There's lots of changes coming up for Resto Druids in 3.1. It feels like we've been discussing this forever — the base ideas go back 6 weeks or more — while there are new changes coming out all the time. I fully expect more changes (and changes to the changes) before 3.1 goes live. But I wanted to provide a highlight of the changes you'll see.
Affects mana (cost or regen)
Affects healing (throughput, spellpower, debuffs, etc.)
All info is taken from Test Realm Patch Notes unless otherwise noted. The spell links are to the new (PTR/3.1) versions of the spells.
Base changesMana regen change: (This applies to all classes.) Spirit: The amount of mana regeneration granted by this stat has been reduced by 40%.
This affects both Innervate and baseline mana regen outside the Five Second Rule (O5SR). The main effect is that both Innervate and pauses in casting will return a lot less mana than they used to. It also raises the relative value of Replenishment — and of Intellect (vs. Spirit) — as a result.
Lifebloom: Mana cost of all ranks doubled. When Lifebloom blooms or is dispelled, it now refunds half the base mana cost of the spell per application of Lifebloom, and the heal effect is multiplied by the number of applications.
This is the biggest direct Druid change. In short, the mana cost of LB is doubled. On the other side, letting it bloom will now refund mana, and both the healing and mana refund of the bloom will stack. So maintaining a LB stack costs lot more but the bloom looks better for both healing and mana efficiency. This will be both a nerf and a significant change to habitual Druid healing techniques, but I don't yet expect to give up on Lifebloom stacks. We'll be discussing this a lot more.
Abolish Poison: Now ticks every 3 seconds, up from every 2. Now lasts 12 seconds, up from 8.
So you have the same number of ticks, spread over a longer time. It'll vary whether this is a buff or a nerf. You'll have longer poison protection, but it will take longer for poisons (especially stacks of poison) to be removed.
Innervate: This spell no longer costs mana.
On live today it costs around 100 mana. This is a trivial buff in any situation except where you're completely OOM.
TalentsBecause of all the talent changes — and the dual spec implementation — all players will get a full talent refund. Don't forget to respec!
Tree of Life:Now receives 240% increased armor. You can now use Nature's Grasp and Thorns while within this form. Mana cost reduced to match the cost of Travel Form. Also, may change ToL talent to say reduces the mana cost of all your hots and also lets you go into tree form, which grants bonus healing.(source)
A whole slew of changes to ToL form. The latter clause was discussed on the forums but has not yet been implemented on the PTR. Assuming that change makes it too, then TOL changes as follows:
- The mana saving on HoTs applies whether or not you're in tree form
- Can now cast Nature's Grasp and Thorns as a tree
- Lower mana cost to switch into tree form
- Improved ToL goes from 100% to 240% bonus armor
Improved Regrowth: This talent is renamed Nature’s Bounty. Increases the critical effect chance of your Regrowth and Nourish spells by 5/10/15/20/25%.
This is a big change. It halves the crit chance for Regrowth but buffs the crit chance for Nourish instead. The left hand giveth etc. It was always difficult to make a case for Nourish, mostly because Regrowth was so awesome. So at least this change buffs Nourish while also nerfing Regrowth. It's difficult to plan around healing crits, and there's a good chance that this will contribute to your overhealing. That I believe is the root of the next change.
Living Seed: This talent now accounts for total healing including overhealing.
This should buff Living Seed. I don't yet know how much of a practical buff it will be. Regrowth will crit less often; Nourish will crit more. I suspect that we will be using Nourish in particular a lot more, so this may make Living Seed more worthwhile. Today it does somewhere around 2% of my healing, so that's not quite breakeven for 3 talent points.
Intensity: Now grants 17/33/50% of mana regeneration while casting.
That's a buff in the percentage from the 10/20/30% on live today, but keep in mind that the 30->50% is on base mana regen that's been nerfed by 40%. So in the end it's about where you are today.
Nature's Grace: Redesigned: All spell critical strikes have a 33/66/100% chance to grace you with a Blessing of Nature, increasing your spell casting speed by 20% for 3 seconds. (Note: this is a Balance talent, but it's taken in many Resto builds.)
On Live today, NG will reduce the casting time of your next spell by .5 sec. That is a 33% cast time improvement for Nourish, 25% for Regrowth, or 20%/17% for Healing Touch (depending on talents). This gets somewhat better as you get more Haste. Nourish however suffers because the resulting 1sec cast time will likely be faster than your GCD, so you'll have to wait to cast your next spell anyway. The difference is that you get the buff for 3 seconds, so you can cast multiple spells with it (two Nourishes, for example). The downside is that you're unlikely to react instantly to a NG proc, so you may well miss the first second or two. Ultimately I think this probably works out as a slight buff, but the complexity of the mechanism will make this talent very difficult to employ effectively.
Improved Mark of the Wild: Now also increases all of your total attributes by 1/2%.
A straight buff, though the 2% increase goes only to you and not everyone who receives your MotW. It definitely helps MotW scale as you get more stats from gear. The effect isn't huge, but most Resto druids will take this talent anyway, so it's easy to accept.
Replenish: This talent is now re-named Revitalize and also works with Wild Growth.
This is a buff to Replenish, but is it now worthwhile? The good news is that you'll cast a lot of Wild Growth, so more toons might get the Revitalize buff. The ticks, however, are still both random and rather small. I'd much rather see the random element removed, even if that means making the ticks even smaller.
Improved Barkskin:(New Talent) Increases the damage reduction granted by your Barkskin spell by 5/10%, and increases your resistance to Dispel mechanics by an additional 30/60% while under the effect of Barkskin.
This change is purely for PvP; I can think of very few situations when it will apply in PvE, other than loose adds beating on the healer (which rarely ends well in any case). As a 2-point talent in the 10th tier, it is designed to give Druids some additional incentives to go deep Resto for PvP.
Glyph of Nourish: Your Nourish heals an additional 6% for each of your heal-over-time effects present on the target.
A nice little boost to Nourish, further suggesting that it will be a much stronger heal in 3.1, particularly for tank healing. With 3 HoTs up on the target, that's an additional 18% bonus to Nourish. Add in the increased crit chance, and you'll see some whopping big heals from our "Flash Heal" equivalent.
Glyph of Wild Growth Wild Growth now affects up to 6 targets.
A simple change, but one that could add an additional 20% to the healing capacity of Wild Growth. The only problem now is how many worthwhile glyphs we have available. I'm unlikely to take this — I'll probably go with Swiftmend, Lifebloom, and maybe Nourish. But if you do a lot of raid healing, this could be a major buff.
OK; I think that's the lot for now. I really should do a post on the Balance changes, if I can get to it. Those are a bit less extreme but still significant.