Guest Post: Resto Druid Symbiotics

Guest Post: Resto Druid Symbiotics

This is a guest post by Arajal about a more in-depth look at Symbiosis.

The WoW blogosphere has been abuzz with talk about druids’ new spell, Symbiosis. Needless to say, it’s something that has many druids excited. I’m no exception to this; as both a resto druid and a healing coordinator, I’m especially interested in Symbiosis’ possibilities. I figured I’d throw up another guest post that looks at the practicality of each synergy a resto druid has available to them through this spell.
Note: We’re still in early beta, and these spells are more than likely to change. I’ll re-evaluate new combinations as they come up, but for the time being, this is what I have to work with.

Death Knights

Linking Symbiosis with our disease-wielding undead friends will yield Icebound Fortitude for a resto druid. This is a link I could see having strong benefits in both PvE and PvP, moreso for the latter.

In PvE, I wouldn’t be surprised to see bosses equipped with a random single-target or group stun ability, in which case using Icebound Fortitude would open a window for healing that otherwise wouldn’t exist. Plus, the 20% damage reduction is like a second Ironbark (albeit on a slightly longer cooldown and only self-cast like Barkskin).

In PvP, this link’s benefit shines far more brightly. Having a cooldown to make yourself  immune to stuns and drop incoming damage by 20% would help immensely while being focused, something resto druids are likely to be the victims of. Even while not being focused, being immune to stuns during clutch healing situations can be the difference between a win and a loss.

As for what our death knight friends get out of the link, Wild Mushroom: Plague is a very nice ability for spreading diseases without expending runes, freeing them up for more DPS abilities. Looking over at Blood’s spell, they get a very nice health cooldown through Might of Ursoc that not only increases total health by 15% (similar to Vampiric Blood), but also brings their health up to 15% should they need it.

Hunter

Linking with a hunter gives a resto druid Deterrence. As far as I’m concerned, this is one of the better Symbiosis links if you’re concerned with both self-preservation and mobility. While it won’t clear any debuffs you have, it will prevent any incoming damage and suppress any damage you are taking by 30%, giving other healers some breathing room to help you out. Unfortunately, it currently does prevent you from casting any heals of your own, but being able to gain temporary immunity to damage while still retaining the ability to move is worth the trade off in my eyes.

Deterrence in PvP will definitely be a boon to any healing druid should they find themself there. Being able to “deter” (see what I did there?) any DPS trying to focus you down can have a huge impact on the tide of battle. Even if it’s only for a few seconds, it will still give you some breathing time to figure out your next move. Heck, you could just use it for a few seconds to keep the pressure off, then cancel the buff and go back to healing.

Hunters get Dash out of the deal, and while they already have spells like Disengage and Aspect of the Cheetah or Aspect of the Pack, it still gives them one more tool to get from point A to point B in critical situations. I know the hunter in my normal raid group would love a new way to get around the field quickly.

Mage

If total self-preservation is your cup of tea, link with a mage. A resto druid gets Ice Block from using Symbiosis on a mage, and aside from Divine Shield (which our fellow kitties get from linking with a paladin), Ice Block is the best way to survive in clutch situations. The number of times an Ice Block could have saved our raid or at least helped in wipe recovery are innumerable.

Much like Deterrence from hunters, Ice Block is a very useful spell to use when healing is at a premium in PvE or you’re getting focused in PvP. The benefit of taking Ice Block over Deterrence is the removal of all debuffs and total immunity to all harmful effects, but at the cost of mobility. While popping Ice Block in a circle of fire may save your life, not being able to move out of it while suppressing the damage may cause you some issues a few seconds later. That being said, being able to become completely immune to all incoming damage and effects for a few seconds is nothing to turn your nose up at.

As for the mage, Healing Touch is something they may or may not get any benefit out of. It all depends on if they decide to use it or not. In PvE, being able to heal and otherwise take some pressure off the healers is something both our raid leader and myself stress the DPS to consider. In PvP, casting Healing Touch is a very good way to keep afloat in chaotic free-for-alls or to eat a spell interrupt (since Healing Touch is the only nature school spell they’ll have, they’ll be free to cast other spells unhindered).

Monk

Unfortunately, linking with a monk yields nothing for the druid right now. It’ll be interesting to see what Blizzard decides to give us in future beta builds.

On the other side of the link, Monks get some fairly nice abilities from our arsenal. Brewmaster tanks enjoy Survival Instincts for a 25% reduction of incoming damage for a few seconds, adding to their already formidable array of mitigation and avoidance abilities. Windwalker Monks get to have fun with a mini-Evasion in the form of Savage Defense; something that will undoubtedly be more prevalent in PvP, but I could see PvE applications as well, mainly in the form of emergency off-tanking through Provoke and evasive spells. Our fellow healing monks gain Cyclone, perfect for CC emergencies in PvE or controlling opponents in PvP.

Paladin

The dispel-happy healer in me gets giddy over this one. Casting Symbiosis on a paladin gives a resto druid Cleanse, making our debuff-removal power absolute (I’m not counting bleeds as removable debuffs, since that power is limited to Monks at the moment). The ability to remove all debuffs of any type on a target is immensely useful in both PvE and PvP. While I haven’t yet had the chance to check whether or not Cleanse and Nature’s Cure share a cooldown, even having the ability to clear any debuff type on a whim is incredibly powerful. Just imagine using the combination of debuff-removal spells on a flag carrier in a battleground. That’d be a tide-changer without question.

Holy paladins get Rebirth through Symbiosis, a benefit that depends largely on your raid composition and size. That being said, having another battle rez at your raid’s disposal is never a bad thing. Protection paladins get another defensive cooldown in the form of Barkskin. 10% damage reduction on a one-minute wait time doesn’t sound all that bad.

Retribution paladins currently don’t get anything out of Symbiosis, but that’ll change in future builds.

Priest

It’s payback time indeed, Matt. Resto druids get Leap of Faith (a.k.a. Life Grip) through linking with a priest. All griefing and tomfoolery aside, Leap of Faith will be an incredible tool to add to a mobility-minded healing druid’s toolkit. Pulling a melee out of a nasty cleave or a ranged player away from a void zone are both very pertinent situations for Leap of Faith in PvE. In PvP, ripping your teammates out of harm’s way in arenas or yanking the flag carrier closer to your side of the field in CTF battlegrounds can make a very large impact on the battle at hand. Add the Wild Charge talent into the mix with Leap of Faith and you’ll have a lot of control over the flow of a battle.

While I can get behind shadow priests getting Tranquility, the spell the other two priest specs get is one that leaves me scratching my head a little. I can see a few merits to disc and holy priests being able to use Entangling Roots to stop melee attackers in their tracks, but in the fray of PvP, where damage is flying around and any CC that isn’t a stun or knockdown tends to break, I don’t see roots being used very much, and on the off chance they do get used, they won’t last very long. In PvE, I could see some use for the roots on large trash pulls with melee mobs, but that remains to be seen.

Rogue

Linking with a rogue gives us Evasion, something that I think will go hand-in-hand with our Heart of the Wild level 90 talent. Any healing druid in the “jack-of-all-trades” mindset that intends to be an off-tank for short periods of time will benefit greatly from linking with a rogue. Evasion for a resto druid is like a slightly better version of the Guardian-spec-only ability Savage Defense. This all goes without saying of the benefits in PvP, of course. Using Evasion against a group of melee players trying to focus you down gives you 15 seconds to breath a little and throw heals on yourself.

Similarly to what I mentioned for the Windwalker monk earlier, a rogue with Growl (their Symbiosis spell) can fill the clutch off-tank role through evasion skills, such as Evasion (duh) and Cloak of Shadows, if need be.

Shaman

A resto druid linked with a shaman gains Spiritwalker’s Grace. While it may seem counter-intuitive for a class that relies mainly on instant-cast heals, there are benefits to being able to cast on the move. Anyone who has grabbed feathers while healing during Alysrazor in Firelands will know what I’m talking about. Being able to cast Healing Touch, Regrowth, or even Nourish while on the move can be a deal-breaker in many a situation, be it PvE or PvP. Need to move alongside the tank while he kites the boss? No worries! Flag carrier needs healing heavy healing for all the DoTs stacked on them? Problem solved!

Enhancement and elemental spec shaman get Solar Beam from Symbiosis. Locking down a caster target underneath a Solar Beam can be incredibly useful, especially if they can’t move. Giving this spell to a class that already has a number of slowing and snaring tools at its disposal is icing on the cake as far as I’m concerned. Also, it gives these specs another interrupt spell as well, should a situation call for it. Flipping over to restoration shaman, Symbiosis gives them Prowl. I haven’t been able to find a shaman to test this with on the beta yet, but if it can be cast while in combat like Vanish, it’ll make a very nice wipe-prevention and/or focus-prevention ability.

Warlock

Linking with a warlock gives a resto druid the neat ability to remove all snares and teleport to their new warlock friend’s Demonic Circle. Of all the current Symbiosis spells healing druids get, this one is my favorite. The entire concept of the Demonic Circle for warlocks has always been appealing to me, and being able to finally play around with the mechanic makes me a very happy druid. In terms of practicality, it’s very similar to the Wild Charge talent while in humanoid form, but with a longer range and snare-breaking capability.

The usefulness of giving a warlock Rejuvenation is no different than the usefulness of giving a mage Healing Touch. Like I said earlier in this post, it all depends on whether your warlock chooses to use the spell or not.

Warrior

Casting Symbiosis on a warrior yields Intimidating Roar. In essence, this gives us a second, slightly different version of one of our level 75 talents, Disorienting Roar, with the disorient effect being replaced by a fear. If you’re a druid that didn’t take the Disorienting Roar talent, this gives you a tool you otherwise don’t have. If you did take Disorienting Roar, this gives you a second defensive AoE spell to play around with. Either way, the spell will be immensely useful in situations where many small adds are spawning faster than the tank can round them up. Resto druids, at least currently, tend to draw a lot of threat during healing-intensive situations where many adds are spawning in quick succession (I’m looking at you, Heroic Spine of Deathwing). Having Intimidating Roar in both PvE and PvP is a great way to keep attackers off for a few seconds while you heal yourself back into good health. Granted, if your attackers are immune to fear, you may run into some issues with this spell.

On the flip side of the link, warriors get some nice tools added to their kits. Arms and fury specs get Stampeding Roar, which is an amazing mobility spell for both themselves and others, no matter the situation. Protection warriors get Frenzied Regeneration, instantly convert the rage cost into health.

That wraps up my post. Thanks for reading!

Druid Symbiosis Abilities and Spells Other Classes Get

Druid Symbiosis Abilities and Spells Other Classes Get

Note: Last updated April 15, 2012.

Shadow Priests get Tranquility.

Healing Priests get… Entangling Roots?!

Since the level cap has been raised to level 87 on the beta, Druids now have access to their level 87 spell, Symbiosis. This is one of the more popular abilities in the game because it’s one of those things where every class has a vested interest in it.

What Druids get from Symbiosis

Guardian Feral Restoration Balance
Death Knight Bone Shield Death Coil Icebound Fortitude Anti-Magic Shell
Hunter Ice Trap Play Dead Deterrence Misdirection
Mage Mage Ward Frost Nova Ice Block Mirror Image
Paladin Consecration Divine Shield Cleanse Hammer of Justice
Priest Fear Ward Dispersion Leap of Faith Mass Dispel
Rogue Feint Redirect Evasion Cloak of Shadows
Shaman Lightning Shield Feral Spirit Spirit Walker’s Grace Purge
Warlock Life Tap Soul Swap Demonic Circle: Teleport Unending Resolve
Warrior Spell Reflection Shattering Blow Intimidating Roar Intervene
Monk TBD TBD TBD TBD

Sources and notes

1: WoWHead Mists of Pandaria Symbiosis Comments
2: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/4427534745
3: Owlkin | Symbiosis Results
4: http://www.mmo-champion.com/threads/1103278-MoP-Symbiosis
5: http://www.wowheadnews.com/blog=202586/symbiosis-breakdown-what-abilities-it-brings-to-each-class 

I did my best to cross reference spells and abilities in the WoWHead Mists database. Certain spells that had key words like “Energy” instead of a different form of energy used naturally by the class and spec, “Druid” or included certain Druid abilities like Rip are almost guaranteed to be the Druid form. Another dead giveaway is the level when the ability is gained (it should say 87). However, Not every ability lists that. In the event of inconsistencies, I deferred to the MMO Champion list as it’s the most recently updated.

What you get from Symbiosis

Death Knight Blood Frost Unholy
Might of Ursoc Wild Mushroom: Plague Wild Mushroom: Plague
Hunter Marksman Beast Mastery Survival
Dash Dash Dash
Mage Frost Arcane Fire
Healing Touch Healing Touch Healing Touch
Paladin Protection Retribution Holy
Barkskin TBD Rebirth
Priest Shadow Holy Discipline
Tranquility Entangling Roots Entangling Roots
Rogue Assassination Subtlety Combat
Growl Growl Growl
Shaman Elemental Enhancement Restoration
Solar Beam Solar Beam Prowl
Warlock Demonology Destruction Affliction
Rejuvenation Rejuvenation Rejuvenation
Warrior Arms Fury Protection
Stampeding Shout Stampeding Shout Frenzied Regeneration
Monk Brewmaster Windwalker Mistweaver
Growl Savage Defense* TBD*

* Speculation based on tooltips. Savage Defense costs 3 Chi. Chi is Monk only energy.
Wrath is listed as a Symbiosis spell but is not attached to a class.

Reactions

I don’t even want to think about how they plan to balance this ability for arena usage. I wouldn’t be surprised if they just disable it entirely, but I’m sure they’ll give it a spirited attempt anyway. The main purpose of Symbiosis is to give classes and specs certain abilities that they otherwise wouldn’t have access to. Mages get a Heal, for example.

Shadow Priests with Tranquility is pretty darn nice. Part of me wishes Holy Priests had it, but the other (sane) part of me knows that if that were to happen, Priests would instantly jump to the top. Divine Hymn/Power Word: Barrier and a Tranquility would be blatantly overpowered.

Wasn’t expecting DPS Shaman to receive Solar Beam, but since they’re all with the elements and stuff, I can see why.

Restoration Druids receiving Leap of Faith? I guess it’s payback time Sad smile.

Curious with the Balance Druids receiving Mass Dispel. Though it could be used as a more offensive ability since you don’t really see Balance Druids whipping out debuff removals as much.

Feral Druids receiving Divine Shield from Paladins. Ho boy.

If you notice a spell that’s in the wrong spot or if an ability’s missed, let me know but make sure you toss in a source (Screenshow, WoWhead link, or something).

Let’s assume you’re a Druid in a raid group with every conceivable class and spec compositions (Let’s say science is thrown out the window and the raid limits are higher than 25). Who do you give Symbiosis to and why?

 

Evaluating New Resto Druids in Cataclysm

The other day, I was approached by a couple on my server looking for druid advice. One of them was an up-and-coming resto druid still making the transition from Wrath to Cataclysm and felt she wasn’t quite where she needed to be with mana control. I offered to help get her up to speed, which eventually culminated in doing Grim Batol on normal difficulty. During the run, I realized I hadn’t seen much information on evaluating healing druids who were still getting geared up and used to Cataclysm mechanics. Below are a few things you can do to evaluate those druids who are still getting up to speed with the newer systems.

The Basics: Gear and Itemization

This has been beaten to death by about every druid resource out there, but it’s still just as important. I won’t go over the nitty-gritty of druid itemization here; these are just some general things to look for. If you’re not already familiar with the basics, don’t be afraid to ask your guild’s druid class lead or use resources like Elitist Jerks.

Make sure the druid is itemizing properly for stats like intellect and spirit, and check that they are gemming and enchanting appropriately based on what they feel they are having issues with (e.g. more spirit gems if they feel they have mana issues.) Also, make sure that the druid is wearing all leather gear. A single piece of cloth gear will keep a druid from a free 5% intellect bonus. I have seen more than a few druids get caught in the trap of wearing a couple pieces of cloth quest gear.

Talents and Glyphs

Talent setup and glyphs are just as important as itemization (you can’t be a healing druid if you’re not specced into resto!) While there are a number of different ways healing druids can spend their points, there are quite a  few talents that are necessary to keep up with the pack. Check to make sure they have the iconic healing talents, such as Wild Growth, Tree of Life, Nature’s Cure, and Efflorescence. Any direct boosts to their healing spells, like Improved Rejuvenation, should also be taken. Talents that add additional benefit in an indirect way, like Malfurion’s Gift and Nature’s Bounty, can also be useful.

Depending on the druid’s goals, they may have Nature’s Ward, Fury of Stormrage, or Perseverance. These talents are fine, so long as the druid plans to do PvP, solo, or small group content; these talents take up vital points that could be used elsewhere if your druid plans on raiding.

Glyphs are equally as important, adding many very nice perks to restoration’s already-potent healing arsenal. Be sure to ask what prime glyphs the druid has; if they are using the Rejuvenation, Lifebloom, and Swiftmend prime glyphs, they are in good shape. Glyph of Regrowth, while it sounds cool, isn’t as practical as one might think. Compared to the other three, it’s fairly lacking.

As for major and minor glyphs, the only one you should worry about the druid having (and this is only if they plan to raid) is Glyph of Wild Growth. Other than that, any glyph is fine, so long as it will benefit them while healing (I don’t think you’ll see a resto druid casting Typhoon or Feral Charge any time soon).

Technique: Theory and Practice

This is where it gets a bit harder to evaluate a player. That said, there are a few tricks you can use to check for where their technique could use some polishing. Ask them how they deal with different situations while healing, such as burst group damage or massive tank spikes. Set up theoretical boss fights and ask how they would manage healing in such a situation. Finding where they may be spending too much mana or have not enough healing throughput can be an immense help in improving a player’s healing. Make sure they know to keep a stack of three Lifeblooms up on a target as much as possible to take advantage of Malfurion’s Gift, and that they know to use Clearcasting procs on the expensive spells.  Also, be sure the druid is aware of who will be hit with Wild Growth or where their Efflorescence circle will land (Efflorescence is dropped at the feet of a Swiftmend target.)

Once you’ve gotten the theoretical stuff out of the way, it’s best to test the druid’s ability to use that knowledge. Undoubtedly the best way to improve anyone’s play is through practice; healing is no exception. Take your druid through a regular dungeon run (don’t jump into heroics until you’ve gotten them comfortable with regular difficulty) and put that player on your focus frame. Watch to see what spells they cast and what buffs they take advantage of (combat log addons help immensely for this.) If they are having mana issues, they might be over-casting Healing Touch or Regrowth, or forgetting to use cheap spells like Nourish and Swiftmend. If group members’ health is dropping dangerously low, they might be relying too much on using HoTs alone or are too focused on healing one or two people (including themselves.) Let them know if you see an issue in their healing technique; if they use that advice during the run, you can both see if it made an improvement.

Resto Druid Mana: Tips and Tricks

This is a guest post by Arajal. No, not related in anyway to Archmage Arugal.

My guild began our 25 man raiding about a month ago, throwing our entire healing team out of the frying pan of heroics and into the fire of raids. It was a system shock for everyone, myself included. We were all quickly finding that our old Wrath tricks weren’t working so well under the new healing system; we had to relearn our methods on the fly. Through this trial by fire (literally in some cases), I’ve come up with a few ways to save mana while still having good healing output, which I want to share with you all today.

Tank Healing

Lifebloom is your best friend for this now. While we used to spam this on everyone back in Wrath, it’s limited to one target now, so your best option is to slap this on a tank. Luckily, it’s a cheap spell, so if you need to swap it on a tank-switch or toss it to that DPS taking hits, feel free. Once your target is picked and the Lifeblooms are in place, don’t let that stack fall off. If you do, not only will you have to put up another stack, but you’ll also temporarily block yourself from Malfurion’s Gift, a talent that gives you a chance at a free casted spell every time Lifebloom ticks. Clearcasting procs are immensely helpful for saving mana; by keeping a stack rolling, you can guarantee you’ll always have access to the procs. You can refresh Lifebloom by casting it on the stacked target, or by using any casted burst heal.

Speaking of Clearcasting, the most mana-efficient way to use these procs is by using Healing Touch or Regrowth to consume them, as these are the two most expensive non-cooldown heals we have. Regrowth is good to use if you want a Swiftmend target and a quick heal, while Healing Touch is good for a free massive heal.

Rejuvenation is also a good spell to throw on the tank alongside your Lifebloom stack. This gives you the extra healing ticks and the option to use Swiftmend (just as cheap as Lifebloom in cost) for burst healing.

Raid Healing

Rejuvenation still shines as our go-to heal for throwing on other raid members. The main difference in Cataclysm is that we can’t spam it for too long without hurting our mana. As such, feel free to cast it on a few members who have taken damage, but don’t spam it like you would have on, say, Blood Queen Lana’thel, in Icecrown Citadel. That’s a one-way ticket to running out of mana.

Instead, using Wild Growth to start raid healing is a good choice. It’ll target the 6 (if glyphed) lowest-health targets and heal them for a pretty good amount. This is far more efficient than spamming Rejuvenation on everyone right away. However, be sure to look where your target is before you cast it. Throwing a Wild Growth on the DPS by the far wall of the room, away from the rest of the raid, doesn’t do your mana or raiders any good. Make sure casting it will hit the maximum number of targets possible.

The other way to throw out a good amount of healing for little mana is Efflorescence, a healing circle dropped at the feet of your Swiftmend targets. Now, I’ve read what Elitist Jerks has posted about the talent: How the talent is optional if another druid has it, how the math doesn’t show it to be very good throughput, etc. I don’t agree with this assessment*; any healing tool is worth getting, especially in a raid environment. Throwing down an Efflorescence circle is an incredible way to save mana while raid healing, and in some cases can make or break a heal-intensive boss phase, such as during Chimaeron (those of you who have done this fight know what I’m talking about). Also, just like Wild Growth, make sure the target you are casting your Swiftmend on to spawn the circle is standing in a place where the Efflorescence circle will hit as many people as possible (unless you need Swiftmend for the burst heal, of course).

Cooldowns

Tree of Life (as much as some people may hate the new version) is a good mana-saver if you’re running low or run into a damage-intensive fight mechanic. Lifeblooms revert to their spammable form, thus giving you an even greater chance for Malfurion’s Gift to kick in. Regrowth also becomes instant, giving you the perfect outlet for all those Clearcasting procs. Even Wild Growth is affected, giving you two more targets per cast.

Tranquility may not seem like a very good way to save mana, but it can be a life-saver for both your raid and your mana if used well. If you coordinate your Tranquility casts with other druids (or priests with Divine Hymn), you can save yourself the time and mana you would have otherwise used on casting Rejuvenations and Wild Growths by instead using Tranquility to stabilize your raid  and give the rest of your healing team a breather.

Mana Regeneration Tools

For regaining mana mid-fight, Innervate is your best option. However, using it when you’re scraping the bottom of the mana barrel won’t save you from running out. Instead, if you know you’ll need mana later in a fight, use Innervate early on in the fight (I like to use mine at about 75-80% mana). This allows it time to cooldown in time for a second use later, when you’ll likely need all the mana you can get.

Potions are a bit different, as you can only use them once per fight. While Mythical Mana Potions do work for emergency mana, I’ve found Potions of Concentration to be a good go-to source of mana in a fight. The only drawback to using these is the fact that you’re not healing and otherwise a sitting duck for the duration. However, there is a way to mitigate this: About midway though your mana (while Innervate is still on cooldown), find a safe spot, wait for a time when healing isn’t at a premium, and use the potion. Let the other healers know when you’re using it so they can be prepared for those ten seconds where you’re not healing. It’s a great tool to use to get your mana pool back up.

Nourish

Nourish is unique in many ways, even more so with the release of patch 4.0.6. Nourish is useful for both tank and raid healing, as it benefits from having a HoT already on your target when you use it and it refreshes your Lifebloom stacks. In 4.0.6, the Nature’s Bounty talent was changed to reduce the cast time of Nourish by about one-third if you have three or more Rejuvs active at one time. Most importantly, however, Nourish is among the cheapest heals druids have available, alongside Lifebloom and Swiftmend. When in doubt, Nourish!

While all of these are good ways to save your mana during raid encounters, I’ve found the most beneficial thing to do when your mana is at a premium is to trust your fellow healers. Don’t try to take the entire raid’s health into your hands; let the other healers in the raid help you keep everyone alive. If you’re low on mana, ask a priest for Hymn of Hope or a shaman for Mana Tide Totem to help not only your own mana, but everyone else’s. That teamwork can mean the difference between a wipe and a dead boss.

*I’m not against Elitist Jerks. I applaud them for their work and find a lot of their information useful. I just prefer to use my own five years of druid healing experience rather than raw mathematical data to base my conclusions on.
Holy Word: Sanctuary vs Efflorescence

Holy Word: Sanctuary vs Efflorescence

I love using Holy Word: Sanctuary on players in melee only to find that the Efflorescence from druids already beat me to it. Both effects can easily be stacked on top of each other for extra AoE healing. Great times for this would be on Blood Queen or on Festergut, for example.

On the other hand, I’ve found that it can be a redundant AoE overheal especially when the affected players aren’t taking that much damage. As a priest, I can place a Sanctuary down wherever I like. A druid can just about do the same, but the flowerbed only appears beneath the target of their heal.

Already in raids, I’ve been in situations like this:

eff-vs-sanc

Blue dots represent players. The large, transparent circles represent the area of the AoE healing effects. A well placed Sanctuary can cover players standing far from each other but Efflorescence is limited to the target’s location. Has anyone else seen cases similar to this? I just find it funny in a sense. Come on guys! Recognize that these circles are good things to stand in! As a guideline, I think druids have melee players covered. Holy priests can park Sanctuary on range if the melee isn’t in need of it. Thinking ahead to Sindragosa for tonight, I have a feeling we’ll be stacking these for players at melee range.

Side note, I participated in beta tests for Blackwing Descent and Bastion of twilight on sunday. They’ll be appearing on WoW Insider sometime soon. Great encounters, Omnitron especially. Blizzard has not shown any signs of lacking any raiding creativity yet. Lots of promise for us raiders.

Raid Warning Shift Happens Druid Roundtable

Raid Warning Shift Happens Druid Roundtable

Shift Happens: A Warcraft Druid Roundtable Event

On Oct 12th the Raid Warning crew will be joined by some of the biggest names in the Druid Community. They will be answering your questions, comments, phonecalls, and e-mails while kicking back and having a few laughs.

Want to get involved?

Submit your questions for Shift Happens via email (raidwarningpodcast@gmail.com), Epic Advice, comment below, or call The Raid Warning Rant Line at 707-602-RANT (7268)

The brave souls appearing on this edition of Shift Happens:

Tyler “Murmurs” Caraway of WoW Insider
Dan “Qieth” Poulsen of Qieth’s Quips
Keeva of Tree Bark Jacket
Redhawk of Redhawk’s Gaze
Lissanna of Restokin
Immamoonkin of MagicMelonBall
Graylo of GrayMatter
Fellhoof of ThinkTank
Astrylian of Rawr
Arawethion of Elitist Jerks
John Patricelli of Big Bear Butt
Lufitoom of Life of Lufitoom
Relevart of Relevart’s Druid Reliquary

That new Druid mastery is hot

I don’t think its quite in the game yet, but it looks good. According to others, it looks real good.

New Resto druid mastery: Increases the potency of your heals on targets upon which you have a hot.

It benefits both hots and direct heals equally while still supporting Resto being a healer that cares a lot about hots. It encourages layering different spells while disincentivizing Rejuv blanketing.

Source

That right there just shot resto druids up to a level that should be close to (if not on par with) the other 3 healing classes.

Is this the part where I cry now and say no one’s going to want to bring a priest to raids? ;)

In the mean time, other than fighting off a nasty cold. Working on some posts for healers and guilds during the transition to Cataclysm.

  • Importance of Spirit
  • Stopcasting
  • Changing guild policies for Cataclysm

At the moment, I’m in brain storm mode trying to figure out what questions GMs out there are going to ask themselves or their guilds.

In Defense of the New Tree of Life

In Defense of the New Tree of Life

When Blizzard first announced the changes they were making to Tree of Life in the upcoming expansion, the Druid community experienced its own mini-Cataclysm. The main gripe seems to be more about the loss of another “true” Druid form, than it is about the mechanics of the talent. The reasoning behind the Dev’s decision  is that being one of the maybe two capstone abilities for Resto Druids, Tree of Life was pretty boring. Yes, it gave you a new form, but the benefits of the talent in its Wrath iteration read like a list of lower tier talents. Assuming the math supports the Blue’s statements, the reduced mana and increased healing it offers only bring us in line with other healing classes. Not really the huge benefit you expect from a must have talent.

The new version of Tree of Life as it is in the beta, including the recent announcement that the snare is probably being removed, provides quite a few situational uses for Resto Druids, and makes the talent far more useful and class defining than before. First, lets take a look at what the new talent brings to the table:

Tree of Life:

Shapeshift into the Tree of Life, increasing healing done by 15% and increasing your armor by 120% but reducing your movement speed by 50%. In addition, some of your spells are temporarly enhanced while shapeshifted. Lasts 45 sec. 5 minute cooldown. Enhanced spells: Lifebloom, Wild Growth, Regrowth, Entangling Roots, Thorns, Wrath.

Enhanced Spells:

Wild Growth: affects 2 more targets
Regrowth: instant cast
Lifebloom: 2 applications of Lifebloom
Entangling Roots: instant cast and increase damage by 200%
Wrath: cast time reduced by 50% damage increase by 30%
Thorns: not yet implemented

The first change may not be apparent in the tooltip. The 15% increase to healing should be a larger boost than what you are currently seeing in Wrath, due to the fact that Druid healing power is being brought closer in line with the other classes without Tree of Life figured in. Because it is now a cooldown, the healing bonus can have more impact than if it was a passive bonus like the current live version. But the most obvious, and interesting, change is the enhanced spells. Not only do some our healing spells benefit from this, but some Balance spells as well.

Where I think that the new version really shines is how many different uses I can see for it. It truly went from a set it and forget it toggle, to a spell that can give you different advantages depending on when and how you use it. I really see it adding

Playing Catchup

The most obvious way I see Tree of Life being used, is as a way to catch up when massive damage or some other raid situation causes you to fall behind in healing. The ability  to heal extra Wild Growth Targets, complete a 3 stack of Lifebloom much faster, and cast Regrowth instantly, all combine for a very powerful boost to your healing when damage gets out of control. This also seems to apply to both raid and tank healing, assuming Druids are healing in Cataclysm the way the devs have been describing.

Healing On The Move

Druids are already known for being good healers on the move, but this makes us even better. By using this cooldown in high movement situations, you will add Regrowth to your instant cast arsenal, while also increasing the effectiveness of Lifebloom, and hitting more targets with Wild Growth. While the design of Cataclysm raids will determine how often you will use Tree of Life in this manner, I am sure there will be plenty of times that you are the only healer capable of truly healing on the move. This should be a good way to make up for other classes deficiencies in this area.

Damage Boost When You’re Not Healing

One of the design trends for healers in Cataclysm seems to be dealing damage when your not healing. So the bump to a few of our damaging abilities is in interesting touch. Now I am not saying this is an effective use of your cooldown in most raid situations. However, in times in which you outgear content, or in 5 man dungeons where it is not necessary to have the increased healing every boss, this can give us a nice DPS bump. I see this as more of a fun way to use the cooldown, but who knows what Blizz has in mind for the new raids.

Arenas/Battlegrounds

Arguably there is no area of the game better suited for situational abilities than Arenas and Battlegrounds. Where this talent truly benefits you in PVP is with its flexibility. Especially with the removal of the snare component taking away the one drawback that would keep you from using it in PVP. Lots of team members taking damage in a 5v5? Pop it and go to town with your raid healing spells. Someone being focused fired? Use it for the extra boost that can often be the difference between winning and losing. Got that last opponent on the ropes and want to help finish them off? This is a perfect time to cast Tree of Life and spam your enhanced Wrath.

In the end the beauty of the new Tree of Life is all its nuances and flexibility. Find the right time and way to use it will be a challenge at first, but in the long run you will gain far more benefit form it than the current design. As far as the loss of a true Druid form goes: Is it really worth it to lose a great spell, just because we don’t want to heal in our ugly caster forms? I hope the answer for most players is no.

Epiphanize is the co-host of the Raid Warning Podcast and is currently leveling a Druid in the Cataclysm beta as well as playing one as his main.

Leveling a Resto Druid in Cataclysm – Part I

Leveling a Resto Druid in Cataclysm – Part I

Epiphanize is the co-host of the Raid Warning Podcast and is currently leveling a Druid in the Cataclysm beta as well as playing one as his main.

With two new races to choose from as well as a new, improved leveling experience, there are going to be a lot of new Druids come Cataclysm. From revised abilities, to the new specialization system, starting a new Resto Druid is going to be far different than it is currently in Wrath. In this series, I am going to cover how things have changed leveling a Resto Druid, starting with level 10.

Specialization

The biggest change for low level players is the specialization system. At level 10, you will be asked to choose one of your 3 talent  trees. This is where you will place at least 31 of your talent points, as you can not unlock any other trees until you’ve spent 31 points in your specialization tree. Upon choosing this specialization, you will be granted an ability geared towards your spec, as well as two passive bonuses. As a Resto Druid your granted ability will be Swiftmend. Previously available at level 40,  Swiftmend will drastically change how you heal at lower levels. At level 10, it heals for 204 hit points, costs 14 mana, and has a 15 second cooldown.

Along with Swiftmend, you are also granted 2 passive abilities as a Resto Druid. The first is Meditation, which similar to its  predecessor Intensity, allows you to regen mana at 50% of your normal rate while casting. Your second passive ability is simply called Restoration Druid, and reduces the pushback suffered while casting Healing Touch, Regrowth, Tranquility, Rebirth, and  Nourish. This is similar to the old Tier 1 talent Nature’s Focus, but adds Rebirth to the mix. Even at level 10, I believe Blizzard  has succeeded in making you feel more like a Resto Druid than before Cataclysm. These two passive abilities cost 3 talent points each, with Meditation unable to be maxed out until level 22.

The Rest Of Your Toolbox

Along with these bonuses is your normal toolbox that includes Rejuvenation, Healing Touch, and Swiftmend. This gives you a well-rounded toolbox for a low level healer. 1 HoT, 1 big heal, and 1 emergency heal. I am pretty excited that Blizzard decided to teach low level druids the Swiftmend mechanic, as it is not available to the other healing classes. Overall, it looks like Blizzard is succeeding in simultaneously improving the leveling experience, while teaching Resto Druids how to use some of the more advanced abilities they will need when raiding. Even at this low level, you should start being able to get a good feel for tank healing in 5 mans, as well as have the added benefit of not running out of mana every pull while leveling thanks to Meditation.

In the next part of this series I will be taking a look at the next major leveling milestone, The Looking For Dungeon Tool, and how these changes affect Resto Druids healing low level dungeons.

Death of the Niche Healer

Death of the Niche Healer

Recently a topic has sprung up among many healers. There are lots of blog posts popping up about it so I figured since I’ve been going on about it for a while now, I’ll add my two copper to the public domain here, but first a story.

In the days of vanilla World of Warcraft, each faction had access to 3 healing classes. Priests and druids on both sides and paladins for alliance balanced by shaman for the horde. The lines between the roles of the healing classes was not as defined as it could be, but raids stacked healers and slogged through 40 man content with two simple commandments;

“Heal thy group! Keep thine tanks alive!

Then along came Burning Crusade. The developers evened out the sides and gave everyone access to paladins and shamans despite faction. The developers then looked at the classes and said,

“LET THERE BE HEALER SPECIALTY NICHES!”

Thus healer niches were born. In Burning Crusade each healing class had something it excelled at. Shaman healers fought with priests for the title of group healer supreme, Paladins ruled the tank healer slot and druids were perfect healers to roll between targets. The roles however got a bit too specific. Restoration shaman spent the vast majority of BC casting nothing but Chain Heal, priests spammed Circle of Healing,  paladins Flash of Light and Holy Light spammed and druids just put a hot on everything they could. As healers our jobs could be boiled down to one button push in many cases. Players geared for it and played accordingly. Needless to say this got boring. As a person who cast nothing but Chain Heal through all of Black Temple I can vouch for this.

With Wrath of the Lich King on the horizon, the devs looked upon their world and saw that groups were picking healers based on class and not skill. So from on high they spoke out their voices echoing from the heavens

“LET THERE BE EQUALITY AMONGST HEALERS!”

Thus each healing class was gifted with new tools to help them fill various healing roles in the group. Shaman gained the ability to heal on the move and gained even stronger single target healing, druids joined the ranks of an accomplished swing healer. Priests rejoiced as discipline became an accepted way of life and paladins embraced their bacon. Raid leaders reveled in the choice of skill versus class and the land was truly flowing with milk and honey.

I hope you liked my little story there, I know I enjoyed it. It is however a true story. In the early days of the game no one really cared what the healers were doing as long as everything stayed alive long enough for the boss to drop. In BC everyone had a specific role or at least a lot more so than the one we had in vanilla. As a shaman I personally cast down-ranked chain heal more times in one night raiding than most people blink. Point was people began to take very specific healing classes for encounters as the healing strengths were specifically needed for that encounter. This is largely how BC ended with each healer falling into the category  of raid healing, tank healing and then the specifics of which flavor of each. To be honest it got a little out of hand. There were several points where shaman for example would claim they couldn’t heal Magisters Terrace, and unless they woefully out-geared the place, they were right. Some healers could walk into a 5 man heroic and not break a sweat while others had to work and work hard in even some of the simplest dungeons. It simply wasn’t balanced.

When Wrath came along all of that changed. The game devs actually went out of their way to make sure tools were put in place to allow each healer to fill each role. Whether it was a glyph, a new spell or tweaking talents and abilities, they went all out in trying to sure up healer equality. It has been a balancing act since that’s for sure, and if anyone remembers back in may when I got on my soap box about the State of Chain Heal, in some cases healers were tweaked too much to the point they were way too far homogenized. However even with the hard mode debacle, for the most part there was healer equality. Each of the classes could heal a tank, or heal a group and each could walk into a 5 man heroic and as long as the player was on their feet and paying attention they were capable of doing it. After the last set of tweaks from the devs this became even more the case. As it stands now each of the classes and in the case of priests, each healing spec, is capable of healing a tank or raid healing effectively. While some excel slightly better than others in those varying situations, the truth is they can still perform in the role and that is what evening out the healing lines is all about.

With all the options we have, I for one am very happy. Recently however there has been a new, for lack of a better term here, healer subculture emerging within the community. Players of each of the healing classes / specs are starting to demand their niches again. Whether it’s a shaman demanding to be the king of chain heal once more or a paladin begging to be only useful on tank heals, the proof is out there. People are actively trying to secure a niche in raid groups. This honestly strikes me as odd. Why would you want to go back to a way of doing things that honestly people complained bout incessantly. Why try to cling to a system that forces you to cast only one spell when you have an entire arsenal of heals available to you for any task you could be handed?

That’s the part I don’t get. I’m ok with wanted to be the best at something or even better than someone else but to actively shoe-horn yourself into a single role seems counter productive. As a healer I love being versatile, being able to sling chain heals until I’m blue in the face or swap out and lay some nukes on a tank, I like having the option. As a raid officer and healing lead I enjoy this versatility even more. I love being able to take a disc priest and tear them off of tank healing to make them raid heal. Same goes for shuffling priests and healers. I like being able to give my healers a little variety so they aren’t doing the same thing every day. I like to think they appreciate it as well. What I love most about it though is not having to rely on specific classes to be present to proceed through content like it was back in BC. So after many players struggling for so long to have this amount of versatility, why try to limit yourself. This subgroup centers around the idea that a healer should perform one function incredibly well, but not much else. A perfect example would be shaman who feel that they should only focus on casting and buffing chain heal, while ignoring all other spells.

So after clawing your way out of the niche market to be viable in all circumstances, why try to go back?

That’s it for today folks, until next time Happy Healing!~

What do you think? Do you think healers should focus on their specialty and nothing more? Do you think healer versatility is key?