Are resto druids OP? Discuss.

Tree of Life chilling in Twilight Highlands

I have been meaning to write something like this for a while to clarify certain things about druid healing, and the recent 4.3 changes have finally given me the extra little push I needed to finish it. Before I start, I have discussed this at times with various people over twitter, email and in-game, this is not intended as a dig at them or anything – the intention of this post is to explain to those who are not aware of why druids have such a high HPS at times relative to other healers. So this will not be a discussion of anyone’s nerfs, buffs or anything like that.

Rather than keep listing the different types of mitigation and such, I will use the term “mitigation” to refer to anything that reduces (or potentially reduces) the amount of a healing a target requires; be it through an absorb, damage reduction or whatever.

So then, onto the post proper.

Ever since we druids got some attention and had a buffed tranquilty and WG, got a shiny new mastery and so so on there have been cries from other healers and even some tanks/dps that druids are OP. This perceived OP’ness comes from the fact that we are often topping the meters on pure HPS when compared to similar geared healers fulfilling a similar role.  I have had all kinds of comments in game from various players suggesting that druids are obviously broken, they need nerfed and so on.

However, I do not think this is the case. The various abilities (either activated or passive), talented bonus etc that healers have fall into 2 categories – Raw Healing (heals for XXXXX, +XX% healing etc) or Mitigation (target takes XX% less damage, shield absorbs XX damage and son on). Abilities and bonus’s from both these groups range from the relatively weak to the rather powerful. Some of them are constantly active and are considered a “buff”, others are procs and others are activated for XXX with a CD of XX minutes/seconds.

Below is a list of all the abilities, talents, masteries and such for each that could be considered “mitigation” of once kind or another. The description for each is the standard in-game tooltip for the spell. The list includes only those mitigation abilities that can can be used on or affect players other than the caster.

Holy Paladin:

  • Aura Mastery: Causes your Concentration Aura to make all affected targets immune to Silence and Interrupt effects and improve the effect of Devotion Aura, Resistance Aura, and Retribution Aura by 100%. Lasts 6 sec.
  • Illuminated Healing: Your direct healing spells also place an absorb shield on your target for 12% of the amount healed lasting 15 sec. Each point of Mastery increases the absorb amount by an additional 1.50%.

Resto Shaman

  • Ancestral Healing: Reduces your target’s physical damage taken by 10% for 15 sec after receiving a critical effect from one of your healing spells.
  • Spirit Link Totem: Summons a Spirit Link Totem with 5 health at the feet of the caster. The totem reduces damage taken by all party and raid members within 10 yards by 10%. Every 1 sec, the health of all affected players is redistributed, such that each player ends up with the same percentage of their maximum health. Lasts 6 sec.

Holy and Disc Priests

  • Power Word – Shield: Draws on the soul of the friendly target to shield them, absorbing XXX damage. Lasts 15 sec. While the shield holds, spellcasting will not be interrupted by damage. Once shielded, the target cannot be shielded again for 15 sec.
  • Power Word – Barrier: (Disc only). Summons a holy barrier on the target location that reduces all damage done to friendly targets by 25%. While within the barrier, spellcasting will not be interrupted by damage. The barrier lasts for 10 sec.
  • Pain Suppression: (Disc only). Instantly reduces a friendly target’s threat by 5%, and reduces all damage they take by 40% for 8 sec.
  • Divine Aegis: (Disc only). Critical heals and all heals from Prayer of Healing create a protective shield on the target, absorbing 30% of the amount healed. Lasts 15 sec.
  • Inspiration: Reduces your target’s physical damage taken by 10% for 15 sec after getting a critical effect from your Flash Heal, Heal, Greater Heal, Binding Heal, Penance, Prayer of Mending, Prayer of Healing, or Circle of Healing spell.
  • Guardian Spirit: (Holy only). Calls upon a guardian spirit to watch over the friendly target. The spirit increases the healing received by the target by 40%, and also prevents the target from dying by sacrificing itself. This sacrifice terminates the effect but heals the target of 50% of their maximum health. Lasts 10 sec.

Resto Druid

  • erm……

As you can see, the entry for resto druid is blank. This is because we do not get a single ability, talent, bonus or whatnot that could be considered a mitigation spell. Every single one of our CDs, talents etc either is a buff solely for us (Tree of Life, Barkskin etc) or is simply based on direct throughput with no mitigation (Efflorescence, Tranquility, Swiftmend and so on).

This means that unfortunately a druid can bring nothing else to healing except a high throughput and raw HPS. Even our mastery is a direct HPS increase. Unlike priests, paladins and shaman, who between them can increase movement speed of targets, reduce incoming damage, absorb incoming damage and level out health pools, we cannot.

As we do not have any of these various forms of mitigation, we have to rely on our high HPS. We use an assortment of ST and AoE HoTs to keep the group alive, with a sprinkling of direct heals in there as well. Sometimes if the going gets tough we pop our various CDs to ensure that our output rises and sees us through the problem.

What all this means is that while a holy priest or resto shaman can effectively reduce their targets incoming damage, a holy paladin or disc priest can shield against some of it, a druid just has to accept the damage will happen and compensate accordingly with pre-hotting and then reactive healing to heal the full amount.

Now, I don’t want anyone to get the wrong end of the stick here, I do not have a problem with this style of healing as a druid. I love healing on Kat. However, as we cannot negate ANY of the incoming damage, or even help people avoid it (like with Leap of Faith or a Holy PW:S) it does mean we have to compensate with more powerful heals which it turn means our HPS may well be higher than a comparably geared/skilled priest, paladin or shaman.

All the various healing classes have to be balanced over different gear levels, encounters, raid healing, tank healing and a number of other factors. This makes balancing healers quite difficult and sometimes more difficult than balancing tanks or dps classes.

This isn’t to say that druids are certainly NOT overpowered – some aspects of druid have been a bit on the ridiculous side; take Wild Growth for one, as I have said before, that did need a bit of a reduction as it was just too good. However, on the whole druid’s are not especially over the top as we need the additional raw healing to compensate for lack of other things.

I am not crying out for other healers abilities and such – I am more than happy for the healers to remain as they are and for druids to stay without mitigation. Though if this does remain, then the players themselves need to be aware of why druids seem to be more powerful healers than the other classes.

I do not complain at other healers for being OP with their damage reduction, mitigation etc and I would simply ask that they extend me the same courtesy – please do not shout OP at me because I beat you healing done/hps despite your higher iLevel, just remember that raw output is all I have 🙂


Posted on November 30, 2011, in Healing, PvE, Raiding, Resto. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. To be fair, spells like PW:S, Divine Aegis, and Illuminated Healing do show up on the healing meters. Even the buff from Ancestral Fortitude that increases the targets health by 10% shows up there now. But like you said, spells like Barrier, Pain Suppression, and to some degree Hand of Sacrifice don’t show up.

    Being a former Holy Priest, I never thought Druids were OP in comparison to me. I just thought they brought more to the table- a viable raid wall. And while Inspiration is a nice talent, it’s mitigation abilities are far less than you would think, especially with all the magic damage that gets thrown around in today’s raids. That’s why I always thought it was fair to compare Holy Priests, Shaman, and Druids when looking at healing meters because we all really don’t have any uber powerful mitigation abilities that would significantly skew our numbers on World of Logs.

    In a perfect world Disc Priests and Paladins would be significantly beneath Shaman, Druids, and Holy Priests. But we aren’t in a perfect world. We are in a world where everything is about numbers and meters and if you are low on them you are considered fail. It’s a mind game and the only way to play it fairly is to have everyone be equal on the meters so people don’t cry OP.

    It is unfortunate, but the greater majority of WoW players are simply uneducated with other classes or even their own.

    • I realise that not all mitigation talents/abilities are equal, but even for the “lesser” ones there is a difference between having something and having nothing.

      Though I can also appreciate that at times certain classes or specs would rather have something else instead of a crap mitigation ability (I like my holy priest, but her PW:S is pretty bad except for speed buff)

      Unfortunately your last sentence sums up the problem with class balance in a nutshell, regardless of balancing healers, dps or whatever – as long as people are uneducated, ignorant of their class and so on, they will never understand how things actually work or learn that meters are not everything.

  2. Ah, don’t forget that Ancestral Healing now increases max health up to 10% as well.

  3. This is a discussion that comes up from time to time in my household and circle of friends. I know that if I want a good passionate discussion, I need to bring up healing abilities and mitigation cooldowns. My husband once told me that mitigation cooldowns are for tanks. And I said “Fine, I’ll tell Blizzard to get rid of all healer ones”. That did shut him up for a while.

    As my best friend is a resto shaman, and we have both played priest alts (holy and disc), plus I raided on my resto shaman alt in Wrath, I see everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. And I see that what make a druid ‘viable’ is their ability to DO the throughput. We can’t mitigate it, so we HEAL ALL THE THINGS! Can’t make it stop? Throw a hot on it!

    So yeah. I think that everyone is OP in their own way. Except for maybe Shamans. I think Blizzard hates them 😉

    • I agree that it can seem that everyone is OP in their own way – I wouldn’t fancy having a tank healing challenge vs a paladin, but likewise I would expect to beat the paladin on raid healing hands down.

      Ultimately, as you say we all have different strengths and weakness and are all good, bad or ugly at different things.

      Shaman are possibly the weakest atm overall as they seem (to me anyway) to not have a very clearly defined role i.e. paladins tank heal > raid heal, druids raid heal>tank heal and so on. Whereas shaman are ok at both but excel at neither. Beyond that, I would say that taking into account mitigation and so on, the other three are probably roughly equal.

      However, shaman still make damn good healers – my standard healing team for our 10 man raids is myself and either 1 or 2 resto shammies. We don’t have those “holy” types, only “resto” tree huggers 😀

  4. It’s hard for me to look at where resto druids are now, compared to where they used to be. As I may have said before, I played a resto druid from BC until the end of Wrath of the Lich King and I loved every minute of it. Unfortunately, Blizzard changed the way that resto druids are played, in a way that I didn’t feel was necessary and in a way that I couldn’t adapt to, and so I don’t play my druid at all anymore.

    I don’t think druids are OP, but I also don’t think they have a reason to feel as negatively about themselves or their class as they do. I’m not sure how to put it. Just because I don’t like how the mechanics work doesn’t mean that they don’t work. They do. If you take a look at the collective logs from the Firelands tier, druids were heavily represented throughout. Holy priests, on the other hand, were noticeably absent from a number of Firelands kills, in such a way that you couldn’t even come close to comparing the two. And yet, we were sort of envied or seen as having it better, because we had Power Word: Shield and Guardian Spirit.

    Truth be told, we don’t get to use Power Word: Shield most of the time, if there is a discipline priest in the raid, because they rely so much on Rapture to get mana back. Using shields is also less mana efficient and is typically only done for situations that require Body & Soul. Guardian Spirit has gone down in value, only because the glyph that goes along with it was nerfed pretty hard. It did get a slight buff in 4.3, but the cooldown is still far too long, in my opinion.

    I’m babbling. I’ll wrap this up.

    No, I don’t think resto druids are OP. I don’t pity resto shaman, either. I think they’re both incredibly strong healers, who unfortunately have bought into the mindset and the pressure from others to have abilities that they weren’t necessarily meant to have, in order to compete in current raiding content.

    Great post!

  5. Speaking as a Shaman healer, I know I don’t remember that my Ancestral Healing is reducing damange taken (ever. Maybe I should bother to remember about my talents, eh?) Because that’s so passive, I doubt many Shaman, or even Paladins, are even considering that they are actively reducing the damage. I know I’m not. And I’m sure everyone knows the obviously Priest mitigation spell (bubbles), though maybe not the rest of them.

    (Though we both have our CD spells that reduce damage taken, I know those usually are saved for special occasions. On a side note, it’s probably bad that I didn’t know Spirit Link Totem reduced damage in addition to equaling out health pools. I’m a neglectful Shaman, that’s for sure. XD).

    However, I always take healing meters with a grain of salt, as should most healers. As long as you’re not woefully ‘behind’ on them, you’re own healing is probably doing fine. I always check the over healing too, and will often find druids high on the chart there from all the hots (as it usually happens). As long as -I- don’t have super high overhealing, I know I did fine. Especially since I probably snipped out that low health pool the druid was trying to heal with their hots. Sorry! >.>

  6. The problem is that people use Healing Done meter as performance indicator for healers. The purpose of healing is to keep people alive, rather than maximising overall HPS, and it is very rare that people die from our heals being too weak – people generally die because healers are using wrong spell (e.g. casting Wild Growth when there’s someone really low on health), are healing a wrong target, or timing their healing spell incorrectly (e.g. not pre-casting when it’s needed) or they do not avoid avoidable damage.

    Purely from throughput we may appear OP, but if it is possible to put a number to a healer’s ability to actually save people, we will not be on top of the chart. 😦

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