No beating around the bush today. There were some upcoming healer changes that were announced earlier in the week. I can tell you as of right now, I'm worried about the Power Word: Shield change -- not because I think discipline priests will remain overpowered, but because holy might go the route. I'll explain that later on in the post.
The main focus of today's post is defensive cooldowns for shaman and druids. I'm sure a number of players don't believe there's a need for the two classes to get defensive cooldowns, but in order to compete for utility, I think druids and shaman would benefit greatly from having those spells available. The argument here is that since the four healers are approximately the same across the board (from a throughput perspective), the edge might be given to paladins and priests because of the additional cooldowns they have to offer. Shaman and druids might end up being even more attractive in 10-player raids.
The case for cooldowns
When I'm referring to healing cooldowns, I don't mean spells like Innervate or Mana Tide totem. Those are great utility spells. Instead, I'm referring to defensive cooldowns that can be used to keep tanks or other players alive. There are three main mechanics that come to mind:
I know as a raid leader that my decision to bring one healer over another in the past has been dictated by the additional utility that some classes have to offer. By offering utility capabilities to shamans and druids, the decision would be that much more interesting. Would that mean additional homogenization? Yes and no -- yes in the sense that this would mean all classes have the capability to assist the tank through really hard phases, but no because they can save players through other means than damage absorption, damage reduction, or increased healing.
But yeah, it is high time for druids and shamans to get something else. Each healing class should have the tools to accomplish certain objectives, like AoE healing, tank healing, fast healing, and so forth. Player saving shouldn't be any different. I hope that new designs wouldn't resort to being Pain Suppression clones, but I wouldn't be entirely opposed to it even as a temporary measure.
This is where we can innovate and think of some other ways to accomplish this goal that's in line with individual class philosophy.
Ideas for druids
Let's use Barkskin as an example. Barkskin cuts down incoming damage by 20% to the druid. It has a 1-minute cooldown and can be used in all forms. That is one spell I wouldn't mind seeing castable on others. I know I'm not the only one who feels the same. But the 1-minute cooldown timer and the fact that the spell is usable in any form means it becomes a touch overpowered.
How about modifying the Barkskin glyph? Increase the cooldown timer to 3 minutes. Increase the damage reduction to 40%. Make it usable only in humanoid form, and allow it to be used on other targets. Clearly, that needs some further balance modifications. I confess, I'm not as well versed with restoration talents, but glyphs are another avenue to explore. A major glyph slot, perhaps?
Actually, it might just be easier to add another spell or talent specifically in the talent tree instead. Another spell might be the more simple solution instead of modifying another spell.
Ideas for shaman
When asked about the a cooldown wish, all that WoW Insider resto shaman specialist Joe Perez had to say was:
Joe's got some interesting ideas for cool resto shaman cooldowns. One idea he suggested that I liked is Aegis of the Tempest. Essentially, it increases the dodge rate and reduces incoming damage. I had the wacky idea of a water elemental totem. What would said elemental do? I have no idea. Perhaps the elemental could absorb a percentage of incoming damage within a certain radius before it dissolves or something.Make Riptide a baseline spell or a resto specialization. Replace the talent slot with the new defensive cooldown.
A note about priests
For priests, the Power Word: Shield cost reduction benefits from the Body and Soul talent absolutely terrify me. Once holy priests go down that tree, they can still invest points in the following talents:
But hey, hopefully I'm really wrong about that.
I can't wait for 4.1.0. No idea when that will come out, but it's another patch to look forward to for healers. With luck, we'll get a sneak preview of what they have in store. A variety of different solutions are available. Talents, spells or glyphs can be used to make adjustments.
What ideas would you suggest for druids and shaman so that they have similar capabilities to priests and paladins?
Need advice on working with the healers in your guild? Raid Rx has you covered. Send your questions about raid healing to firstname.lastname@example.org. For less healer-centric raiding advice, visit Ready Check for advanced tactics and advice for the endgame raider.