Blizzard recently revamped the Resto Druid tier bonuses and we got a chance to try them out last week. For those unfamiliar with the new bonuses, they're as follows:
These are a huge improvement over the previous design, particularly in raid, and it should be a fun tier to play Resto Druid.
Playstyle Changes - RaidSwiftmend
has a rough history of being a trigger to some poor bonuses, but it works extremely well here. Our key objective is to line up the Tree of Life proc with Convoke the Spirits
which drives most of our burst healing. Swiftmend
has a 15s cooldown in Shadowlands and we can Convoke the Spirits
every minute with the Celestial Spirits
legendary. That gives us a lot of flexibility around our Swiftmend
casts since the key need not be hit the moment it comes off cooldown. Assuming Soul of the Forest
(discussed more below) we have a lot of options, for example (and this isn't an exhaustive list):
Adding interesting choices to our core design is generally the sign of a strong tier set and you should find this extremely fun to play.
We can expect most of our talents to stay the same with one notable exception. Soul of the Forest.
The level 40 row has actually been pretty competitive for most of Shadowlands. Incarnation: Tree of Life
has been the default raid talent for sure, but Soul of the Forest
was never very far behind and even saw play on a few fights.
In 9.2, you'll slot Soul of the Forest
in as your default pick. Here are a few reasons why:
- You'll have your 4pc Tree proc during most dangerous damage windows. Not all of them, but enough that the useful uptime that the Incarnation: Tree of Life talent would give you is reduced moderately.
- Soul of the Forest actually has a lot of synergy with the Tree proc since your SotF Wild Growth casts gain 2 targets in addition to Tree's healing increases. If you get a few Wild Growth from your Convoke cast as well then we'll literally have Wild Growth on every member of the raid. Our one minute cooldown windows are going to be ridiculous.
- Convoke the Spirits itself can proc and consume Soul of the Forest. It always did this, but because of the Tree procs your free Soul of the Forest's are of even higher value.
Overall this bonus builds well on Resto Druid strengths while also changing the gameplay by just enough that it'll feel different from last tier. It's also very flexible so look at the above as guidelines that'll shift a little bit with each fight.
There are two parts to every effect - the design and the tuning. A really fun bonus can be weak if the numbers aren't right, and a dull bonus can be extremely strong if it's overtuned (Nighthold Druids weigh in). The design on this one is pretty good, so let's look at the current numbers. This is the PTR and stuff changes extremely quickly. We also don't have any class changes yet so we're missing a little bit of context. Assume everything below can and will change.
- 2pc HoT healing: 500 - 650 HPS
- 2pc Mastery Contribution: 250-350 HPS
- 2pc Total Contribution: 750-1000 HPS.
You can expect somewhere around 5-6% of your healing to come from the 2pc once you include the "hidden" mastery value which doesn't appear on your meters. That's excellent for a 2pc.
The 4pc Tree proc is much more difficult to be precise on since it'll be both fight and strategy dependent. You can expect as much as 10%+ healing from it when played well and more if a fight has very good damage patterns for it. Overall expect to gain 15-16% healing from the entire tier set on average. The current tuning is honestly very good already and it shouldn't need any further changes through the PTR.
A strong raid bonus isn't necessarily a strong Mythic+ bonus and there's definite drop-off here. The 2pc is actually reasonably good in dungeons from a healing perspective and you'll want to grab it fairly quickly. Yes M+ is DPS focused, but there's still a decent amount of value in low-investment healing both for getting you through rough moments and for reducing the amount of time you have to spend casting other healing spells. If you wear the 4pc (and I think you will), you're likely to shift out of most of the Tree procs however don't overlook how useful it can be to have an extra healing cooldown available - especially when you've already invested all of your other choices into damage. This is not a great Mythic+ bonus, but it's also far from useless.
The Healer DPS & Damage Reduction Question
There's a portion of you that were hoping for a tier set that tackled a specific Druid weakness, be it damage or an AoE damage reduction cooldown of some sort. These issues have become so core to the healer community that some feel like they aren't able to contribute as much without them and that's definitely worth exploring however a tier set isn't the best place to solve the issue. It is better solved through changes to the core spec rather than a clunky set we'll use for one tier and Blizzard have already started! We're looking at roughly an almost 10% buff to our damage next tier with the exception of Sunfire (I don't think they've forgotten our Legion M+ reign). This doesn't quite close the gap yet, but it's a big step in the right direction.
This is already a very good set, but there are some minor quality of life tweaks that could be made:
- If you take Soul of the Forest and switch to any other form during the Tree proc you'll lose it. This could be fixed by making Tree the default caster form while active, or by enabling a macro to swap forms.