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?

 

Will You Be Dual Spec-tacular?

Will You Be Dual Spec-tacular?

Duality by vladstudio

Duality by vladstudio

Less than two weeks out from the Wrath of the Lich King release, I find that one of the upcoming changes I am most excited about will hit not with the expansion itself, but with an upcoming content patch. At some future point, many of us–particularly hybrid classes–will have the flexibility we’ve always dreamed of. The promise is that each character will be able to maintain two stored specs and switch between them easily. You won’t be switching during combat (imagine the exploits) but in a complicated dungeon, for one fight you could be the healer, and the very next you could be the tank or even (gasp!) dps.


There is every chance that this change will revolutionize gameplay, particularly for healers. Most of us would jump at the chance to heal for a 25-person raid and then tear through our daily quests as a long-feathered, wide-hipped, booty-shaking, snuffle-hooting Owlbeast. I know I would. However, I’m even more interested in the long-term effects of dual spec capability on the raid environment.

Of course, even with Matticus’ fascinating insights into raiding Naxx on the Beta, we still don’t have quite enough information to make fully-fledged (get it, a feather joke) healing strategies. However, that doesn’t mean that my evil little tree-brain isn’t working. As the healing lead for my guild, the following is my diabolical plan to take the fullest possible advantage of dual specs.

1. All healers will maintain a raid-viable dps spec and a raid-viable healing spec.
2. All healers will take appropriate dps gear at the off-spec dkp price and appropriate healing gear at the on-spec price.
3. All healers will practice both play styles in a raid environment.

Why is this plan such a winner? Read on to find out how the dual spec system will save your raid–and the world!–from much weeping and gnashing of teeth.

1. I can adjust the number of healers for each fight.

Based on what I’ve read on Matticus and elsewhere, it seems that Wrath of the Lich King raid encounters require, on the whole, less healers than Black Temple or Sunwell. My guild–and probably many others–recruited its healing corps with the latter two instances in mind. At the moment, we have at least 12 healers who raid on a semi-regular basis. Our healer retention has been excellent, and many of these players have switched part or full-time to alts for raiding in order to keep their spots. However, even with this partial solution, we sometimes have 10 great healers sign up to raid. My solution for Wrath? I’m not about to force people to respec dps or to reroll warlocks and enhancement shammies. Instead, we’ll share the dps and healing roles, and everyone will get to play what they want at least some of the time. In addition, I don’t fully trust the developers not to put in some fights that require 5 healers and others that require 8 in the same instance. With dual specs in place, it will just be too tempting.

2. My healers will become better players.

Yes, this belongs to the category of what I like to refer to as “L2P Raiding Solutions.” It’s going to be hard to switch from doing what Ghostcrawler referred to as “playing the UI, not the game,” to actually targeting a boss or, even more incredibly, assisting off a designated player. I look forward to this process. I need to go through the learning as much or more than anybody. An expansion, as I see it, is a great opportunity to get better at the game, and I know there’s going to be a learning curve. By, let’s say, next February, I want to be that player that people trust to do whichever task, dps or healing, is most necessary. Those players already exist, but I’ve had too much tunnel-vision to be one myself.

3. No one will feel stuck.

Sometimes all of us need a little change, a little breath of fresh air. I think that dual specs are going to help ward off healer burnout, and to demonstrate that, I’m going to resort to a very mundane metaphor. Let’s compare two real life humans–Level 30 Scholars, let’s say, and for the sake of argument, we’ll call them Sydera and Briolante. Now, Syd owns about 10 pairs of shoes she can wear to work, and she never wears the same pair twice in a row. Brio wears the same pair of admittedly very nice dress shoes every day. At the end of six months, whose footwear is in better shape? Variety is the spice of many things, my friends. If I know that I can cast gigantic Starfires on one of the bosses on a given evening, all the while hooting to myself in owlish glee, I’m likely to heal for the rest of them with good grace. Many healers feel victimized and put upon–our job is rather stressful, and blame sticks to us like cat hair on cashmere. What a nice relief it will be to sometimes focus on the boss instead of the little boxes on my Grid!

Dual Specs are Wonderful! But Why Do We Have Them?

I’d like to spend a few moments speculating about the underlying reasoning behind the dual spec change. It goes against many of the trends laid in place during Classic WoW and BC. First, WoW has always made players pay for flexibility. As we all know, the Vanilla WoW design for hybrids could be summed up by the hackneyed refrain “jack of all trades and master of none.” Moreover, gold costs for respecs–used more by hybrids than other classes–used to climb to obscene levels in Classic.

In BC, the fate of hybrids improved somewhat. Aside from a few broken specs (notably Moonkin and Retribution Paladin), hybrids became raid viable, but also just as limited to one role as any “pure” class. Respecs were of course possible, and in BC they top out at 50 gold, which still cannot be considered a reasonable price for mid-raid respecs.

Maybe it’s my own selfish featherbrain, but I think that the changes we’re seeing to how respeccing works–which is basically the removal of the penalty for changing your mind–have a lot to do with the perceived fun of playing hybrids–bringing us closer to the jack of all trades model again. I think this change might even have more to do with healers than other classes. We know that, my own freakishly healer-heavy guild aside, healers are often in short supply. For Wrath, Ghostcrawler has laid out the possibility that raid healing might be overhauled entirely, just as was done with tanking. The idea, in general terms, is to make raiding “more fun.”

What is more fun, in the developers’ minds? Based on the druid class changes for 3.0, I can take a guess. Despite what some healers find entertaining, Blizzard doesn’t want us to be tied too closely to timers or set-in-stone rotations. Pre-3.0, I used to cast something–usually an instant, and many times Lifebloom–every time the GCD was up. This means that I can spare about half an eyeball for the raid environment, and I haven’t even seen many raid bosses. I spend too much time looking at Grid with one eye and the ground–for nasty AoE effects–with the other. To a certain extent, this is necessary for proper focus–I’m not sure that Briolante spends much time gazing longingly on, say, Archimonde’s face either, even though he’s up there tanking. Here’s a quote: “Demon crotches get old after a while.” The developers want play to be variable, engaging, movement heavy, and reactive rather than proactive. As a druid healer at the moment, I feel that I’m supposed to entirely change my playstyle, and old habits–like maintaining Lifebloom rotations–die hard.

At least dual specs are actually fun! Many times, the developers seem to design away from fun by putting arbitrary limitations on things–the recently removed movement speed reduction for trees comes to mind, as does the prohibition on flying in Northrend until level 77. It is my hope that, whatever they do to healing, the dual spec possibility keeps me from entirely losing my mind, or, should I say, my feathers.