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Resto druid Legion survival guide for 7.0

Resto druid survival guide for level 100 Legion 7.0 pre-patch! NOTE: This is currently a preview subject to change!  With the pre-patch hitting July 19th, here is a short guide covering the major changes you will have to adjust to at level 100. The full guide will be updated some time in the next few weeks for level 110 end-game. Restoration druids are largely similar in toolset & playstyle in Legion compared to Draenor. Thus, you should mostly be able to keep playing the way you are used to for the next month in Draenor content. The goal is still to use mostly HOTs around the raid as your primary healing strategy.

This survival guide covers the following topics:

  • New Mastery
  • Spell & ability changes
  • Stats
  • Talents

New Mastery: Harmony

  • The Draenor mastery ability was removed & replaced with a new mastery for Legion.
  • This new mastery instead increases your healing done by ALL spells for each HOT on your target (e.g., rejuv, lifebloom, wild growth, regrowth’s HOT portion). So, having 2 HOTs on the target will heal more than 1 HOT on the target. Then, 3 HOTs heal for more than 2 HOTs, and so forth.
  • Additional HOTs from talents can also increase this mastery healing (e.g., cultivation, spring blossoms, germination). Note that effects like living seed, efflorescence, and tranquility don’t count towards the mastery, as they are not considered HOT effects. Cenarion ward only counts as a HOT after the person takes damage (e.g., the ward is consumed) and the HOT portion is ticking down for 8 seconds.
  • How much does this impact your healing?
    • Druids are balanced around ~1 to 2 HOTs on a target for the purpose of raid healing. So, in most cases, the main goal will be to avoid casting Healing Touch or Swiftmend on people who don’t have HOTs on them.
    • While the old mastery buffed you (the healer), the new mastery is based on number of HOTs on each individual target (e.g., if you have 3 HOTs on your tank and 1 HOT on a mage, then the mastery bonus is higher on your tank than the mage).
    • All HOTs benefit from the mastery (e.g., if you cast Rejuv on someone who has no other HOTs, Rejuv still gets a mastery bonus value of 1 HOT).
    • The mastery buffs both your direct heals and HOTs, and the bonus increases for each HOT you have on a target. For example, at 8% mastery on my undergeared level 100 resto on the PTR, my rejuv ticks for: 4479 with 1 HOT (rejuv buffing itself), 4803 (2 HOTs), 5129 (3 HOTs), 5453 (4HOTs), 5778 (5 HOTS).
    • In general, your goal should be keeping multiple HOTs on the tank and not worrying too much about the mastery for raid healing (as shown above, the increase in rejuv ticks at 100 don’t make a second HOT necessary for rejuv to be beneficial for your raid). Try not to spam yourself OOM by blanketing people needlessly just because you think you have to HOT stack.
    • Note that HOTs dynamically update every time they tick. It doesn’t matter what order you cast your HOT spells in when stacking multiple HOTs on a target. Your mastery will check number of HOTs on a target every time it ticks.

Spell and Ability Changes

Removed abilities:

  • Nature’s Swiftness, mark of the wild, soothe, and genesis are gone.
  • Dramatically reduced access to baseline off-role damage/utility abilities (NOTE: see the section on level 45 affinity talents for how you can get access to damage abilities for soloing via talents!).
  • Cyclone: Now only available as a PVP talent at 110.
  • Most “major” glyphs have been removed (instead, these effects have been baked into abilities, changed into talents, or removed).

New abilities:

  • Innervate has returned. Now allows all spells cast for 10 seconds to be mana-free (usable on yourself or others).
  • Revitalize: This is now a mass resurrection spell available to healers. Returns all raid or party members out of combat (revive is 1 person out of combat, rebirth is 1 person in combat). This basically replaces Mass Res, which was taken away from non-healers.

Modified abilities:

  • Swiftmend: longer cooldown & larger effect. Swiftmend also no longer requires a HOT for you to be able to cast the spell (though due to interactions with the new mastery, HOTs on the target will make it heal for more).
  • Teleport Moonglade: Will eventually be replaced with Dreamwalking as you level in Legion (gives you access to a larger set of portals to various places).
  • Efflorescence: Wild Mushroom has been renamed Efflorescence – place a mushroom on the ground to heal targets standing nearby.
  • Note that minor glyphs (largely impacting cosmetic appearances) are still available as either glyphs or tomes. You apply minor glyphs to the spells themselves, or learn shapeshift forms such as tree form, rather than using the old glyph system.

Stat Priority

Overview. In general, it doesn’t much matter what your gear is like is for the month before legion comes out.  There are two general strategies for stats (large group vs small group) since the value of mastery goes down as the number of people in your party goes up. Spirit and multistrike have been removed from all of your gear. For the pre-patch month, just wear whatever is highest ilevel, since you’ll replace everything soon anyway, but here’s a quick set of potential priority lists. Higher ilevel things with more intellect, of course, will always help your healing the most.

  • Stats for large raids: Haste = crit > versatility = mastery. Mastery doesn’t work very well with large numbers of targets to heal (e.g., groups of 15+ such as LFR or Mythic raids). So, haste & crit seems to come out higher.
  • Stats for 5-mans & small group contentMastery > haste = crit > versatility. For smaller groups, mastery clearly comes out ahead of all other stats, due to the ability to stack HOTs on multiple people (regardless of which talent build you take).

Potential Talent Builds

In general, for the Legion pre-patch month, the talent choices don’t matter a whole lot. Below are two potential strategies. The first is the highest output healing build for Legion end-game raiding, focused on maximizing Wild Growth use (turning swiftmend into a spell that primes Wild Growth to heal more). The second is more of a fun 5-man alternative build for beginners that frees up Swiftmend to be used as an emergency tank heal it was meant to be. I’ll do a full set of talent explanations in the full end-game guide I’ll post in the upcoming weeks.

Talent build for large group content such as Heroic/Mythic raids: Prosperity/Soul of the Forrest/Spring Blossoms/Flourish (choose whatever you want for remaining talents at level 30, 45, & 60 – but note the affinity discussion at the end of the post).

  • Maximizing Wild Growth for large group content: Soul of the Forest (SOTF) is a very strong talent. However, you always time it so you can follow Swiftmend with Wild Growth (thus, Swiftmend now gets used every time it comes off cooldown to buff Wild Growth. Pair SOTF with Prosperity to allow for more Swiftmend casts. Flourish extends the duration of your HOTs (use it after Wild Growth casts once per minute). These three together make your Wild Growth healing incredibly potent for raiding.
  • Level 90 talent discussion: Spring Blossoms is the most obvious choice for level 90 talents since it allows you to get a HOT component on Efflorescence and is essentially passive bonuses that interact with your mastery. In fights where a 2 minute tranquility works well with encounter design, Inner Peace can be very potent. Germination won’t work as well in raids, due to eating too many GCDs (you’ll get more mastery bonus from Spring Blossoms).
  • This SOTF build works great for some raid encounters but falls short of a Culvination build in others. So, you may find yourself wanting to change talent builds around in raids depending on the encounter, particularly for more advanced mythic raids.
  • This healing strategy works by: Casting swiftmend ALWAYS followed by wild growth. Extend the HOT from Wild Growth when flourish if off cooldown (1 x per minute). Keep rejuv/LB on tank(s). Keep Efflorescence under the melee group. Be careful managing your mana between Wild Growth Casts, so you can cast Wild Growth as often as possible. Tranquility on cooldown.

SOTF Build level 100

Alternative talents for 5-mans or some raid encounters: Abundance (or Cenarion Ward), cultivation, germination, stonebark (or flourish). Note that you can choose whatever level 30, 45, or 60 talent you want (but see discussion on Affinity level 45 talents at the end of this post).

  • This focuses on maximizing your rejuv use (with bonus rejuv stacking from Germination & Cultivation) and maximizing your mastery bonuses. Given that tank healing matters more for 5-mans, abundance (with a ton of rejuvs spread around) will make your direct heals super fast. Healing Touch can actually drop below 1 second cast times.
  • For the level 15 talents, some people prefer Cenarion Ward over Abundance, since the speedy direct heals from Abundance are causing people to run out of mana too quickly. The HOT from Cenarion Ward (after the person takes damage) also counts towards the mastery bonus.
  • Stonebark is useful for tank healing in 5-mans, particularly for people who may be struggling to keep the tank alive (this talent increases the healing done to the person you cast ironbark on, so cast ironbark frequently on a tank). However, flourish is a good alternative to boost overall party healing (but only if make sure you use Flourish after you cast wild growth).
  • Note that some people will likely still take SOTF over Cultivation, depending on the encounter. For beginners in particular, the more passive healing will be really helpful in cases where you fall behind and people drop low. I also think keeping Swiftmend freed up for emergency tank healing is preferable for small group content over using it to buff WG.
  • The rejuv-focused strategy works by: Keep HOTs on tank & Stonebark (plus Cenarion Ward if you have it) as often as possible. Keep casting rejuvs on any party member taking damage in that fight (you can stack 2 rejuvs per person). Keep Efflorescence under as many people as possible (probably the tank/melee area). Save tranquility for when you can stand still and everyone is taking heavy damage. Use your Healing Touches and regrowths for direct healing when needed (HT is speedy when you have abundance). Use Swiftmend as an emergency burst direct healing cooldown to save a tank or other party member from death.

Rejuv build level 100

Affinity Level 45 talents: Druids have always been known as the “jack of all trades, master of none” spec.  So, resto used to have a smattering of damage & tanking abilities that almost never got used. So, they stripped out all these off-role buttons from your baseline spec (except for enough spells that you could kill something if you got stuck). Your affinity talent lets you choose an off-role spec where you pick up more abilities that make you pretty decent at one off-role thing at a time, rather than crappy at all off-role things all the time.

  • If you choose balance affinity, all your spells (including healing spells) get an added 5 yard range. You get moonkin form. This increases your damage in form & allows you to cast several additonal balance spells when you shift into moonkin. The extra range is pretty nice for times when people are super spread out.
  • If you choose feral affinity, you get a 15% movement speed buff. In addition, you get feral abilities that allow you to have relatively mana-free damage while in cat form.
  • While guardian affinity gives you 10% reduced damage taken, a raid that is asking their resto druid to off-tank something in the middle of the fight has probably already all died. So, you get little to no good utility from a resto/guardian build – you need the damage from balance or feral way more than the guardian passive.

There is also a full restoration guide up on Wowhead that is complete with Legion-relevant information. I’ll be working on my full resto guide for 110 expecting to launch in a few weeks.

Let me know if there are any other pressing questions or suggestions!

Posted in Legion, Patch 7.0, Restoration Healing Trees, Written By Lissanna
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Alpha testing started for balance druids

I have been slow to post, as only the second alpha patch has dropped so far, with patches often coming rapidly with huge class changes every patch. Right now, balance is the only playable specialization for druids. In addition, there is much that is incomplete about balance druids including their artifact weapon traits. Many classes overall still have “awesome things coming soon”. However, druids so far are starting in really good shape.

First, our class hall artwork is absolutely incredible. I used to visit moonglade for fun sometimes and hang out. However, this new class hall is like “What would happen if we took moonglade and dialed it up to 11?” It definitely still has a night elf architectural feel, which makes sense given the history and lore of going to the place where malfurion learned to be a druid. This zone is not yet finished, with many orange flashing signs with “work in progress” posted around.  You spend the majority of your time outdoors in this pretty large zone, but there are already some hidden places where you can find an indoor bed to take a nap if you so desire.

Druid_class_hall

Second, the balance druid form artwork is in. The Tauren keep their horns. All other 3 races keep their antlers. In all cases, the coloring is the same as the original models. They have most of their animations in and complete, including retaining the same awesome dancing skills.

Druid_moonkin    moonkin2

In terms of the balance druid rotation and play style, the “build and spend” resource model works out really well. It still feels familiar to the old playstyle, without having to watch the Eclipse bar dictate what spells to use – potentially offering even more room for choices to make in how you play. There is still a lot of work to do for ensuring that balance is a fun and effective specialization. I’ll comment more on specific abilities after another build or two and things stabilize a tiny bit more. There are a few places that need tweaking, such as some of the artifact weapon bonuses. For example, there is a risk of generating astral power so quickly that you feel like you have to frantically mash buttons to keep up. In the current build, some of the artifact bonuses also run the risk of making talents feel redundant with the artifact (such as not needing a talent to get instant-cast nukes when you passively get instant-cast nukes from the weapon, or not needing astral power generated via talents when you get tons of it from an ability you get with the artifact weapon). However, the current weaknesses are easily addressed in terms of balancing out the values of the talents and artifact weapons to not compete with each other. The major problems now are relatively minor compared to the problems brought to us by Eclipse.

The good news is that if you hated Eclipse, the new moonkin playstyle may be fun to learn. In addition, if you did like the complexity of balance and Eclipse, there are still plenty of opportunities for complexity (and we still start out with more buttons to manage than most other classes do before talents).

When restoration is in, I’ll start hitting dungeons and see how that goes. We also don’t know at what point we can pick up secondary artifact weapons for dual-spec leveling.

Posted in Beta Feedback, Legion, Moonkin Balance DPS, Written By Lissanna
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Moonkin in legion: Easy to learn, hard to master

The official class previews were posted Wednesday. For druids, balance is likely undergoing the most dramatic changes. Thus, I’ll focus on changes to the core moonkin spells today. Eclipse is gone, and if you need to remember why Eclipse needed to be removed, I suggest reading this post by Chase at Blizzardwatch.

Core abilities:

  • Damage over Time (DOTs): We are keeping moonfire  and sunfire  which will each be a separate DOT that can be placed on the target. As such, the core rotation will require keeping high up-time on both DOTs. Sunfire has the ‘spread to nearby target’ mechanic, and moonfire is single-target only.
  • Astral power generatorsLunar Strike replaces starfire, and has an AOE cleave component. Wrath is now called Solar Wrath but otherwise mostly stays the same single-target.
  • AOE astral power spenderStarfall consumes astral power instead of having charges. It now has a large targeting circle you place on the ground, as the ‘targets the druid’ mechanic was somewhat difficult in execution. While this is a 15 yard radius targeting circle, we can extend the radius of this circle via talents. Targets in the circle take more DOT damage and the talented version would also let you cast while moving from within the circle.
  • Single-target astral power spender: Starsurge is instant-cast, consumes astral power, and provides 1 charge of Solar Power (buffs solar wrath) and 1 charge of lunar power (buffs lunar strike). This empowerment will require us to spend these charges
  • Utility: We know moonkin will get innervate (give a healer or arcane mage some mana in the fight). You will also likely want to pick up an affinity talent that maximizes survivability (guardian’s passive damage reduction) or utility (resto healing abilities and passive).

Changing Resources and mastery:

  • Eclipse was removed and we no longer watch the balance ‘bar’ on our interface.
  • Astral Power: Balance druids now have a ‘build and spend’ mechanic via a new Astral power resource. Our “builder” spells will generate astral power (e.g., solar wrath and lunar strike generate astral power). Our “spender” spells can be cast and use that astral power (starsurge and starfall), providing large benefits, such as Empowerments to our abilities.
  • New Mastery: Starlight Increases the damage of Starfall and Starsurge, and the effect of the Empowerments that they grant by an additional 30% (with Mastery from typical gear). This means that starlight doesn’t impact our core rotation in the way Eclipse does. It instead buffs spells you should be using anyway.

Analysis of overall changes: 

The base rotation will be to keep up DOTs, use spells to generate astral power, and then spend astral power on your starfall/starsurge spells. The empowerment will mean you follow starsurge with one lunar strike and one solar wrath (then use the appropriate spell depending on need for cleave to keep earning power). Rinse and repeat! Keep in mind that there will be other abilities that aren’t included in this list, as well as talents that will have big impacts. It is easier to manipulate a resource like astral power than to manipulate the ‘charges’ mechanic that we used for starsurge and starfall in Draenor.

For AOE, we won’t have Hurricane anymore. Instead, the plan is for DOT spam, starfall, and lunar strike to be our AOE toolkit. It’s possible we could get other AOE from talents, but we haven’t seen the talents yet.

Overall, this new starting point is going to be beneficial for balance druids. This will provide an opportunity for the true “easy to learn, hard to master” spec. For a long time, balance has been the opposite: Eclipse was hard to learn (unless you had good addons), and easy to master once you got the core concept. Getting rid of the clunky Eclipse mechanic is good for balance druids. It frees balance druids from a system that never truly worked – there was never really a reason to swap between two sets of spells that were basically identical in all but name. While the initial rotation sounds super simple, there is plenty of room for skill to be rewarded by the time everything else has been revealed for druids. The talents will provide flexibility in terms of being able to choose talents that increase the complexity of the spec. You can choose all passive talents as a new druid OR choose more active talents for more complexity in advanced high-end raiding.

I will be highly active during beta testing and plan on raiding moonkin in Legion if all goes well. At this point, I think our rotation holds onto the core mechanics of being about weaving DOTs and direct damage.

Posted in Blizzcon, Legion, Moonkin Balance DPS, Written By Lissanna
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Druid class changes in Legion from class Q&A

Today was “class info release day” at Blizzcon. I will need to spend more time over the next few days writing about the Blizzcon announcement, but here are some major highlights from the class-specific Q&A that happened in the DMF area (that wasn’t available on the livestream):

All specs

  • Baseline, you will get fewer abilities for specs outside of your main specialization. So, balance won’t have a bunch of mostly useless bear, cat, and resto healing abilities. Instead, balance will pick a talent where you choose to have a secondary specialization in resto, feral, OR guardian. That secondary spec would be slightly weaker than the first. This allows Guardian druids to shift into moonkin form or cat form (depending on the talent choice they made) and do useful amounts of damage when their tanking partner taunts the boss off them. This same choice applies to cat and resto, as well.

Moonkin

  • Eclipse is gone. Playing the UI by watching the bar go back and forth just wasn’t a good playstyle. Never really worked well.
  • Balance has a focus on DOTs. Also gains and spends resources in a new way than Eclipse. This means balance gets a different mastery. Will keep existing DOT spells (moonfire, sunfire, starfall).
  • Balance will get Innervate as a specialization exclusive ability. Can cast innervate on other people: increase mana regen of your healer (or arcane mage!). No one else gets the ability to give mana to other players. This replaces Stampeding Roar which wasn’t thematically appropriate for balance.
  • The planned class blog will go live some time between Sunday and Tuesday, where you can learn a lot more details about these changes and more! I will work really hard beta testing balance along with the other balance theorycrafters. Once the info is live, I will work at collecting feedback and organizing it.

Restoration

  • They will reduce the rejuv spam feel of the spec, but overall the spec is in decent shape in terms of the overall toolset.
  • Resto will get a single-target “mark of the wild style” buff they can put on another player to boost them. No specific details on this. (this is in place of stampeding roar, which is guardian/feral exclusive. Turns out trees can’t actually roar.)
  • Changes to the talent system will impact how you specialize your heals for a fight. The talent changes will impact rotational play.

Guardian

  • Bears no longer dodge as their core tanking mechanic. It didn’t make sense that bear was all about dodge. That was really a mechanical thing that came from using Agility as the primary stat due to how gear worked. Magical dancing circus bears that dodged attacks is thematically inappropriate and won’t be around in Legion.
  • Bears will focus on armor and health instead – big beefy bears can take a hit and keep on going.
  • Vengence is gone. They will make the abilities and core mechanics of tanking classes work better without vengeance.
  • Tanking-related things in general will undergo some changes that are better discussed elsewhere by people who understand tank mechanics better than I do.

Feral

  • They didn’t announce much in the way of specific changes on the Q&A. There will be tweaks that fix some core problems, but no major overhaul like guardian and balance. They mentioned a couple little things like not casting rejuv in cat form. Details coming soonish.
Posted in Blizzcon, Druid - General, Legion, Moonkin Balance DPS, Written By Lissanna
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