Symbiosis – Boon or Bane?

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 KnightIcebound 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.

HunterDeterrence

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.

MageIce 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 – ??

We don’t what we’re getting from Paladins at the moment. Possibly Cleanse, which would let us remove diseases. Possibly Divine Shield, another damage reduction ability usable only on ourselves.

PriestLeap 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.

RogueEvasion

Oh look, more damage mitigation for ourselves. Increases our dodge chance? Really? This will be next to useless in PVE, decent in PVP.

ShamanSpiritwalker’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.

WarlockDemonic 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.

WarriorIntimidating 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?

17 responses to “Symbiosis – Boon or Bane?

  1. Finally someone agrees with me. I’ve been saying this from day one.
    Symbiosis is something only a lazy dev would come up with.
    “oh I know we’ll let them switch abilities!!”
    sounds good, but in reality how is that going to help me heal better??
    This combined with the “5 click healing mushrooms” is really making me reconsider a future MOP purchase.
    Either that or a main change :(

    • I’ll never main change. To be honest, I think Druids are fine as we are. However, with all the other classes getting new abilities when we didn’t receive anything new for the last xpac I just want to make sure that if we do get new abilites they don’t suck.

  2. Bane. It’s not as bad as the healing mushrooms but I am firmly in the bane camp for all the reasons you listed. What’s worse I can see issues in the future where “hey, it might be really useful for player A to have ability B for kiting/offtanking/ect. Guess you are going to have to DPS for the sake of the raid Zy since resto doesn’t give that”. Will it happen often? Probably not. But every time it does happen I will be grinding my teeth and resenting the ability.

    I guess I should just be happy we get a usable ability at all. It’s not like most of us even had to train our level 85 ability in Cataclysm :(

    • The spec the druid is doesn’t matter. The abilities we give are based on the other class’s spec, not ours.

      I’m hoping Symbiosis can be improved so it actually provides useful abilites to us.

  3. When you combine this with the new glyphs planed for Druids (several have the sum effect of turning you into a mount for another player) I have to wonder what someone is thinking about Druids. Are we going to be turned into the beasts of burden of WoW?

    So far I’ve not seen anything that excites me about MoP for Druids, and several things that make me wonder if I’ll be rolling some other kind of healer or just going to some other game.

    • The glyphs don’t really bother me, as they’re supposed to be fun. But I’d really like to know what the intent behind Symbiosis is. Is it to make us better at pvp? Give us more utility in raids? Give other people more utility in raids? It’s really not clear.

  4. My pretty reaction was pretty similar when I saw those spells. Seemed much more interesting for PvP and really meh for a raid situation. I actually facepalmed at the Spiritwalker’s Grace one too. “Symbiosis is a Druid ability. It should be giving Druids something new – something useful.” I heartily agree with this.

    As much as I hate to be cynical, this entire expac and these upcoming MoP changes make me believe that noone on their plays a resto druid and its making me really sad.
    Melyanna recently posted..MoP: Things I’m Stoked About

    • This is the first time I’ve seriously considered that none of the devs play resto druids. They’re really missing all the opportunities they have to make us stronger.

  5. As /facepalm as the “benefit” a Resto druid gets from Symbiosis, the “benefit” that a Resto Shaman gets is almost as big a joke in my opinion. Yay for Prowl when I Ghost Wolf, freaking useless in any Raid situation I can think of. I would happily give something like an Earth Shield or Water Shield or even modified Chain Heal to my Resto brothers and sisters in return for something like a modified tree form, say something like a “Rock” form that may root me in place but buff my heals for a short time and makes me immune from damage (or gives me a damage reduction due to a Stoneform type buff) Ultimately this should be about some actual useful benefits to both sides of the Symbiosis (more benefit to the Druid of course).

    • I don’t see druids getting anything as useful as Earth Shield, and I really don’t see them making up whole new abilities for us to give to other classes. We really can’t exchange any abilities that will be game-breaking or overpowered. We also can’t be expected to learn to integrate 9 new abilities that will be used as part of our normal rotations.

      It’s a tricky situation because we need the choice of abilities that will be useful, but not *too* useful, or else the balancing will be even more of a nightmare.

  6. Jas, you know, you saying
    “Symbiosis is a Druid ability. It should be giving Druids something new – something useful.”
    really echoed my thoughts. It’s a bit annoying that people are whinging about symbiosis and why they don’t want a druid to give it to them – well, hell, it’s MY ability, do you not think I’d like some benefit from it??
    So I think that line stated what I was thinking. Just thought I would say how awesome your thoughts are ;)

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  9. I honestly don’t see the problem. It looks pretty clearly designed so that it will bring you situational utility, nothing that actually makes anyone better at their core role in a raid. I’m glad about this because if they started handing out healing/DPS increases, that would be prone to balance issues. As it is, it’s a way to use some cool abilities. The ability not being all that useful in a raid doesn’t mean it’s not useful in all aspects of the game.

    The exception is tanks of course, who mostly gain survival and give survival to guardian druids.
    breadfan recently posted..An update. And beta notes in the mean time.

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