MoP Beta: Thoughts on Mana, the Druid Toolkit and Early Healing at Level 90   1 comment

This weekend I spent some time in the beta trying to get a feel for both mana and healing at level 90. Since I learned early on that I was likely going to be unavailable for just about all of the raid testing that was happening on weekdays while I was still at work, I was fairly unmotivated to continue my level push to 90. I wasn’t going to be able to contribute where I wanted, being raid testing, and there were better things I could spend my time on. However, after the surprise round of weekend testing (which was blatantly obvious in being scheduled to combat a Guild Wars 2 beta weekend), I decided to get my ass in gear and push out the last two levels on the beta. Granted, I would be shocked if we see another set of weekend raid tests, but nonetheless if they are appear, I will be ready.

Anyhow, this is just a really long winded way of saying “I’m not qualified to tell you how your mana is going to be in raids”. I’ve talked to a few people who are doing some of the beta testing, and they’ve indicated that mana is tight – but that it’s tight across the board and all healers are in the same boat.

What I do feel qualified to spend a little bit of time talking about is how your mana and spells feel before you enter a raid environment. I spent quite a bit of time on Sunday running five of the nine heroics available: Gate of the Setting Sun, Scarlet Monastery, Scarlet Halls, Scholomance and Mogu’shan Palace. I ran all of them with Brade tanking and three PuG DPS. I’ve captured FRAPS of all of the bosses for each instance, and throughout the week I will be posting them, starting with Gate of the Shattered Sun below. I intend to run the last four of the heroic instances throughout the week, and will also offer some feedback on those as well. One thing that I’d like to make a note of with regards to these videos is that we moved the beta off of my SSD to free up space on it, which means that the beta is now running on the same drive that I assigned for FRAPS to write to, which in turn means that I have a little more lag running FRAPS and you may occasionally see some choppiness in the video as a result.

Now that I’ve gotten all of the qualifiers out of the way, let’s get down to my thoughts, shall we? (Man, no wonder my posts can be so long, it takes me hundreds of words just to get to the point!)

How do heroics feel as a whole? Based on the heroics that I’ve run, I feel that they are a step up from those we saw during WotLK but a step down from those we saw at the start of Cataclysm. As long as you have a decent tank (not exceptional, but one who at least knows what side of the shield faces the mobs), you shouldn’t have huge problems making it through the zones. Players who are experienced raiders and group amongst themselves should have little to no difficulty with the zones and will clear through them quickly and without incident. Players who are not as experienced can expect to face a moderate challenge with the zones.

I hesitate to call the zones “too easy”, because I don’t think that I fall into the category of player that they are meant to challenge. I’ve been playing this game for eight years, I’ve been raiding for all eight of those years. I strive to clear the hardest content in the game each tier, and have been relatively successful in that goal. I recognize that this content is not the content that is designed for me – or the player that falls into the same categories as I do. While I walked in an one shot everything but one of the many bosses I faced in the five zones – and made some pretty silly mistakes along the way – I suspect that a player with less experience than I would have a complete different experience and would likely be adequately challenged by the zones.

Outside of the difficulty aspect of the zones, I found all of them to be fun. The scenery is gorgeous, I really enjoyed the revamps of both Scarlet Monastery zones and Scholomace and I think they retained a lot of the feeling of the original zones – which were two of my favorites to begin with.

How does healing feel? To start off with, on the beta when you enter into a heroic your gear is all modified to be 440 ilevel, and your stats adjusted accordingly. I can’t remember what my exact stats were outside of the fact that I had 300k mana, but I will try to remember to look next time I’m in the zone and report back. As to how healing felt, again this is subjective, but I felt that if you were smart with your healing mana was rarely an overwhelming concern, and this is true of all zones as you level. I only went OOM once – on the encounter we wiped on – and then it was only because we struggled with handling the mechanics of the encounter properly (everyone on their own target, etc), and we pulled a few encounters on “accident” before I had full mana and I manage to finish them without scraping the bottom of my blue bar. Basically, if you accept that everyone won’t always be at 100% health, people are semi-aware of what is going on around them, you let your HoTs work without overwriting them and your tank doesn’t overwhelm himself, you should find yourself with sufficient mana to handle just about any situation. There will be times where you will be stretched, but aside from that one encounter I never found myself in a position where I felt I didn’t have enough mana to manage an encounter.

You do have to innervate smartly. You do have to pay attention to what you are casting, and that you don’t just cast blindly. You do need to use your cooldowns appropriately to help you get through tough patches. But all in all, if you are an experienced druid you should not find healing through the heroics to be impossible, and you will likely be provided a moderate challenge as you learn to work with your new mana pool. Once you’ve got a feel for what your mana and gear are capable of, I do not think that you will find the new healing model nearly as jarring as we found the healing model at the start of Cataclysm.

How did you like Iron Bark? It felt good to finally have something to throw at the tank other than just more healing, but I did miss having my own personal cooldown to toss out to myself. I used it frequently (usually during trash) and once I remembered that I had it available to me wasn’t shy about tossing it out when I thought it would help.

What about those mushrooms? Now, I haven’t gotten a chance to test them out in a raid yet, but I can tell you that I really struggled to find a time that it was worth the mana and gcd usage to drop them in a five man setting.

I think I should elaborate on this a little bit. The healing done has been significantly nerfed. They have reverted the “bloom” size back down to a miniscule 8 yards. In a 5 man, I rarely have enough people within 8 yards of each other to justify the amount of healing I get from mushrooms costing me 3 GCDs. I tried to find places to work them in, and every time I did I simply thought “I would have been better with WG”.

I continue to think mushrooms are a terrible addition to our toolkit in both theory and implementation. I continue to think that the practicality of them does little to fix the problems with our toolkit. And after reading that Shaman continue to be frustrated with spread mechanics in the new tier of raiding, I can’t help but think that mushrooms have actually become more of a hindrance to our toolkit than a benefit. I know that it’s too late to “go back and do it over”, and maybe when I get into a raid setting mushrooms with sit me down for a come to Jesus, and I will see the mushroom tinted light. But to date my experience with them continues to be unfavorable, and my opinion of them continues to be poor.

How did symbiosis work?To be honest…I completely forgot about it with some frequency. The abilities that I get from it aren’t anything to write home about in a five man setting, but will likely have more applicability during progression pushes in raid content. I generally tossed it on Brade so he got the extra cooldown and then hollered DON’T FORGET ABOUT MY COOLDOWN at him when things were a little rough- and I think I only had the foresight to click on what he gave me once or twice.

So…uh. I guess that fact that I couldn’t even be bothered to use my “shiny new ability for MoP” indicates that I’m a terrible player (possible) or that the ability isn’t living up to the hype. Likely it’s probably some from both columns, as there were certainly times I would have benefited from using the CD Brade gave to me, but I couldn’t help but feeling he got more from the ability than I did.

Nature’s Vigil, HotW or Dream of Cenarius? I have opted for Nature’s Vigil of these three. The reasoning for this is very simple: I’m not a fan of the DPS to heal philosophy. Some people love it, and that’s great. I’m not one of those people. I want to heal, I don’t want to weave in wrath to boost my WG. It is that simple, Dream just doesn’t fit my preferred playstyle.

But what about the flat int increase to HotW? It’s worth looking at. There is just so much wrong with everything else included in that talent that I honestly don’t really want to touch it with a ten foot pole. Of course, if it proves to be “the best” then I will – but if all three remain equal in output I believe I will stick to Nature’s Vigil.

Why chose Nature’s Vigil? Well, for the straight up 20% healing increase. Based on my aforementioned dislike of dpsing to heal, I can’t say that I’ll get a lot of bang for my buck on the “damage abilities heal all allies…”. My reasoning is not exciting or fancy, but the ability can be practical and give me the option of deciding when I could use a little extra umph in my output. Will I always use this ability? I don’t know. But for now it is my favorite of the three disappointing choices available for resto in that final tier.

Tree of Life or Treants? Tree of Life all the way! This is where my inner control freak kicks into overdrive. While it might be nice to have some poor saps (get it?!) helping me heal, I have no control over where those heals are going. I would much rather have the ability to put that boosted healing where I feel it’s needed that leave it to the AI of the treants. Plus LB blanketing is a nice mana saver during high damage phases – and, well, I want to be a tree.

What was it like healing a monk? Hilarious! Not that Brade did bad, or made goofy mistakes, that’s not what I mean. I mean he pulls by throwing a keg at his enemies. He belches fire in their faces. I won’t like, I spent an enormous amount of time laughing at his abilities. “OMG DID YOU JUST THROW A KEG AT THEM!”. When he asked me what I got from him with regards to symbiosis I totally responded “I don’t know, keg stand or something”.

On a more serious note, this was Brade’s first adventure into monk tanking. It honestly didn’t feel a whole lot different from healing his druid on new content. He was a little squishy sometimes, sometimes I think he could have used CC and not just barreled in (literally!). But over all I didn’t really find healing a monk that much different than healing any other tank that I’ve healed to date.

Overall, healing feels OK in an individual setting. I continue to have concerns about how our toolkit will play out in a raid setting and I have suspicions that we will continue to have many of the same problems with direct burst healing that we currently experience. Only time will tell. If you have any raid experiences with the beta, I’d love to hear your feedback on how you feel mana, mushrooms and our overall toolkit are faring comparatively.

Posted July 30, 2012 by Beruthiel in Beta, Druid Healing, MoP, Mushrooms

One response to “MoP Beta: Thoughts on Mana, the Druid Toolkit and Early Healing at Level 90

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  1. Ah, mushrooms. Although I haven’t played much in the beta, when I did try those mushrooms out- I wasn’t impressed. Even when I tried to play the boomkin spec, I hated using mushrooms because of how clumsy I felt whenever I cast those. Three gcds? I wonder if there’s another class that has a spell that costs 3 gcds to get the full effect. Probably not.

    As a restoration Druid, I also have my doubts I’ll really be using these mushrooms, especially if I’m on the run or actively trying to heal. I might use it in my down time but that would be about it for me. I really think the spell should be changed, and make it so that you can cast three mushrooms in one click or something like that. 3 gcds is just too much, IMO.

    All in all, it’s to be expected that mana will be tight at the start of Mists. I’m glad it won’t be as bad as it was at the start of Cata, but still, people should expect that. Also, as people get used to encounters at level 90, it will get easier. I’m looking forward to it!

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