With the release of Warlords of Draenor just a few months away, I have started to receive a lot of questions about the state of druids, and especially resto druids. For people wondering about the current state of moonkin, you can read Cyous’ post on the Sentry Totem website. Cyous also has a post on the basics of how the new sine-wave Eclipse works. For resto druid updates, the Sometimes a Tree blog has had fairly regular content updates recently.
I will likely still be maintaining my resto and leveling guides for Warlords of Draenor, but those are unlikely to be written until close to the release of the 6.0 patch, since Blizzard always changes things at the last minute.
What does the Resto Druid Toolset look like?
Overall, resto druid healing won’t realistically change all that much in Warlords of Draenor. So, if you enjoy resto druid healing now, you should enjoy it in Draenor. Resto druids are still primarily HOT healers, with some supporting direct heals. Our AOE healing toolset remains relatively unchanged. You will use tranquility, wild growth, rejuv, and shrooms as your main AOE spells. Our single-target toolset consists of lifebloom, healing touch, regrowth, and swiftmend.
A recap of the spells with major changes:
- You will keep lifebloom on a tank. It now only has one stack, which means you don’t have to maintain the three stack anymore. Letting it fall off for the bloom may sometimes be worthwhile, since it doesn’t have the same ramp-up to maintain it.
- Wild Growth now has a cast-time, instead of being instant. This does not, however, benefit from omen of clarity.
- Wild Mushroom now only applies the Efflorescence ground effect, and no longer has a direct healing component. This expires after 30 seconds, and has a 30 second cooldown. We can no longer move or bloom the wild mushroom.
- Tranquility‘s effect has been simplified. It does the main set of ticks without any additional HOT component. It should heal everyone in the raid.
Major stat changes:
- Multi-strike causes your spell to have a chance to do additional damage or healing to your target. Our direct heals and HOTs can multi-strike, so resto druids can benefit from this stat. However, efflorescence won’t multi-strike.
- You will still care more about mastery and haste than multi-strike or crit.
- There are no more haste break-points for HOTs.
- Versatility is a stat that provides a smaller benefit to multiple stats. This ends up being the worst of the resto druid stats.
- Restoration druids get a 5% bonus to haste, as part of the new “attunement” bonuses.
Level 100 talents:
- The level 100 talents are largely lackluster now, but Germination in particular is pretty good. I would suggest Germination as the best new player option of the three (extends rejuv’s duration by 3 seconds, and allows 2 rejuvs per person instead of 1).
- I would avoid Rampant Growth, as this makes swiftmend consume your HOTs (and in most situations, this is almost always counterproductive). The trade-off of having no cooldown on swiftmend doesn’t seem a large enough benefit given that trying to maximize use of this talent will likely drain your mana. There may be specific situations where this is helpful, but that would likely be fight-specific.
- Moment of Clarity allows more than one spell to benefit from the mana reduction of OOC, but only has a duration of 5 seconds (and starts from when the buff occurs, not when you first cast a relevant spell). This means that omen of clarity can sometimes fall off before you use it if it randomly procs at the wrong time in your healing rotation (omen of clarity traditionally only lets one spell benefit, but has a decently long time period for you to use that one spell). I have found it difficult to get off more than one spell that benefits from OOC when playing with this talent, so it will likely only be beneficial at high levels of haste for people who are good at maximizing the benefits. So, this may work as an advanced talent for players, but is likely to be more of a penalty than a help for newer resto druids.
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!