I ran my first beta instance last night, which gave me the opportunity to test the Healing Shroom spell outside of Stormwind or solo leveling.
Healing Shrooms overall have gotten really mixed reviews. Some people really like the concept, and some people (I’m looking at you, Beru) really hate it.
The current problem: Dragonsoul’s mechanics have highlighted our need for a burst AOE heal. There are some times where stacking HOTs (and then holding your breath hoping it works) becomes a really ineffective strategy for healing 5-mans or raids. However, Blizzard doesn’t really want to just give us a copy of someone else’s healing spells (because that would further homogenize us). The solution implemented was to make our moonkin’s damage shrooms into healing shrooms. This is a really controversial spell, however, and some of the resto druid community would like to see healing shrooms thrown out and replaced with something else altogether. If anyone has ideas of what that “something else” could be, I’m all for hearing it. This post, however, is going to focus on how to improve the mechanics of what we have now.
How Healing shrooms work in beta: In this early stage of the development process, they work just like damage shrooms do, except that when you detonate, they heal people.
You place the little shroom on the ground, and then when you hit the “detonate” button, your little shrooms explode heal people. This healing is a burst direct heal.
You can place down up to 3 shrooms at a time before detonating. The detonate doesn’t require you to have all 3 shrooms down, so you can detonate a single shroom if you really want. However, in most cases, you may end up needing all 3 shrooms for maximum effectiveness.
Shrooms are on a 10 second cooldown, but they essentially require 3 GCDs to set up before you can detonate (detonate is off the GCD). NOTE: the Shroom placement GCD is 1 second, just like rejuv. This still means they cost you 3 rejuvs. This means that it really isn’t something we are going to want to use every 10 seconds in their current state because that leaves little time to do much of anything else.
Shroom Graphic Problems: Right now, in beta, shrooms still have the tiny targeting circle that balance druids have been using to target them. This circle is smaller than the size of the AOE healing radius, mostly because as DPS, you never needed to worry about the whole radius of the effect when setting up your shrooms (you could pretty safely put them on the tank who was tanking all the things you wanted to AOE). The shroom graphic is also pretty subtle because the original intent of damage shrooms was supposed to be that they were more like traps or bombs that you stepped on and didn’t see when used in PVP.
This method, however, doesn’t work for resto healing shrooms, where people need to know where to stand. Shrooms need the targeting circle to be as big as the healing effect is, an they need a ring indicating where the DPS/tank should stand to receive their heal. Since shrooms require a lot of setup time, the worst thing that could happen is for you to waste mana because people ran away from your shrooms or weren’t inside of their radius. So, shrooms need more obvious circles like all other ground-targeted heals have for other classes. For the time being, I’d be okay with them sharing the Efflorescence ground graphic if needed (that may actually be preferable, since we have trained our raiders to stand in the efflorescence circle instead of running out of it, LOL).
Shroom Mechanic problems: So, the problem of re-purposing a pretty gimmicky damage spell for healing is that you can’t ever just copy that kind of damage spell, slap a heal on it, and call it a day. The graphic problem isn’t the only problem with the spell, though the graphics are easier to fix than mechanics. Now that Healing Shrooms and Damage Shrooms can basically be completely different spells due to the new specialization mechanics, there is absolutely no reason for their mechanics to need to be identical. They only needed to be the same if Healing Shrooms was just a talent we picked up that modified the existing spell. Since they can be different spells now, they should be different spells.
- Shrooms need to activate the Harmony mastery. We need an AOE heal button that activates our mastery to use between Swiftmends, so that we don’t have to waste GCDs on single-target direct heals if we don’t want to. If we spend a lot of GCDs on dropping shrooms, it is likely that maintaining Harmony is going to be difficult or impossible if shrooms don’t activate harmony. Right now on beta, detonate isn’t activating my harmony buff. This should be a pretty easy fix.
- A 6 yard radius for healing shrooms is too small, since you have a pretty high risk of someone moving out of range of the shrooms on pretty much any fight that isn’t stand-still. They should still have the same diminishing returns for AOE targets that all other ground-targeted AOE spells have. However, right now, it looks like shrooms in MoP Beta are healing for somewhere around 8 to 10 yards based on using the Efflorescence graphic & healing effect as a guide. They should have at least a 10 yard radius to be effective, since 6 is too small for a heal (10 is the radius of healing rain, so if you stuck a shroom in the middle of Healing Rain, it would hit everyone there when you bloomed). I’m okay with Wild Growth & rejuv still being the go-to buttons for when everyone is super spread out. However, a 10 yard range really should be the minimum for this kind of heal (with 15 to 20 yards probably being more ideal for reducing the risk of people moving out of them, especially if we drop down to only 1 or 2 shrooms instead of 3 – see below comments).
- We need some sort of HOT component on application when dropping the shrooms. I think that healing shrooms should activate some sort of efflorescence effect when you set them down. That way, your mana isn’t totally wasted if people move out of the way before you could drop all 3 shrooms and bloom them. A HOT portion would help stabilize people until you got all your shrooms down, and would fit in line with druid’s mixing of HOT & direct heals, since Detonate would still be a big burst direct heal. There’s nothing worse than trying to set up a heal that you know you’ll need, and watching people die while you are still setting up your shrooms. The HOT duration would need to be short, however, to encourage us to still want to bloom (ie. maybe the HOT lasts for 3-6 seconds or something). That would reduce the risk level of using the spell, since no one else has to both place & detonate their heals (and it would let DPS know that they are in the right place).
- Three shrooms feels like too many. I like the idea of being able to place multiple shrooms. However, resto druids are pretty GCD-locked right now, with having a bunch of HOTs and our mastery to actively maintain. Having to drop 3 shrooms on a 10 second cooldown is too much, because it will end up encouraging shroom-spamming (which won’t be fun for resto healers). Overall, I think we should reduce the number of shrooms down to 2 total for resto druids. This would keep the unique feeling of the spell, but reduce the burden on resto druid healers that the spell seems to be creating. Having 3 lifebloom stacks AND 3 shrooms is too much, because you could honestly spend all day just keeping up LB and shrooms, and shrooms weren’t meant to dominate our entire healing rotation. It could also be possible to put in a major glyph that increased the cooldown of shrooms to 30 seconds but allowed you to place one mega-shroom that dropped all 3 shrooms at the same time (OR just make this mega-shroom the baseline ability for all resto druids). If none of those options would work, then I’d suggest increasing the cooldown on shrooms to 15 or 20 seconds baseline to make them less problematic in our rotation (even moonkin would potentially benefit from a 15 sec cooldown on shrooms in MoP so that you could fit a Hurricane and set up your shrooms before they came off CD).
- Another option would be to somehow remove the detonate (so, shrooms count down from X and then pop on their own?), however I like the idea of being able to control when the heal happens. I’m really not sure how shrooms would work without a detonate, but having to both place things on the ground AND detonate them seems to be the major sticking point for some shroom-haters. So, finding a way to remove the detonate could be a solution, so you can “set and forget” like other class’ AOE heals.
- Shrooms could also work by casting “spores” on people, rather than the ground (so someone would carry their shroom spores with them when they moved, and you could detonate their spores when you wanted the heal to work. The spore mechanic would be better for PvP where people move around a lot more unpredictably than they do in PvE).
I think there are a lot of options for making healing shrooms viable in our rotation. However, just slapping a heal on the damage version isn’t going to integrate very well into resto druids’ current healing style, where we are already mashing buttons every second just to try and keep up. I think there are ways to change Healing Shrooms to keep the idea alive, but they have to be their own spell (not just the moonkin version) for a healing shroom to work. If healing shrooms don’t work, the developers also need to be willing to basically completely scrap that concept and give us something that does work for better filling the current hole in our arsenal that is begging for a direct AOE heal.