The 4.3 PTR is finally up and rolling, which means lots and lots of news, changes, more changes, and even more changes!
Resto druids everywhere did a double take with this first round of 4.3 PTR patch notes which included the following:
-Wild Growth healing has been reduced by 20%.
-Glyph of Wild Growth now also increases the cooldown by 2 seconds.
This is a pretty substantial nerf and is a really perplexing one. This is essentially nerfing Wild Growth back to its state at Cata Launch - significantly less healing done and a 10 second cooldown. This is boggling because WG was a huge issue in 4.0, Resto druids simply were substantially behind other healers. They needed a boost to simple raw output so badly that in patch 4.0.6, Wild Growth got a 30% buff to its healing done and its cooldown reverted back down to 8 seconds. Now 4.3 wants to... bring back the old WG output and CD and bring us back to those output issues of 4.0?
There's an attempt at smoothing over the glyph change by describing it as a means to give Resto druids 'more choice' in which glyphs to use. This neglects the fact that there are really only 4 decent glyphs for Resto druids to choose from to begin with. Wild Growth, Healing Touch, Innervate, Rebirth. Usually the Healing Touch and Innervate glyphs are the two people swap between. Even moreso, for those druids that opt not to pick up Nature's Swiftness, the Healing Touch glyph is useless for them so they really only have 3 choices. So, there's no choice component in this at all.
It's a straight attempt to strongly nerf Wild Growth. And with this component now as well, we basically have to choose whether to sacrifice 1/6 of the output (chopping WG down from hitting 6 targets back down to 5), or to gain an extra 2 seconds on the cd. I imagine many will simply be dropping the glyph. And from our great choice selection, I guess we can run... the Innervate glyph. Hooray. I can now get a little more of my Innervate on the rare occasions I cast it on someone else following the Innervate nerf.
I can certainly understand wanting to nerf Wild Growth, as it's usually in the top end for heals used in Resto druid's healing (with exceptions being in fights like Shannox, where tank damage and healing is the primary component, bringing Lifebloom and Healing Touch towards the top of heals used per fight). But a nerf this substantial that brings it back to its 4.0 state is ridiculous, as it's likely going to bring back the same issues that caused it to be buffed in 4.0.6. Druids still have no mitigation abilities, Holy Priests will now be getting a boost to Divine Hymn to give them their Tranq-like raid cooldown, and, despite having good direct heals, druids will still not be preferred tank healers over Paladins (and possibly now Shamans, with the 4.3 shaman changes). It's the same issues for druids all over again.
If a nerf is even necessary, a more reasonable nerf to Wild Growth would be a lot better - even a 10% nerf to the healing done by WG wouldn't be as bad as the current 20% nerf. The increased cooldown from the Glyph is really too much and seems a terribly poor decision. While similar to the change listed for the Priest Circle of Healing glyph (the glyph has the same effect as WG; its 4.3 change also increases the mana cost by 20%), an increased mana cost is a lot less costly than an increased cooldown.
There are also concerns that the Tranquility cooldown changes have faded in people's memories some - Ghostcrawler did acknowledge around early 4.2 that Resto druids often 'win' at meters due to the inflation caused by Tranquility. With this acknowledgement was the hope that they would keep this in mind for future healing adjustments so that druids didn't receive unnecessary nerfs due to the HPS inflation caused by Tranq. WG numbers are always high for druids but the strength of WG was definitely something that was needed because druids didn't have the output of other healers pre-4.0.6 when WG was buffed.
I sincerely hope the WG glyph change will be reverted and that the nerfs in general to WG will be reduced.
I'd hope for some other improvements for Resto druids as well in 4.3. Our talent tree still needs work. Living Seed, Blessing of the Grove, and Nature's Bounty all remain lackluster talents. Nature's Grace still should be swapped with Genesis in their tiers in the Balance tree as well.
Having to spec Nature's Cure for a magic dispel seems a frustrating choice (for Shaman and Paladin healers as well - all three classes have to spec to pick up Magic Dispel). Magic Dispel I think should simply go along the route of Holy/Disc priests, who gain the ability to dispel friendly targets when specialising in either tree. Healers are the only ones with an ability to magic dispel friendly targets currently anyway, it seems a waste of a talent point as the dispel is often required in everything from 5 mans to 25 man heroic raids. Even if there aren't that many things which need to be dispelled, the few things that can be dispelled are powerful enough spells that they simply must be dispelled.
This is still just the first round of the PTR and the very first release of the 4.3 PTR. Hopefully there'll be many more adjustments and changes to come, and hopefully they'll reevaluate this Wild Growth nerf. There are a lot of changes for the other healing classes; an interesting one is Holy Priests will now get their raid cooldown with a talented Divine Hymn that has its healing increased and its cooldown cut down to 3 minutes. First glance at the DH change seems to put it about in line with Tranquility (keeping in mind DH is a direct cast only, while Tranquility applies a HoT). The main difference is DH also applies an Increased Healing buff, which is hopefully accounted for in DH's actual heals as well. It will certainly be a potent cooldown for Holy priests, and hopefully will be kept in line with Tranq.
They've also started previous PTRs with very large nerfs which they've later scaled back some, so hopefully we'll see this nerf scaled back and toned down in the coming weeks. The Resto community will hopefully have their concerns heard (and we can certainly see through the alleged 'glyph choices' idea to the actual blatant nerf it's attempting to gloss over).
Here's hoping for better news to come.