Mists: State of Resto beta (build 15762)

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.

18 Comments

  1. Posted June 17, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this post. I haven’t had time to do much of anything with the beta, but I appreciate knowing how resto is faring. I’m definitely a little concerned about all of the management we have to worry about now. While I like harmony and lifebloom, even on live I feel like sometimes I spend more time keeping those two things up than actually healing. I’ve long thought that the duration of harmony should be just a bit longer and it sounds like it’s even more necessary now.

  2. Felade
    Posted June 17, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    I see where you are going, and I agree to a point (I like managing timers and procs as a healer, but there is such a thing as too much).

    The point of Harmony was to get Resto Druids to cast Healing Touch/Nourish/Regrowth more. With that in mind, I don’t see them ever allowing mushrooms to proc Harmony, or of them ever extending the duration.

    However, I do think Lifebloom management could be fixed without causing too many problems. I think it would be really great for Druids to get a HOT version of either Outbreak (that is, instantly apply all your HOTs to a target, on a cooldown) or Soul Swap (take your HOTs from one target and put them on the other). A HOT outbreak would make lifebloom management a little more forgiving (say, allowing you to instantly put up 3 lifebloom stacks with one GCD, on a minute cooldown). An ability that would allow you to swap 3 lifebloom stacks from one target to another (again, on a CD) would be a great help for the spec in PVP.

    Mushrooms – I wish Resto Druids had gotten monks’ Uplift (that is, basically swiftmend three HOTs at once basically). Give Resto *that* kind of AOE, and have it proc (3 of course) efflo circles. For one GCD, that’d be pretty powerful AOE burst. Maybe it could share a CD with the orignal swiftmend, or maybe you had to glyph your swiftmend for it and lose the single target version (and probably the ability to proc harmony, remember, harmony is there to force you to stand still and cast once in awhile).

    • Zy
      Posted June 17, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      I would love Uplift, really I would. Unfortunately monks are the shiny new toy who get a bunch of the dev’s best ideas and we’ve got to be careful not to step on their toes :/ I mean, look at Cocoon. Does that not scream druid? It does to me. I’m not complaining about Ironbark because I am so thankful to finally have a tank cooldown but damn. . .

      Wound, meet salt.

    • Lissanna
      Posted June 17, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

      Mmm. Harmony is to encourage mixing HOTs and direct heals. Since healing shrooms is a direct heal, it needs to proc Harmony. We just never had direct AOE heals before. There’s really no reason to be forcing people to use single-target spells in their AOE rotations. It worked sorta for Cataclysm, but with a real AOE heal, it needs to proc the mastery. To be honest, if they increased the duration to 15 seconds, it wouldn’t really be a problem because then we’d just use swiftmend to proc

  3. Zy
    Posted June 17, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    A-MEN!!! Right now Shrooms are just as bad as I was afraid they would be and I am also amazed Living Seed made it into MoP because it’s terrible. It’s been terrible for years. Make it proc when people take damage, not when they are attacked! I even tried to make Living Seed work during our early Heroic Spine attempts when the bloods were going a little wild and attacking folks they shouldn’t be (like me!). Zip, zilch and nada, they topped out at *maybe* two percent of my healing on a fight with massive damage, tons of direct healing (Healing Touch spam!) and lots of getting attacked.

    But Mushrooms are so bad I haven’t even bothered ranting about Living Seed on the forums. Getting Bloom to activate Harmony and removing placing Mushrooms from the GCD (like it was for awhile) would be a good start. Honestly I think the stacking mechanic for Lifebloom needs to go, no other healer has a ramp up time and the glyph does NOT fix the issue. It’s a weak band-aid at best. So much for glyphs not being mandatory because that one most certainly is NOT a choice.

    I like many of your ideas like tying Efflorescence to Mushrooms and working on the visuals. Right now the devs should be ashamed of Mushrooms. You don’t flip a switch on a bad DPS mechanic making it a healing mechanic and call it good. Cause it’s not.

    • Lissanna
      Posted June 17, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

      It would be a better idea to move to one cast total for placing shrooms than to make them off the GCD and require you to get carpel tunnel syndrome in your wrist trying to spam them super fast to get 3 casts in 1 GCD. The detonate has always been off the GCD but placing the shrooms should always be on the GCD.

      • Posted June 18, 2012 at 10:12 am | Permalink

        Yes carpel tunnel syndrome is reserved for D3.

  4. Michel
    Posted June 18, 2012 at 4:07 am | Permalink

    Doesnt blizzard see what resto druids have to keep track off in a fight? So much timers, buffs, its not fun anymore, I’m totally broken after a few hours of raiding because its so intensive to keep track of the timers and buffs and stuff you have to move out off and where you have to stand. And make sure you spam rejuv all the time coz you dont want to be last on the healling meters.
    Just make our Harmony a passive one, like the other healers. Like you said if you use healing shrooms you can start all over with reapplying hots. Hope a fix will come.

  5. Michelle
    Posted June 18, 2012 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    Why do we have to “spend mana” for keeping our mastery up? Every other healing class has this passive mastery buff on top. (But thats an old and futile topic)
    In some situations it is just not desireable to cast Swiftmend or a Regrowth/Nourish. Losing 20-24% healing with one non Harmony-LB-refresh before you have actually time to redo it proper hurts a lot your output.
    It feels more like being an accountant than a healer sometimes. Especially when you have heavy raid damage and track each Reju timer to not waste mana or redo them too early while maintaining the usual tank duties.

    • Lissanna
      Posted June 18, 2012 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      The idea of the mastery is fine. Encouraging us to mix HOTs and direct heals is fine, and one of the reasons I like the idea of healing shrooms (just not how they’re currently implemented). The duration of the mastery (and failing to proc off shrooms) is really the big problem at the moment. You wouldn’t feel that pressure if Harmony just happened naturally in a good healing style – you shouldn’t have to go out of your way to manage it.

  6. Kat
    Posted June 18, 2012 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    I agree with all that was mentioned. Resto has too many things to get up and running before a fight even starts and god forbid Harmony and Lifebloom drop off in a fight. I really dislike the Mushrooms because it is just another thing we have to place down before any healing is done. Too much preparation and monitoring during a fight and then we have to use our cooldowns and stay out of the fire. It just feels like we have to run up a hill to keep up with other healers that are just walking along.

    • Lissanna
      Posted June 18, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      I don’t mind some preparation and monitoring, it is just that there’s too much of it on a short time scale.

  7. Michel
    Posted June 18, 2012 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    No its not oke, casting every 10 or 20 sec to get our harmony up is not oke. Make it a passive one like the rest or make all the harmony’s a active one and then lets take a look at the forums, think all hell breaks loose.
    Why do we with all the things we have to watch getting a mastery that we have to activate every 10 sec. the shrooms wont help either to keep up harmoney. So instead of making this more complicated than it has to be, make it passive.

    • Lissanna
      Posted June 18, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      You should be casting swiftmend once every 15 to 20 seconds. If swiftmend activates the mastery, and the mastery lasts as long as swiftmend’s cooldown (along with the single-target direct heals and Shrooms activating it as well), then your normal healing style will keep the mastery up with no additional babysitting. Just casting rejuv/WG/LB with no other healing spells is really not a good strategy. Having both swiftmend & shrooms activate the mastery (on a 15 to 20 second duration), then you get the benefits of integrating some AOE direct heals into your AOE rotation, or single-target direct heals into your single-target rotation.

      It is the short duration of the mastery right now that makes it a really big pain.

  8. Posted June 18, 2012 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the post Lissanna! I have to agree that the state of resto druid healing seems to have more babysitting and less healing. It’s one of the reasons I’m having my druid take a break at the moment and am raiding on my priest to see if I’d be alright switching it up in Mists. I really hope they work on those mushrooms. They were clunky as a boomkin and they seem even more so as a healing druid.

  9. Michel
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Okey, I can live with a harmony of 20 sec : )

    When I look at the forums I see a lot of people think that the new bloom glyph apply’s a 3 stack on you first cast, I think they missed the part that it only happens at target switching after you put 3 stacks on someone. Confusion all around : )

  10. Michelle
    Posted June 20, 2012 at 4:13 am | Permalink

    I wonder if at some point going all out on crit beside your haste break points will offer a valid work around to the 10sec mastery trap.

  11. elize
    Posted June 23, 2012 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Lissana, i was thinking if mushroom was a toogle ability like this:

    Wild Mushroom:
    Toogle on: Apply a wild mushroom on the target (or target location) of you next non instant cast single target spell. You can have up to three wild mushrooms active at a time.

    this way, we could cast shrooms without wasting gcds. as a drawback, detonate could be put in the gcd. hugs