Saturday, April 10

/Facepalm pt 2

Now, part two of the changes announced for Cata...

Since I play a priest as well, I am interested in the changes they have planned and how that compares with the changes in druids.

Mana Mana!

"Mana will be a bigger consideration for all healers. We aren't trying to make healing more painful; we're trying to make it more fun. When the cost of a spell isn't an issue, then casting the right spell for the job is less of an issue because you might as well just use your most powerful spell all of the time. We are, however, getting rid of the five-second rule, because we don't want to encourage standing around doing nothing. We're also going to cut back on the benefits of buffs such as Replenishment so priests (and all healers) don't feel as penalized when those buffs aren't available."

This is pretty much a summation of a few different comments made recently, rolled into one package.

What the hell? Reiterating it isn't going to make it easier to swallow, Blizzard. You give more classes Replenishment but take away the benefits. Can you just admit that it was a bad idea to base everything around it in the first place? Too late now, you screwed up and we all know it. Instead of a neat little boost offered by Shadow priests, it became the standard for mana regen so you had to add more classes that offered it so we wouldn't choke on our own OOMs. Now you are back peddling on an already mired system and we get to be jerked around. Way to go.

By the way, I am still insulted that you think we will use our best and most powerful spells because mana isn't an issue. Well what the hell did you think we were going to use our mana for? Dpsing? And, isn't it a sign of progress when your healers can actually use a good tool for the sake of keeping the raid alive and thus seeing the content you labored on? Fun is not wiping. Fun is not telling the raid over vent "I'm out of mana so you died." No, no, no.


"Misery will no longer affect spell Hit chance. We want players to be able to gear themselves around a Hit cap that isn't variable depending on group composition."

I didn't see a mention of a change to Faerie Fire, but I am sure that if Misery is getting changed then so will IFF. While they are at it, I bet Heroic Presence will also be changed. It better be. If they say that group composition is not what they want us to depend on, then the blue hoofers should be getting a different racial.


Well we used to have spirit.

"Divine Spirit and Prayer of Spirit will be removed from the game. As Spirit will be the primary mana-regeneration stat, we don't want it to vary as much between solo, small group, and raid play. Blessing of Kings and Mark of the Wild will not boost Spirit either."

Again with the mana based conversation. Coupled with Meditation added to the Shaman's list of changes, I am curious how it will play out. Make Spirit a regen stat then remove mechanics which boost it. I am beginning to get depressed. Next thing you know, Innervate will be spirit based again. On second thought, that conflicts with their "Bring the player, not the class" mantra.

Hey, Stupid! Get out of the fire!

"Pull a party or raid member to your location. Leap of Faith (or "Life Grip") is intended to give priests a tool to help rescue fellow players who have pulled aggro, are being focused on in PvP, or just can't seem to get out of the fire in time. Instant. 30-yard range. 45-second cooldown."

This, potentially, could be a powerful tool. Couple this with the Shaman rain or CoH and this may add some much needed flavor ( and synergy) to healing. Now Priests can join the DKs in the creation of lame macros.

The downside is this: why move when the priest can move me? People already stop moving out of stuff for the sake of beating dps timers and barriers so adding this will just be one more excuse. I can see it now...

Failman- "Why didn't I get gripped?"
Priest- "Why didn't you move?"
Failman- "Learn2play"

What also could happen is the devs designing gimmicks around this spell. Raid is all of a sudden needing to be moved to a different part of the room, which can be accomplished best with a couple priests.

Power Word: Barrier


"The closest analogue to PW:B is the DK Anti-Magic Zone, but it has some important differences, such as a way to counter it in PvP (since it absorbs all damage, not just magical damage)."

I see the theme though. Less passive abilities means less raid composition around classes. This also means more button/macro/clique mashing.

All of this depresses me to a point. I don't feel excited or energized by most if not all of the changes announced. In fact, I am starting to wonder if being a healer is what I will be in the next expansion. Some of the ideas expressed by the Dev team actually makes me rather angry because it doesn't fit in line with how I think my class or my role should be played. This goes beyond being a tree but goes to the fundamental role of healing.

So Blizz, there is still time to impress me. Make it count.

/Facepalm pt 1

It was unveiled recently the druid changes for Cata and there are certainly mixed reactions within the community.

For the restos, a few things were announced. Some weren't wholly unexpected and some where a little "meh".

Tree Form

Let's just get this one out of the way. A few months ago, Blizz said they regretted having their players not show off their armor designs and hide behind forms. The rational behind making tree form a cooldown instead of a shapeshift was not only designer ego (imo) but also to give restos offensive capabilities like all the other healers. I disagree with this line of thinking. Maybe because of the pvp aspect it is cumbersome, but for a pve player I do not find it all that bad, especially since they made slight changes to the overall mechanic already.

So let's take a look at what is actually stated:

"Tree of Life is changing from a passive talent to a cooldown-based talent, similar to Metamorphosis. Mechanically, it feels unfair for a druid to have to give up so much offense and utility in order to be just as good at healing as the other classes who are not asked to make that trade. We are exploring the exact benefit the druid gets from Tree of Life. It could strictly be better healing, or it could be that each heal behaves slightly different. You also will not be able to be banished in Tree of Life form (this will probably be true of Metamorphosis as well). Additionally, we would like to update the Tree of Life model so that it feels more exciting when you do decide to go into that form. Our feeling is that druids rarely actually get to show off their armor, so it would be nice to have at least one spec that looked like a night elf or tauren (and soon troll or worgen) for most of the time."

Every time this topic comes up, I think back to the Shadow Priest. Now, I don't wish to screw the SPs over; Blizz has been doing (enter sarcasm here) a good enough job fiddling with the class already . What strikes me is the line of reasoning applied to druids is not conversely applied to the SP. Is it not "unfair" to the Shadow Priest to not be able to dps and help heal like an Elemental Shaman? Or is the Moonkin form trumping that altogether?

Regrowth and an interactive mechanic

"Restoration druids will have a new talent called Efflorescence, which causes a bed of healing flora to sprout beneath targets that are critically healed by Regrowth."

Hmm, so they wish to bring back regrowth into a larger prominence? Some of us knew that a forced use of regrowth was happening, but without more information, it is hard to see what exactly this mechanic may do. It is a HoT? Is it an PBAOE thing? Actually, now that I think about it, I think it would be awesome to have a PBAOE mechanic into our hots. Shamans get a Heal Rain spell so having something that is a tight, small radius hot that acts differently than WG would be neat and be great into the Tank Healing or Melee Healing role.

Haste and Crits

"All heal-over-time spells (HoTs) will benefit from crit and haste innately in Cataclysm. Hasted HoTs do not reduce their duration, but instead add additional HoT ticks. Haste will also benefit Energy generation while in cat form."

This, I like a lot. Not much more to say about this except yay for the kitties! I expect though this will not be a huge amount of love for the Cats as Blizzard has a tendency to want to keep Cats in the middle of the pack (pun not intended) as far as dps meters. I expect this haste to be balanced out by something else later.

New Spells?


"Unlike the other healers, Restoration druids will not be receiving any new spells. They have plenty to work with already, and our challenge instead is to make sure all of them have a well-defined niche. A druid should be able to tank-heal with stacks of Lifebloom, spot-heal a group with Nourish and Regrowth, and top off lightly wounded targets with Rejuvenation."

We do have a lot of tools in our tool boxes and am happy there won't be something new to add. However, they do need to keep the class fresh or we will start to get bored. I am curious about the wording used, though.

Tank-heal with stacks of Lifebloom reminds me of BC days and rolling. What I think actually makes greater tank healing is the use of managed hots with Nourish.

Spot healing a group with regrowth and nourish. Now I am starting to get a complex and think maybe I am doing things wrong. Spot healing a group for me means a combination of WG along with something else, depending on the type of damage and the situation. It is strange to me that Wild Growth isn't really mentioned at all. Maybe I am reading too much into things.

Top off lightly wounded targets with Rejuv. Again, interesting wording choice here. Rejuv is very powerful right now. Depending on the Glyph and gear etc, Rejuv can be a great blanket for consistent damage or solid fast hot for heated encounters. If I wanted to top off a lightly wounded target, I would use Nourish or WG, not Rejuv because of wasted ticks. Again, I am beginning to think I am doing things all wrong now if this is how they see the roles of our spells.

And lastly, Dispels

"Druids will lose Abolish Poison with the dispel mechanics change, but Restoration druids will gain Dispel Magic (on friendly targets) as a talent. All druids can still remove poisons with Cure Poison and remove curses with Remove Curse"

Of of the things Abolish Poison had going for it was its ability to be sustained. This seems rather vital in a pvp situation as hunters and rogues can apply a variety of poisons in quick sucession.

Cure poison is just one poison "counter" and yet costs the amount of mana as the Abolish version. In addition, it is not a cure over time so for encounters similar to Naxx, you will not be able to cast and leave it which would normally free you to do other things.

So, more spamming, more mana drain. Color me excited... no.

Adding dispel magic is interesting. The dispel changes actually require its own post, so refraining from addition comments for now.

Finally, a message to Blizzard, with many thanks to Keeva

Wednesday, April 7

Ghostcrawler brings me out of the woodwork, again.

In a couple days, the druid Cataclysm announcments will be in, but there are a few tidbits of information that sheds light on what Blizz thinks of the healing role.

First up, spell spaming:

"Most healers spam one heal now. Druids for all of their spells can do very well with just Rejuv and Wild Growth. Disc priests spam PW:S and Holy priests spam CoH on cooldown. We want to carve off niches for other spells. Flash Heal can be awesome if it runs you out of mana to hit nothing but Flash Heal."

To some extent, I see why GC thinks healers spam one heal. When we think of each class, there is an iconic spell. But, I hope that Blizz isn't saying that the healers just rely on these iconic spells in order to be great players. If so, that is just insulting.

Thankfully, GC added this:

"Even a cursory glance of the forums should suggest that a lot of healers like managing their mana and like picking the right heal for the job. It makes them feel smart, which is rewarding."

So, with this comment, perhaps the spamming comment could be read that they understand there is an iconic spell, but that the players also understand there is a smart way to play and this because they understand their respective classes. And this, I feel is true. Even paladins, for all their Beaconing and Holy Light spam, have to pay attention to what is going on.

Perhaps my experiences are different than the general raid population, though. My guild prides itself on a balanced healing team. Every role is filled and we have at least one of every type of healer. Within these healers, we play on the strengths of the individual and match that to the needs of the encounter. I personally can't say if this is boring to the players, but consider that during a best case scenario, each healer knows they will be doing X on Y encounter. This eases the stress of raiding and puts more focus on execution.

This leads to the next GC comment:

"The FSR provides some interesting gameplay (but at a pretty high complexity cost). We think we can engineer similar gameplay where choosing spell A over spell B is a mana-based decision rather than casting vs. standing still doing nothing is a (less fun) mana-based decision."

At first glance, this idea made me want to /rage. Consider the fact that almost every encounter in ICC has some sort of running around mechanic and then think about the five second rule. Now take ICC's insane amount of raid damage littered through out the dungeon and I wonder if people are really just standing around to get mana. It is a choice though and always has been. Standing to get mana- no heals go out and risk wiping. No standing- force oneself to use a consumable, mana talent, beg for innervate (drink a pot, noob), whatever.

I feel we have already had this discussion with Blizzard before. Remember when WotLK came out (ok, maybe not Naxx, but Ulduar)? At first, the encounters are a little too rough for the majority of the healing population and mana management becomes a priority. Then, as gear improves and the encounters become easier, mana is less of an issue. They also changed Replenishment, Innervate, and Consumables all in effort to make the mana game more engaging. I always felt that blizz bases their changes on things that happen toward the end of a content expansion or dungeon, rather than focusing on the whole timeline of healer role, but that is just me, I think.

I believe the most bold move out of all was the General V fight. This is not to say I want ALL encounters to be like that, but such a simple removal of the mana regen added complexity and challenge to the role of the healer. I can see where they may build on that idea.

I think we all will be keeping a close eye on what this Spell A Spell B choice will eventually mean for us. I don't think sky is falling quite yet. We still have more announcements to watch out for.