I haven’t posted specifically about druids on my blog about druids in four months. To be fair, I haven’t really posted about much in this space in the same amount of time. However, I’m recently feeling reinvigorated and revived, and I have reason to suspect that you may well start to see an increase in my posting habits again. But more on that later! Today I want to talk about druids.
A while back on Twitter, someone commented that they were surprised that the 5.2 changes to resto druids really didn’t seem to have the results that he was expecting to see – and that they felt a bit bad for the resto on their raid team (I think it might have been Derevka). At the time, I made a snarky comment that amused me greatly – but followed it up with the more serious comment that a druid’s mileage is likely to vary largely depending on the number and strength of their disc priests and holy paladins. It’s the latter part of that comment that I’d like to explore a little more today.
I think I heal just fine
Anytime that the topic of resto healing comes up, there are always two groups of people: those who are incredibly frustrated and those that come out of the woodwork (see what I did there?!) and state “I heal just fine” or “I always top my healing meters”. The statement of that second camp of folks ultimately leads to the declaration that they feel “druids are fine”. Which is then followed by an uproar of those who disagree and, of course, nothing ever good really comes from the subsequent conversations.
For a number of months I’ve dwelled quite a bit on why druids haven’t seen a little more love come down from the dev team – and I’ve come up with what are likely some good reasons (strength in PvP, stronger in 10s, etc.) and some pretty irrational and bad reasons (i.e. WHY DO YOU HATE TREES, GC!). But one of the things that has consistently continued to bounce around my head is the concept that a druid’s output will vary significantly based on the number of paladins and priests in their raid (i.e. absorbs) and how strong those players are, which means that the spectrum of druid output swings wildly - and makes it increasingly more difficult to evaluate yourself comparatively amongst your class.
Mileage May Vary
I, personally, find this fluctuation a little bit fascinating (albeit frustrating) and can’t help but wonder if it’s a root cause for why we haven’t seen many bones thrown our way thus far in the expansion. I mean, what do you do when you have one druid raiding with a plethora of mitigation based healers struggling tremendously to keep up – yet right next door you have a druid who raids with a disc priest who thinks spirit shell is a candy coating, a paladin who still thinks holy light and flash of light are the only spells in their spell book and, subsequently, is completely dominating the other healers on their raid team? (What? You don’t believe this can happen? Go run a LFR or two and tell me it doesn’t boost your leafy ego just a smidge!).
The question then becomes how is a discrepancy like this reconciled when developers evaluate a class as a whole? Honestly, I’m not really sure that if it can be; at least not if mitigation continues to play such a large role and continues to dwarf the value of throughput. I mean, there will always be the discrepancies of a strong healer performing with a team of weak healers versus a strong healer performing on a team of other strong healers. It is true that there are some druids out there that feel the class is perfectly fine and feel like the class is performing well. But in all my log searching (and yes, if you make the statement you think everything is just fine, and people are simply over-reacting, I do go and look at your logs if I can find them) I’ve yet to find a single druid that has made the claim that “everything is fine” this expansion that is raiding with multiple strong disc priests and paladins, in any combination.
I’m a bit curious if the large differences that we’ve seen the past two tiers with regards to this dynamic (those with and without mitigation) aren’t thwarting some of our overall desires for change within the class. I mean, what happens if you bring druids to a point that they can be competitive with a mitigation heavy raid? Do you run the risk of making druids who don’t raid with strong mitigation healers seeming disproportionately strong and imbalanced? This in turn, makes me wonder if our struggles will ever be solved by adjusting druids upwards. I’m not sure – and I’m not really one to suggest nerfing another class, when I’d rather see everyone brought up to having an equal chance at feeling successful.
So where does that leave us?
Well, unless the current concept of mitigation healing is completely reworked, those classes are heavily rebalanced or something drastic and exciting happens to the druid toolkit, it pretty much leaves us right where we are now. With that in mind, I think it is important to reiterate that your mileage may vary as a druid. Now, more than ever, your performance will be very heavily tied to the strength and composition of your healing team. The next time you are offering your thoughts on the current state of druids, I implore you to keep this in mind. Before you offer commentary, in any medium, carefully consider how the above plays into your perceptions and remember that (especially right now!) experiences will vary quite a bit!