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Living Seed – The Next Great Druid Cooldown?

April 13, 2011

Druids still need a tank healing cooldown.

This was a hot topic a few months ago, after a Blue post in February stating that Restoration druids and Restoration shaman are lacking in the healing cooldown department*. (As usual, I’m a bit late to the party.) At the time there was a huge surge of hope among Druids everywhere, as well as much speculation about what a Druid cooldown would look like. Shortly afterward a change to Tranquility was announced in the patch notes.  Although the wording is confusing, it seems that Restoration Druids will now be able to cast Tranquility every 3 minutes, down from every 8 minutes.

The response from the Druid community was a very unimpressed, “That’s it?  That’s all we get?!” Now, don’t get me wrong, Tranquility is a very powerful spell, and being able to use it every 3 minutes is going to be a huge potential boost to our healing ability. In fact, that might be a problem, as a 3-minute CD on Tranquility might make the spell “overpowered” compared to the AoE healing abilities of other healing classes.  Quite a few Druids have expressed concerns that this change will be followed by a nerf to Tranquility’s throughput – putting us right back at square one all over again.

Another issue is that changing the CD on Tranquility doesn’t help Druids where we most desperately feel we need help. Druids are now viable tank healers in most situations; however, in a pinch we have no saving cooldowns for tank healing. Priests and Paladins have a variety of tank “saves” at their disposal, which is great – unless your guild doesn’t have a Priest or Paladin. (With the increased prevalence of 10-man guilds, due to the combined 10- and 25-man lockout, this is a greater possibility than previously.) Druids generally have very few tools to deal with large spikes of incoming damage. Really, all we can do is “heal more”, and when we are already healing full-out, we have no option but to watch the tank die.

Druids have been waiting breathlessly, hoping that the Tranquility change was not going to be our promised cooldown. Sadly, two months later and with the next patch on the horizon, I’m starting to doubt that Blizzard is planning to give us anything more.

Why do Druids need a tank saving cooldown anyway?

As I said above, the only option Druids currently have to deal with incoming damage is to just “heal more”.  Generally, this isn’t much of an option.  To show you why, I’m going to list what I’m normally doing while tank healing:

So what spells am I not using that I could possibly use to save the tank during a damage spike?  These are the only possible options:

  • Regrowth, instead of Healing Touch.  This isn’t a great idea because, while Regrowth has a shorter cast time, it also has enormous mana costs, and isn’t as large a heal.  I will sometimes use a free Regrowth with a Clearcasting proc, but only when I’m not already casting Healing Touch, (since Healing Touch eats the proc), and that doesn’t help much in an emergency.
  • Nature’s Swiftness + Healing Touch.  I use this a lot, and I think it really has saved lives on multiple occasions.  I don’t know why so many Druid’s look down on Nature’s Swiftness.  It only costs one talent point, and it’s the only real “Oh shit, I need to heal the tank fast!” button that we have.  Nature’s Swiftness is going to be even better after the patch when it will also increase the healing done by the affected spell by 50%.  Unfortunately, it’s on a 3-minute cooldown, so it’s great for one spike of damage, and after that, we’re screwed.
  • Tree of Life.  Yes, this spell increases our healing done by 15% for 25 seconds.  However, it’s not really a tank healing cooldown.  It buffs spells in a way that increases raid healing done: Lifebloom can be cast on multiple targets, Wild Growth hits additional targets, and Regrowth is instant cast (and free with extra Clearcasting procs from the extra Lifeblooms, but horribly expensive if you can’t spread Lifebloom, like during a tank healing emergency, for instance…).  So yes, the extra 15% healing increase is helpful, but it doesn’t compare to the cooldowns available to Priests and Pallies.  I guess it would be possible to blow Tree of Life and then frantically spam Regrowth, if you can afford to go OOM…
  • Trinkets with on-use effects that increase healing/spellpower, or Volcanic Potion.  Again, this can help temporarily with healing throughput, but this is always available to any healing class, not just Druids.

Now, it’s possible that I’m just a terrible tank healer who is doing it wrong.  If so, please tell me your tank healing tips.  But I really don’t see any other options.

Also – and this may not be the best reason – Resto Druids didn’t get any new healing spells this expansion.  Not one!  We are still using the same old tools as before, just redesigned so they behave in strange new ways.  Even Efflorescence isn’t a new button to push – it’s just adding some bells and whistles to Swiftmend.

Redesigning Barkskin, and why I hope Blizzard doesn’t.

One of the most popular suggestions on forums and blogs seems to be redesigning Barkskin as a Druid cooldown.  Most often people suggest that Barkskin be changed to allow us to cast it on other people.  At first glance, this seems like a good idea, but I don’t think it really is.  Barkskin is my only option for protecting myself from incoming damage or pushback.  If an add gets loose and starts beating on me my only protection is Barkskin.  Druids don’t have aggro-reducing abilities like Fade or Hand of Salvation, but we are aggro magnets because of healing aggro from our HoTs.  I don’t want to be expected to save Barkskin for the tank.

Some people have suggested a raid-wide Barkskin as an option.  This would be a spell that gives everyone in the raid Barkskin for a few seconds.  This isn’t a bad idea, especially if it’s a separate spell from the self-cast only Barkskin.  But, once again, this would be a raid damage reduction cooldown instead of a tank damage reduction cooldown.  It would also probably be horribly overpowered in combination with a 3-minute Tranquility.

Redesigning Living Seed as a cooldown – another of my crazy ideas.

Very few Druids like the Living Seed talent.  Most of the problem, in my opinion, is that Druids have no control over the placement or timing of Living Seed.  It’s great when Living Seed gets planted on a tank while he’s below full health and about to take damage.  At any other time it’s close to useless.  It only blooms when the target is directly hit by the boss, so most of the time the healing is wasted if Living Seed appears on DPS players.  It’s also planted when other healing spells critically hit, so sometimes it blooms after the target has already been healed up, and it goes into overhealing.  On top of these issues, it doesn’t heal for very much.  Looking at my last few logs, Living Seed makes up 0.5% – 1.7% of my total healing done, and I had to spend 3 talent points to get it!

Blizzard has finally realized that Living Seed isn’t a great option, and it will no longer be a prerequisite for Efflorescence.  Sadly, this change doesn’t free up 3 talent points the way most Druids would like it to, because we will be stuck spending at least 2 of those points in lack-lustre low tier talents in order to get to the higher tiers anyway.  I think they should therefore redesign Living Seed as a new tank healing cooldown.  First of all, Living Seed should be a separate spell instead of a proc.  The Druid would then be able to choose who gets the Living Seed as well as when to use it.  There are a variety of different possibilities for the actual spell effect which would make me happy.  Here are some of the options I’ve come up with:

Example 1:  You plant a Living Seed on the target for x% of the target’s total health. The Living Seed will bloom when the target is next attacked. Lasts 15 sec. z-minute cooldown.

Example 2:  You plant a Living Seed on the target that increases healing done to that target by x% for y seconds. z-minute cooldown.

Example 3:  You plant a Living Seed on the target that absorbs x% of damage taken by the target for y seconds. z-minute cooldown.

Example 4:  You plant a Living Seed on the target which summons a treant with w% of the target’s total health.  The treant absorbs x% of damage done to the target for y seconds, or until the treant dies. z-minute cooldown.

Personally, I think Example 4 would be really, really awesome.  Alas!  I don’t think Blizzard is listening to me.  However, it’s still fun to dream.  What cooldown would you like to see Druids get?

——————————

*My apologies to any Resto Shaman that might read this article.  I barely mention you or your abilities because, quite frankly, I know almost nothing about you.  Sorry!  😦

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 13, 2011 4:33 pm

    Speaking as a druid healer that is “doing it wrong” I think your ideas sound great.

  2. April 14, 2011 11:29 am

    Your complaints echo those of other resto druids I know, so it doesn’t seem like you’re doing it wrong. I think the problem with the druid healing model is that it was really developed for BC, where 25-man raids were the norm. In a 25, you have space for an aoe healer and a tank healer anyway, so Blizzard just assumed a druid would always have an oh-shit healer handy. But now that 10s are a viable progression path, and healing is way harder than it was in Wrath . . . problems.

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