Posted by: Makakai | September 29, 2011

/Inspect Druid

To borrow a famous Star Trek line: “Damn it man I’m a Druid not a Paladin”. This line is brought to you by confused druid healers everywhere (as evidenced by the posts in the Druid Class Feedback Forum – source). It all started with a data analysis experiment based on me wondering just what kind of information Blizzard is getting from this source since they recently indicated that they were compiling the feedback.

The experiment started with the set of posts drawn from a semi-random sample of 7 pages on the forum; all posts in the sample contained a reference to healing or a resto druid spell name. The 37 posts I looked at contained 18 posters claiming at least some PvP experience and 28 claiming PvE experience. Eight (8) of these posters did indicate that they had very little healing experience or that healing was a secondary spec or playstyle for them.

The most interesting piece of data that I found was that 16 of the 37 posters indicated that Tree of Life should be added back into the game as a permanent form for healers. At least if Blizzard doesn’t realize the mistake they made with this change, there were a couple of interesting suggestions to improve this “quality-of-life” issue, mostly pertaining to using a glyph that gives the tree of life treant form by default without bonuses and using the new tree of life form to represent the healing cooldown. Interestingly, only 1 of the 37 posters indicated that they actually enjoyed the lack of a permanent tree of life form. The remaining posters did not mention a preference. I wonder if the same proportion of posters throughout the forum indicated that they want a return to a permanent ToL form (it’s certainly on my wish list for the class).

As expected, over half of the posters indicated specifically that the key quality that made them interested in druids was the shapeshifting aspect and being able to change forms. Several of the posters also specifically mentioned that they liked the interaction of their healing spells and how they work together to support healing overall. Other “quality of life” aspects mentioned were the lack of survivability in pvp and the inability of druids to use heal spells in other specs without shapeshifting out of their form.

However, the most common complaints that “make playing the class less fun” pertain to the set-up time for healing and the changes that reduce the mobile healing aspect of druids. A frequently cited (14 of 37) concern was the mechanic of stacking lifebloom on a single target (typically the tank). Many of the fights you see in cataclysm include tank swaps in which druids are switching between the tanks and building the three stack of lifebloom. This takes roughly 3 GCDs and the equivalent of 4000 mana to accomplish for each target change. Most of these posts indicated that their wishlist for the class includes a change to lifebloom, to either quickly switch the target of their lifebloom stack or be able to put a stack on more than one target.

Another piece of interesting information was that 33% of the posters reviewed indicated that one of their least used spells was either Nourish or Regrowth. Since this is a data analysis post, lets take a slightly closer look at Nourish and Regrowth compared to other healing classes…

Class Heal Cast Time Heal Amt.
Druid Nourish 3 sec 2403 to 2791 + 20% (519.4)
Paladin Holy Light 3 sec 4163 to 4637
Priest Heal 3 sec 3136 to 3644
Shaman Healing Wave 3 sec 2803 to 3201

Class Heal Cast Time Heal Amt.
Druid Regrowth 1.5 sec 3383 to 3775 + 1147.98 over 6 sec
Paladin Flash of Light 1.5 sec 6907 to 7749
Priest Flash Heal 1.5 sec 6272 to 7288
Shaman Healing Surge 1.5 sec 4484 to 5122


The most commonly cited reason for Nourish being the least used heal was due to the cast time of the heal. At the recommended 2005 (15.66%) haste breakpoint for a PvE druid (as discussed in previous posts), the cast time using the formula [New Casting Time = Base Casting Time / (1 + (% Spell Haste / 100))] is reduced to 2.5 seconds with rounding. Nourish provides 3116.4 HP heal for a 2.5 sec cast time, which is relatively competitive to Priests and Shaman. The data would suggest to me that these healers need to get more haste on their gear to hit the 2005 haste breakpoint and reduce their cast time.

The most commonly cited reason for Regrowth being the least used heal was due to the weakness of the heal produced by Regrowth. The basic math of 3383+1147.98 to 3775+1147.98 suggests that Regrowth heals for a base of 4530.98 to 4922.98 HP. Now we might see a grain of truth compared to the other healing classes. But wait! PvE druids should be casting this spell during an Omen of Clarity proc, which means basically your quickest heal plus hot spell is mana free. Additionally, this heal is extremely useful to the druid healing style since it refreshes lifebloom, refreshes your mastery proc (Harmony), and leaves a short hot on your target that can be used for your swiftmend cooldown.

Keep in mind with both of these spells I’m not even going into the heal amount per mana cost analysis, as this was just an illustration of the information that Blizzard is working with. However, from the data I found in this sample it might suggest to a theorycrafting restoration druid healer that these healing druids don’t know their toolbox or the latest information regarding efficient healing style.

A total of 21 different abilites were mentioned as being unused spells include Hibernate (4 posts), Sooth (11 posts), and Thorns (12 posts). All of which have very situational uses. Such as when Lockmaw casts Venomous Rage and you can’t get a Shiv or Tranquilizing Shot from your group; use Sooth. Beauty’s puppies and Hex Lord Malacrass’ adds Lord Raadan and Slither can all be Hibernated.

Unfortunately, Blizzard also has to wade through posts such as one that wants a “return to the role switching days of old” or one poster that complained about situations in which other healers outshine druids, such as priest mitigation with shields.

Happy Healing!

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Responses

  1. Very interesting post.

    I do agree that some druids don’t appreciate their spells – Regrowth in particular. I love Regrowth. Sure, the HoT it leaves isn’t great, but if you factor Nature’s Bounty into the equation, then your RG crits and heals for double almost all the time. It ends up being a fairly sizable heal. Plus, if you have Living Seed, the almost-guarnteed crit increases the healing output of Regrowth even more.

    Nourish also has its place. It’s my go-to spell whenever there’s not that much damage to heal. I’ll chain cast it on the tank to refresh Lifebloom and retrigger Harmony at a very low mana cost.

  2. It is very interesting how and why druid healers select the subset of tools that they use in an encounter. Nourish is a great filler spell for the reasons you point out, but it can be over and under used sometimes. In certain situations in Cataclysm the druid has felt to me like the ‘old-school’ paladin chain casting Nourish (Flash of Light/ Holy Light). Unfortunately, this similarity and the number of comments on the forum about Nourish is what prompted my post.


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