Druid: Thoughts on Expected 5.3 Changes

With 5.3 on the horizon, I thought it was time to write about the expected Resto Druid changes.  All of the changes will have a net positive effect on our healing (nothing is getting nerfed); however, are these buffs enough to make druids competitive with the other classes?  In addition, please be aware that all the topics below are based on PTR patches, and thus can be changed or removed at any time.  Pay attention to the date that this post was published and keep that in mind when reading.  Also, I’m very interested in talking with the healing and druid community, so please comment below with your thoughts!

So, let’s get started.  I will organize this essay into sections regarding each change that is occurring, in no particular order.

Tranquility Buffed in 25m

Tranquility now targets 12 raid members (up from 5) each time it heals when used in a 25-player instance. This change also applies to players using the Symbiosis version of Tranquility.

This change is our largest buff in 5.3, if you play on the 25m mode.  However, as druids are doing well in 10ms currently, but horribly in 25ms, this makes sense.  Currently Tranquility only targets 5 players each tick of it’s channel.  This makes the spell significantly weaker in 25m (as it only hits 20% of the raid at any given time) than in 10m (where it hits 50% of the raid at any given time).  Now, tranquility’s effectiveness should be essentially the same between both modes of play.  Also, this could potentially help with our burst AoE problem (problem being we have none), albeit on a 3 minute cooldown.  Although this is a welcomed buff for a 25m resto druid, I think that this alone will not drastically change the druid’s standing among 25m healers.  Also, Holy Priests and Mistweaver Monks are getting similar buffs to their large 3 minute throughput CDs.

Force of Nature Rework

Force of Nature is no longer on global cooldown and summons a single Treant. The Treant no longer has a control bar, immediately uses its special abilities on the Druid’s current target, and accumulates 1 charge every 20 seconds up to a maximum of 3 charges.

Interesting.  I’ll go over this for a brief section because many people are not understanding what this actually means.  Currently, Force of Nature is a one minute cooldown which summons three treants that will cast healing touch on nearby injured allies for 15 seconds.  With this change, you will now have 3 charges of treants (similar to a monk’s Roll ability), with a charge regenerating every 20 seconds.  The individual treants still last for 15 seconds, so you can have a treant up for nearly 100% of a fight if you stagger them.

Restoration version of the Treant now casts Swiftmend on the Druid’s target when summoned. This version of Swiftmend does not require or consume a heal-over-time effect on the target.

This is the most interesting part of the rework.  Now, rather than spawning the treants at a location (Like Healing Rain), you target a player with them, and it will summon a treant next to you.  This treant will immediately cast a swiftmend on the target (and subsequently proc the ground AoE).  Following the initial swiftmend, the treant will then start spamming healing touch on nearby injured allies for the duration of it’s life.

If this is in the live game, it could potentially be a game changer for druids.  Before I get a bunch of hate mail from people who say they will never take it over Incarnation or Soul of the Forest, read on.  What is one of the resto druid’s biggest weaknesses currently (especially in 25m)?  Burst AoE healing!  Now, imagine on a fight like Heroic Megaera you have all 3 charges of your treants ready to go, your regular swiftmend is off CD, and you have fully grown mushrooms under the stack point.  This means you will have FOUR ground AoEs stacked on each other, healing 3-4 targets (depending on your gear) each.  This dramatically increases our burst AoE, clearly.  If this goes live, and the swiftmends from treants proc ground AoE that is identical in healing to that of our normal swiftmend, I will be ecstatic.  I would happily give up Incarnation or Soul of the Forest on any encounter that required any kind of AoE healing, especially burst AoE like Heroic Megaera.

Note:  I am still playing around with this on the 5.3 PTR, I will make another post if I come across any significant discoveries/changes.

Ironbark CD Reduction

Ironbark now has a cooldown of 60 seconds, down from 2 minutes.

Not much to say here.  It is a welcomed change, however, it still does not fix Ironbark’s main problem.  That is, it is significantly weaker than most other healers’ mitigation.  Although, with this change, we can use our Ironbark three times as often as most other classes’ mitigation, I’d rather have a longer CD and stronger mitigation, than a weaker one.  However, as I said, this change does allow us to use our Ironbark more liberally, and toss it out pretty much whenever we expect the tank (or any player) to take increased damage.  Maybe we are filling a niche of short CD mitigation, rather than joining the group of 3 minute strong mitigation CDs.  Even then, I’d say there are better short/no CD mitigation (Spirit Shell, PW:S, Paladin Mastery, etc.).

Swiftmend AoE Buffed

Swiftmend’s area-of-effect component now heals injured allies within 10 yards, up from 8 yards.

Despite what you may think, this is not going to change our healing numbers much, if at all.  It is a nice quality-of-life change, but does not change our throughput at all.  Remember, Swiftmend’s ground AoE can only heal 3 (or 4 with T15 2-set) targets at a time.  This is unlike Healing Rain, which heals everyone standing in it, albeit with diminishing returns the more people that are inside it.  However, like I said, this should be a nice little convenience change for us, making placement just a little bit easier, and helping when those pesky melee like to loosely spread behind the boss.

Wild Mushroom Buffed

Wild Mushroom: Bloom: Healing from this spell has been increased by 100%, which includes all bonus healing from Rejuvenation overhealing. In addition, the radius has been increased to 10 yards (up from 8).

Similar to the aforementioned swiftmend change; however, this actually will increase throughput significantly.  Essentially, mushroom healing is going to be doubled.  This is pretty big, as mushrooms that are fully grown and stacked under your entire group already heal for a moderately high amount. Considering that burst AoE healing is the resto druid’s largest weakness currently, I think this change can help us a bit.

Not to get too negative, although I welcome a flat throughput buff to mushrooms, that was not the real issue with them.  I am currently writing a full theorycraft post on resto mushrooms, so I won’t get into too much detail here.  But, imagine if rather than mushrooms being place on the ground, you could grow them on players!  Essentially, this makes your mushrooms mobile and potentially directed at particular groups in the raid.  So, like I said, be looking out for a full post regarding my opinion on resto shrooms.

Conclusion

Let’s be clear, all the changes for druids in 5.3 are a net gain, nothing is getting nerfed even a little bit.  Although I think these changes will help druids, I do not foresee these making druids top of the pack.  Hopefully this will move us away from the far bottom end, and towards the middle of the pack.  From the changes, I am glad to see that Blizzard realizes that the druid’s main problem is burst AoE healing, as many of the 5.3 changes address that problem.  Also, remember that everything above was taken from PTR notes and testing, and since it is the PTR, it is all subject to change at any time.  Please refer to the post date of this article if you are questioning its validity.

Hopefully my brief thoughts offer some insight for you on what druids are going to look like 5.3!  If you have any comments, questions, or feedback please leave a comment below or tweet me @Healcraft.  Happy Healing!

See Also

Source:  http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/9135374/#druid

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