Monthly Archives: January 2013

Patch 5.2 resto druid buff update

Restoration druids are getting a pair of buffs in 5.2 that should help your overall healing. Lets take a look at what hit the PTR today.

10% overall healing buff

First, there is a “new” passive called “naturalist”. This is a straight 10% buff to all your healing spells. This helps off-set the fact that druids are trailing behind other specs on logs for raids, as well as struggling to keep up on PvP output with HOTs.

The name “naturalist” is from one of our old junky talents. However, this new version is quite welcome indeed.

Change to healing shrooms

Wild Mushroom will now gain 75% of the overhealing performed by the Druid’s Rejuvenation effects, up to a maximum of 100% of the Druid’s health in bonus healing, and growing larger as they do so. When Wild Mushroom: Bloom is cast, this bonus healing will be divided evenly amongst targets in the area of effect.

The change has two main things that I want to highlight:

  • Rejuv’s over-healing is now getting absorbed by the shrooms.
  • Their overall healing should go up, and they’ll likely provide decent burst healing in some situations.

The post on the healing shroom changes from the R4HT blog is particularly well written and I’d recommend reading it, so I won’t dwell too much on it here. Overall, the shroom changes don’t fix several quality of life problems (number of GCDs and overall setup time, lack of mobility, overall being awkward to manage). That said, they should overall heal for more in 5.2 than they do now, which increases the probability that they’ll be useful. I’m still not totally sold on the new version, but it is at least a step towards making positive changes. I’m sure this won’t be the last round of shroom changes. :)

Posted in 5.2, Patches, Restoration Healing Trees, Written By Lissanna

Why I hate the level 90 Mage talents

I have been raiding on my mage for all of Mists of Pandaria thus far. I really enjoyed the mage class leveling up from 89 to 90. However, as succinctly discussed on a youtube video by MikePreachWoW, the level 90 mage talents are the exact opposite of fun. The level 90 talents are largely a management problem that reduces the fun of the mage class,  adds needless complexity, and goes against everything in the game’s encounter design. Lhivera’s Library has tried to fight against some of these types of critiques in posts, but this doesn’t change the fact that every raid day, I dread having to manage my mage’s level 90 talents when I’m learning new boss encounters.

Lets look at why all 3 of these talents (at least for PvE) work against me in raids and spoil my fun:

Invocation

This is currently the talent that I use in raids. The goal of this talent is to use Evocate (a 4 to 6 second channel). If you are able to successfully complete this Evocate channel, then you get a massive damage buff that is the difference between sucking and being the worst mage ever, or actually being competitive. Mages who are able to maintain maximum up-time (note, by this I don’t mean casting evocation before the buff ends, but in starting your evocation cast as soon as the buff drops since evocation doesn’t do damage) on this 25%  Invocation damage buff are able to be incredibly powerful. Here is why Invocation is the one thing I hate in raids but do anyway:

  • Invocation causes me to die more often than I otherwise would die in raids. It encourages risky behavior. If I have 2 seconds left in my invocation channel and I’m standing in something likely to kill me in the next 3 seconds, sometimes I will choose to not interrupt my evocation cast and hope for the best. On bosses when I know I will have a period of time when I can stand still, I can try to time my evocation – but this often means evocating early before the buff has fallen off and costs me DPS.
  • Forcing you to complete a long evocation cast works against encounter mechanics: When bosses have random spells that make you have to move randomly, then more often than not, you will get randomly selected to move half way through your evocation. Your choice then is to take a huge damage loss or potentially blow up your raid. Any mechanic that encourages you to “stand in bad” just to have equivalent DPS of other players is a crappy mechanic. Interrupting your evocate means you end up having more downtime when you are not doing any damage to the boss, and this can be problematic if you are in a burst phase or heroism was used and you are losing out on precious damage time.
  • Managing Invocation is a giant pain in the neck and works against encounter mechanics and causes needless stress. While Llhivera argues that we’re not balanced around having maximum up-time on things like invocation’s damage buff, the fact is that if the best performing mages in the world can have close to the maximum up-time on invocation’s damage buff, then the class has to be balanced around maximum up-time. As these buffs from our level 90 talents are multiplicative, they are going to be stronger and stronger and stronger as the expansion goes on. Llhivera argues that the level 90 talents are burst cooldowns, but they aren’t used as burst cooldowns – they are used as constantly maintained buffs where the goal of any reasonable person is to keep the buff up as much as possible, and it goes against human nature to do otherwise. When my buff falls off, I do everything in my power (including standing in bad stuff) to keep the buff up longer. Claiming not to balance this buff around maximum up-time is turning out to absolutely not be true, as seen by the fact that mages are actually pulling this off and causing the class to get massive damage nerfs every patch thus far this expansion. The up-time of a burst cooldown should be determined by having a cooldown on the burst (eg. icy veins) rather than having that burst come from overcoming mechanics that set you up to fail.
  • A passive damage buff is boring and was the type of talent they were trying to get rid of in Mists talent trees. A passive damage buff that is obnoxious to maintain is the opposite of fun. While arcane mages always used evocation in their rotations, it doesn’t work well in frost and fire rotations because they were never designed to take 5 second breaks when trying to ramp up all the different procs and such that fire/frost relies upon. The psychological effect of the talent is more problematic than the math theorycrafting side of the talent.

Rune of Power

Rune of power has similar problems to Invocation, only these problems are so much worse because this talent requires you to not ever move in raid boss encounters, which is an impossible task. Rune of power is actually my least favorite thing I’ve ever dealt with in the entire game.

  • Rune of power requires you to stand still for 35 seconds to fully benefit from this talent. There is not a single encounter in Mists of Pandaria raiding where using Rune of Power is a fun decision because every encounter is designed based on forcing the players to run around and move all the time. Being able to cast rune while moving is unhelpful because we’ll still have to move again in 10 seconds after we put down the rune. I had to abandon rune of power (a spell that does no damage when you cast it) when I was having to re-cast rune of power every 10 or 20 seconds because of constantly having to move in raid encounters.
  • Rune of power encourages you to stand in bad stuff and die.  First, Rune of power covers up bad things on the floor so you can’t see them, and you can’t see your rune of power when all the other spell effects in a 25-man raid are covering it. Since my other option is Invocation (another talent that requires me to stand still often during the fight), this is the option between death by a thousand needle pricks versus death by being stabbed with forks. There’s no fight where either Evocation or Rune of Power make sense to use – they don’t interact well with encounter mechanics. Instead, raid encounters require you to spend more time managing either rune of power or evocation than you spend on anything else you do in the encounters. Anything that a DPS class is casting and managing that would be a DPS loss if it wasn’t for the huge DPS buff attached to using the ability, is a huge annoying burden that every class has had issues with (eg. improved soulfire for warlocks, every time they try to put Faerie Fire in the moonkin DPS rotation).

Incanter’s Ward

Gives you a passive buff when you don’t cast anything (boring) and then if you cast Incanter’s Ward right before you are about to take a huge amount of damage, that damage can be absorbed to give you an even bigger damage buff. That damage buff is contingent on you taking damage, and if you screw up, you lose both the effect of the burst damage and the passive bonus for the entire 25 second cooldown.

  • While this talent has PvP uses, this turns out to be absolute crap in most raid encounters. The passive damage buff alone isn’t as strong as spending all your mental energy to maintain Invocation or Rune of Power. So, you end up being better off standing in bad stuff and relying on your healers to keep you alive while you DPS than taking the passive bonus from this. Even if you benefit regularly from the “use” effect, you still get better (and more reliable) DPS returns from Invocation, even if casting evocation regularly ends up being a giant burden, as well.
  • The DPS cooldown requires you to take damage and increases your number of PvE deaths. The cooldown effect requires needless management in PvE. The cooldown use effect requires you to be psychic about when you are going to take 24,727 damage in the next 8 seconds (the current size of my absorb bubble). The most reliable way to make sure I get my full 30% damage is to actually stand in bad stuff until the bubble is absorbed. This killed me often enough in PvE that I had to stop taking the talent.

Conclusions

So, of the 3 talents, I’m currently using Invocation all the time right now. Why? Well, I have some control over it and the two other talents caused me the most deaths in raids compared to invocation. I’m not going to propose fixes for these talents because I honestly don’t believe there are fixes. The point of these talents are to encourage you to play poorly by standing still too often or taking needless damage to increase your DPS - and it turns out that this actually hurts the ability for me to enjoy the mage class. If I was level 89, and didn’t have any of the level 90 talents, I would love playing the mage class far more than I do as being at level 90 and having to manage my needlessly overcomplicated level 90 talents. These talents are marketed as being “fun” and “optional choices,” they fail at being either. While they were marketed as being things that you should choose for encounter-specific things, none of them work with any of the encounters, so this ends up being a false choice and impossible to figure out – so most mages pick the one that provides the most damage most of the time and just stick with it across encounters.
EDIT: after I wrote my post, a new version of invocation showed up on the PTR patch notes. While I like the idea of the 5.2 invocation version a lot better (it’s a significant quality of life improvement if it reduces the amount of time you have to stand still), this doesn’t solve the problem of that I feel the whole talent tier is not living up to Blizzard’s overall design standards for talents.

Posted in Mage, Written By Lissanna

Patching in the New Year

Happy New Year everyone! The 2o12 year was very exciting, with the release of the Mists of Pandaria expansion! The start of the new year will soon bring us a new PTR patch with new content and fixes.

Lets take a look at what is currently on the table for druids in 5.2:

  • Cyclone was nerfed, especially for feral cat PVP. Only feral has the increased cooldown time, but I believe that the new diminishing returns affects everyone. In addition, typhoon given an increased cooldown for all specs. Faerie Swarm’s snare effect was limited to one target at a time. However, mass entanglement had the cooldown lowered significantly.
  • A change to displacer beast, which was previously the least useful talent on that movement tier. the new talent is a teleport with a movement speed buff after teleporting. They removed the stealth mechanic from the talent, which wasn’t designed to actually work right in the first place. Overall, it’s a minor buff to the talent, but still won’t be my favorite for PvE.
  • Buffed Cenarion Ward on the healing tier. There has been some math floating around that suggests the healing could be powerful for resto druids, but only if it doesn’t result in primarily over-healing. The mana cost (and the fact that it’s another HOT rather than a direct heal) means that we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out long-term compared to the other available burst heals on that tier for each of the specs.
  • Several scaling buffs to bear guardian druids (tooth and claw, frenzied regen, and the guardian mastery all buffed).
  • Buffs to the Force of Nature and Soul of the Forrest talents to help potentially make them more popular. We will need to see how these play out in PTR testing relative to the much more popular Incarnation talent on that tier.
  • Nature’s Vigil had both the cooldown and effect decreased. This will make the burst effect smaller (a 10% damage bonus instead of 20% for the duration), and since it can now be cast twice as often, that will mean that it is no longer in synch with the Incarnation burst talent, which was being macro’d together by moonkin.
  • Rejuvenation was buffed for restoration druids by having a lower mana cost. This will mean that you can use more rejuvenations before you run OOM.

Different day, same problem:

Healing Mushrooms still has not been addressed in the current set of 5.2 patch notes. We’ve been discussing shrooms since Beta and it would be really nice if the spell was actually worth putting on resto druids’ bars. Right now, however, healing shrooms are really a trap and need to be fixed so that they are a tool that makes sense in our toolset. It has been on the radar of the developers, but we still haven’t heard any real news. We really need to see some sort of fix for healing shrooms in 5.2. We’ve now had plenty of time for shrooms to show their design flaws on the live servers.

Posted in 5.2, Druid - General, Mists of Pandaria, Patches, Restoration Healing Trees, Written By Lissanna

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