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I wanted to write a primer for patch 4.0.1 in preparation for it going live within the next few weeks. Be advised this is not a full guide as I feel there are far too many changes between level 80 and level 85. I plan on completing a much more thorough one for Cataclysm when the time comes. What I wanted to do here was talk about the impact of these changes on the raids we are running currently and what changes we may need to make in our rotation.
PRIMER – RESTORATION DRUID HEALING 4.0.1: With a focus on ICC 25man Heroic Modes
Glyph choice is not nearly as diverse as we’d like it to be at the current time. There are three types of slots: Prime, Major, and Minor. Our old Major glyphs got broken up into two categories, one representing powerful boosts to spells and one representing medium sized boosts to spells (and some were revamped entirely)
Your options for Prime glyphs are the following:
*Lifebloom – 10% crit chance
*Rejuvenation – 10% increase in the amount healed
*Swiftmend – no longer removes the HoT
Regrowth – HoT of regrowth automatically refreshes on low HP targets
*-These three are the suggested Prime glyphs for raiding
Your options for Major glyphs are the following:
*Wild Growth – affects 1 additional target
*Innervate – When cast on other players you receive 50% of the benefit (10% of max mana)
*Rebirth – resurrected players come back to life with 100% of their life total
Healing Touch – Each successful cast of healing touch reduces the cooldown of Nature’s Swiftness by 5 seconds
Entangling Roots – Increases effectiveness
*-These three are the suggested Major glyphs for raiding. Note the Innervate glyph allows you to perform the trick I mentioned earlier about swapping with another resto druid. The Rebirth glyph saves you time and mana and will prevent the need for immediate top offs during fights like Sindragosa.
Your minor glyph choices are largely irrelevant because the selection is poor. Choose what you’d like!
As of right now the only talent outside of the restoration tree that we will want to spend points on at level 80 is Furor. I would suggest going with: 0/2/34 or 0/3/33 to start with and see how it works for you. The talents you can consider skipping or reducing in Restoration for level 80 is the ability to cleanse magic (which might be more useful to you if you raid 10 mans), Swift Rejuvenation, Nature’s Swiftness, and *maybe* 1 point from Gift of the Earthmother. If we find that mana is a complete joke for healing at level 80 after some additional testing, we can reduce or eliminate Furor for some more throughput talents.
EDIT: Make sure to not take Malfurion’s Gift at least to start at level 80. If mana becomes a massive issue we can all reconsider it. I starting to debate between 2/3/31, 0/3/33, and 2/0/34. It really does seem to come down to flavor but I just love all of the mana Furor gives me. Is that so wrong I ask you?
As a reference my druid had roughly 42K mana without Furor and 49K mana with Furor (rounded to the nearest 1,000). I am not entirely convinced that Furor is necessary at level 80 as the mana costs for our spells are not nearly as exaggerated relative to our mana totals as they will be at level 85 but I think we will need some additional testing before we can confirm this.
Your toolkit is somewhat different than it was before so let’s walk through their roles and what spells will most likely see play for certain situations
Lifebloom – not far off from its previous version though It has more synergy with our talent tree than it did previously. Only usable on one person (tank) at a time
Rejuvenation – at least twice as expensive as it previously was this spell will still see significant AoE healing use however at a diminished capacity.
Regrowth – while you may have used this spell for its HoT previously especially on AoE Aura damage bosses it is now a Flash Heal and will solely be used to top off near death players. This may take some getting used to
Nourish – you may have used Nourish in situations you now will need to use Regrowth. If you are haste capped in live currently expect this heal to sit at roughly 1.9 seconds without any raid haste buffs (down from 2.5 second cast time). This is your go to heal for small to moderate damage on both tanks and raid. Think of it like your healing “auto attack” and if there is nothing pressing that requires you to bust out a more expensive heal you should always be casting this on anything wounded.
Healing Touch – this is your Bomb Heal similar to the big heals paladins and shamans have been using on tanks for quite some time. It shares the same cast time as Nourish however it heals for roughly three times as much however it costs almost four times as much. At level 80 don’t expect this difference to put that much of a dent in your mana pool however it is not a spell we can chain cast endlessly.
Wild Growth – same spell longer cooldown. At level 85 expect its cost to be prohibitive, however at 80 it is not. Try to ween yourself off of using it every cooldown if you’d like to better prepare for Cataclysm.
Swiftmend – Very often in WotLK you may have held off on using this spell every cooldown as it might have not been super necessary or perhaps you wanted it for emergencies. While I am not advocating throwing it around recklessly, it does now proc Efflorescence (~750 hp/s 16 yard effect for 7 seconds) so use it aggressively.
Mastery – All of your heals will heal for 10% more if the target has a HoT on them already. When time/mana permits try to get a HoT on a raid member if you feel the HoT has time to tick. Tank healing automatically benefits from this as does your Wild Growth targets.
General Tank Healing Rotation: 3x Lifebloom, Rejuvenation, Nourish to refresh Lifebloom, Healing Touch when necessary. If tank is standing near melee add Swiftmend when possible to throw around some additional healing.
General Raid Healing: Combination of Rejuvenation/Nourish/Regrowth using Swiftmend and wild Growth wherever applicable. 3x Lifebloom on tank + Nourish (which also maintains Malfurion’s Gift)
ICC 25 HEROIC BOSSES
Let’s take a look at the existing bosses and see how we may need to adapt our strategies to the new system. I’d like to go more in depth than “stop blanketing the raid with 5×1” however let us be honest for some fights that was the correct strategy so let’s take a peek shall we?
EDIT: I want to add one note here as some people have given me an incorrect amount of credit when it comes to these boss strats. I have not tested these on the PTR as our guild does not have the schedule to do both live and test. What I have written here is a collection of my thoughts and analysis based on my knowledge in game as well as what I have number crunched on the PTR. Without working knowledge of how much harder the bosses are going to hit as well as knowing if we have lost of the ICC buff take, take these as reference only. I still believe they are helpful and recommend reading them though!
Heroic Marrowgar: After the patch we will only be able to pick one tank to stack lifeblooms on so you may want to confer with any other resto druid that is in your raid to better spread the love between the three tanks. This tank’n’spank phase remains largely the same for us beyond that as throwing out a handful or rejuvenations and Nourishes is not taxing on the mana. Bonestorm is going to be somewhat different though I don’t expect it to be too far off from your previous strategy. You will more than likely want to plant and toss our more Nourishes and Regrowths in addition to the standard Rejuvenation and Wild Growth. With mana at 80 being pretty decent I don’t see this as a major issue.
Degree of change: Minor
Heroic Lady Deathwhisper: With Regrowth jumping into the quick (expensive) heal role be prepared to use that on any players who take a stray add/MC hit. Rejuvenation/Wild Growth/Efflorescence should prove to be sufficient at covering players recently in a Death and Death or when a caster is empowered. When your primary AoE tools are on cooldown or if your mana is being drained too quickly nourish is always your backup plan. Once active things get a tad different. Normally, a viable strategy is to keep as many people pre-HoT’d as possible to cover the frostbolt volleys as well as add/MC/ghost damage. My initial impression is to take full advantage of Efflorescence on the melee who have a higher chance of taking ghost damage coupled with Wild Growth when necessary. Keep the tank loaded up with your standard tank healing suite and keep your eye on the raid. Standard combination of HoT (Rejuvenation, Wild Growth, Regrowth) + nourish works very well for the raid damage however don’t ever hold back on dropping a Efflorescence patch on a cluster of ranged who just took a ghost hit.
Degree of change: Medium
Heroic Gunship: No noticeable change
Degree of change: N/A
Deathbringer Saurfang: Over the course of the fight (until needed elsewhere) you will need to roll your standard tank healing suite on whoever has aggro currently. I don’t think this will prove any more strenuous than on live currently. For Blood Boil wait a moment for it to tick then toss out rejuvenations on everyone to take advantage of Gift of the Earthmother. For Blood Nova I wouldn’t worry about anything more than Nourish or Rejuv+Nourish. The real fun starts when the Marks come. If you are assigned to a mark simply shift your tank healing suite over to that player keeping rejuv on the tank with aggro and continue raid healing when time permits, very little change there. If you are assigned as a wild card healer then I would arbitrarily pick a mark or tank to keep your suite on and continue with your standard raid healing tactics which are fairly low key for this fight. Once you get to two or three marks then you’ll probably want to put your suite on the squishiest one.
Degree of change: Minor
Festergut: The first of the aura damage fights in ICC. I’d recommend trying the fight once using a max number of rejuv targets of your choosing. Five to six seems reasonable for starters (again don’t try this at 85). Follow your standard blanket technique to start at least, maintaining your tanking suite on whoever has aggro from the boss. If wild growth isn’t too draining then start to work that in as well. Take advantage of temporary cluster ups dropping a Efflorescence pool when people group up for the spore inoculation. Between spores keep Efflorescence under the melee when possible. This is a fight with steady predictable damage so I don’t see it proving difficult for us with the new healing paradigm. After the third inhale don’t be afraid to break out Healing Touch for the tank, stopcasting can be your friend here. Prior to pungent blight safely blanket as many as you can and prep Efflorescence under the melee.
Degree of change: Minor
Rotface: This isn’t a very stressful fight healing wise so I do not see any potential pitfalls with any of the upcoming changes. Efflorescence/Wild Growth will be a nice boon topping off any players hanging out in melee that may have been spit on or hit by mutation/small slimes. Regrowth should prove sufficient for Vile Gas and a combination of Rejuvenation and a direct heal will prove suitable for any other minor damage. As usual keep your standard tank healing suite up and keep Rejuvenation on the tank kiting the large slime.
Degree of change: Minor
Professor Putricide: With the “Revitalize trick” no longer applicable, you can resume your normal healing roles for this fight. Maintain your tank suite at all times if anything for its secondary benefits. There is no reason to not keep applying Efflorescence to the melee whenever possible as they are generally the only group that clusters up over the course of the fight due to the plague. I would recommend doing your usual pre-HoT’s for the green slime (number varying with drain on mana). Use your Omen of Clarity procs on Regrowth or Healing Touch every time they are available after Green Slime explosions, or on targets of those slimes who are taking damage from the DoT’s. During phase 3 you will probably have more of an opportunity to drop Efflorescence on the range group as they move between the slime puddles. I am worried the color of Efflorescence will freak people out so I recommend giving them a heads up. When the phase 3 raid damage gets higher you may want to constantly keep the squishy casters HoT’d along with maintaining your tank suite. I expect there is the potential to really burn our resources during phase so be careful.
Degree of change: Medium
Blood Princes: I don’t forsee any major difference in healing this particular fight as it did not necessary cater to any style of healing that was altered. While yes there is the potential for many raid members to take damage it is generally at predicted times where Pre-HoT’s will still work. Maintain your tank suite and adhere to the fight’s mechanics and you will be fine. The only real change is Regrowth being your in a pinch go to heal.
Degree of change: Minor
Blood Queen Lana’thiel: This is a fight I am genuinely concerned about how to best approach it. There is heavy raid damage through her aura, random targeted damage, and both of her debuffs that she places on raid members. The best solution I can think of, without knowing how many raid members we can economically keep blanketed over the course of the fight, is to have group healing assignments. We generally have 2 groups of melee+tanks, 2 groups of ranged (sometimes +1 healer), and 1 group of healers. If you have two or three healers split groups 3,4,5 (not melee) and have the remaining healers covering melee you will probably be just fine. Between CoH, Wild Growth, Efflorescence, and Chain Heal the melee should be very well covered. Be prepared to let Regrowth’s fly during the Blood Bolt air phase and Pact. Remember that if you toss out a rejuvenation after a Regrowth it benefits from mastery.
Degree of change: Major
Valithra Dreamweaver: I am going to feign ignorance on this one as I generally am tasked with joining our two pallies or a pally and shaman in the portals. I might need to try this one for myself outside of the portals before I can make a decision.
Degree of change: N/A
Sindragosa: At first I was worried a bit about our ability to heal the raid damage however the fact that everyone clusters up for the ground phases means you can get ridiculous use out of Efflorescence. For this fight keep your tank suite active on whoever has aggro from her the whole time (I know it can be a pain with LoS during phase 3 but it will be worth the effort). Aside from Efflorescence use Wild Growth when possible and capitalize on every Omen of Clarity proc possible to drop a Regrowth where it is needed. Given the amount of downtime in the fight during the air phase and when afflicted with the debuff you may very well be able to blanket Rejuvenation more aggressively. As in live drop a Rejuv on every Beacon target during the air phases. For phase 3 there less of a respite for mana regeneration however you still have the added benefit of the raid clustering. Drop a Efflorescence behind each frost tomb and continue to wild Growth when available. If you go into this phase fairly well rested and with an innervate share available, you should be able to liberally use Regrowth/Rejuvenation to help keep people up. I know this will be challenging but I am optimistic that with Efflorescence and the punch of our crit Regrowth we will have acceptable tools for the job beyond our usual HoTs.
Degree of change: Major
Lich King: Expect an update on this soon. Given that we are still working on this fight and that it was previously not favorable to resto druids I’d like to experience it before adding feedback. Our improved tank healing however will afford us significantly more use during this encounter.
I know I am not as talented at writing as a lot of the more notable Bloggers out there but I hope that I have at least helped to get your brain thinking about these changes so you can hit the ground running with them. Good luck in there and hopefully it might be the push you needed to get those Heroic kills that have been eluding you.