Season 5 is nearly over. It's been an odd season, and one predictably dominated by our new friends in the PvP world -- the Death Knights. As Zach predicted many moons ago, the rise of the Death Knight and their associated Disease heralded the fall of the Druid. It's not that Death Knights are necessarily an intended direct counter. It's just that the dominant team (Death Knight/Paladin) has many great tools against the Druid's traditional allies.
In the face of this new dynamic, the druid Webin has still managed to achieve success. His 2v2 team is 20th on his battlegroup, even while maintaining his four-season partnership with the Rogue Bobblehead. Webin took the time to talk to us about his feelings on Season 5 and the role of druids. Check out what he had to say behind the cut. WoW Insider: Who are your teammates right now? What's the general plan behind your composition? What challenges does your team have? How do you prefer to run your comp?
Webin: In 2v2, I play with a rogue named Bobblehead. We've been running this comp for 4 seasons now and our strategy has greatly changed.
In earlier seasons, it was very easy to keep up on mana with other healers and heal through what little burst there was. This season, it is very difficult for a druid to keep up with the damage that some classes are putting out. It is even harder on my mana pool.
Our composition relies on Crowd Control chains on the other team which give us enough time to burst down one of the players. In previous seasons, we could out-mana another team but that is not an option this season.
We like to be very aggressive with Cyclones and can put a lot of pressure if that's left unchecked. We hate playing Death Knight/Paladin because it's just a losing battle once they start kiting with Freedom and a Ranged Snare.
In 3v3, I play with a hunter named Ishootstuff and a DK named Unicornz. We took the common comp of Hunter/Pally/DK, then handicapped it with a druid. and still managed to hit 2250 just burning whatever target is in range.
The main challenge we have is the fact that druids are terrible healers right now. No matter how well we play, we will always be outmanaed by a Paladin with a DK on the team.
WoW Insider: What's your opening strategy? What do you like to do as soon as the gate opens?
Webin: As soon as the gates open in 2v2, we tend to just hang out until we figure out what we want to do against the other team. Being 2 stealthed players, and druids not having a high representation this season, most players at the start think we are Rogue/Mage. They react as if we are double-DPS.
We usually try and get a sap on one player and open hard on the other. The goal is to force some cooldowns from the opposing team. A cyclone on a low target to reset Diminishing Returns and cooldowns is often enough to score a kill.
In 3s, we try and just blow something up before I run out of mana. That consists of switching targets often and rotating CCs between me and my hunter. The second someone trinkets, they are in a very bad position with the amount of CC we can put out.
WoW Insider: Which mods do you use -- how have you customized your screen?
Webin: I use Afflicted, Gladius, and Spell Alerter. Other then that I use the basic WoW interface.
WoW Insider: How do you work out target designation? (Does someone call it out, or is everyone on their own to figure it out?)
Webin: We've played the comp for a while so we have our targets picked out as soon as we know what we're facing. Bobble usually picks his target and I just CC the other one the best I can to buy him as much time as possible.
If I need mana, I call it out and we play as defensive as possible until I get some mana back. Sadly, this has become the state of druids at the moment as I find myself drinking nearly 90% of the game.
In 3s, we try and pick whatever target we think we can drop the quickest and just proceed to nuke as hard as we can. Usually, when something gets low our DK switches and tries to lock out the healer long enough for us to score a kill.
WoW Insider: How do you schedule your playtime? Do you try and work during "good times to queue?" Is this different now than in previous seasons?
Webin: We just try and play whenever everyone is on.
WoW Insider: What's been the biggest change in your strategy between each bracket of ratings? (1500s, 1600s) Is there a big change for this season?
Webin: In the lower brackets, and sometimes in the higher brackets, teams don't know how to deal with a turtling Druid/Rogue. We find it very easy to reset matches even against some of the higher rated teams on our battlegroup.
In 3s, the biggest change in strategy is that pure burst won't work as well in the higher brackets. People know how to anticipate burst and do something about it.
In the 1600, you can tunnel a Death Knight and train him down. Fighting a 2300 team, that's not gonna work, especially without Freedom and Cleanses. We have to be very careful because druids cannot heal from behind right now.
You stick a DK or Mortal Strike on any one of my teammates, if they drop below 60%, they are going to die.
WoW Insider: What signals to you that you need to radically change strategy midmatch? (And how do you accomplish that change?)
Webin: If we have someone in a bad position and we think we can capitalize on it, we call it out on Vent and wait for cooldowns to be back up. If we can catch someone in a bad CC rotation that they can't prevent, we can usually drop someone.
WoW Insider: What's the key for your composition's strategy? Are there multiple tactics you can use?
Webin: In 2s, we can use a few strategies but it's all about keeping HoTs rolling and trying to play as offensively as possible to score a kill.
In 3s, it's a little different because running HoTs won't work against most teams with 2 DPS and a Mortal Strike. Usually that ends with me casting healing a lot more and having a lot less pressure coming from my end.
WoW Insider: You hear a lot about clicking versus binding. Which skills do you still click, which do you tend to bind?
Webin: I click my mount, rez, and water.
WoW Insider: What are you trying to improve?
Webin: I am trying to be a lot more conservative with my mana as it was so easy to come by in the past seasons. I fall behind very quickly and I pretty much get smashed by any pally that has any idea what they are doing.
WoW Insider: A lot has been made of healers not having a strong role in Season 5. What do you think about that commentary?
Webin: I think that druids are not having a strong role in S5. As I've read all over, Death Knight/Paladin is the majority of all comps and if healing wasn't strong there wouldn't be so many of them.
WoW Insider: What are you hoping to see improved in 3.1? We've seen some changes, obviously, but there's more to come.
Webin: In 3.1, I hope they make some last minute changes to druids because at the moment it is horrible to play. As Bobble has pointed out to me on many occasions, it's painful to play with a druid right now because everything else is so superior.
I hope that the HoT removal change will make Death Knight/Paladin a lot easier. Right now, if they have a brain, it is impossible for them to lose to us.