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Druid healing is changing in WOD

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!

Posted in Restoration Healing Trees, Warlords of Draenor, Written By Lissanna

Patch 5.4 Resto druid changes

Patch 5.4 will hit this Tuesday. Restoration druids underwent a number of changes in the last patch that will ultimately have large impacts on healing style. I have updated the blog version of the healing guide for patch day. The current version will remain on the druid forums until patch day. Sorry for the lack of content recently. All the patch day prep slowed down my ability to put out blog content. I should be back to my weekly posting schedule now that guide writing is done. Thanks to Juvenate of WTS Heals for the typo checking.  :)

There are still several major discussions going on in the druid community about what will be the “best” talents, playstyle, and gearing choices. So, in some places, I would expect various guides to disagree. When possible, I want to highlight what the disagreements are, so you can watch for what will end up working the best for you. We usually get an entire Beta cycle to discuss all of the changes internally amongst theorycrafters and guide writers, but Resto druids got hit with expansion-level changes in the most recent patch. Briefly, here are the highlights of what the resto changes look like, along with some of the details still left to be resolved:

  • Wild mushroom changes: Wild Mushroom only plants ONE shroom (total). It still absorbs rejuv overhealing. When you move your one shroom, it keeps that absorbed value (so, moving it has no real cost). The shroom placement has a 3 second cooldown to prevent spamming abuse. Depending on your glyph choices, you can either target shrooms at the feet of a person or directly on the ground using the targeting circle (SEE: glyph of the sprouting mushroom).

  • Glyph of Efflorescence is now fairly important for raiding druids. Glyph of lifebloom (the target swap glyph) was baked in baseline. This was replaced with a glyph that moved efflorescence from swiftmend to mushrooms. When your shroom is out, people standing near it are healed by efflorescence. You can now use swiftmend as emergency burst healing, instead of a vehicle for efflorescence placement.

  • Genesis is a new ability. It makes rejuv tick faster on all your targets. This is helpful when you need to speed up the healing from rejuv. There is still some debate as to when faster rejuvs (and faster priming of shrooms) may be better than having more people blanketed by rejuvs.

  • Innervate restores mana based on spirit, restoring at least 8% of mana. This slightly increases the value of spirit, though you should end up with plenty of spirit naturally from gearing. Mana regen in general usually isn’t much of a problem in later expansion gear.
  • Talent changes (many): Dream of Cenarius, heart of the wild, nature’s vigil, and soul of the forest have both undergone some changes for resto druids (mostly buffs for all four). Nature’s Swiftness is now baseline for resto druids, and was replaced with a new talent: Ysera’s Gift. With all the changes to the class, you will want to re-evaluate your talent choices and find the set of talents that work the best for you. Also, some talents play better with the Tier 16 4-piece set bonus, so as you gear up in Siege of Orgrimmar (SoO), you will need to keep an eye on what talent choices pair best together with your current gear set. There isn’t a terrible amount of agreement on some of the talent options, so you may have to play with them a little. I’ll try to keep track of what people are doing and adjust the talent section of the guide (and write up talent posts) as needed this raid tier.

  • You have the choice between mastery-heavy builds or haste-heavy builds, since the 13K haste breakpoint should be easily attainable in SoO. Mathematically, the two builds should pull similar numbers, but you may need to see if faster heals or bigger heals are better for your raid group makeup. Until the patch dust settles, this will still be under debate.

Overall healing style changes in 5.4:  The changes to the healing shroom spell are actually huge. You will now use shrooms as the center for your efflorescence. You can move the shroom along with the group during movement encounters. The changes to efflorescence, shrooms, and genesis overall make your AOE healing substantially stronger. When using the efflorescence glyph, you now change how swiftmend fits into your toolset (as a direct heal instead of the vehicle for an AOE heal). You will also have to watch your harmony mastery more if you find that you aren’t using swiftmend every time it comes off cooldown. You will need to adjust your talents to accommodate for the fairly major changes to healing playstyle, gearing, and the talents themselves.

Other Resto druid 5.4 patch resources:

So, in the next patch, are you going mastery or haste build, and what are the talents you’ll start with?

Posted in Patch 5.4, Patches, Restoration Healing Trees, Written By Lissanna

The healing mushroom change is good…

The Wild Mushrom healing spell change is good … and you should feel good!

Why did wild mushrooms need a change?

The original intent when asking for healing shrooms was that restorations couldn’t keep up with the burst healing of other classes. However, healing mushroom’s initial implementation left a lot to be desired. The current Wild mushroom spell allows you to plant up to 3 healing shrooms on the ground. While the original intent was to allow for spreading them out, most of the time you just clump them up in one place. Many people have found the current mushroom design to feel awkward. It takes a lot of setup time, and even when they are buffed to do a substantial portion of healing, they still don’t feel right in the current 5.3 version. While we now have a high risk/high reward spell, it just ends up being really frustrating when an encounter doesn’t give you that high reward in return.


Original Healing Shroom problems from my 2012 post:

  • Targeting circle was originally too small: Previously solved by making the targeting reticule bigger. CHECK
  • Shrooms needed to interact better with our other healing spells: Previously solved by changing shrooms detonate to activate harmony. Also, the overall interactions with other spells were increased by allowing rejuvenation overhealing to increase the amount of healing done by shrooms. CHECK
  • Small 6 yard radius was too small: Previously solved by increased radius to 10 yards. CHECK
  • We needed some sort of HOT component on application when dropping the shrooms: Addressed in the upcoming patch (see below). CHECK
  • Three shrooms felt like too many: Addressed in upcoming patch (see below). CHECK
  • Have to target the ground: Many people didn’t like using the reticule to place shrooms on the ground. Addressed in upcoming patch (see below). CHECK

The big 5.4 changes solve the biggest quality of life problems.

Currently in the PTR patch files for the next patch, wild mushroom will now just be one shroom that you place on the ground. No more having to place three shrooms! While the moonkin version may still drop 3 (I haven’t been able to test it directly on the PTR), the resto version of healing shrooms only drops one.

Grow a magical mushroom with 5 health at the target ally’s location. After 6 sec, the mushroom will become invisible. The mushroom grows larger as it accumulates healing power from 100% of overhealing done by your Rejuvenation, up to a maximum of 200% of your health in bonus healing. Recasting Wild Mushroom will move the Mushroom without losing this accumulated healing. Wild Mushroom: Bloom can consume your Mushroom to heal nearby allies. Only 1 mushroom can be placed at a time. Can be cast in Tree of Life Form, Moonkin Form. Druid – Restoration Spec. 40 yd range. Instant.

The THREE underlined sentences are really the important changes. Most of the other changes are just adjustments to balance the amount of healing it does. However, there are two other important change in the above text:

  • If you move your shroom, it doesn’t reset your rejuv overheal stacks. So, if everyone moves, you can replant the shroom with all the overhealing it absorbed and bloom it right away! No longer do you have to be psychic and know in advance exactly where your raid will end up in times of heavy damage!
  • UPDATE: As many people pointed out the text now says “at the target ally’s location”. So, apparently your friends will be growing shrooms out of their backs. It appears to still sit on the ground and require a detonate, but it looks like you will target an ally to drop the shroom at their feet. No more reticule. If you have no one targeted, it drops at your feet. Mouse over macros are still behaving poorly on the PTR, but we may be able to work out some sort of macro to use for people by the time it goes live.

Also, they are allowing you to have the option to glyph for healing Shrooms such that your efflorescence is tied to your shrooms instead of swiftmend:

The Efflorescence effect is now caused by your Wild Mushroom instead of by Swiftmend, and lasts as long as the Wild Mushroom is active.  Additionally, increases  the healing done by Swiftmend by 20%.

This would allow Swiftmend to be a single-target direct heal only, and your Shrooms would carry the HOT component of efflorescence if you choose the glyph. This was something that members of the community recommended early on when druids were unhappy with shrooms mechanics, so it’s neat to see it get implemented. In true Blizzard form, the changes we ask for a year previously seem to magically make their way into the game.

So, in conclusion, if these changes go live, this will solve most of the quality of life problems related to healing shrooms. With all the other great changes they are making for resto druids, this last tier almost makes me wish I didn’t reroll mage. At least my guild’s resident resto druid, Juvenate, will be having fun!

Posted in Patch 5.4, Patches, Restoration Healing Trees, Written By Lissanna

Happy 5.3 patch day!

The new 5.3 patch is going live today. This has fairly big changes for resto druids, especially those in 25-man raiding.

Druid 5.3 changes

I have a post up describing the major 5.3 changes for resto & balance druids. These changes should be implemented today.

This means that I have also updated my resto druid healing guide:

I also made some minor edits to the blog’s leveling guide, but nothing substantial.

Mage 5.3 changes

  • Mages had a buff to Living Bomb that now theoretically makes it better for single target boss fights than Nether Tempest. Nether Tempest is still better for multi-target cleaving boss fights (e.g., Horridon).
  • Mages also had buffs to our AOE spells, though I’m not sure how these changes impact our overall AOE rotations yet, especially if you are going to be running around with Living Bomb for most of the raid and not consistently switching back to nether tempest for trash packs. I may need to spend some time in LFR tonight to figure out what buttons I should be mashing. :)

Other changes

  • You can upgrade gear again with valor points, so don’t forget to hit the upgrade vendor and cash in any saved VP.
  • Grab some friends and hit up Heroic Scenarios to help with your VP farming fun.
  • And of course, make sure you read one of the patch day summaries at MMO-champion, or WOWhead, or WOWinsider.
Posted in Patch 5.3, Patches, Restoration Healing Trees, Written By Lissanna



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