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Beta Feedback, All Things Resto

Intellect Changes

Normalizing mana across the board is going to force druids to change the way we play. Being an intellect based regen class, we were able to cut ourselves down to unreal amounts of spirit in favor of other secondary stats. However, we are now being forced into stacking spirit like the other healers. This has a positive side and a negative side. On the good side of the issue, our options on gear should open up a lot more. In the past, we have avoided spirit based pieces in favor of higher intellect gains, but now that we are going to be more reliant on spirit it will give us the option to pick up similar gear to other healers. The bad side is our primary regen ability, will no longer have the ability to be boosted by temporary stat gains. A well timed innervate along with multiple intellect procs, could restore 70 – 80% of our total mana, now innervate is going to be a stack gain across the board lowering the efficiency of our regen, and relying more our other healers to help us regen. With mana being a lot more tight, I’ve found it more difficult to efficiently keep harmony and lifebloom at near 100% uptime. My primary refresher had always been regrowth, because I had the extra mana to spare. This allowed me to keep lifebloom and harmony up at all times. Our dependency on nourish is going to go up, but in its current state we will need to see it reworked a little bit, either by lowering the cast time or raising the healing that it puts out.

Wild Mushrooms

Mushrooms have significantly been boosted from the initial release of the beta. The detonate on this ability is absolutely amazing in terms of efficiency, and gives us a solid burst heal. Granted that its dependent on spell power, I have been seeing each mushroom hitting for about 20k, so we are talking a 60k hit to all members within the radius of the effect. I am not sure what the AoE cap on this ability is, but I would assume that it will be similar to the boomkin version. The new placement method of setting mushrooms makes it more valuable in our rotation, and allows us to get them down quickly and effectively without wasting time like Liss pointed out earlier in a post. The only downfall I have found to this ability is trying to use it in pug groups were people run around, and you can’t get a good drop and detonate. This problem should be alleviated though, if you run in a constant guild group each week where the strategies are set. The only issue I think that really needs to be addressed with the mushrooms is their ability to refresh our mastery. It is a direct heal that costs 3 globals, it should activate harmony.

Glyphs

First of all, I just wanted to say that all of my concerns for resto druids were addressed in the forms of glyphs. Tree of life anyone? On a more serious note, glyph of lifebloom is something I have been requesting since they removed multiple target lifebloom. In a two tank fight, being able to swap lifebloom without wasting 3 globals will tremendously help our target switching, and effective healing. It is an almost must for a resto druid to take this glyph. I’ve been testing the benefits of glyph of lifebloom vs glyph of blooming, and there is absolutely no comparison between the two. Currently, letting your lifebloom expire will result in about a 90 – 100k heal, which is more than enough if you decide that its best to let your stacks drop off. Lifebloom is going to be our money maker in terms of mana return, because it has the chance to resto 2% base mana every 12 seconds, and should not be neglected.

Talents

The one thing that I really enjoy about the new talent set-up is that there aren’t many mandatory talents for a resto druid, and some of the ones that I would argue are mandatory probably really aren’t. You really have the option to make your game play both fun and dynamic by not being forced into a certain talent selection. We are gaining plenty of utility, as well as fun abilities. For example, wild charge could possibly have a use on encounters, but more than likely you are taking this talent to watch a tree go flying through the air and land on top of the target.

Cenarion ward is probably my favorite talented ability. The heal is really strong and it is a really passive ability. The best use I have found for it are people that are fixated by a particular ability, or ones that have aggro on a mob. The other thing to possibly consider if you run a balance spec, is that this ability can be cast while in moonkin form. As a balance druid, you will have the opportunity to provide a key heal at a moment when it might really be needed.

Incarnation vs Soul of the Forest, Round 1

I’ve been theory crafting these two abilities quite a bit, and from their current state (still early beta) they both will have their pros and cons. Right now I am in favor of Incarnation due to ToL and the bloom both being super powerful cooldowns, however Soul of the Forest will be a contender especially if it gets reworked. It really boils down to the question, do I want to go back after each fight respec to the ability that I am going to need. Some fights Soul of the Forest can be the more powerful ability in terms of throughput, however in most cases Incarnation is going to be the primary winner in terms of efficiency and throughput. I’d look for blizzard to rework these talents though, to make them a little bit closer together in terms of effectiveness.

Last but not Least, Funsies

I am going to be playing around on Lost Isle’s mainly, it is a PvE realm and I look to play with anyone that wants to play. Someone stole my name, so I had to pick the name Shakkix. Anyone that wants to come have fun before the raids open up, I’ll be around most nights and for those that can’t get into the beta you can always watch my stream and see what kind of shenaningans we are pulling today. As far as my fun ability combination of the day, I would have to say it was while doing some open world PvP with my guildies. A warrior decided that it was a good idea to charge a mage, and really give him a bad day with his bid sword. So I kindly Wild Charged over to the mage, and typhooned the warrior off the edge to his doom. When his friends were angry with me, I made sure to drop a vortex, intervene out and typhoon them down to their death. I proceeded to /flex because it felt good to be a druid again.

Posted in Beta Feedback, Restoration Healing Trees, Written By Shakk

Down to Business

Hey guys, I (Shakk) have been absent from a couple weeks but that just means I have more things to cover this week with my post. Its been a busy few weeks for Seriously Casual. We finished off the Cataclysm expansion, and Deathwing three weeks ago, and have been filling our time with fun raids with friends. I’ve been getting a lot of requests to run old content with people, and I love to partake in this sort of thing so don’t hesitate to contact me. But lets get down to the good stuff. As always, thanks for reading my posts and you can follow me on twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/SCShakk, here you can keep up on what I’m doing, request to run content with me, or see when my stream is online!

Giving Back to Our Community

Recently, I have been putting a lot of time and effort into furthering new and old players knowledge of the wonderful class we play. I have been streaming raids for everyone to view, and also working with the guys over at l2ptv.com to bring the community guides from my point of view. I really enjoy helping out, and that is the reason I approached Liss about writing for her. As we move closer and closer to Mists of Panderia, be sure to keep up with all the new information that I will be publishing and distributing. Also, once the beta is upon us, anyone that wants to test things with me is more than welcome!

So What Will We Cover This Week

This will actually be a viewer requested topic, that was proposed during one of my live streams. I haven’t talked much about the information that has been released for Mists of Panderia, mainly because it will be just speculation at this point. However, with the beta on the horizon, I am going to give you my opinions on problems with our class that will be addressed in MoP.

Mobility Issues During Raid Cooldowns

This is probably one of the most overlooked issues with our class, and the solution that is currently put out for MoP has probably been overlooked too. Often times, we might need to shift into travel form to avoid sudden death, kitty form for a quick roar, or maybe even bear form for a stun, but what if this occurs during our ToL? Our inability to freely move in and out of ToL is both a problem and a throughput concern. With the talented ability Incarnation, we will be able to change in and out of our forms, allowing us to use our ToL when its needed and not need to wait or cut it short to use another cooldown.

Fun Stuff

Symbiosis, is going to be a blast. I know Liss posted an amazing article on this ability, so I won’t go too far in depth with my thoughts on the mechanics of the ability. I think the biggest appeal personally with this ability, is that we have something fun to us. Druids severely lack on interesting abilities, that really add dynamics to the class. Where as, playing a hunter for example I like to press disengage just to see what kind of trouble I can successfully escape from. We should see some pretty unique, funny, and down right amazing uses for this ability, and hopefully will add some entertainment back to our class.

Survivability/Cooldowns

Lets face it, during all of Cataclysm we brought nothing to the table except for raw throughput. With classes being buffed, and druids being nerfed our “value” during raids decreased. Ironbark will largely address some of the issues have had in the past. With a external cooldown, we can now effectively give a raid member a little extra boost when things get a little rough in a raid. The only problem I see so far, is that we aren’t being compensated with a personal cooldown for us to use. If we need to give the tank a cooldown to survive a big hit, then we need one for a lot of raid damage, we have nothing left to use. While I think this is a step in the right direction, it could also be a big oversight on our class as a whole.

Living seed as a passive ability is the types of changes I like to see implemented into our class mechanics. It strongly adds priority in refreshing our mastery, and lifebloom with a direct heal. Its a nice boost to our overall heals, since you know that at least part of the bloom will not go to overheal.

Healing mushrooms have been finally unveiled under our talent section. Its too early to tell, but actively refreshing these shrooms at the cost of 3 GCDs seems largely ineffective. The actual burst that they apply would have to outweigh the effectiveness of our other abilities during this time, to even be viable in a raiding environment. For fights where there is downtime, before a stacked up high AoE phase, I could see at least one set of them being useful since the explosion is off the GCD. At this point though, its just speculation until the beta starts.

Various other talents addressing utility have been introduced into our talent calculator also. I am not going to go through each one, since they are available to the public to view. There are lot of interesting abilities, that will both impact PvE and PvP effectiveness. Its all going to depend on your raid needs, and personal wants for most of these talents.

Quality of Life Improvements

If you are a keybinding and macro fanatic like myself, the next bit of information should wildly capture your imagination. Now that a lot of our useful abilities forces us into the forms we need, we can eliminate a lot of unnecessary keybinds and macros to free up bar space, add more room on our screen, and even free up that extra GCD. Its the little things in life that make a druid proud to be a druid.

Posted in Mists of Pandaria, Written By Shakk

Repost: Resto Druids In End Game Guilds

Progression raiding at times can be time-consuming, but a very rewarding activity. Breaking outside the normal, watch this video and kill the boss like this, and developing strategies for yourself gives a great sense of success when a mighty boss falls beneath your feet. Excelling your gameplay to the next level, is what some players inspire to do. I started out in a small, non raiding friends and family orientated guild. I studied, number crunched, and learned how to be a successful healer. If you are wanting to take the plunge into competitive raiding, or you just want to see what the process is like. Please keep reading!

Where to Begin

A common question I get asked by druids, is how do you get into competitive raiding?  The first trick to getting started is, look at all the knowledge about your class that you can. Read through theory crafting (even if you don’t understand the numbers behind it, just understand why it works), examine progression orientated raiders and learn from their gearing choices, and hit the forums for some good guides on proper set up for your characters. The bigger insight into your class that you have, the better your chances are of beating out your competition. There are tons of resources on the internet for bettering your game play, and if you are on this page, you are well on your way.

Another good resource that I always find useful, is watching a player stream their raids for you to view. This will give you a heads up look at how other druids play. Examine everything from their UI, down to their cooldown management, and how they take down each specific encounter. I offer a live stream Monday – Thursday 6:30 – 11:00 CST and always will make sure people know if we are not raiding that night, or if I am going to be late/unavailable to our raid (Twitchtv.com/SCShakk). All my announcements will be made viahttp://twitter.com/SCShakk. There are many other resto druids stream that can be found, and I urge you to tune in and watch at least one, to see how they handle progression raiding.

I’m Good, but I Have No Experience

Most progression orientated guilds, are going to want to see previous raiding experience in the current tier, as well as previous tiers. If you don’t have prior raiding experience, you have to start somewhere. Finding a guild for your given class, can prove to be tedious, however they are out there. Join a guild that has lower progression then what you are hoping for, and really shine. Perform well above the rest of the players, and advance through the ranks of the guilds on your server. Eventually you will have the required experience and knowledge to start the application process with a highly ranked guild.

Dedication of Time

The other problem that raiders generally run into is being able to allot that time to the guild each and every week. What you have to understand is, you are making a commitment to the other 9 or 24 players that will be there during raid times. By joining the guild, you are saying “Hey, I can make your schedule work for me”. Now, life does come up and most guilds allow for this, but it doesn’t hurt to check their attendance policy. If the guild you want to join doesn’t fit the times you need, keep searching.

Loot Rules

Loot rules will be the breaking point for some people. Loot is a means to an end. Gear is looted in a way to advance the guild into more challenging encounters. Open roll loot is going to pretty much disappear at this point. The good news is, you only have roll against balance druids, for now… KUNG PAO (Monk sounds) Having raided in both a loot council, and DKP system I can tell you that they both have their ups and downs, but in the end they are both fair loot systems in most cases.

The Dreaded Application Process

If you have ever browsed the forums of your favorite guilds, you’ve likely took notice to their application process. At first glance, you might shrug off the idea of filling in the information, to raid with a group of people, although you should never ever think of it like that. This is your time to shine in this guilds eye. First impressions are key, and demonstrating your class knowledge is just one more way to prove to the guild, you are ready to undertake the challenges of competitive raiding. Don’t rush through the process, take each question slowly, and really build a well written response. A sloppy or short application, will generally be disregarded. Players that put the time and effort into writing up a grammatically correct, well thought out application will have a upperhand over the other classes that are applying.

I would suggest keeping a high focus on uptimes during your application. Active casting time is HUGE for being a competent resto druid this tier. We have once again fallen from our spam model, and have to micro manage our buffs and hot timers.

What We Look For In Parses

I really rather enjoy analyzing parses. Sometimes I feel that they don’t do justice, but most of the time they will if the person reading them understands the mechanics of the fight. When I examine a resto druid, I check two things first. Harmony uptime, how often are you using a direct heal to make your hots more effective. Harmony is a key component for mastery based druids. (The exception would be of course experimenting with crit, but I don’t like stat weight discussions) The other important component is Lifebloom uptime. Giving that extra little boost to a tank, is a big help to the tank healers. I look for those stats to be above 76% on a standard tank and spank fight.

Then, I will move to effective HPS and overhealing done. If I look at your graph, and you are peaking highly on activity at the start, but slow all the way down towards the end it usually means you aren’t managing correctly and have run yourself oom. Usually, your overheals will be super high right out of the gate. Mana management is a key part on my determination of your competency as a healer.

The last section that I look at for parses is spell selection and cool down management. Is your lifebloom count high enough? Are you properly offering fillers into your rotation when damage is low? Did you use your tranq during a period of low damage? You can learn a lot from players by looking at their logs. I encourage you to compare your logs to other resto druids and see how you guys line up on particular fights.

It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask

I can’t speak for every guild in the game, but if you have questions about joining it never hurts to ask. Speak to a member about what it takes to join, what kind of experience they are looking for, and what classes they currently need. Your journey to the next level of gameplay is a just a little research away. Stay up to date on resto druids, and if competitive raiding sounds like it’s for you, best of luck on the start of your journey.

Posted in Druid - General, Written By Shakk

Repost: Shakk’s guide to surviving patch 4.3

I (Shakk) have been doing a lot of studying of logs, analyzing data, compiling fight specific information, and testing in-game, what 4.3 means to resto druids. My conclusion, we are in a very good place in both 10 and 25 man raids for healing output. Some folks would question my logic on this, some folks would follow me into a black hole blindly, and some folks will test the numbers for themselves. However, no matter if you fit into one of those categories, or you’re simply looking for information on our changes, I encourage you to read through my information, and tips before you make a final decision on the state of resto druids.

4.2 Wild Growth vs 4.3 Wild Growth

Like myself, when most people heard about the 20% reduction to WG, they were completely blindsided. I actively started crunching numbers, and throwing out what if type statements, and even considered brushing off the dust on the old paladin and gearing him up to play in Dragon Soul. However, I’m still actively raiding on my resto druid. At first glance the hit to our WG looks like a kidney shot, shadow dance, and ambush to our healing numbers. (I’ve had my rogue on my mind all day, love my fear and vengeance) But, after entering into heroics this weeks, I think most of the community way overlooked the positive side of these changes.

Lets take for example in 4.2, the power of WG vs Rejuv. Rejuv, is hands down our best heal. It is efficient, it does a small direct heal, and we can swiftmend off of it for a super efficient direct heal, with an added AoE effect. On average, I found that a fight that utilizes both stacking and movement phases (much like the bosses in Dragon Soul) our WG healed for 31% of our effective healing, assuming 100% up time. Thus it allowed for an average of 16% effective healing from rejuv. Which, was fine if you are into a basically fixed rate of healing between your GCDs and the next WG you have to cast.

Now, 4.3 drops you have WG glyphed (which I highly recommend doing), and you heal a fight. You pull up that good old recount to see how much you crushed the other healers by, and notice that on average your WG is only doing 22% of your effective healing. You scratch you head for a second, but overlook an important part of your effective healing. Rejuv is now sitting at a 25% effective healing, you cheer to yourself for a second, and then fear strikes you for the sake of your mana. (Editor’s Note: Lissanna would like to note that the benefit/cost of the WG glyph changes somewhat depending on whether you are raiding 10-man or 25-man. You should try raiding with & without the WG glyph and choose what works the best for you and your raiding situation.).

Hi, I’m Your Mana, Please Manage Me

I think part of the change came, when blizzard realized that we could drop our spirit to super low levels and boost our throughput significantly. It felt like a wrath style of healing, and I for one did not like the direction this model was taking us. So by helping us choose to use rejuv more, we now have a new problem. Our mana isn’t endless anymore. Have no fear though, you still have that little button on your bar called innervate, and it still works.

If innervating yourself, using a potion, and utilizing other raid members mana cool downs isn’t enough anymore, try looking at other areas that you can change to fix your healing issues. Consider swapping out a throughput trinket for a regen trinket, altering your spec for less throughput and more conservation, or reforging off some of that 22 mastery you have for a little bit more spirit. If that still doesn’t correct the problem of you going oom 3 minutes into the fight, consider adjusting your healing style, to conserve your mana.

FYI: Tranquility’s graphic is broken in tree form.

Compensating Without Running Oom

So you just jumped into Dragon Soul after reading the first section of this guide, you got some more spirit, adjusted your spec, and dusted off innervate and bound it your action bar just like I said. You pulled Yor’sahj the Unsleeping, slapped a rejuv on each person taking damage, swiftmended on cool down, and even spammed Healing Touch on the tank when he took high amounts of damage, but during the second round of adds you had 3.2k mana left, and were fresh out of cooldowns.

In all seriousness, a lot of druids will run out towards the end of the fight if they aren’t careful. Let your heals run the full course, don’t overlap and stomp on them. If there is a period of high raid damage cast WG and then start your rejuv and mastery cycle. You want to start with the players that weren’t hit by the initial WG, but only to a point where you feel you can recover and regen more before the next big burst. Utilize Efflorescence on clumped up players, and don’t take nourish for granted. If you can’t use rejuv anymore, because your mana is pretty tight, toss out nourish. The other healers in your group will appreciate the small heal, more than you standing there looking pretty.

If there are multiple phases of high AoE damage, plan them out accordingly in your head, while you are learning the boss. If I spam rejuv during one of the phases, typically I will enter into a regen phase during the next one with ToL and rolling LB out to raid members taking damage, then for the next one I might tranq if the damage is high enough.

Part of compensating is also managing mastery. I can’t stress this enough to players that ask me for advice on boosting their output. Especially now that WG had its healing reduced, you need to keep harmony up. It can and will save your mana. One heal, is always going to be cheaper than two, when you are topping someone off. Its free additional healing, utilize it.

Final Thoughts

As with any change to a class, it brings in new ways of doing things. The nerf to WG, is not by any means a game changer for us. We simply must learn how to compensate without over compensating, and manage our mana like the rest of the healers. One can not simply look at how another class is performing, and rate their class based on it. Druids are still the best mobile AoE healers, we still bring a strong throughput cool down with us, and we are still a very competitive class, that I don’t see being tossed aside. Learning how to appropriately balance spell usage is part of being a good healer and is not restrictive to one class. Having a properly set-up druid, and using our entire toolkit, go a long way.

Source: World of Logs

*In an effort to protect the information I gathered from particular fights, and players I will not be disclosing which guilds/players I selected for the data*

Posted in Cataclysm, Patches, Restoration Healing Trees, Written By Shakk

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