Monday, May 23, 2011

Thoughts on Druid healing in 4.1

I really enjoy it, but it's still broken.  Does that make sense?

I'm not going to talk about raid healing, because other healers fill in for our gaps and problems there.  So lets stick to solo-healing a troll heroic as a druid.  It's doable.  It's not always easy.

We have a smaller toolbox than we used to:

Remember Blizz stating that druids' healing toolbox was plenty big, and thus we wouldn't be getting any new abilities for Cataclysm?  Well, they actually reduced it.

Lifebloom is no longer a real tool.  It sits on the tank 95% of the time, and can't go on anyone else simultaneously.  It's off the table.  Oddly, it still needs to be stacked up to three.

Nourish is pretty much only for use on the tank.  You can use it on a dps, but it won't fill an appreciable portion of their health, and it won't refresh Lifebloom, because they won't have lifebloom.

Healing Touch is pretty much only for use on the tank.  You can use it on a dps, and I do occasionally, but it's slow and mana intensive.  And a lot of these fights take you down to the wire in terms of keeping your mana pool above zero.

Regrowth is in a weird place.  It is our quick, emergency heal.  It costs a lot, but we can cast it quickly if someone is about to die.  The only problem is, it doesn't heal for enough to actually prevent death.  I still use it, but rarely.  A good 75% of the time I manage to cast it before my target dies, they die anyways, it just takes an extra two seconds.  The HoT portion is now essentially nonexistent, and it's only still there because druids and HoTs go hand-in-hand.

Rejuvenation is still our goto heal.  It's cheap for its total healing done.  I normally keep one on the tank at all times so I can Swiftmend is need be, and I toss them on any dps that drops below 80% or so.  And then pray that they don't go back in the fire until it's had time to work.

Wild Growth is still quite useful.  Assuming there is much group damage at all, I still try to cast it on cooldown unless I'm below 20% mana.  Low throughput, but high efficacy.

Tranquility can be salvation, but it's hard to know when to cast it.  If people are already below 10% health or so, it probably won't save them.  It takes a little while to stack up.  If you can't stand still for at least 5 seconds, preferably more, you shouldn't cast it because you'll need to break it early.  Finally, you sometimes lose the tank afterwards, because their HoTs have fallen off while you were channeling.  You need to spend 4 GCDs just getting them back on, and then you can start healing again.  Ironically, I find myself using Tranquility more as a Boomkin than as Resto.

Tree of Life almost never gets pulled out in 5-mans.  I should do it every encounter, just for the heck of it.  But it's really an AOE throughput cooldown.  You can have Wild Growth hit more people, and Lifebloom stacked everywhere.  That's useful in raid, but less useful where the problem is one or two people are getting pounded and we need a way to make up for the limited single-target throughput of the druid.

So, in the end, the vast majority of my time is spent casting Rejuv, hitting the tank with a Nourish or two, hitting Wild Growth on cooldown, and Swiftmending when necessary.  Regrowth, Healing Touch, Tranquility, Life Bloom, and Tree of Life all fall by the wayside except in special circumstances.

We need another button:

There are plenty of times I can see that someone is in trouble but just can't do anything.  They either die while my Healing Touch is casting, or they die despite my landing a Regrowth or two on them.  Sure, you can try to save up Swiftmend for this, but that cripples the rest of your healing, and makes Efflorescence useless.

The other healers have bigger flash heals or external damage reduction cooldowns.  They can just shield someone.  We need to struggle and often lose someone.

The result is that certain fights are just slow death marches for druid healers.  Venoxis in ZG, for example...we can't shield you if you have a toxic link, and we have no good way of getting you back up quickly in case it hits you again.  Even if we take Life Bloom off the tank, it can only be on one of the people who was Linked.  The final fight in ZA is another good example, especially if the cat and/or firehawk spirits are active.  As druids, we can keep people alive for the most part, but the entire group keeps inching down.  We can't stand still to hit Tranquility, and people just start dying one by one.  It leaves me wanting another button.


Well, we could get a shield.  I don't really like that.  Something along those lines, perhaps, but with more of a druid feeling to it.  Perhaps mushrooms could somehow function as a reactive healing item?  Like lightwell, but with no need to click it?  It would need to be on cooldown somehow, and you would need to be within a certain range of the mushroom, but I could see that working.  Perhaps it pops, reducing damage and putting a HoT on the first character within 20 yards to drop below 20,000 health, or something like that.  And you can only place three per fight, or you can't place one within 30 seconds of another one popping.

Alternatively, it really might be as simple as allowing us to have Life Bloom on two targets simultaneously.  Keep it on the tank and then use it to help with the occasional dps who gets low.

All I know is, something does feel off right now, as I've described above.  Hopefully, Blizz will take some steps to bring us in line with other healers.  (in raid environments, outside of strange fights like Chimaeron, I think that we're already there for the most part....we bring some really nice raid healing, with the bonus of lifebloom stacked on a tank.  we can also be tank healers, which we're good at, I just think it wastes our potential a bit).

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