We had our final raid last night, and I decided that I would play around with Soul of the Forest a little bit. I know, I know – after last week’s raid disaster you’d think that I would just go with what is familiar to me. But between last week and this week, with the help of a friend, I managed to get my groove (and confidence) back. As such, I ran a LFR on Tuesday night where I played around a bit with Soul of the Forest, and then used it for the first six fights in Dragon Soul last night (I used ToL for spine and madness due to mana concerns on those two encounters). I’m not sure that I’m drinking the Soul of the Forest koolaid, but I’m not dumping it into the nearest potted plant either.
Yes, I am starting backwards! And I’m going to answer the ultimate question on everyone’s mind “which is better – SotF or ToL”?
Ultimately I think the choice between Soul of the Forest and ToL is going to come down to two things: Your preferred play style and mana constraints of a given encounter. While Soul of the Forest looks to be providing more output, just based on numbers alone, the other benefits to ToL should not be discounted and will be equally as valuable.
Early Thoughts on Soul of the Forest
The first thing that I feel I should state is that it is going to take some time to get used to the dynamics of this ability. To maximize your healing, you want to line it up with Wild Growth as frequently as possible – which is moderately cumbersome as Swiftmend is on a 15 seconds cooldown, where Wild Growth (glyphed) is on a ten second cooldown.
The question that should be asked is “What do we do in the gaps of the cooldowns”.
There are some nice calculations over at EJ that answer that question for you. They will also answer the glyphed vs. unglyphed question, if your first thought to solve the cooldown conundrum was “I’ll just unglyph WG!”. I highly recommend that you read through the numbers if you are curious. However, being the impatient person that I am, I am going to offer you the cliff’s notes version and tell you that to get the most bang from your buck with this ability, you will want to continue to cast WG on cooldown, and on the casts where it does not line up with Swiftmend, use a Rejuv to eat up your Soul of the Forest buff.
Now, in theory, that’s how it’s supposed to work. In reality…well, let’s just say it wasn’t quite as smooth for me. It will take some practice to get a feel for when to sync up WG and SM and when to just use a Rejuv after SM. I do know, that regardless of my timers, I still managed to get them off-sync quite a few times and ended up “wasting” the SotF proc. That being said, I think with some practice, the internal rhythm of the ability would probably become second nature and you would get into a groove that was comfortable. At least until you obtained your 4T14 and had to relearn everything again.
I know that on paper things are often quite different than they are in practice. So the next logical question with SotF would be “well, how did it really work”. I did two raids running a SotF build (the LFR and my regular HM group) and I can state that I performed strongly utilizing SotF, with BiS gear and roughly 3000 spirit, and that I did not have flawless application of the ability. However, I also ran ToL for the two longer encounters in Dragon Soul in my heroic run last night and also performed quite well. Would I have done better with SotF? I don’t know. But I do know that in the LFR I ran I was mana prohibited on Madness – which is ultimately what lead me to run ToL on heroic Madness and Spine last night.
Again, I floundered a little bit trying to find a good rhythm with SotF, which is what I think was the most disconcerting part of the ability for me. But, after reviewing the logs, I think that it also performed strongly throughout the night based on the encounters that I saw. With all of that being said – I do not think my mana would have sustained my healing style on Madness or Spine without the extra gains I had from ToL. Which is why I ultimately think that the preferred talent for that level 60 tier is ultimately going to come down to your own preference, and the mana demands of the encounters ahead of us as we start to push progression again. I suspect that there may be some added benefit to ToL early in the expansion when gear levels are lower and mana regen is harder to come by – but a lot of that will also boil down to your preferred healing style.
I know that I, personally, will continue to play around with SotF to get a better feel for it, but I also won’t permanently shelve ToL either. I know, I know. You came looking for an answer and I didn’t deliver! That’s just the way the branch sways…or something like that! My advice is to give them both a go, and see how they play for you. Don’t give up on SotF immediately, because it will feel extremely awkward at first, and it will take some time to get used to the interplay between SM and WG. However, when all is said and done you will need to decide which play style better suits you as a player – and the encounters you are facing there are a decision based on those factors. I do feel that given the correct set of circumstances both abilities will perform strongly and are worth consideration.