Having living seed & shrooms interact would be another good way to reinforce the fact that healing shrooms are resto druids’ new AOE direct heal. At Blizzcon, you guys said you were hesitant about direct heals for resto druids because the single-target direct heals were so awkward to try and use in our AOE healing play style. However, if you actually make healing shrooms integrated into the play style for resto druids (rather than having them be an after tought), the resto druid playerbase can grow to appreciate them.
- The graphic for healing shrooms (at least the targeting circle) needs to give you a visual idea of whether or not your party/raid are actually standing in the healing circle. Your party members tend to run away from the shrooms because they just don’t even see that you are putting them down. For the damage version, your party members never really needed to worry about this because people tend to group up when you are doing AOE damage. However, when people are taking damage, sometimes they move unpredictably and don’t notice that they need to stand still 2 more seconds for you to finish putting down your shrooms & heal them, or that moving 2 yards to the left just put them out of the healing shrooms range so they should move closer. There’s a reason why the graphic for healing rain isn’t a rain fountain in the middle of the radius with no other graphical indicator – it’s a giant circular puddle that people know they need to stand in to get healing.
- From the healer’s end, it’s also impossible to know if your shrooms are going down in the right place. Last time I played with these, the targeting circle was only 2 yards when the effect is 12 yards. It’s pretty much impossible to guess whether or not your targets are within 12 yards of where you drop your shrooms, and if you guess wrong, then you wasted 4 button presses for nothing. It doesn’t take art development time to make the targeting reticule for healing shrooms bigger when you are setting them down, so this at the very least would be a trivially easy quality of life change to help make shroom management less stressful.
In conclusion, resto druids have a relatively good set of tools for MOP. However, all of our spells are involved in managing buffs/debuffs/cooldowns, and that distracts from being able to focus on our actual job of using the right tool at the right time to keep people alive. We need some quality of life changes to reduce the amount of time spent managing harmony & lifebloom, as well as having healing shrooms better integrated into our toolset. I don’t think these changes would make healing as a druid easy, as it didn’t reduce the number of things you had to manage – it just gives us an appropriate amount of time for managing all of them.