With some pretty major changes to druids in the latest round of patch notes, I thought it might be helpful to take a look at some of the bigger changes, and analyze why I think things are in an okay place in terms of the beta development.
Enhanced or Changed Abilities
- Lifebloom is now limited to a single stack, instead of having 3 total stacks. The base healing was increased to compensate. This frees up more time in the fight, and means that if Lifebloom actually blooms, it won’t be so bad.
- Wild Mushroom no longer has a bloom effect. Instead, it just provides a short Efflorescence ground-targeted HOT and then goes away after the 30 second duration ends. This will now have a 30 sec cooldown (e.g., you want to plant it when people are unlikely to move for 30 sec), though it doesn’t currently have this cooldown on beta.
- Wild Growth also still has a cast time on the current alpha build, but resto druids still maintain a fair amount of movement ability while healing overall.
Active Mana Regen – or not.
An earlier set of patch notes introduced the concept of active mana regen, where you would hit innervate and then stand around doing nothing (or just casting wrath) until the innervate finished. This “sit around and wait for mana” plan turned out to not be such a great model across all the healing classes. So, they’ve now removed innervate again.
We may not actually need active mana regen if they just make it such that normal spell usage will leave you in a good place in terms of your regen values. Standing around doing nothing for 6 seconds, or having to organize regen rotations for our raid, was also not entirely appealing.
Other Removed Abilities
- Barkskin was removed, but now you have access to two charges of Survival Instincts, which is actually more potent. Survival Instincts is still shifting me into bear form when I use it in alpha, though this may not be intended. We also still have Ironbark.
- Some hybrid bear/cat abilities were removed from resto druids, including: Faerie Fire, lacerate, maim, (mangle is now bear only – with shred no longer having a positional requirement for cat), maul, might of ursoc, rake, etc.
- Removed crowd control: Hibernate, nature’s grasp,
- This is in addition to the already planned removals of nourish and symbiosis
What are the remaining hybrid abilities?
- In bear, you have: taunt, mangle, frenzied regen, stampeding roar, primal fury passive.
- In cat, you have: Prowl, Shred (now the primary cat damage ability, though you can’t apply a bleed to increase its damage), ferocious bite (your only finisher now), primal fury passive, and dash.
- Your primary caster damage is: wrath, moonfire, and hurricane.
- The level 90 talents can still provide hybrid utility.
- Travel form has merged the ground travel, water travel, and flight form all into one single button that is supposed to morph when you change environments (this is currently buggy, and likely to undergo change depending on whether or not the bugs can get worked out).
What is the primary healing toolset?
- Single target direct: Healing Touch (long cast time), Regrowth (high mana cost), Swiftmend (instant-cast, but has a cooldown and requires a HOT on the target), nature’s swiftness.
- Single target HOTS: Lifebloom (1 stack, still limited to 1 target), Rejuvenation (mana cost similar to healing touch)
- AOE HOTs: Wild Growth (1.5 sec cast time, 8 sec cooldown, short duration), Wild Mushroom (instant-cast, 30 sec cooldown and 30 sec duration, ground-targeted), Tranquility (channeled for 7 sec, 3 min cooldown), Genesis (high mana cost, emergency heal, consumes all your rejuvs and applies that HOT healing faster).
- Passive effects: Living seed, omen of clarity
- Other: level 15 talents, level 60 talents, level 90 talents, and level 100 talents all provide new healing spells or augments.
What is the primary utility?
- Crowd control: roots, cyclone, choice of level 45 talents, and choice of level 75 talents.
- Movement: Dash, travel form, level 15 talents, stampeding roar
- Survivability: Ironbark (yourself or others) and survival instincts (yourself only)
- Other spells: rebirth, revive, nature’s cure, Mark of the Wild, Teleport: Moonglade, and Track Humanoids can be toggled on and off in the tracking map selection.
There may also still be other abilities I haven’t covered besides those above. Overall, considering that the toolsets of all classes are shrinking in the next expansion, with few exceptions, the remaining spells should be ones you use relatively frequently. Additionally, they preserved enough of the bear and cat utility that you have buttons you can use to do cat or bear things if you really strongly have a desire to play hybrid at some point. Resto druids still seem to have a great healing toolset (though I’m not a big fan of genesis), and for early alpha – resto druids really feel like they are starting at a good design position.