In a word: I’m frustrated.
I was trying to express this in vent last night, but I’m afraid I wasn’t very articulate about it. Borsk was pretty much like QQ more druid – which I suppose is fair, since the frustration that I felt last night is likely similar to what shaman have been feeling for the past two raiding tiers. So I’ll let him have it. But that does not change the fact that I was so frustrated and disheartened last night that by the halfway point in the raid, I didn’t even feel like being there. It is not fun to feel like you are giving it everything you’ve got and yet everything remains so insufficient.
I’ve had two druid experiences so far: a completely PuG LFR with Elentari and my Progression raid with Beru. In my PuG Elentari dominated – but I suspect that has more to do with me being a competent and skilled healer in a PuG setting than anything else. I also dominated on Mynn in the LFR I did with her, and she’s the healer I’m least comfortable with and least geared. So take that for what you will.
However, when I got into my progression setting with five other competent and very skilled healers I felt like I was busting my ass – and felt like that no matter how hard I tried I wasn’t going to catch up. Now, in looking over my logs this morning, I was far from perfect. My LB uptime was much too low on several fights and my harmony uptime needs to be picked up (but wasn’t terrible). So there is definitely room for improvement – but I have to think that everyone on my raid team was in the same boat as we looked at these fights for the first time. Let me see if I can articulate the problem without it simply sounding like a bunch of whining.
The problem remains the same as it was when we saw 4.0 launch. Druids struggle to effectively deal with heavy burst damage. It is the sole reason that WG was buffed back at the start of T11 content. WG wasn’t effective enough to handle the AE damage that was being seen in raid content – and the only other tool that they had to deal with raid damage was Rejuv, which was sub-optimal because the cost of trying to blanket rejuv was prohibitive. So they stuck a bandaid onto WG by boosting the healing it was doing and shortening the CD and said “here, this will help”.
And it did.
Now, admittedly, WG at the end of it’s 4.2 iteration had gotten somewhat out of hand – and likely something should have been done about it. That being said, taking it all the way back to where it was when 4.0 released was heavy handed. And I held out hope that the nerf would be somehow lessened before 4.3 went live. When it wasn’t, I thought “well, if it didn’t get change, there must be a reason and it should be fine”.
As I went into our first progression raid last night, I found myself growing increasingly frustrated as I blew through my mana bar trying to keep up with our other healers. We ran the night with 2 priests, 1 shaman, 2 druids and a paladin for most of the raid. We one shot everything but Ultraxion and Spine (we didn’t attempt Madness). It was discouraging to look over and see our priests dominating, comfortably sitting with half of their mana – and I struggled to remain competitive pulling out every last ounce I had to give and ending every fight so out of mana that I was often literally waiting to have enough mana to cast another spell.
AE damage would hit, and despite my efforts to prep the raid for it with Rejuv rolling, WG ready and swiftmend queued, when the damage came the other healers laughed at my HoTs as they quickly (and efficiently) put the raid’s life back in order. All I was left with was a lot of overhealed HoTs and an empty blue bar. I’ve never felt more ineffective in my seven years of healing. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t keep up.
I sent off messages via RealID to see if it was just me. Was I the only one feeling impotent? Was I the only one struggling? Was I just having a bad night? And as the replies came back in, the answer was “no”. Many of my progression trees were expressing the same frustrations and facing the same problems I was. It wasn’t just me – nobody could keep up.
I think what makes even more frustrating is that Blizzard recognized our lack of being able to offer burst healing as a problem at the start of the expansion, stuck a bandaid on it and then ripped it off leaving us with no alternatives. I understand that they didn’t like a “fire and forget” spell being so powerful – but they didn’t give us an alternative to deal with the problem and they buffed other healers to better deal with the damage.
The “solution” I’ve been offered as compensation is “cast more Rejuv”. Which is frustrating in and of itself because you find yourself quickly out of mana for a heal that offers very little upfront healing and ends up largely being overheal. In looking through my numbers from last night Rejuv was frequently my top heal (sometimes more than 10% more than my other heals) and was often more than 70% overheal. WG tickled damaged raid members and my heavy rejuv use quickly throttled my mana bar. So where does that leave me? Right where I started the expansion – with very little burst healing and feeling like just about any other healer could do a better job, with greater ease, than me.
I was discouraged.
As the logs went up, Borsk said “you didn’t do as badly as you think”. But as I looked through them, I had to disagree. In the first four fights that showed up in WoL the orange bar wasn’t on the top once. And it wasn’t for a lack of trying. Believe me, I tried. So fucking hard.
Now, I’m not saying that the orange bar should live at the top. It shouldn’t – even if Blizzard has told us what we offer the raid is incredible throughput. I like it when the other healers on my team make me work. But I’m competitive. I want to win, I’m not afraid to admit that and I push myself to find my limits. And yet not one of those four encounters in the logs found me on top. I busted my ass. I tried so fucking hard. I used every last ounce of mana I had, and potted every fight. And I couldn’t keep up with the damage being tossed out to the raid. No matter what I did – someone else did it faster, better and more efficiently. I’m not being melodramtic, I’m trying not to be whiny, but god dammit I work hard I should at least feel like I have a chance at putting that orange bar at the top.
And right now, I don’t.
I’m back to where I was at launch. Feeling like I lack the burst healing needed for many of the new encounters and despite my best efforts, struggling to deal with the damage the raid is taking. Last night, for the first time ever, I truly felt that I was a replaceable member of our raid. I’ve always been a pillar of “fuck you, I can make this work” when it came to druid healing – time after time feeling like I was proving that druids could be just as valuable as any other healer (Healing Heroic Halfus pre-nerf with three resto druids? Yea – I did that). But as I watched the raid damage flying around last night and watched our shaman finally able to play to his strengths and watched our priests just wipe the floor with me (and saw Divine Hymn far outperforming tranquility) – for the first time, I truly felt that another blue bar or white bar would be better in the raid than my orange one and it was really humbling and made me incredibly sad.
I’m worried about what heroic will bring. I’m worried if I’ll be a liability to my raid. I’m worried that I’ll be making things harder than is needed because we run two druids on our roster. I’m wondering what my “amazingly good throughput” is going to bring when every healer right now offers what I have to offer…and then more.
For the first time ever I’m making a post where I’m telling druids that the future outlook of our class is “gloomy”, rather than saying “it’s not so bad”. For the first time ever, I’m saying that I don’t know if our class can remain comfortably competitive as a result of the inherent problems of our class and the seeming direction of many of Blizzard’s raid mechanics, and I’m having a really hard time seeing an upside to being a druid on a progression raid team right now. I won’t say that the sky is falling, because it’s not. But you should expect some thunderstorms along the way.