Suggested Healing Priest Specs, Glyphs, and Addons for 3.1

Not sure how to spec or glyph for 3.1? Here are my suggestions. Feel free to modify accordingly. WoW Insider has a great roundup to everything 3.1 related.

No Stock UI has a great list of updated and compatible 3.1 addons for you to peruse.

Discipline Priest Specs

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Soul Warding: Reduces the cooldown of Power Word: Shield by 4 seconds and reduces the mana cost of Power Word: Shield by 30%.

Absolution: Reduces mana cost of Dispels and Disease curing spells by up to 15%.

Focused Will: Increases your spell critical effect by 3% fully talented. If you get crit, incoming damage is reduced by 4% and healing effects on you increase by 5/10/15%.

3 points can go either into Absolution or Focused Will. With the amount of cleansers and dispelers in my arsenal, I opted for the increase crit for the time being. But that might change later.

Improved Flash Heal: Must talent, I think. Reduces mana cost of Flash Heal by 15% and increases the crit chance if your targets are below half health.

Rapture: It’s different now. When your Shield is absorbed or dispelled, you instantly get back 2.5% of your total mana and your target gains 2% mana, 8 rage, 16 energy, or 32 runic power. Works every 12 seconds.

Discipline Priest Glyphs

Glyph of Flash Heal
Glyph of Power Word: Shield
Glyph of Penance – NEW: Your Scribes will have to be lucky here.
Glyph of Prayer of Healing – At least it’s some form of AoE healing if the fight calls for it

Holy Priests Specs

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Blessed Resilience: For 3 points, it increases your healing effectiveness by 3%. The stronger your healing effectiveness, the better this talent will be. For the time being I opted not to get it.

Serendipity: A haste inducing talent. Requires you to Flash Heal or Binding Heal before it adds a 12% haste buff per stack up to 3 (total of 36%). Makes your next Greater Heal or Prayer of Healing faster. Note: Binding Heal used to grant 2 haste buffs per one cast. It doesn’t do that anymore.

Test of Faith: No change here.

You’re going to end up with 6 talent points. You can only invest in two of the above abilities. I recommended Serendipity and Test of Faith.

Empowered Renew: Another instant healing spell added to Priests. The closest thing I can think of is that it’s an inverse Lifebloom. Instead of tick, tick, tick, BOOM! It becomes BOOM! Tick, tick, tick.

Holy Priest Glyphs

Glyph of Circle of Healing
Glyph of Hymn of Hope
Glyph of Renew
Glyph of Flash Heal
Glyph of Guardian Spirit

Things will be very busy in the World. New places to explore, new dungeons to conquer. All of us will do our best to provide the advice and guidance in the challenges ahead.

Further Thoughts on Lifebloom Changes

Further Thoughts on Lifebloom Changes

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Here I am, drowning my sorrows in a glass of Miracle-Gro at my favorite Dalaran tavern. Why all the tragic tree tears?

For those of you who have been under a rock for the last week, the news from the developers is that Lifebloom is about to get a heavy nerf to its healing per mana (HPM). In 3.1, Lifebloom will cost twice what it does at current and return 50% of its cost when it blooms, adjusted for the number of stacks on the target.

What does this mean, you might ask?

Ghostcrawler tells us that the intent is to end the practice of rolling Lifebloom–efficiently–on two or more tanks. Unfortunately, the nerf hits a “good” practice just as hard–rolling Lifebloom on just one tank.

I’ve been following Elitist Jerks and the official Healing Class Role forums, and amid the insane drivel and endless whining, I’ve been able to discern a few things.

What Druids Want

#1: Overwhelmingly, druids want a Lifebloom we can use.

Lifebloom has come to be a spec-defining ability, and its rolling mechanism makes it unique. My own worry, and that of many raiding druids, is that the practice of using Lifebloom as a rolling buffer on one tank will be over. We want reassurance from the developers that Lifebloom will continue to work for us.

#2: Druids want consistency in the way we time the spell.

Most druids agree on one thing: the new bloom mechanism is awkward. A reward for blooming and a punishment for refreshing contradict the mechanics we’ve grown up with. In this topsy-turvy Lifebloom world, what’s good now will soon be bad–you’ll want your Lifebloom to fall off whenever you can afford it.

#3: Druids want a raid role, and we want it to be consistent with what it has been in the past.

Every player, of course, wants to be useful. After all, we want to play the game, and rerolling isn’t a realistic option for most of us. I’ve seen priest and shaman and paladin threads about their raid role as well, and now druids are feeling that anxiety. I’ve also seen the devs reply to these anxieties in dismissive and condescending ways. They always say that they conceive of raid roles differently than the community does. To that, I’ll reply that perceptions matter. Raid invites are based on them, after all.

Druids overwhelmingly believe that their raid role is to add a buffer, a bit of insurance against disaster. Our HoTs are like the priest’s Power Word Shield or the Shaman’s Earth Shield: useless when the content is easy, but essential when the content is hard. If cushioning the MT goes the way of the dodo, many druids may start to feel like the poor man’s paladin. I think Blizzard needs to pay attention to the druid’s historical raid role and make sure it remains intact. In order for a buffer to work, it needs to stay up. Rolling LB will always be the best thing–for the tank. And that’s what we want to think about, right?

#4: Druids want to be less dependent on timers

Druid healing is already very rigid. Unlike other healers, we have a true rotation, and it’s every bit as ugly as an Affliction warlock’s. We have four different HoTs, each of which has a different duration, and one of which stacks. We’re already tied to 3rd-party mods to manage these spells, particularly Lifebloom. Right now, though, all we have to do is roll, and the penalty for refreshing early is slight. However, in a mana-constrained environment, with Lifebloom being our most expensive HoT, we absolutely will not be able to refresh early. The penalty will be huge. In addition, we’ll be having to make a decision about whether to let Lifebloom bloom every 9 seconds or so. That’s a lot of mental bandwidth dedicated to timing one spell. Many druids would rather drop Lifebloom altogether than micromanage the bloom. As it stands now, it looks like we will be more dependent on timers post 3.1 than we are now, and that’s a scary thought.

Alternate Solutions

Everyone has their pet fix for the Lifebloom problem or their favorite way to mitigate the impact of the nerf. I’m going to repeat here a couple of my favorites. I’ve seen each of these ideas posted several times by different posters in slightly different iterations, but here’s my take.

#1. Buff Lifebloom’s HoT slightly and reduce the bloom. A gain in HPS on the part of the spell that’s most useful in PvE would cushion the impact of the nerf somewhat.

#2. Limit the number of active Lifeblooms to 6 per druid. I personally love this solution, and I’d even like it if the limit were three. This would keep multiple stacks of Lifebloom from dominating the healing meters, and even though a raid could ostensibly stack druids, most probably wouldn’t. After all, Lifebloom works best as a sort of damage cushion on the main tank. This is the use of rolling Lifebloom that I’d like to protect.

#3. Remove the stacking mechanism. I’m also in favor of this solution for simplicity’s sake. Lifebloom causes a ton of problems because of its stacks. Why not buff the value for a single Lifebloom and remove the stacking capability? It’s the stacking that causes such rigidity in a druid’s rotation. I doubt many druids will be brave enough to single stack it in 3.1, but that’s looking like a mana efficient way to go. Why not make the decision for us?

I’m interested in knowing what readers think about this problem. As for me, I think I understand why Lifebloom is a target right now, and it’s not a pretty thought. I think that–correctly or no–the developers believe that the 40% nerf to OOFSR regen won’t hurt the druid enough. Right or wrong, it’s seen as a nerf that will hurt the priest more. As such, they’ve changed both the cost and the mechanics of druids’ signature spell in order to force us to run empty. My feeling from reading the comments of PTR testers is that the change is too dramatic. Combined with the new, underwhelming Innervate, the expensive rolled Lifebloom may just not be sustainable even on one target. I’m not looking forward to standing idly by mid-fight with an empty mana bar. Far better than that would be to do without Lifebloom, but I sure would miss it.

Lifebloom nerf for 3.1: WTF?

Lifebloom nerf for 3.1: WTF?

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I thought I was having a nice Friday afternoon, and so I said to myself, “Self, why don’t we read a little Elitist Jerks forums before we leave work?” Good idea, right? Not so much. Here’s a little jewel, quoted from the European forums of all places, for your reading pleasure:

• Lifebloom: Mana cost of all ranks doubled. When Lifebloom blooms or is dispelled, it now refunds half the base mana cost of the spell per application of Lifebloom, and the heal effect is multiplied by the number of applications.

Fortunately, my leafy friends have already been at work, and GC has made some responses. Here is the discussion–it’s actually quite instructive and I feel like I learned a little bit after reading the whole thing. The surprise, actually, is how constructive the community is being–sucking up, I guess, versus Ghostcrawler’s uncharacteristically snarky attitude. GC seems to think we have all been triumphing over an OP Lifebloom and just waiting on a nerf. In my experience, that’s just not the case.

Why Oh Why Did this Happen to Us?

The stated reason for the efficiency nerf to Lifebloom is, quite simply, to de-incentivize stacking the spell on multiple tanks. Unfortunately, the nerf targets single tank stacking as well. From the math, it becomes horribly inefficient to refresh Lifebloom after the initial triple stack. In the future–especially in a mana-scarce environment–we will need to manage both the bloom and the roll, instead of now just worrying about the roll.

Most posters believe that the bloom of Lifebloom will be mostly overheal. I concur. There are many situations where my Lifebloom blooms. Sometimes I refresh too early, but sometimes, well, I’m too late. The “too late” problem is exponentially more likely to occur in busy fights with lots of movement or sources of damage. Yes, I know, I’m a bad druid. I use Grid to display my current Hots, but I’m not running a big splashy HoT timer like I used to in BC. I can tell you that the bloom of my Lifeblooms tends to wash out at around 1% of my effective heal in any given fight.

Who’s Facerolling Lifebloom Now?

This nerf really puzzles me. Are any of you, dear readers, topping healing meters by rolling on multiple tanks? That used to be me–back in Hyjal. Most of the current fights are either one-tank only, see me raid healing, or require so much movement (Sarth 3D) that facerolling LB gets to be impossible. I used to love stacking LB on 4 tanks–it felt dynamic, and the contribution of the heals was large enough in proportion to the tanks’ health that I felt like I was doing something. Now, not so much. The proportion of the tank’s total health that a triple-stacked LB is able to heal has decreased, such that Lifebloom looks like it’s not doing anything. I’ve spent some time looking at my WWS v. my guildies, especially when another druid outperforms me on the same assignment. It looks like right now Lifebloom is doing a decent job raid healing, but it’s usually not triple-stacked or rolled. It’s doing a lot of healing on tanks, but Regrowth is doing even more.

Maybe Ulduar is Hyjal 2.0 with four tanks in play. That’s the only setup I can imagine where this change would be absolutely necessary in order to keep resto druids from having a distinct advantage over other healers. That’s bad–a lot of guilds choose their number of tanks based on content, and right now you need a maximum of three. I wonder where everyone’s going to find their fourth?

Goodbye, Lifebloom?

The saddest thing about this change is that it adds yet another thing for druids to time perfectly. I’m in the fair category at perfect timing–I’m more into using my HoTs as a set-it-and-forget-it type heal. As such, Rejuvenation is my favorite spell, and if there’s a silver lining here, it’s that I’m about to actually be rewarded for casting it instead of kicking for using it. Right now, Rejuvenation is a poor bet–it’s going to get overhealed, and in the current environment, the numbers show a single Lifebloom to be more effective as a raid heal due to its faster tick. Presumably, the change to mana regen will be enough to tone down the endless sniping and spamming that goes on now. Right now, it’s very easy to pad the meters by ignoring your healing assignment in favor of whoever’s lowest or taking damage, but in the future I look for tighter assignments to be the norm.

However, my head already hurts contemplating what I believe will be the new use of Lifebloom: stacking on the MT to three and letting it bloom, and then immediately stacking again. It could be all-Loatheb, all the time–we’ll have to refresh our 3-stack selectively in order to time the bloom of Lifebloom to a point where the burst will be needed, or at least we’ll feel compelled to try.

Sure, the best restos will do that. Others will simply start to play sloppy. My healing, worst case scenario, could go something like this: I’ll cast whatever number of Lifeblooms from 1-3 that I feel like on the MT and then go do other stuff. Sometime later, I’ll get back to my target and say hey! Why don’t I stack on you again, using up a lot of GCDs in the process? Because I didn’t pay attention to timing, my blooms will be 100% overheal, and because the tank didn’t always have 3X Lifebloom as a buffer, he came close to dying a couple of times. And at the end of the fight, there I’ll be, hanging down at the bottom of the meters, standing alone, like the cheese in the Farmer in the Dell song. I’ll end fights wondering if I did anything worthwhile at all, besides, of course, the obligatory Wild Growth cast every time it’s up. Man, I wish I had started working on my shaman like I intended to six weeks ago!

It might be easiest just to take Lifebloom off the bar. After all, there are druids who stopped using it after the last round of nerfs. It might take down my potential effective healing, but it might be worth it just to have a little more breathing room. After all, I decided not to play my Affliction warlock at all in the expansion because her expanded DoT rotation got to be too much to handle. They’ve just made her easier to play by eliminating Siphon Life–now why would they do something to a HoT class that has an opposite effect? However, if I, as a tank healer, take Lifebloom out of my rotation, I miss out on the full bonus to glyphed Nourish, which is shaping up to be 3.1′s prize pig. What’s a poor weepy willow to do?

On Change

I usually like change, but this time it’s a little different. I had to relearn my class for Wrath, and I have to say, I preferred the TBC Lifebloom-heavy healing model. I felt important, and what I did for the tanks seemed dynamic and useful. I learned to work with the limitations on my rotation and my movement–I was good at that. Now that I can do anything, I’m less likely to know what to do! I’m overburdened by choice already. Adding one more thing to manage–and at that, a burst heal that happens 8 to 10 seconds after the original cast and requires three more GCDs to be spent after it–in an already full rotation–just seems daunting.

Healing Assignments for Resto Druids

Healing Assignments for Resto Druids

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Perhaps more than any other healing class, Wrath of the Lich King has revolutionized the way druids heal. I’m going to take a bit of a look back to where we came from as a way to help understand any troubles druid healers might face at present when we try to figure out what our role in raids should be.

Back in the “Good” Old Days

I came of age as a healer during the BC raid content, and I think part of me will always missing rolling Lifebloom stacks on four different tanks during the Hyjal trash waves. Lifebloom spam may have been widely criticized, but at the time it was effective and felt very dynamic for the player. The timing was tight enough to require tank-specific macros, which I miss, because I could always change their icons to a pig whenever I got mad at them (sorry, Brio). However, when healers argue now that they don’t want to be locked into a rotation, they’re probably thinking of something like old-school LB rolling with horror. That was a rotation, all right–but it left me dizzy. I had to keybind Lifebloom twice–both to my mouse clickwheel and to F. The “F” was for when I needed to refresh while turning with the mouse. At the time, there was no way to increase the 7 sec Lifebloom rotation, and the penalty for letting the stack fall off was fairly severe. I never ran into mana problems, but sometimes the tank would take more damage than I liked if their stack slipped off, and I had few ways to play catch-up. If one tank’s stack went, then most likely all four would.

Even some boss fights made Lifebloom spam worthwhile. On Illidari Council, I used to assign Bonkers to roll LB on three tanks, giving him 1 GCD per cycle free to do “whatever he wanted.” Let me add that the healing buffer Bonkers provided to three of the tanks won the fight for us on more than one occasion. Why did I give the assignment to Bonkers and not myself? Because Bonkers is quicker than me. My assignment, keeping up the group on Malande, was a lot easier. The odd thing is, these kinds of assignments seemed great to Resto Druids at the time–1 GCD free? That’s amazing.

Now that I think about it, the Good Old Days don’t seem so great after all.

Broccoli, v. 3.0

Patch 3.0 brought new tools for the druid healer, offering flexibility where before we had none. However, it strikes me that many Broccoli Stalks might be a little bewildered by all our new toys. And if we’re confused, imagine what it’s like to do healing assignments for a resto druid these days. A few days ago I came across this topic on PlusHeal forums, posted by Siha of Banana Shoulders:

So, I’m the healing lead for my guild, and it usually falls to me to do healing assignments.

I’m having some trouble deciding how best to make use of resto druids. I know in TBC I always used to use them for a multi-tank assignment, keeping a bunch of people hotted up with Lifebloom, but I’m not really on top of all the resto druid changes in WotLK yet.

The talented Siha, as always, gets right to the point with her post. I replied in the topic, but I think that the question has enough merit to warrant a full-length post.

So, what do we do with the newly-versatile druid? After looking at my own performance and those of my Cruciferous Vegetable buddies in Conquest, I am convinced that Resto Druids can be assigned in two different ways for Wrath content. I’m going to showcase a couple of meters-topping druid performances to show just how versatile trees are these days

Raid Healing

This assignment is the most obvious for a resto druid. Wild Growth, due to its higher total healing and it’s status as a heal over time spell, suffered less from the recent nerf than Circle of Healing did. With Rejuvenation, Wild Growth, and perhaps a glyphed Healing Touch in the mix, druids have a powerful toolkit to deal with raid damage.

Let’s take a look at the meter breakdown from an expert druid healer on Gluth, which features heavy raid damage:
s13-meter

Now, the meter % alone might not mean much, but let’s factor in healing assignment. Both S13 and I were assigned to heal the kiters on Gluth, and we have similar gear. Why did he outperform me? Let’s take a look at the abilities breakdown.
s13-breakdown

Take a look at S13′s Healing Touch percentage and the amount it hits for on average. That tells me–even if I didn’t already know–that he’s using the Healing Touch glyph. The fact that he’s able to get so much healing out of a direct healing spell also tells me that S13 is fast. He’s really great at reacting to situations. Notice here that he’s also made a lot of use of Lifebloom–nerfed it maybe, but useless it is not. This WWS report is post-WG nerf, by the way. S13′s performance shows how little a healer has to rely on Wild Growth to be effective (and to post good numbers while doing so). If I were to take a look at S13′s targets, I would see a lot of healing on the 5 kiters, but also a decent amount on other members of the raid. S13 is a great raid healer because he’s able to pay attention to a lot of things at once and to accurately judge when he can go a bit beyond the boundaries of his assignment.

Tank Healing

Yes, I know druids have an AoE heal now. That doesn’t mean that we’re not still good at our old role, healing the main tank. I’ve just shown you the WWS from a druid who excels at raid healing. Now, I’m going to show you my own meter performance. I am a tank healer. That’s what I like, and that’s what I’m good at. I’ve been healing a warrior MT so long that I know how the damage hits and what I can do to fix it. I don’t pretend to be the best at anything, but if I’m in charge of healing assignments, I’m going to stick myself to a tank. It’s not usually very showy on the meters, but I’m going to give you a peep at the one fight in Naxx that does let tank healers show off–Patchwerk.
syd-meter

To understand this image properly, you should probably know that Silvia and I were assigned to heal the offtank, a druid, while S13 and Arktos were assigned to the main tank, a warrior. For the life of me, I can’t remember what Kaldora, our holy priest, was assigned to that day. The nature of the fight dictates that there is simply more healing to do on the off tank(s) than on the main tank, so an off-tank healer is going to post higher numbers. Be that as it may, this is nonetheless a good performance from me personally. Let’s look at the breakdown of what I did.
syd-breakdown

First of all, notice the presence of Regrowth. I use the Regrowth glyph, and a fight with heavy tank damage also shows it off. Meanwhile, I keep Lifebloom rolling on the primary off-tank. As for Rejuvenation, I keep it on both the primary off-tank and the backup. At higher gear levels, your raid is less likely to need two offtanks for Patchwerk. I used to post even more impressive numbers when two off-tanks took heavy hits. I would keep up my full hot rotation on the druid and use Rejuvenation, Swiftmend, and a Nature’s Swiftness/Healing Touch on the secondary off-tank. I always say that Resto Druids can heal two tanks as well as one, and it’s very nearly true. This is a lesson I learned in Zul’Aman, and it still serves me well on a multi-tank fight like Patchwerk. One thing an MT healer can never forget is the power of Swiftmend–it’s easy to ignore, but make yourself use it whenever you can. You’ll notice that Nourish is missing from my rotation, even though I have the 4pc T7 bonus. Regrowth is simply better if the damage is high. I will use Nourish on fights where Regrowth might be overheal, or on long fights that might stress my mana.

My message to healing leads is this: resto druids can tank heal. You might think that only a paladin or discipline priest will work, but don’t discount the resto druid, particularly one who’s used to this job. We may have a discipline priest solo-healing the MT on Sarth 3D, but that doesn’t mean a resto druid cannot be assigned to the task. In fact, some days I want to arm-wrestle Mallet for the job.

Glyphs and Talents

As you can see from our performances, S13 and I, despite having almost the same gear, are very different healers. There are slight differences in talents and glyphs that support each of our preferred roles. Here are my thoughts on how to set up a resto druid to excel at either raid healing or tank healing.

Raid Healing

In terms of talents, I suggest Tranquil Spirit to make Healing Touch and Nourish more efficient, a fully talented Gift of the Earth Mother, and perhaps Naturalist for the shortest Healing Touch cast time. As an alternative, you might put either 1 or 2 points into Improved Tranquility. I find this spell very useful when I can remember to use it. It shines on any fight where the raid is fairly close together and AoE damage as high–I’ve used Tranquility to good effect on Loatheb, Sapphiron, and OS3.

To heal S13-style, you will absolutely need to glyph Healing Touch. I am extremely impressed with the HPS of this spell, and it only gets better as your gear scales. In addition, we can all afford the mana at this point. S13 doesn’t run OOM any more than I do. The raid healer has some amount of choice in the other glyph slots. I suggest Swiftmend and Innervate, but if you find that you never use Swiftmend, Lifebloom will also work. The Regrowth glyph, while good in and of itself, won’t do much for you if you’re never assigned to tanks.

Tank Healing

In terms of tank healing talents, the most important one to have is Nature’s Splendor from the Balance tree to extend HoT duration. However, all raiding restos should have this talent. I also use Tranquil Spirit to support my Nourish (in case I ever use it), a fully maxed Improved Regrowth, and Gift of the Earthmother for easier HoT refreshes. I do not have Living Seed at the current moment. It accounted for less that 1% of my total healing when I had it. If I get enough haste to remove points from Gift of the Earthmother, I may try it again. I have a feeling that either 1) Living Seed will do more healing in Ulduar or 2) it will get some sort of buff in the future. As for Replenish, either build should skip it because it’s endlessly terrible, but the tank healer especially does not need it.

In terms of glyphs, I use Swiftmend, Regrowth, and Innervate for main tank healing. The only debateble choice here is Innervate. I prefer it over Lifebloom, but Keeva of Tree Bark Jacket, who also main tank heals often, writes very convincingly in favor of the LB glyph in this recent post. A main tank healer should not glyph Healing Touch. It’s more useful in the large version paired with Nature’s Swiftness.

Conclusions

We’ve come a long way from Lifebloom spam. Whether we’re set to healing tanks or the raid, druids have a variety of techniques now to support their chosen role. We can do it all–just not all at once. If you’re a healing lead, it’s important to get to know your healers. With the new diversity of the druid class, skill and preference start to weigh heavily on how you should assign your druids. So, why not ask them what they like, and what they are good at?

Is Lifebloom Obsolete? Another Look at Resto Druids in 3.0

Is Lifebloom Obsolete? Another Look at Resto Druids in 3.0

Restoration druids have been through the wringer of late, and many otherwise content stalks of broccoli, me included, have even thought of rerolling in the face of severe nerfs to Lifebloom and Flourish. However, the developers have, as it were, turned over a new leaf (yuk yuk yuk) and have modified both Wild Growth (the new Flourish) and Nourish to make them more attractive to the Restos of Wrath. This article takes a look at healing druids now, as of October 2, and speculates about our future as competitive PvE raiders.

First, the Nerfs

What was wrong with druids, you ask? After being strong early in Beta and getting one of the things we’ve always wanted, an AoE heal, Restoration druids got hit up one branch and down the other with a big, nasty nerf bat. Both Wild Growth and Lifebloom, two spells that druids had planned to put in heavy rotation for the expansion, received reductions to their healing done and had their mana cost raised. We were, however, left with a strong Regrowth, and a particularly overpowered glyph which increased the effectiveness of the initial burst heal by 50% if the Regrowth HoT effect were still on the target. The Regrowth glyph has, incidentally, been nerfed as predicted to a 20% bonus, and to add insult to injury, build 9194 also included a nerf to Nature’s Splendor, reducing the duration of a talented Lifebloom to 9 sec. instead of 10. For another perspective on the druid nerfs and buffs, take a look at Phaelia’s post on Resto4Life–as always, Phae has an interesting–and beautifully illustrated–take on things.

The nerfs brought out many high-quality posters to the Beta forums, many of whom posted hard numbers from raid encounters in Beta. I even joined in the pleas to Ghostcrawler to re-evaluate the druid class for effectiveness in end-game raiding. GC reassured forum posters time and time again that druids would be fine for 5-mans or entry level raids, but I remained worried. My focus has never been entry-level or casual content. I want to be competitive in 25-man raiding, and I want to remain strong as my guild progresses through tiers of content. I’m not the best druid healer out there (in my opinion, that’s Bonkers, CD’s other tree and my personal hero), but I do have the skills to handle a 5-man or a heroic even if my class is not optimized for it. I don’t need any new talents for 5-mans–I’d like those abilities to help me in the more difficult raid environment. As the healing lead of a raiding guild, I always want to see my team make smart choices in terms of play and rostering. I have to admit, I did think about rerolling, and I took a serious look at shamans, pallies, and priests in Beta. For what it’s worth, priest is looking very good to me at the moment, as are shamans, despite the mana issues. I would–and I still will–change mains if it turns out that taking a restoration druid or two to endgame raids handicaps the group. I do have a paladin at 70 now, and so that might be a more realistic option for me than for others.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

However, before I could log into my 20-something baby shammy and take her for a spin in Ashenvale, Ghostcrawler made another series of posts. First, on October 1, there was hope:

We are going to “run the numbers” again on Wild Growth and Nourish. What I mean by that is we’ll do some tests and compare them to similar heals and to other druid spells.

Wild Growth was nerfed pretty hard and I have some confidence that we can bring it up, though probably not as high as it was before. We’ll have to see about Nourish.

We don’t want to mess with Regrowth much more since it is now a button that seems worth pushing. We’re standing by our Lifebloom changes for now. It just felt like the solution to every healing situation that druids encountered. I suspect druids will still use it in its current form, but we’ll see.

Sorry I can’t offer anything more concrete than that. Making promises until I actually see the changes made can be pretty dangerous and just ends up frustrating the community in those situations where we can’t deliver.

And then, yesterday, a promise:

Here are the changes we’re making next patch. See how they feel.

Wild Growth: Coefficient and healing increased. Mana cost decreased. Cost should be about the same as Circle of Healing. It doesn’t heal instantly, but will heal for about double what CoH does over its duration.

Nourish: Reduced mana cost by somewhere between 15 and 20%. This is supposed to be your Flash Heal, but we recognize that it doesn’t have the same versatility — you can’t just drop one on a wounded rogue or something since you need the hot up first. Hence the lower price.

Druids have quite an arsenal of healing spells now, and it can be tricky to find niches for all of them. :)

I was very happy to hear this news, and I was particularly pleased that it came from Ghostcrawler. It has long been my opinion that this particular blue poster is a class act. She’s been fairly attentive to restoration druids, even while assuring us–up until last night–that our healing was just fine, even strong, while the numbers clearly said otherwise. I don’t think the devs are out to get us, by any means–I just think that misdirection and even a little truth-obscuring is part of the jobs. “Class balance” is mysterious, and the game company naturally has different priorities from the players. In any case, here’s my reactions to the promised changes to Wild Growth and Nourish.

1. Relief

I do think druids will be more effective now. If the change is significant, a Wild Growth build will become more attractive than a Dreamstate build at 80. This is a good thing, because I really didn’t want to have to dip that far into Balance. I like keeping the feel of my character consistent, and I’ve been 61 resto for several months. As for Nourish, well, I can see a use for an improved Nourish as a tank heal. If I am maintaining a now cripplingly expensive Lifebloom stack on the tank, I may choose Nourish over Regrowth in a situation where I need the extra half second in order to be able to refresh Lifebloom on time.

2. Puzzlement

Ghostcrawler stated that Blizzard stands by the nerf to Lifebloom, although her language leaves the possibility of future revision open. The post seems to recognize that the nerf was severe. “I suspect that druids will still use [Lifebloom] in its current form” is a very different statement from “You will need to use Lifebloom” or even “You will still cast Lifebloom.” Nuance is very key here. For myself, I am waiting for theorycrafters–and my own experience in raids–to tell me whether Lifebloom is now worth the cost. Most Beta forum posters agree that even triple-stacked, it heals for paltry amounts compared to max-level tanks’ health pools. And this is early in the raiding game–I’m waiting to see how the numbers work out when we get beyond entry-level raids.

Does Lifebloom Have a Future?

This is the question on my mind as I ponder my post 3.0 spell rotation. Lifebloom has defined the life of a druid in BC. At lower levels of +heal it was quite weak, and I know I certainly relied on Healing Touch back when I was in blues and running Heroic Mech almost every night so Briolante could get his Sun-Eater (it took 14 runs, by the way). However, in Karazhan and beyond, I’ve had to tune my whole playstyle around casting and recasting this one spell. Because of the nature of the stacks, I have learned to time seven seconds in my head with stunning accuracy. I can feel the seven-second interval as it passes, just as I can feel the 1.5 second GCD (and yes, haste messes with my internal timing and as such, gets on my left nerve). No other healer is on quite this strict a clock.

The numbers from Beta testers indicate that for Lifebloom to retain any value, we will need to stack it on less players (perhaps just the main tank) and refresh it with precision timing, i.e. after it has gone through its maximum number of ticks. This spell is much easier to use with a little slop permitted in the timing. Right now, there are no severe mana penalties for refreshing a stack early, and even post 3.0, early will still be better than late. However, druid healers are going to have to get much, much better at timing their refreshes. Right now, we’ve got bigger fish to fry, and little things like moving out of the way of AoE’s deserve more of our attention than precise timing on Lifebloom refreshes. So yes, if druids persist in using Lifebloom, a little L2P will be in effect. We will have a particularly difficult time at 70 if we choose Wild Growth over Nature’s Splendor. That’s not bad in itself, but it’s not exactly “fun” either. In fact, Blizzard is designing away from precision timing for tanks, who have had it pretty bad in BC where that’s concerned (Shear, anyone?). I am puzzled, then, as to why they would want to restrict their healers’ spell choices more? I’m not sure that it’s all healers though–somehow I think it’s just the Vegetables.

So, Are They Going to Buff Lifebloom?

I’m going to disagree with Phaelia here and say no. I think they’re pretty determined to marginalize Lifebloom, or else, to make a Lifebloom stack the balancing point for a druid’s mana. Regardless of what’s said by Ghostcrawler and others, Lifebloom has only been problematic in PvP. In PvE, it was our bread-and-butter spell only because it had to be recast so often. That seems to have been an intentional part of the design. Now, I’m guessing that Blizzard regrets putting in the stacking mechanism. If I were the devs, I might strengthen Lifebloom considerably and stop it from stacking or blooming–I would make it an instant-tick Rejuvenation and nothing more. No shenanigans when you dispel it either! If you want to free your trees to cast other things while still using Lifebloom, this is the way to do it. Take us off the dreaded seven-second timer! (Hear, hear)

If a Tree Falls in the Forest . . .

I will say that I am glad that Resto is getting a little attention from Ghostcrawler. I believe that Blizzard has the best intentions as far as game balance is concerned, except that they might be overly stubborn about keeping mechanics for PvE and PvP the same. However, my experience from BC tells me that sometimes broken specs stay broken for months and years. Up until the Wrath Alpha, for instance, blue posters insisted that druids did not need an out of combat rez, even though it would certainly not factor into game balance. The only thing an out of combat rez does is make it easier for players to find groups and for healers to care for those groups. Boss fights are not affected at all, and the effects on pvp are marginal at best. The devs defended an aspect of design that was, in fact, just a punishment for hybrids. Moreover, as someone who’s played both Moonkin and Retribution Paladin, I know what it’s like to play an underdog character. There’s a very good reason I raised my warlock to max level–it’s nice to have a character in the lineup that gets a lot of development love. She’s my backup plan, just in case both Resto druids and Holy pallies become unplayable. I had, up until this point, though that Blizzard rather liked Resto druids. At least now, even with the nerfs, we are receiving some attention. However, I urge the Beta community to post, post, post, and to back up their complaints and suggestions with numbers when they can. Of course, that suggestion comes with the caveat that posters should always be respectful to the blue posters whose attention they covet and avoid out and out panicking or QQ. There is evidence that we have Ghostcrawler’s ear–so keep that constructive feedback rolling in.

Prayer of Mending Generates Threat for Priest (Same with LB, Earth Shield)

Yeah, you read that right. Threat is now being slightly changed. As it stands right now, Prayer of Mending when activated generates threat for the player it is on. This change now means that every time we cast Prayer of Mending and it activates, threat is generated for us.

The same effect applies to Lifebloom and Earth Shield for their respective classes. Wonder what the Paladin equivalent is.

Source: This blue post

PS, the life of a blogger. One window open on an RSS feed for blue posts, one open in GMail for contacts, one open in Twitter for breaking news and one on course notes for my exam Monday :(.

EDIT: And one messenger window open for my favorite enhancement shammy to fast track me interesting stuff!