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Shifting Perspectives: The druid of 2011, part 2

The tree of 2011

Man, I am never going to nail another screenshot like that. I'd zoned into the new End Time heroic for the first time ever on the PTR and couldn't help but notice that the entire group was either dead or dying as I did so, so I can only assume that an exasperated or simply jerkwad healer had dropped in the middle of a pull. The thing about dead and dying groups on the PTR is that the next 15 minutes will be consumed by increasingly irritated talk about:

  • Whether you can get in range of a corpse to resurrect it.
  • "Rez plz."
  • "Why haven't you rezzed yet?"
  • Oh shiznit, I just pulled a mob pack trying to rez your dumb butt, and this never would have happened if you had just run back (implied if not outright stated).
  • "I can't run back, I don't know where the instance portal is" (but of course).
  • The ceremonial Dropping of the Group by at least one player, triggering a cascade of others until you, the new healer, are now ...
  • The last of the Mohicans group, now obliged to queue for another and then inform the resulting influx of replacement players that you have absolutely no idea what the hell is going on.
Like that. Seriously, I have never met players with less patience for dungeon unfamiliarity and the learning process than the ones I've met on the PTR, which kind of defeats the point of playing on a test realm, but what do I know? So I decided to skip the whole bothersome process, told the group I'd wait for them to run back in because it was my first time there and I really had no idea where I was, popped Tree Form, and started taking pictures.

I'm on bottle #6 now and have passed the point of being able to write an elegant segue.

Ugh. 2011. This was the year of not getting it. For me, at least. I don't know if the developers knew what was going on better than I did, which they usually do, but this year was more than a few hops and a mortgage into Weirdsville.

The early part of the year, insofar as I am able to recall through the haze of snow squalls and roof rakes, was largely comprised of doing absolutely nothing while paladins and priests apparently healed everything in the game. I am told that the occasional resto shaman was dragged along for the pre-nerf Mana Tide Totem, which can't have been a terribly fulfilling way to experience the content, but we were Innervate bots in classic for long enough to understand the principle involved. And then Innervate itself got nerfed, which I never really understood. If you don't want us casting it on other people -- said the befuddled beartree -- why not just make it a self-only spell?

I guess the other thing that I don't understand about the subsequent buff/nerf cycle with Rejuvenation and Wild Growth is why the spec should be so hideously easy to balance. To me, what the 2011 restoration druid experience suggests is that flicking one or two spells back and forth to get the results you want means the spec is probably way too reliant on them. Blizzard is entirely correct in saying that a two-button spec isn't fun to play (unless, of course, you're an arcane mage), but I think the whole patch 4.0.3 to patch 4.1 experience makes it pretty obvious that a resto druid with very expensive Rejuvenations and WGs is a resto druid without a particularly compelling argument for a raid slot. The spec's only contribution to survivability is throughput, and when the throughput isn't there, that is no bueno.

Of course, you can always handle this the way one of my buddies did on another server, and just run uncontested for the position of raid leader so no one can kick you out regardless of how crappy your spec winds up after a patch. Vote for me, folks! A chicken in every pot and a cap in every ass!

Honestly, I really hate rogues. Like hate them. Hate them, hate them, hate them. I don't care if they wind up at the bottom of the meters or get charged more than anyone else to play the game while having to phone their rotations into Blizzard, because anything that makes rogues mad is guaranteed to make Azeroth a happier place overall. But there's a kind of shadowy, ugly point they've got there about a class that can't do anything but damage having to justify its raid slot with the highest damage in the game, and it was one that I started to appreciate (even if only minutely and very grudgingly) when I saw the numbers that early priests and paladins were posting in tandem with a set of cooldowns required for hard-mode raiding.

I don't want or need to be better than everyone else. I mean, I'm already (bottle #11) better than everyone else in so many intangible ways that I don't need to be measurably better. I guess I just want my spec to be contributing at least the amount of healing necessary to make up for the absence of stuff like Power Word: Barrier, which is actually an awful lot of healing, because preventing damage is almost always more efficient than healing through it.

Oh well. I'm looking forward to 2012, Ironbark, and healy mushrooms, even if I'm a little unsure about Blizzard's apparent emphasis on a hybrid playstyle with Mists of Pandaria talents. Getting a DPS class or spec to do anything unconnected to DPS is usually pointless, and I suspect that the effort to do so with the druid talent system represents the triumph of hope over experience.

Skål!


Shifting Perspectives helps you gear your bear druid, breaks down the facts about haste for trees, and then digs into the restoration mastery. You might also enjoy our look at the disappearance of the bear.

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