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Are More Tank Cooldowns the Solution?

There has been a lot of talk in the community about Shamans and Druids getting a cooldown… a lot of talk. First, want to be very clear that this article is not intended to play into this whole one class being superior to another debacle that many forums (I’m looking at you Blizzard Forums) gets into. Nor it is about saying that one class does or does not need something. One thing that we all need to remember, and I think is often forgotten when class balances/revamps occur, is that we are a healing team; and it ultimately is about working together as a unit not about one person being the hero of the fight.

The Shaman cooldown seems to be a  raid-wide “reset”; with a minor (10%) damage mitigation while the reset occurs- I do like this design and set up. (even though I think I’m going to go “WTF just happened?!” the first time I see my Grid adjust when it is used). I’m glad to see that Spirit Link has made its way back into the game since it has been something that Blue has been trying to work in since the TBC beta; and now its a very unique ability.

Onto the druids… There has been a good deal of speculation if the Tranqulity change (via Malfurion’s Gift) is the cooldown change. (Some of which is favorable of the change, others being less so…). I’m not sure if Tranq needed this strong of a buff… especially in light of how much more powerful it is when compared to Divine Hymn.

Druids have been very vocal about wanting a cooldown. There is no denying that a Druid’s toolbox is fairly sparce when it comes to what buffs and benefits they bring to the table…  (why they don’t have an Inspiration/Ancestral Fortitude talent of sorts is beyond me!) While, yes, Druids have always been the raw healing throughput machines they’ve always been, and some have tried to argue that Nature’s Swiftness is an external CD of sorts (sorta, but not really), healer homogenization is a theme this expansion and balancing around that needs to occur.

Is just adding a tank cooldown the best solution? Is just a band-aid of “make Barkskin castable for resto druids” the answer? I’d much rather see a CD that is unique to Resto Druids, and leverages their existing strengths over a clone of Guardian Spirit or Pain Suppression. How do you take something that is very quintessential Druid, and make it powerful enough (but not too OP) to be a viable cooldown? Is Blizzard trying to do that with Tranquility? Maybe… I am assuming Blue is struggling trying to find the appropriate balance. Some of the druids in the community, inclusive of  someone I respect, (Lissana) feel that a damage reducing ability is a possible solution.

Tank cooldowns need to be very carefully balanced. Adding another class with access to a cooldown is going to force a devalue of the other CDs. Balance will be needed, otherwise you could easily see a raid (moreso on 25s than 10s) with the ability to have extremely high uptime of tank CDs. Between the tank’s trinkets, personal CDs (Last Stand, Shield Wall, Divine Guardian, Survival Instincts, IBF…), existing external CDs, and then adding another set of external tank CDs, it could very well cause an issue for encounter and raid balancing.

The standard/base CD for most of these are 2 or 3 minutes… would adding another via a Druid CD be cause enough to nerf them all due to concerns of balance? The two easiest solutions could be:

1. Increase the CD to a longer period, to something like 5 minutes.
2. Cause a debuff on the target making them immune to future CDs for X  seconds.

Neither of these options seem great; but there is a valid potential for CDs being rebalanced as a result of increasing the number available. (Think of it almost like currency inflation.)

Yes, this is much more of a concern and area of abuse for 25 Man raiding… it doesn’t answer the problems that some 10 Man raids have: no external CDs. What if your raid has no external raid CDs? Giving druids an external CD will really open up the flexibility to 10 Man raids and prevent 25 Man guilds (though I think its foolish for a RL to do this) to only bring classes with external CDs.

Druids are, and always will be, strong raw healers. Is giving them Tranquility on a much shorter CD the exchange for not having an external CD? Perhaps. But it doesn’t answer the concerns the Druid community has had regarding equality and viability in every raid environment. Hamlet over at EJ did a very well thought post discussing this concern.

What does everyone else think? How would you suggest balancing these cooldowns? Do these cooldowns need balancing? Why? Why not?

I’m not sure how this one will pan out– and I am sure we’re going to see many more patch notes before 4.1 goes live answering a lot of the questions the healing community has. Frankly, if the devs leave everyone thinking the grass is greener on the other side, they may have balanced it right.

…maybe.

Written By: on March 10, 2011
  1. Though the answer is never really clear, the standardization of the battle rez is partly to contribute to this conundrum. Hamlet hit on the fact that no one is stacking druids for another tranquility but they might do so for a battle rez. Stacking druids for old school battle rezzes would mean you do so at the loss of another healer’s cooldown. Turning rebirth into a resto druid ability exclusively, and then bringing it back to its former glory could go a long way in recognizing the uniqueness of healers without homogenizing them even more than we already have.

  2. If anything, I support druids having an actual cooldown. However, I’m completely against anything Barkskin related, as it means rebalancing for the other three specs (kitty, bear and moonkin). Potentially, if it were as it is now, in a hypothetical situation of four resto druids and a bear, said bear could have 100% uptime on Barkskin with rolling Barkskins. Not something we’d want to see.

    What I do think is that for shaman and druids both, Nature’s Swiftness need to be reworked, especially to bring back the old Tidal Force shaman had and the auto-crit that it came with. I’m glad that shaman are getting the spirit link totem, though, and it looks like it could be a worthwhile asset to have in the raid.

    I’ve suggested offhandedly a change to Thorns, actually, for Restoration druids, since it doesn’t get a whole lot of use in a PvE environment, but how one could go about it, I do not know. I don’t think Tranquility is the answer. Having a raid cooldown is nice and all, but it really isn’t what druids need. Even if it’s a tanking cooldown, obviously, it needs to be balanced against all the other ones. On the other hand, keeping a druid flavor to it is pretty well necessary, too.

    I do disagree with Rhabella up there, though; restricting battle resurrections can have a negative impact on your raid. As an example, I currently run a 10-man group with no druids. And since we don’t currently have any stable death knights, either, with 4.1 coming, we’re still relying on our sole soulstone, which as they said, requires new coding to get it working the way they want it to. Unfortunately, it also means that we’re stuck in a position of having to predict who’s going to die, something we really don’t know on most encounters.

    The biggest issue though with druids is that if you have two paladins, druids don’t really bring anything to a raid OTHER than battle resurrection. Shaman bring a variety of buffs which, depending on your composition, could actually be missing otherwise (e.g., No moonkin or shadow priest? No problem! I have Wrath of Air! No paladin or affliction warlock? I’ve got Mana Spring!). Priests and paladins have buffs aplenty and lots of utility aside. Raw healing just isn’t an answer anymore.

  3. I don’t like the idea of those 2 classes getting such CDs. Sure, I understand why it’s being discussed, it just doesn’t seem a good way to go to me.
    I’m currently thoroughly disgusted with healing and the idea of further homogenisation appalls me. I don’t see why Blizzard thought this model is more “fun”. What I’m trying to say is the CDs aren’t an issue as much as the shaky model. They should look deeper than the easy, CD fix.

    Also, as Rhabella mentioned, the battle res change is probably a big reason why Druids feel they need something else. We sometimes have 4 Druids in a 10 man raid and it’s kinda funny how useless their cr is after the first one is used.

    1. Want to know the worst part of this new healing model? With a flash heal, a heal, a greater heal, and a special (riptide, rejuv, renew, pw:s) my spells are all bound the same the exact same for all the healers. Unless you are using a cooldown, you can’t even tell the difference between your healers.

  4. Almost ashamed to write this through fear of “OP!!” screams but……

    Mid-fight re-spec for druids?

    It is very “druidy”…..i.e. nature is always changing. Would also make druids a truer hybrid class.

    My mind boggles at just how much thought to be required to balance that, let alone implement it…..but I love the idea in principle.

    1. everyone would scream for it. i think intzroducing a whole new mechanic will only serve to reignite teh discussion or rather put oil into the fire.

  5. i think druids do need a tank CD, but im thinking it should be something that ties more into their hots such as a cd to make all of their hots tick at once when a person gets hit sort of like a non bouncing PoM. or maybe a straight tank cd to turn all boss damage into a dot deep wounds style so burst gets cut down so the hots can tick.

  6. Maybe give Druids a thorn shield that reflects 30% of the damage back to the attacker and increases healing done to them by 30% for 10 seconds. 3min cd.

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