Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Lifebloom: my turn

This is a brain-dump on the proposed Lifebloom changes, inspired by Bell's post on how the changes will mould druids' playstyles. It's short but sweet, and spot on. Go look.

Bell explains that there will probably be four styles after this change:

- ditch LB altogether
- keep on rollin' (just on fewer targets)
- allowing LB to bloom most of the time, for maximum longevity
- deciding on the fly whether to roll or refresh

My "new" style

It's a little hard to say how I'm going to roll (no pun intended) until we get into Ulduar and see A) how taxing the bosses are for tank healing and B) just how much pressure this puts on my mana.

I am predicting that for most fights where the tank is taking moderate damage, I'll still have full HoTs up. Depending on the damage on the tank vs the raid, the "free time" inside that rotation will be filled with either extra heals on the tank, or WG/spot heals on the raid. YUM! This is what I want.

There are some fights that I might normally keep another stack up on an offtank - say, Sartharion for example. I think I will be swapping to the "roll on the MT, slow stack and bloom on the OT" style. Of course, depending on the damage, I may use the micro-management style on the OT - slow stack to 3, then when he's about to run out, make the decision to either refresh to keep those ~1300/sec ticks on him, or allow it to bloom for a ~10000-15000hp heal in a hurry.

I've said from the start that other than on fights with predictable, timed damage (eg Maexxna, Loatheb, Malygos even), it's going to be near impossible to plan ahead to use the bloom - but we will have the option of assessing at the last minute whether to keep rolling, or let the stacks drop for a chunk of healing.
Mods such as GridStatusHoTs, Healbot's HoT timers, HoTCandy, Lifebloomer etc will be VERY important to people who want to use this style of Lifeblooming - because there will be a lot of last-minute decisionmaking, and an accurate timer will make a big difference. If you haven't used a LB timer addon in the past, I suggest you grab one now and familiarise yourself with it. They really do make a massive difference to your rotations and healing overall.

A test of skill, or a pain in the butt?

At first I was upset, because I would be losing the ability to roll LB on several people at once, refreshing each at JUST the right moment - precision timing takes skill to pull off, and it's extremely satisfying to keep those green numbers rolling while you are seemingly doing 10 other things at once. To lose that made me very sad - but then I realised that I would be making the same kind of decisions and using the same precision timing.

This time, though, I'll be adding in another decision - do I refresh this or let it drop? I think that many people won't bother with this kind of decision-making, they will simply use LB as a set-and-forget heal - stack it up and let it bloom without giving it too much thought. I doubt that will be my style, I think I will lean more towards watching the secondary target/s carefully and making decisions on the fly. Rather than just refreshing on auto-pilot, I will have to quickly consider whether to refresh or allow it to drop. So it may work out to be more quick thinking required, not less. That makes me happy.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want LB to be double the cost, I think that was a little heavy-handed. But I love the idea of having to make split-second decisions, so the "to bloom or not to bloom" question will keep me on the ball.

It's a little exciting. I like adjusting and thriving in the face of dramatic changes.

"I'm not dead! I feel happy..."

Personally I think that the people loudly proclaiming that LB is now useless are getting a little carried away just now.

That is precisely what they said pre-WotLK, when we got wind of those LB nerfs - I think I remember someone saying something to the tune of "only a moron would use LB now" and basically said that on beta, druids were just spamming Regrowth. Take LB off your bars, they said.

I think this is the same kind of deal. We'll need to adjust, definitely, but LB is still going to be just as powerful, just not as efficient, especially over several targets. So if there's still moderate damage hitting your tank, it will still be important. It's still going to provide the same health buffer as it does now, that hasn't changed.

I also see a number of druids saying things along the lines of Nourish doing the same healing as LB, for less mana, and you don't have to wait. When I see that, I think, "That's nice, dear, but I'm a HoT healer, not a Paladin." I want Nourish to be PART of my rotation; not THE rotation.
Disclaimer: If glyphed HT works for you, do it. If you enjoy Nourishing rather than rolling HoTs, do it. If you think LB is pointless and something else works well for you, go for it. We have a lot of versatility now, there's no real right or wrong way. Personally though, I play a druid for our HoTs, to provide that buffer on the tanks, to be a support healer to the tanks and to the raid as well. I don't want to be a tank healer or a raid healer. I want to be a support healer, and our HoTs are fantastic support for the other healing classes.
I don't see my HoTs as "stealing" healing from the pally or disc priest on the tank. I don't see my WG as a tool to raise my HPS by getting in before the shamans. I see these things as something I cast to help those other healers out - to give them a buffer on their targets so they can finish the job.

And I love it! I LOVE being support. I love being the assistant to the other healers. I don't want to be the star of the show (although I do love shining on particular fights, such as high-mobility fights or Maexxna for example), I truly love being the one who can race around helping the entire team in different ways.

It's what's so great about being a druid! I don't want to stand on the spot and Nourish someone over and over! I want to refresh my HoTs at the last second while I duck and weave and toss a WG on the raid and NS+HT someone who is about to die and refresh that LB again throw a quick Regrowth and let the OT's LB bloom because he needs the health right now...


I really adore our healing style. I love having HoTs with direct heals to complement them. I don't want it to be the opposite, direct heals with HoTs on the side (if that is your style though - that's fine!).


Maybe it's stubbornness, but I would like to think it is common sense when I say that I will continue to roll LBs (providing, of course, that the tank is taking damage enough to warrant it - there are some fights now that I don't bother to HoT the tank because the boss doesn't hit hard). LB is still a great tool. So it will be more expensive - so what? It will still do the job it is doing now, still healing for the same amount. It will still be a 1300/sec (your mileage may vary) buffer to smooth out that damage on your tank. That is not "useless".

Just use your discretion and adjust your style according to your mana constraints, the incoming damage, and the number of targets taking damage. Does the OT really need your LB? If he does, will slow-stacking and blooming be the way to go? If the damage is constant, LB will probably be valuable (even if you have to allow it to bloom, to save mana). If the damage is spiky and hits are widely spaced, perhaps consider Nourish or Regrowth instead.

Above all - be versatile - it's what we do!

PTR druids have NOT abandoned Lifebloom

Finally, for those of you who may be concerned because you have heard that PTR druids have abandoned LB altogether in favour of Nourish and other spells, please consider:

1. Until a few days ago, LB was bugged and instead of returning half the mana cost to the druid, it would return it to the TARGET. Would you use a spell that was double the cost but never gave you the mana benefit? No wonder they weren't using it much.. OOM-o-rama. Probably made some mages really happy, though... in my guild we have dubbed this bugged LB "ninerbloom".

2. Claiming that PTR druids have wholly abandoned LB in favour of other spells is poppycock. I've seen a few parses so far and they've all had a decent (20-30%) chunk of healing attributed to LB. Evidently it is not "useless". Obviously a lot of these testing guilds would be in the best gear around, so mana will be easier for them than someone in starter gear, but it's clear that they haven't shelved LB.

Some paraphrasing from the EJ Resto PvE thread:

I'll be the first to admit I was extremely worried about the LB nerf on top of the OO5SR nerf. But after downing Deconstructor on the 3rd attempt, most of my worries are relieved. I rolled LB/RJ/RG on the MT only and raid healed. As for mana, it got a little tight at the end on the last two attempts so I switched to slow-stacking LB when the boss was around 10%. I never ended any attempt completely OOM and gave away my innervate to a boomkin on the 1st attempt. The closest I got to OOM was 5k left.

GC stated he wanted us to force us into decisions on LB rolling usage. It felt good in there. I had to mind my mana and switch to slow-stacking LB at the very end when it felt tight. My fellow druid said the same thing, mana regen didn't feel as tight as he anticipated.
The first attempt I went with how I am used to healing(constantly rolling on MT as well as aggressive raid healing) and I ran OOM quite quickly. However, after that attempt I was a LOT more cautious about "wasting" casts(IE I canceled heals on people that got healed up before my nourish/regrowth/etc finished) and refreshing lifebloom(I was actually doing what GC said... Watching to see if I should let it bloom or not). I also found that slow-casting lifebloom was the "best" way to do it.. at least for deconstructor(raid damage was heavy).

I still topped all meters(no priests in the raid); not that topping meters is the most important thing.

Honestly, the increased mana to lifebloom may be a pain in the short run, but it did make me a more alert and tactical healer.

All in all, after thinking the sky was falling its not near as bad on ptr. If you havnt given it a shot yet, I would. It took me one encounter to adjust to the changes. We even hit the enrage timer(on purpose) and at that point I was still at half mana with my innervate up.

Now, I won't lie, there ARE a lot of parses from the PTR showing druids using upwards of 60% Nourish, sometimes with 0% LB. That makes me cringe. On the other hand, some druids (such as those above) are testing on the PTR and adjusting to the changes, and reporting that it's not so bad. I've seen a lot of negative reports.. but just a few positive ones are enough to satisfy me that I will be fine, and LB won't be useless.

I still think double cost is too much. I wanted to state that for the record. I don't want people to think that I believe this change is awesome and justified. BUT - I'm going to assume that Blizzard has made up their mind, so rather than waste my energy stressing about it, I'd rather work out how to tackle it. If they end up reverting or adjusting the cost down (which is still a possibility), that will be a nice little relief - but for now I will just assume this is going live and I will need to adjust accordingly.


So chin up, trees - Lifebloom is not useless; it's still powerful and valuable. It's just expensive now, and we'll have to find ways to tweak our styles to accommodate that.

We'll have to be more discerning, and ask ourselves whether LB really needs to be up on our target. LB might be a little pointless/inefficient on SOME fights, but it's already like that now - there are a number of fights in Naxx where I don't even bother healing the tank. If the same is true in Ulduar, I won't care, as long as this is not the norm. If a fight needs Lifebloom up on the tank, it will be up there - but the cost is something we will have to be mindful of.

As long as they don't take away the ability to roll on the MT, I will adjust. Double mana is a blow, but I do not believe it will be so restrictive to warrant shelving LB for good.

Viva la Lifebloom!


Bell said...

Very nice response! I was told I forgot a fifth "playstyle": abandoning resto for rerolling, respecing or switching mains. However, I want to encourage people that, even if this change goes live, we can still heal viably and well. I'm glad you're doing the same!

Averna said...

I love it. Well said! I agree, I too love being the buffer for other healers. I don't want HoTs to take a side seat, and honestly, I don't think they will. I'm going to keep using lifebloom, perhaps differently than before, but using it nonetheless.

/salute teh lolbloom!

Aertimus said...

Hurray! I feel like I just went to a pep rally! I'm glad to hear about those Hodir parses too. I crunched the numbers myself because I wanted to know how bad it would be, and when I was done I thought "Now thats not TOO bad" How many times have we felt like it was the end of the world??? I totally agree with you that this could very well be more fun. It may also separate the cans from the can nots...

Absolutely lovely post!

Sydera said...

I am also a support healer. It's my identity in raiding. If you look at my comments on my blog today, one resto druid tester on Hodir found that using LB was less effective than doing without. That's what I want to avoid--even though it would make things easier. I don't necessarily want easier, but I'm not a fan of running out of mana with no way to recover.

I still think what I thought before--the nerf is ill-thought out and will have more consequences than Blizzard intends. We need to keep posting about this--who knows, maybe Ghostcrawler reads one of us.

WTB a revision to the awkward mana return mechanic on the bloom.

Keeva said...

I'm not sure Hodir is a good fight to use as a sample - from what I have heard it is mostly spiky tank damage. If the damage comes fast, LB will still be valuable to keep up, but I think he has a really slow swing timer so this may be wasting most of the LB ticks in between hits. Spending all that mana to land one 1300hp tick per cycle is obviously not very effective. Previously it wouldn't have mattered; LB was cheap and you could afford to keep LB up regardless, even if it wasn't really necessary. But now we have to be more careful with our mana, we won't be able to roll LB "just in case".

In Hodir's case I think it's more the design of the encounter rather than a problem with the spell - if most of your ticks aren't needed, then they're just not needed. This has nothing to do with the nerf; even if LB wasn't horribly expensive I probably wouldn't roll LB for this kind of damage signature. If he's throwing in a bunch of little hits (eg Sartharion) between the big damaging moves, then yes, I'd keep LB up there to smooth out the damage. If it's just massive hits and then nothing, rinse and repeat, LB may have little use.

Or you could go middle of the road and use the "slow stack to 3 then allow it to bloom" method - so you're not spending double mana. I think this will depend entirely on personal judgment to decide whether or not enough of the LB ticks (and blooms) are landing to even justify including that in your rotation.

I know that sounds a bit dire, that it's not worth using LB, but I honestly think this is just one fight, it's not the barometer for the entire instance. I'm confident that we will still be using LB on the tanks when they are taking moderate damage, it just happens to be that this boss may not need it.

It just may be one of those fights where we don't really need to fully HoT up the tanks. I can accept that. It's like Sapphiron - I barely heal the tank, I mostly focus on RJing the raid. Or Loatheb, or Heigan... heck, come to think of it there are a LOT of fights right now where I don't need my full set of HoTs, so I don't think I am going to feel too hard done by if a few of them in Ulduar don't require my full rotation.

As long as it doesn't become the norm.

Blunkett said...

My main worry is that this nerf seems based on the assumption that LB is very efficent.

This is difficult to test as overheal on HOTS is very difficult to measure.

However some attempt has been made over at elitist jerks on some sarth 3d parses, and it isn't very pretty reading, running between 60% to over 80%.

It will be very interesting if they decide to have a go at/get some ptr parses to calculate it on uldar bosses :)

P.S. Looking forward to final part of grid/healbot!

Sylly said...

huzzah! =) I'm an optimist by nature, and your post expresses very well what I love about being a tree. I do like the idea of having that extra, last minute choice. In fact, I already play that way to some degree. I think it will just be more amplified in the future. Thanks for a great read!

Kae said...

I raid primarily 10-mans, and because of that, I doubt I'll be hit quite as hard by the mana increase as trees in 25-man raids. I rarely roll lifebloom on more than 2 people (the tanks).

Rejuv tends to make up 25-30% of my healing, and lifebloom 20-25% (sometimes these two swap; on multi-drake sarth, lifebloom takes the lead). Wild Growth usually takes spot 3 in my most-healing-done spells, and then regrowth, swiftmend, and nourish fill out the rest, with some situational NS+HT. I doubt my healing style will be altered much with the LB changes, except that I might be learning swing timers on the spike-damage fights, and that my overhealing (usually 10-14%) will probably spike through the roof when lifeblooms drop between trash pulls or by accident.

In most cases in 25-man, I haven't seen many fights that required me to roll more than two lifeblooms (a couple exceptions being KT and Patchwerk, off the top of my head). That leaves me pretty confident that it won't change much of our hot-healing style, except to make us blush at our overhealing, be more conscious of our mana, and flatly refuse to heal if a group doesn't have a regen character ;)

Anonymous said...


Really like the post. It's sort of the same rollarcoaster that I think I have gone through myself. I appreciate the other healers putting up with me through it. I'm really looking forward to making those snap decisions with 1-2 seconds left on lifebloom.

What I am a bit concered about is the overall regen. I don't have a good feeling on where I will be. I'm healing lead at the moment, I tend to stick the arcane mages and the non Pally healers in with the Resto Shamies but that's gone as an option. So far on really mana intense fights I've tend to switch in DMC Blue Dragon but that doesn't seem like it's viable anymore.

I'm just wondering what plans you have to adapt your gear. Personally I'm thinking of dropping herbing for JC and then still gemming +sp but picking up the IED meta. I've forked out 5.5k after a lot of bargining to get the Je'Tze's Bell and I was planning on getting the spirit version of greatness card and planning innervates around it's proc. The plan then would be to vary Majestic Dragon Figurine and Greatness card when I value pure regen with Illustration of the Dragon Soul (which I've yet to pick up) and Je'Tze's Bell.

Just curious if you're planning on regemming or what your trinket choice will be?

Centorious EU-Bronze Dragonflight