Last week I explored the problems that we saw in hard mode raiding with the resto druid toolkit. The identified issue was our significant lack of ability to deal well with burst AE healing situations. The next step is looking for ways to address this issue in MoP. To do this, I think we must first start with the solution Blizzard is proposing, and then discuss what issues we may have and why we may need changes to that proposal to make sure that it solves the issue, rather than exacerbate the problem. Since I’m a pretty firm believer of “don’t bring me a problem unless you have a suggestion for a solution”, I also think it’s important to offer some alternative thoughts on how the issue can be addressed.
Blizzard’s Fix – Healing Mushrooms
In recognizing that something was missing in the resto druid toolkit, Blizzard made an effort to fill in the gap for MoP by implementing a change to the current level 85 ability that druids received in Cataclysm – Mushrooms. Rather than detonate them so that they explode, if you are a resto druid your mushrooms now “bloom” and heal.
Wild Mushroom – Grow a magical mushroom with 5 health at the target location. After 6 sec, the Mushroom will become invisible. Other Wild mushroom abilities can target these mushrooms for additional effects. Only 3 Mushrooms can be placed at one time. Cost: 10% of base mana.
Wild Mushroom: Bloom – Causes all of your Wild Mushrooms to bloom, healing all allies within 6 yards for 934. Cooldown: 10 seconds.
While I am happy that there is some recognition that our toolkit is lacking in one very key area, I am seriously concerned about the way that Blizzard has gone about implementing a solution to the problem. Let’s talk a little bit about what is wrong with this iteration of mushrooms, and what can be done to make this ability (should Blizzard opt to keep it) more conducive to healing and more streamlined for the player.
- The placement mechanic of the mushrooms is clunky and cumbersome. Even though dropping mushrooms has been updated on beta to remove the need to click the “mushroom” spell before placing each mushroom (which is an improvement), it has only removed two key clicks from the process. It still requires 5 key clicks to set up this spell, 3 of which are on the terrain in the game. This continues to make this ability clunky and very cumbersome to set up.
- Solution: Don’t require three mushrooms to be dropped for maximum healing. Alternatively have one click drop all three mushrooms simultaneously. If the concern is the time required to set up the spell, put a cast time on the ability to keep it in line with abilities like Holy Radiance, Healing Rain, Sanctuary, etc. I’ve heard a few people state they’d like to see a HoT component to mushrooms to offset the set up time, but this is something I do not want to see. The problem we are trying to find a solution for is druid’s ability to offer burst healing. Adding a HoT to mushrooms would undoubtedly require Blizzard to adjust the direct heal down so that they aren’t “OP”. We do not want this. Adding a HoT to the mushroom does not work towards solving the holes in our toolkit, and will only complicate trying to balance out the healing Mushrooms provide (see Regrowth as an example). We do not need another mediocre heal that doesn’t solve our problems.
- The range on the “bloom” (6 yards) is far too small to be effective in most raid situations. I am going to go ahead and (perhaps foolishly) make the assumption that Blizzard intends to continue to may dynamic encounters that challenge and intrigue the playerbase. This often times means that the raid will be spread out in a given amount of space, and outside of the melee will not often be grouped up within 6 yards of each other. This has been a noted and significant issue that shaman have had to deal with for all of Cataclysm, to the point that Blizzard gave them a “bandaid fix” by designing an entire zone that played to their strengths. However, that also made for some fairly mundane encounters, due to the lack of dynamic mechanics you can employ while simultaneously having the raid “group up”. Additionally, we’ve already established that Rejuv/WG is not sufficient burst healing (hence the need for something new to deal with it), so that is not going to be a particularly viable solution for the periods of an encounter when the raid is spread out.
- Solution: Increase the range on the “bloom”. At a minimum, it needs to match what paladins and shaman are able to do with Healing Rain and Holy Radiance if it’s going to have any hope of being competitive and effective.
- The set-up required for the spell, combined with the exceptionally small radius, means that it will be devastating if your raid moves after you have planted your mushrooms. Sure, you can plant more after you’ve moved…for another 5 keystrokes. While increasing the range on the bloom has the potential to alleviate this somewhat, I feel that we will end up running into the same problem that plagued shaman with their pretty blue circle if people run out of it, there is nothing you can do to fix it. I am really hopeful that we aren’t going to have an entire expansion where a good number of the encounters involve people piling on top of each other because Blizzard designed all of these heals with limited healing range that require people to be within 6/10/12 yards of each other.
- Solution: Rather than have the mushrooms planted on the ground, allow them to be planted on people, so there is more flexibility in positioning while utilizing them. You can still “bloom” them, but this allows the raid to be dynamic without having to worry about “standing in the mushrooms”. It also removes the clunky ground targeting mechanic inherent to mushrooms. Hell, have Healing Rain work in a similar way – have it form a storm cloud above one person, that moves with that person, and have it hit everyone within x number of yards around them. The best part about this? You will actually be able to see the bad shit on the ground that you need to avoid!
- You want me to do what while maintaining Lifebloom and Harmony?! Out of all of the healers druids are probably the most GCD capped and probably have the largest number of things to maintain. I’m not complaining about it, it’s one of the intricacies of druiding that make it challenging to play well, and that I love learning to maximize. However, to play my class well, I need to keep LB and harmony active. And I’m required to do this once every 10 seconds. Adding in an additional heal that requires 5 steps to be successful really cuts into the other healing that I am able to do between keeping up LB and Harmony and setting up mushrooms. I suppse I should at least be grateful that I don’t need to maintain a solar eclipse for maximum effectiveness.
- Solutions: There are a few things that could help to improve this dynamic. One would be to increase the duration of harmony (maybe up to 30 seconds?) or make harmony passive, I don’t think that would be unfounded as other healing classes have a passive mastery ability. Come to think of it, it would be nice to have a passive mastery regardless. Perhaps that is a topic for another day. Alternatively, since mushrooms are technically a “direct” heal, have them trigger harmony.
Personally, I would like to see Blizzard throw the whole idea of healing mushrooms out of the window and start back at square one. We are early enough in the testing process that I do not feel that this would be a devastating change. I have a few ideas that I’d like to see, and I’ve heard a few ideas that I think would also work at breaching the gap in our toolkit. Not only that, but it would also give Blizzard the opportunity to weave in a nifty new ability/spell for resto druids. Two birds, one stone, win win for everyone!
I’m going to call all of the abilities below “Flourish”. It was actually the original name for Wild Growth back during the WotLK beta, but I think it would be a great name for a new ability the ties in some of the concepts of healing mushrooms (blooming) but let’s us explore a completely new, more healer friendly, mechanic. My goal is also to keep in tune with resto druid’s strengths and playstyles. The idea is to keep the ability unique in concept, while giving the mechanic the tools to allow druids to perform well under all circumstances.
- Flourish Suggestion One. One of the things that I have always like the best about being a druid is knowing when and were to place your HoTs, and monitoring them to smartly maximize your healing. I think an ability that causes your hots to “flourish” or “burst” when flourish is cast would be a very unique, intriguing and druid centric way to solve the burst healing issue. It would be limited to 5 targets, or it could be limited to “x amount” of healing done on an unlimited number of targets. I think limiting it to targets would be a cleaner solution. If limited to 5 active HoTs, it could be a bit of a smart heal selecting the 5 lowest targets with a HoT on them – and I thinkI might even be OK with it consuming the HoT, as usually the a good part of the HoT is wasted (I’d have to really think on that more before deciding how I feel about it “consuming” the HoT). It wouldn’t be as mindless as WG is because you’d have to actively select rejuv targets in advance to prepare for the incoming burst of damage – and pre-hotting is already pretty standard druid play, only now when a large chunk of your rejuv is “wasted”, at least you are getting something for it. I would not want it to have a CD as it would be naturally limited by the need to set up HoTs on the raid for it to be effective.
- Downsides: We’ve all experienced the pain of Nourish. Tying another heal to pre-hotting could be somewhat painful, and may end up being counter-productive. The shorter time on Rejuv may also make it challenging to keep enough rejuvs active to make this a meaningful heal.
- Flourish Suggestion Two. Similar to suggestion one, this one would be based off of your active HoTs, only this time instead of only healing a certain number of people, your HoTs would “Flourish” and heal everyone within x yards around them instantly for Y. I think that this one might be ok to have a short cooldown, because of the potential for the entire raid to be simultaneously effected by this heal.
- Downsides: You again run into the “range” problem. If people are spread out all over, it will really limit the effectiveness of this heal.
- Flourish Suggestion Three. And ability on a short (10ish second) cooldown that empowers the druid to attune with the forces of nature, causing all of their rejuvs (current or new) to tick every .5 seconds (or maybe 1 if .5 is too much healing in too short a time) for the next x amount of time (5 or 6 seconds?) on everyone within 40 yards of the druid. This is something that would help to answer the “burst” issues, while keeping with the philosophy of druid healing being HoT centered. It’s a little more thoughtless because you don’t have to be as cognizant with where you are placing your rejuvs, but it does eliminate the range issues. Maybe if you wanted to be a little more creative with it, and require a little more thought, you could have it tick faster the closer you are to the druid and slow down slightly (we still want it to suffice for “burst” healing) the further away you are from the druid.
- Downsides: I…can’t find any! Which probably means it would be way OP :) Well, I guess it is another spell that would be reliant on how many HoTs you have currently active.
I don’t know how these would play out in practice, and I’m sure that they would require some tweaking, but I do feel that they would be a better fit for our toolkit than the mushrooms while maintaining a distinctly “druid” flavor to them.
What do you think? Do you want to fix mushrooms, or do you think Blizzard should look at something entirely different? How would you solve our Burst AE healing problems, while simultaneously keeping us on par with the other healers?