The Resto Guide and Feral Guide are updated for 4.1, but I wanted to get this post up first for a nice summary of the changes as well as a look at the Resto talent tree changes.
Let's start by taking a look at the official patch notes for druids, before diving into some Resto spec options with the altered talent tree! Full patch notes can be seen on MMO-Champ here: Patch 4.1 Rise of the Zandalari Features.
• Lacerate bonus threat has been removed and replaced with increased initial damage done.
• Efflorescence has a new spell effect.
• Enrage no longer increases physical damage taken.
• Lifebloom's bloom effect has been reduced by 20%.
• Prowl has a new icon.
• Savage Defense has been redesigned slightly. Instead of a single charge absorption, it now places an absorption effect on the druid absorbing up to 35% of the druid's attack power (modified by mastery, if applicable) in damage and lasting 10 seconds. There are no longer any charges on the effect.
• Stampeding Roar's duration has been increased to 8 seconds, up from 6. The movement speed effect has been increased to 60%, up from 40% and is no longer cancelled by cancelling shapeshift form.
• Swipe (Bear) cooldown has been reduced to 3 seconds, down from 6, and is now on trainable at level 18 (training cost has been reduced). In addition, the bonus threat from this ability has been removed and replaced with increased damage done.
• Swipe (Cat) damage has been doubled.
• Thrash bonus threat has been removed and replaced with increased damage done.
• Druids now innately have 100% pushback protection from damage while channeling Tranquility.
• Starsurge damage has been reduced by 20%.
• Solar Beam is now more responsive when enemies move into or out of it.
• Berserk is no longer on the global cooldown.
• Feral Swiftness now also causes Dash and Stampeding Roar to have a 50/100% chance to instantly remove all movement impairing effects from the affected targets when used.
• Gift of Nature (passive) also reduces Tranquility's cooldown by 2.5/5 minutes.
• Efflorescence has been redesigned. It creates a healing zone at the feet of a Swiftmend target, but this healing zone now restores health equal to 4/8/12% of the amount healed by Swiftmend to the three most injured targets within 8 yards, every 1 second for 7 seconds. This periodic effect now also benefits from spell haste, but the individual ticks cannot be critical effects. In addition, Living Seed is no longer a prerequisite talent for Efflorescence.
• Malfurion's Gift now reduces the cooldown of Tranquility by 2.5/5 minutes.
• Nature's Swiftness now also increases the healing done by the affected nature spell by 50%.
• Glyph of Rake is now Glyph of Pounce, which increases the range of Pounce by 3 yards.
Druid Bug Fixes
• The troll druid models for Flight Form and Swift Flight Form has slimmed down to be more in scale with other druid flight forms.
• Druids should no longer have UI issues after leaving a vehicle.
A lot of changes! I won't be going into detail on the Bear and Balance changes, though they've seen a few. Stampeding Roar has gotten a nice buff, with a longer duration and greater movement speed applied, however the range still hasn't been adjusted so that remains fairly small.
Feral cats see some nice new changes - Swipe damage has been doubled, making it much better for AoE attacks again (as opposed to tab-Raking, which had been a much more effective means of AoE for smaller add packs). Berserk is no longer on the global cooldown which is a very nice change. The talent Feral Swiftness has also been altered to allow Dash and Stampeding Roar to remove movement impairing effects, restoring some of the mobility to Ferals which was lost when shapeshifting was altered to no longer free you.
An important change for all druids too is that Tranquility now has 100% pushback protection - therefore it is no longer needed to pair Barkskin with the channel if you don't want to or can't without risking losing Tranquility ticks.
|Image from Keeva's post on TreeBarkJacket: Efflorescence Graphic Changed|
Nature's Swiftness is also getting a slight buff, it now increases the healing done by the affected Nature spell used by 50%. When combined with Healing Touch, then, you'll see it heal for an additional 50%. This will hopefully make the spell more attractive for those who haven't taken it as well as a nice buff for those of us already using it.
One of the big changes coming to Resto is the reduced cooldown for Tranquility. Speccing into Malfurion's Gift will reduce Tranquility's cooldown to 3 minutes, bringing it in line with other raid cooldowns such as Power Word: Barrier and Divine Guardian. This looks set to make Tranquility the Resto druid's 'raid cooldown'. While I personally think a damage mitigation cooldown (or component) would have been a bit better (and also bring us in line with the other healers), this will undoubtedly still be a strong cooldown for Resto druids. Tranquility can be excellent and lifesaving in a fight and being able to use it multiple times per fight will be extremely helpful for Resto druids. This also gives us a bit more freedom with when we decide to use our Tranquility - often in a fight there are times you want to save the Tranq for a specific time, which may discourage one from popping it earlier when the raid may need it. The reduced cooldown will give us some more flexibility now in when and how often we use it. Combining Tranq with other raid cooldowns (especially, say, a Power Word: Barrier glyphed for increased healing received while under it) will also be extremely powerful measures for raids.
The biggest change for Resto in this patch is to our talent tree, as Living Seed is finally unlinked from Efflorescence. This will theoretically free up a few points for many druids and also allow druids to take a full 3 points in Efflorescence (especially with its new effect) without being required to spend another 3 points just to get it. I had hoped that Living Seed itself would see a redesign, especially as many druids look set to drop it, but we'll have to wait on that point for now.
The big question now remains: Where do I put those spare points?
Regardless of where you decide to spend the points, two of those points will have to be within the first three tiers of the tree just to get you to the higher tiers - so you will be spending points in either Blessing of the Grove, Living Seed, or Perseverance. How you decide to spend them though will depend largely on what you're healing and your role. With this in mind, below are some sample specs you could try (for convenience sake, I have kept the Balance and Feral trees as 8/2, picking up mana saving talents):
All-around healing - 2 points in Blessing of the Grove, 1 point in Living Seed.
This is a pretty solid all around spec, picking up a point in Living Seed for its contribution to tank healing, 2 points in Blessing of the Grove for its contribution to raid healing. This spec also picks up Nature's Swiftness and, for those in need of a dispel, Nature's Cure.
Tank Healing - Picking up 3 points in Living Seed.
Spell Damage - Taking points in Perseverance.
This last spec also starts to venture back into the other flexible points in the tree. Despite the buff to Nature's Swiftness, I imagine many may still shift that point elsewhere in the tree (particularly dedicated raid healers). Nature's Cure is also a potential candidate to move in situations (mostly 25 mans) where magic dispels are covered by other classes.
You can also pick up points in Nature's Bounty, such as in this spec:
These samples give you an idea of the bit of extra flexibility we now have in the tree! As ever, much of your choices will come down to how you heal and your role in raids and 5 mans. You can also adjust the Balance and Feral trees as desired, though again, I've gone with the 8/2/31 basis with mana saving talents for simplicity and for broad use.
Tangedyn over at The Inconspicuous Bear made a very useful tool to help you decide where your talent points may be best spent based on each talents worth: Living Seed Replacement Talent. Simply by going through your Recount/Skada/World of Logs/etc healing percentage breakdown and looking at your points spent and raid buffed spell crit, his tool can help you evaluate where your free points would be best placed.
As ever, don't be afraid to play around with the different specs and see which ends up working best for you! While a treant is forever, a talent tree is as flexible as you need it!