Lets take a moment to look at some of the various tools you can leverage in your raids and what they really bring to the table.
"Yeah though I walk through the valley of Doom I shall fear no evil because I am the Harbringer of BOOM"
- 5% -6% crit percentage to all ranged Casters in their group
- 2% miss chance for boss Mobs with Insect Swarm ** ALL BOOMKIN SHOULD HAVE THIS**
- 1-3% increase hit chance for Ranged and Melee people with Improved Faerie Fire
- Gift of the Wild
- Medium to high DPS class capable of producing considerable damage boost to other raid members as well as their own.
- Reduces incoming damage to Tanks.
- With the 3% hit bonus they can increase tank threat
- Can reduce the amount of hit necessary for ranged and melee classes.
- If they bring an healing set they make very good off healers.
- Battle Rez
- Moonkin suffer from threat issues. Without extremely high threat tanks, Moonkin can suffer from less time on target than other classes. Moonkin have a threat dump via Cower in Kitty Form, but by the time they swap forms (costing mana) wait for 3 seconds to tick up 20 energy and then hit Cower (dropping ~1700 Threat) then swap back (costing mana), they probably could have just sat still not casting for 5 seconds and letting the tank gain an agro lead and gaining valuable MP5. (@Thanks to Hammaer for pointing out the Cower, but I've never thought for its effect that its a true agro dump for Boomkin)
Overall Raid Analysis
Balance druids are a nice addition in 10 or 25 man raids due to their buffing potential for casters. Typically Balance druids need to be judged not only on their own DPS, but on the DPS addition to other classes. For instance the 5-6% crit increase could easily equate to 50-100 DPS gain by casters depending on their gear level. That is DPS you should consider added to the Balance druid's base DPS. If they are doing 550 DPS and added 50 DPS to 4 other casters, their DPS contribution to the raid is really 750DPS. Similarly, if they are spec'd into it, they can add 3% hit to the rogues, warrior and shaman who are dual weilding which is a godsend. Balance druids like other classes need to also be careful to keep Insect Swarm up at all times. This has a positive impact by decreasing the amount of hits your tanks will be taking.
"I walk in shadows... death waits in blood soaked teeth."
- Leader of the Pack - adds 5% crit to all party members who do ranged or melee. Can also be talented to add 4% healing on party members who crit of their base health.
- Mangle - Targets affected by Mangle take extra damage from bleed effects. In the current iteration, this has more value for the druid itself which relies on bleed effects rather than other classes. Rogues in their current iteration get more mileage out of Combat which uses Rupture in its rotation. (@Thanks to Wolflord for pointing out the Rotation for Combat Rogues uses Rupture... See I learn as much from my raiders as they learn from me :) )
- Gift of the Wild
- Battle Rez
- Druids can provide tanking and Melee DPS in one package and do it well. For instances with fights that require more tanks for one and less for another they are a great asset to provide tanking and then good DPS when not tanking.
- Can act as Main tank for instance. Decent multi mob tanking capabilities.
- Feral druids can provide passable off healers for fights where you need more healing than your standard contingent of healers.
- Feral tanks are relatively easy to gear up for Karazhan.
- Under the current itemization Feral druids DPS suffers in late T5 and beyond. They have trouble keeping pace with Rogues and fury warriors who are given access to Windfury and Mongoose.
- Feral druids can't match the multimob tanking that Pally's can provide.
Overall Raid Analysis
Feral druids have the advantage that none of the other tanking classes currently provide to a raid. They can Tank AND DPS. For other classes it may be necessary to swap characters in and out depending on the boss fight. Druids itemization for tanking is strong enough they can tank most if not all bosses. Resistance bosses they suffer on. There isn't enough gear for Druids to effectively tank Hydross to the same level a warrior/pally could, but it can be done. Their DPS is very passable in higher tiers and their ability to shift from tanking to DPS in mid fight can go a long way toward speeding up certain boss fights where full time tanking might not be needed. For instance on the Illhoof fight if they tank the Imp, they can go to Kitty DPS when the Imp dies.
"My Bark is much worse than my bite!"
- Proactive Healing technique does amazing work to smooth out the damage received by tanks.
- Their buff for healing affects all healers healing the people in their group. This means one will typically be placed in the MT's group.
- They make passable raid healers, but their forte is the ability to heal multiple tanks at once. Utilizing two resto druids, you can mitigate large amounts of damage on tanks.
- A large amount of their healing ticks every second. Instead of waiting for a 2-3 second heal wind up, their heals tick every second providing constant streams of healing to their targets.
- In Tree of Life Form their speed and mobility is limited. For mobile fights they may have to shift out of T0L thus limiting the buff from Tree of Life.
- The druid's big heals can't be cast in Tree of Life. The big heals are mana intensive and not nearly as strong as a priests heals.
- If you want a mixed healer/DPS a hard core resto druid will be hard pressed to fill that role. A modified spec involving what's known as Dreamstate healing can be used, but it comes at the expense of Tree of Life form.
Restoration Druids bring an amazing amount of raw healing to the mix. However unlike most other healing classes their healing takes time and tends to be proactive. They do have larger heals, but comparatively they are weak and mana intensive. Resto druids fair best for healing if assigned to heal multiple tanks. They can easily keep up HoTs on 2-3 targets at a time and as long as the other healers are aware of the healing they can cover small spikes easily. If you have two restoration druids you can tag team them on 2-3 tanks with a Pally to back them up and they can cover most of the tank healing.
The hard part for most other healing classes to understand is to just let a druid's healing tick. Lets assume two resto druids have a full lifebloom stack and a Rejuvenation on a tank. If the tank takes 9k worth of damage every 3 seconds, the druids will need some back up, but a typical Life bloom might tick for 700 per second. Just looking at that, you have 700 x 2 x 3 = 4200 healing just from the Lifebloom. The rejuvenation now covers probably another 1k per 3 allowing the druids to heal 6200 of the 9k damage. With pally and their 1.5 second heal you've now mitigated all of that damage in 3 seconds.
Druids can be an amazingly powerful addition to your raids, but as with all classes you should use them in moderation. Your best balanced raids will leverage all of the tools you have available to you. Here is a glimpse into some of the benefits that a druid can provide to your raid in the various specs. Next up next week Friday: Hunters Savage killers or puppy tamers???