Monday, 12 July 2010

How to be a Tree! Part One: Specs and Glyphs

I thought I’d kick off the blog with a guide to being a tree.
The first three important things you MUST know how to do as a tree:
and, of course, how to jump.
Now that you’ve got those down, on to the rest!

All of the following is applicable as of patch 3.3.5.
I’ve decided to break up this guide into three sections:
Let’s start with Specs and Glyphs:
My current spec is a 14/0/57 build, which you can see here:

Broken down point by point:
Restoration tree:
Imp. Mark of the Wild 2/2: Increases all attributes by 2% as well as improving Mark/Gift of the Wild buff. 
Nature’s Focus 3/3: Reduces pushback caused by damaging spells while casting Regrowth and Nourish. 
Natural Shapeshifter 3/3: Reduces the mana cost of all shapeshifting.
Subtlety 2/3: Reduces threat caused by Restoration spells, gets you to the third tier.
Master Shapeshifter 2/2: Increases effect of shapeshift form; in ToL increases healing by 4%.
Omen of Clarity 1/1: Each of the druid’s healing, damage spells, and auto-attacks have a chance to cause the druid to enter a clearcasting state. Clearcasting reduces the mana/rage/energy cost of the next ability by 100%. A must in all specs.
Intensity 3/3: Allows mana regen to continue while casting; leads to Nature’s Swiftness.
Tranquil Spirit 1/5: Reduces mana cost of Nourish, Healing Touch and Tranquility.
Improved Rejuvenation 3/3: Increases the effect of Rejuvenation by 15%.
Nature’s Swiftness 1/1: When used, your next nature spell under 10s becomes an instant cast. 
Gift of Nature 5/5: Increases all healing by 10%.
Empowered Touch 2/2: Increases the bonus healing effects on Nourish and Healing Touch. 
Nature’s Bounty 5/5: Increases the critical effect chance of Regrowth and Nourish.
Living Spirit 3/3: Increases your total spirit by 15%.
Swiftmend 1/1: Consumes a Rejuv or Regrowth to instantly heal the target (combine with Glyph of Swiftmend in order to not consume your or other druid’s HoTs - Swiftmend CAN be used on targets affected by another druid’s HoTs).
Empowered Rejuvenation 5/5: Increases the bonus healing effect of your HoTs.
Living Seed 2/3: Nourish, Regrowth and Swiftmend criticals apply a living seed to the target which heals the target when they next take damage.
Revitalise 3/3: Rejuvenations and Wild Growths have a chance to restore Mana, Rage, Runic Power, or Energy to a target.
Tree of Life 1/1: Shapeshift into the Tree of Life.
Improved Tree of Life 3/3: Improves ToL, increases your spellpower by 15% of your spirit.
Gift of the Earthmother 5/5: Increases total spell haste by 10% and reduces the global cooldown of Lifebloom.
Wild Growth 1/1: Heals up to 5 (6 if glyphed) targets over 6 seconds.

Balance tree:
Genesis 5/5: Increases the healing of your HoT spells.
Moonglow 3/3: Reduces the mana cost of Nourish, Regrowth, Rejuvenation, Healing Touch by 9%.
Nature’s Majesty 2/2: Increases the critical effect chance of Nourish and Healing Touch.
Nature’s Grace 3/3: Non-periodic spell criticals increase spell casting speed by 20% for 3 seconds.
Nature’s Splendor 1/1: Increases the duration of your rejuvenation and regrowth spells.

Most of the points in this spec are pretty self-explanatory in terms of boosting healing and heal-over-time (HoTs) spells. I’ll touch on some of the talents as we move up each tier and also explain some of my talent choices which aren’t picked up by all trees.
Tranquil Spirit 1/5: I’ve only placed one point into this talent for several reasons. At higher gear levels and with the amount of replenishment available in 25 man raids, mana is less of an issue, so I’ve found it to be unnecessary to place any more points in there. I have considered removing that last point and putting it elsewhere (possibly to top up Living Seed to 3/3), however, that little bit of mana cost reduction is nice to have. 
My primary mana cost reduction points are over in the Balance tree, in Moonglow. I find Moonglow to be a much better talent to spend points for that purpose. Firstly, for only 3 points, it reduces the mana cost by 9% (3 points in TS will only get you 6% reduction). Moonglow also reduces the mana cost of Regrowth and Rejuvenation as well as Nourish and Healing Touch, Tranquil Spirit does not. The points in Moonglow are also required to get to the next tier in the Balance tree, whereas you can move on in the Restoration tree without Tranquil Spirit, so it’s points better spent elsewhere.
Improved Tranquility 0/2: I find myself rarely using tranquility in raids, mainly due to the fact that it currently only effects the druid’s party rather than the raid. I’ve read they may be changing Tranquility in Cataclysm to act a bit more like a priest’s Divine Hymn, so that it’s effect will be over the raid instead of the party, which will make the spell much more valuable.
Empowered Touch 2/2: I have seen druids not pick up this talent, for various reasons. One common reason arises out of the need for spare points, most often to pick up 18 points in Balance (I will touch on this spec variation shortly); another is some druids find it unnecessary as they tend to use only Rejuvenation and Wild Growth. I consider Empowered Touch to be an important talent, primarily as Nourish is an excellent spell and this talent boosts its heals even more. For more on the value and use of Nourish see the Spells and Strategies post.
Living Spirit and Improved Tree of Life: I mention this only as I have seen druids either skip the Living Spirit talent or, alternately, pick it up but then avoid gear or gems with spirit in favour of mp5 pieces. With Imp. Tree of Life, spirit increases a druid’s spellpower in Tree form as well as feeds into our mana regen, so spirit is nice to have on gear or on gems. (More in the Gear, Gems and Enchants post).
Living Seed 2/3: Another talent often skipped by druids, mostly by those again going for an 18/0/53 spec. This tends to be considered more of a tank-healing spec talent as well, and so is often skipped by those who consider themselves to be solely raid healers and nothing more. Although Living Seed will never make up the top percentage of your heals, it does still contribute to healing and every little bit helps. Often in raids as well, even if tasked with healing the raid, an eye is always on the tanks and I’m always putting my hots on the tanks and swiftmending them. The Living Seeds placed on the tanks will help, and again, every little helps, so I find this to be a good talent to pick up, whether maxxed 3/3 or not.
Revitalise 3/3: I’ve had some mixed feelings about this talent in the past, though I’ve grown more fond of it recently. The mana and rage return doesn’t seem too fantastic, but the runic power and energy return is really quite valuable. I’ve even seen Druids fill up a Death Knight’s runic power through HoTs pre-pull. Those little bits of resource return can add up in fights, particularly in straight dps races like Festergut and, certainly for the DKs and Rogues in melee, for Saurfang.
Gift of the Earthmother 5/5: I’ve seen druids miss this talent, but it’s an important one, particularly with all the haste we need at the moment.
In patch 3.3, Resto druids saw a change to the Gift of the Earthmother talent - it used to increase total spell haste by 20% (it now only increases it by 10%). Suddenly, druids needed a lot more haste in order to reduce the global cooldown to one second.
Using a spec like the one I use, you need approximately 850 haste to reach a one second global cooldown. If you’re low on haste, or prefer to gem only spellpower (see Gear, Gems and Enchants), you may prefer to use a spec which takes 18 points in the Balance tree.
Here is a typical example of the 18/0/53 spec used; here's a 18/0/53 which puts points in Empowered Touch.

I used a similar spec when 3.3 first dropped (though I opted to take points out of Revitalise rather than Empowered Touch) until I got enough haste from gear and gems. Running a spec like this you can get away with approximately 750 haste. The key difference is the 3 points spent in Celestial Focus in the Balance tree. Those 3 points increase your total spell haste by 3%. You also need to spend one extra point in Balance to reach the tier to get CF. One point in either Brambles or Nature's Reach would suffice... Brambles is nice as, if you're consistent in throwing Thorns on your tanks, the little bit of increase in damage from the thorns is nice. Nature's Reach only increases the range of your Balance spells and faerie fire, so not automatically useful, as you're not likely to be dpsing while healing (at least not until you overgear the content, anyway). Still, you might like to throw a faerie fire up on a boss or maybe you need to smack a Kinetic Bomb with a moonfire - the bit of extra range might be nice in those cases.
Lastly, glyphs!
Glyph of Swiftmend: Absolutely crucial for any tree! This glyph stops your Swiftmend from consuming the HoTs on the target, so your Rejuvs and Regrowths will remain on the target. It’s also very important because you can Swiftmend targets that have other druid’s HoTs rolling on them - other trees will not be pleased if you’re getting rid of all their HoTs when swiftmending!
Glyph of Wild Growth: This glyph increases the amount of targets your Wild Growth hits, from 5 to 6. I consider this to be a must-have for raids, particularly in 25mans, as it gives that much more cover over the raid. 10mans it could be arguably replaced with a different glyph, but I still find it very useful. The only time I’d say it’s unnecessary would really be just if you’re -only- healing 5 man dungeons, as at that point the extra Wild Growth would probably only be hoppng onto pets.
Glyph of Nourish: This glyph causes your Nourish spell to heal for an additional 6% for every HoT that is on the target. I think this is an excellent glyph - Nourish is already boosted by 20% if a HoT is on the target, and this glyph boosts it even more, making it an excellent heal. 
Those are the three major glyphs I currently use.
Glyph of Rapid Rejuvenation: I have mixed feelings about this glyph. What it does is it increases the haste of your Rejuv - so, the Rejuv heals will tick faster, BUT, your rejuvenation will end faster. I tend not to use this glyph, mainly as it messes with my healing style - I dislike that the Rejuvs end faster, as it effects my covering of the raid and I find makes it more difficult to use them as a preventive measure. 
Given haste will inherently effect HoT and DoT ticks (without reducting their duration) in Cataclysm, this glyph will become redundant in the future.
For Minor Glyphs, the only one I think is a necessity for any druid is the Glyph of Unburdened Rebirth. It allows your Rebirth to be cast without needing a reagent. This is crucial - it ensures you will never have a moment where someone needs a battle rez and you can’t because you didn’t top up your reagent stash.
The other two minor glyphs are pretty much up for grabs. I like the Glyph of the Wild, which just reduces the mana cost of Gift. This can be useful if someone is battle rezzed and they need to be rebuffed mid-fight, it won’t cost you too much mana to buff them. I also like Glyph of Dash, which reduces the cooldown on your Dash ability. Mainly useful in fights where you need to quickly shift to cat form and dash away from something, it’s nice for that cooldown to be ready sooner in case you need to do so again.
That’s all on specs and glyphs for now. Be sure to check out Spells and Strategies and Gear, Gems and Enchants

You can see the full guide altogether on the Guide to Healing page! I will try to keep that page updated with new patches and expansions along with the usual posts about changes on the normal blog.

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