|1||Design & Gameplay Changes|
|2||New Spells & Abilities|
|3||Talents Overview (Lvl 15-45)|
|4||Talents Overview (Lvl 60-90)|
|6||Extra for Experts|
The Druid class has been subjected to a significant redesign in Mists of Pandaria in an attempt to emphasise our hybrid nature. Ironically, this happened to remove the only spec with real hybrid functionality: the bear-cat. Druids are now the first class in World of Warcraft to have four specialisations: Feral (Cat) and Feral (Bear) have been separated into Feral and Guardian, respectively.
A lot of other utility and cross-role abilities are now missing from each Druid spec, as our spell books have been streamlined. For example, non-Restoration Druids have lost access to Lifebloom, Regrowth, and Nourish, while non-Feral/Guardian Druids have lost access to Skull Bash and many of the DPS or tanking tools necessary to perform those roles. In return, we have been granted passive buffs that allow us to do as best we can with what we have left, and the hybrid functionality that remains has been made a lot less punitive to use.
For Restoration Druids specifically, not a great deal has changed beyond a few quality-of-life issues. Lifebloom and Harmony should now work together more nicely, leaving us with more GCDs to play with our new toys – a burst healing tool and … wait for it … a tank cooldown! Besides these new abilities, however, our healing will remain largely the same; we are still the kings of throughput, and we will still blanket the raid in HoTs.
This article will focus on the changes to the Druid class that most affect Restoration, but there will be a lot of discussion of our hybrid capabilities since it is the focus of our redesign, and an interest of mine, personally. As this is all based on experience from the MoP Beta, please keep in mind that most of this information will be changing frequently; as such, I have tried to stay away from making any clear recommendations or advice until the class becomes more stable.
Design and Gameplay Changes
The biggest change for Restoration Druids in MoP compared to Cataclysm is the quality-of-life change to our Harmony and Lifebloom mechanics that has granted us a reprieve from the severe GCD limitations of our playstyle.
Lifebloom’s duration has been increased to 15 seconds, and Harmony (our active Mastery buff) has had its duration extended to 20 seconds. We can now keep our Mastery active by using Swiftmend on cooldown, and we have a lot of breathing room to be able to refresh our Lifebloom on the tank. This simplifies our Mastery a lot, making it effectively no different from a passive buff, since we should be using Swiftmend more frequently than once every 20 seconds.
The Lifebloom change is definitely a boon for raiding Restoration Druids, allowing us more flexibility with our GCDs. However, the change is less welcome for PvPers, which is why there is now a Glyph that will reduce the Lifebloom duration to 10 seconds and prevent your direct heals from refreshing its duration.
Furthermore, Lifebloom stacks can be transferred from one player to another with a single spellcast. So long as your Lifebloom has more than 3 seconds remaining on its duration, and so long as you are not in Incarnation: Tree of Life form, casting Lifebloom on a new target will transfer all of the stacks from the old target to the new. This used to be achievable only through a Glyph, but patch 5.4 has made this behaviour baseline.
Innervate has been reworked in patch 5.4 to provide Restoration Druids with an incentive to use Spirit. The new Innervate mechanic restores 50% of your Spirit as mana every second for 10 seconds, so in other words, you will receive 500% of your Spirit as mana return. To avoid punishing fresh Level 90 Druids, this has a “floor” of 8% of your mana, meaning that no matter how low your Spirit, it will always regenerate at least 24,000 mana. In order to come out “even” with how Innervate operated in prior patches, players would need to reach 12,000 Spirit (12,000 x 5 = 60,000).
In Patch 5.3, Druids who raid 25-player content received a huge buff to their Tranquility cooldown. Rather than healing only 5 targets each time it “pulses”, in 25-player content Tranquility will heal 12 targets each time. This is a 2.4-times increase in the healing it does, and it has made Tranquility incredibly powerful in this setting.
Nature’s Swiftness, which was a Talent in the level 30 tier in previous patches, has become baseline for Restoration Druids (and Balance Druids) in patch 5.4. This Talent is still best used with Regrowth, as it increases the healing dealt by both the direct heal and the HoT portions and lengthens the HoT.
Tree of Life still exists in the Incarnation Talent, accessible at level 60. The model remains the “skeevy broccoli” of Cataclysm, and can no longer be glyphed to resemble the Treant. Unfortunately, Tree of Life no longer empowers Wrath casts, perhaps to give the talent less synergy with Nature’s Vigil in the level 90 tier.
Finally, all Restoration Druids receive Living Seed, Malfurion’s Gift, and Swift Rejuvenation upon choosing their spec. These used to be “optional” talents in the Restoration tree in Cataclysm, although the only truly optional talent amongst them was Living Seed. Living Seed can now stack to a value equal to up to 50% of the casting Druid’s health, and is more responsive to incoming damage, making it more useful on non-tank members of the raid. It will also not proc when the target is on full health (e.g. if they are struck by an ability but its damage was fully absorbed by shields). Druids should see an increase in their Living Seed throughput thanks to these changes.
Rebirth will now return targets to life with 60% health and 20% mana, up from 20% health and 20% mana. This is a significant improvement in that the Glyph of Rebirth is no longer mandatory, and since Restoration Druids actually have a wealth of excellent Glyphs to choose from, this will allow us much greater flexibility in glyphing our characters. While there still may be some encounters where a full-health resurrection is required, in most situations a 60% health resurrection will suffice if the resurrected player is careful about popping back up at a safe time.
Many of our remaining utility spells with shapeshifting requirements have been redesigned to be usable from any form, but to shift you into the appropriate form when used. You may now Growl, Dash, Prowl, and Stampeding Roar all from your caster form, without having to fumble for your shapeshifting keybind and then find the ability you want to cast on your replacement action bar. This will make it a lot less painful to use our utility tools during combat.
PvP and soloing Resto Druids will be saddened to learn that Nature’s Grasp has been reduced to a single charge. The charge remains for 45 seconds or until used, and the ability retains its 1-minute cooldown. This is a pretty significant nerf to the ability compared to Live, which may have been intended to compensate for the fact that Disentanglement is now baseline for all Druid specs. Unfortunately, since Restoration already had Disentanglement, this represents a net loss for our spec.
Faerie Fire’s Weakened Armor component now lasts only 30 sec, while the Faerie Fire anti-stealth debuff lasts 5 minutes. It is now much less appealing to have your raid’s Resto Druid stack Faerie Fire on the boss in lieu of sunders, since they would have to refresh the buff so frequently.
Specific to our role, Restoration Druids are losing two abilities. We no longer have the passive Gift of Nature that improved all our healing spells by 25%; presumably, all of our healing spells have this 25% bonus baked in, which is made possible by the removal of all but Rejuvenation and Healing Touch from the non-Restoration specs. Additionally, we have lost Revitalize (and by association, Replenishment), as the developers are trying to remove external, potentially unbalanced sources of mana regeneration from the game, to allow us greater flexibility in raid composition.
In the survivability department, we have lost access to two talented abilities from Cataclysm: Perseverence (reduced spell damage) and Nature’s Ward (free self-Rejuvenation when taking damage below 50% health). We are similarly missing Fury of Stormrage, which gave us free Wrath casts with a chance to proc instant Starfires; this makes some sense as we can no longer cast Starfire (see below).
We have also been stripped of a lot of utility or off-role abilities from our various shapeshift forms. The table below lists the abilities that we had access to in Cataclysm, but are missing from our spell books now.
|Abilities No Longer Accessible to Resto:|
|Bear Form||Caster Form||Cat Form|
Feral Faerie Fire
|Gift of Nature
Wild Mushroom: Detonate
Feral Faerie Fire