Resto Deep Dive: Abundance vs Cenarion Ward (And Why Prosperity is a Mistake)
2k20 Update: This article was written almost two years ago now. Before Azerite had more than one outer ring, before Essences and Corruption, when our Regrowths averaged 20k a piece. G’huun was our end boss and Infested plagued every dungeon. Hell, the Germination build wasn’t even quite dead yet. Requirements change over time and in the case of healing we usually end up facing burstier situations as our overall throughput increases through the expansion. I still stand by the math below, and I think Cenarion Ward is a better default choice when starting out in Mythic+ but I concede that there are situations where Prosperity can… prosper, particularly in high keys where even DoT damage is effectively turned into burst – such are the raw numbers we are facing. On taking Prosperity you trade sustained HPS for a slight increase in burst healing. It is up to you to decide which best fits your needs.
Abundance vs Cenarion Ward (And Why Prosperity is a Mistake)
Resto druid dungeon talents have never been as competitive as they are in BFA. In Legion the Abundance / Germ / Flourish build was such an obvious optimal set of talents that we never really saw much variation. We didn’t need it – our core build excelled at everything and the alternatives were usually magnitudes behind. In BFA, the #1 and #2 resto druids on raider.io run completely different setups, and even within each build there are plenty of variants that help you deal with a particular affix or boss mechanic. The reasons for choosing each build, or even each individual talent aren’t often discussed. The two most common setups are pictured below (though Germination has fallen out of favor since this article was first written) and you can read more about them in the Resto Druid Mythic+ Guide. We’re getting into quite a bit of detail so if you want the quick version then I won’t tell anyone if you skip to the conclusion. Resto Druid talents are very flexible and multiple variations see use even in 20+ keys.
Both builds have nuances but today we’ll take a close look at the level 15 talent row including the controversial Prosperity.
In mythic+ we have two priorities that we consider when picking talents:
- Being able to cover the healing requirement of the hardest pulls or bosses in the dungeon.
- Being able to complete objective one in as few GCDs as possible so that we have more time to DPS.
Therefore the talent that puts out the most healing might not be the dominant choice if another can come close to it in fewer casts. Objective one has some nuance to it as well. We aren’t always interested in maxing our throughput over an entire dungeon run, but in a series of different healing windows.
In practical terms…
If I’m running a +21 tyrannical Temple of Sethraliss then I’ll want my talents to give me enough healing for the most challenging boss in the instance (Galvazzt) and then to optimize for overall GCDs from there. It doesn’t particularly matter if I got five extra shreds on trash pack #2 if we wipe twice on the third boss. If I’m running a +20 Kings Rest on the other hand then I might optimize for single target healing to handle long debuffs like Severed Axe and the heavy tank healing required by the Berzerkers and Shadow of Zul.
Let’s see how the talents compare in single target throughput:
Single Target Healing Window – 100% GCD’s spent healing, 0% spent DPSing
Test conditions: Four rejuvs active across party, 0% overhealing, healing in thousands, 20% haste, 15% mastery, 15% crit, 5% vers, 7500 intellect.
Single Target Healing Window – 50% GCD’s spent healing, 50% spent DPSing
Test conditions: Four rejuvs active across party, 0% overhealing, healing in thousands, 20% haste, 15% mastery, 15% crit, 5% vers, 7500 intellect, 50% of GCDs spent DPSing.
This is roughly what we expect. Cenarion Ward healing is immense in 10-15 second windows where it has a very high uptime and then drops off as we approach its 30s cooldown. Keep in mind that these are single target windows and we’re expecting a CW clean sweep since single target, low GCD cost healing is its niche. You can see Abundance pull ahead with the Germination build near the end as the number of regrowths we’re channeling on your battered tank start to outpace the CW healing. We’re not usually very interested in windows where we have to spam healing on one target for 20+ seconds because they don’t happen very often in practice – even with your guilds finest baboon stumbling around with a shield “tanking”. More realistically we spend half of that window DPS’ing so flick to the second tab and you can see Cenarion Ward pull further ahead. This should match your intuition since cutting regrowth casts from our rotation nullifies Abundance’s value.
Similarly, if I’m running a +21 tyrannical Temple of Sethraliss then I’ll want my talents to give me enough healing for the most challenging boss in the instance (Galvazzt) and then to optimize for overall GCDs from there. Galvazzt is an ultra high hps fight where multiple party members are taking damage at the same time, a strength of Abundance and a weakness of Cenarion Ward, so I’ll lean toward the former.
This is still “feelycrafting in style” so let’s compare numbers:
Multiple Target Healing Window (15 seconds) – 100% GCD’s spent healing
Test conditions: Five rejuvs active across party, 0% overhealing, healing in thousands, 20% haste, 15% mastery, 15% crit, 5% vers, 7500 intellect.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise either. Cenarion Ward is better throughput on one player in your party but falls behind on the other four. When you have a minimum healing requirement on each player to keep them alive, you may not be able to sacrifice Abundance’s power for Cenarion Wards higher total throughput. Not that Abundance is always behind in throughput either:
Abundance vs Cenarion Ward – Regrowths required to match CW throughput
Test conditions: 0% overhealing, 20% haste, 15% mastery, 15% crit, 5% vers, 7500 intellect, 30 second window.
Eight+ active rejuvs is unrealistic in a dungeon environment and you’ll usually average about four (add a couple if you’re running Germination). The Regrowth casts required column shows us how many we need to cast within each 30 second period to beat Cenarion Ward in overall throughput. Those numbers should look very achievable to you in a fight with plenty of AoE healing and near impossible in a standard pull where you DPS frequently. Therefore Abundance is equal or better when we actually care about healing but we should consider before the dungeon begins if we can afford the GCD inefficiency.
Cenarion Ward is an outright winner in overall HPS in the most common Mythic+ scenarios as expected but not by so much that it’s worth taking if AoE damage makes up a decent portion of the damage. Consider Abundance in those cases. This is particularly common on Grievous / Bursting weeks. The math matches the feelycraft.
Cenarion Ward reigns, but Abundance usurps it for AoE healing checks.
If Cenarion Ward is the king and Abundance the usurper then Prosperity is the royal fool. You won’t find it in many high keys but it has a small dedicated following, especially in easier content. It might even look good from the tooltip, but it has some glaring flaws that are often overlooked.
- The two Swiftmend charges share a cooldown. This means that you get two charges at the start of the dungeon but once you use both you’re back to one every 22 seconds (a small decrease only from the 25 you wait without the talent). With Cenarion Ward you get a similar amount of healing every 30 seconds.
- It’s on a competitive talent row with two talents that can contribute upwards of 6% healing.
I’ve heard the arguments. You need emergency healing, or using both charges saved your rookie mage one time in Shrine of the Storm. Unfortunately you’re giving up significant throughput for a safety net that you honestly don’t need. Once you learn to properly prepare for damage you’ll be able to save your mage with a high throughput Cenarion Ward or machine gun Regrowths. Prosperity lacks a niche. If you want a powerful single target heal with a small GCD cost then Cenarion Ward is your man. Yes Swiftmend offers more healing up front but if you’re planning your healing correctly then that advantage is often minimal and you can convert the extra HPS into DPS time.
“My dungeons feel so good with Prosperity! Where’s the math!” Ok ok, let’s give it a seat at the table and compare numbers so I can show you how much you’re giving up. Over a thirty minute dungeon (keep reading, this isn’t the only metric we’ll test):
Cenarion Ward vs Prosperity: Dungeon-wide
Before “but it has Soul of the Forest synergy!” is shouted from the gallery, let’s include it and put this question beyond doubt. Cenarion Ward is usually taken with Cultivation, not Soul of the Forest, but I want to make the comparison clear:
Cenarion Ward vs Prosperity Featuring Soul of the Forest: Dungeon-wide
It can be argued that looking at total number of casts over an entire dungeon can be unfair to Prosperity. What if you’re taking the talent for burst healing to get you through a specific boss fight or mechanic. That’s actually reasonable – I mentioned above that taking Abundance for one boss was acceptable if you needed the AoE healing and Prosp will get the same opportunity here. Let’s look at a four minute tyrannical fight:
Cenarion Ward vs Prosperity: Long Boss Fight
Yes Prosperity is stronger in a short 4-5 second window and yes some mechanics are bursty and randomly targeted. Fortunately most such mechanics are also line of sightable, outrangeable or infrequent enough that one Swiftmend suffices. The Mirror of Entwined Fate trinket offers similar advantages with a smaller opportunity cost (you give up about 2% throughput instead of the 5-6% of Cenarion Ward, though on an admittedly long cooldown).
All of that said, you are unlikely to pass or fail a key based on one talent alone. Almost every Resto Druid talent sees at least occasional use in the 20+ bracket and we should celebrate our great flexibility.