Apparently while I was somewhere over the Rocky Mountains yesterday, Blizzard made a change to the level 90 druid talents. I think that it is safe to say the it was pretty unanimously agreed upon that a change was needed, as the old talents were very lackluster and didn’t really offer any dynamic decisions. Druids sat by the wayside turning green with envy as other classes were tended to, and growing ever greener as new things were announced and druids seemingly continued to be overlooked by the developers. Well, the crab himself emerged and gave us a bit of hope and a lot of needed developer presence. While my green isn’t entirely gone, I have gone down a few shades with yesterday’s announcement. While I’m still pretty sure that none of the devs are playing a druid, at least I know we are finally getting some much needed attention.
The question that we have to address with the announced changes is “are these the changes we were looking for?”. Well, in an attempt to answer that from a resto perspective I think we need to take a look at what we were presented and talk a little bit about what the changes offer us. As such, let’s take a look.
The first change is something that was actually removed from the level 90 talents and made a baseline ability for all druids (i.e. reverted to pre-Cataclysm mechanics).
- Disentanglement – no longer a talent. Shapeshifting for all druids just breaks roots.
Shapeshifting - all shapeshifting - will once again break roots. While this has never been a massive issue in a PvE setting outside of a few encounters, it is a pretty huge quality of life change for druids engaging in PvP. Personally, I am very happy to see this change and I’m glad that shifting will once again break roots for druids.
Now, onto the new talents and the changes to the original level 90 abilities.
- Dream of Cenarius — increases damage spells by 70% (up from 30%).
Unfortunately, this changes very little on the resto front. We did not receive a boost to the healing portion of the ability, which remains at 30%. It is still an ability that requires you to stop healing, cast wrath, and have one ability every 30 seconds boosted by 30%. While I could see this potentially being powerful in how it interacts with something like Tranquilty - I see it having fairly little general panache outside of that. Really, outside of tranq, the only time I really see this boost being even remotely useful as a “burst healing”, oh shit, type ability is paired with Wild Growth. But even then, I’m not sure it would be worth it to take time out to cast wrath for that 30% boost.
Suggestions for Improvement - To make this ability somewhat interesting and functional for resto, and encourage us to utilize it, it needs to do more for us. Because of the way that we heal, having an ability get a small boost for one cast, for most things, is going to be really ineffective and likely not worth the GCDs you lose casting wrath to get that boost. I mean, I’m probably not going to think “OMG I MUST WRATH BOOST THIS SINGLE REJUV!!!!!”. Which means that in most circumstances I’m probably going to cast one wrath every three minutes to line up with tranq and outside of that not bother with it. If Blizzard really wants us to get some different game play/hybrid experience out of the talent, why not change the healing boost on the ability to be for x amount of time after the ability triggers – say 10 seconds. So every heal we cast within 10 seconds will be boosted by 30%. At least that will really make me think about the talents worth – and makes me have to question the benefit of utilizing DoC every 30 seconds, or only in certain situations. Over all, I think that giving us a timed boost, rather than a single spell boost, will make the talent much more interesting and dynamic from a resto standpoint.
- Heart of the Wild — now also grants 6% passive Agility and Intellect.
If you opt to take heart of the wild as your level 90 talent for PvE, you are basically taking it for the passive 6% intellect boost. The rest of the ability is still the same awkward shapeshifting to perform another function mess that it was in its original incarnation. In short, the talent is a 6% intellect boost – and the rest is just flavor text filler. Ultimately, I think it will fall down to the math on if the 6% intellect boost will be the superior option for healers in this tier.
Suggestions for Improvement - Honestly, I really wish Blizzard would can this talent and start from the ground up. It still very much feels like they are trying to shove shapeshifting down our throats, despite the fact that this is a very inelegant way to do so, and that every druid has offered feedback indicating that they did not feel this was a particularly functional talent. That being said, I don’t know that I have a great solution for how to fix the back half of this talent, and I’ve been thinking about it since the talent was released. As a resto druid, the last thing I want to do in any situation is shift to cat and start clawing away. If I need to DPS, I’d much rather nuke – and if my raid is in a situation where my DPS is mandatory, something has likely gone terribly wrong.
If Blizzard is insistent that we shift for this talent, I think it needs to have some additional benefit to our main role. Otherwise the talent is, quite literally, going to be a straight up stat increase in PvE, and that’s about it. If they want the ability to offer some raid utility, rather than have you shift to gain benefit, why not have HoTW do something like attune you with your inner feral spirit and your direct heals run free, boosting a random stat of all those around the party healed for x seconds. You can even add a nifty animation to the cast similar to Mighty Bash, where you see the inner feral released.
- Nature’s Vigil – replaces Disentanglement. Increases all damage and healing done by 30% for 30 sec, with a 3 min cooldown. While active, all healing spells also damage a nearby target for 50% of healing done, and all damage spells and abilities also heal a nearby friendly target for 50% of the damage done.
This is an entirely new ability, and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it from a healing perspective. The short of it is that it’s a 30% boost to healing, every 3 minutes. The way that the ability interacts with what role you are providing is somewhat interesting to me. In a way, it’s a little bit like atonement, but I question the viability of spamming wrath for 30 seconds being adequate healing from a resto standpoint. It seems to me that is more directed at moonkin - and the part of the ability really meant for us is the damage done to nearby targets. Um…okay? I mean, whatever, I guess. To me, when I look at this ability, I see “30 second healing cooldown every 3 minutes” – the damage part of it is sort of just there. As a healer, it doesn’t really get me all hot and bothered as a talent. It’s just another button to push x number of times during an encounter – just like tranquility. Sure, you will want to time it “just right” so that you can maximize the number of times you utilize it, and make sure that you use it at the “best” times. But when push comes to shove, it’s a relatively uninteresting talent for a healer, and a 30% healing boost every three doesn’t have me calling gabriel down from the heavens to trumpet its praise.
Suggestions for Improvement - While I am glad to see a change in our level 90 talents, none of the changes really seem very healing driven. When I read through them I see “moonkin got love” oh, and here’s something added on for the trees. Maybe I’m just in a funk, but I’m really not that excited about this talent. In fact, I think I like the 6% passive Intellect more than this. The problem with the ability, as I see it, is that while a 30 second boost on a long cooldown is fair DPS design – it’s not a novel idea for healers (or even particularly ideal). And the talent, in essence, it’s pretty much a boosted ToL without the tree graphic. We’ve already got that. I’m sure the talent will be mathed out somewhere, and we will see where it falls throughput wise into the big picture (and it will probably do well), but I just don’t find myself getting excited about ToL v. 2.
If blizzard wanted to make this a REALLY interesting choice for healers, they’d incorporate some of what they were trying to do with HotW into this talent, and make the nuke/heal portion of it a more interesting and viable option for healers – so that as a healer you had a meaningful choice to make regarding whether it was best to nuke to heal, or cast heals to heal. As it stands now, the nuke portion of it is almost wasted for resto because
we won’t be hit capped and our wrath hits will be negligible (and probably cost us a large portion of our precious mana pool). We would get more from the straight healing with the boost. But if we could really put up some meaningful damage that was transferred to healing in those 30 seconds – and there was some heavy raid damage going out – now that is interesting. And potentially very powerful if timed properly, but only if the healing done by the resto druid was meaningful enough to outweigh the straight healing they could do with the healing portion of the talent. I could definitely see myself at least experimenting with it to see how it played out in a raid setting. I suspect it would be very situational, similar to atonement, but it would integrate some of that “hybrid” play Blizzard has been focusing on with MoP.
What do you think? Do you like where the level 90 talents are for Resto? Do you think they still need some work? What would you change?