Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Circle of Healing vs Wild Growth

Circle of Healing (CoH) and Wild Growth (WG) were two spells recently nerfed with the onset of 3.0.8. Everyone remotely close to the raiding scene knows this by now and there have been tons of posts from people both denouncing and praising the devs for their actions against these two cross party healing spells. After healing with WG last night in a 25 Naxx raid on my Druid, I have come to the conclusion that the nerf to CoH was very justified, while the nerf to WG was completely wrong and didn't resolve anything.


It's all about proactive healing vs reactive healing.

See, when looking at the styles of healing out there, the Holy Priest is a great reactive healer. Damage gets done, they heal it. They can be a bit more proactive with some renews and shields, but really, that's not their forte. Their forte is super strong single target heals that proc efficiency (Surge of Light, Holy Concentration) with some awesomely strong raid/party heals (CoH, Binding Heal, Prayer of Mending, Holy Nova, Prayer of Healing)

Contrast that with a Resto Druid. While their reactive heals (Regrowth, Healing Touch, Nourish) can be very efficient and strong (Glyphed Regrowth/Touch), their retinue is mainly made up of efficient heal over time (HOT) effects. Healing multiple people takes alot of time with these tools through either stacking HOTs on people or chain spamming Regrowth/Touch. As such, the Resto Druid is an amazing proactive healer, being able to place upwards of 3 HOTs on several people, buffering their health pools, especially if it is expected that they'll be taking damage.

Herein lies the problem. By nerfing CoH and WG with a 6 second cooldown, they've essentially turned CoH into a situational heal to be used when multiple people have all taken damage, and they need a 2k+ heal to help them out. You can use it for 2 people, but if it doesn't heal for enough, you'll still have to single target heal, thus ruining your efficiency and speed and time lounging about outside of the 5SR. However, the same is not true for WG. Since WG's front loaded heal is much smaller than CoH, WG can essentially be used as an AOE preheal HOT effect. Since it's duration (7 seconds) is longer than its cooldown (6 seconds), up to 10 people could have the WG effect on them at any time, depending on the game AI with determining who gets WG. A perfect example of this is on the Loatheb fight where a Resto Druid will use WG right before 3 seconds till the Necrotic Aura wears off so that WG can be used again during the healing window. Even if only 1 person needed a heal.

Does this sound like any other heal? Yep. That would be Prayer of Mending (PRoM). With both PRoM, and now WG, you target someone that needs (or will need) a heal soon and if it bounces/applies to another target that needs heals, great! If not, no worries, 'cause you got it covered.

So why is this bad? Sounds great right? Well, it basically makes WG a mandatory cast every 6 seconds on an encounter that has splash damage. Or when 2 people are going to get damaged. Which is just about every encounter. With CoH, timing the usage of CoH became much more important with the addition of the cooldown. If you used CoH on some trivial damage and then a Whirlwind or a Shadowbolt Volley came through the raid, you'd probably be kicking yourself and mashing the CoH button, hoping it would come up faster. With WG, it doesn't really matter. When that damage comes, you already have hots ticking and will have more ticking shortly.

Because of this discrepancy in utility, I believe that the nerf to WG was unjustified as it still pigeonholes WG as a mandatory staple of the healing rotation; it's not a conditional heal like CoH. The fix doesn't solve the mindless spam of WG, we just do it every 6 seconds now. However, try as I might, I can't think of any fixes to either version of WG that would balance it. Proactive heals/buffs (Divine Aegis, Sacred Shield, Living Seed) should never be guaranteed if they're going to effect multiple people.

If anything, make it work like the Death Knight's Pestilence, allowing HOTs a chance to spread from target to target.

That'd be cool.


Lycurgusofsport said...

Damnit why don't you have a Resto Shaman, I love the way you analyze healing comibinations and their uses in situations. My shaman is my alt and I focus on my Warrior and trying to perfect him in pvp. So learning to heal on my shaman would be useful if I am ever going to take him to that level.

Chu said...


Thanks for the comment! I haven't played a Resto Shaman at high levels, but I'll be honest, I believe that the game has pigeonholed them in PvE into Chain Heal spamming with Riptide kept on CD (unless they -need- to save it). I love Shamans and what they can do, it just seems a little too single track.

However, for PvP, I believe the class is a complete 180 from their PvE counterparts as managing globals and totems is amazingly hard.