Anyone who knows me in game, or raids with me, understands the resto druid problem thoroughly. Why? Because I bitch about it a lot. Why? Because resto druids are honestly in a horrible place right now.
First and foremost when discussing healer balance, there are a few things to consider. One thing that really makes me cringe, is when I hear the following from someone:
Restoration Druids are doing great right now! I have a resto druid in my raid group and he kills the other healers in Healing Done and HPS!
This goes for all conversations regarding healer balance (not just druids)! Looking at “your raid group” is typically a pretty poor indicator of how healing as a whole is doing. There are too many variables to consider. The most important is the “skill variable”. What I always like to say is, a GOOD healer will always “beat” a BAD healer, regardless of class. So, in the particular scenario I fielded above, the resto druid in that group might outskill the other healers, and thus “beats” the other healers. So, in order to properly talk about the state of healing, you cannot use “your raid group” as the statistical population.
With that pet peeve out of the way, we can start looking at the actual problems with resto druids. The first one has been one of their main problems since the beginning of WoW, and there is really nothing Blizzard can do about it. That is, the majority of a resto druid’s throughput is via HoTs (Heal over Time Spells). Due to this, they encounter the issue of “heal sniping” quite often, especially during encounters with not much to heal. This causes a huge amount of overhealing by the druid, which is obviously an issue. But you know what? Throughput is not even the largest issue with us right now.
What!? There is something other than “Healing Done” that measures the worth of a healing class? Yes, utility.
What is utility? Utility is essentially an added “bonus” that a class brings to a raid group. Yes, I’m over simplifying. For example, druids (for the majority of this game’s history) would always be brought to raid for, among other things, their battle res utility. However, we no longer live in the days where this is exclusive to druids. It seems almost everyone has a battle res now.
All-in-all, our current utility kit includes our Battle Res, Ironbark (HA!), and Tranquility. Problem: All of these are brought by other healing classes, and 99% of the time the other healers do it better. Let’s go one by one:
- Tranquility: Still a pretty strong raid healing CD. First issue, Resto Shamans have this now in Healing Tide Totem. Why does this matter? Resto Shamans do it better. Why? At face value Tranq and HTT appear to heal for relatively similar amounts; however, due to the nature of totems, resto shamans can continue to do regular healing during the duration of HTT. Whereas, Druids need to channel tranquility. Two major issues with this. First, resto shamans get to place it and continue healing (this means more throughput kids!). Second, the shaman can drop the HTT and continue moving around. This mobility is huge, albeit partially nullified by Symbiosis.
- Ironbark: Yes, this joke. Need I say more? Fine, when Blizzard first announced Ironbark was being added to the Druid kit, I was excited, really excited. Then, when I saw it was a 2 minute CD for 20% reduction, I cried. Once again, we find ourselves with the case of “someone else does this better”! Disc priests have Pain Suppresion (40% reduction) and PW: Barrier (25% AoE Reduction), holy priests have Guardian Spirit (Increases healing recieved by 60%, and PREVENTS DEATH!), and holy paladins have Hand of Sacrifice (30% “reduction”, when talented correctly you get 2 for 1 CD!) and Devotion Aura (Raid Wide 20% magic reduction). As you can clearly see, Ironbark adds no real utility to druids, because someone else can just do it better (so why bring the druid?!).
- Battle Res: Everyone does it. No, not really. But a lot of classes do. Oh, and Blizzard buffed everyone elses battle res so that the druid battle res is not the only viable one. (Previously, other battle res revived the player with almost no HP, whereas druids revived them to full HP. This helping to avoid instant res-then-dead.)
The main issue with the above utility is, why bother bringing along the resto druid if another healing class does everything the druid does better, and more!
Now, I’m not trying to imply that pure throughput-machine healers cannot be viable (although there are less slots in a raid group for them compared to utility offering heal classes), just look at Mistweavers before the 5.1 nerf. Everyone was running one, or more, MWs because their throughput was so good, that their complete lack of utility really didn’t matter too much. The problem with resto druids is, their throughput is not great, and their utility is garbage. A disc priest will offer quite a bit more throughput than a druid currently, and vastly more utility. So, druids fail in both categories.
In one sentence: The issue is not just our throughput or utility, it is the combination of our average throughput and mediocre utility.
Utility classes offer more throughput than us (and obviously more utility, hence the title of ‘utility class’), and throughput classes “out-throughput” us.
Now that I’ve finally gone over the many issues of resto druids (and believe me, my summary was short, that is how bad resto druids are right now!), let’s look at solutions. In my opinion there are two obvious solutions, however, only one of them seems possible as a long term fix.
First, Blizzard can just straight up buff our throughput. This way we are the top “throughput class” and we provide a lot more throughput than “utility classes” (like we should!). The problem? We become the Mistweavers of 5.0, and would be nerfed like the Mistweavers of 5.1. Second, Blizzard can give us some meaningful utility and still keep our throughput competitive (kind of like Hpally are right now). How exactly do they do that? Well, good thing I am not developing World of Warcraft, because I have no idea. I just hope that Blizzard can come up with something creative that keeps resto druids unique, but makes us viable again.
Don’t get me wrong, I love resto druids. I’ve been main’ing as a resto druid since Burning Crusade and never want to stop. I just want my beloved class to get some love from Blizzard! If I could shorten this post up and give it to Blizzard, I’d say to keep us resto druids (don’t drastically change our play style) but give us competitive utility and decent throughput so that guilds can start bringing their druid friends back to raid.