Category Archives: Healing

The bitter taste of defeat and people problems

You would not believe the hell of a week I had last week. I returned from a 5 day long business trip a few days and so haven’t really had much blogging time (after a 10 hour day in a hot loft space I wanted to kill stuff* not engage my brain for writing). So as I left just after the patch landed last week it was down to my friendly co-editor, Cantor, to give you chaps (and chappesses) a taste of what we were thinking. Now it’s my turn 🙂

The bitter taste of defeat…..

Over the last few months, we have, just like everyone else, been poking around in Firelands. We started a bit late, but managed to get to Ragnaros a few weeks ago. Initially our attempts seemed to be ok. Within 10 pulls we had hit P2, within 15 we were regularly getting to P2. With this in mind I had set up a little poll for my raiders regarding killing Raggy. The choices were;

  1. Kill Ragnaros no matter how long it takes
  2. Poke him for a few more nights and move on if we don’t get anywhere
  3. Drop FL like a hot rock the week DS is released.

Ultimately it had been decided to go with option 1. So we tried some more over a couple of raid nights and frankly we were fucking awful. There is no one person to blame, but for whatever reason the raid just didn’t seem to get the feel for it at all.

I don’t know if it was the distraction of 4.3, the fact that we were doing it simply for completion as the gear would be easily replaced or if was just that my casual raid team was sick of FL and sick of P1 Ragnaros.

Whatever the reason, we suddenly had trouble getting through the first transition phase. People were all over the place, no matter how we tried to organise things, used markers or whatever, the sons just did not get dealt with correctly. The first night I thought it was just a bad night, but after 3 nights of not consistently getting to P2 everyone was getting stressed and it was clear that we were not going to get Ragnaros down easily.

Obviously this was quite a downer as  we had really thought that we would be able to get Ragnaros down, if not before 4.3 then not long after but it was now clear we were banging our heads against a wall. So I took a quick cast of votes from my raiders and we decided to just sod Raggy and move onto DS rather than bang on against him and delay our start of Dragon Soul.

Now to a lot of people out there this is no big deal. The attitude would be “so what? you were not good enough, get over it” and so on.

It isn’t that easy though, we had all worked together no matter who we had (we never force people to change their mains etc, we run with what we have pretty much regardless of balance) and fought our way through Firelands after a delayed start (we didn’t start until the beginning of September) and we had really felt that we were making good steady progress – we had got 2/7 (and nearly had Rhyo) before the nerfbat hit and then we had had a bad four weeks with people on holiday and such that meant I had to cancel 7 raid nights (we only raid twice a week), but despite this we had then gone on to clear 6/7 without too much trouble. We had reached Ragnaros with good morale and what we considered a reasonable expectation of downing him. We had also managed to get a few people through to 6/7 who had little to no raiding experience, and they were pleased they got to see the inside of FL and maybe some loot. So all in all, we were feeling pretty good when we got to 6/7.

However, to get there and then to seemingly hit a wall was exceptionally demoralising. Even though we ended up with no where near as many attempts as other guilds before we called it, the fact that we seemed to have it going ok and then suddenly we lost it was a huge kick in the teeth. It was frustrating that we knew we were decent players, we know our stuff and we have worked together as team no problem for some time now and then all of a suddenly it all goes to shit.

Even though my team is generally very good at not pointing the blame unfairly and they don’t get too angsty with each other, that doesn’t stop me feeling responsible for the team as a whole. After all, I am the raid leader – was the teams failing due to me? Possibly, possibly not, but it doesn’t prevent the paranoia – could I have done more to help the raid through? This is always the problem with a position like raid leading or being a GM; the ephemeral “stuff” about actual leading. It’s easy to identify certain problems with raid team e.g. standing in fire, not add switching etc. However, RL problems are not always as easy to spot and that also makes it so much easy to get paranoid about it if the group fails. So, while we were all unhappy and stressed by not downing Ragnaros, I feel like I got a double helping. /sigh

Then as if things couldn’t get any worse…….

People problems

On my way back to the hotel last week after a lovely Japanese meal (at which I also got a very provincial guildie to try an assortment of raw fish!), I suddenly was bombarded with texts all at once. It would appear that in my absence Otaku ahd decided to implode. I won’t go into messy details, but the short story is that a guildie and the GM have rubbed each other up the wrong way for some time now. As a good friend to both, generally I have defused any major situations and we have moved on. This time however, the GM snapped and just kicked the guildie in question.

In turn this spawned a mass exodus of virtually all the regular guild members and the vast majority of my raid team. So I get back to the hotel and log in to find a barrage of /w, calls to go on vent for one party and calls to go on skype for the other and so on. Basically as a friend to both sides, as well the 2IC and RL  for the guild, I was informed that the direction both parties would take would be pretty much based on my stance on the whole thing. Thanks guys, no pressure.

The reason this was so difficult was that on the one hand I had a guild I have been a member of since only a few months after starting to play (so nearly 3 years), and over those years I had gone from a lowly little warrior who knew nobody and nothing to the player I am today. After my first summer there, I was promoted to officer and then 2IC, between us the GM and I plugged away and slowly built up Otaku into a well known and respected guild with a decent raiding team of friends. If anyone asked, I honestly loved that guild and saw Otaku as my home until WoW died, and even then it would probably still be my home but in whatever game we all moved too. However, with the exception of just a couple of people, everyone I would consider as a true part of that experience had suddenly gone. Suddenly Otaku was a hollow shell with just a name and a few regular people to keep it open.

 So on the other hand, I had a loose bunch of around 12 people who I was friends with IRL as well, who chatted with me on vent, listened to my IRL bitching (and I theirs), who had raided since ICC with me and a whole host of other things. I was close enough to some to consider them family.

What to do? No matter what I chose to do, some people would be upset – either my larger group of friends who felt that they were missing a major part of the group if my wife and I were not with them, or my GM and guild who would feel equally upset if I turned my back on them and left after all we had been through.

So for 48 hours I sat on the fence amidst an ever tangling web of ventrilo and skype conversations, text messages, emails and forum posts. I had told each party that I would not do anything rash or without thinking. I wanted all pertinent information from everyone regarding their plans and how they wanted to proceed either with or without me.

Finally I had to make a decision. In the end I chose to leave Otaku behind and form a new guild with my friends who had left. Was it easy to do? Hell no, I spent over an hour chatting with my GM about this and explaining that ultimately it wasn’t a choice between 2 people, but between a group of 12+ friends and my team on one side, and a couple of people and a pretty dead guild on the other. In a few years time, the guild would be gone anyway, but some of my team I felt would be friends for life. Do I think I made the right choice? To be brutally honest I have no fucking idea. I have never actually run a guild “properly” and I may end up not being that good, we may end up as nothing more than another tiny guild who tries to do as much together as possible, we shall see. Am I happy? Again, hell no. It wasn’t a choice between loosing a eye or not loosing a eye, but a choice between loosing the right or the left. I knew that no matter what I did, I would feel guilty, some people would feel betrayed and let down and I would possibly lose the support and respect of some of my fellow guildies. I really am not a “people” person and social stuff makes me panic like nothing else so this was a few days or sheer hell and left me feeling totally drained and exhausted and still unsure of if I did the right thing.

So we got together and formed Peep Derple, hopefully we will now be able to put this behind us and move on. The one nice thing after the downer that was the two events mentioned above was that the night we formed Peep Derple, we had a little raid time so we hit DS and managed to down the first two without a wipe. Kat even got some MS and OS loot. Further discussions on that will be saved for another day though as we progress further.

Then I realised I still hadn’t updated my guide to 4.3 and that I now had to organise a new website, forum, vent server and so on.

/headdesk

Kat

*by kill I ofc mean heal other people while they kill stuff 😀

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 🙂

Kat

Mists of Pandaria: Talent and abilities preview

Following on from the little preview we had at Blizzcon a few weeks ago, Blizzard have now released an official Talent Calculator for the new talents in Mists of Pandaria. Accompanying this calculator is also a cute little series of boxes detailing the new abilities available for each specialisation, and a few new abilities for the 85-90 range. So then, a quick rundown of the various areas

Talent Tree Calculator

Unfortunately there are no real changes here. A few tweaks (for example; Cenarion ward heals for more and is now XX% of base mana instead of fixed mana cost) but nothing really has changed from the talents we saw at Blizzcon – meaning that on the whole they are still pretty crap (IMO) and I consider some of them to be lazy and not very well thought out.

New Ability – Symbiosis

This is a little more interesting.  Initially I read it and got very excited, then thought I had better re-read it to ensure I hadn’t made a mistake – I had 😦

At first I had imagined that you could pick the spell. This would be amazing versatile “hmm, tank heavy fight, hey shammy pal I give you LB and you give me Earth Shield :D”. Alas that is not to be. The wording states that you will gain one ability based on your spec. This could mean anything at this stage and therefore could either be good or bad. Example: if I am a resto druid casting symbiosis on a priest, do we swap nourish/heal? Power Word: Shield/Ironbark?

Currently there is just no indication of what the shared abilities will be. If they are not “special” abilities e.g. Lifebloom, Healing Rain, Power Word: Shield, then symbiosis is pretty bad “oh look, I now have two fast expensive heals not one ^^”. On the other hand, if it does trade “special” spells then it will have to be judged carefully to avoid being very OP. After all, there are 4 different druids specs and there will be 10 other classes to choose from.

Note as well; it states target CLASS ability based on the caster’s SPEC. I take this mean that spec specific spells will certainly NOT be included in a list of possible exchanges, so no Power Word: Barrier, Earth Shield etc. This is a good thing, as it immediately should curb some of the QQ about this being OP.

So currently my verdict is unsure about this until I have a better idea of what spells will be granted from it. At the moment it could go either way – very good or mediocre, so I am waiting for more info before getting too excited or saying it is useless.

Upgraded Abilities

Personally, this is the part I am most excited about. We have been told that a lot of the old talented abilities and upgrade (e.g. Nourish/RG/HT refreshes LB) will be rolled into either baseline powers for choosing a spec or actually become part of the spell as standard. A brief glance shows that they have indeed done this with some abilities, so I will do a comparison between the current version of each ability, and it’s new “improved” version in Mists.

In each image, the top ability is the current one, the lower is the new version. If there is only one picture then it is the new version of the ability.

Swiftmend

Swiftmend stays pretty much the same in terms of costs, range etc. The primary difference here is that the efflorescence effect has been rolled into it. So immediately at level 10 you gain not only swiftmend, but your first AoE heal as well.

Healing Touch 

As current spell, but with the naturalist talents included, bringing the cast time down to 2.5 seconds.

Regrowth

Again, Regrowth is basically the same as it currently is, but with the effects of the crit part of the Nature’s Bounty talent and the regrowth glyph added in as standard. The +x% to crit would imply that it will rise in value as you level and the spell levels as well – ensuring that is good at higher levels without being OP at lower levels.

This flat increase to crit and the built in renew of the HoT could see it becoming more useful than it has been so far in Cata. The only sticking point is that it will depend on how many fights we are not worried about sub 50% hp on people, if we are getting lots of raid wide damage we will be healing up asap and therefore the renewal of the HoT will be irrelevant.

Nature’s Cure

This is simply the current remove corruption spell with the nature’s cure talent to include magic effects added in. nothing really to say, a free addition to a dispel ability and range + cost stay the same – no bad really 🙂

Living Seed

What was previously a talent is now a passive ability. It is exactly the same as the current 3 point talent (a crit will place a seed on worth 30% of the direct heal that just critted, last 15 seconds)

Nourish

As with Healing Touch, Nourish remains the same except for the inclusion of the naturalist talent, giving it a 2.5 sec cast time.

Ironbark

This is a completely revamp of barkskin and bound to cause a few complaints. Ironbark retains the duration and damage reduction of BS, but doubles the CD, removes the targetting restriction and looks like it will not be always castable. This means we have a defensive CD that we can bring to the raid, but that it is not as versatile for use on ourselves anymore.

It also brings up an issue over use. After all, who will just use it on themselves to reduce damage when they think they should save it for the tank? This is especially true when it is on a longer cooldown as well and the pressure to not “waste” it will be greater. A lot of druids didn’t want this to happen and very categorically stated that we needed a real defensive raid cooldown and not simply making barkskin castable on other people. Oh well.

Swift Rejuvenation (Passive) 

Now we gain the SR talent as a baseline passive ability at level 46. cool 🙂

Lifebloom

As has been the case with many spells so far, Lifebloom is the same as it currently is, except that its talented effect from empowered Touch has been included as a standard effect.

Wild Growth

Wild Growth will obviously be the “nerfed” 4.2 version. Other than that, there appears to be no real change to it. As no talents ever affected it, there is nothing to add in with it when the talent trees are removed.

Malfurion’s Gift

As with SR, this is just a case of getting a current talent as a passive ability at a particular level. However, the current description on the calculator had better be a typo – reduces tranquility cooldown TO 13 minutes! I hope that is is simply a mistake for “3 minutes” and that they are not planning on putting the CD up to something daft like 20 mins.

The other notable point is that there is no mention of clearcast procs at all. Omen of Clarity is now a passive ability gained by all druids, but the current description states that it is only activated by damage spells and attacks. Again this could be a typo, or it could be the start of pushing us more towards trying to fill in healing with dps. If so then that is a rather stupid thing to do – forcing healers to waste mana on dps spells so they get to cast healing spells for free :/ Please let it be a typo.

Tranquility

 Again this seems pretty much the same as the current version with the exception of some increased healing. The CD still being 8 mins would indicate that the possibly typo mentioned for Malfurion’s Gift IS a typo, but still, even it is a typo for 3 mins that would still bring the CD down to only 5 mins. The Priest equivalent (Divine Hymn) still stays at 8 min CD currently, but is also more powerful and adds the bonus of increasing healing done to the targets. Will have to wait and see how this develops.

Wild Mushroom: Bloom

This is a totally new spell, and as such has no “original” from Cataclysm. We don’t yet know what the amount healed or anything will be – see how they cunningly just write “x” for the amount. An important point to note though is that it says ALL allies within 6 yards. Not 3, or 5 or 10 but ALL. Depending on the healing model for the ‘shrooms, this is potentially very powerful for stack up fights in a 25 man guild (or even 10’s).

There are no doubt going to be a few pros and cons for them though:

Pros: Can be placed prior to actually needing them, looks like they will heal a lot of people.

Cons: 3 GCDs to place all and then 1 to pop them means a lot of prep time if you cannot place them in advance (this also lowers their effectiveness in constant AoE encounters – 4 GCDs is a lot of other healing)

We also don’t know how the mechanic will work. it could be X healing per mushroom and therefore viable with only 1 but best with 3. It may be a fixed value for X regardless of number of mushrooms and having more simply means you cover a larger area. X could end up being pitifully low and make the 4 GCDs to max it out a waste (this would be silly for a new ability but remember the MK1 Efflorescence at the start of Cata^^)

Overall, healy mushrooms have the potential to be another very handy tool in our range of AoE heals, though as with Symbiosis I will hold my judgment of them until we have more info.

So how has the talent tree faired overall?

Below is the full range of current restoration talents and the most common talents used by resto druids from the other trees along with a quick recap of if they have been removed, incorporated into abilities, not sure or partially incorporated.

Nature’s Grace – seems to be no comparable talent or ability with this effect.
Nature’s Majesty – no mention of increased crit chance across all spells so assuming it’s gone.
Genesis – Not sure about this, it’s hard to tell whether or not the difference in healing values is due to incorporated talents or just because of higher level cap.
Moonglow – With so many spells basically costing the same, safe to assume there is no Moonglow effect.
Furor – No evidence that it exists at all.
Blessing of the Grove – See genesis
Natural Shapeshifter –  Unless it’s a built in thing, appears to have gone Naturalist – This is directly rolled into Nourish and Healing Touch
Heart of the Wild – The name has been kept for a level 90 talent, but the effect is totally different.
Perseverance – Unless it’s a built in thing, appears to have gone.
Master Shapeshifter –  Unless it’s a built in thing, appears to have gone
Improved Rejuvenation –  See genesis
Living Seed – Now learnt as a passive ability
Revitalize –  Unless it’s a built in thing, appears to have gone
Nature’s Swiftness – Available as a talent
Fury of Stormrage – Seems to have been removed.
Nature’s Bounty – Regrowth now has an innately higher crit chance, though the lowering of Nourish cast time seems to be gone.
Empowered Touch – The refreshing element is built into Lifebloom now, for added healing see Genesis
Malfurion’s Gift – OoC is a passive ability now, still reduces CD on tranquility.
Efflorescence – Built into Swiftmend.
Nature’s Cure – Bundled with Remove Corruption as standard as a new spell – Nature’s Cure
Nature’s Ward –  Seems to have been removed.
Gift of the Earthmother –  See genesis
Swift Rejuvenation – Now learnt as a passive ability.
Tree of Life – Included as a talent with Incarnation, not sure if “new” ToL will retain all the effects of the current one.

A note regarding flat increases to healing spells
As mentioned in the paragraph about Lifebloom, the Empowered Touch effect of refreshing Lifebloom has become a built in part of the spell, however the 10% bonus healing to HT, RG and Nourish is harder to gauge as it is not stated whether the spells shown with the talent calculator are at current level (i.e. 85) in which it looks like they are buffed by around 10%, or if they are shown at MoP level (90), in which you would expect them to be higher anyway. This also applies to GotEM and Lifebloom’s end bloom and spells affected by BotG and Genesis. So, basically we don’t know if they are folded into the spells as standard or just totally removed.

Overall thoughts?

Personally I quite like the way the spells are leaning. It is nice to seem some talents are rolled into abilities, making them more than simply heals, and also it’s good to see that we are gaining some talents as learnt passive abilities.

Generally the talents that have been removed are not too bad, and usually are relatively boring or just flat increases/decreases.

However, it is clear from the apparent removal of moonglow, revitalise and furor, that we are definitely being pushed away from having mana regen and conservation based abilities. If they also go fully ahead with the proposed changes to Intellect and mana pool size, then we will essentially have a fixed mana pool size and fixed spell cost so we always know we can cast XX number of spells before going OOM. The balancing act will be stacking enough spirit to regen fast enough to keep up with intense damage phases while being smart enough to know when to throttle back on heals and conserve mana with efficient heals or just not heal at all for a small period of time.

If this is the healing model Blizzard are pushing towards, then hopefully it will making healing a bit more intensive and requiring more thought, rather than getting to the point of being able to mindlessly spam without having to think.

Kat