When a Bonus is More than a Bonus


Thanks to MMO Champion and it’s data-ming ways, we now have access to a preliminary version of the Tier 8 set bonuses. It’s anyone’s guess whether these bonuses will actually go live. The bonuses for Resto druid appear to be excellent, though there’s one catch: the 4-piece bonus for Tier 8 is much too good.

Here we have a classic example of a good set bonus and a “bad” set bonus. Lest you grow angry at me for complaining about buffs as well as nerfs, I’ll explain what I mean.

What makes a set bonus good?

The two-piece Tier 8 bonus, which gives a 10% boost to the throughput of Swiftmend, will be nice to have. Swiftmend is a spell almost every healing druid talents for, and it can be used by both raid healers and tank healers alike. The bonus doesn’t conflict with or double the Glyph of Swiftmend, which is a different and even stronger throughput increase which allows Swiftmend to be applied without consuming one of the druid’s HoTs (either Rejuvenation or Regrowth). Moreover, if I had one piece of advice for most Resto druids, it would be to use Swiftmend more. Many forget all about it because it’s a two-step spell–HoT setup plus instant top-off. I find that I perform much better if I use it whenever it’s up. Still, this bonus will never be overpowered, even in combination with the glyph, because Swiftmend continues to be on a cooldown. Druids will get this bonus and enjoy it, perhaps giggling to themselves over their WWS reports. However, it will be a set bonus that the druid can bear to leave behind for whatever Tier 9 gear has in store.

What makes a set bonus bad?

We’ve all seen set bonuses that are lackluster or unusable. The Tier 6 4-pc Resto druid bonus to Healing Touch comes to mind as a particularly useless one. I passed on Tier 6 pants in favor of badge pants because this bonus simply wasn’t one. However, a bonus that goes in the other direction, becoming so good that it overshadows all other gear upgrades, is actually more harmful to the class and the game. Take, for example, the much-lamented 4pc Tier 5 mage bonus, which entirely changed the functioning of Arcane Blast, greatly upping its damage output at an increasing mana cost. I still /spit on this bonus. It caused the four raiding mages in my former guild to hold onto 4-pc Tier 5 until they were able to equip 4 pieces of Tier 6 at once. The consternation this caused them probably cost my guild several extra hours of loot debate. The mages also faced accusations of DKP hoarding as they waited to buy the early Tier 6 pieces. They had much more DKP than they could spend because of their need to hang onto T5. Moreover, the mages themselves didn’t always pay the increased mana cost. Instead, the druid healers Innervated them. We didn’t mind, exactly, because mana was plentiful for healers at that point, but I couldn’t Innervate all four of them, and I always felt bad when I didn’t have any juice left for a player who asked. However, the most pernicious aspect of the bonus had to do with play style. It pigeon-holed mages into an arcane spec and a set rotation, turning three trees into one for a tier and a half of content. I know one determined fire mage who switched to her warlock in Tier 5 because she didn’t like the arcane playstyle. In the end, the T5 bonus was judged to be too strong, nerfed, and finally taken away.

Ghostcrawler has actually said in the past that a tier bonus should be just that–a bonus. I wholeheartedly agree. However, the 4 pc T8 bonus isn’t going to just be a bonus–it’s going to radically change most druids’ rotations.

Rejuvenation has always been a good spell, but its limiting factor is that it doesn’t tick for 3 seconds after it is applied. In essence, that turns it into a HoT with a long cast. Rejuvenation is probably the druid’s most over-written spell. Thankfully it’s also our most efficient. With the bonus, I would get a tiny burst of healing–1997 in Syd’s current gear–when I cast the spell. That’s less than a Holy Shock, but it has a huge impact. With even a small initial heal, Rejuvenation would be “fixed.” It would go from being something that some druids don’t cast, preferring the faster-ticking Lifebloom and Wild Growth, into the raid healing spell. I think this is a very innovative and necessary addition to the spell; however, it doesn’t belong in a set bonus. This “fix” would get druids away from using Lifebloom for every situation, and that’s great. However, if this change is truly imagined as a “fix” to the spell, it needs to be made permanent through talents. Hell, I think it’s worth 5 of my talent points–or even the entire space in the tree occupied by Revitalize and Living Seed. This one little set bonus would give druids what they’ve always wanted–a tool to keep others from sniping their heals.

“Sniping,” for the uninitiated, is the practice of going outside one’s own healing assignment to heal someone else’s target, particularly a target that already has a ticking hot or a slower-casting incoming heal. Typically, players snipe with quick heals–Flash Heal, Flash of Light, Chain Heal, even Nourish or glyphed Healing Touch. As I’ve explained before, healers will never stop sniping–in any case, not until the default UI shows incoming heals and HoTs, mana is as scarce as roses in the Alaskan winter, and healing meters go extinct. Druids are incredibly vulnerable to heal-snipers as most of our healing takes a bit of setup before it starts to work. Ghostcrawler has said in the past that heal-sniping is a valid concern, but it’s not going to be fixed through nerfing mana. Other tools have to be used against it, and the new Rejuvenation is a perfect fit. Healers who play without any incoming heal data will be able to see that the target is covered and consequently will turn elsewhere, even (gasp!) back to their own assigned target.

The change to Rejuvenation needs to be either a talent or a glyph–and I would prefer talent, because then it would correspond to priests’ new talented Renew, which just got a similar front-ended burst. Renew has never been as good as Rejuvenation in the past, but with a small initial burst, it might just be better than Rejuv post-3.1.

In any case, if this tier bonus remains unaltered, druids will wear their Tier 8 until they have 4 pc of Tier 9–and maybe even beyond. This set bonus is more powerful than any one gear upgrade–and I would say, probably more powerful than four. It steps beyond what a bonus is supposed to do. At maximum, I’d say the set bonus for a previous tier should maybe give a player pause about equipping just two pieces of the new tier or item level, as it may be. Not all the best pieces are part of a set. However, when it gets to three upgrades over the stats on the old tier, players should be happy about making a change.

I’m concerned, Blizzard–very concerned. Thinking as both a raiding druids and a guild officer, I’d rather not wrestle with this particular angel, as good as that set bonus may seem when we’re sitting at the beginning, not the end, of Tier 8.

18 thoughts on “When a Bonus is More than a Bonus”

  1. I am all for buffs rather than nerfs any time of day =), but I’m going to have to agree with you on this one.


    1. Make the 4 piece bonused front-end tick hit for only half of what it would. In your gear, it would be an INSTANT heal of 1997. I’m saying, make that an instant heal of 998 – and then on the third second, it would tick for 1997 as normal. I think that as a set bonus, this would be good enough to want to have 4 piece, but not SO good that you would forgo better stats on gear that would break up the set.

    2. Make it a glyph or talent, like you said. Even with that, though, I think it would be very overpowered, and would end up being a ‘mandatory’ talent/glyph.

    Avernas last blog post..Glyph of Nourish: Does it stack?

  2. Another suggestion: just make RJ start ticking 1 or 2 seconds earlier than it does normally. This way you could later make a glyph give you a small front-load instant heal the same as the current 4pc T8 does and they would stack nicely.

    I agree it’s a great bonus. I’m not convinced it’s too good yet… the 4pc bonuses should be good. If history repeats itself it will be removed with patch 3.2 and made into a glyph.

    Rivvens last blog post..Dual specs part 2

  3. This is the exact situation that Moonkin are in currently. Our 4T7 set bonus of 5% crit is very nice, and there is no way that the 2T8 set bonus can keep up with it. I’m not even sure the 4T8 can keep up with it. As it is, you will see most moonkin passing on Tier gear until they can get 4 pieces of T8, just like they passed on T6 until they got four pieces.

    I think Blizz (and many players) are falling into an incorrect way of thinking about set bonuses. Everyone seems to think that 4 piece has to be better then 2 piece. In my opinion there should be a progression of set bonuses or at least some equality in them. If the 4 pieces is always better then the 2 peice then you will see this situation over and over again where people build a complete Tier set before using it.

    In my opinion the 2peice bonus of the new set should be comparable to the 4peices of the old set and vice virsa.

    Graylos last blog post..Patch 3.1 – Build 9684: Set Bonuses

  4. If all the changes to lifebloom actually take effect then I think Druids will begin using Rejuv much more heavily anyways.

    Perhaps the 4 piece bonus is just another way for Blizzard to “help” us adjust to the new druid healing methodology they seem to be considering.

  5. I propose they swap the Glyph of Rejuv and the 4-piece bonus. With 3.1, we’ll have several glyphs that might be considered “mandatory” and for some, it might be difficult to choose between them. The current Glyph of Rejuv in combination with this set bonus will be incredibly powerful (instant 4k heals on people below half health anyone?) but I believe the less powerful of the two should be the one on the set bonus.

  6. My guess, you won’t see that bonus go live. Only because when I saw the bonus the first thing that I immediately thought is, “Well, looks like I’m going to have to go full T8.”

    I want to say that problem isn’t necessarily that the bonus is overpowered, although anytime you can get a 2k+ instant cast heal, that’s pretty significant. Maybe it’s just because Rejuv isn’t used as much anymore and now with this bonus it actually becomes useful again. But who knows, they might be throwing that bonus in there just so they can do some testing with the spell without having to change the way it currently works.

    I also like the way they are trying to make things flow. A rejuv that has a heal on the front end and hots follow, a LB that starts with hots and ends with the heal. I’d really love to see some kind of change in mechanic to living seed. I mean, it’s good to have now, just for that buffer factor, but I’d like to see it work more like a priest shield, especially since it’s so far down the resto tree. I wouldn’t mind having another spell. 🙂

  7. I like Averna’s option of making the up front bonus hit for half the amount of a regular tic. I also like the suggestion of switching out this set bonus for the current glyph of rejuv bonus. Interestingly, I’m going to be hesitant about giving up my 4 pc T7 bonus for just 2 pieces of T8 as well, because the increase to Nourish is more attractive to me than the Swiftmend bonus at the moment.

    SyllySylls last blog post..Comment on So, you want to raid? A Tree’s guide to your first raid. by admin

  8. call me crazy but your rejuv instantly healing your target for its tick doesn’t seem that “overpowered” to me. it looks like blizz is giving droods other ways to raid heal after the whole LB issue. i don’t raid as a resto druid, though, so i could be completely wrong. i just have a hard time understanding how anyone would totally rework their healing style over this bonus, and i’m guessing that once ulduar comes out, the extra bonus will be welcome. also, there isn’t anything set in stone yet, and should blizz decide this set bonus is as op as you say, i have no doubt they will change it (/waves goodbye to plea).

  9. It’s worth noting that the Mage bonus you’re referring to is in fact the 2p T5 bonus. Of course, this still doesn’t change that you’re absolutely right that a 4p bonus that is too good is a bad thing. (worse than a 2p bonus that is too good)

    Veneretios last blog post..What Tier 7 to wear?

  10. I can’t remember right now, and also being too lazy to do the research, but I want to say that even rogues found it ideal to keep the 2pcT4 bonus until T6. I think. Could be wrong.

    Looks like we found another thing for Blizzard to balance.

  11. And to make things even nicer: the forgotten Glyph of Rejuvenation. +50% healing if the target is below 50%. So here comes the instant cast 3K rejuv. It is way too good to be true, this set bonus will go away before 3.1 hits the servers (or the greatest shaman QQ is incoming with moderate paladin QQ).

  12. [quote]Typically, players snipe with quick heals–Flash Heal, Flash of Light, Chain Heal, even Nourish or glyphed Healing Touch.[/quote]

    I’m curious why you consider chain heal a quick heal.

    BTW hug the fat.

  13. That is a huge set bonus, rejuv’s total heal can be around 10k. This is upping it to 12k. Basically a 20% increase to rejuv and the fact that it has the initial tick makes it that much better. Nobody can top the druid rejuv w/ wg for major raid aoe heals. I’d imagine they’d reconsider this or buff other class’s aoe heals to compensate.

  14. Finaly all the “useless” crit on my gear might come in handy. Especially in arena a 3.5k instant might just save the day. It is like a RG without cast time/50% crit talent.

  15. Well I believe that the idol of rejuvenation will come in very handy once the new content gets released. I’m just trying to imagine right now druids constantly casting rejuvenation on the same targets as a direct-heal-only spell. Weird.
    One thing is for sure – it will create some wild combos: RJ, Nature’sSwiftness, RG/HT, Swiftmend, RJ .


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