MoP Guide to be updating within the next couple of weeks to coincide with 5.2 as it will bring some rather substantial changes to our playstyle if the mushrooms end up working out. Stay Tuned
Restoration Healing Guide For Cataclysm (version 4.3)
Revision History for 4.2: Update all entries related to the following changes: Innervate Nerf, New Mastery, Fix to Swiftmend/Omen of Clarity interaction, and Critical Strike rating
Revision History for 4.3: Updated glyph decisions and Wild Growth information
Table of Contents:
-State of the Union
-Stat priority, gearing and reforging
-Haste break points
-Spells in our arsenal
-Keybinds and Macros
-Applying to a Guild
-Group dynamics / Being a better player
Hello and welcome to my guide for healing as a restoration druid in Cataclysm. If you’re here you may be new to playing a druid at the higher levels, a casual (not in the demeaning way) player who is interested in picking up a few things and having a good read, or maybe even a seasoned veteran who just wants to check up on all of the available resources out there. Hopefully I can appeal to each and every one of you and provide an enjoyable read along the way. I am not an expert theorycrafter and I will try to keep this guide math-lite.
STATE OF THE UNION
Healing as a whole has changed. Gone are the days where we can look purely at HPS (Healing per second) and HPET (Healing per Execution Time) as a means to gauge what spells or combination of spells we should be using. Through the better part of the last expansion druid healing devolved into something that I don’t think any of us particular enjoyed. Every GCD had to be used and any downtime in our performance meant we were losing out on precious pre-HoT’ing that would serve as a huge chunk of our healing done. These flaws in our healing model created a few very unwanted side effects. The first was that Blizzard had to scale up the lethality of tank and raid damage based on healers having almost limitless mana. The second is that some players became more reckless and aggressive, forgoing personal safety at the cost of increased DPS.
What does this mean for you? Take a step back, take a deep breath, and settle into the new healing model. It will be daunting, harrowing, and all sorts of frustrating for a time but you’ll get used to it. Hopefully I can offer you some advice on how to pick and choose your gear and spells to better aid you in that process. You will find as you level up that healing gets harder and harder (as your spell mana costs go up) but ease up a bit once you start having access to better gear at item level 333 and 346. Yes it can be tough at times when your performance is directly linked to the ability of other players in your group to avoid damage but in the end I can only hope it forces everyone to become better players, myself included.
TALENT SPECIALIZATION (updated for 4.2)
With all of the changes made to our talents as of 4.1 I have found that simply supplying a list of stock builds is near impossible to do as there are so many subtle variations on a workable talent build. What I have decided to do is outline all of the requisite talents that you should take, and the ones that are more or less optional or interchangeable. Then I will supply you with a stock build and offer advice as to how you can customize it for yourself.
Required Restoration Talents:
Tier 1: (2/2) Natural Shapeshifter, (2/2) Naturalist, (3/3) Heart of the Wild [7 points total]
Tier 2: (1/1) Master Shapeshifter, (3/3) Improved Rejuvenation [4 points total]
Tier 3: (2/2) Revitalize [2 points total]
Tier 4: (2/2) Empowered Touch, (2/2) Malfurion’s Gift [4 points total]
Tier 5: (3/3) Effloressence, (1/1) Wild Growth [4 points total]
Tier 6: (3/3) Gift of the Earthmother, (1/1) Swift Rejuvenation [4 points total]
Tier 7: (1/1) Tree of Life [1 point total]
Required Secondary Tree Talents:
Balance Tier 1:(3/3) Nature’s Swiftness, (2/2) Nature’s Majesty
Balance Tier 2:(3/3) Moonglow
Optional: (2/3) Genesis or (2/3) Furor
If you were counting up the points you’ll notice that in the restoration tree we only have 26 points spent. This leaves us FIVE floater points required to gain access to Tree of Life. 1 of those points must be spent on either Perseverance or Blessing of the Grove leaving you four points to spend virtually anywhere you’d like in the tree.
Here is a “stock” spec that you can pull up and adjust as you’d like: http://www.wowhead.com/talent#0hbhZMZrfzhbcru0uo:oVcmVbzc
This is a basic 25 man starter spec. If you cannot afford to give up the ability to dispell magic effects, I suggest that you arrange points to take Nature’s Cure. You may also prefer to have points in Perseverance instead of BotG and that is a valid choice as well as a decision many high end raiders have made. So in summary your options are as follows:
Put 1 point into Blessing of the Grove or Perseverance
Place the remaining four talent points into either: Nature’s Bounty (up to 3), Nature’s Swiftness (1), Nature’s Cure(1), Perseverance/Blessing of the Grove (1 or 2)
Living Seed is technically an option but not one that I would suggest unless you have sufficient Regrowth usage, tank heal a lot, and also take 3/3 in Nature’s Bounty along with it which would require some sacrifice.
Once your gear has improved significantly (though you may outgrow my guide at that point) and you have a mix of 359 (or 372) and 378 level items you may find yourself ending fights with some mana left over. If that is the case then you can take your points in Furor and move them over to Genesis. I urge you to exercise caution in doing so however. While fights you have on “farm” may work out fine, you may prefer to have Furor in there for the more difficult progression fights. It will ultimately be personal preference.
With Healing Critical Strikes now healing for 200% versus 150% as well as our new mastery requiring a swift refresh, the general value of Nature’s Bounty has gone up slightly. It is still not a required talent and certainly isn’t for everyone. It’s benefit has been doubled for the regrowth portion of its bonus and one could make an argument that hasty nourishes could be useful for refreshing our mastery. Ultimately the decision is up to you when refining your play style.
Glyph choices are actually fairly simple.
Prime glyphs: Rejuvenation, Lifebloom, and Swiftmend
Reason: Rejuv and Lifebloom are still the bread and butter of your healing paradigm, especially given our mastery, and as such you want to boost them as much as possible. The swiftmend glyph is nothing new and saving yourself the consumption of that rejuv HoT is even more important than ever.
Major glyphs: Rebirth, Wild Growth**, and Healing Touch*
Reason: Rebirth is pretty much a no brainer as it saves you the mana needed to top someone off after a Rebirth. With the crushing nerf to passing your innervate out to another raid member you will no longer want to have innervate be one of your glyphs.
As of 4.3 the Glyph of Wild Growth is no longer an automatic choice. It gives you 1 extra target (20% throughput increase per cost) at a penalty of 2 extra seconds on its CD (25% less often). This is something you need to evaluate on a fight to fight basis as well as raid size. From personal experience this glyph is still worth it on a 25 man raid team level when WG can be timed based on its need however that may not be the case for smaller raids, BG’s, or fights where higher uptime is more important.
Some decent options for your third (or second) glyph are Healing Touch and if you don’t have Nature’s Swiftness perhaps Entangling Roots or Thorns. I personally have changed over to having NS as of late and with the 50% healing done buff + HT glyph it has become somewhat useful though still not what I’d like it to be.
As of right now should you choose to not use Wild Growth as your second glyph you don’t have any real raiding option for a glyph. Should you not take Nature’s Swiftness by way of personal preference and don’t have the WG glyph, you’re really going to be digging deep for useful glyphs. This is a glaring problem for us right now that blizzard has failed to fix despite citing glyph choice as a major impetus for the WG glyph nerf.
Minor Glyphs: Whatever you want! Remember there is a glyph available that allows you to use the old Tree of life model should you so desire.
STAT PRIORITY (updated for 4.3)
When choosing gear or evaluating possible gemming choices each stat should be weighted differently. Some stats will vary in usefulness depending on your play style and raid size.
Intellect: this will always be your number one priority. More often than not if an item offers more intellect via core stats or sockets then it will be an improvement for you. Currently each point of intellect offers you spellpower, increased maximum mana, as well as intellect based regen (replenishment, innervate, revitalize). More often than not you will want to use a piece of gear with more intellect than your current one unless it violates a set bonus or a haste break point.
Spellpower is a subset of intellect and will appear in procs, enchants, and miscellaneous buffs. While it is extremely useful it would rank under intellect as it confers no mana regeneration bonuses.
Spirit: Mana regeneration is a huge deal right now and other than intellect, spirit is the other key stat for giving you the longevity you need. Place this at #2 for your stat priority initially. As your intellect goes up, the amount of regeneration gained from spirit increases. At the 359-378 gear level 80 intellect increases the total effect of your spirit by 1%.
You will reach a point where you are finishing fights with mana leftover as you gear up. You will then decide between reforging some spirit or dropping Furor for Genesis. While I cannot speak for the genesis builds, it is a common belief that once you are at a high level of gear using the furor build (the actual amount will differ from person to person, but I’d say roughly between 378 and 384+) you can start to eschew spirit to some degree. For Dragon Soul I am currently running anywhere between 2250 and 2400 spirit. It is up to you to find the right amount for your needs but at that point there is generally no need to go higher than those amounts.
In order to better understand the relationship between spirit, intellect, and gear choice please read these two posts on my blog:
Yes they are rich with exciting math, but they will provide you with a lot of useful information should you choose to pursue them.
Haste (128 rating per 1%): Even with the existence of Swift Rejuvenation there are so many other spells we cast these days (some with base cast times of 2.5 seconds) that benefit quite a bit from haste. The problem is that between critical haste break points you will see a significant drop off in its benefit. Quicker spells can often make your life a lot easier but they can drain your mana just as fast. With the changes to Effloressence in 4.1, hitting the 2005 haste break point is your number one priority. Once this break point has been reached, the value of haste with respect to Mastery pretty much tails off entirely.
For new druids still gearing up with the 2005 haste break point entirely out of reach I would recommend going a different approach. Continue gearing yourself up with the intent of reaching that break point by picking up pieces with haste on them. Once you do consider reforging off as much of that haste into mastery as possible. As long as you are over the minimum 916 rejuvenation break point then you can see a significant throughput boost from Mastery until you choose to undo the reforges and make a go at the 2005 BP.
Mastery (179 rating per 1 point increase): In 4.2 our mastery was again overhauled for the better and the value of Mastery has shifted substantially. Up until you reach the 2005 break point Mastery will stay below haste in its level of importance. Beyond that break point however, Mastery (and spirit to some degree, depending on Furor versus Genesis and personal preference) become your highest priorities. Each point of mastery yields a 1.25% increase in overall throughput provided you have close to 100% uptime on the buff (more on that later). Mastery is useful to druids of all raid sizes and healing assignments. It is just that good now.
Critical Strike (179 rating per 1 point increase): Critical strike is our least valuable stat at this point. In 4.2 healing critical strikes were increased from 150% of the amount healed to 200%. What this means is that 1% crit should give approximately 1% throughput benefit. The problem is that it is unpredictable, erratic, and still less than the general benefit of mastery. Actively avoid this stat if possible though if you cannot it is at least a bit better than it was before.
HASTE BREAK POINTS (updated for 4.1)
(referenced from TreeCalcs)
With Swift Rejuvenation in the picture the significance of a haste cap is nothing like it used to be. No longer is it the amount of haste for a 1 second GCD. With the changes to the way HoT’s work, you gain additional ticks of your HoT depending on whether or not your haste is at or above a certain value. What this does is give you targets to shoot for haste rating wise when evaluating pieces of gear. Here are the break points in increasing order (assuming 5% haste raid buff):
5th Tick of Rejuvenation: 915 Haste
12th tick of Lifebloom: 1220 Haste
4th tick of Regrowth: 1423 Haste
9th tick of Wild Growth/Effloressence: 2004 Haste
13th tick of Lifebloom: 2440 Haste
14th tick of Lifebloom: 3659 Haste
10th tick of Wild Growth/Effloressence: 3746 Haste
6th tick of Rejuvenation: 3964 Haste
15th tick of Lifebloom: 4879 Haste
When Nature’s grace is active some unreachable break points become reachable (+15% haste):
14th tick of Lifebloom: 1512 Haste
10th tick of Wild Growth/Effloressence: 1587 Haste
6th tick of Rejuvenation: 1777 Haste
15th tick of Lifebloom: 2572 Haste
I have bolded the haste benchmarks that you should think about hitting. The first of the four is obviously very low, however the second is something you may be able to reach in a mixture of normal and heroic raiding gear though it requires sacrificing other key secondary stats. The last two break points in bold are obviously useful break points but given that Nature’s Grace only has a 25% uptime at best, they are not worth hurting your stats to achieve. Now that the 2004 break point benefits both Wild Growth and Effloressence its importance has jumped up significantly! Please note there are some innate mathematical rounding errors that exist in the math and to be safe you will want to exercise caution going slightly over (be it by a point or two) the listed value.
If you reliably get Dark Intent in your raid, your break points will shift noticeably. Since Haste rating has diminishing returns, the effective haste rating bonus of the flat 3% haste boost increases the higher the break point you target.
The break points with the 5% raid buff AND Dark Intent are as follows:
5th Tick of Rejuvenation: 517 Haste
12th tick of Lifebloom: 812 Haste
4th tick of Regrowth: 1010 Haste
9th tick of Wild Growth/Effloressence: 1573 Haste
13th tick of Lifebloom: 1997 Haste
14th tick of Lifebloom: 3180 Haste
10th tick of Wild Growth/Effloressence: 3265 Haste
6th tick of Rejuvenation: 3476 Haste
15th tick of Lifebloom: 4365 Haste
The 9th tick of Wild Growth and Effloressence becomes significantly easier to achieve with the help of Dark Intent (it equates to roughly 411 haste rating for that break point). Given the recent boost to Wild Growth and Effloressence you may want to see if you can pull in a favor with your friendly Warlock and see what they can do for you if your haste is low. With dark intent and a haste rating of 1594+ you are also guaranteed to gain a sixth tick of rejuvenation during Nature’s Grace.
When evaluating whether or not you want to reforge you need to review the previous two sections of this guide and look at where your stats currently sit. You need to ask yourself “where is my haste at, am I close to a relevant haste cap?”. That should help point you in the right direction as to whether or not you need to reforge critical strike (or mastery if absolutely need be) into more haste or not. If you have taken a piece of leather gear with no spirit, but it has haste and crit or mastery you will probably want to reforge into spirit – crit>mastery(sub haste BP)>haste(at or over BP)
When I started running my first couple of normal (non ZA/ZG or Twilight) heroics my haste was sitting roughly around 1600 give or take, my mana regen stat was hovering around 2700 to 2800, my mastery rating fluctuated between 300 and 400, and my crit chance was listed as roughly 14%. These numbers may not be significant to you right now, but it might give you an idea of what I had to work with when I started trying heroics out for the first time. In full heroic gear your stats will be significantly higher.
Spirit is a stat you are going to need to find out for yourself just how much you need and that will affect all of your reforging. As you start to raid if you find that you need to make adjustments you can always undo some of your reforging if need be. Ghostcrawler has stated that spirit is a stat healers are to value very high up to a point where we feel we are sufficient for the content we are working on and reduce its value beyond that.
Your gemming strategy should generally fall in line with the stat priorities listed above. What that means is you are primarily going to gem for intellect and stray from that only to meet meta requirements and attain strong socket bonuses.
For gem choices, blue gems are always preferred and epic should be used if you can afford them and only on items you plan to keep for a good long while provided they stay expensive.
Meta Gem: Ember Shadowspirit Diamond – 51 intellect and 2% mana increase – requires at least 2 yellow gems
Red Gem Slots: Brilliant Inferno Ruby – 40 intellect – it is rare that you will want anything other than pure intellect in your red gem slots. Intellect is just that good for us.
Yellow Gem Slots: Reckless/Artful – 20 intellect and 20 haste/mastery – you will need at least 2 of these to satisfy your meta gem requirement. Any yellow sockets beyond two can be filled with Brilliant Inferno Rubies unless the socket bonus is sufficient enough (10 to 20 int possibly)
Blue Gem Slots: Purified – 20 intellect and 20 spirit – this is a solid option for blue gem slots that will allow you to gain strong socket bonuses similar to your yellow gems.
Your general gemming strategy is to increase your int as much as possible. Do this by first making sure you satisfy your meta gem requirement. After that evaluate whether or not the socket bonus is worth using anything other than Brilliant Inferno Ruby. If it is, choose the appropriate color/secondary stat that best helps you meet that socket bonus.
SPELLS IN OUR ARSENAL
Mastery (secondary stat, 10 second duration) Our new mastery is called Harmony. This mastery innately grants you 10% +1.25% per point of mastery increased benefit to all of your direct healing spells. Every time a direct healing spell is cast (this includes nourish, regrowth, healing touch, and swiftmend) you will gain a buff. This buff grants you 10% +1.25% per point of mastery increase to the effect of all heal over time effects. In effect, should you maintain near constant uptime, this becomes a uniform bonus to all of your healing done. While you no longer have to chase your hots with other hots as our previous mastery had you doing, you will need to monitor and maintain this buff in order to maximize its benefit. I highly recommend that you set up power auras to monitor it If you think you will ever forget. Swiftmend on cooldown will take you a good chunk of the way there as far as keeping Harmony active. Regrowth or Nature’s Bounty Nourish should serve as viable filler in between to keep it up as well. If time permits (especially with an Omen proc) Healing Touch can be used however factor in its cast time when you make that decision. One of the rather nice benefits of this new mastery, outside of an overall improvement to quality of life, is the ability to have the full benefit when casting tranquility.
Lifebloom (7% base mana, 10 second duration with a bloom upon fading) - primary tank healing HoT, stacks up to three times, cannot be on more than one person at a time when not shapeshifted into Tree of Life. Before haste this spell ticks every one second and has great synergy with Revitalize and Malfurion’s Gift. Regardless of what your healing assignments are, make sure you have a stack of this spell going at all times. More information under Tree of Life. Be aware of the timing of your Lifebloom as there are times where you may want to capitalize on the bloom effect as it is quite significant. Prior to the most recent patch, Regrowth was a pinch heal that could be used on a tank in order to let Lifebloom bloom without being refreshed. With these changes, Regrowth now refreshes Lifebloom as well making it a slightly tricky endeavor.
Rejuvenation (20% base mana, 12 second duration) - primary long duration HoT used for tank or raid healing. This spell, along with Wild Growth, form the backbone of your raid healing. Given the amount of talents that bolster it, take advantage of its great healing per mana spent. When healing in a raid expect this spell to make up anywhere between 25% and 35% of your healing done. Be careful though, unlike in Wrath of the Lich King where you may have placed the spell on someone in preparation for taking damage, now you need to hold off until you know the spell will heal for a majority of its potential. Rejuvenation forms a synergy with Nourish when using the talent Nature’s Bounty. When three Rejuvenations are active on players in your group/raid you gain a significant bonus to Nourish’s cast speed. The rate at which you cast this spell will scale up significantly based on gear level. At final raid tier gear you can rely on this spell fairly heavily and use it aggressively.
Nourish (10% base mana, 2.5 talented cast speed) - mana efficient low throughput heal. This is very much your healing “auto attack”. It is a heal you will spend a decent chunk of your time casting but it won’t actually account for a large percentage of your healing done. As a low mana-light heal it serves to refresh your lifebloom stack as well as offer a filler heal for moderate raid/tank healing. There are times during bosses where you might be forced to go into a mana conservation rotation trading off responsibilities with other healers, if so then this is a good spell to cast more of. As noted, this spell can morph into a quicker raid healing tool when multiple Rejuvenations are present on raid members. If you are predominantly raid healing in an encounter, you will find yourself using this spell very little or possibly not at all.
Healing Touch (30% base mana, 2.5 talented cast speed) - expensive high throughput heal. This spell costs a bit more than rejuvenation and will heal for a significant amount at a cast time of 2.5 seconds. Given that it is one of two spells that can consume Omen of Clarity procs and has the highest throughput (and cost) it can be your best candidate only when time allows! Otherwise Regrowth is still better. In smaller raid groups you may find yourself using this spell more without Omen of clarity when tank or even raid healing. It is not so cost prohibitive that it cannot be used, it just happens to benefit the most mana wise from clearcasting. When cast speed is a significant concern, or Tree of Life is active, Regrowth trumps Healing Touch for Omen of Clarity procs.
Regrowth (35% base mana, 1.5 second cast speed) - quick mana inefficient medium throughput heal that is extremely weak up front compared to the “flash heal” other healers have. With the talent Nature’s bounty you can increase the critical strike chance of Regrowth by 60% (which now crits for 200%) making it a bit more serviceable. When cast speed is not a concern, or generally when tank healing, Regrowth is a less than favorable spell to cast. With a base casting time of 1.5 seconds and talented it can serve to be a very powerful pinch heal especially consuming Omen of Clarity (or without in emergencies). Use this spell at your own discretion when you feel the speed is an absolutely necessary. Generally speaking, at higher level raid content in 25 man raids Regrowth will often be the go to heal of choice.
Swiftmend (10% base mana, instant cast) - instant heal on a target currently affected by Rejuvenation or Regrowth (15 second cooldown). This is one of your most mana efficient heals and has the added benefit of creating an Efflorescence field if you are talented into it. Use this spell liberally for both its cheap instant heal component as well as area of effect heal.
As of 4.1 Effloressence has been completely reworked. In the original incarnation, all players within the field were healed for 30% of the swiftmend heal over seven seconds with diminishing returns when more than six players were present. The flaw in this healing is that while it may sometimes look good on the meters it did not save anyone from imminent doom. Effloressence now heals only three people at a time, but it heals each player for 12% of your Swiftmend heal per second (not 12% over 7 seconds). This ability benefits from haste as well meaning that at our current gear level 9 ticks of Effloressence are easily obtainable. This is a significant buff to the ability and makes it much more friendly to 10 man raiders, tank healers, and 25 man raiders alike. For more information on Effloressence please reference some articles that I have written on the matter, one of which is: http://r4healingtouch.wordpress.com/2011/03/27/getting-prepped-for-4-1-and-a-status-update/
Wild Growth (27% of base mana, 7 second duration, 5 targets/6 with glyph) - 30 yd. Radius Area of effect smart HoT (8 second cooldown, 10 with glyph). This spell is the bread and butter of your group/raid healing toolset. Glyphed it can hit 6 players at a time for a moderate amount making it one of your most effective spells relative to its mana cost. While raiding you may find yourself casting this spell every time it is off cooldown should mana permit.
As of 4.0.6 this spell has had its base healing increased by 30% making it even more attractive when available.
As of 4.3 this spell has had its base healing decreased by 20%. While it is still a large part of our raid wide healing tool set it it has been weakened by quite a bit not including the nerf from the glyph itself. You can expect it to clock in below Rejuvenation on your healing done by list.
Tranquility (32% base mana, channeled) - Channeled raid wide smart HoT (3 minute cooldown). With a new reduced cost and 3 minute cooldown this spell has become something I find myself using more and more. This spell places a powerful front loaded HoT on the five most wounded players per tick over the duration of the channel. With a mana cost on par with a single healing touch this is an economical choice for healing in a pinch or during a high raid damage boss ability/phase. Use aggressively. Now that it has been reduced to a 3 minute cooldown from 8, expect that you will be worked into the emergency raid cooldown list when necessary.
As of 4.3 Divine Hymn from Holy Priests is also on a 3 minute cooldown and heals for a substantial bit more. Expect to feel some frustrating jealousy (i kid) and work with them on a rotation and optimum usage times to get the most out of everyone’s cooldowns.
Tree of Life (25 second duration, 31 seconds talented, 3 minute cooldown): This ability grants you 15% increased healing done over its duration as well as offer beneficial modifications to certain spells while active. The useful modifications are as follows:
Lifebloom – While Tree of Life is active, you may have Lifebloom active on as many players as you would like. Given that Lifebloom is cheap, offers a nice heal when blooming, and triggers Malfurion’s Gift this is a way to generate super efficient healing over the duration of this buff. Please note that as of 4.0.6, only the most recent lifebloom cast or refreshed during Tree of Life may be refreshed again once it has ended. Previously you could use Nourish to refresh multiple stacks of lifebloom indefinitely long after Tree of Life has ended.
Regrowth – Regrowth becomes instant cast. Given the increased Omen of Clarity generation during tree of life, the instant cast Regrowth synergizes particularly well to maximize throughput on an efficient level. While Tree of Life does not officially gain you mana, the ability to put out a large amount of healing for very little mana means that your intellect and spirit based regeneration can work very well for you while shapeshifted.
Wild Growth – Wild Growth will affect an additional two targets when cast. This allows for increased throughput, efficiency, and mastery use over the duration of Tree of Life. Given that Wild Growth has had its cooldown reduced, the benefit from getting two more players mastery accessible every 8 seconds is extremely potent. When using Tree of Life purely for its throughput boost make sure to use Wild Growth liberally.
Wrath – Wrath has its damage increased significantly while in Tree of Life form. This is going to be significantly more situational, but I will admit there have been times Tree of Life has been off cooldown and the boss enters a tight burn phase (or it’s just going to be close going into a berserk) and I have popped it to deal damage. Tree of Life wrath spam plus TimeLust is possibly one of the wackiest things every created.
Entangling Roots – Entangling Roots becomes instant cast. This has the potential to be useful but I would not count this is as a primary benefit of the ability.
Tree of Life is a powerful ability that can be used for a myriad of reasons. More often that not you will use Tree of Life as either a mana saving measure (producing a lot of efficient healing through lifebloom, wild growth, and Regrowth) and an emergency throughput cooldown (you are in need of the 15% healing bonus desperately). When used for throughput it still has the added benefit of lessening your mana consumption during a particularly crazy portion of the fight.
Barkskin - Damage reduction cooldown. While it is only a 20% damage reduction, it will still serve to save your hide or at the very least reduce the amount of healing you’ll need to get your own HP back into the green. Make sure to have this button bound to a key you can access quickly. If there is a raid damage event that forces you to suffer pushback, consider using Barkskin in conjunction with your other heals (No longer required for tranquility). There are a large number of predictable periods of boss fights where smart planning can prevent a significant amount of damage.
Entangling Roots- While not a heal or defensive cooldown per say it is a form of crowd control you may be called upon to use in a small raid or 5 man heroic dungeon. While running heroics I actually kept this spell glyphed for the instant cast and there was even some benefit to having the glyph when doing Omnitron Defense System. I liked having the option to root the Slime Bombs on the run.
Regardless of who you are tasked to heal you always want a 3x stack of lifebloom rolling on the tank (melee or caster tank should the encounter dictate it). When tank healing you will be keeping Rejuvenation up full time on them and aggressively using Nourish and Healing touch when appropriate based on damage intake. When tank healing you may find Swiftmend to be a necessary tool to keep up with the damage as well as heal the surrounding melee. Wild Growth/Rejuv can be thrown out on the raid but only if you feel your mana can hold up. In early tiers of raiding fights will take quite some time as player’s DPS is low so plan for the marathon and not the sprint when it comes to mana usage. When raid healing you will still find yourself keeping Lifebloom up on a tank as well as using Nourish or another Lifebloom to keep it going. Beyond that it your game plan will come down to understanding what level of efficiency is required to last you the fight. You want to maximize Efflorescence and Wild Growth all while making sure each Rejuv you cast counts to its fullest. It is VERY easy to blow your mana when raid healing if you slip into an overly aggressive Rejuv gameplan. Remember Nourish can still be used to help top off HoT’d targets (as well as a Omen’d Healing Touch) if time permits.
I’d like to outline the basic list of mods you will probably want to have in place for raiding
Raiding Coordination: Omen (DPS Offspec), ORA, Boss Mods
OMEN- If you have a DPS offspec you will want to have a threat management addon that will keep you in check. Omen is lightweight and you can always hide it or disable it if it isn’t applicable you right that moment.
ORA (or equivalent) – this is a popular cooldown watcher and contains a few other tools that raid organizers may take advantage of. It might not be mandatory for everyone but it is useful to have.
Boss Mods – There are a number of popular boss mod suites out there such as Deadly Boss Mods, BigWigs, and DXE. Choose one that works for you and offers notifications that you will notice and be able to react to.
Screen Display: Raid Frames, Power Auras
Raid Frames – Two of the more popular raid frame mods are Grid and VuhDo. There are certainly other solid options and I very much urge you to try a couple out and find one that works. These mods are very much like cars once you customize them. What feels right, comfortable, and pleasing to the eye for one person certainly will not for another. Spend a good long while customizing your raid frames so that you work well with them. Most good raid frame mods allow you to track all of your HoT’s as well as view critical buffs and debuffs in the raid.
Power Auras – While the game offers you some power aura options they are somewhat limited. I highly recommend downloading this addon and taking it for a spin. There are countless bloggers out there who share their Power aura setup information that allows you to literally copy and paste code into the addon and have all of their options right out of the box. Right now my resto power aura setup includes glowing symbols showing when Nature’s Grace, Swiftmend, and Wild Growth are usable as well as a notification that my mana has dropped below 70% when innervate is available.
Targetting: HealBot or Clique
Targetting Addon – Everyone belongs to a different school of thought on what targeting style addon they prefer to use. I personally don’t use healbot though I know a great many healers who prefer it. Clique does everything I need currently with mouseover cleansing and healing when needed. Try them both our and see what you think. VuhDo has Clique support that works very well and they work nicely together.
Outside of the addons listed there are a great many cosmetic mods that are available and I highly suggest you take a look out there. Your UI as a healer is something you spend a great amount of time looking at and you should make sure it is to your liking. Sculpt your viewspace as a raider to give you the most amount of information possible while also allowing you to see everything that is going on around you.
KEYBINDS AND MACROS
Keybinds – As a healer most of your actions should come from muscle memory. Given the amount of time we spend looking at our unit frames as well as monitoring the position of the raid around us we need all of our healing tools to be a keyboard press away. Being a clicker and a healer really don’t go well together and it is a habbit that I’d recommend breaking. Ideally you want all of your primary healing spells readily available to your left hand that rests on the keyboard as well as any special mouse buttons with your right hand. I would recommend that you at least look into utilizing the following keys (not necessarily all of them): 1-5, Shift or Control + 1-5, Shift or Control + Left Mouse button, Mouse Buttons 4,5,6 if yours supports them, Q, E, R, Z, and X.
The spells or abilities I recommend having keybound are: Lifebloom, Rejuvenation, Regrowth, Healing Touch, Nourish, Swiftmend, Wild Growth, Nature’s Swiftness Macro, Nature’s Grace macro, Barkskin, and Tranquility. Some additional options could be Nitro Boost, Health Stone, Entangling Roots, Rebirth, and Mythical Mana Potion.
There are certainly more options available this is simply a suggested list of possibilities. If I have left something out please let me know.
Macros – There are no required macros for raiding as a restoration druid but there are certainly ones that will make your life a lot easier.
Rebirth: it is generally useful to have a macro announcing that you are casting this spell and who the recipient is. There is less of a need for this macro now that in combat resurrection is limited and the raid leader will call for who to rez and when. For this macro I simply have it announce in druid and healer chat channels what I am doing and also cast the spell Rebirth on that target.
Mouseover: While I do not use them you can create macros for all of your primary heal spells to mouseover macros that will cast the spell on whoever your mouse is hovering over. Not everyone likes to do this and it is certainly not mandatory but it may improve your control if you have “sticky targeting butterfingers”.
Nature’s Swiftness: Since there is usually (but not ALWAYS) one spell we will cast with Nature’s Swiftness in a raid, it is useful to have a macro that creates a cast sequence of Nature’s Swiftness and then Healing Touch. I am not advising you to remove the actual ability Nature’s Swiftness from your action bars because it can be exceptionally useful with Rebirth and a few other spells.
Cat Form / Stampeding Roar (Cat) or Dash cast sequence : While it may not be Nitro Boosts, this macro gives you as well as any nearby party members a useful boost to movement speed if you have trouble getting to a critical location.
APPLYING TO A GUILD
When applying to a guild you will often have to fill out a rather length questionnaire that probes your understanding of the game and class, personality, tech savvy, and literacy. I have written a post that may prove useful to you when going through this process. It is a lengthy read but I hope that it helps you out!
The hardest thing about healing 5 man heroics and raids right now is managing your mana. If your only raiding experience has come during the Wrath of the Lich King environment you may be in for a rude awakening and hopefully I can help you cope with it. Druids who healed during vanilla know things could be a whole lot worse off. First let’s review the basic premises you’ll need to stick to:
Keeping it simple – Have assignments, or a loose set of goals as far as who to heal and stick to it when in a raid. A tight healing core is required for this level of control.
The is no I in team – Going along with the first point, be aware of the other healers in your raid and trust in their ability to do their job. If you are raid healing, don’t spam healing touch on the tank every time you see his health deficit go to 50K or more. You have plenty to worry about yourself and raid healing costs plenty of mana. Overextending yourself is absolutely the quickest way to drain your mana supply.
Watch healing core mana supplies – Not everyone’s healing responsibility will be equal all of the time. Some fights go through bursts of high tank damage and bursts of high raid damage. Know when to slip into a mana conservation mode of healing using only your most efficient tools. (you can do more healing than you think using only Lifebloom, Nourish, Wild Growth, Swiftmend, and clearcasted Healing Touches). If you need help or you need to take it easy call it out, maybe someone can help you. Similarly be aware of everyone else. If you are sitting pretty on mana but the tank healer is going bananas, maybe you can assist a bit more if they request it.
Omen of Clarity – I cannot stress to you enough the importance of using this proc to its fullest. If possible, you want to cast Healing Touch every single time you gain clearcasting. This may not apply when you are in Tree of Life and are using multiple lifeblooms to power out a lot of Omen procs or under time constraint. The amount of mana this saves you over the course of a fight is immense.
Manage your Innervate – Be aware of your innervate cooldown as well as the mana tide cooldown of your raiding shaman. If you have multiple raiding resto shaman you will want to balance your mana usage so that between your innervates used fairly aggressively and their tides you can reach the end of the fight at least just above bone dry.
Manage your Tree of Life – Tree of Life offers the potential to save a large chunk of mana over its duration. While it does not innately gain you any mana, you should be able to handle certain aspects of your healing assignment with free healing touches and regrowths that it provides. The lifeblooms you throw out there are not free mind you, and you need to think about just how many you get out there if mana is really an issue.
Take advantage of all of your tools – In heroics you are going to feel very exposed. There is no one to help out and if you are feared, incapacitated, or running from mobs there is no backup. Make sure to keep Lifebloom and Rejuv rolling on the tank and utilize Swiftmend and Wild Growth as much as possible. There are a lot of bosses that melee take a huge amount of damage on if they are not careful. Use spare nourishes and Rejuv/Swiftmend on them when possible to distribute the additional healing. Don’t be afraid to let people know they need to back out or take it easy when low. Barkskin yourself whenever there is an AoE phase of the fight (Karsh Steelbender for example). Always remember you have Tranquility in your back pocket as it has the ability to pull victory from the jaws of defeat at times. If you don’t vary up your spell usage and you rely too heavily on expensive spam (or god forbid Regrowth spam) then you will not make it through the more difficult encounters while gearing up.
GROUP DYNAMICS / BEING A BETTER PLAYER
A short while back I quoted a post by Daetur on the MMO-Forums boards that had actually gotten BB’s attention. It was a rather descriptive and lengthy post dealing with how Cataclysm dungeons are going to change group dynamics and how best to survive in this new environment. I wanted to write a follow up but decided to bake in my take on some of his critical points here in this guide. Let’s take a look at a couple of ways you can be a better group member and raider in Cataclysm.
General rules of thumb
-In this expansion there is a significant number of mobs and bosses that do area of effect attacks, safe-zone based attacks, cleaves, and other sorts of avoidable damage or instant kill mechanics. Always be aware of where you are standing relative to any tells the mob might do and its frontal cone. Know where adds are going to spawn from in order to avoid taking hits you shouldn’t need to take. We can’t come down on DPS players for not minimizing their damage intake if we take unnecessary damage ourselves as healers.
-If you are going to be somewhere unexpected or you have an idea on how to handle something speak up to your group. In general you need the entire heroic dungeon or raid group all on the same page. There are a lot of ways encounters can go horribly wrong or at the very least empty out your mana pool very fast. If a warlock plans to teleport out of a certain attack for example, he should let the tank and healer know so no one has a freak out moment. Healers and Tanks need to communicate when they are going to use their cooldowns in order to get through a rough part of an encounter.
-You are going to wipe. I can’t stress this enough because it is going to happen. It should happen less frequently in heroics once you are familiar with them but they are not the snore fest that Wrath heroics were. Do not be that guy, you know the one who rage quits when there is the first sign of the gravy train leaving the station. This especially applies to healers and tank divas. You know who I’m talking about. Just because your queue is shorter than that of a DPS it doesn’t give you the right to bail early.
-If you see an add coming for you run to the tank. If you see an add running for the healer try to slow it down or CC it. In general CC should always be used and a healthy line of communication is required in order to make sure each pull goes smoothly. While I don’t advocate always making the tank the group leader (as it tends to sometimes mess with their ego some) they are good candidates for marking CC as they generally know what they can handle.
-I’m not suggesting that you flask for a heroic dungeon as those are extremely expensive for the time being. I do suggest that you use some cheaper elixirs (or WotLK elixirs or flasks) when you’re up against a somewhat more difficult dungeon boss.
Basic rules of thumb for healers
-You should always always always be aware of the rate of your mana consumption. You must plan out your Tree of Life and innervate usages accordingly and use all of the tricks in your arsenal to manage your mana. Early on in heroics you’ll find mana a lot more limiting but it improves noticeably as you start to get gear. While it is true “bad play” can have an adverse reaction to your mana usage, a lot of times poor spell choice or aggressive “topping people off” can be just as dangerous. As a druid, don’t be afraid to let your HoT’s do their job over time on the DPS players.
-I know it is daunting for your cleanse debuff ability to cost roughly 3,000 mana, but often times the amount of damage you prevent by removing the debuff is significantly more. If you see 3 ranged with a debuff that does a lot of damage over time don’t sweat the fact you’re wasting a bunch of GCD’s to remove it. The only exceptions is if this is happening while your tank is getting hammered into the group, at that point use your discretion.
-Stopcasting is your friend. Always try to plan ahead and have an idea of the damage your tank is taking and will be taking. Keep your efficient heal casting if there appears to be nothing else you absolutely need to be queuing up at that moment. You can always cancel it last minute, or change over to Healing Touch if need be when Omen of Clarity procs. Proactive healing doesn’t always mean spam the group/raid with HoT’s like a monkey.
-Tree of Life isn’t just for mana and sometimes it can pull your bacon out of the fire. If a certain phase of a boss is giving you trouble you will probably want to look into popping this cooldown for it. Fifteen percent increased healing is nothing to sneeze at. Nature’s Swiftness is another cooldown worth mentioning as well but it doesn’t necessarily help you through an entire phase unless there is a predictably huge hit incoming.
Basic rules of thumb for damage dealers
-Interrupts are so important I cannot stress it enough. Not only do some interruptable boss abilities do potentially fight altering effects but avoiding unnecessary damage is the key to keeping your healers active throughout the encounter. If you have a reliable interrupt it must be bound to an easy to reach key and used whenever needed. (e.g. Arcanotron in Omnitron Defense System boss has an interruptable Arcane Barrage that hits for 50-60K damage every couple of seconds)
-If you’re taking excess damage in an encounter stop and take pause. Figure out just what it is that is killing you. If it is something that increases as you damage a mob or by standing in an area maybe you need to cool off. Don’t be overly aggressive and don’t get yourself killed when you don’t need to. Running out of melee to get topped off is a perfectly viable strategy. It might take a while if the tank needs more attention so don’t get frustrated and run back in only to die and blame the healer ‘zomg where are the haelz?”.
-Crowd Control is absolutely needed. Later on when we gear up the tank and healer will more than likely be able to handle more active mobs at once but there are some heroic dungeon trash pulls that can level a tank in a very short time (I’m looking at you heroic Throne of Tides goblins). Work out symbols for CC and keep each pack under control.
-There may come a time when you need to kite a mob as a ranged damage dealer. If your class is capable of doing so be capable of it should the need arise. Kiting isn’t just for hunters anymore.