The new expac announcement has inspired me not to conceptualize a new elite spec, but to reconceptualize Druid, one of my favorite elite specs in the game that I feel has lost its way over the years. THERE IS A WHOLE LOT OF TEXT HERE SO THANKS IN ADVANCE IF YOU CAN GET THROUGH IT ALL! I tried to explain my thought processes throughout the post to better frame my ideas. Hope you enjoy : ).
PETS ARE NOW WISPS
Pets are replaced by wisps. Wisps are passive, untargetable entities that circle the Druid. Wisps have different F2 (renamed "Blessing" skills because why not?) effects that are determined by their archetype, using the Soulbeast's same classification system. You can have two wisps while in combat that you can swap between, but their F2 cooldown is shared (20-25s). Blessing skills are a 240 radius, 1200 range targetable AoE effect that create a combo field and pulse boons based on their archetype. In addition to the F2 abilities, wisp archetypes also determine additional effects from certain staff skills, taking inspiration from Revenant's trident. Wisps gain trait interaction and customization through the middle tier line. The goal is to remove the offensive capabilities from the Druid's pet mechanic in order to enable it to become a more fully-fledged support choice. While the offensiveness of the pet is removed, there is now the alternative option of creating an offensive-oriented (condition damage) spec through staff and the solar wisp. Due to the pet being removed and the wisp being unkillable, celestial force gain from self-healing would be increased due to no longer being able to gain it from healing the pet.
WISP BREAKDOWN AND TRAIT INTERACTION
|WISP ARCHETYPE||FIELD TYPE||BOON GRANTED||NATURAL STRIDE EFFECTS||GRACE OF THE LAND EFFECTS|
|Ferocious > Solar||Fire FIeld||Might||10% Condition Damage Reduction||Additional pulsing might|
|Deadly > Lunar||Smoke Field||Swiftness||15% Endurance Recovery||Pulsing superspeed|
|Versatile > Astral||Ethereal Field||Vigor||10% Boon Duration||Converts X conditions to boons upon creation|
|Stout > Terrestrial||Poison Field||Protection||10% Damage Reduction||Pulsing stability|
|Supportive > Tidal||Water Field||Regeneration||10% Outgoing Healing||Converts projectiles to healing for X seconds|
STAFF-WISP INTERACTIONS (See Staff changes for more detail)
|WISP ARCHETYPE||ENCHANTED WISP EFFECTS||ANCESTRAL GRACE EFFECTS|
|Lunar||Blind||AoE dark aura|
|Astral||Slow||AoE boon removal (1)|
|Tidal||Chill||Additional AoE heal|
Staff is probably my biggest pain point with Druid. I find it awkward, unimpactful, and outdated. This more than anything needs the most notable changes. And by changes, yes I do mean buffs, even in the era of reducing powercreep.
CELESTIAL AVATAR CHANGES
I don't think the CA skills need a ton of changes if Druid as a whole sees overall general improvement. Biggest issues for the kit in my eyes are the difficulty in landing CA1/2. It is unfortunate to feel less of an impact in healing power investment, but I don't really know if any values need to be increased due to all of the other buffs I have suggested in addition to healing powercreep reduction being part of ANet's intended vision.
GENERAL: Reduce cooldown to 15s in PvP.
Glyphs are where the supplemental support and utility should lie assuming that spirit skills remain in the horrid state that they currently are. My changes are meant to push value for both versions of the glyphs in order to make them more flexible choices. Yes, this means more buffs.
Glyph of Alignment: Now is a 900-range targetable AoE effect. Glyph of Rejuvenation and Alignment are too similar while in CA and need further differentiation.
-Non-CA: Reworked. Now removes 2 boons and applies poison and weakness to foes.
-CA: No changes. Heal strength would possibly need to be reduced due to it now being a very potent ranged AoE heal.
Glyph of Equality:
-Non-CA: No changes. Skill is solid.
-CA: Radius increased to anywhere between 360 and 480. Should be more reliable like Eye of the Storm, which currently outpaces it and doesn't require CA gating.
Glyph of the Tides: Now a 600-range targetable AoE effect. Cooldown increased back to 25 seconds.
-Non-CA: Now pulls foes together.
-CA: Now pushes foes away.
Glyph of Unity: Cooldown reduced to 25s. Buffed a lot. Worst glyph IMO.
-Non-CA: Now additionally decreases damage dealt by tethered foes by 15-20%.
-CA: Now additionally increases incoming healing of tethered allies by 15-20%.
Glyph of the Stars: No changes. Can't help but love this skill, even though I know I am a minority. Fix the bug that prevents the non-CA version from providing a water field though.
MINOR TRAIT CHANGES
All remain unchanged. I don't particularly see Live Vicariously or Natural Mender being too weak, strong, or otherwise problematic. Live Vicariously is close in power to Rugged Growth with no healing power investment, which I think is a fair number gauge for reasonable sustain per second. Natural Mender got a nerf as well, but the nerf is not unique to the class and Lingering Light still remains fully intact as a very potent tool for outgoing healing.
MAJOR TRAIT CHANGES
Each row of Druid's traitline now follows a particular theme or mechanic:
I. Enhances Celestial Avatar skills
II. Interacts with the Wisp, the new mechanic that replaces the pet
III. Grants unique effects upon leaving Celestial Avatar
Additionally, each grandmaster trait will modify how additional celestial force is gained, allowing for a more reliable way of entering the kit depending upon the chosen playstyle.
I. Druidic Clarity: Rejuvenating Tides removes conditions from allies every other pulse.
A commonly suggested idea that bolsters Druid's group cleanse potential. While this undoubtedly is a significant nerf to the Druid's self-cleanse, the goal is to push it towards being a more solid team supporter. While every other cleanse may not sound significant, the skill pulses 5 times, so it would still cleanse for 3. There is simply too much synergy with the skill and Quickdraw; the trait would overinflate its group cleanse potential.
II. Cultivated Synergy: Heal around yourself when using a heal skill. Using a Blessing (Beast) ability performs a blast finisher around your wisp.
While this does remove a heal from the pet's location, I would like to see the healing values increased on the heal since it would be brought down to a singular heal. The trait is not currently underperforming, but I would like to see more interactive play involving the Wisp. Giving a blast finisher that procs at the same time as the Wisp's field allows for some unique combo field/finisher plays.
III. Primal Echoes: Staff skills gain reduced recharge. Gain increased recharge reduction while in celestial avatar. Cast Enchanted Wisp (Staff 2) at your location upon leaving celestial avatar after a [0.5s] delay.
Primal Echoes has never really been a particularly popular trait, but in my eyes that is due to two reasons: Druidic Clarity massively outshining it, and staff being an overall lackluster weapon. With staff seeing significant buffs with my ideas, I believe this trait would increase significantly in value. Additionally, an instant-cast daze is a mechanic that it appears ANet is trying to move away from. I agree with this vision. Ultimately, I would like for this trait to bolster staff into becoming a standalone support weapon while outside of CA, rather than just a strong kiting weapon that provides mediocre support and clunky weapon skills.
I. Verdant Etching: Glyphs gain reduced recharge and cast Lesser Seed of Life. Seeds of Life gain increased radius (240).
This change is rather straightforward: simply enhancing the effectiveness and reliability of Seeds of Life (both normal and lesser). Between the radius increase from this and the 0.25s bloom duration reduction, Seeds could easily become a very reliable means of cleansing allies.
II. Natural Stride: Gain increased movement speed (25-33%). You gain a passive bonus based on your currently active wisp.
As far as I understand, this trait doesn't see much play at all. The core class has ample access to swiftness and the utility from the other traits currently outshine this one. Admittedly I don't know if this would really bolster the trait enough to have it see use competitively.
III. Celestial Shadow: Grant superspeed and stealth to nearby allies when leaving celestial avatar.
An iconic Druid trait, I did not change this one at all. With that said, this trait errs on the cheesy side and I could see it becoming problematic. Although I did not change this one, a way of perhaps reducing its potency would be to grant stealth duration (0.5s) based on the number of allies affected.
I. Ancient Seeds: Immobilize inflicts damage over time. Natural Convergence can now be channeled while moving. Gain celestial force when inflicting conditions on foes.
I admit that the desire to change this trait is partially due to my own frustrations with fighting against it. I have always personally found Ancient Seeds to be the epitome of toxic unskillful trait design. With that said, immobilization is an important component to Ranger's and Druid's identity, so the change to Ancient Seeds was made to push for a more active playstyle. Does this go against their whole vision of CC ≠ damage? Possibly, yes. I could see it being problematic, so I am not particularly confident in this idea. But still, I would like to see building deep into immobilization being a viable option for an offensive-oriented Druid, without the passiveness of the current Ancient Seeds proc.
II. Grace of the Land: Your Blessing (Beast) abilities gain increased radius and duration and grant additional effects. Gain celestial force when granting boons to allies.
This trait has seen a major rework, completely changing its functionality. While this may be a controversial change to the PvE crowd, I wanted to still maintain its potential as a might-bot trait through using the solar archetype wisp while also allowing for a better diversity in playstyle approaches depending upon the wisp chosen. This is the go-to utility trait and also the one that favors boon generation to help fuel celestial force. Note that duration increase would be field-specific as there are varying power levels (wouldn't want huge smoke field uptime for example)
III. Lingering Light: Gain increased outgoing healing while in celestial avatar. Leaving celestial avatar casts Lesser Glyph of Unity (CA, 2s). Gain additional celestial force when healing allies.
This trait will remain the go-to healing potency trait and a now more significant sacrifice for utility. Its current blind effect is rather clunky and unfitting for the role that this trait fulfills; adding lesser Glyph of Unity helps bridge the gap between healing while in and out of CA. As it is the healing trait, it naturally makes sense to have healing grant increased celestial force.
There is of course the concern of me including far too many buffs. Hey, that's valid, but like I said in the beginning, the point of this was to push the spec in a different direction. It's impossible to conceptualize a perfectly balanced spec.
Other issue is that I would hate to have it eclipse Soulbeast in terms of offensive and skirmishing capabilties. Sic 'Em brings up the biggest issue for me, but frankly I'd rather see this skill reworked to become more akin to "On My Mark" while still preserving a damage bonus while in PvE. The solar wisp and Ancient Seeds would allow for a burn-oriented variant to arise, but ideally I would not like it to have any sort of threatening DPS in comparison to Soulbeast.
My hope is that the Grace of the Land change would not affect Druid's mightbot capabilities as I would like it to still allow for perma 25 stacks, and have the target cap at 10 instead of 5 in PvE. I originally wanted GotL's astral wisp to offer alacrity, but I did not want to disturb the PvE meta too much as it is admittedly not my game mode of experience.
I did not include issues related to the core class because that is a topic for another day. There are certain traits and skills that I believe could definitely be improved upon. I already have enough to digest here though.
Thanks for reading : ).