Geez. Sorry for the alarm, folks, your local druid needs to remember to check his talent points when they might, say, have gotten reset during the patch. Appropriate strikeouts are in place below.
You know what I hate right now?
The number is this: 0.4.0.7958.
It’s the patch number for the current version of Patch 2.4 currently under testing on the test realms. My hatred for this number currently comes because of one line in the Public Test Realm Patch Notes.
Let’s talk Lifebloom.
I’ll warn you now, this post is going to get long, it’s a wall of text because there were no relevant images, and it makes no assumptions about how familiar you are with the game’s mechanics or the math that goes into them. If you want the short version, please, press CTRL+F or your browser’s equivalent and search for the text “Self? This isn’t going to make sense for a lot of people.”
You’re familiar with the spell Lifebloom, I’m sure, if you group with (or are) a restoration-specced druid.
It deals a small amount of healing every second for up to seven seconds, then delivers a ‘bloom’ of healing at the end of the spell.
If it’s dispelled, the ‘bloom’ goes off instantly.
It’s instant-cast and fairly mana-cheap.
It can be stacked on a single target up to three times, and re-casting it refreshes its duration (as well as adding a stack if it’s not already fully stacked).
I have remarked before on how it’s a passive form of mind control.
It’s the major staple of druid healers.
So, now that we’re on the same page, why is this post about Lifebloom? Well, I’m not the only one who’s talking about this, but here’s the down-to-earth, nitty-gritty details.
In Warcraft, there are two statistics intimately known by all casters, healer or otherwise: Bonus damage and bonus healing. They’re commonly abbreviated +healing and +damage, and are seen on caster items. What do they do, and why are they useful? Well, just as noted in their description, they improve healing and damage spells by ‘up to’ the amount listed. Some spells get more advantage than others, generally (but not always) based on the cast time. Once you get to level 66, give or take, a caster can increase their efficiency by garnering large amounts of these stats. Clearly, one cast of, say, Fireball does X damage. Now, in order to do 5X damage, you can do one of two things:
Stack enough Intellect and/or mana regen gear that you can do 5 Fireballs. Of course, you’ve just spent five times as much mana, and taken five times as long, not to mention provided five times as many resist chances.
Stack enough spell damage to make your Fireball, say, 2.5 times as powerful. Then you only need twice the mana and time of a single Fireball, but do five times the damage.
Let’s translate this to healing. Let’s pretend I’ve totally lost my mind and am using Healing Touch. Let’s further pretend that I have some mystical magical rank of Healing Touch that does exactly 1000 health.
We’re going to keep pretending- it takes 1000 mana, and 3 seconds to cast. This means that I can spent 1000 mana and restore 1000 health, every 3 seconds.
Okay. Now I put on gear that has exactly +500 to healing. Further, assume that Healing Touch gets 100% of my +healing effects (it actually does!). Now I can restore 1500 health every 3 seconds for 1000 mana. My health per second- important in heroics and raiding- has gone up significantly. My mana efficiency (also important) has also gone up significantly. Before, 3000 points of damage would take me 9 seconds and 3000 mana; now those figures are 6 seconds and 2000 mana. Note the (major!) improvements.
So how does all this relate to Lifebloom? Well, Lifebloom as a basic spell is: 39 health restored to the target per second, per stack, and a 600-point bloom.
With my gear (armory link to the right, or click here) as it stands now, I do about 175 healing per sec/stack. That’s the result of not quite 1400 +healing on my gear. Yes, I’m epicced out. The trick of it is, the only way to improve Lifebloom is, basically, with +healing. ‘Spamming’ it won’t help- because there’s no direct heal until the over-time effect wears off, and because every time it hits the target that effect is refreshed, Lifebloom cannot be used to rapidly increase a target’s health. In tree form, your only option for spamming is Regrowth- which has a drawback. Even assuming it crits (not an unhealthy assumption, when you’ve got +50% crit chance on that spell from talents), you’re talking about a 3000 point heal.
The drawback? It sucks away a lot of your mana pool. It’s not a spell you can really afford to spam. Plus, spamming it ‘eats’ a long HoT that you probably wouldn’t mind having on your tank.
Swiftmend can be used, of course, but at once per 15 seconds, it’s not spammable either.
So what does all this verbiage boil down to? Druids are not really meant for healing large chunks of damage fast for long fights. Priests do that. Paladins do that. Shaman do that. They do it (honestly!) better than we do. Our job, as druids, is to give a nice buffer with our healing-over-time spells that keeps the tank from ever needing big heals, if we can. We can, of course, do the nice spike heals at need, but our skills aren’t balanced around that; we go out of mana relatively fast doing that sort of thing. By and large, druids are designed to even out spikes, to make a ’spam’ healer’s job easier. Healing in that way, with a priest, paladin or shaman partnering with us, as a team we can endure long, long fights.
So… why this post?
Well, I was on the Public Test Realms over lunchtime. I’d heard about Lifebloom getting some changes, so Lanion went and threw himself into the air in Shattrath, then dropped onto the ground. (Incidentally, I want to know, really, who, took the name Llanion on the US PTR? Before I started the character I made absolutely certain there was no active Lv10+ character in the game with that name… but I digress.)
When Lanion landed, his Lifebloom spell did this:
128, 127, 128… 1173
160, 160, 160…
Then I switched back over to the Live realms, on Arathor, and had Llanion throw himself off a tower.
I got this: 172, 172, 172… 1269.
In both cases, I was doing this with no neckpiece on (that’s the one piece of my gear that’s changed since I made the PTR clone).
So I thought to myself: “Self? This isn’t going to make sense for a lot of people. Can you break it down at all?”
Edit: This experiment will be re-conducted this evening when I have a moment on the Live realms.
I started pulling pieces of gear off, on the Live side, to see what it would take to reduce my Lifebloom to the proposed 2.4 levels.
First I took off [my weapon]. Then [one ring]. Then [the other ring].
That’s right. In order to get 127/128 lifebloom ticks, the level I will have fully geared after 2.4 hits, I am required to entirely remove Light’s Justice, which is the best pre-25-man one-handed healer mace in the game, the Revered-level Violet Signet and the Keeper’s Ring of Piety.
Ladies, gentlemen, please go post on the Test Realm forum. Please. I am not kidding when I say that this is going to make taking a Restoration druid on your raids far, far and away less fruitful than another paladin for an extra blessing, or another shaman for totems, or another priest for, heck, Prayer of Mending or a second Renew stack or something funky.
These changes, if they go through, essentially set me back to the level my Lifebloom was at several weeks and epics ago. before I started Karazhan. It will mean my staple healing spell is at the level of instance blues, and I don’t mean heroics, despite the fact that I am now outfitted in 90% epics with a T5-equivalent helmet. Blizzard seems to think this will ‘fix’ the 2v2 prevalence of Druids. It won’t. In Arenas, I am reliably informed, Druids don’t rely on the ticks from Lifebloom, they rely on the final Bloom (which is actually stronger in 2.4 than Live). This change really only affects PVE.
Test Realm forums. Protest. Represent. Something. Anything.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is absolute and utter bullshit. Sorry for the language, but it’s true, and it has me tasting bile.
Edit to add: No, it is not as skull-crushingly hideous as I thought. Is it still bad? Yes. At early raiding gear and in early raiding situations, you’ll be losing ~20 hp/sec/stack/tank. Translated, 120 HP over two tanks assuming a full stack on each.