Today I’ve been taking a closer look at Symbiosis, our new level 87 ability in Mists of Pandaria. Wowhead has posted a very comprehensive look at druid abilities in Mists, including what we gain and give when we use Symbiosis on someone. At first, I was quite excited about the ability because I thought it would give us extra utility and make us more adaptable. However, as I look at the list of abilities resto Druids can gain, I find myself getting less and less excited. Not just less excited, I find myself getting kinda angry.
Here are the abilities we can borrow from other classes (of course, nothing is set in stone and some of the datamining is not 100%):
Death Knight – Icebound Fortitude
IBF is almost exactly the same ability as Barkskin/Ironbark. It adds a stun immunity, but has a 3-minute cooldown as opposed to 2. We’re not really getting anything new here, though since it won’t share a cooldown with Ironbark (like Barkskin does) it will give us back a self-cast only damage mitigation spell.
Hunter – Deterrence
Another mitigation cooldown usable only on ourselves. This one reduces damage by 30% and deflects attacks for 5 seconds. You can’t attack while it’s active, but since we’re healers, that doesn’t mean a whole lot.
Mage – Ice Block
Complete immunity for 10 seconds with a 5-minute cooldown. This is a nice ‘oh shit’ button that will give the other healers a chance to heal you before you die, but I don’t think Ice Block is all that desirable in a raid situation. We should be healing, not sitting around in blocks of ice.
Paladin – ??
Priest – Leap of Faith
This is a fun ability. It’s great for griefing, or moving around people who have disconnected (or just aren’t paying attention) so they don’t die in fires.
Rogue – Evasion
Oh look, more damage mitigation for ourselves. Increases our dodge chance? Really? This will be next to useless in PVE, decent in PVP.
Shaman – Spiritwalker’s Grace
The ability to cast spells while moving… Really? I could have sworn we were pretty good at healing on the move already. Of all the healing cooldowns in the game this one is pretty much the least useful for us. I’m hoping this is some kind of bad joke.
Warlock – Demonic Circle: Teleport
Read the tooltip carefully. We won’t get to put down our own portal, we’ll be brought to the warlock’s portal when we use this ability. What if we don’t want to be in the same place the warlock wants to be? Tough I guess. The ability to move somewhere instantly sounds good, but if that’s needed on a fight it would make more sense to pick up Wild Charge in our spec rather than use Symbiosis on a Warlock.
Warrior – Intimidating Roar
CC abilities are okay, I guess. Even though this lasts only 8 seconds. The only time I can see myself using this in a PVE scenario is when I pull aggro on adds (which happens a lot, actually). However, we have options in our own talent tree if this becomes a problem (Mass Entanglement, Typhoon, Disorienting Roar, Ursol’s Vortex), lots of options. I am unimpressed by this and doubt I would ever use Symbiosis on a Warrior in a raid.
Usually I really hate it when people are overly critical of Blizzard’s design team and do nothing but whine about their class. When I hear someone say “GG Blizz” I generally want to punch them. But after looking at what our “shiny” and “new” ability actually gives us, I have to say… What the fuck? Do any of the designers play a Resto Druid? (or a Balance Druid, their Symbiosis abilities are stupid too). Do any of them even play healers?
Healers are about keeping the raid alive, not just themselves. The main problem Resto Druids have had in the past is our lack of raid utility – no tank CDs, no damage mitigation. Keeping ourselves alive is really not a problem. And what spell options we get from Symbiosis?
- Four abilities that reduce the damage we take (possibly 5 depending on what we get from Paladins);
- one ability that is situationally useful in keeping someone other than ourself alive (Leap of Faith);
- one short-term CC ability that performs a similar function as four of our talent tree options;
- one ability that will let us move around faster (but looks much less useful than Wild Charge);
- and one ability that will let us cast while moving – something we’ve never had a problem with.
These abilities are all extremely lackluster and I believe that in 98% of raid situations which one we get will not make any significant difference.
However, the abilities we can give others through Symbiosis could make a difference. (Again, see Wowhead’s list for the abilities other classes get from us, I’m not listing them all here). Using Symbiosis on a tank will give them an extra, though not particularly powerful, cooldown – Warriors get Frenzied Regeneration, Paladins get Barkskin, DKs get Might of Ursoc. Using Symbiosis on a Shadow Priest will give them Tranquility.
This is where team-player Jasyla and selfish Jasyla start to butt heads.
Team-player Jasyla says:
- By giving someone else in the raid an extra cooldown, whether it’s mitigation for the tanks or a huge heal for a dps, we are bringing extra utility to the raid.
But then selfish Jasyla jumps in and says:
- Shut up team-player Jas, you’re missing the point. (Wow, that was uncalled for.)
- Symbiosis is a Druid ability. It should be giving Druids something new – something useful.
- While the ability to give an extra cooldown to the raid is nice, we should be the ones who actually get to use the cooldown. Casting Symbiosis on a tank at the beginning of a fight is not in any way fun or interesting for us. The extra (potentially) raid-saving ability becomes someone else’s responsibility when it should be ours.
- Who we use Symbiosis on in a raid will not be based on what ability will benefit us the most. It will be dictated by who we can give the best ability to.
The only possible explanation I can think of for how Symbiosis is shaping up is that it is meant to be a PVP ability. Most of the abilities we can borrow from other classes would be great for PVP. But PVE? Not great at all.
The abilities we get from Symbiosis really need to be rethought. Druids should be the ones receiving the biggest benefit from our own ability, not another class. We need decent choices – abilities that we will actually want to use in a raid.
I’m not asking for us to be able to borrow the best of what every other class has to offer. But we do need solid, and varied options. I’d like to see a couple of options that will reduce our damage taken, one or two that will reduce the damage someone else takes, a couple of options that buff our own output, and a new heal or two. I’d even take a lot of the borrwed spells with reduced effectiveness so we don’t become OP. But having 4 or 5 options that improve our own survivability? Not helpful or interesting. We need some options that make us more effective or more useful, or else what’s the point of this new ability?