in order to be a successful Restoration druid blogger this year, all you really had to do was copy-paste the following into Movable Type somewhere and repeat as necessary for each major patch:
Lifebloom nerfed, Nourish buffed.
Got that? Everybody with me? Let's recap:
Patch 3.0.8: Nourish buffed.
Patch 3.1: Lifebloom nerfed, Nourish buffed.
Patch 3.2: Lifebloom nerfed, Nourish buffed.
Patch 3.3: Lifebloom nerfed, Nourish buffed.
As I believe I observed around patch 3.2's release:
If you follow Blizzard's design trajectory to its logical conclusion, Nourish will eventually become a 0.5-second cast ability costing 50 mana and healing for 8 billion, whereas Lifebloom will be renamed to Just Put The Damn Spell Out of Its Misery FFS.
Which is not to say that we've taken Lifebloom off my bars these days -- it's rather fun to abuse Clearcasting procs for a free Lifebloom that then "returns" mana you didn't use in the first place -- but past a certain point I had to ask myself what the point was. I didn't need the mana. In 25-man raid buffs and at full burn on fights with heavy raid damage -- say, Festergut-25 or heroic Twins-25, fights where you shouldn't count on having a GCD to yourself at present levels of gear -- I still didn't need the mana. For the fun of it, I equipped Spark of Hope, the new Ephemeral Snowflake (which -- yes -- returns 11 mana on each HoT tick), and Idol of Awakening alongside 3/3 Revitalize, and watched myself gain mana spamming Rejuvenation. Switching in Idol of Flaring Growth for raids still saw me completely unable to drop below 80% on Festergut despite topping heals (and on the idol note, 4 Haelz had a timely post on why you shouldn't feel obligated to run out and get the Frost idol right away).
That's slightly absurd, and one of the underlying reasons as to why mana management is going to get tougher in Cataclysm, to what ultimate effect I'm not sure. I don't think that Blizzard's really resolved the uncomfortable dichotomy where watching your mana bar is "fun" for a healer but an undesirable feature for DPS, although I have to admit that I'm kind of at a loss here as well. I have always had a rather touching and ironclad faith that someone smarter than me at Blizzard will figure it out, although the farther I get into this bottle of cough syrup the more I become convinced that I am the smartest person in the world, and would be even smarter if I could only figure out how to pop the childproof cap on the next bottle. I can't, so we're doomed.
Doomed or not, Resto has amazing raid healing output, so much so that even a noob like myself can pump out decent numbers returning to raids after an interval of eight months in sometimes iffy gear. Lucky thing, too, because in my absence Blizzard -- already fond of giant tank hits -- has grown equally fond of hard-mode encounters with unbelievable raid damage. I spent the first part of the year terrified of the numbers I kept seeing Sartharion land on me while tanking, but the latter portion's been spent with a bloodless digit hammering the Wild Growth button and howling at it to come off cooldown before another one of Freya's nasty little adds comes within range on Knock, Knock, Knock on Wood or Mimiron does...whatever he does, I don't even see that fight on Firefighter. I'm told he has a number of different abilities and that the fight has multiple phases, but you couldn't prove it by me, because all I see is a series of health bars with the only consistent feature being that everyone is about to die. If you enjoy that sort of thing, you'll adore ToGC's Anub'arak on phase 3, where everyone being a whisper away from the grave is the sort of thing that raid leaders actively encourage. It is for this reason that the phrase FML was invented.
PvP-wise, a goodly portion of the year was not kind to us. The ridiculously-popular death knight was, in many ways, designed to counter the Restoration druid, although I am hedging this somewhat by saying "in many ways" instead of "definitely, and "counter" instead of "annihilate." And may I say -- mission accomplished. We got a boost when Plague Strike was changed so as not to remove HoT's anymore, but if you're still looking for the exciting and dynamic playstyle that characterized the BC Resto PvP experience, keep walking', Sparky -- that ship don't dock here. Nor does it dock at 2v2, still the druid's best bracket, but now the slow lane to arena success.
In a unrelated note, Shifting Perspectives is going to acquire a more Balance/Restoration oriented cousin with a new columnist soon. To clear up some questions I've gotten since Dan first advertised the position -- no, I'm not going anywhere, and I do apologize to the readers who have (correctly) pointed out that an epileptic monkey on crack could turn out a better column. When the editors approached me about possibly hiring an additional columnist with more of a focus on caster druids, I thought it was a great idea, veering on "godsend" territory. Shifting is unique in having to cover a class that can do any role in the game, and you've seen me write previously that I wasn't happy about having neglected certain topics. I think Balance in particular could use some love here, because I've always been a touch nervous addressing Balance issues. While I've leveled Balance on two toons and enjoy playing it casually, I don't have the breadth of experience needed to discuss the spec in the endgame, and I would much rather have someone who raids on, or plays the spec extensively, be the person to address moonkin topics.
So, if you play Balance/Resto, or even if you play one more than the other (I currently raid as a tree, so Resto topics will probably appear in Shifting more frequently -- and that sound you hear is the cadre of Resto bloggers out there laughing themselves silly), send us an application! Particularly if you are an epileptic monkey on crack, because the editors inform me that we've been looking for one of those.
Every week, Shifting Perspectives treks across Azeroth in pursuit of truth, beauty, and insight concerning the druid class. Sometimes it finds the latter, or something good enough for government work. Whether you're a Bear, Cat, Moonkin, Tree, or stuck in caster form, we've got the skinny on druid changes in patch 3.3, a close look at the disappearance of the bear tank, and thoughts on why you should be playing the class (or why not).