Oct 082009

As I briefly mentioned in my previous post, I feel that Blizzard is quietly nudging trees into a “support healer” niche, and I’d like to explain what I mean by that. (Note: My tree set is off-spec, and I’m by no means in a progression guild; these are just my impressions. Let me know if I’m wildly off base.)

As it stands right now, a good raid healing tree is using every GCD to roll Rejuv on as much of the raid as possible. A 10m raid (or a 25m raid with 2 trees) can have a Rejuv on 90% of its members 90% of the time, and generally should. Why?

  • Rejuv is swiftmendable. This is by far the biggest reason…what kills most non-tanks in raids is burst damage which beats a healer’s reaction time, not sustained, grinding damage. (Non-exiting-fire raiders excepted.) Of all the spells in all the various healers’ toolboxes, SM “gets there the fastest with the mostest.” Landing an instant swiftmend on someone usually means they’re not going to die. Sure, each class has long CD’s for that instant save, but you’re only using those once per fight, maybe twice. SM’s cooldown is short enough that you’ll generally always have it available.
  • Rejuv buffs Nourish for SM followup as needed.
  • Rejuv is proactive. It ticks every 3s…so if someone takes burst damage, they’re going to get a +1500hp bump within 1.5s (on average) even without any action on the healer’s part. Will that save someone? Not by itself, no, but I’ve seen many raiders get saved by a combination of Rejuv/JoL/ILOTP/glyphed HL/POM bounce/etc.
  • Rejuv is totally cheap on mana.

With the 3 sec nerf to Rejuv’s duration (Yes, Blizzard can call it a “bug fix” all it wants, but a bug fix doesn’t sit this long), this strategy is diminshed. Sure, it’s still workable, but the chances are better that you WON”T have a rejuv up on that target taking burst damage…better hope your NS+HT is off cooldown.  (It might be time to relook the HT glyph.) Now, this doesn’t even address the issue of raid multi-target burst damage, which is definitely not a tree’s strong point. (Remember KT when Frost Blast chained to 4 melee while the priest was MC’d? You’re only saving 2, assuming average reaction time. Sometimes playing God sucks.) Now, from a design perspective, I think I prefer this, as the RJx5, WG, repeat rotaion was pretty boring. It’s just going to take some adjustment.

Now, if we get the huge HP buff to all classes that the devs have been talking about, then reaction time becomes much less of a consideration, and concepts like mana efficiency become much more important. From there, I see Druids happily settling into the low HPS/high HPM AOE niche; HOT’s become much more of a consideration when you’re dealing with a larger HP pool that can handle some variance. Pallies become the high ST HPS class; HPriests take the high AOE HPS spot; DPriests share the low HPS/high HPM space with Druids; and Shammies fall awkwardly in the middle, which results in an avalanche of complaining on the WoW boards that nobody reads. (Sorry, couldn’t resist. :))

Anyway, that’s the way I see it happening; feel free to disagree, flame, or meander off-topic in the comments. :)