When I was a small child growing up on the mean streets of a rural farming community, my mother used to hector me into eating my vegetables.
"You'll get rickets if you don't eat your broccoli," she said.
"Children in some parts of the world would kill to have string beans," she said.
"You'll flunk your SATs if you don't eat zucchini," she said.
So I'd choke the stuff down in resentful silence, assuming that dessert would be forthcoming in the typical quid pro quo of the childhood dinner table. (My lawyer father lived to regret teaching that phrase to small children.) It took me until freshman biology to realize that my mother was exaggerating the odds of developing scurvy if we didn't eat a sufficient quantity of vegetables at every meal.
And you know what? Playing a resto druid on the beta is kind of like being a small child getting Lifebloom and Harmony endlessly stuffed into your face. In the meantime, there's a bowl of deep-fried, bacon-crusted, chocolate-dipped Wild Mushrooms just ... out ... of ... your ... reach on the table.
I ate the green stuff, Blizz. Now where's my dessert?
If you haven't played a restoration druid extensively, here's the deal:
- You keep Lifebloom running on a player (ideally, the tank) because your single-target healing sucks like a vacuum cleaner without it.
- You keep Harmony running through the use of direct healing spells like Nourish, Regrowth, Healing Touch, or Swiftmend, because your mastery stat is completely useless unless it's active. Basically, the resto druid's mastery is Blizzard's way to coax us into hitting something that isn't a HoT.
On the live servers, the 10-second duration isn't such a big deal, because ... what else are you gonna hit? You usually keep Lifebloom running with Nourish as a maintenance heal, hit Swiftmend on cooldown or close to it, and use Omen of Clarity procs for more expensive heals like Regrowth and Healing Touch. Spare time is filled with HoTs, more maintenance -- or if you're really bored, a little DPS to keep yourself amused.
In practice, a resto druid who's paying even minimal attention to his Lifebloom stacks and Harmony can keep both running of them running pretty easily, not least because the most time-consuming spell you can possibly hit in the meantime (Nourish or Healing Touch with Naturalist and a bit of haste) will run you a bit more than two seconds to cast.
Running out of time
By contrast, the 10-second duration is a real issue on the beta. Wild Mushrooms are front and center here. For lack of a better term, they're just really, really fun. You put them wherever you want, macro the deploy to "Friendly mushroom! Mushy giant friend!" and then detonate them and watch some very cool numbers appear on your screen. Having another source of burst AoE healing also addresses a problem with the druid's ability to deal with burst group damage, and I'd argue that the decision over whether to use them or Wild Growth makes for an interesting choice. I'd also argue that they raise the skill cap for the spec, since an experienced druid can learn when and where to deploy and detonate them for maximum effect.
Good, right? But the mushrooms take a minimum of four global cooldowns in order to use, assuming you want all three. Place a mushroom, place a mushroom, place a mushroom, detonate. Assuming you're not just dumping them all in the same place (which you usually aren't in order to maximize group coverage) and allowing for latency, that's anywhere between 5 to 7 seconds of your valuable Lifebloom/Harmony timer. More, of course, if anything happens in that period that requires your attention to go elsewhere.
Mathematically, it sounds like enough for you to dump your mushrooms and still have enough time left to Nourish the tank, refresh Lifebloom, and keep Harmony ticking along. In practice, I've found it a lot more common than I expected to detonate mushrooms and then have to decide between refreshing Lifebloom or refreshing Harmony. Under ideal circumstances, you'd just Nourish the tank and kill two birds with one stone, but with combat ratings decay, you're cutting the timer very close -- with latency, sometimes too close. And if anything else happened in the period while you were placing mushrooms (such as having to move to avoid damage, any encounter mechanic that interrupted your casts, decursing, etc.), you're screwed.
The bottom line is that having to babysit Lifebloom and Harmony in such a punishingly small window of time is actively interfering with the resto druid's ability to both have fun with the spec and use other skills effectively.
- Reduce the amount of time needed to deploy the mushrooms. This might work, but I think the overall mechanics behind the spell are mostly (not entirely, but mostly) sound. The time required to place the mushrooms individually is difficult, but the alternative -- placing them all together or reducing the number you can place at a given time -- seems like it would reduce the effectiveness of the ability more than it would really make the present situation better.
- Extend the Lifebloom/Harmony timers. This is the most attractive solution, not least because of all the new talents that give resto druids something else to do with their time. I want to be able to use these skills, not look at them as things to squeeze in hurriedly (if at all) while being chained to two timers that make the rest of my healing viable. They really don't need to be extended by a lot, but even a few more seconds would help.
- Extend the targeting reticle of the mushrooms to show their actual area of effect. This actually has nothing to do with the issue above, but I think it would help a lot to see exactly where each mushroom is going to have an effect. Right now, you know where the mushroom is going to land but have to guess somewhat at who it's going to hit.
Shifting Perspectives: Bear and Resto Edition takes a peek at healer balance in Dragon Soul, discovers why bears and PvP gear are a pretty good mix, lends advice on gearing up to hit the Raid Finder, and helps you level a druid in the Cataclysm era.