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.
So, we finally got a first look at alpha patch notes for Warlords of Draenor. Much of the information we already knew from previous info releases. However, we have a better idea of what the system changes and spell details look like thus far. Keep in mind that the early Alpha patch undergoes significant class revisions, so what it looks like now isn’t necessarily what it will look like 3 to 6 months from now. Below is a summary of major changes, but isn’t inclusive of every change to the class.
Overall healing style changes:
- As discussed before, we are having the anticipated stat squish. Health pools are increased relative to the size of the heals (post-squish).
- Smart heals will be less smart: They will target any injured player (and still prioritize people over pets), but wont’ specifically target the most injured person.
- They want people to use more single-target heals, instead of just spamming AOE heals, so single target heals should be more efficient when you need to heal 1 to 2 people for a large amount.
- Based on the desire to make single-target heals more meaningful, Nourish is gone, leaving us with Regrowth and Healing Touch. HT and regrowth should heal for about the same amount, except that regrowth is faster and is less mana efficient.
- Symbiosis is also removed, meaning that we can’t use tranquility on the move by putting symbiosis on a shaman anymore.
- My Commentary: Keep in mind that they’ve always wanted us to use single-target heals in high-end raids, but the amount of AOE damage done to the raid since Wrath of the Lich King has largely made single-target healing less desirable in raids. So, the desire to increase single target spells hasn’t always worked out in raiding situations. The raid design will determine how much single-target versus AOE spells versus rejuv blanketing you actually do.
- There will be less spirit on gear, so we’ll be better balanced in terms of throughput at various gear levels. Gaining more spirit as we leveled meant that we had more room to use low efficiency spells at later raid tiers. The goal is to make managing your mana matter both at the first raid tier and the last raid tier.
- On this same note of mana management, Innervate (and some other mana increasing spells for other classes) have been removed.
- With these changes, the starting mana regen rate will be higher in WOD compared to Wrath or MOP. Thus, the mana regen growth curve across the expansion won’t be as steep, but mana issues shouldn’t be so great as to prevent your progress in the game. The goal is just to force players to make real deliberate decisions, instead of mindlessly mashing buttons.
- They reduced the mana cost of resurrection spells so that mana won’t be as much of a limiting factor in recovery after wipes.
- My commentary: Healing gets boring when you basically have a static rotation and don’t make decisions about who to heal. In this respect, encounter design actually matters just as much (or more) than the base toolkit design. The original “trinity” of single-target spells introduced in an earlier expansion was quickly made meaningless when single target spells couldn’t keep up with the damage done in raids. So, encounters will have to be designed around the mana and healing spell changes for any of this to be particularly meaningful.
Overall spell changes:
- The list of removed abilities for resto druids includes Innervate, Nourish, Symbiosis.
- Wild Growth now has a 1.5 second cast time.
- Efflorescence is now permanently tied to shrooms.
- Survival instincts is available to all specs, to make up for the loss of symbiosis: “Survival Instincts now reduces damage taken by 70% (up from 50%) with a 2-minute cooldown (down from 3)” for resto druids.
- They changed how tranquility works a little bit, to make it less confusing: “Tranquility now heals every Party and Raid member within range every 2 seconds for 8 seconds. It no longer places a periodic effect on each target.”
- Swift rejuvenation was removed, making it such that it’s no longer starting at the GCD haste-cap (making haste more valuable to resto druids). One of the perks you gain leveling up from 90 to 100 is extending rejuv’s duration by 3 seconds (back up to 15 seconds), meaning that the removal of swift rejuv is probably a wash in terms of total blanket coverage.
- Other leveling perks in addition to rejuv include: Increased healing to Healing Touch & Regrowth by 30%. Increased crit rate of Healing Touch on targets effected by Lifebloom. Increased HOT healing on targets effected by Ironbark. Increased living seed heal size by 20%.
- Some glyphs are going to be automatically learned as you level up, instead of having to buy the glyphs. Here’s some of the more relevant ones: Rebirth (increased baseline health level), Rejuvenation (now that we don’t have nourish, I’m not sure if it will impact healing touch instead?), Healing Touch (reduces Nature’s Swiftness cooldown), Master Shapeshifter (reduces mana cost of shifting).
Talent changes: You can see the full level 100 talent tree on Wowhead (based on the data available to WOWhead at this time). Note that the talents change by specialization, so to see the resto talents and level 90 to 100 perks, make sure you choose the resto specialization. Some highlights below:
- The current changes to resto talents relevant to raiding include primarily the level 90 and 100 talents.
- They made changes to the level 90 talent design. Heart of the Wild won’t increase your int, and they’ve toned down main role bonuses for DOC and Nature’s Vigil.
- My level 90 talent commentary: Based on the numbers I can see without doing math, Nature’s Vigil is still probably a net healing bonus to resto druids, whereas heart of the wild is probably something you would skip entirely for progression raiding. Dream of Cenarius is going to be a better damage talent than Heart of the Wild since it will still provide some healing benefit. These talents are still likely to undergo revisions when every resto druid just defaults to Nature’s Vigil.
- The level 100 talents are new and provide different functionality to existing abilities, such as extending omen of clarity’s mana benefit, allowing 2 rejuvenations on the same target, or dramatically changing how swiftmend functions (e.g., munching your own HOTs with no cooldown on swiftmend).
- My level 100 talent commentary: I’m not sure which level 100 talent will work out best until after we see what the WOD healing content is like. I don’t really like the swiftmend talent all that much, since eating our HOTs was never a part of swiftmend we liked at all (and Efflorescence isn’t attached to swiftmend anymore, making it not have AOE functionality).
In general, there may be fairly drastic changes to how healing works coming in WOD. We won’t really know how all the puzzle pieces come together until after we get a chance to play with the changes in 5-mans and raids in the actual beta client. Resto druid healing should overall still be pretty fun in WOD. We still have a lot of work to do!
Pre-orders for Warlords of Draenor WOW started today! With all the new people using their free level 90 boost, I thought now would be a good time to remind people that my level 90 resto druid beginner healing guide is available for any new druids who pop up from the level boosts.
Welcome to level 90 new restoration druids! Don’t know where to start?
Now that you are all caught up, you can start testing out your healing in the proving grounds before you take your new healer out for a spin in some dungeons or raids!
I hope you enjoy your new class! The cinematic Blizzard made with the gnome being boosted up to 90 was really awesome, so if you haven’t seen it, you should take a look! See you in Azeroth!
I used my free level 90 to pick up a warlock. Also, the collector’s edition / digital delux mount is a grown-up Anzu that can now fly (called a Dread Raven), along with a mini Dread Hatchling pet. This mount and pet is a great fit for any druid. Here’s my new warlock taking the mount for a spin!
The greatest fear of a video game player, especially in World of Warcraft is the concept of being “nerfed.” Thus, all changes in World of Warcraft are usually categorized as a “buff” (positive change), or a “nerf” (negative change). However, with WOD, we seem to be moving to a new system entirely where the rating scale of buff & nerf needs a new dimension for which to evaluate change (e.g., something more lateral rather than up or down). For the purpose of this post, I’m going to talk about PVE gameplay, since I haven’t done much PVP the last few expansions.
I’ll start my review of the healing Dev Watercooler with something I tweeted in response to the buff vs nerf question in response to concerns about heals being less effective in WOD if they heal for less health: “At some point, it’s like asking if a lime is a nerfed lemon just because its smaller.” It’s helpful to think of the healing changes in a more neutral metaphor. In Mists of Pandaria, our heals are all like lemons, and we make lemonade in raids as we keep everyone’s health full. In Warlords of Draenor, we now have limes. These share many of the same properties as the heals we had in the past, but the entire system changed to the point where you are now making limeade, an equally effective but different tasting drink. Just because limes are smaller than lemons and are a different color, it doesn’t mean that the new limes are nerfed lemons. Got it? Okay, with that in mind, lets review WOD’s healing changes:
The current healing paradigm:
While somewhat of an over-simplification, this is roughly the problem in MOP that the developers want to fix:
- As health pools got bigger, healing size needed to scale up in a similar dynamic manner to keep up with the large health pools. We also needed more healing tools to deal with increasing demands in raid encounters. As heals got bigger, health pools got bigger, tool sets got bigger, encounters got more difficult, the damage needed to make healers “work for it” had to become really spiky after 10 years of snowballing class changes, PVE changes, and PVP changes that all accumulated over 10 years.
- In some cases, people are dropped down to 10% of their health and have to be healed up in a short period of time. With being able to be dropped from 100% to 10% of your health in 1 second (and 10 seconds to get 10 to 25 people healed up to full), you have to keep people above 90% of their health or they’re likely to die from the big hits. While it used to just be the tanks being threatened, it’s now all 10 to 25 people in your raid all getting hit at the same time, and you have the AOE tools to bring all 10 to 25 people up from the brink of death with all the smart AOE heals.
- This makes healing really “twitchy” in terms of reaction speeds, so people rely more on AOE heals, proactive healing, and ground-targeted spells to reduce the decision-making process to keep up with reaction speeds. You use a small toolset of multi-target heals where in most cases, it almost doesn’t even matter who you are targeting, as long as you are targeting someone (or the ground as it may be). You are measuring the speed of people’s healing more than the decision making processes of the healer. You just need to know which heals to mash as fast as possible, with some variations based on situation.
- With the heavy amounts of movement and raid damage, everyone wants instant-cast AOE heals in raids that come with limited decision making, can be cast while moving, and challenging healers becomes encounters like the early stages of learning heroic Thok where the fight requires a ton of gimmick mechanics and burst damage to pose any real challenge to the healers at all. On any “farm” content, my healers often complain about being bored because as soon as people’s health pools increase to the point where they’re only being dropped to 40% of their health instead of 10% of their health, the game provides no healing challenge.
Healing System Changes in WOD:
- Fewer instant-cast spells: Many of the AOE healing spells are being turned from instant-cast spells to spells with cast times. This should be accompanied by fewer silences, less crowd control, and potentially lower overall movement.
- Fewer spells overall: With WOD removing approximately 20% of the class abilities across classes, some spells are being removed from healers (though we don’t have access to a complete spell list of spells!).
- Lowering healing output (& damage done) relative to the size of a player’s health pool has several huge implications: When heals could trivially increase your health from 10% to 100% in a few seconds (e.g., if 3 seconds of healing theoretically totals 90% of your health), damage had to hit you for 90% of your health to be meaningful. When spending 3 seconds will only heal 30% (instead of 90%), then damage only has to hit you for 30% of your health instead. So, in WOD, people are likely not going to spend all of their time at 100% health, which is okay because there won’t be threatening abilities that drop you from 100% to 10% and require you to be healed back up to full in 3 seconds. There may be more time when someone sits at 80% health and isn’t actually in danger of death.
- Lower randomness from crits: Critical strikes with healing and damage will be 150% in PVP and 200% in PVE, such that burst PVP damage & burst PVP healing are both going to be lower overall. It’s hard to tell how this will impact the relative value of crit for healers.
- Thus, when people ask if the healing output change is a nerf, that’s really an impossible question to answer. It really isn’t a nerf to the ability for healers to keep people alive because the system in which those heals are going to be used have changed, too. You used to have lemons, and now you have limes, but that doesn’t mean they nerfed lemons. They just changed the whole system and how spells & encounters interact. Instead of being required to make lemonade, you are now required to make limeade, and you will still feel like you have the tools to do your job.
- This is more like Vanilla or Burning Crusade style of healing in terms of the relative size of heals we used vs health pool size, rather than the insane frenzy of Cataclysm & MOP healing. Most people weren’t going to instantly die if someone didn’t heal them in the next 1 second. However, druids won’t just be relegated to “lifebloom bots” or “Healing Touch Bots”, but will have the benefit of an interesting toolset allowing for using more than one spell.
Specific changes for druids:
Now that you have the whole context, here are some of the specific things we know based on specifics they gave us:
- Wild Growth now has a cast time, similar to changes made to other classes. Rejuv and other single-target HOTs weren’t on the list of instant-cast spells getting a cast time. Instead, this list appeared to target AOE heals.
- Efflorescence is now permanently tied to Shrooms (no more glyph) – confirmed via twitter.
- Spells like Healing Touch, Rejuv, & Efflorescence (tied to Shrooms) are all now “high efficiency” spells.
- Spells like Regrowth and Wild Growth are “high throughput, lower efficiency” spells.
- Nourish is being removed. We don’t know what other specific spells might be removed.
- Your healing style will probably feel similar to today, though you may need more of your single-target heals in raid situations – if the frenzy of spamming everyone and keeping everyone topped off starts to die down a little bit over time.
I hope this helps with interpreting the changes coming to healing in WOD!