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Cataclysm feedback: AOE healing class balance

While it is still a little early to talk about overall class balance, I would like to take some time to talk about mana costs of AOE (multi-target) healing spells for the various classes.

Disclaimer: When reading this post, DO NOT use it as an excuse to cry about the sky falling, as the sky is definitely not falling. Please keep comments & feedback based on this post constructive, since problems examined in this post CAN (and likely will) be addressed before Cataclysm goes live. Please do not go EMO on me, as the point of this thread is to get things examined before Cataclysm actually goes live. Thanks!

Druid multi-target heal base mana costs:

  • Wild Growth: 55% base mana, 10 second cooldown, heals 5 people, HOT.
  • Tranquility: 32% of base mana, 8 minute cooldown, heals 5 people, Channeled HOT.

Priest multi-target base mana costs:

  • Circle of Healing: 21% of base mana, 10 second cooldown, heals 5 people, instant cast, direct heal
  • Devine Hymn: 41% of base mana, 8 minute cooldown, heals 3 people, channeled spell, HOT.
  • Prayer of mending: 18% of base mana, 10 second cooldown, jumps to heal up to 5 people.
  • Holy nova: instant cast, 15% of base mana, heals people within 10 yards of caster.
  • Prayer of healing: 3 second cast, 36% of base mana, heals a 5-man group, direct heal.

Shaman multi-target base mana costs:

  • Healing Rain: 46% of base mana, 10 second cooldown, heals 5 people, HOT.
  • Chain heal: 17% of base mana, 2.5 second cast, heals 3 targets, direct heal

Paladin multi-target base mana costs:

  • Healing Hands: 40% of base mana, 1 min cooldown, HOT that heals all people within 10 yards,
  • Light of the dawn: 21% of base mana, 30 second cooldown, direct heal to all people within 30 yards.
  • Paladins also have Beacon of Light to get 50% of their healing done also done to a secondary target with Beacon on them. However, their other AOE-style heals seem to be on long cooldowns.

Druid level 80 mana costs:

  • Level 80 mana costs (no mana cost reduction talents): Wild Growth is 1922 mana, Tranquility is 1006 mana.
  • Single-target heals that could be used for raid healing: Regrowth is 1223 mana, Rejuv is 874 mana, Nourish is 219 mana.

Tier 2 in the balance tree (which druids can’t get if we pick up Heart of the Wild from feral), only our single-target spells (nourish, HT, regrowth, & rejuv) are reduced by up to 9%.

Priest level 80 mana costs:

  • Circle of healing is 811 mana, Devine Hymn is 1545 mana, Holy Nova is 579 mana, Prayer of Mending is 695 mana, Prayer of healing is 1390 mana.
  • Single-target heal costs: Renew is 811 mana, Heal is 231, Flash heal is 1081, Power word: Shield costs 733 mana.

From Tier 2 in the holy tree, priests get a mana reduction of 15% on their heal, greater heal, renew, divine hymn, and Tier 1 discipline gives them another 12% mana reduction on any of their instant cast spells (which would include renew, circle of healing, Holy nova, prayer of mending, etc).

Shaman Level 80 mana costs:

  • Chain heal: 747 mana before talents, Healing Rain is 2022 mana (1922 mana after talents),
  • Riptide is 412 mana, Lesser healing wave is 1186.

Tier 1 resto for shaman has a 9% mana cost reduction on all of their healing spells.

Analysis of what it all means: I don’t have a level 80 paladin to get mana costs for their heal spells. However, with paladins’ current roles being focused on tank healing, the strength of their AOE healing tools is less of a concern than for druids, who typically put HOTs on the tank and then raid heal in the current WotLK design.

With mana problems being something likely to occur in Cataclysm, the class balance of raid healing tools is going to matter, where the people less likely to run OOM while raid healing will be the ones most likely assigned to raid healing.

Looking at the mana cost & tools available, shaman and holy priests are going to make much better raid healers than druids, because the tools available to them allow for fairly mana efficient raid healing, by mixing lower mana cost spells with higher mana cost spells.

Unfortunately, all druids have to raid heal with are either very expensive AOE heals, or very expensive single-target heals. There isn’t anything besides Nourish (a single target heal that other classes are unlikely to raid heal with) that has a reasonable mana cost out of druids’ tool set. We get no additional benefit at all if we cast nourish on non-tanks, as the Lifebloom refresh is likely to only happen if we cast nourish on the tank.

Level 83 druid mana costs: While level 80 mana costs don’t look that out of hand, if you actually take the level 83 mana costs, you can see why the mana costs might start to get out of hand for druids:

  • My total mana pool at level 83 is: 34,912. My in-combat regen is 377.
  • Druid spell amounts: Wild growth is 5,248 mana. Tranquility is 2,747.
  • Single-target heals that could be used for raid healing filler (no moonglow): Regrowth is 3,339. Rejuv is 2,385 mana. Nourish is 600 mana.

In combat, at level 83: I can last for about 20 seconds worth of healing if I cast nothing but wild growth & regrowth (no buffs, with talents, no innervate). I last 25 to 30 seconds casting rejuv & wild growth (no buffs, with talents, no innervate). In 5 minute fights, we just won’t have the mana resources in raids to work as raid healers because Wild Growth will drain our mana pool too fast.

Wild growth with rejuv & regrowth weaved between them is not going to work for AOE healing for druids, because all 3 are really mana intensive heals. While my mana pool is also larger, the smaller base mana costs for other healers’ spells (besides shaman’s healing rain) makes druid healers at a mana cost disadvantage in Cataclysm.

Conclusions & suggestions for improving:

While I’m not usually one to freak out over the current state of Beta, I would like to highlight the fact that druid AOE/raid healing tools need a second look.

The best thing to do would be to make Wild Growth cost A LOT less mana, so that we can use it every time it’s off cooldown. If Wild Growth is going to stay prohibitively high, then druids need another multi-target heal in our toolset (like chain heal that shaman have, which costs less mana than druids’ regrowth, rejuv, & wild growth). Spamming mana-expensive single-target heals between refreshing a super expensive AOE heal is not going to work as a healing style. Thus, druids are not currently a good choice for raid healing in the current class design, due to not having a lower mana cost raid heal that we can weave between our more expensive raid healing tools. Instead, all of our raid healing (AOE and single-target HOT) tools are prohibitively expensive for us to work as raid healers in the current Beta design.

Instead, we have pretty strong tank healing tools, so we’d be assigned only to tank healing, where we will save Wild Growth for Omen of Clarity procs, because by level 85, the mana cost is going to be prohibitive to cast it without an OOC proc.  Even tree form’s cooldown encourages us to spam our mana-expensive flash heal (regrowth) without a mana cost reduction on it, with tree form not having an effect for Nourish.

If we could proc effloresence from Nourish, then Nourish could possibly be used as a raid healing tool – however, effloresence is highly unreliable, and when it does proc, people could always accidently move out of it without knowing. We can’t use lifebloom as a raid heal, since lifebloom can only be on one person at a time, so our mana efficient heals don’t work as raid healing tools right now.

Another fix for resto druids could be giving us more mana reduction talents in the resto tree somewhere accessible, so that we will be able to be a competitive raid healer. Moonglow could also be moved to Tier 1 Balance, so that it’s more accessible to restoration druids (with Nature’s Grace moved to Tier 2 balance instead). Reducing rejuvenation’s mana cost could also work for helping to keep resto druids raid-heal viable – However, it would encourage druids to use the same rejuv/WG-spam that we do now (though there is not much breaking this trend in Cataclysm, anyway, since Wild Growth costs too much for us to spam regrowth between refreshing WG).

Now, they want us to have to make choices about how to not run out of mana. However, I don’t feel like we have a choice – because I don’t think Nourish will work as a raid healing tool, so at this point I feel like we have to focus mostly on tank healing, without AOE healing for druids being something very viable compared to shaman or priest AOE healing (with druids probably still being ahead of paladins on AOE healing, due to paladins having such high cooldowns on their new AOE healing tools). There is plenty of time for Blizzard to work on mana costs, and GC may be mad at me for looking at class balance this early. However, I think that looking at JUST mana costs of AOE spells is a focused enough feedback report that it was worth doing. I’m also not sure how base mana will scale for shaman & priests from 80 to 83, since I don’t have a level 83 priest or shaman. I also don’t know what class balance will actually look like at 85, and I don’t know what plans Blizzard has in store for future talent builds.

Posted in Cataclysm, Paladin, Priest, Restoration Healing Trees, Shaman, Uncategorized

Leveling is more fun with friends

So, a couple days ago, 2 of the people from my guild & I picked up some heirloom items and started up new characters. After we did that, one more person that I knew joined us. So, we started out as four low level characters: 2 paladins, and 2 shaman.

Since I already had a shaman, I started out as a paladin. The two paladins ran from our human starting zone to the Draenei starting area, where the 2 shaman were starting. We got through a lot of quests together, and got 10 levels in about 4 hours /played (including the travel time). It was probably the most fun I’ve had leveling in a long time, since leveling is more fun with friends. It’s also funny because there are always multiples of everything as we do the quests together, with really funny results:

So, here we have: The quest that turned us all into shadow-kitties. One where we disguised as a forest on the beach (and the NPCs still couldn’t figure out that this group of huge trees didn’t spring up over night?). We also had some fun with the quest that gives you the temporary elephant mount.

We’re still below level 15 now. If we continue on together, I may post progress reports. We’ll see how it goes.

Also, this adventure has shown me how boring paladin level is at those lower levels. My heirloom axe is really makes a huge difference, along with having other people around to make the process more fun.

Posted in Leveling, Paladin


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