Saturday, May 16, 2009
3.1 PvP Lifebloom Change - Not So Bad?
Awhile ago, when the 3.1 Lifebloom changes were announced, I wrote this post which highlighted why the change was terrible, horrible, no good, very bad change to both PvE and PvP Resto Druids. While it is still technically a nerf, I feel that it's time to come clean, admit my mistake and explain why I actually like the change.
I'd even call it a buff.
Typical Druid PvE Player Base: "Gasp!"
For PvP, of course.
Typical Druid PvE Player Base: *collective sigh of relief*
If you don't PvP, feel free to keep picketing BlizzHQ on that dirty Lifebloom nerf while I extoll the virtues of this wonderful change.
To understand why the Lifebloom change was a buff, let's talk about Arena gameplay from a design perspective. In previous seasons, around Season 3 and 4, Blizzard started seeing the effects of Resilience, mana regen, and crowd control. These seasons were dominated by Druids and Priests being paired up with Warriors, Warlocks and Rogues and interestingly enough, survivability was at such a high point that matches often lasted an incredibly long time. Back then, my buddy and I played Warlock/Druid and some nights, after spending 90 minutes on 2 matches, we were both mentally and physically exhausted from what amounted to the WoW equivalent of chess. People complained, QQ'd, and whined about the over calculated-ness of Arena PvP.
Blizzard took notes and in Season 5, changed their design philosophy 180 degrees to the point that no matches took longer than a few minutes. This change was brought about through intense burst damage on the part of many DPS classes. Naturally, complaints came about again, albeit far faster this time and Blizz tweaked the offending classes. Arcane Mages, Survival Hunters, Ret Paladins, Destruction Warlocks and others got their burst DPS lowered over the course of several patches and hotfixes. I emphasized the word hotfix because it's quite impressive that Blizzard is now willing to make on the fly changes to improve the quality of life in the Arena instead of waiting for the next patch.
Where are we right now? Well, we're 3 weeks into Season 6 and burst damage, which still quite strong when executed by a coordinated pair, is, for the most part, (reasonably) healable with the help of cooldowns, peels and pillars. Granted, some class comps such as Rogue/Mage are still incredibly strong against certain healers, but that's just the way some class matchups happen to fall.
So, how does that impact Lifebloom? Well, when burst damage becomes (reasonably) healable, damage can be (reasonably) anticipated. When damage can be anticipated, one can roll a specific number of Lifeblooms to match the anticipated incoming damage. If the periodic healing is needed, the Druid can elect to keep the stack rolling. If burst healing is needed, just let the stack bloom. 14k crit blooms aren't unheard of and they go a LONG way against double DPS opponents in 2's. Interestingly, Nature's Splendor, a talent many PvP Druids take is both a benefit and a hindrance. On one hand, it increases the duration of Lifebloom, meaning it takes longer to bloom when you need it to, and on the other hand, it increases the duration of Insect Swarm, a huge DPS ability that many Resto Druids are glyphing for. However, the masses tend to agree that the positives outweigh the negatives and as survivability goes up throughout S6, the periodic healing of Lifebloom will increase in efficiency; thus spending 1 talent point on Nature's Splendor is justified.
While this aspect of the Lifebloom change is good, the Tree of Life change also helps the gameplay of Resto Druids. For those not in the know, ToL now grants the mana cost reduction to HoTs regardless if the Druid is in ToL form or not and the cost to shift into ToL is no longer crazy expensive. This opens up gameplay options for PvP Druids who essentially need to use Balance spells to either set up for a kill or keep someone alive. As such, casting Lifebloom in caster form is no longer prohibitively expensive.
As I look to the future of PvP Resto Druids, the upcoming drinking change (more mana/drink tick) and the Innervate buff will, in my opinion, put Druids back up on top.
Things are definitely looking up for the crafty shape shifters.
As an aside, I finally got tired of having most of my screen blocked by some weirdly proportioned Man Cow. Therefore, my Man Cow is now a Girl Cow.
My eyes are much happier.