Tag Archives: spells

Button Bloat – Hunters

I talked about what abilities I thought could be eliminated from the Resto Druid kit last week, and now it’s time to talk hunters.

As I looked through my spellbook for all three specs last night, it struck me that I was fine with the hunter’s basic rotational abilities. I wouldn’t get rid of any of the basic 7-8 shots used by each spec. There are not too many. If anything, some new shot or mechanic could be added to spice things up a little bit. Where hunters feel bloated is in our cooldowns and situational abilities.

There are a whole bunch of abilities that could be removed or streamlined to make hunters feel more fluid, and possibly make room for other, more interesting abilities.

Aspects
These used to be a lot more interesting back when we had Aspect of Nature and Aspect of the Viper. We needed to make a meaningful choice for what aspect we were in and would often switch a few times during fights. Now there really is no choice and these abilities seem unnecessary.

Aspect of the Hawk/Ironhawk should be passive, or just removed. There’s really no reason we should ever have to reapply it. Right now it only serves as an annoyance to have to make sure to put it back on after switching specs. 

Aspect of the Cheetah/Pack we could probably live without. Having a whole aspect bar just for these two things seems silly, if AotH is removed. Perhaps we could get an ability like Stampeding Roar as a replacement. That would actually be really nice, even without a root/snare break.

Traps
Trap use has gone down a lot since previous expansions and they’re clunky to use compared to other abilities. The only real positive traps have is being able to place them before a pull, but even that only gives a marginal increase in damage.

As far as a I know, Survival is really the only spec that gets any use out of Explosive Trap. In order to be worthwhile, there needs to be a certain number of enemies and they need to stay still within the area of effect. I’d be more than happy to have this taken away.

Likewise, Snake Trap has very little use in PVE. I remember there used to be some cool uses for it, when snakes could be targeted by boss abilities and save your raid some damage, but I don’t think that’s the case anymore.

The PVP implications of this might be too big, but I’d also love to see Freezing Trap and Ice Trap combined into a single ability. The first hostile mob to hit the trap would be frozen. If the trap gets broken, or the mob is immune, the Ice Trap effect would show up.

Trap Launcher should be removed and made baseline.

Cooldowns
Rapid Fire and Focus Fire are very similar abilities which increase haste and I see no reason for both to exist. One could be removed, or they could be combined into one. The pet haste effect from Rabid could also be combined into this.

Other Spells
This one may be a bit more controversial, but I’d love to never be asked to Misdirect again. With all the changes to tank threat and ranged taunts, it really shouldn’t be necessary (and whatever happened to “wait 3 seconds before you attack the boss?”). Of course, MD is most useful in directing stray/spawning mobs to the tank, but our ability to do this marginal at best. As BM especially, my misdirect can’t out-threat much of anything. 

Hunter’s Mark seems unnecessary at this point. We don’t really even need to cast it anymore since its application is baked into basic shots. The tracking component is useful for PVP, but I’d rather it become a situational spell used for the tracking and have the damage buff component removed.

Flavour
These spells don’t impact much and the only reason to keep them would be nostalgia.

I can’t remember the last time I used Beast Lore. Since pets have been normalized, and don’t need to be fed, there’s not much point.

I didn’t even remember hunters had Eagle Eye until I was browsing through my spell book. I wouldn’t miss it.


Well, that’s 13 abilities I think could safely be removed from Hunters. That’s a lot. It seems that there are a lot of opportunities to streamline our toolkit. 

What do you think? What Hunter abilities would you like to see removed? Are there any you wouldn’t want to lose?

Ashunera has written another well-thought out piece about ability bloat, and wants to know what 5 abilities you’d prune from your class. You should check it out.

Button Bloat – Resto Druids

Everybody’s talking about button bloat. Lissanna’s doing it. Vidyala’s doing it. Celestalon was the one who started it.

So I’m going to talk about it too. First, to answer the question – there’s no ability I love that I fear will be cut. I am fearless in that regard. Would I want something like Rejuvenation to go away? Obviously not, but I’m also quite positive it’s not on the chopping block.

Second, I think removing some abilities is an excellent idea. How many abilities is too many? More than I can comfortably bind. On my Druid I use VuhDo bindings and bind all my common heals to a combination of SHIFT, CTRL, ALT (or no modifier) plus one of 4 buttons on my mouse. That gives me 16 possible bindings. Actually, 15, since unmodified left click is used to target.

Currently, my breakdown of resto Druid spells in PVE looks like this:

  • Spells I want the fastest access to that need to be bound: Healing Touch, Lifebloom, Nature’s Cure, Nature’s Swiftness, Regrowth, Rejuvenation, Swiftmend, Wild Growth, Wild Mushroom, WM: Bloom, Innervate, Ironbark, Barkskin (13 spells)
  • Spells which I feel  should be bound, but in reality almost never get used: Nourish, Genesis (2 spells)
  • Spells which are used regularly but have a long enough cooldown that I don’t mind not having them bound: Rebirth, Tranquility, Incarnation, Nature’s Vigil/HotW, whatever I get from Symbiosis (5 spells)
  • Utility spells that I use frequently: Dash, Displacer Beast, Stampeding Roar (3 spells)
  • Situational utility spells: Typhoon, Soothe, Ursol’s Vortex, Cat form, Bear form, Might of Ursoc, Growl (7 spells, give or take)
  • DPS spells that I like to use when I’m bored or the boss is at 1% and is berserking: Moonfire, Wrath (2 spells)

Adding those up, I have a total of 32 abilities which I will want access to at some point or another in raids. If I take away the highly situational spells that I don’t use on most encounters, I’m still left with 23. 

I think 23 abilities is too many to use on a regular basis. So what can we cut? Looking at my breakdown of spells, two things stick out. Nourish and Genesis.

Nourish is a spell I haven’t had bound since about a week into Mists. With all the other healing spells available to us, it just doesn’t pack enough of a punch. It’s cheap mana-wise, but it’s also slow and barely puts a dent in health bars. It seems like an obvious choice for removal.

Genesis is a spell I was excited about when it was first announced, thinking that it would give Druid healing some much-needed extra burst. However, it didn’t really work out that way. Rejuvenation just has too short a duration to make Genesis really work. At most you’re going to have 5 up that you can speed up, and the first couple applied will barely benefit from the Genesis cast. Plus, using Genesis mean you lose all your applied Rejuvs very quickly when most of the time it’s more beneficial to leave them up, ticking slowly. The only real use people have gotten out of Genesis is quickly charging Wild Mushrooms, but I don’t think giving us a faster way to overheal was what the devs had in mind when they made this spell. Cut it.

These two were obvious ones, but now it gets a little murkier. Healing Touch or Regrowth could also be candidates for removal, depending on how/if the healing model changes in Warlords. If we continue down the road of AoE/smartheal/cooldown all the things, we really don’t need 2 cast-time direct heals in our kit. I think that Healing Touch could be removed without too much impact. For most of this expansion I only used it in combination with Nature’s Swiftness (or if there was not enough to heal and I could just chain cast it on a tank to refresh LB/Harmony/give me something to do). The 4T16 bonus means people are using it more now, but unless this effect gets baked in as a passive ability, this will change in Tier 17. I find that Regrowth and Healing Touch are in the same niche, but Regrowth fills it better. If the healing model gets changed so that single target heals are something we actually want to be casting, I think there is room for both of these spells. However, I think they would need to be changed a little to differentiate them. I’d like to see the HoT portion of Regrowth be more substantial, as it once was. Alternatively, Healing Touch could be cheaper and bigger to compensate for the slow cast time.

The last spell that I think could be removed is Innervate. Of course it’s nice to have a mana return, but I think it would be just as easy to balance healers around not having an ability like this instead. Druids’ mana return is a little more interesting than something like Divine Plea or Mana Tea in that we can choose to cast it on someone else but, really, how often does that happen? Generally Innervate just amounts to another 3-minute cooldown to watch and use as soon as it’s available. It’s not really adding anything.

I’m trying to find more candidates for removal, but everything else has a real purpose, even if it doesn’t get used on every fight. I really like having so many utility spells and I can’t think of one I’d want to remove to reduce button bloat.

What do you think? Are there any abilities you wouldn’t miss if they were removed?

Speaking of Resto Druids (since I don’t speak about them all that much any more), if you’re an avid tree lover, you should check out Team Waffle’s most recent Resto Roundtable and Final Boss’s podcast on Restos for some great discussion. I’m kind of sad that not maining a Druid means I don’t get invited to these things anymore :( But they’re both great things to listen to.

Evaluating Resto Druids with World of Logs

Last year I wrote a series of posts on how to evaluate raiders, specifically healers, using World of Logs. I’ve finally started updating the guide for Mists of Pandaria, starting with – what else? – resto druids!


Here are specific things to look for when analyzing resto druid logs. It’s best to look at specific kills or attempts in order to get meaningful numbers.

Druids are primarily Heal Over Time (HoT) healers with great mobility and a decent amount of utility. Though Druids have generally been considered raid healers, they can also be strong tank healers.

Healing by Spell

World of Logs - Druid healing by spell
There are a number of things to look for on this screen, including:

Spell selection – Is the druid using all their available spells?

Druids have: Lifebloom, Rejuvenation, Wild Growth, Regrowth, Swiftmend, Healing Touch, Nourish, Tranquility, Wild Mushrooms and passive healing from Living Seed. Depending on spec they may also have: Cenarion Ward and/or Force of Nature, though these are weaker than the other available choices in most cases.

Healing from Lifebloom, Rejuv, Wild Growth, Regrowth, Swiftmend and Tranquility should be seen on every fight.

Healing Touch, Nourish and Wild Mushroom: Bloom may not appear, or appear only sparingly. Whether Nourish is used a matter of personal choice, though it will not provide much healing. Healing Touch should only be used in combination with Nature’s Swiftness. Wild Mushrooms may provide some healing on fights where mana is tight or the raid is stacked up.

You should not see healing from Renewal; this is a poor talent choice for a healer.

Top Spells

A druid’s top spells will vary depending on the nature of a fight and how spread out the raid is. Wild Growth and Rejuv will generally be at or near the top. When the raid is tightly grouped up Swiftmend will provide a lot of healing on fights where the raid is grouped up, but less when spread out. Tranquility can also be one of the top spells for healing done when it is timed well and can be used multiple times throughout a fight. If the Druid is tank healing, expect to see Lifebloom and Regrowth higher on the list.

Overhealing

Druids will generally have fairly high overheal because of the nature of their HoTs. This isn’t something to worry about. Lifebloom and Rejuv tend to have quite high overheal while you should see lower overheal on smart heals like Wild Growth or direct heals like Regrowth.

Notes on specific spells:

Lifebloom

WoL - Lifebloom

Uptime is the key metric here. Lifebloom is our source of Omen of Clarity procs and provides a steady stream of heals to whoever it’s placed on (usually a tank). Allowing a 3-stack to fall off, unless it’s timed perfectly to provide an emergency heal from the bloom, means you have to waste time and mana building the stack back up. Lifebloom uptime should be in the 90-100% range on most fights.

Tranquility

WoL-Tranquility

The first thing to look for is whether Tranquility was used at all. It is our best spell in terms of HPS and HPM and should be used on every fight. With a 3 minute cooldown it can be used 2-3 times on most fights.

Next look at the number of direct heals – Each Tranquility should tick 20 times. If this number is not a multiple of 20 it means Tranquility is being interrupted. This is most likely due to casting it at the wrong time and needing to move mid-cast, or interrupting it before it finishes.

Overheal should be fairly low, but the HoT portion of the spell can increase this number.

Swiftmend

WoL-Swiftmend

Check how many times Swiftmend was used by looking at the number of direct heals. Swiftmend has a 15 second cooldown (12 with the T14 4-piece bonus), so it can be used 4 or 5 times per minute. It’s unrealistic to use SM every time it’s available but it should be used often (especially if the Druid is specced into Soul of the Forest).

Note: Swiftmend has two different spell IDs. 18562 is the direct heal, while 81269 is the ground healing portion (previously known as Efflorescence).

Cenarion Ward

If the Druid has this in their spec, the most important thing to look for is overheal. If the overhealing on the spell is very high, the Druid is not using it optimally.

Direct Heals
Direct heals should not make up the bulk of a druid’s healing, but Regrowth should be used fairly often. Low use of direct heals will likely mean that Clearcasting procs are being wasted.

Buffs Cast

This screen will tell you how often a druid is using their cooldowns, along with the uptime on key abilities.

World of Logs Druid buffs cast

Lifebloom – As noted above, uptime should be as close to 100% as possible.

Harmony – This is Druids’ mastery which increases the effect of all HoTs while it’s active. Harmony should be up as much as possible, look for 95%+ uptime. If uptime is much lower, the druid needs to cast more direct heals to keep it active.

Barkskin – Barkskin can be used once every 45 seconds. It should be used often to mitigate damage taken (though not necessarily on cooldown).

Tranquility – As noted above, Tranquility should be used on every fight. The amount should be a multiple of 20, indicating the druid channeled the spell for the full duration (Note: There are 2 Tranquility effects listed, the one to look at is spell ID 44203).

Innervate – Innervate has a 3-minute cooldown. It should be used at 70-80% mana the first time, then whenever it’s off cooldown to get as much mana as possible.

Ironbark –  This is a damage reduction spell Druids can cast on someone else, it has a 2 minute cooldown. It should be used on every fight.

Clearcasting – Compare the amount of Clearcasting procs to the number of Regrowths cast (this is found in the Healing by Spell tab). The Druid should have at least as many Regrowth casts as CC procs.

Trinkets – If the druid has an on-use trinket equipped, check the cooldown on it and the amount of times used. They should be used the maximum amount possible.

The following are talents, so whether they appear in a Druid’s logs is spec-dependent:

Nature’s Swiftness – This spell makes your next spell with a cast time instant, larger and mana free. It has a 1 minute cooldown. This spell is often used for emergency heals, though if the Druid has it in their spec, you should see it used at least a few times on every fight.

Incarnation – Incarnation has a 3 minute cooldown. In your average 4-7 minute fight it should be used twice. A third use can be squeezed into fights that last longer.

Nature’s Vigil – Nature’s Vigil also has a 3 minute cooldown. In your average 4-7 minute fight it should be used twice. A third use can be squeezed into fights that last longer.

Heart of the Wild – If the Druid has this in their spec, you may not see it used. It’s generally only used on fights where the Druid has the room to stop healing and do some damage. Otherwise, it’s just taken for the intellect buff.

You should also check to see if the Druid is using abilities given to them by Symbiosis. For the list of those, check here.

Comparison of Healing Spells by Class

A while back I wrote a post and made a whole lot of charts that compared each healing class in terms of what type of heals and abilities were available to them. People seemed to find it handy, so I’ve made a new charts for Mists.

I hope they will be helpful if you’re thinking of starting a new healer or just want to better understand the capabilities of the rest of your healing team.

Unfotunately, the charts are far too wide to fit into a post, so you’ll have to go to the new page I created here:

Comparison of Healing Spells by Class – Mists of Pandaria

Resto Druid Changes (Mists of Pandaria build 15799)

Resto Druids haven’t received a whole lot of attention in the last Mists builds, but this most recent one sure changes that. A number of Druids have been concerned that with all the ‘maintenance’ spells we need to cast, we will be GCD capped and it will making healing well difficult. Blizzard seems to have answered, by increasing the duration of both Lifebloom and Harmony considerably. Full build notes can be found on Wowhead. I’ve also posted a slightly abridged version of my feedback on the beta forums.

Lifebloom

Lifebloom: Heals the target for 109315*1 over 15 sec. When Lifebloom expires or is dispelled, the target is instantly healed for ((8150 + $SPN * 0.752) *). This effect can stack up to 3 times on the same target. Duration refreshed each time you cast Healing Touch, Nourish, or Regrowth on the target. Lifebloom can be active only on one target at a time.

Lifebloom will now last 15 seconds, up from 10. The amount of healing per tick should not change any (it now lasts 33% longer and heals for 33% more). At first I was worried about the PVP ramifications of this, but that concern was quickly assuaged when I saw the changes made to the new glyph introduced.

Glyph of Blooming: Increases the bloom heal of your Lifebloom when it expires by 50%, but its duration is reduced by 5 sec and your Healing Touch, Nourish, and Regrowth abilities no longer refresh the duration of Lifebloom.

Not only does this take care of the too-long duration of Lifebloom for PVP, it also got a nice buff by now increasing the amount of the bloom by 50%, rather than 20%.

So, I’m generally happy with the increased duration of Lifebloom. I really didn’t have much of a problem keeping it up at 10 seconds, but the extra time will give raid healing druids a bit more breathing room. This, combined with the older change of having all 3 applications transfer when you change your target make Lifebloom much less cumbersome to use. These are nice quality of life improvements.

Harmony

Mastery: Harmony: Your direct healing is increased by an additional 0% and casting your direct healing spells grants you an additional 0% bonus to periodic healing for 20 sec.

Harmony now lasts 20 seconds, up from 10. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I’m not too thrilled about this change. There are a few reasons for this.

  • I don’t understand people’s aversion to using single target spells with a cast time (Nourish, Regrowth, Healing Touch). Yes, Druids are HoT-based, but in my opinion, that doesn’t mean that we should only be casting HoTs. Variety makes things interesting.
  • Since Harmony can now be kept up 100% of the time using only Swiftmend it’s going to increase the number of players who think its appropriate to cast nothing but Rejuv in between Swiftmend and Wild Growth cooldowns.
  • I really enjoy the mini-game of keeping Harmony and Lifebloom active as close to 100% of the time as possible. I like having to work to make my healing as powerful as possible and plan properly to ensure it is. With 15 seconds on Lifebloom and 20 on Harmony, that’s not going to be much of a challenge.

Honestly, I think that having Harmony be easily sustainable by only casting Swiftmend (which we want to cast close to every cooldown because of all the healing Efflorescence does anyway) trivializes the entire mechanic of having to keep it active. I thought the reason for the 10 second duration was to ensure we cast a direct heal every once in a while, but that no longer applies. They may as well just go all the way and make our Mastery something that is active all the time, like it is for every other class.

Wild Mushrooms

Wild Mushroom: Bloom: Grow a magical mushroom with 3 health at the target location. After 6 sec, the mushroom will become invisible. When triggered by the Druid, all mushrooms will bloom healing all allies within 8 yards for 6074 to 7348. Only 5 mushrooms can be placed at one time.

You can now place 5 mushrooms, up from 3. The range on the heal has been reduced to 8 yards, down from 12. I don’t like the whole concept of Mushrooms as a heal to begin with. I’m not sure what problem these changes are attempting to solve, but it looks like it’s a step in the entirely wrong direction. 5 mushrooms?! When will we ever have time to place 5 mushrooms? That means seven clicks (or button presses) and 5 GCDs in order to set up and then activate the heal. The range reduction is an extra kick to the shins. None of the problems with Wild Mushrooms as a heal have been addressed:

  • it takes too long to set them up
  • if the raid moves, the mushrooms you’ve set up become useless
  • having to target the ground to place them is cumbersome
  • the range is (once again) small

At this rate, I don’t see this spell getting a lot of use aside from the Mushrooms we can set up pre-pull. I’ve heard people suggest that we don’t have to use all 5 mushrooms, we could only place 1, or 3, but I don’t put any stock in this. Players want to optimize, they don’t want to cast something that is less powerful than it could be. The days of downranking spells are long over.

Since I don’t want to just complain and not offer any alternatives, here are some of my ideas for fixing the spell.

Option 1:

Grow a magical mushroom on the target player. When triggered by the Druid, all mushrooms will bloom healing all allies within 10 yards for 6074 to 7348. Only 3 mushrooms can be placed at one time.

This would solve all of the problems I have with the spell. Casting the mushrooms on players would solve the issue of awkward ground targeting. I use VuhDo, I like to be able to cast my heals by clicking on raid frames. It also solves the problem of player movement quite nicely. A mushroom on the ground is likely to heal no one if players move. A mushroom on a person will always heal at least one even if they are a dope who goes and stands in a corner by themselves.

Option 2:

Grow a magical mushroom at the target location. After 6 sec, the mushroom will become invisible. When triggered by the Druid, the mushroom will bloom healing all allies within 8 yards for 18022 to 22044. Only 1 mushroom can be placed at one time. 3 second cast time.

This isn’t a perfect solution, but i think it would be an improvement. I’d find having to hard cast 1 mushroom much less cumbersome than having to place 5. The downside would be that you couldn’t spread them out, but spreading them out makes them even more awkward to use anyway and reduces the amount the people in range will be healed.

Tier 14

The new tier set name and bonuses have also been released in the new patch.

Vestments of the Eternal Blossom

2 pieces: Reduces the mana cost of your Rejuvenation spell by 10%.
4 pieces: Reduces the cooldown of your Swiftmend spell by 3 sec.

First, pretty name! The 2-set isn’t an exciting bonus, but I’m sure it will be appreciated in the first raid tier as we’re having mana struggles and getting used to the new mana model. The 4-set is awesome. This looks like a significant increase to our healing output with all the extra Efflorescence healing we’ll be able to do. The only downside is that it will hurt to break this bonus when tier 15 rolls around.

What do you think of the latest changes?

Resto Druid Abilities – Mists of Pandaria

I just got a beta invite. Here are my first thoughts on how the resto druid healing toolkit is looking like for Mists.

Mists of Pandaria Restoration Druid abilities

Healing Spells

Here are the healing abilities we get while specced into the restoration tree:

Healing Touch – Same as the current version. Glyph of Healing Touch now reduces the cooldown on Swiftmend by 1 second when HT is used, rather than reducing the cooldown on Nature’s Swiftness.

Lifebloom – The ability for Nourish, Regrowth and Healing Touch to refresh the duration has been built into the spell. The Glyph of Lifebloom has been changed so that when you cast Lifebloom on a new target, it will transfer the amount of stacks the original target had (only when not in tree form).

Nourish – Same as the current version.

Regrowth – This now has a built-in 60% increased critical effect chance and it automatically refreshes the HoT duration if the target is below 50% health. The revamped Glyph of Regrowth increases the critical strike chance of Regrowth by another 40%, making it a guaranteed crit, but removes the HoT component.

Rejuvenation – Same as the current version, with the instant heal from GotEM included, except the instant heal is now a full tick rather than 15% of the total healing effect. Glyph of Rejuvenation has been changed to replace Nature’s Bounty, reducing the cast time of Nourish by 30% when you have 3 active Rejuvs. Swift Rejuvenation is now a passive ability.

Swiftmend – This no longer consumes an existing Rejuv or Regrowth, but one must be present on the target in order to use it. Efflorescence has been built into Swiftmend.

Tranquility – Same as the current version.

Wild Growth – Same as the current version. Glyph of Wild Growth is also unchanged.

Wild Mushroom and Wild Mushroom: Bloom – The Wild Mushroom behave just like they currently do. But now restos, rather than having a spell to detonate the mushrooms and do damage, now have an ability to ‘bloom’ the mushrooms and do healing.

Overall, not a whole lot has changed. Most of the changes to the healing spells aren’t adding anything new, they’re just building in the effects of talents that no  longer exist. Based on this, I’m expecting the resto druid healing style is not going to change much from its current form.

The thing I’m most happy about is the change to the Glyph of Lifebloom. This is a huge quality of life improvement. No more wasting 3 GCDs every time a tank swap happens, or being put at a disadvantage when a hard switch happens in PVP.

The change to Regrowth and its glyph is interesting. I love Regrowth as a Flash Heal and a guaranteed crit sounds great, but I feel like the glyph is somewhat wasteful. Regrowth has an innate 60% chance to crit, players will likely sit between 20-30% crit chance, so the 40% crit from the glyph is really only contributing 10-20%.

We have one new healing spell, Wild Mushroom: Bloom. Ugh. The idea of healing mushrooms always struck me as clunky and awful. Having tested them out, I can confirm that they are indeed clunky and awful. They have the potential to do a good amount of burst healing, but they’re a poor design. Three GCDs to get them placed (the idea that you’d ever only want 1 or 2 down strikes me as ridiculous), and having to place them with the targeting reticule makes them too cumbersome to use. Also, a 6 yard range is not a lot, that’ll cover an area almost 50% smaller than Efflorescence.

Our healing spells can also be supplemented by the Tier 2 and Tier 6 talents. I wrote about the new talents a little while ago, I will be adding further thoughts now that I’ve had a chance to try them out soon.

Support Spells

Innervate – The percentages of mana gain have changed a little. This now gives 10% of the caster’s max mana to the target, or 20% if cast on yourself. The Glyph of Innervate seems to ensure that you always get 20% of your mana back, no matter who your target is.

Ironbark – This is a replacement for Barkskin. It reduces damage by 20% for 12 seconds but is now castable on anyone and has a 2 minute cooldown (up from 1).

Mark of the Wild – No longer increases stamina.

Nature’s Cure – Now cures all magic, curse and poison effects.

Symbiosis – A spell you cast on someone of another class which gives you one of their abilities (and they get one of yours).

I’m still upset about losing Barkskin. I like that we have a damage reducing cooldown but I don’t like that it replaces our self-cast spell. Sure, we could still use it on ourselves, but 99% of the time in a raid it’s going to be more of a benefit to someone else. I like the 12 second duration, but I think a 20% damage reduction is too low to be a real life-saver for anyone taking heavy damage.

I am excited about Symbiosis. The abilities we will get from other classes are mainly about survivability and utility. Since utility is something we’ve always been short on, I’m very happy about this. We’ll be able to get things like Hand of Sacrifice to give us a viable tank cooldown, Leap of Faith so we can yank around raiders, or things like Deterrence or Anti-Magic Shell to improve our own survivability.

Passive Effects

Harmony – Our mastery, same as the current version.

Living Seed – Same as the current talent.

Malfurion’s Gift – Reduces the cooldown on Tranquility.

Meditation – Same as the current specialization.

Natural Insight – Increases mana pool so it’s even with other healers.

Omen of Clarity – Periodic healing from Lifebloom has a chance to trigger Clearcasting.

Revitalize – Works the same as it does currently, but it looks like the effect only applies to you, not the whole raid.

Swift Rejuvenation – Same as the current talent.

Nothing too exciting or different here. Again, they’re just incorporating the talents that no longer exist into our base abilities.

I’ve always been a big fan of Living Seed so I’m happy this was included as a passive ability. I just wish they would improve it a little bit. It would be great if the Seed was triggered from any damage taken. It would also be really nice if HoT crits placed a Seed.

Other thoughts

The thing I’m most looking forward to about Druids in Mists of Pandaria (so far) is how adaptable we’ll be. We’ll be able to change our talents from fight to fight to make ourselves as strong as possible. We’ll be able to change our Symbiosis target from fight to fight to receive the ability that will benefit our raid group the best.

Barkskin in Dragon Soul

Damage mitigation is not just for tanks or PVP. Good use of your damage mitigation abilities make for happy healers and happy raid leaders.

Barkskin is a druid ability that is full of win:

The druid’s skin becomes as tough as bark. All damage taken is reduced by 20%. While protected, damaging attacks will not cause spellcasting delays. This spell is usable while stunned, frozen, incapacitated, feared or asleep. Usable in all forms. Lasts 12 sec. 60 second cooldown.

Barkskin

It costs no mana and triggers no global cooldown so there’s really no excuse for not making the most of it.

Here are some ideal times to use Barkskin for each boss in Dragon Soul. Most of these situations are also good times to use Divine Protection if you are a Paladin since the two talents are quite similar.

Morchok

Normal and Heroic: Barkskin should be usable once every crystal phase. The best time to use it is just before a Stomp. If you are one of the crystal soakers, you can time your Barkskin so it is active for both a Stomp and the following Resonating Crystal damage.

Warlord Zon’ozz

Normal: Barkskin is best used during the Black phase on this fight to reduce the damage taken by Black Blood of Go’rath.

Heroic: Use Barkskin at the beginning of the Black phase, as that is when raid damage is highest (as adds are killed there is less damage going out). You could also use Barkskin when you are affected by Distrupting Shadows if it will not be cleansed off.

Yor’sahj the Unsleeping

Normal and Heroic: The ooze combinations on this fight are unpredictable, so it’s hard to time your Barkskin to get the most use out of it. In general, try to use Barkskin whenever the raid damage is heavy. The Red oozes will cause the most damage, so using Barkskin anytime that is up is a good idea. Make sure you’re popping Barkskin after the oozes reach the boss – there’s no damage while they’re travelling to them. It’s also a good idea to use it when Black is active and you have an add hitting you.

Hagara the Stormbinder

Normal and heroic: Main phase – use Barkskin if you are soaking Ice lances. You can also use Barkskin if you are placed in an Ice Tomb.

Lightning phase – Damage during this phase ramps up the longer it lasts, so wait a few seconds before using Barkskin.

Ice Phase – Use Barkskin if you are standing in the Watery Entrenchment (this is a strat you’re more likely to use in heroic mode). If you aren’t in Watery Entrenchment, you shouldn’t be taking any damage so Barkskin shouldn’t be needed (though you can pop it just to be safe in case you get hit by an Icicle).

Ultraxion

Normal and heroic: Use Barkskin on cooldown to prevent as much damage as possible from Unstable Monstrosity. If your Barkskin comes off cooldown just before an Hour of Twilight is going to be cast, hold off and use it after you come back out of the Twilight Realm.

Warmaster Blackhorn

Normal and heroic: In phase 1 use Barkskin whenever it’s available and you are about to take damage from either a Twilight Barrage or a Twilight Onslaught.

In phase 2, use Barkskin before as many Disrupting Roars as you can.

Spine of Deathwing

Normal: There are a lot of good opportunities for Barkskin on this fight. You’ll want to use it as often as possible, when you’re affected by one of the following:

Grasping Tendrils – You will be taking a fair amount of damage while you’re waiting for Deathwing to do a barrel roll.
Fiery Grip – You will be stunned, but you can still use Barkskin.
Superheated Nucleus – This happens when the Amalgamation is about to explode. The whole raid will take significant damage for a few seconds until it dies.

When you’re affected by one of the above and Searing Plasma, Barkskin is particularly effective since any healing on your will be absorbed.

Madness of Deathwing

Normal: During phase 1, there are two times when Barkskin is particularly effective. First, when an Elementium Bolt is going to hit. Second, when Blistering Tentacles are up and you are taking damage from Blistering Heat.

In phase 2, use Barkskin when Deathwing’s health reaches 10% and you are taking extra damage from Corrupted Blood.

Also don’t forget to use Dream during this fight. In phase 2 you want to save it in case you get targeted by Shrapnel, but during phase 1, you can use it whenever you’re taking damage.