I’m writing this post in response to a recent post by Pummra of Part Time Druid in which he details several of the strengths and weaknesses of our class for the benefit of other players. I didn’t agree 100% with all of his points and wanted to present my own point of view. Thank you, Pummra, for the inspiration!
- What We Lack in Buffs, We Help Compensate for with Debuffs
While Druids don’t have totems or blessings and Mark of the Wild is oft-disparaged, we have a few unique capabilities not possessed by other healers:
- With 11 points invested in Balance, we can reduce the hit chance of a mob by 2%, reducing damage needing to be healed for a pittance of mana. (See also: Debuffing Your Focus Target)
- We can reduce the armor of mobs through Faerie Fire, allowing melee and ranged DPS to do more damage against them. (See also: Rogues and Armor Penetration)
- We can increase the TPS of our tanks via Thorns (and sometimes Brambles), a threat increase that scales with the number of mobs while our own healing threat decreases. (See also: Don’t Poke Fun at Thorns (They Hurt))
- We Have Great Crowd Control…
…for a healer. We have the best assortment of crowd control tools available to any healer. Hibernate is essentially Shackle Undead for Beasts and Dragonkin. While these two mob types are arguably less common than Undead, we also have Cyclone, a spell which when leveraged properly, can take a mob out of contention for up to 10 seconds (more if the mob is a spellcaster and you time things well). While Cyclone does suffer from diminishing returns, it can be rotated among several mobs in fights like Priestess Delrissa in Magister’s Terrace or be used to give another group member a little breathing room when having to reapply forms of crowd control such as Polymorph. Entangling Roots is restricted to outdoors-only instances, but when available is another great tool at your disposal. (Just make sure your groupmates know not to stand beside a rooted mob.) Finally, Bear Form + Bash can buy your tank four seconds to regain the mob’s interest if you get into trouble, five if you’re PvP-specced and have Brutal Impact. (See also: Handling Threat)
As a Druid, expect to occasionally have to argue for the ability to use crowd control in a group. Many players assume limitations that do not exist. (I actually had a guildmate suggest the Hibernate target be killed first on Hex Lord because "Hibernate is the worst form of crowd control.")
Perhaps the one shortcoming that I happen to agree with. (See also: Out of Combat Resurrection) Rebirth is pretty amazing, though.
- We Eat Spike Damage for Breakfast! (RAWR! =^_^=)
While we excel at HoT-based healing — a form of healing which in most cases prevents spike damage from occurring — we also have an assortment of tools available for handling spikes of damage when they do occur. Swiftmend can be used to convert a Rejuvenation or Regrowth to a burst of healing and is available every 15 seconds. Once every three minutes, we can deliver a staggering burst of HP in the form of Nature’s Swiftness + Healing Touch. While less mana efficient than the Paladin’s Flash of Light, a Regrowth heals for around the same amount for only half a second more, while providing an additional 21-second HoT that can immediately be converted via a Swiftmend. Expecting a set of AoE damage to your group during a fight like Selin Fireheart? Throw Lifebloom on all five members for a burst of healing after the effect goes off. Should group healing get out of your control, you can always fall back on Tranquility, essentially a fight "reset" on a 10-minute cooldown.
- But Wait, There’s More!
Like the Shaman’s Poison Cleansing Totem, Druids have the ability to cast a "set it and forget it" spell called Abolish Poison that will make repeated attempts to dispel any poisons applied during a fight. We are also the only healers who have the ability to Remove Curse.
We Druids are creatures simultaneously of limitations and special exceptions. To play a Druid well, you must be willing to work harder and play more creatively than many other classes. You have to press more than the buttons that make people’s health bars refill. In return for your efforts, you have the potential to be viewed as one of the most skilled and versatile players in your guild, raid, or group of friends.