Thursday, February 17, 2011

Healing changes - Discipline being nerfed (and other things)

Said I;
"Shields are extremely good (so good I am smelling an incoming nerf)"

Said Blizzard;
"The cost of Power Word: Shield is being increased by 33%. While we wanted Discipline priests to be able to utilize this spell more often and with better results, we also did not want it to be the main spell (and often the only spell) used while in groups. We don’t find this to be a particularly compelling playstyle and have found that it encourages players to avoid using other spells such as Penance. We believe that using a shield in a tight moment is totally appropriate, but we don’t want it to be incredibly efficient to do so with more frequency than that.<br /> <br /> We realize that by making Power Word: Shield slightly more expensive for Discipline priests to cast that it might cause Holy priests to avoid using it. To that end, we are adding mana savings into the Body and Soul talent. The tooltip will not reflect this change until a future patch, however. Ideally, Holy priests should not notice much of a change to the Power Word: Shield costs."

Sure, I knew they'd do something. Things were crazy. This is just how crazy;

Instead of capsing some curse words, which is what I feel like doing, I'd like to hold a moment of sad faces.
Good, now that that is out of the way... Wait, just another one - :(

And now that my initial pouting has been poured into some sad faces let's try to be objective about the changes. So, we knew it was coming. And considering all the things Blizzard could've done to "fix" us, this was among the better. I'd be alot sader if they had reduced the effectiviness of the shield, for example. Increased mana costs are something we can work with, it is something that good healing techniques and gear can counteract - bad spells are always bad spell however. So on the bright side, this nerf is probably the best that could've hit us. How will this change our way of healing? We will probably keep shields up on our main targets just as before, but be a little more conservative when it comes to targets that we don't know will actually benefit fully from it. For example I shielded all the targets on my platforms on Nef 25, and I probably won't do that after this change. I realize Blizzard don't want us to go back to spamming on one spell, and don't want us to rely too heavily on it either - and I don't mind that. They have been doing the same thing to Rejuvenation to quell the Rejuv spamming druids (with limited success I'd say). The very reason Blizzard nerfed Shields and Chains Heals to the ground at the beginning of Cata was to make sure we'd look at other spells as well, they just went a little over the top in those cases. They buffed both Chain Heal and Shields in 4.0.6 to counteract this, and now they drag Shields back down again. Blizzard is like a yoyo! Sometimes they will just "accidentally" yoyo you in the crotch when they try to show you some fancy trick.

Also, I love the wording of "We realize that by making Power Word: Shield slightly more expensive for Discipline priests to cast that it might cause Holy priests to avoid using it. To that end, we are adding mana savings into the Body and Soul talent". 33% is "slightly more"? Me and Blizzard clearly don't agree on the definition of "slight", but oh well.

In other news, the other healers are becoming some changes as well (same source as above);
"We are also applying a hotfix for Purification for the Restoration shaman passive from 10% to 25%. We think that shaman healing per second is not as competitive with other healers and while we hoped to bring down Holy priest and Holy paladins (in particular) in 4.0.6, which we did, shaman still appear to be behind. In this case, it is simply easier to buff Restoration shaman rather than nerf everyone else or rebalance the encounters."
Are Shamans really in such a bad place? I won't disagree on them being in a badder(er) place than all the other healers, but is that due to lack of healing throughput or bad healing design? I will shamelessly ninja a quote from a shaman guildie of mine, when we discussed this matter on our forums, because he makes a really good point (the graph he is referring to is the one I linked up there);
"I dont agree that the shamans situation is as bad as the graph says... however we are in a pretty tight spot today... not due to our abilities but due to our dependancies.

I think that Shamans can perform just as good as other healers as long as the positioning allows for effective use of healing rain and if the raid takes big chunks of dmg that gives us a chance to make use of our mastery.

I also think that we will perform better the more the healercommunity learn to not compete over the heals. A major part of our heals comes from helaing rain and earthliving which can be considered hots... today we tend to top ppl up quicker than needed using expensive heals wasting mana, instead of letting the heals already on the targets do its job."

Basically, shaman healing depends the most on the infamous triage healing, and the less triage healing there is, the tougher it is for them to compete on the meters. Shamans are simply the healers that get to do their job last, when everyone is down and under. If the other healers never let, or never are forced to let, people down low on health, shamans won't get to do much work. The design of fights is what could change this, but as Blizzard already have told us it is "easier to buff Restoration shaman rather than nerf everyone else or rebalance the encounters". Bye bye Triage healing? It was fun while it lasted. A 15% straight buff to all healing spells is a huge buff and resto shamans across the bloggosphere are doing the macarena (so is my resto shaman of course). I can't help but feel like Blizzard are overdoing it again however, will this go the same way disc did? We'll see.

And also (same source as above);
"We agree with the sentiment among some players that Restoration druids and Restoration shaman are lacking in the healing cooldown department. The shaman buff and Power Word: Shield adjustment above should bring all healers reasonably close in terms of throughput. The decision on who to bring then might end up being dictated by the strong cooldowns offered by paladins or priests."

Although I do agree that shamans deserve a nice raid cooldown I don't agree that they're really that replacable (not taking elite hardcore endgame guilds into account). They have a really nice setup of buffs (totems, BL) and they don't suck miserably at healing. But, all those buffs are provided by some other class as well (except mana tide) and their healing is at the bottom of the list. I wouldn't mind at all if Shamans got something like Tranquility/Divine Hymn or some damage reducing cooldown like Pain Supression/Divine Guardian/Hand of Sacrifice. I think the reason they don't is because they used to be special enough with their totems and BL, and now they're not anymore so Blizzard have to react to that.

Druids on the other hand don't need a raid cooldown. First of all they already have good raid cooldowns in Tranquility (which now is better than Divine Hymn) and Rebirth. Add Innervate to that. Also I feel like the unique healing style of druids is not easily filled by another class. Hots are so powerful I consider them to be sort of a "continous healing cooldown". Shamans even have a special cooldown to be able to do what most druids can do basically all the time - run and heal.


  1. When Howling Blast got nerfed just a short time ago, as a Frost DK I felt very much the same as you. I was sad :( :( but it wasn't a shock, it was very overpowered. And it was nerfed in the best possible way, since it was only the splash damage that was reduced, leaving our single target DPS unaffected.

    Still sad though! Alas.

    Of course, the BITTERLY IRONIC part about all this is my second highest character, who just hit 85 and I've been adoring lately, is a Disc Priest. Sigh.

  2. "Druids on the other hand don't need a raid cooldown"

    I'm going to admit that as I read this, my jaw completely hit the flow. I even asked myself "did he seriously just say that?". I hate to say it, but you are way off base on this.

    Out of ALL of the healing classes, druids are hands down the weakest in the area of damage mitigation. And by weakest, I mean we have none. Our only mitigation ability is to heal more - which we are limited by the high cost of our spells. We don't offer an armor bonus to the tank. We don't have a life saving cooldown that can benefit the raid. Hell our only "oh shit" button is dropping out of many druids specs because healing the tank for 10-20% of their life once every three minutes is pretty lackluster. And I'm sorry - one heal with an eight minute cooldown doesn't compensate for that. And if you are going to hold innervate against us, perhaps we should take away your mana fiend to put you on equal footing? Oh wait - rebirth! That was your thrid! You mean the same rebirth that balance and ferals also get? Or the same rebirth that shares a cooldown with Ankh and Soulstones? I was unaware that resto druids got an extra special rebirth that should affect their healing output.

    The reason that they are adding offensive cooldowns for both druids and shaman is because the lack of them is glaringly noticed in hard mode raiding. And it really is a very glaring issue and truly needs to be addressed. I am happy to see that they have decided to give all of the healers an offensive cooldown - and honestly if they were truly trying to make a "bring the player not the class" an effective mantra, it should have been done ages ago.

  3. @Beruthiel
    If your argument that druids should have a raid cooldown is based on "they don't have one" I don't agree. You can't just look at what a class doesn't have. I don't have alot of buffs (like shamans) so should I get more? Warriors can't cc, so should they have one? Paladins don't have alot of hots, so should they have more? The list grows long. That's not how it works. You have to look at what a class already offers the raid, both in terms of cooldowns and healing style. My argument was that druids don't need a cooldown because they already have a unique healing style that isn't easily compensated by another class. I still stand by this. I still think it is extremely rare that some class is chosen over a druid just because they happen to have PS/GS/Some big raid cooldown. Are druids having trouble? Are they lacking in their healing? Do people prefer other healing classes over them? No, no and no.
    I agree that all classes should be able to be equally beneficial for the raid, but that doesn't mean you can only accomplish this equality by giving all classes the same tools.
    I don't know why you compare shadowfiend (5 min cd, self cast only) with innervate (3 min cd, cast on anyone). The one is clearly alot more useful than the other. Rebirth is alot better than soulstones and ankhs, since they too can be cast on anyone. You say one cooldown with 8 min cd doesn't count? Well then we can't count Divine Hymn, Hymn of Hope, Lay on Hands as raid cooldowns either. I can't help it if you don't count all the cooldowns you already have, but they're still there. And I didn't even mention Tree of Life! No, druids don't need more cooldowns.

  4. Druids (and shaman too) most definitely need a damage mitigation cooldown.

    Having no way to mitigate damage is a very glaring omission in our toolset. Tree of Life and Tranquility are fantastic spells, but on certain fights (Chimaeron comes to mind) increasing healing output isn't going to save a tank - decreasing their damage taken is.

    Also, if you compare healing abilities in general druids come up a little short. We have 12 healing spells and cooldowns. How many does a disc priest have? 17. And I'm not even counting things like debuff removals, or the extra abilities you have if you're smite-specced.


    As to the disc priest change - I guess we all knew something was going to change after the massive buff to PW:S. I do think they're overreacting a little, assuming it's the only spell discs use now. I know I'm not using PW:S exclusively. I use it a lot, but I also use Penance on cooldown, renew, binding heal, greater heal, PoH. The problem I have is that after the PoH nurf (which I think was aimed at holy priests, but is actually a pretty big hit for disc too) our group healing ability is lacking. Not being able to shield as much when the raid is taking damage will hurt.

  5. "Are druids having trouble? Are they lacking in their healing? Do people prefer other healing classes over them? No, no and no."

    If you truly believe this that you are either 1) not paying close attention to progression raiding; 2) don't play a druid and/or have intimate knowledge to the struggles that we are having this expansion and in this tier of hard mode content (go visit EJ or the official druid forums - it could be very enlightening for you); or 3) you are being naive.

    If you truly think that druids are in a good spot right now, I'm telling you that you are wrong. Our "unique" healing style has struggled to find a good place the entirety of this expansion, and we are still miles from being there. The devs have really struggled to find a way to make the HoT based healer fit in well with the "new" healing model and encounter mechanics. Paladins are better tank healers than druids, and priests are better raid healers. Frankly, druids haven't really been in a worse spot since Vanilla.

    I'm not really sure why you think that priests should have a monopoly on offensive cooldowns and are so opposed to druids getting one.

    The problem at hand is this: Druids and Shaman are, in fact, being left out of many hard mode encounters largely because of their lack of offensive cooldowns and overall raid utility.

    That isn't the fault of the healers - it's the fact that current raid mechanics strongly favor, and are possibly built around, having these cooldowns availabe to your raid. That means that classes, and raids, without these cooldowns are at a significant disadvantage.

    It's not really a matter of saying "I want all their toys" - it is more a matter of making sure that you can bring a diversified healing team into an encounter and have an equal chance at success.

  6. I would say that Rebirth shouldn't really count as a healing CD, though it IS better than Ankh or Soulstone. Conversely, I'd also say that Innervate is infinitely better than Shadowfiend.

    Of course, these are baseline druid talents, not maybe that's part of the issue.

    A damage mitigation WOULD be nice, though. Even if it's the "barkskin on target" idea that's being tossed around (with pros and cons of its own) that would be a nice addition to the resto druid toolkit.

  7. @Rades

    Innervate is available to all spec druids, true. But they have seriously nerfed the ability for ferals to assist their healers, since it is now based on Max Mana. I think they might get half a spell out of a bear or kitty innervate.

  8. @Beruthiel
    I clearly stepped on some toes here! You are expressing yourself as if this change would make or break druids. I don't agree. I'm not saying this isn't a problem for druids, it's just that all healers have problem areas. Are druids doing very well eventhough they lack in this area? Yes I think so!

    You ask me about my healing experience. I play all healing classes, but haven't raidhealed as druid since Wrath. But I didn't just arbitrarily decide that druids are fine the way they are. This is something I have discussed with the druids in my guild and read various bloggers opinions about. Many druids feel like a mitigation cooldown would sure be swell, I mean who doesn't want shiny ponies? But I don't see many druids saying "wow, if we don't get this druids are worthless healers". Which is what it sounds like in your arguing.
    You are talking about hard mode encounters. When I say stuff I always take a "normal progression guild" as a base. I don't know what hardcore progression guilds might be thinking and frankly I don't care. My guild does 25 man heroics and for those our druids are doing awesome. Don't interpret this as me trying to say "l2p" because that is definitely not it. If you say that this is a big issue for you I believe you. But when my fellow healing druids don't feel like it's a big problem, when the resto druid blogs I read don't say it's a big problem, and when I don't feel like it's a big problem when I heal on my druid - then why should I draw the conclusion that it is is a big problem?

    I am not opposed at druids getting offensive cooldowns, like I said I'd love it if shamans got one (and it's not like I favor shamans randomly). I am looking at the big picture and thinking "are druids having problems?", "what problem areas do they seem to have?" and "how would you best solve those problems?". To me the answer isn't "by giving them a damage mitigation cooldown".

    Something they honestly could need though is a threat reducing cooldown. Seeing as they prehot they really need it the most.

  9. "threat reducing cooldown. Seeing as they prehot they really need it the most."

    Hehe, that must be Gabbek ^^
    Our two resto druids have a habit of getting themselves killed during trash pulls.

    Regarding the post, I think druids can perform really well with all three specs at the moment, and I would say that we haven't been in a such a good and interesting place since... Vanilla :O

    Our restoration druids and shamans are keeping everyone alive with relative ease, and the only thing I and my fellow guild druids miss is a way to catch up on healing without spending too much mana.
    A big raid cooldown would be cool, but I honestly don't see the need for it in a well balanced healing team.
    At the moment we are running with 2 priests (holy and disc, or dual holy), 2 shamans and 2 druids, and since they buffed Rejuv a bit, we haven't felt like one person was under performing. On the contrary, our healers very often end up within a few 100k of eachothers healing done. Because they organise themselves so that all the healing classes get to do what they're best at. That means no real sniping is going on, which in turn leads to hots becoming very effective.
    If all classes were homogenous or if there was a superior healing class, then healing raids would imo be very boring. Now I'm really enjoying both my own and my fellow resto druids performance in raids, for the sole reason that we can't do everything. Part of the fun is that we have to rely on eachother.

  10. Hello, Rades recommended I come by and read your blog, and so here I am.

    Sadly, I'm a resto shaman, so I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one. But I'll try to be friendly about it. :P

    First of all, we didn't get a 15% boost to our healing. We had a 10% boost via the purification passive, which was increased to a 25% boost, which actually works out to roughly 13.6%. And it isn't as much as it sounds like, my healing wave casts have increased by less than 1k healing.

    It was ABSOLUTELY needed. I'm a good experienced shaman healer, and I was healing my brains out last week in our raids as hard as I could and our half-geared-offspec holy paladin beat me handily in HPS. And it isn't just a matter of triage not happening properly, it's a design issue. The better our raids get, and the less people are going to get low, and the LESS healing Shamans are going to be able to do. Which really isn't the way it's supposed to work. I prefer not to become more and more obsolete, the better my raid team gets. So I don't think it's fair to say that Shamans were alright, just everyone else is doin'-it-rong.

    As far as cooldowns go, currently we have nothing to mitigate damage, and no large raid-saving heal like Tranquility or Divine Hymn. I'd love to see us get both (like priests have) but I'd settle for one or the other (like druids and paladins have). I do think that druids have a legitimate issue when tank healing though -- just like shamans, when the excrement hits the AC system, you don't have any way to avoid or mitigate it. Just shamans are in a slightly worse situation, because we really don't have any way to manually boost our healing to catch up either.

    All four healing classes can perform currently, and do an adequate job healing -- it just gets really frustrating time after time to see your tanks keeling over to things that you literally can do nothing to prevent, but that priests or pallies could have handled with no issue. I agree that shamans and druids are decent healers now and deserve their raid spots, but when the lack of a tank cooldown means the difference between wiping and winning, I hesitate to put myself on a tank, because I don't want to cripple my raid.

  11. Just in case that first part came across as defensive, it wasn't intended to be. I've just seen a lot of people implying that the buff to shaman healing was this huge big deal that would make us OP. It really wasn't. And I didn't want to see your numbers go by unchallenged because, well, it's important to have good numbers. ;)

  12. @Rhii
    Thanks alot for your input! Although resto shaman is the healer I play second most I know far from everything (actually rather not so much ;) ). The number wasn't meant to be exact, I like round, pretty numbers when I'm not theorycrafting and just want to give people the feel of it (not everyone likes numbers!). But I could've been more clear about that. Regarding how good the buff was to shamans, I took inspiration from various resto shaman bloggers;
    for example.
    As for the design of shaman healing I completely agree with you, and I also wrote "Basically, shaman healing depends the most on the infamous triage healing, and the less triage healing there is, the tougher it is for them to compete on the meters. Shamans are simply the healers that get to do their job last, when everyone is down and under. If the other healers never let, or never are forced to let, people down low on health, shamans won't get to do much work." which pretty much is what you say as well. Since the fights aren't designed to work with the style of shaman healing, they will have trouble. So yes, something definitely has to change there and I am glad Blizzard have acknowledged this.