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Raid Rx: An overview of druids in Mists of Pandaria

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Every week, Raid Rx will help you quarterback your healers to victory! Your host is Matt Low, the grand poohbah of World of Matticus and a founder of Plus Heal, a discussion community for healers of all experience levels and interests Catch his weekly podcast on healing, raiding and leading, the Matticast.

Last week, we covered some of the more notable monk abilities along with the expected playstyle. Recently, the level cap on beta has been raised to level 87, allowing every class access to their new level 87 spell. Much of the talk this week on the major sites and blogs is about Symbiosis. We touched on it several times, but now we get to take a closer look at it in further detail.

What druids get
Guardian Feral Restoration Balance
Death Knight Bone Shield Death Coil Icebound Fortitude Anti-Magic Shell
Hunter Ice Trap Play Dead Deterrence Misdirection
Mage Mage Ward Frost Nova Ice Block Mirror Image
Paladin Consecration Divine Shield Cleanse Hammer of Justice
Priest Fear Ward Dispersion Leap of Faith Mass Dispel
Rogue Feint Redirect Evasion Cloak of Shadows
Shaman Lightning Shield Feral Spirit Spirit Walker's Grace Purge
Warlock Life Tap Soul Swap Demonic Circle: Teleport Unending Resolve
Warrior Spell Reflection Shattering Blow Intimidating Roar Intervene
Monk Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown

What druids give
Death Knight Blood Frost Unholy
Might of Ursoc Wild Mushroom: Plague Wild Mushroom: Plague
Hunter Marksman Beast Mastery Survival
Dash Dash Dash
Mage Frost Arcane Fire
Healing Touch Healing Touch Healing Touch
Paladin Protection Retribution Holy
Barkskin Unknown Rebirth
Priest Shadow Holy Discipline
Tranquility Entangling Roots Entangling Roots
Rogue Assassination Subtlety Combat
Growl Growl Growl
Shaman Elemental Enhancement Restoration
Solar Beam Solar Beam Prowl
Warlock Demonology Destruction Affliction
Rejuvenation Rejuvenation Rejuvenation
Warrior Arms Fury Protection
Stampeding Shout Stampeding Shout Frenzied Regeneration
Monk Brewmaster Windwalker Mistweaver
Growl Savage Defense Unknown
Source: Wowhead

All about Symbiosis

Druids use Symbiosis on a player and gain access to one of that player's abilities (which is hugely dependent on the druid's spec); likewise, the affected player gets to use a druid spell.

One of the bigger objections I've seen relates to the access between druids and shadow priests. Tranquility goes to shadow priests! One of the arguments I'm seeing is that this ability is so potent and powerful that raid leaders would strongly prefer its being given to shadow priests as an extra ace card up their sleeve.

In the current Cataclysm expansion, shadow priests have access to Divine Hymn. In Mists of Pandaria, they're losing access to Divine Hymn. Essentially, a shadow priest is trading one raid cooldown for another. I can't say for certain how many times my raid team has had to use Divine Hymns from shadow priests at all; I've found it to be a rare occasion. Because of the rarity, I don't foresee its being a real problem in a raid, since the healers in the group are usually able to tackle any serious raid healing situations. DPS players using defensive cooldowns would only come into play on major hard modes or if we lost a healer or two during the attempt.

The question of which player gets which druid's symbiosis is going to haunt raid leaders for a long time. I'd argue that the point of the ability is to offer raid flexibility in terms of abilities. Different encounters will call for different solutions. There shouldn't be a class that gets Symbiosis by default. Right now, a few classes stand out to me as who I'd give it to. The developers are doing a fine job by ensuring that most roles don't get another spell to add to their rotation (mages with Healing Touch and warlocks with Rejuvenation, for example). All the same, this is a neat ability that's going to shake things up in the expansion for druids.

Don't get me wrong, though. I don't even want to think about the PvP ramifications.

Major spell changes and additions
  • Wild Mushroom: Bloom Balance players are already familiar with the concept and usage of mushrooms. Restoration druids will be getting mushrooms this expansion as an addition to their set of healing tools. They work much the same way as their offensive counterparts. You drop mushrooms around the raid, and then you can detonate them so that they explode into many spores that heal your allies. You can only place a maximum of three mushrooms, so use them carefully. They can be planted before combat begins, so use the buffing time to strategically place mushrooms where you know most of the raid will be.
  • Ironbark After three expansions, you get your own single-target defensive cooldown that can be used on tanks (or other players). It functions as a flat damage-taken decrease. It lasts longer and has a shorter cooldown than the priest counterpart, Pain Suppression.
  • Cenarion Ward If a friendly target gets hit with Cenarion Ward on them, it'll trigger a HoT effect. Something tells me restoration druids will be using this ability as a staple in their abilities. Nature's Swiftness still remains an awesome alternative.
On the fence about talents

Level 90 talents are fun alternatives if you feel the need to switch roles in mid-combat. Maybe a tank died, or maybe you're about to hit an enrage timer. Heart of the Wild and Dream of Cenarius will help with this.

... Oh, who am I kidding -- I am still way on the fence with those level 90 talents. All things being equal, how often would you use those talents? That's assuming that things are going well and that DPS and healing is steadily being applied with no surprises or whatever. Even then, I'm not sure how many boss kills off-role druids can steal with these sets of talents. I'm not sold on the concept just yet, but I'm willing to give them a chance. Time to wait until level 90.

One thing that puzzles me about that druid talent tree is that there appear to be two talent tiers dedicated to some form of crowd control. At level 45, there are talents that can root, slow, or knock back enemy targets. At level 75, you have the ability to disorient, slow, and stun. Does there really need to be two sets of talents for controlling the movements of enemies? I'm not a regular druid player, so maybe some of you guys can help me out with that and explain why you feel that is or isn't necessary.

If you're a raiding druid just coming back to the game, you're going to have some new and fun toys to play with. You'll find that the druid class continues to rely heavily on HoT spells to create a stable raid. You're still going to be using assorted combinations of Rejuvenation, Regrowth, Lifebloom, Nourish, and so forth. Playstyles won't be changing significantly. If you've been out of the loop for a while, several aspects of it will feel the same to you.

Need advice on working with the healers in your guild? Raid Rx has you covered. Send your questions about raid healing to mattl@wowinsider.com. For less healer-centric raiding advice, visit Ready Check for advanced tactics and advice for the endgame raider.

Filed under: Druid, Raid Rx (Raid Healing)

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