Now that we are a few weeks into the raid content, I thought it would be an appropriate time to have some discussion regarding the current state of the Resto Druid. I am going to offer some numbers and data below to support what I am about to say: Resto Druids are currently not in a good place. We continue to deal with the same issues that we struggled with for the majority of Cataclysm – we lack the toolkit to deal with burst AE healing. As the weeks have passed and other healers have obtained more gear and become more comfortable with their toolkits, the discrepancy only continues to become more noticeable. This is only further exacerbated by the fact that every other healing class received abilities permitting them to be stronger at dealing with this type of raid damage.
I have a few thoughts on how to fix this that I will discuss later on in this post, but first I thought we’d take a look at the numbers.
I went ahead and pulled all of the healing numbers from the past three weeks of raiding utilizing Raid Bots (an amazing too in so many ways!). I only pulled numbers from normal 25s for the purpose of this analysis. I did this for two reasons: 1) 25s are my preferred raid style and what I am passionate about fixing; and 2) there is simply not enough heroic data yet to look at (although I will tell you from the data I pulled, Druids are a bit worse off in heroics). I understand that three weeks isn’t a huge sample selection, but it is all the data we have at this time, and throughout those three weeks is fairly consistent, leading me to believe it will not appreciably change in the weeks to come if things stay as they are currently.
I have taken a look at the content as a whole and then drilled down to each of the six encounters for a more in depth look. The first set of data that I’m going to share is an overall view of how the healing classes are comparing as a whole.
Here you can see a few things. Monks are undeniably the strongest healers at this juncture in the game with none of the other healing classes coming close to them in performance. They are followed by Shaman and Paladins, with Druids and Priests bringing up the rear. You can see the bump in Holy Priests when they got their buffs to PoM and (I think) PoH. As you can see, Druids and Priests are trailing behind the other three healing classes by a fairly appreciable amount.
Let’s take this one step further, and examine how we are doing on a fight by fight basis to see if we fare any better on the individual mechanics of certain encounters.
The Stone Guard
Depending on how your raid handles this encounter, there is the potential for Druids to be fairly strong performers on this encounter due to how spread out the raid can be at times. You see this in the numbers here as Druids are slightly ahead of Paladins and Shaman, yet still a large margin behind Monks. Of all of the six encounters that we are going to look at today, this is the only one where Druids seem moderately strong.
Feng the Accursed
Feng is an encounter that emphasizes the weaknesses in our toolkit. Throughout the fight you are riddled with damage that requires you to top your raid up quickly. And as you can see here, Druids fall short, and as other classes grow stronger the contribution of the Druid grows weaker. This is exacerbated on heroic, where the damage is much more significant, comes out much faster and must be dealt with much quicker.
You can see here, again, that monks are dominate on this encounter, with a slight drop when Zen Sphere was nerfed. Shaman perform well, with Priests and Paladins trailing them and Druids falling behind.
Gara’jal the Spiritbinder
This encounter will somewhat depend on if you have the ability to enter the spirit realm, and admittedly who is running your parses. This encounter is a bit different because if your raid performs properly, there isn’t a lot of raid damage until the end of the fight. Which, consequently, means that it will be a bit frustrating to heal as a Druid, because the less there is to heal, the worse a Druid will perform.
In looking at this encounter yuo can see that Druids fall slightly ahead of priests, but again appreciably behind Monks, Shaman and Paladins.
The Spirit Kings
This is an encounter where, by all logic, Druids should perform well because the raid is frequently spread out to manage several of the differing mechanics of the fight – although they are also grouped quite a bit as well. Regardless, the times of raid spread prove to be insufficient, as Druids are again just about the priests, and quite far behind Monks, Paladins and Shaman.
Of all of the encounters, I feel that Elegon highlights the problems in our toolkit the most. There are frequent periods of burst damage. There are times when the members of your raid require quick healing. And there is a steady period of increasing raid damage. All of which Druids struggle to manage (I have yet to end this fight not so OoM that I’m having to wait for mana to regen to cast at the end of the fight).
You can see here that Monks are again miles ahead of everyone else, with shaman coming in second, and also significantly ahead of the other three classes. Paladins, Druids and Priests are fairly close, with Druids ending on the bottom, but above Disc Priests.
Will of the Emperor
This is another encounter that really has the potential to play towards the Resto Druid toolkit, because of the periods where the raid is spread out a bit. However, we fall quite short of Paladins, Monks and Shaman who are dominating fairly equally here. The only classes underperforming Druids are priests. And both priests and Druids are significantly behind. I’m not comfortable speaking for priests, but I do have a few thoughts on how to shore up Druids.
So Why Are We Looking At This?
Because there is a discrepancy in Druid healing that needs to be fixed. It is easy to say we have a problem, or feel that since you don’t have problems the class as a whole doesn’t have a problem. But the numbers don’t lie. In reviewing them for the past three weeks of raid content it is quite clear that both Druids and Priests are not performing at the same level as the other healing classes.
This causes a discrepancy that is frustrating, and is only exaggerated as we move into heroics and gear is increased. I am pointing this out because something needs to be adjusted to get us back where we need to be to be both competitive and effective performers.
How Do We Fix It?
I feel the main problem that Druids continue to struggle with is that our toolkit cannot handle burst AE damage, yet encounters continue to incorporate this type of damage. This is further frustrated by the fact that all of the other healing classes have tools to deal with this, while Druids are (again) left with Rejuv and Wildgrowth as our only tools to combat the damage patterns. The prohibitive cost of Rejuv means that Druids run themselves out of mana trying to use it, and end up being insufficient if they try to conserve mana. Even using tools like NS and OoC procs, we are still woefully short.
I feel one of two things needs to happen to put us in a position that is comparable to the other healing classes: Mushrooms need to be fixed and/or the cost of Rejuv needs to be reduced. Without some combination of these two things occurring Druids will continue to fall behind as we progress into this tier of raid content.
I think that reducing the cost of Rejuv is a fairly straightforward suggestion that doesn’t need additional elaboration. However, fixing Mushrooms is more complicated as there are more problems surrounding them.
First, the placement mechanic is terrible. The set up time for mushrooms is prohibitive, needing three GCDs to execute the spell (which heals for such an insignificant amount) means that the setup time is rarely worth the healing you receive from it. This is something that we have complained about from day one. If Mushrooms are ever going to be a practical part of the Druid toolkit they need to work as a single mushroom, or a single drop.
The second problem is that the healing is so insignificant that it does not counter the giant gap in our toolkit. If we want mushrooms to be practical, and if we want them to be what they were designed to be, they must heal for more than they do currently. For the set up time, they should do comparable healing to PoH, Healing Rain, SCK. Even if they manage to fix the first problem (the set up), if they don’t heal for a damn, they are going to continue to be largely ignored in our toolkit. Honestly, I’d be just tickled if they said “Mushrooms aren’t working, let’s can them and go back to the drawing board”.
I’m trying not to sound like a broken record for the second expansion in a row.
But I am becoming increasingly more frustrated as I see hotfix after hotfix, and patch note after patch note, yet see no mention of tweaking Resto Druids. I’m not asking for the world, I simply want a toolkit that makes me equally competitive to my counterparts, and makes me an equally viable option for my raid. I’m tired of seeing my mana bar empty for healing the same damage as they guy next to me without the same restrictions on his mana because his toolkit functions more fluidly.
It is my hope that the Devs also have this data, and are also looking at it. It is my hope that we will soon see some changes roll through that will put us in a better place overall. Because right now my frustration is starting to outweigh the enjoyment that I’ve always found in healing.