Mileage May Vary   20 comments

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!

Posted April 16, 2013 by Beruthiel in Druid Healing

20 responses to “Mileage May Vary

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  1. I raid in a 10M group, with a very talented holy paladin, and together, we 2 heal almost everything from the beginning. I completely agree that one’s performance is based on how talented the rest of your healing team is and I’ve held this opinion for the past couple of expansions. On some fights I get clobbered on the meters and other fights I shine; it truly depends on the mechanics of the fight and what exactly everyone is assigned to do. I’ve long since stopped looking at meters to decide who is a good healer and who isn’t. In my particular group, we are quite happy with our 2 healing team. And even though I think resto druids could use a bit of tweaking (moving my full mushrooms to another spot if the group had to move comes to mind), I’m still quite happy healing on my druid.

    • I still love my Druid and am very attached to her, but after almost nine years of playing her I can say that this is the weakest I’ve ever felt as a healer in a 25 man setting. Challenge modes? 10 mans? LFR? I feel fairly strong. 25 progression? It’s like night and day!

  2. I haven’t raided 25s in several years (I don’t count LFR), so it’s truly hard for me to give a complete evaluation of the effectiveness of resto druids overall.

    However, in my 10s group, right now I run with a Holy Priest and a Holy Paladin. I feel that we have a good synergy, and while I do miss the days of easily always coming out on top, I relish the challenge of figuring out the best way to work around our weaknesses.

    The revamped mushrooms is a step in the right direction for helping with AOE burst situations, but I find at times that there’s a lot less wiggle room for error than there was previously. I honestly was bored of running ICC, doing my 5+1 rotation ad nauseum, so I welcome a challenge.

    I realize I sound like I’m in the camp of saying, “Resto Druids are fine,” but it’s more that I feel that I enjoy the challenge of getting all I can out of the class, and I enjoy the hell out of it.

    • I think this is probably more a reflection on healing in a 10 man environment, where Druids don’t fare nearly as poorly, than it is feeling that overall we are “fine”. I, personally, feel much stronger in 10s, even more so if I am two healing. That being said, I absolutely welcome a challenge – but I also don’t consider futility challenging. 🙂

      What I mean by that is simply that I can heal precisely the same, but my output is 100% dependent on the amount of mitigation found in my raid. And to me, that doesn’t define a “challenge” or encourage tweaking my play to try and eek out a little more (which I try to do ever raid I do, from LFR to progression). I am happy for some diversity, but I find I have less diversity now than I did last expansion.

  3. Honestly, I think some mechanics need to be added that bypass absorbing mitigation of priest and paladin shields. The moment that is added is the moment druids and shamans will even out and be in a healthier place. The real growing problem for the past two expansions has been the fact that when some classes can mitigate incoming raid damage, and others can’t, the other parties get left behind.
    The problem is that priests and paladins have been in an amazing spot for well over a year now, the outcry to such a mechanic change would too much for a mid-expansion change.
    At this point though I really do hope Blizzard has realized that they can’t just solve the difference in healing from the aborbing camp and the non-absorbing camp by upping the throughput of the non-absorbing camp. They either have to make it so absorbs don’t absorb everything, weaken the actual strength of absorbs or give everyone absorbs.

    • I agree completely.

      If mitigation is the direction we are headed, it’s going to completely dwarf the value of the throughput healer. I do think either the mitigation will have to be toned down (or require smarter play overall to be so successful at it) or everyone is going to have to be given a tool to be competitive in a mitigation environment. I really don’t want the latter, and would prefer some sort of work around with the former.

  4. You know, you touch on a really interesting point here, Beru. Obviously, though I’m no longer playing, I can speak a bit about the paladin side of things.

    I never liked the mitigation side of paladin healing, barring, perhaps, Sacred Shield in Wrath. I HATED mastery. I still hate the holy paladin mastery. I was always much more of a fan of being the healer with many tricks up their sleeves than all this passive crap like mastery. I relished good CD usage, I adored the brute force healing I could do with 100% beacon, but I hated my pathetic little shields and it’s one of many, many reasons I grew disenchanted with the game.

    However, I remember the days of being unable to “complete” (and I use that term lightly) with resto druids and their hots. Paladins wanted a hot. We even had a viable one, briefly, when some set bonus, matched with Sacred Shield, caused Flash of Light to tick for X seconds on the Sacred Shield target at DOUBLE the amount. This was fun! This was awesome! But it was temporary. Without the set bonus (4pc T9, IIRC), it wasn’t really worth it to cast unless you were “flash of light” geared. (Which was, IMHO, stupid.)

    Heading into Cata, I think they HAD to give paladins something for their toolkit because they wanted to sort of make sure all healers could do their jobs. You know what I mean, with regards to the 3-heal system and all that crap. So they wanted to make sure all healers could work fairly well in all situations. Instead of hots, paladins got mitigation (which had been largely the realm of discs beforehand) and got some mobility boosts.

    I think this was a huge mistake (and don’t get me started on holy power, which I ALSO think was a mistake). However, I don’t really see a good way around it. The strength of a paladin was throwing huge heals at specific targets (heroic Saurfang and heroic Dreamwalker were some of my favourite fights ever) and that was it. In order to make use of a paladin’s strength, you needed fights like H Saurfang or H Dreamwalker or fights like SSC’s old Tidewalker, with parry thrashes and a boss that hit like a truck.

    The problem is, other healers wouldn’t be able to deal with those fights as well as paladins and pallies would be “OP” for those fights because it was in the paladin niche. Given Blizzard’s desire to sort of even out all healers, there were fewer parry thrashes (or none at all?), no more REALLY hard-hitting bosses (possible exception of Halfus and Blackhorn, off the top of my head) and a lack of a niche for paladin healers, apart from, uh, Ultraxion?

    So while I can’t blame them for giving pallies mitigation and discs even MORE mitigation, I think it wrecked the balance between the healing classes. I really liked how the classes were balanced for PVE in late Wrath, but again, I know resto druids struggled for raid spots on H LK due to …. infest, was it? Whatever the discs threw PW:S on people to absorb, but I think that’s more focusing on the weakness of the class for that specific fight while they were, perhaps, in a better spot on the other encounters. (Okay, Dreamwalker excepted as well.)

    What might have been something else they could have done APART from mitigation if they wanted to make sure healers were pretty well even at various jobs in 5-mans, 10s, 25s and PVP? Hots? Too generic. While I dislike the mitigation, I can see why it was added and I can’t think of something that might have been better.

    Still, I think the game was better off without anything beyond token mitigation and such. But that’s my dime’s worth. 😉

    • I think what bothers me so much about eternal flame (or whatever it’s called) is that it comprises on average 40% of a paladin’s healing and it’s PASSIVE. There is something inherent,y wrong about that to me. There are very few intricate decisions being made for a spell that has such a wide spread…which is ironic to me and that is the reason Blizzard gave for nerfing WG last expansion.

      The other thing that bothers me a bit is that Holy Paladins are arguably better Druids than we are with their new toolkit! But that seems like a post better suited for another day 😉

  5. I read this post last night before going into Throne of Thunder. It really hit home as I healed the Horridon fight with 2 Discs and 2 Pallies. There was nothing for me to do – no way my HoTs were going to get in more than a token amount of healing around all those shields. Our dps was completely on the ball and we had zero poisons or curses go out too, so by the end of the fight I was actually thinking “why am I even in here?”

    I think mileage varies not just on the raid team, but also depends a lot on the fights. I’ve been healing with the same raid team all expansion (give or take the resto shaman who drift in and quickly drift out again) with 2 Holy Pallies, 1 Disc Priest and 1 Priest who switches between the two specs. In Tier 14 I felt fine. HoF could be a little rough but other than that, I still felt my healing was competitive. However, I don’t feel that way on a lot of fights in ToT. On most fights the raid is always having to move and people are unable to stack up for any significant period of time, which really limits the amount of healing we can do with things like Mushrooms or Efflo (this is particularly infuriating because I think 2T15 would have been awesome for T14, but is lacking in this tier). There’s only so much we can do with WG every 10 seconds and Rejuv.

    • I woulda agree that the design of the encounter also plays a big part. However, there are some fights that I would think should favor Druids (raid spread, lots of damage, etc)…and they simply don’t. Which is somewhat of a testament to how bad our woes have become, I think. If we are still performing poorly on encounters that should suit our niche, well, something is rotten in the state of Denmark!

  6. on our raid we mostly 2 heal mogushan vaults regular and that gives my druid stuff to heal but when the dps are being smart and I’m paired with a paladin and a disc priest is when it starts to show the havoc the shields can have on the druid I’m ok with shields for the tanks what I’m not ok with is multiple raid shielding.

    here are some world of logs.

  7. Coming from a 25 raid point of view, I do feel quite useless most of the time. I cannot compete with the 2 Hpallies and 2 priests and it only got worse in ToT. I think Beru made some excellent points as to why we are in such a bad place. I’ve done some 10 raids and it is so much easier to compete there.
    That being said, the blame falls on the development team. I believe the good developers are working on Titan and we are left with Ghostfailer and his math challenged crew.
    To the people who think we are “fine” I just direct them to (that’s right, only 2 ranked rdruids out of 120)
    need more proof?

    • I’m not entirely sure it’s fair to think everyone who is anyone has been deployed to Titan or that the Devs that are left are mathematically challenged – as easy as it would be to do so. I think perhaps some foresight wasn’t applied to the ramifications of making two very strong mitigation classes and the effect it would have in a large raid setting, or perhaps the proficiency in which some players were able to maximize this. Regardless of the reasons, this is where we ended up, and either it will right itself or we will have to finish the expansion as it is. However, I’m pretty confident that a good number of people find the current situation “unfun” and I’m optimistic that steps will be taken to even it out sooner rather than later.

  8. I feel your pain druids… holy priests have the same problem. I am a holy priest first and foremost, and I do not wish to swap to disc no matter how much everything thinks the sun shines out of it’s ass. I like healing, not mitigating. I raid with 2 disc priests, a paladin, a monk and a druid (varying combinations). Whenever the 2 disc priests and paladin are both in, it’s near impossible to compete UNLESS the number of healers is dropped. I think when I and the druid do badly on the healing meters it is (in most cases) a direct reflection of having too many healers. On fights when there is plenty of damage to heal and I am not bored, we do fine on the meters. Then of course there are those stupid fights where atonement is boosted by some buff to damage on the boss (looking at you Horridon) and I am quite useless in comparison and get sat out for the progression.

    • Under healing might solve some of the issues, but I don’t think the core problems. That being said, the more mitigation present, the more ineffective everyone without mitigation becomes.

  9. A great thought provoking post Beru. However, I found Jas’s comment interesting because I would have thought in 25s, things like Horridon and Council would catch a greater number of people. In 10s the amount of people grouped together is pathetic, so I would have thought druids would be doing poorly on the heals, but I haven’t found that to be the case, and I heal with a fairly decent holy pally. Now I must go and write my own thoughts on this whole thing so I don’t clutter your blog 🙂
    Oh and it’s great to see more druid stuff again Beru ❤

    • I think the issue is more the difference in 10s and 25s, and Druids being more competitive in the former. Sadly, you’d think certain fights would play to the strengths of a Druid, but so far I’ve not found that to be the case 😦

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