Update for Legion Class Prep

Hi everyone! I haven’t been as active blogging this summer as I’ve been testing legion. I have, however, been busy with writing guides & playtesting for the expansion. Here are some important things to know for my Legion plans:

  1. I am returning to my moonkin/resto druid for Legion raiding, after a 2 expansion (MOP & WOD) hiatus where I raided on my mage. While fire mages will be lots of fun, the druid class hall is just far more awesome than the mage class hall. Plus Eclipse is gone and they updated moonkin form, so I had nothing left to complain about.
  2. My druid leveling guide will be ready to go for 7.0 by the time the pre-patch hits. I have finished a lot of the leveling guide for newbie druids. They made changes to the 1 to 10 leveling process for druids and other relevant changes that I discuss in the guide.
  3. I will have short 7.0 survival guides for Resto and for Balance that will cover the basic changes for pre-patch. This will cover general spell changes (what’s new, what’s gone, and how to survive for a month until Legion launches).
  4. I will make an intro Legion end-game guide for Resto (targeting new level 110 players) that will be ready by the time Legion hits. This will likely be in transition during the pre-patch month.
  5. I won’t likely make a full balance 110 guide, but I will have plenty of resources and basics (such as what life is like after Eclipse is gone). I will also cover the basics of artifact weapons, class halls, and other things important to druids.
  6. My guild (Undying Resolution on Elune) made it to 10/13 Mythic. We currently have open recruitment for raiders in Legion (mostly DPS, but also a tank).  We’re running Wed/Thurs progression nights from 8 to 11 Eastern (heroic/mythic in legion), plus Sunday more relaxed content (achievements, normals, or alt stuff).

Beta updates:

  • For leveling 100 to 110, resto druids can pretty effectively use balance or feral affinity (which should actually do decent damage with a fair amount of survivability). So, the problem for resto druids of healer leveling viability is mostly solved.
  • They removed the gold cost for spec swapping, such that running multiple druid specs a lot easier.
  • While you can’t max out 4 artifact weapons very quickly, you can pick one “main” weapon that you keep slotting the highest, and one or two other “off-spec” weapons at about 80% of the power of the main weapon. My /played on my beta druid at 110 is 12 hours. My balance spec has 14 total ranks (across 7 traits) spent in my balance weapon. I have 10 total ranks (across 5 traits) spent in my resto weapon. At some point, my main weapon’s ranks cost somewhere around 10,000 points, and my resto weapon’s traits may still be under 1,000 – in which case, it makes sense to buy cheap traits on the other weapons if you swap a lot.
  • Also, the druid class hall has a moonkin teacher instructing baby moonkin how to cast spells. Except for that one bad student who won’t stop flying in circles (thanks Poneria and T.G.Q. for finding the baby moonkin for me!). The baby moonkin also make me sad because they remind me of Mourninglory and her 8 moonkinlings. She would have loved this feature if she were around to see it. While the moonkin’s name isn’t a reference to Mourninglory, I still would like to think of it as a small tribute to her helpfulness, as well as a tribute to all druids who work hard to teach others and be kind to the community. It’s nice to remember sometimes how great the druid and Warcraft community can be.

And on that sappy note, bring on Legion!




Posted in Druid - General, Legion, Written By Lissanna

Legion Beta is here!

Legion Beta is in full swing now, with a large group of people being invited to help test the content. While there are a few major bugs being worked out (such as disappearing NPCs), I wanted to briefly reflect upon development thus far.

The good:

  • The druid class hall is really, really pretty. Also, the class hall concept overall works pretty well, where you are likely to see other people frequently when you visit the class hall, but have a strong reason to leave & go out into the world.
  • New druid form updates are really, really pretty. The new moonkin feels much better – it’s difficult for me to log back onto my old druid with how much better the new druids look. The cat and bear forms are looking great, especially for the artifact forms.
  • Balance druids have a good starting point, with a newly redesigned mastery, a fairly complex toolkit, and decent utility (especially picking up extra healing spells with the affinity). While there are small tweaks to balance that I expect to see before things go live, we’re at a good starting point.
  • Resto druid’s toolest is starting to come together. Resto druids have gained back innervate (utility to cast on other people), dash (you can run away again!), and cyclone (as a PVP talent). So, some of the concerns and weaknesses we were concerned about were addressed.


To be decided:

  • Resto mastery: The biggest question mark for resto druids right now is whether or not the new mastery is good. In most situations it should overall work fine. In places where the mastery falls short, we’ll likely just see changes to how resto druids heal. In general, the new healing strategy suggests that people won’t sit at 100% all the time, so HOTs may turn out to be pretty valuable if that healing strategy actually goes live. In general, the new resto mastery seems to be growing on most people on the beta forums right now, after some tweaks to the spec seems to have made it more desirable. So, resto mastery could work out fine. If it doesn’t work out fine, I’m sure we’ll see small tweaks along the way that keeps mastery desirable for druids.
  • Healer soloing & leveling: The new specialization system and artifacts have made it somewhat more difficult for healers to level. This is likely to be more true for undergeared healers than people with lots of gear. In addition, some healer specs are better off than others (I hear that holy priest is particularly difficult).You do get some DPS abilities (druids via the affinity system could potentially be in a good place if feral or balance affinity does enough damage). However, as they balance how difficult or fast it is to kill stuff in the world, healer leveling runs the risk of being slower and more boring than DPS leveling. It will cost you up to 61 gold every time you want to change a spec to DPS. In addition, you need an artifact weapon for a spec for it to really be viable – making swapping between specs challenging for healers. So, if you pick the resto artifact first, you won’t have a DPS weapon until after you’ve unlocked the ability to get a second weapon. In my guides, I’ll put in a level 100 to 110 section for advice on leveling healers (and how to manage spec swaps), but I’m still keeping an eye on healers’ ability to solo level & solo end-game world quests. Someone suggested that healers should get a boost to their world soloing damage (that wouldn’t work against players, in dungeons, or other group content). At this point, I think that might ultimately be the best solution if testing finds that healers struggle too much at keeping up with their DPS leveling counterparts. UPDATE: Gold cost on swapping specs is being removed, which helps some with being able to swap specs for leveling & whatnot.

Conclusion: In general, the transition to beta signals that we’re getting closer to release. The class changes need to be done by the end of July, since we traditionally see a pre-patch a month before the expansion launch. At this point, I’m still pretty committed to swapping to my druid for raiding on my moonkin in Legion.


Posted in Beta Feedback, Druid - General, Legion, Leveling

Legion Alpha: Resto Druid Mastery

The restoration druid’s mastery has a long history of changes. This is due in part to the fact that Resto druids are a really difficult concept to design, as we’re the only “HOT-based” healer, where our heals tick slowly over time.These HOTs are intended to be weaved together with a small number of direct heals we have access to (so that we can keep up with some amounts of burst damage). We are once again facing a change in the resto druid mastery bonus. The feedback on the Alpha forums from people doing mythic raiding has been overwhelmingly negative. This thread is going to try and contextualize this change, talk about where it falls short, and suggest what other design options might be available. Ultimately, we need to come up with possible solutions, given so many failed designs that have come before.

The short history of resto druid mastery bonuses

To understand why Resto druids have a new mastery (they don’t like) on Legion Alpha right now, we have to talk about all the failed Resto mastery designs. I inserted links to previous mastery discussions along with short summaries (but people are welcome to visit my old mastery threads to see the controversy & how our feelings about mastery changed over time).

  • Mastery #1: Our first mastery made HOTs heal more on low health targets. This mastery never hit the Live servers because it turned out to be numerically terrible, as I documented in early testing. This was similar to the shaman mastery (which shaman really dislike), but actually worse because each individual HOT tick heals for so little.
  • Mastery #2Our next mastery increased direct healing on people who had a HOT. I initially really loved the concept of this mastery, as the post I linked showed. However, it ended up being really problematic in raid healing, where it just didn’t work to constantly chase HOTs with direct heals. Due to the fact that each HOT was on a single person, the minute you had 20 people to heal, the mastery mostly fell apart because having to cast 2 heals on every person was too cumbersome to benefit in raids. This meant that 20-man raid healers didn’t enjoy healing very much during the short period of time where this mastery was live.
  • Mastery #3: Next comes the version of Harmony where casting a direct heal gives you a buff  that then increases your HOT healing done. I will quote directly what made this so appealing: “The best part of the new mastery is that it puts the buff on YOU, and not on your target.” This version of the mastery is one that people came to know & liked (after knowing what the alternatives were), and some version of this mastery stuck around the longest.

New Legion Resto Mastery Explained

The new resto druid mastery for Legion increases your healing done for each HOT you have on that particular target (which can stack up to the maximum number of HOTs the druid can stack). The current Legion mastery thus requires stacking multiple HOTs on the same target. Importantly different from Mastery #2, this increases all your healing done to that target, and allows for stacking the mastery buff multiple times. While the first HOT gets some benefit from the mastery, you need 2 or more HOTs on a target to get the full bonus. Note that this stacks on your target, and NOT on you, which is an important design consideration.

The good:

If you heal one target, it’s possible to stack lots of HOTs on them (lifebloom, 2x rejuvs, regrowth, wild growth). In 5-mans, you’ll have a decent number of HOTs spread around the group, so that most people will have 2 HOTs on them. Numerically, in small groups, the new mastery is the same or better in terms of total healing done today. This also has the potential to be a significant buff to our tank healing, something they want to be relevant in Legion.

The bad:

The new mastery in Legion is actually similar to the Mastery #2 described above. However, it does something slightly different, since the HOTs boost other HOTs in addition to boosting the direct heals on the target. For the same reason that HOT chasing with Mastery #2 was bad, the new mastery suffers the same fatal flaw. To do good healing, you have to cast a large number of spells on a small number of people, rather than healing the person who needs to be healed the most. This requires a lot of setup time, as the “buff” is specific to the person you are healing, and not to you as the healer. While someone else can jump right in, you have to anticipate who might be taking damage and then cast 2 to 3 heals on them to get the full mastery benefit. This is going to be somewhat tedious in raid dungeons, where you may end up devaluing Mastery to a great extent in 20-man raids (where only the tank will reliably get the full mastery bonus out of your heals).

Druids are designed as HOT healers, where we are slow and require ramp up time to reach our full healing strength. Rather than spamming true AOE heals, we weave multiple single-target HOTs on tons of people between AOE heals that have cooldowns. Stacking multiple HOTs on the same person is a slow process – especially if you are responsible for watching 20 people (at 20 people, HOT stacking becomes a potentially frustrating process).

Sigma suggests (on the alpha forums) that: I get the impression that people are significantly overestimating how many HoTs one has to have stacked to get reasonable value out of the mastery.” This is exactly the problem that makes the mastery feel psychologically bad, though. The answer is always going to be “more than 1 HOT”, and in that case, you are HOT-chasing like we did with mastery #2. People are always going to feel like the best strategy is to chase a HOT with another HOT so that you can maximize mastery healing. The mastery largely isn’t passive bonuses to your preferred healing style. It requires you to actively make decisions about whether or not you want the full benefit of your mastery or if you are okay only benefiting partially from it. Anyone interested in maximizing their mastery has to cast more heals than they might want on a particular target.

This is ultimately why Mastery #2 failed: It feels bad to have to chase your HOTs with more spells (either direct heals or HOTs). The mastery increases the feeling like you have to cast 2 heals for every person you heal (when everyone else around you casts 1 and moves on). This impact on our healing style in 20-man raids isn’t all that fun and makes it hard to keep up with other healers who don’t have to ‘waste GCDs’. So, for 5-mans, the new Legion mastery works fine, but in raids, it feels bad & taxing. Numerically on paper, the new mastery works out fine – but it feels psychologically wrong. The new mastery changes how we heal in ways that forces you to constantly think about the mastery, rather than constantly thinking about the best way to save someone’s life. In that way, you are investing a lot of time into a small number of people, which isn’t a viable 20-man strategy where your HOT investment in that smaller number of people is ultimately going to be stomped on by other people’s big AOE burst heals and result in overhealing.

Is there another option?

The most important point my trip down memory lane highlights is that the most popular druid mastery (the one we currently have today) works best because it places the buff on the healer. The most obvious solution would just be to go back to the old mastery if the new one won’t work. However, most of the time we were using Swiftmend to “prime” our mastery today, and the cooldown change for Swiftmend means we’d have to rely on a different strategy for getting our mastery buff (which would probably waste fewer GCDs than a HOT-chasing strategy). Overall, looking at the history of druids, it would be more rewarding and feel more natural if the mastery worked with our HOT spreading design, rather than requiring HOT stacking.

It might be possible to change the Legion mastery to put a stacking buff on the druid  that increases our healing done for each person who has a HOT on them. We’d obviously need a cap on any type of self-buff so that it didn’t spiral out of control (e.g., maybe 3?). That said, with the fact that druids always spread around our HOTs, that kind of mastery might feel too passive & boring. Then again, maybe a passive & “boring” mastery is better than returning to the days of mastery #2, where you chased your HOTs with other spells just for the purpose of gaining more mastery benefit.

Posted in Legion, Restoration Healing Trees, Written By Lissanna

Overwatch implements new player features

Overwatch, Blizzard’s newest game in development, is primarily a player versus player (PVP) game, involving first-person shooting and controlling objectives. For people experienced with the genre of multi-player shooting games, it takes little time to be ready to jump into PVP matches. For people newer to this type of game, jumping straight into PVP matches can often come across pretty intimidating. While the game is still in beta, I thought I would provide a preview of some of the tools new players can use to learn the game.

Basic Tutorial

The first tool available to new players is a basic tutorial. This involves learning the movement controls and the basics of how to shoot a weapon. This is helpful to run once (or maybe twice at most if you are super new to video games). However, this limits you to only learning the spells of one character and is a linear experience where you don’t have much freedom to explore. While this is a helpful first step for getting the very basics, this is really only a first introduction and not somewhere you spend any significant amount of time.

Practice Range

A much more flexible place to learn each of the heroes is the new Practice Range. This range is a fairly open map with several types of AI bots: Some stand still and do nothing, others move around, and some even shoot back. You can climb up ontop of things to practice sniping or grappling. You can practice jumping around and using all your mobility tools (you can die if you fall off the side of the map!).


Want to practice on a support hero? There are some friendly bots that allow you to target them with heals, shields, and buffs (some even conveniently take damage and die, allowing you to test out Mercy’s resurrection ultimate to bring them back to life).

Training Mercy

Overall, this practice arena gives you the opportunity to train your skills and learn the hero abilities before you embarrass yourself in public. Given that the game rewards split-second decisions, and swapping characters in the heat of battle, this chance to hone your skills is definitely something new players should take advantage of! My aim has definitely improved and my confidence has increased by the addition of this game mode.

Play Versus AI

When you understand the basics of how the characters work, you can progress your characters by playing PVE style games against a team controlled by the game’s artificial intelligence (AI). This is a cooperative mode where your team consists of real people, playing against the AI characters. While the difficulty level of this experience is still being worked out, these AI matches are much more forgiving than PVP for new players. You are able to gain experience and rewards in these AI matches, though you will progress more slowly than when you battle in PVP.

The benefit of these AI games is that the games are typically more forgiving of mistakes.  You still get the full team experience, with people to back you up. It’s a good way to practice any of the heroes you aren’t comfortable on in an environment that simulates what real battle will feel like. This allows you to get good at scanning the environment for threats, learning map layouts and objectives, learning how to aim at moving targets, and learning how to play as a team.

Once you have mastered the Play versus AI mode, you are then ready to take on real PVP matches where you can go up against other players and be provided with much more difficult challenges. You are always welcome to come back to the practice grounds or AI matches any time you want! I look forward to seeing how these new player features grow and improve across Beta!

Posted in Overwatch, Written By Lissanna


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