Blue, Spells and Talents
Blizzard Developer Ghostcrawler responded at length to the well-articulated concerns of Beta Tester Talruum of Lich King (US). Talruum’s generally PvP-oriented points included:
- Druids currently struggle with group-wide damage because we don’t have an accessible group heal (one without a long cooldown) and are limited by our global cooldowns when casting HoTs. Flourish solved that problem but has since been nerfed into uselessness.
- In PvP, Druids have difficulty healing themselves and party members through burst damage. This is one of the reasons that Druids are so reliant upon the ability to kite (read: to avoid damage) since it removes them from insta-gib range and gives their heals over time … time to be effective.
- Nourish was clearly intended as the Druid’s answer to Flash Heal, a spell designed to be high HPS, low HPM. Unfortunately, it is usurped quite handily by the superior Regrowth partly because of the design of Nourish and partly because of the amazing [Glyph of Regrowth].
Whether you agree with the points above (given their obvious PvP-slant, I’m sure there will be a number of detractors), Talruum’s post and subsequent player discussion sparked a number of lengthy responses from Blizzard Developer Ghostcrawler, the first of which was:
Would Regrowth >> Nourish without the Regrowth glyph?
The response was generally “yes,” due to the fact that Regrowth benefits from 50% additional crit 5/5 from Improved Regrowth (leading to easily acquirable Nature’s Grace and Living Seed procs) as well as setting the target up for a Swiftmend if necessary. It also benefits from the mana cost reductions of Moonglow and Tree of Life while Nourish does not.
Fearful of an impending nerf to what is regarded by many as “our last good heal,” Beta tester Tauraran of Murmur argues that Regrowth shouldn’t be nerfed in order to improve Nourish, because Nourish simply isn’t “worth saving”:
Please do not feel like you’re required to nerf every spell we have in order to make Nourish work. As it stands, simply removing the glyph really wouldn’t be enough. You’d have to nerf Improved Regrowth and/or Nature’s Grace to ultimately make Regrowth less effective and desirable (in addition to getting rid of a very cool glyph). Then, you’d have to remove the HT glyph, or nerf Empowered Touch, or both, because glyphed HT would still be out performing Nourish.
Nourish is not currently doing something that Resto druids can’t do. It seems like a nice heal for the offensive specs, but we just don’t need it. In the end, it’s just a 1.5 second cast heal. It doesn’t do anything interesting, aside from interact with HoTs in the most bland way possible. It could reset HoT durations, or cause HoTs to jump to nearby targets, or have some sort of RNG chance to do something cool (resto druids are somewhat lacking in the random RNG department >.>), or ANYTHING that Flash of Light cannot currently accomplish… and then it might be worth fighting for.
Beta Tester Nerothyn (US) goes onto to propose an interesting change to the current dynamic of Nourish whereby casting it would actually increase the duration of Regrowth and Rejuvenation by 3 seconds or the duration of Lifebloom by 1 second. I’m personally a little reticent about anything that arbitrarily messes with the duration of my Lifebloom spell since it could end up being confusing when maintaining a rotation (ex. having two Lifeblooms set to expire simultaneously because you cast Nourish), I do like the idea of it boosting the duration of our non-stacking, non-cyclical HoTs. As Nerothyn says, “Even the name makes sense since it’s ‘Nourishing’ your current HoTs to help them live longer.”
In response to fear that Regrowth will be nerfed to make Nourish a more attractive spell, Ghostcrawler goes on to say:
We don’t want to hurt Regrowth, because it is nice to finally see it being used a lot. My fear is that the glyph is making it a lot better than Nourish.
Ideally, and I don’t know if we can get them all to this stage, glyphs should be an option that changes the way you play your character, not just free talent points. In some cases, they are going to feel like buffs. It would be cool, for example, if the Regrowth glyphs let some Resto druids focus more on Regrowth while others used different spells. The Regrowth glyph is just so good, on top of the Regrowth talent, that it may be a non-decision to use which also ends up making Nourish useless.
Ideally you should want to use Regrowth and Nourish on some occasions. Flourish, Rejuv, Swiftmend and Lifebloom already have pretty decent niches. If glyphing for Regrowth makes you lean towards that spell, awesome. I just think the case at the moment is every druid will have that glyph and use Regrowth as a generic heal-all spell.
We’re not going to touch the Regrowth talent or other synergistic talents, at least not to solve this problem.
It’s safe to assume that we should anticipate the removal or adjustment of the currently highly desired [Glyph of Regrowth]. This is depressing given all of the nerfs we’ve been hit with lately. One can only hope improvements will be made in other areas to reduce the sting.
Nerothyn goes on to make the excellent point that Regrowth and Nourish already fulfill so similar a role (a fast-casting, high HP heal) that players will inevitably choose whichever is better and abandon the other. This goes back to his original call for fundamentally changing or replacing the spell we get at level 80: “Bottom-line is that Nourish needs to be changed. And not made into a better direct heal. It needs to be tweaked to make it a compliment to Regrowth instead of a replacement for it.”
The conversation is then more or less taken in a different direction by Beta Tester Arenis of Lich King (US) who asks, “Are healers being designed to be as interchangeable as tanks? Is it not going to matter what healer you bring any more than it matters which tank?” Surprisingly, this prompts the following response from Ghostcrawler:
No, that isn’t the goal. The reason is largely because encounters are designed such that you already want to take more healers on a raid than you have available specs. What I mean is that almost every 25 player will have Holy paladins, Holy priests, Resto shamans and Resto druids. And maybe a Disc priest too. Even a 10 man will have 2-3 healers, and most likely they will be different classes. That’s a different situation than the tank is in. There are very many raid encounters that require one tank while almost none that require one healer. By and large, I think we’ve done a decent job in giving healers niches, but that strategy hasn’t worked for tanks (and won’t really work for dps either).
Now, where we have needed to give healers more tools is in the 5-player case, and possibly PvP. The same tools are useful in unusual encounters, say a Loatheb where you can’t heal often, or a Void Reaver, where the paladin has to run around. A Holy paladin who is great at flashing heals on a MT can’t do that in heroic Nexus and expect to keep everyone alive. A druid can’t just keep rolling Lifeblooms up and keep everyone alive. Wild Growth is great in those situations. It’s probably not going to compete with Chain Heal, but it doesn’t really have to. It just gives you another tool in your box.
The part about it not being necessary to make all healers universally interchangeable more or less makes sense. The part about Wild Growth being “another tool in my box” makes me want to spit acorns, though (PTUI)! Honestly, if my 51-point talent is going to be arbitrarily handicapped to avoid encroaching on another class’s niche (like AoE healing for Shamans and Priests), I’d prefer something that’s a superlative of what I am supposed to be good at instead. Something like a new heal over time, maybe with an interesting dynamic. Something fun and exciting, not something lame and watered down. As it is, Groves of Druids are going to be shying away from dipping too deeply into Restoration, picking up more talents from Balance because what awaits us at the bottom of our primary tree is so lackluster.
Beta Tester Nessis of Lich King (US) challenges Ghostcrawler’s assertion that Druids (along with other healers) should continue to fulfill a distinct niche: “Tell us what those niches are? Efficient heals that take time to heal that will be overwritten? Obviously that’s not the case anymore.”
I’m struggling with this myself. At the start of Wrath, I believed that Druids would become more or less the premier tank healers, a role comprised of the following:
- Maintaining Lifebloom rotations on 1-3 individuals (since nerfed to be both less effective and less efficient) but less tedious than before thanks to a 1.0 GCD from the original Gift of the Earthmother
- Feeding the tank “threat-building” fuel in the form of Rage, Mana, or Runic Power restored from Replenish, giving us a good reason to keep a Rejuvenation on the tank, a prospect made less tedious by the addition of the [Glyph of Swiftmend].
- Nourish: a direct heal with significant efficiency bonuses when cast on someone with one or more heals over time (i.e., tanks of all flavors). If you remember, the original incarnation of Gift of the Earthmother also included the effect, “causes your Healing Touch and Nourish spells to refund 5% of their base cost for each healing over time effect on the target” making this spell an attractive efficiency choice.
- Flourish: a powerful AoE heal over time with a 15-yard radius that would have been ideal for casting on a tank and allowing the “overflow” to heal beleaguered melee.
As of build 8932, Lifebloom has lower throughput, significantly decreasing the HPS buffer it provides. The restoration effect of Replenish has been cut in half. Nourish is no longer affected by Gift of the Earthmother, ostensibly in an effort to make Restoration Druids run out of mana more easily. And Flourish has been gutted and transformed into Devs-Gone-Wild – I mean – Wild Growth, a spell widely regarded as not worth the database column used to store its spellpower coefficient. (Luckily, Wild Growth is now affected by the GCD-reduction from Gift of the Earthmother so we can “get the HoT on more people faster” – LOLOLOLOLOLOL!! I’m not bitter.)
So what’s left? A powerful Regrowth spell benefitting from great synergies among several talents and a Glyph we’re now lead to believe will be nerfed. And a new Restoration ability, Nourish, we don’t even gain access to until level 80 only to discover it’s no better than the spell we acquired at level 12.
Commentary on the Great Lifebloom Nerf (of Build 8962)
No, not the other one we saw earlier in beta. And not the one earlier this year that was subsequently repealed because they recognized that it would spell the end of the raiding Restoration Druid in TBC. The one last week that was even worse. Yeah, that one.
I’ve more or less come to terms with what I believe to be the reasoning behind the Lifebloom nerf. As painful and unfair as it feels, I believe that the decision to reduce its effective healing while simultaneously increasing its mana cost came as a result of the addition of Nature’s Splendor, an easily accessible Balance talent that increases Lifebloom duration by 3 seconds. I believe this talent and the Lifebloom nerf were intended to do several things:
- Make it feel less tedious to maintain rolling Lifebloom on 1-3 tanks while giving Druids increased flexibility to cast spells other than Lifebloom and simultaneously making the spell too expensive to set up rotations of 4 or more people (which many Druids regard as an obnoxiously boring playstyle). By extending its duration and lowering the GCD while simultaneously reducing the amount it ticks for, they’re ensuring it doesn’t become too efficient (unfortunately resulting in an HPS decrease).
- Increasing the duration of Lifebloom would make it easier for the “HoT and hide” style of Arena healing easier and more effective since the Druid could potentially duck out of line of sight for longer stretches of time while her HoTs continued to heal her partner. By reducing the HPS throughput of the spell, a Druid can’t rely as much on “set it and forget it” healing.
- Increasing the duration also makes the spell an (even) less attractive choice for raid healing as the final bloom of the spell only occurs ten seconds after casting the spell, at which point your target is likely already healed to full by one or more of the non-targeted heals (Prayer of Mending, Chain Heal, or Circle of Healing). I think Blizzard wanted to encourage the use of other spells – such as Regrowth or Nourish – for this purpose.
- Increasing the mana cost of Lifebloom has ensured that, while we may not have to cast it as often, we’re still paying the same amount of mana over time to maintain our stacks (42% increase in duration, 40% increase in cost).
If things remain as they are now, come Wrath of the Lich King, I will feel like I’ve taken one step forward (hooray Revive and raid-wide Gift of the Wild!) and two steps back with a Lifebloom that costs more and heals for far less than it did before I installed the “expansion.” Instead of feeling like I have something to look forward to – with the notable exceptions of a fabulous new hairdo, some nice healing-oriented additions to my non-healing tree, and a more heavily armored me – I feel like we’ve been told to hop on the treadmill and try to get back to the level of effectiveness we saw in TBC. But hey, at least we’re not snared anymore.
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