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May 01

Resto in Mists of Pandaria – Are we facing a design shift?

The more time I spend looking at resto druids, the more I notice the increase in choices available to us. Blizzard are really succeeding in their mission to give players more of these choices. Whether that will result in their succeeding in making the game more fun remains to be seen, but based on what we can see so far, I am just getting excited.

There are some interesting changes I’m seeing come through particular in terms of our HoT vs Direct Heal effectiveness. Basically, it looks like the balancing act that is HoTs vs direct heals in Cataclysm is making way for a playstyle preference-based choice. Personally, I’m for it, purely because I consider HoT-weaving to be what druid healing is all about, but I don’t necessarily think that this is the most interesting way to heal for every fight ever. I also like that some other druid healer may just have a style that’s different to mine. In Cataclysm, that might have just meant he or she wasn’t as good as me, because they weren’t doing it “right”. Now, they can actually bring something based on their own style. I think that there seems to be a slight shift towards HoT healing, with increased HoT effectiveness and reduced mana cost, but I also think that druids are getting the tools to be more effective single-target healers than we were in Cataclysm.

Another apparent change is that it looks like players will be encouraged to re-talent more frequently. It’s something that many higher end raiders have always done based on their progression needs, and it looks like soon it will be normal for players to switch up a talent here and there for Boss X. “Displacer Beast works really well for mechanic A, and mechanic B really lends itself to Force of Nature”. That sort of thing.

So first, a few things we are getting that make HoTs even more appealing choices:

Tier 14 2-piece bonus:

Rejuvenation blanketing may be making a comeback of sorts, with the spell cost reduced a further 10% with this set bonus. Rejuvenation is already a little cheaper in MoP (16.9% of base mana) than in Cataclysm (20% of base) – we’re still left imagining what the end-game mana situation will be like. My concern is about players developing bad habits that need to be shaken come T15! What we saw in Cataclysm was that the philosophy of the 2 piece persisted throughout, and for healers that was mana conservation. For druids it came either through spell cost reductions, innervate gimmicks, or regen procs. This might continue in that vain, which I personally think is a little boring… My personal preference would be for mana regen to be something I managed purely by stats – I’d like to gear/enchant/reforge for the optimum mana pool + mana regen for me, and forget about it until I need to tweak it. I don’t like having to completely adjust each tier based on how good my set bonus is. Of course, the trend of the 2-piece set bonus could be something else entirely, like changes to make rejuvenation a better spell (tier 15 could bring a 10% healing boost to rejuv, for example, or some effect that when rejuv is ticking you get some other bonus). There is absolutely nothing worse, however, than having a 2-piece bonus that is too good, and makes you feel obligated to maintain last tier’s set bonus in the next tier. Tier 11 comes to mind, where Lifebloom ticks had a 40% chance to regen 1% mana. This was actually one of the best set bonuses ever for my money, since it actually affected your play style. It gave you the option for Tree of Life – do you use it for pure throughput, or do you use it to regen mana?

Glyph of Lifebloom:

This glyph is awesome for all those fights with a 2- or 3-stack tank taunt (Ragnaros, among others). The benefit from this glyph should not be underestimated, as not only do you get the strong ticks after just a single GCD rather than three, but those GCDs are then freed up for other spell casts. Of course, the longer the fight goes, the more “bonus” GCDs you accumulate. This is not to mention that the viability of switch Lifebloom to a target who is not the tank has increased dramatically. Before, Lifebloom was basically that buff you hate putting on a target, but you have to. It was our Sunder Armour. Now, it’s useful. This is one reason I say that our HoT capability has been boosted – HoTs generally heal more per GCD than direct heals (although of course, they have drawbacks to make up for that), and of course we can get even better raid coverage. This might mean an extra 2-3 targets get a heal from you instead of that sneaky paladin in your pug – the one who always spams heals on the target that you just put a rejuv on.

There have been many fights so far with tank switches, where druids have been better served just slow-rolling to keep LB up on the tank even when they aren’t holding aggro, totally overhealing, just to keep the 3 stacks refreshed. We’d switch if we could – it’s pretty much a no brainer that keeping LB on the target with a more consistent deficit is better, but with factors like [everything else that can happen within the time it takes to fast-roll 3 LBs on a tank] to consider, constantly switching is rarely the best choice. This new glyph means in MoP, that all changes. It is an intuitive change, and I think this is certainly a candidate for that compulsory cookie-cutter glyph.

Glyph of Healing Touch:

Now reduces the cooldown of Swiftmend by 1 second instead of that of Nature’s Swiftness by 10 seconds.

So in WoW:Cataclysm, a very simplistic way to describe Omen of Clarity proc use would be to say “when you need Nature’s Grace (or on NG cooldown if there is no specific benefit for Nature’s Grace in that fight), cast regrowth; all other times, cast Healing Touch to reduce the CD of Nature’s Swiftness (which you are using because you are a baller healer and aren’t neglecting ths ability!)”. Of course, there are situational nuances, that is just a simple example.

Fast forward (to the future!) to Mists of Pandaria, where there is no Nature’s Grace, and the new modified version of Glyph of Healing Touch is in place. Your Omen of Clarity decision-making process is probably going to be (and I say this without having experienced level 90 stats, so like all things beta, don’t go getting this tattooed onto your face or anything) like this flowchart:

Where to dump Omen of Clarity in Mists of Pandaria

But if you do, make sure you send me a photo

When OoC procs after someone has taken a pile of damage and Swiftmend is available, great! Chain a Swiftmend, then a Healing Touch to dump the proc, and Swiftmend is available sooner. If you really need to do some serious burst healing, Swiftmend followed by 4 healing Touch will reduce Swiftmend’s 15 second cooldown by 4 second, leaving only 1 second remaining until the next Swiftmend. This can solve a lot of problems with a distinct lack of burst that was particularly noticeable early in Cataclysm. Of course, its efficiency relies on a 4% proc chance occurring at the right time, so this is some expensive burst. If you are able to maximise your use of OoC really well, this glyph will probably have a nice payoff. Other times… I don’t think so. This glyph will need to be chosen for specific fight mechanics, and maybe when single-target healing in general. It’ll be better with Tree of Life of course, where OoC proc chance can be greatly increased, but I think it’ll take another Baleroc to really make that a worthwhile combo for a druid whose core role in their raid isn’t tank healing.

Note that Regrowth has become the new “all other times” choice as opposed to Healing Touch, it means that the Regrowth HoT may be more useful than it is in Cataclysm, simply since it’ll be active a lot more (assuming you don’t take Glyph of Regrowth – more on that below).

Glyph of Regrowth:

This one is pretty interesting. I will need to playtest this and update, but I guess it depends how the crit modifier works. I mean, considering the spell already gets a 60% increased crit chance, if the 40% from this glyph is baseline, then Regrowth has a 100% chance to crit. Of course, it may be additive, so that you have a 60% chance to crit, and if that doesn’t result in a crit, you have a further 40% chance to crit from there, resulting in an 82.4% chance to crit overall. Either way, it’s pretty huge in terms of burst potential. Of course, with regrowth more likely to find use as an OoC proc dump, the HoT may be invaluable for certain situations. If you like the idea of Regrowth as a fast direct heal to dump OoC, then this will be for you, but if you are more HoT-weave-oriented (like me) you might get more out of keeping the HoT and putting it to use.

Wild Mushroom: Bloom

This one I don’t think is worth talking about until we have some level 90 numbers, at which point it’ll probably get its own post. Anyway, I see this being pretty useful whenever there is a predictable burst of raid damage coming into an area (like say, Valiona & Theralion’s Twilight Meteor????), and maybe to be worked into an actual AoE healing rotation for certain raid-wide damage over time effects (like the final phase of Trial of the Crusader when Anub’Arak did his locust swarm ability, where it’s non-trivial constant damage rather than the pulsing periodic damage of say, Beth’Tilac phase 2).

So what about Playstyle Preference-Based Choice?

So obviously, there’s your choice in things like Glyph of Regrowth and Glyph of Healing Touch that can be used to strengthen either direct heals or HoTs, but the true decision happens at your level 60 talent choice:

Soul of the Forest: 

When I think about a 50% haste buff on the next spell, I immediately think of tranquility and wild growth. I guess it depends what future haste break points will be, but I am pretty sure this is going to be of more benefit to HoTs than direct heals. This is absolutely huge for HoT healing, and particularly AoE healing.

Incarnation:

It’s hard to imagine life without Tree of Life. In terms of when it’s right to choose this over the others, this is kind of the middle-of-the-road choice – it will boost both HoTs and direct heals very effectively. Essentially, this makes you the jack of all trades, and is the option to take if you don’t want to respec, ever. You might not be able to compete against a SotF tranq’ing druid for throughput, and you might not be able to single-target heal as well as if you had force of nature, but this is a pretty good choice for you if your raid doesn’t set strict healing assignments or you want to give yourself the option of picking up the slack in either area.

Force of Nature:

I can’t see myself making use of this in AoE healing situations. I think this is super effective in single target healing, though.

So for the short version:
SotF – Raid Healing
Force of Nature – Single Target Healing
Incarnation – Middle of the road/both

My thoughts on this choice? Personally, I think it’s going to be a lot more normal for people to change up specs on a per fight basis. It is so much faster now, with far fewer choices, that you may as well go in optimised for your particular progression target. Tree of Life is your one-size-fits-all choice. This is probably what you’ll want for your farm content build. It’s impossible to go past Soul of the Forest on a fight like Alysrazor, Beth’Tilac or Majordomo with short periods of intense burst raid AoE that required raid cooldown co-ordination – the benefit to tranquility will be phenomenal. I think that some people like their super-powered AoE heals and I think a lot of people will stick with SotF in their farm build, but this is mainly for those who pay closer attention to healing meters. Lastly, Force of Nature looks to have the most benefit to a druid in a tank healing role, whether it’s for a fight or your general role in your group.

So anyway, that’s my take on what we’re thinking in Mists of Pandaria. As I mentioned, it could all change. It could also not change, and I could still be wrong. Let me know if you think I am!

Permanent link to this article: http://sometimesatree.com/resto-in-mists-of-pandaria-are-we-facing-a-design-shift/

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