OMG! A druid…posting about druid things?! INCONCEIVABLE! (*****SPOILERS AHEAD*****)
Ok, maybe it’s really not, and I just wanted to be able to shout the word “inconceivable!”.
Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya…
Wait, I’ve seriously started to digress! Where was I going with this post again? Oh yes, I remember now, the Druid Talent Preview! Well, if you haven’t heard yet Blizzard has released an official preview of the druid talent trees for Cataclysm (http://cata.wowhead.com/talent). Kae (www.dreambound-druid.blogspot.com) and Keeva (www.treebarkjacket.com) have already done some fantastic write ups of what has changed, what hasn’t, as well as what’s new and what’s not there anymore. I highly recommend that you check them out for a comprehensive listing of the changes.
Me? Well, I’m going to talk a little bit about where I feel these changes are going to take healing in Cataclysm and some things I find interesting about the talents. Keep in mind that these are largely my thoughts are PURE speculation. I could be completely wrong and then have to come back and eat my words when it goes live. As such, I am going to flavor this post strawberry, so that my words are at least tasty when I have to eat them.
The first thing in the new talents that caught my eye is that Naturalist is now a required talent to access Nature’s Grace. As such, it’s basically moved from a “nobody takes this” talent to a “required” talent for resto druids. While that is somewhat interesting to me, what makes it more interesting is that it is one of several shifts in the talents that lean towards direct healing for us. I’ve commented on it a bit before, but I’m really a bit leery of the push towards our direct healing spells that I have been seeing for Cataclysm.
If it’s done well, I think it could be fine. But for that to happen, I also think it’s going to be vital for the developers to remember that we are HoT healers, not paladins. I think this might work…as long as they find a way to permit us to creatively thread our HoTs, and utilize our direct healing spells as fillers, but not our main source of healing. What I do not want to see happen is a revert back to Vanilla style healing. Having done Rank 4 HT/cancel spam for an entire expansion and having seen the role of a resto druid grow into one of the most complicated classes to master with what I feel the most immersive healing (and I have all 4 healing classes with some raid experience on all of them!), I very much want to continue to be required to master the use of my HoT arsenal and not become a healer with a largely single target focus.
Something else to consider: If direct heals are going to be a large part of our healing rotations and mana is as much of a concern as it’s been hinted at, does this make tranquil spirit, another talent nobody puts points into, a necessity?
Fury of Stormrage/Imp Tree of Life
The next thing that worries me a little bit is the focus on damage. Fury of Stormrage give you insta-cast, no mana wraths on HT/Nourish crits (again with those direct heals), and Imp ToL boosts that damage by 15%.
I am of two minds on this. Right now, I am looking at this as a boost for PvP resto druids. This is giving druids the ability in arenas or battlegrounds to do a little more in a pinch than just heal. (As a side note, it seems that we will not be limited to only healing in ToL form). In this mind, I think these talents are fine. But, I am also going on the assumption that Fury of Stormrage is going to largely be considered a PvP talent (all resto druids will still take imp ToL for the 90 second cooldown it offers).
However, what has me slightly nervous is what if the devs aren’t on the same page with me here, and they are considering these PvE talents? I don’t think that is the case, but what if? I guess what is making me wonder is the way that Imp ToL has the damage component worked into it. Personally, I really don’t want to have the expectation that I will be doing damage when my primary task is healing. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s probably going to be great for our PvP folks, but it could be completely disastrous if it’s intended to be carried over into PvE.
Tree of Life
This is still completely lack luster. It has the given spell power boost (hello click on use trinkets, how I have avoided you this entire expansion!), but then the description still doesn’t tell us what the OMG AWESOMENESS is going to be. That tells me that the devs have no clue wtf they are going to do with it yet. As an additional downside the snare is back.
I am hopeful that it doesn’t go live that way. There was good reason that they took the snare out in the first place, I am quite honestly a little bit surprised to see it back as part of the tree of life mechanic. Hello OMG HUGE DAMAGE, I need to ToL STAT! But I…can’t…quite…get…out….of…the…fire…fast…enough. Owie, one burned up tree. Anyone, remember Gruuls as a tree with that snare still active? How about Shade of Aran and trying to move from the blizzard? Yea…good thing we had barkskin!
It really does seem a bit harsh to put the snare back in, what other druid class is PENALIZED in their main roll for shapeshifting? This seems very counter-intuitive to the statements that Ghostcrawler has made for why they are removing trees from the game. I just don’t get it, honestly. Here’s hoping that it’s removed during the beta and doesn’t see live.
This is interesting. Again, a push towards single target healing, but the added lifebloom bump with nourish could be very good. Well, at least for tank healing anyhow! Unless of course lifebloom becomes a raid healing spell again. I sort of see this two ways: another push towards single target healing (boo), but also a bump up for an largely abandoned spell this expansion. I don’t think this is bad, per se. We will have to see how it plays out on live.
I am a little bit excited about this, actually. It’s one of the first spells regarding our HoTs that has had a boost to our HoT healing. I also think it’s a bit of an interesting mechanic…and is the first thing that I’ve seen that leans towards making “interesting” healing decisions. I would think that you would want to pop that regrowth on a person that is clumped with other people to get the maximum benefit from the effect. The spell wants you to think about where you put it, and to use it smartly. To me, that is a little bit interesting.
Of course…if we have huge movement fights, I could also see people running right out of it. But then again “run to the flowers as you flee!” may have some promise. All in all, I think it’s going to be great…or terrible. I’m hoping for great!
I’m not really sure what to think about this change. I liked the way it worked before, and resto druids brought something very unique to the raid that no other class did. Of course, that is probably why it is being removed with the push towards homogenizing the healers. Another talent that is leading us back to our HoTs though…but oddly just regrowth and lifebloom. Two HoTs that weren’t widely used in 25 man raiding. (I think that we are starting to see a trend here).
However, anything that can return mana is probably going to be good. And it seems that the mana return that is going to be provided is greater than what revitalize currently offer. And think about the possible mana return with multiple lifeblooms ticking every second (even with the internal cooldown on the revitalize proc!), could be very om nom nom-y for mana.
Gift of the Earth Mother
This is a very interesting change. Very interesting indeed. I guess Blizzard really didn’t like the haste effect it provided previously, or don’t want to offer us so much haste upfront and want us to make smarter gearing decisions. But again with the push to lifebloom. I really think they are trying to get this spell back on our plate. However, I am happy to see an “empowered renew” type ability for our rejuvs go here. One of the biggest weaknesses today in druid healing is our lack of burst healing (somewhat covered by Wild Growth). I like that the T8 set bonus was a big enough success that they are incorporating it into our talents.
All and all, I think this is a good change. I think it will make for interesting decisions both in gearing and in choosing a spec. It also gives druids a boost in an area they were slightly behind the other healers, in my opinion. However, one thing that I think it may caution a little bit is perhaps we are going to move from a more pro-active healing style to a more re-active healing style.
What could be interesting about this is that our HoTs would still remain pro-active, to an extent, but the push to our direct heals will fall into a more re-active healing category. I think this could be a fairly cohesive way to tie everything together for us. At the minimum it has potential!
Empowered Rejuv/Nature’s Bounty/Genesis (Balance)
Two talents to boost swiftmend…and hey! Look! Push regrowth! Really, I like that swiftmend is getting a little bit of love. We have very few panic buttons as healers, and it’s good to see one of our two get a boost. I really don’t see a downside here.
We knew that they intended to nerf the cooldown on this by adding 4 seconds. Really, I don’t think this is terrible. There were only a handful of encounters in WotLK that I tried very hard to stick to a 5:1 rotation with WG. Usually I use it when I think it’s needed but I don’t find myself leaning on the spell. Honestly, I just don’t see that extra 4 seconds being a huge deal.
As there is discrepancy on if the amount healed was nerfed also, I am going to be bold and say it’s not…and then hope for the best!
A brief few thoughts about the balance changes for resto druids
I don’t want to go into too much detail on it, and honestly I don’t have a whole lot to say about it, but what I find very interesting is how deep into the tree we have to go in order to access Nature’s Splendor. It seems strange to me largely because we’ve got to take some potential crap just to get to it. Why? It was clearly moved deeper into the tree for a reason, but I really don’t see that reason. Am I missing something here?
I also find it interesting that Celestial Focus no longer gives haste, another nod to needing to make different gearing decisions, and the fact that perhaps we aren’t to be casting every global cooldown and thinking more about what and when we are casting.
We also get a silence. Hmmm. Ok. Why not. (Although, I think this is more to help support Moonkins in PvP than anything else).
What I Think Is Missing
Druids still do not have any mitigation abilities or offensive protection abilities, such as paladins and priests. I was really hoping to receive some kind of cooldowns for us to use in case of emergency. A barkskin that is castable on another target, for example, would be really great. Even though they’ve given Swiftmend a few boosts here and there, we are largely missing some sort of mitigation ability. Even if it was a cooldown, it would be nice to have a way to temporarily “save the day” that didn’t involve just flat out healing.
Overall, General Opinion: They are really pushing spells that have fallen to the wayside very hard. Regrowth, Lifebloom, Healing Touch and Nourish all see some changes, while Wild Growth gets nerfed and Rejuv remains largely the same with a small burst buff. I think that this is a good thing. I tend to utilize all of my tools when I heal, but I certainly favor my powerhouse heals: Rejuv and Wild Growth. I think equalizing our other HoTs is a positive change, if that does in fact happen. The danger, however, is that we will just find a new “go to” heal. I hope that isn’t the case, but if history has anything to say…
They are also really pushing some of our direct heals. I am unsure how I feel about this as yet. I don’t want to just spam my HT and nourish buttons. But, there is some potential here if everything is done well to give us the option to fully use our HoTs and provide solid single target healing as well. I hope that we keep our identity as HoT focused healers, because that is one of the things that I enjoy most about my druid.
I also remember reading a post from GC where he said that in Cataclysm there is not going to be the expectation that the green bars remain full. So where currently we want everyone “topped off”, in Cataclysm the goal is to heal enough to “survive”. I think I like that. In that I think that it does mean that you have to make some choices on who to heal, and how to heal them. It also means that healers will have to make decisions on what heals to cast again. If someone only needs a little bit of life, maybe x heal will work, where y would be overkill. I am looking forward to seeing how this plays out. I think it has great potential to improve healing.
Right now, I’m going to go with cautious optimism. The only thing that I am definitively unhappy about is how lackluster ToL currently is. I have a few worries here and there, but I don’t think I can get worked up about them at this stage of these things.
So…what do you think?