Sunday, 3 October 2010

Druid healing at level 80 in Patch 4.0.1

UPDATE: I've completed the Restoration Druid Healing Guide for level 80 in 4.0.1, which you can find here: Full Guide: How to be a Tree! Resto Guide for 4.0.1 and Beyond!

The guide will again be updated when Cata hits to reflect changes for level 85, a full 85 spec, new gems and enchants, etc!

The old 3.3.5 Guide was removed, as was the placeholder in progress guide for 4.0.1, so be sure to update any bookmarks or links you may have.

With Patch 4.0.1 just around the corner, I thought I’d touch upon preparations for the patch and raiding at 80 with the new specs.
I recommend stocking up on some gems and glyphs if you can, especially as I imagine many may have their prices gouged on the AH. The changeover from Emblems to Justice Points may not work out favourably as well - I’ve been preempting the change buy purchasing gems with emblems rather than waiting. 
Resto and Balance gems will likely not need too much changing, if any. All gems with Spellpower (Runed, Reckless, etc) will have the spellpower change to intellect. Feral gems will see more of a change - all of your Armour Pen gems will be changing to Crit (likely due to going to either Agility or Strength would be a problem for some classes). I’ve been stocking up on Rubies to resocket all of the Crit gems to Agility.
The new glyph system will be excellent, particularly if you are often respeccing your trees, as you will now learn glyphs once and they will remain in your spellbook. Many glyphs are simply changing in function and so it appears that you will be able to buy the current glyph now, and it will change along with the patch. I’ve been picking up as many glyphs as possible to have them on hand and ready for the patch.
Raiding as Resto in 4.0.1
I am planning on healing with the following spec at level 80 until Cataclysm hits:

I have opted for 3 points in Heart of the Wild for the Intellect (and consequent Spellpower) boost and have not placed any points into Nature’s Grace, as the additional haste will likely not be necessary if already haste-capped at level 80. Depending on the speed of damage incoming with the increased healthpools in the patch, I may consider moving points into Nature’s Torment to reduce the cast times on Nourish and Healing Touch. 
What will be most key is finding which spec works best for you, your gear, and the content you are working on. For raiding at level 80, I prefer the spec above to maximize spellpower and heals and also to provide some raid utility (by taking Revitalize to provide replenishment).
If you have been using the 18/0/53 Resto spec to pick up the haste from Celestial Focus, you may find you need to regem for Haste (or take Nature’s Grace) in order to help lift you back closer to the cap. Keep in mind the Nature’s Grace effect is a proc with a one-minute cooldown.
A note on haste: At level 80, you'll need 1015 haste to have enough in order to gain an extra Rejuv tick with the new hasted HoTs. Reforging will likely be very helpful in this. With mana pools increasing so much due to all our spellpower gems turning to intellect, regen will likely not be a huge issue, so Spirit is a potentially good stat to reforge into Haste and into Crit (especially as HoTs will also be able to crit). With the change to Tree of Life, spirit will no longer be feeding into our spellpower, so it's not as large a loss as it may have been in 3.3.5.

I will be using the following glyphs:

Prime: Lifebloom (increased crit chance); Swiftmend (unchanged); Rejuvenation (increases the healing of your Rejuvenation by 10%).
Major: Wild Growth (unchanged); Rebirth (unchanged); Healing Touch (when HT is used, the cooldown of Nature’s Swiftness is reduced by 5 sec).
Minor: Wild (unchanged); Unburdened Rebirth (unchanged); Dash (unchanged).
I’m very keen on the new setup as it gives room for some of the crucial glyphs (Swiftmend, Unburdened Rebirth) as well as glyphs which are useful but wasted glyph spots in 3.5 (Rebirth, for example).
As far as healing goes: You will definitely find yourself using all of your spells, and I highly recommend trying it out on live currently if you are not used to using them. 
Rejuvenation and Wild Growth will both be important in 4.0, but will be changing and will be best mixed in with all of your other spells. Preemptively blanketing a raid with Rejuvs simply will not work in 4.0. The duration of Rejuvenation is decreased, as well as the duration of the Regrowth HoT, so you will likely simply spam yourself OoM very quickly if you attempt to just cover the entire raid with Rejuvs. The cooldown on Wild Growth has also been increased to 10 seconds. You will still be doing some preemptive hotting, but it will need to be much more strategic and careful rather than mindless spamming. Wild Growth as well will still be a crucial heal, but with a greater cooldown and increased mana cost, you will not be able to do the 5 rejuvs/WG method in 4.0. 
Lifebloom will play an interesting new role. It will likely only be up on your tank, and its interaction with Nourish refreshing the stacks makes for a strong tank healing tool. Our new mastery where the presence of a HoT on a target boosts your heals on the target (similar to how Nourish works) will be really excellent both on tanks and on the raid. Lifebloom NO LONGER returns some of the mana cost, and Omen of Clarity has been changed so that it only removes the mana cost from cast-time spells. If you’ve been like me in Wrath where you’ve tossed out LBs on OoC procs for the free mana return, you’ll have to retrain yourself out of that habit.
Swiftmend and Efflorescence is another interesting, fun and very useful new tool. Swiftmend has always been an excellent heal, especially in emergencies. The new mechanic of Efflorescence proccing off of Swiftmend makes SM even more useful and interesting to use. Ideally, your Swiftmends will be targeted either on groups (ie someone in Melee or in ranged, or perhaps the tank if he’s stacked up with melee) to provide that additional HoT on the group. It can also be a nice additional HoT if you need to SM the tank so he keeps getting some healing on top of everything else. I still recommend using SM in emergencies, even if the target isn’t stacked up in a group. This is for several reasons: Swiftmend is still a good emergency tool if you need that instant heal (though so far it does seem to be healing for less than on life). If the target doesn’t need to move drastically far, he can also remain in the Efflorescence zone for additional healing. The area of the Efflorescence zone was increased to 8 yards, which gives a lot of space for people to move into. Others who need healing can also move into the zone, or perhaps it’s a place that the rest of the raid will be moving into.
Tree of Life cooldown has been reduced to 3 minutes, and it has a 30 second duration. Particularly in longer raid fights, you would be able to use this more than once in a fight. Regrowth is now our quickest cast heal, and in ToL form, it becomes an instant-cast spell. This can be useful for getting out lots of quick/instant heals out with little HoTs on them if you have a bunch of people that need to be topped up very quickly. Do keep in mind that Regrowth is now fairly costly in terms of mana, so don’t let yourself spam it til you go OoM. Wild Growth will also hit an additional target while in ToL form, so be sure to target those strategically to make most use of the additional HoT. A recent change to ToL saw it enabling LB to be cast on more than one target, so keep that in mind for use as well.
You will be using Nourish and Healing Touch while healing. Nourish will likely be one of your main spells for bigger cast heals, particularly on tanks as it will refresh your LB stack. Nourish is still boosted by other HoTs (though it appears you can no longer boost Nourish additionally through glyphs). Nature’s Swiftness is still a crucial talent to be used with Healing Touch in emergencies for a massive instant heal. Despite the long cast times on both Healing Touch and Nourish, they are still crucial, and HT can give you some nice big heals. On Beta, at least, tanks are NOT dying in one GCD. Gear will be updated with the 4.0.1 patch to have a lot more stamina, so healthpools will increase with the patch. Hopefully, then, tanks not dying in a GCD will be active in 4.0.1, and you will have time to use Nourish and HT. It is disappointing to no longer have 1-second or sub-1-second cast Nourishes as we do on Live, but the change should not matter with the change in healthpools. You WILL still have to time your spells well and make good decisions, as tanks and raid members WILL still die. Hopefully what we will not have is the tank deaths from two massive hits in 0.6 seconds despite constant incoming heals.

Tranquility will also be a lot more useful in 4.0.1 and beyond. The only change to Tranquility is that it now operates similar to Divine Hymn, in that it will affect members of your party OR raid - it is no longer restricted to party-only. This is a really excellent and useful change.

As we get into 4.0.1 and approach 4.0.3 and Cataclysm itself, I’ll keep updating on specs and healing. Though talent trees have been fairly consistent of late, there’s still always the potential for change as we approach the xpac. Specs and talent choices may need to shift slightly as well for when we get to level 85 end-game heroics and raiding. I’ll start updating the Healing Guide in preparation for Cata, which will likely undergo some changes between now, xpac release, and for the first few weeks after release as people hit 85, specs and spells are fine-tuned, and full theorycrafting gets underway.
Healing is looking like it will be fun, especially as a druid, so don’t panic about the new changes! They’re all a lot of fun so far and I think people will really find them enjoyable.

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