Restoration Druid Fundamentals and Mechanics

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Restoration Druid Fundamentals and Mechanics

Post by Lealla » Wed Jun 25, 2008 1:01 am

The Tree Dance is Awesome: Restoration Druid Fundamentals and Mechanics

Welcome to the wonderful world of being a tree. In this post, I will attempt to shed some light beneath the leaves and find out what goes on in the murky depths of those branches. As always, the wonderful fellows at Elitist Jerks have provided far more technical information than I could possibly cover myself, so here's some light reading for anyone who wants to get the full in-depth look at how Restoration Druids work.

Elitist Jerks: Raiding as a Tree

I. Frequently Asked Questions
II. Abilities
III. Talents
IV. Statistics
V. Gear, Enchants, Consumables
VI. Spell Rotations

I. Frequently Asked Questions

Q: So, really, what's up with the tree thing?
A: Ask Blizzard. Priests wanted Holyform and instead Druids got Tree of Life. Feel free to joke about finding squirrels in our branches, peeing on us, using us for firewood, whatever floats your boat.

Q: What does a Restoration Druid bring to a raid?
A: 1) The most powerful and versatile HoT (Healing over Time) spells in the game.
2) The strongest instant cast direct heals in the game (Swiftmend, Nature's Swiftness + Healing Touch).
3) The ability to heal effectively on the move, almost never having to stop to cast a spell.
4) The ability to resurrect dead players in combat, every 20 minutes.
5) The ability to [practically] refill the mana bar of a single caster every 6 minutes (Innervate).
6) The best overall raid buff (Mark/Gift of the Wild).
7) Increases healing received by everyone in their party.
8) The ability to cure Poison debuffs (plus Curses when not in Tree of Life form).

Q: What are the weaknesses of a Restoration Druid?
A: 1) No reactive heals, no ability to prevent damage (strengths of Shamans and Priests, respectively).
2) No threat reducing abilities.
3) Direct heals are strong, but very slow, or on a cooldown (Swiftmend). Must rely on cooldowns to be able to respond to massive damage spikes.
4) Running speed reduced in Tree of Life form, making the Druid vulnerable in movement-sensitive fights.
5) The only AoE heal is on a 10 minute cooldown, is channeled, and affects only the Druid's group.

Q: Why are HoT's so great? What about direct heals?
A: HoTs (especially Lifebloom, covered in detail later) are incredibly effective at mitigating damage spikes. If a HoT is on a tank, and the tank takes damage, the HoT will tick and heal him whether or not anyone reacts in time to land a direct heal. With a variety of HoTs ticking at different rates, the tank effectively has an additional pool of health to draw from to keep him alive.

Example: A boss has a 2 second attack speed, and a nasty instant attack. The boss hits the tank for 5K and 10K in the space of less than a second. If a heal doesn't land in time, the tank could die to the next hit. Lifebloom ticks every second, and so the tank is guaranteed at least one tick of its heal before taking another hit from the boss, and possibly two. That means anywhere from 700-1600 additional health to buffer the next hit, buying time for a direct heal to land.

Moreover, when raid members are taking predictable but not catastrophic damage, the Druid can drop a HoT on each in turn, needing only to wait for the GCD, and can forget about those players as their life bar gradually fills back up.

Q: What roles can a Restoration Druid fill in a raid?
A: Main tank healer is the Druid's primary and most effective role. A good Druid can keep rolling Lifeblooms on as many as 4 tanks at the same time (more with sufficient spell haste), and can keep a variety of HoTs on one or two tanks. When a tank is not taking massive spike damage, a single Druid can easily keep him/her alive indefinitely without running out of mana. Druids can also make decent raid healers, although they lose some of the benefits of mana efficiency and rolling Lifeblooms. Druids are subpar in an AoE healing role, having no multi-target heals that are not on a huge cooldown.

II. Abilities

As there's already a thread for Balance Druids, I will cover here only those spells that are typically used by a Druid in a healing role. Spells that cannot be cast in Tree of Life form are marked with ToL. Although I'll cover it separately, remember that Tree of Life form reduces the mana cost of Regrowth and all HoT spells by 20% while active.

Healing Touch ToL
3.5 sec cast (3 sec talented) direct Nature heal.
Healing Touch is the largest direct heal in the game. It's also the one healing spell you will almost never see used in a raid. That's because it's so slow that it's very difficult to use effectively in the middle of 1.5 sec, 2 sec, and 2.5 sec heals. By the time HT lands, the target is either topped off or dead. It also has the disadvantage of not being usable in Tree of Life form. However, when paired with Nature's Swiftness (see below), it becomes an incredibly powerful instant heal, albeit on a 3 minute cooldown.

2 sec cast direct Nature heal, 21 sec HoT (ticks every 3 sec)
Regrowth is half direct heal, half HoT. In terms of mana efficiency, it's quite poor - even though you end up with the exact same amount of overall healing per mana as Healing Touch, it's faster, so you go OoM a lot more quickly when chain casting it. Regrowth is the basic fallback emergency heal in Tree of Life form, allowing a relatively quick "save" and a very long duration followup HoT that can either tick the target back to full or buffer against future damage. The HoT can also be Swiftmended. When healing a single tank, Regrowth provides a third HoT, so it's worthwhile to use in heavy damage situations.

Instant cast Nature HoT, 12 sec duration (ticks every 3 sec)
Rejuvenation used to be the bread and butter HoT before BC. Now it takes second fiddle to Lifebloom. The nice part about Rejuvenation is that the tick is huge - higher by far than Lifebloom or Regrowth. The even nicer part is that you can Swiftmend it for an enormous instant heal, making the combination of Rejuvenation and Swiftmend the most powerful 1.5 sec direct heal in the game. When you're tank healing, put up Rejuvenation whenever you can between rolling Lifeblooms. When you're raid healing, Rejuvenation is cheaper than Regrowth to toss around, but takes longer to deliver its effect.

Instant cast Nature Hot, 7 sec duration (ticks every 1 sec). Stacks up to 3 times. When the duration expires or it is dispelled, delivers an instant direct heal to the target.
Lifebloom is the awesomesauce, the bread and butter of the Restoration Druid. A full discussion of its mechanics would take several paragraphs, but let's cover the high points. It ticks every second, making it amazing for buffering damage spikes. It stacks up to 3 times, and each subsequent cast refreshes the duration of the stack, making it incredibly mana-efficient to hold on a target. In fact, a Druid with even moderate mana regen can hold 2 separate Lifebloom stacks almost indefinitely. When tank healing, you should strive never to let a stack fall off. When raid healing, Lifebloom tops off the target very quickly for a miniscule mana cost, although it does less total healing than Regrowth or Rejuvenation.

Mechanical note: the final heal delivered by Lifebloom counts as if the target had healed him/herself. This means (a) you don't get credit for it on meters (sorry) unless you are the target; (b) it generates threat for the target, not for you; (c) it does not trigger any effects caused by you casting a heal on someone else (e.g., no trinket or idol procs), or them receiving a heal from you (e.g., Paladins don't get mana back). An interesting use of this effect is to precast Lifebloom on a tank making a difficult pull - when the final bloom occurs (assuming he's taken at least some damage), the heal will credit to the tank and increase his threat on all mobs in the encounter. Be wary of the initial ticks drawing aggro, though!

(Talent) Instant cast, consumes one Regrowth or Rejuvenation effect on the target to deliver the total amount of the HoT as instant healing.
This is one of the neater tricks in the Restoration Druid's arsenal. When you need instant healing on a target, cast Regrowth or Rejuvenation on them and then cast Swiftmend. They'll receive instant healing for the full amount that the HoT would have delivered had it lasted the whole duration. This does not count healing already done, so it's just as powerful on the very last tick as it is on the first. Swiftmend allows Druids to compensate for burst damage, especially on tanks. If you maintain HoTs on the tank as part of your standard rotation, and the tank takes a big hit, just Swiftmend it and go back to your business. See under Rejuvenation for some other nice uses.

Self-targeted, channeled AoE Nature HoT in a 20 yard radius, lasts 8 seconds, ticks every 2 seconds. 10 minute cooldown.
Tranquility is without question the most powerful AoE heal in the game, delivering 8K-10K health to your entire party over 8 seconds. The killer is the cooldown, making it highly situational - in fact, you'll find yourself casting it more often in a 5-man party than in a raid, unless things go completely to hell. Also, without the talented threat reduction, it's very likely to pull aggro to you, as the threat generation is enormous. If you're going to cast it, and there's any chance of you taking damage yourself, cast Barkskin first to avoid pushback.

Nature's Swiftness
(Talent) Instant cast, makes your next Nature spell with a cast time under 10 seconds instant, 3 minute cooldown.
Nature's Swiftness exists for one reason and one reason only: to allow you to cast Healing Touch instantly. There are several standard macros that can assist you with this (see here). Yes, you can use it with Regrowth, but that's not nearly as sexy.

Abolish Poison
Instant cast, dispels one Poison effect instantly and dispels an additional Poison effect every 2 seconds for 8 seconds (Nature school).
This is a very basic cleansing ability, and comes into use quite often. The ongoing cleanse is great in that it frees you up to cast more spells without worrying about the target taking additional debuffs for the duration. Where you only ever expect a single Poison effect to be cleansed at once, you may consider downranking to Cure Poison, as it's slightly cheaper to cast. Balance Druids cannot cast this spell in Moonkin Form, but they can cast Remove Curse.

Remove Curse ToL
Instant cast, dispels one curse effect on a friendly unit (Arcane school).
This is exactly what it says. Druids and Mages are the only classes that can remove curses. While Balance Druids may cast this spell in Moonkin Form, you can't cast it in Tree of Life form, so consider allowing the Mages and Boomkins to do their job. In an emergency, shift, decurse, then get back in Tree as fast as possible.

Instant cast, increases Intellect/Spirit-based mana regen by 400% and allows full regeneration while casting for 20 seconds, 6 minute cooldown.
Innervate pretty much refills the mana bar of any raid-buffed caster, unless they have really abysmal Spirit regeneration to begin with. When you have Innervate, the five second rule no longer applies and you can freely cast while regenerating mana at the maximum rate. Unless you're chain-casting Regrowths, you should seldom need your own Innervate, but discuss with the raid leaders how they want to use it most effectively.

Instant cast, reduces all damage taken by 20% and prevents spell pushback for 12 seconds (Nature school). 1 minute cooldown. Usable when stunned, incapacitated, feared, or asleep.
This spell is much improved from the old days, when it used to increase the casting time of all your spells. It's basically designed for two purposes: to allow you to reduce incoming damage when you can anticipate it coming (e.g., you get a nasty DoT that you can't dispel, pull aggro from mobs that won't one-shot you, get Stoned by Gruul when too close to other players, or get Water Tombed without enough health to survive the damage plus fall.); or to prevent spell pushback when you really can't afford it. The latter's principle benefit is to allow you to channel Hurricane or Tranquility without risking pushback. Another good use is when you get an Inner Demon from Leotheras. Do not forget about it.

2 sec cast, returns the target dead player to life with 3200 health and mana, requires a reagent, 20 minute cooldown.
Druids are the only players that can resurrect another party member in combat. Soulstones are preemptive - they depend on the person it's cast on dying. Shamans can self-rez every hour, but only you can do it to someone else without prior notice. Oddly, you can cast this in Tree of Life form. Coordinate with your raid leader when deciding who to raise, since at best you'll get to do it once per fight.

Tree of Life
(Talent) Shapeshift. Transforms the Druid into the Tree of Life, reducing movement speed by 20% but increasing healing done to all players in the Druid's party by 25% of the Druid's Spirit. When in the Tree of Life, the Druid may only cast Regrowth, Rejuvenation, Lifebloom, Swiftmend, Abolish Poison, Tranquility, Innervate, Barkskin, Nature's Swiftness, and Rebirth, and the mana cost of all healing spells' is reduced by 20%.
When you're raid healing, you want to be in this form whenever possible. It has amazing benefits both to you and to the raid. First, all your heals are cheaper to cast, meaning that you can pretty much chain-cast Lifebloom without going OOM. Second, your entire party gets increased healing taken, which makes you a perfect addition to the tank group. The drawbacks are reduced movement speed (which impacts survivability) and limited spell selection. You need supreme situational awareness as a Tree, because due to the reduced speed, it takes you that much longer to escape targeted AoE effects. You can cleanse poison in tree form, but you can't remove curses without shifting back to caster, so be aware of the costs involved. You also lose access to Healing Touch, which is not as terrible as it seems for the reasons discussed above.

III. Talents

Restoration Druids come in several flavors. For raid healing, you generally want to take all the talents that directly or indirectly improve your HoTs, and then consider where you want to spend the remaining points. You can delve into the Balance tree to give yourself some DPS, take the optional Healing Touch talents, or even dip into Feral to give yourself some PvP capabilities. There's also what's known as the Dreamstate build, where instead of improving HoTs, the Druid instead tries to maximize the power of Healing Touch, coupled with incredible mana regeneration and decent (but not great) DPS capabilities. The Dreamstate build is all but obsolete for raid healing, for the reasons discussed in the FAQ above.

The all-out healing build. The last 2 points can go wherever you want.
Maximize raid healing with extra points in Balance. The exact distribution of Balance talents is a matter of taste; this is just one example.
The much maligned Dreamstate build. Again, the precise distribution of Balance talents is a matter of taste, but remember that you will be subpar at DPS compared to a full Balance Druid, and subpar at raid healing compared to a full Restoration Druid.

A quick review of the key Restoration talents follows.

Restoration Tree
Improved Mark of the Wild - You need to get to tier 2, and this is the best place to put the 5 points. Furor is worthless to a Tree.
Naturalist - Oddly enough, this talent is skippable for raid healing. That's because you should never be casting Healing Touch without Nature's Swiftness. You can get it for a maxed out healing build if you really want.
Nature's Focus - 70% reduction to spell pushback is very useful in some fights, and this talent is therefore a far better use of points than Naturalist.
Intensity - 30% of Intellect/Spirit-based regen while casting. This talent is absolutely critical to any healing build.
Subtlety - 20% passive threat reduction for all spells. This talent is another vital one, as healing threat is a bigger issue than it may appear at first, especially when your HoTs get to ticking all over the place. The dispel resistance is mainly useful for PvP.
Omen of Clarity - Although this is a key Feral talent, it bears mention mainly in that if you find yourself OOM or forced to go to bear or cat form to survive, you get a small chance to get a free spellcast if you melee something. It's weak enough that you'd only really want to take it in a full (60 point) Resto build, or for PvP.
Tranquil Spirit - At first glance, a 10% reduction to Healing Touch and Tranquility cost looks great. But considering that you'll be casting HT at best once every 3 minutes, this talent is eminently skippable. You may need to dump a point or two into it to progress further down the tree, though.
Improved Rejuvenation - 15% bonus to your most powerful HoT. Get it, as you must have it for Improved Regrowth.
Nature's Swiftness - Your next Nature spell with a cast time under 10 seconds becomes instant. This combo allows you to deliver an instant Healing Touch every 3 minutes. Macro it and keep it handy for emergencies. Yes, it also works with Regrowth, but that's a much smaller heal and generally a waste.
Gift of Nature - 10% improvement to all healing spells. This is a solid core talent.
Improved Tranquility - This is an optional talent for a raid healer, simply because Tranquility is an all or nothing spell. If you have to use it, the raid is probably hosed anyway and threat is the least of your concerns. For small groups (5- or 10-man), it's worth considering, but only just.
Empowered Touch - Increases Healing Touch's healing coefficient by 20%. For only two points, this talent is a steal, as it does dramatically improve the effectiveness of your NS+HT combo.
Improved Regrowth - +50% critical effect chance to your Regrowth. This talent dramatically increases the efficiency of chain-casting Regrowth - remember, increased healing power = more healing per mana.
Living Spirit - Increases your Spirit by 15%. Considering how critical Spirit is to the Restoration Druid, you *must* get this talent.
Swiftmend - Instantly consumes a Regrowth or Rejuvenation effect on the target to deliver healing equal to the total potential amount of the HoT. The details of this spell are coverered above under Abilities. Just know that it's one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal.
Natural Perfection - Increases spell critical strike chance by 3% and reduces damage taken by 4% for 10 seconds when you are the victim of a critical strike (stacks up to 3 times). This is one of those talents that's nice to have this deep in the tree, as it gives you some additional survivability when soloing or in PvP. For raid healing, it's only so-so, but you have points to spare in the core Resto build and spending them here makes a great deal of sense.
Empowered Rejuvenation - Increases the spell healing coefficient of your HoTs by 20%. It's awesome all by itself, and considering you need it for Tree of Life, it's a no-brainer.
Tree of Life - This is the reason you specced at least 41 points into Restoration. Described above in detail.

Balance Tree
There are only a few Balance talents that directly contribute to healing, which I'll cover here. The other Balance talents are best left to the Moonkin thread.

Lunar Guidance - 25% of your Intellect adds to spell damage and healing. This is a core component of the Dreamstate build, as it gives a significant boost to healing, which is exactly what you need to max out HT.
Nature's Grace - Whenever you critically strike with any spell, your next spell casts 0.5 sec faster. I mention this here only because NG is a great synergizer for Healing Touch - anything that lowers the abysmal cast time is good.
Moonglow - A flat 9% reduction to the mana cost of your most common healing (and damage) spells. If you're going to push out HTs, you will go OOM fast - this dulls the pain a bit and stacks with Tranquil Spirit in the Restoration tree.
Dreamstate - 10% of Intellect becomes mp5. This is the only reason to delve this deep into the Balance tree, and with the Spirit regeneration changes in 2.4, it's a very weak one. In fact, Intensity now provides so much more regeneration to a properly geared Restoration Druid that Dreamstate is almost a joke.

IV. Statistics

Note that these stat evaluations are based on the standard raiding spec given above.

Primary Stats
Intellect - Intellect is useful to boost your mana pool and also, since 2.4, because it increases your Spirit based mana regeneration.
Spirit - Your life is Spirit. It gets boosted by your talents, it gives you insane amounts of mana regeneration, and it increases the effect of your Tree of Life aura. A Restoration Druid should stack Spirit above all other stats except raw healing.
Spell Healing - Get it, enough said.
Spell Haste - Spell haste is valuable to a healer, especially since the change to allow it to affect the global cooldown. Enough spell haste lets you increase the number of Lifebloom stacks you can maintain at a time, which is a valuable thing. See the Elitist Jerks thread linked above for lots of theorycraft on this statistic.

Secondary Stats
Stamina - Gear for Stamina to the level required by the content you're attempting (e.g., don't go into BT with less than 9K buffed). In most cases, raid drops will provide more than enough, although crafted gear may not.
Mana per 5 seconds - Since the 2.4 changes to the Intellect/Spirit regeneration formula, mp5 is far less valuable as a statistic. In raid quality Restoration gear, you get far more benefit from Spirit, to the point where it actually hurts your performance to take mp5 gear. Only sacrifice Spirit for mp5 if the item is a dramatic upgrade in other areas.
Armor - Unlike the Feral or Balance Druid, you have no way to multiply your armor bonus; therefore wearing leather simply means you get one-shotted a little less dramatically than a Priest when you pull aggro. However, there's an abundance of good leather healing gear in raid itemization, so you shouldn't be stuck wearing cloth for long.

Worthless Stats
Spell Crit - You don't rely on critical heals, so ignore spell crit - you won't find it on any healing gear you can equip anyway.
Spell Hit - You aren't a DPS caster, so don't worry about spell hit. You may wish to build a separate Balance set, though, in case you want to switch.

V. Gear, Enchants, Consumables

The section on statistics above should cover most basic questions regarding what stats you need from your gear. This section will more closely inspect individual items, sets, and bonuses.

General sets
Dungeon 3 - If you absolutely cannot find any better pure healing gear, you may consider your Dungeon 3 set as a barely adequate substitute. At least it has some healing on it. Upgrade ASAP, though.
Windhawk - If you happen to be a Tribal Leatherworker, this set does come with some nice healing stats, but again it's at best a placeholder until you pick up dedicated healing gear. A hybrid Balance/Restoration Druid can make good use of it though.
Primal Mooncloth - There's nothing wrong with starting your raiding career in Primal Mooncloth, but upgrade it as soon as it's practical, as the stats are not ideal for you.

Tier set bonuses
Tier 4: The 2-piece bonus (chance to regen mana on casts) is almost laughable when you consider the effect of Spirit regeneration. The only good news is that it will proc more often than for a Balance Druid. The 4-piece bonus (reduced Nature's Swiftness cooldown) is kind of neat, but not worth spending a ton of effort to get.
Tier 5: The 2-piece bonus (increases Regrowth duration by 6 sec) is okay, but since the majority of your healing is from the periodic ticks of Lifebloom, it's hardly a must-have. The 4-piece bonus (increases Lifebloom's final heal) is a joke - this belongs on PvP armor, not PvE. Thanks, Blizzard.
Tier 6: The 2-piece bonus (reduced Swiftmend cooldown) is great for dealing with spike damage in boss fights. The 4-piece bonus (increase Healing Touch effect by 5%) also seems designed to augment burst healing (NS+HT), but again you have to question the thought process behind giving you a 5% boost to something you use at most every 3 minutes.

Put bluntly, the Restoration Druid tier set bonuses are "meh" across the board.

Let's be blunt. I'm going to review the BC Restoration Druid idols here, but there's only one you're ever going to seriously consider equipping for raid healing. The rest are discussed mainly to show how Blizzard sucks at itemization. It's also worth mentioning that, since idol swapping is going away in the 2.4.3 patch, there's no reason to even worry about it anymore, and it was always pretty iffy for Resto anyway.

Idol of the Raven Goddess - Improves the effect of the Tree of Life aura by 44. This has some potential in certain raid situations, where tank healing is all-important and your own heals aren't a huge factor, but you'd never even consider it unless you're in a tank group.
Idol of the Emerald Queen - Most raiding Restoration Druids prefer to simply leave this idol equipped all the time, as Lifebloom is their primary heal.
Idol of the Crescent Goddess - While this idol has practical use in a raid healing situation, overall it's weaker than the Lifebloom idol. You can't afford to make Regrowth your primary heal or you'll be severely mana starved whether you equip this idol or not.
Idol of the Avian Heart - Oh, look, a raid drop idol that boosts our least effective healing spell. Thanks, Blizzard. /rasp
Idol of Budding Life - Reducing Rejuvenation's mana cost is nice, but you shouldn't ever seriously worry about going OOM in any normal raid situation given current itemization.
<X> Gladiator's Idol of Tenacity - Worth mentioning because it does have a healing bonus, this is basically in the same boat as the T5 4-piece bonus, worthless for most raid healing situations.
Harold's Rejuvenating Broach - Increases Rejuvenation's healing. Although this is not a sucky idol, it's still weaker than the Lifebloom one, and you can't effectively rotate it due to the mechanics of gear swapping.

Head - Get the Glyph of Renewal from Honor Hold.
Shoulders - The Aldor enchant is slightly better than the Scryer one. Still, this is pretty easy.
Cloak - Subtlety is about the only thing that makes even the slightest sense here.
Chest - +6 stats and +15 Spirit are both effective. 6 mp5 is okay, but if you can afford better, get it.
Bracer - Healing Power.
Gloves - Healing Power.
Legs - Silver or Golden Spellthread.
Feet - Vitality for mana regen or Boar's Speed if you are dealing with movement-sensitive fights.
Weapon - Healing Power trumps all. Spellsurge is weak considering that your primary role is to sit in the tank group, not the healer group.
Rings - Healing, if you're an Enchanter.

Red socket - +healing/+spirit, or pure +healing if you want to use a Bracing Earthstorm Diamond.
Yellow socket - This one's kind of tough: +int/+heal works, so does +haste.
Blue socket - +healing/+spirit is the best by far.
Meta socket - Bracing Earthstorm Diamond is about the only meta that makes any sense for healers. Unfortunately, the requirements are kind of brutal, meaning that you have to equip lots of Teardrop gems to make it work.

Food - Golden Fish Sticks. Don't even consider Blackened Sporefish: 8 mp5 is far, far weaker than 20 Spirit. If your health is too low, consider using any Stamina/Spirit food instead.
Elixirs - Healing Power and Draenic Wisdom are the ultimate, unbeatable combo.
Flask - Mighty Restoration is weak compared to the elixirs you can use; don't even bother with flasking unless you're strapped for cash.
Weapon - Superior Mana Oil is effective. Brilliant Mana Oil is just plain awesome but it's also insanely expensive.

VI. Spell Rotation

Your spell rotation depends entirely on how many people you will be healing. When you are tank healing, the primary objective is to hold full Lifebloom stacks on as many tanks as possible, inserting other HoTs as needed. When you are raid healing, you're more interested in anticipating and preventing damage spikes, and topping people off with HoTs. A HoT timer addon (such as DoTimer) can help immensely with timing your casts.

Simple mechanics: without any spell haste and perfect latency, you can roll Lifeblooms on up to 4 targets. Each target less frees up one GCD to allow you to cast Rejuvenation and/or Swiftmend. Regrowth effectively uses 2 GCDs, NS+HT also uses 2 - one to cast and one to shift back to tree. If you miss a Lifebloom, it's better to continue your cycle rather than risk all your stacks expiring.

Note: LB = Lifebloom, RJ = Rejuvenation, RG = Regrowth

Single tank: LB, RJ, RG, LB stack to full, then refresh LB when it's about to expire. Maintain RG and RJ as needed to mitigate damage spikes and to allow you to Swiftmend.
Two tanks: LB 1, LB 2, RJ 1, RJ 2, LB 1, LB 2, <GCD>, <GCD>, LB 1, LB 2, etc. <GCD> indicates a free global cooldown to cast on somebody else or just save mana. If your latency or reaction time is an issue, change this to LB 1, LB 2, RJ 1, LB 1, LB 2, RJ 2, LB 1, LB 2, <GCD> instead.
Three tanks: LB 1, LB 2, LB 3, RJ 1, LB 1, LB 2, LB 3, RJ 2, LB 1, LB 2, LB 3, RJ 3, etc. With heavy latency, skip the Rejuvenations and just roll Lifeblooms.
Four tanks: LB 1, LB 2, LB 3, LB 4, repeat.
Last edited by Lealla on Thu Dec 04, 2008 12:06 am, edited 2 times in total.

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3.0.x Restoration Druid Changes (Preview)

Post by Lealla » Sat Aug 30, 2008 1:53 pm

3.0.x Restoration Druid Changes (Preview)

Restoration Druids are getting an overhaul in 3.0, just like all the other class specs. However, the changes are more incremental and designed to fill in some of the gaps in the Druid's healing role. Although Druids are (and will remain) the kings of HoTs, the new tools will address the three most glaring issues: the inability to sustain high throughput direct healing on a single target, the lack of an effective AoE heal, and the lack of an OoC rez.

The patch is far from complete, but this post is designed as a guideline for Restoration Druids to prepare for what may come. In particular, once the 3.0.x patch goes live, we'll need to know what to expect for pre-expansion raiding. The major topics that I'll cover are mechanics changes, new spells, and new talents.

Mechanics changes
* All healing spells will be usable in Tree of Life (but only HoTs will benefit from the 20% mana cost reduction), plus Remove Curse.
* Tree of Life will lose its movement slowing effect.
* The Tree of Life Aura will give a flat boost (currently 3%) to all raid healing, instead of 25% of Spirit.
* Tranquility is moving to a 5 minute cooldown, from 10.
* The healing coefficient on Lifebloom is being reduced (we don't know how much exactly).

The most dramatic thing to talk about here is that Healing Touch will now be practical to use again (although its place as the slowest heal in the game won't change). Another benefit is that the good old Nature's Swiftness + Healing Touch combo won't knock you out of tree and force you to waste a cooldown shifting back.

The downside to these changes is that the new ToL Aura (a result of the new raid buff stacking rules) does de-emphasize Spirit a bit, so while it's still valuable for mana regeneration (and stacking with Improved Divine Spirit), mp5 starts comparing more favorably.

Lastly, Tranquility (especially with the modified Improved Tranquility talent) will no longer be a complete joke.

New Spells
* Flourish (51-pt talent): Places a HoT effect on the target's group, lasting 7 seconds. The effect starts out higher and diminishes over time.
* Nourish (level 80 trained): 1.5 sec cast direct heal: each of your HoT effects on the target increases the amount healed by 15%.
* Revive (trained, ranks 1-7): Standard OoC rez.

Revive is the rez that Druids should have had from the beginning. It'll be nice to be able to wipe recover the raid if I was the recipient of the soulstone, and even better in 5-man groups where I'm the sole healer.

Flourish is a very interesting spell. The mana cost is relatively high, but it appears to be spammable. Hopefully it obeys the "chain heal" mechanic and applies itself automatically to the lowest health targets, but if it acts as CoH does currently, you can deliberately drop 1 Flourish on each group for massive AoE HoTs. This spell solidifies the Restoration Druid's role as a group healer, making it possible to compensate for predictable AoE damage without burning Tranquility's cooldown or spending all our GCDs casting individual HoTs.

Nourish is the last missing piece from the Druid's healing arsenal: a short cast direct heal that becomes more efficient the more HoTs you have on the target. This is expressly designed for main tank healing, filling in the gaps in the casting cycle. When you've already got RG, RJ, and LB on a target, you can finally do something useful now besides sit there waiting for your Swiftmend to cool down.

New talents
I'll only discuss the major talent changes here - for a full treatment, see my general WotLK changes post in this forum.

First, with the 8885 changes, it's now viable to spec into the Balance tree for healing support. More to the point, there's now more than one useful raiding Restoration spec, and since many of the talents combine with caster talents, you won't be completely ineffective at DPS.

On the Balance side, Nature's Grace and Moonglow have moved up the tree and are accessible to a 51-point Resto build. There's a new talent increasing the effect of all over-time spells, and another talent increasing their duration. Focused Starlight is renamed and also increases the crit chance of HT and Nourish.

On the Restoration side, you can now get full Improved MotW and Nature's Focus with 5 talent points, freeing up room later in the tree. The new Master Shapeshifter talent increases healing by 4% in ToL form and is a decent place to spend extra points (or a really good PvP choice, depending on your point of view). Omen of Clarity has gotten a revamp as well, making it worthwhile for any build to pick up as it's effectively a 6% return on mana spent for 1 talent point.

Lower down, you get Living Seed, which causes your critical heals to place a one-charge PoM style effect on the target for 30% of the amount healed. This seems designed to synergize with Improved Regrowth and similar crit-boosting talents and makes crit not completely useless for Druids. Improved Tree of Life gives trees an armor bonus (good for PvP, pretty much wasted in PvE) but also reduces spell mana costs by an additional 15% (sick!). Replenish causes Rejuvenation to restore mana/rage/energy/RP on its ticks, which is really nice. Lastly, Gift of the Earthmother is going to give us poor click casters carpal tunnel syndrome, as it reduces the global cooldown of Lifebloom and Rejuvenation by 0.5 sec. Its secondary effect is just as good, causing HT and Nourish to refund mana based on the # of HoT effects on their target.

In 3.x, Blizzard is aiming to make Restoration Druids much more than simply Lifebloom bots. With a viable direct heal that can be chain-cast, a reduced global cooldown on HoTs to free up time to cast it, a fire-and-forget AoE heal, a reactive heal (even if it does depend on crits), massive mana efficiency improvements (needed if we aren't simply going to be LB bots), and an OoC rez, there's no longer going to be a valid reason not to pick a Druid to main heal anything.

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Post by Lealla » Tue Oct 14, 2008 12:50 pm

A full 3.0 redo of the Restoration thread is in the works, due to arrive Soon(tm). For the sake of immediate effectiveness, this is the level 70 Resto build I plan to go with:

At level 70, 2 Major and 3 Minor Glyphs will be usable. These are the ones I plan to get once they become available.

Major Glyphs
Glyph of Lifebloom (Req. lvl. 64) - Increases the duration of Lifebloom by 1 sec.
Glyph of Regrowth (Req. lvl. 15) - Increases the healing of your Regrowth spell by 20% if your Regrowth effect is still active on the target.
Note: There are also glyphs for Healing Touch, Innervate, and Rejuvenation.

Minor Glyphs
Glyph of Aquatic Form (Req. lvl. 16) - Increases your swim speed by 50% while in Aquatic Form.
Glyph of the Wild (Req. lvl. 15) - Mana cost of your Mark of the Wild and Gift of the Wild spells reduced by 50%.
Glyph of Unburdened Rebirth (Req. lvl. 20) - Your Rebirth spell no longer requires a reagent.

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Post by Lealla » Tue Oct 14, 2008 1:30 pm

3.0 Resto Clique layout.

There aren't a lot of new spells to work in, but I figured I'd put this info up for those of you who like your Clique and want to plan ahead.

S/C/A = Shift/Ctrl/Alt
L/M/R = Left/Middle/Right click

S-L Healing Touch
C-L Regrowth
A-L Rejuvenation
CS-L Nourish (lv 80) (changed from downranked HT)
AS-L Nature's Swiftness + Healing Touch

M Lifebloom
S-M Wild Growth

S-R Remove Curse
C-R Abolish Poison
AS-R Swiftmend

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Post by Lealla » Thu Oct 16, 2008 4:33 pm

Okay, here's a brief appraisal of Resto healing based on last night's Hyjal run.

First, Wild Growth is amazing. Insane. It's like a chain Lifebloom without the bloom. With the reduced GCD I could theoretically keep it up on every raid member all the time, and it's actually on par with Lifebloom as far as AoE tanking is concerned. It's particularly effective at healing periodic group damage as well as anticipatory healing - the best example is Anetheron's Infernals. I see them coming, I HoT the target and drop a Wild Growth on the entire group.

Second, Healing Touch is still slow as molasses but since I can cast it in Tree form, it's no longer a major hassle if I choose to use it instead of something else. NS+HT is so easy now. Also, call me wacky insane, but I thought the base cast time was 3.5 seconds, not 3. I know I didn't accidentally take Naturalist in my build, so something's up - undocumented change or me being a forgetful noob who hasn't seriously used HT in forever? It's too bad I had to drop Empowered Touch from my talent spec; the effect would be freaking huge.

Third, Lifebloom is nerfed a little. It's not too bad, actually, what with the healing boost from Improved Tree of Life form and the raid-wide 6% healing auras. I could roll it on 4 tanks without a sweat but I often found myself abandoning stacks to cast Wild Growth. Rolling Lifeblooms is still a great technique for MT healing but not so necessary with multiple tanks.

I didn't really look at the mana regen being given by my Rejuvenations, so it's hard to say for sure how effective they were. With a 10K mana pool, theorycraft places the value of the Replenish talent at around 50 mp5 per target - not awful but not great either. I'm not terribly satisfied with it, to be honest.

Regrowth is still a badass healing tool; nothing much has changed here except that it's stronger after all the synergy buffs.

I had almost no mana concerns to speak of. I potted once the entire time, mainly to see if Potion Sickness made it into the final 3.0 build. (It didn't.) Replenishment plus my own insane Spirit score was more than enough to keep me alive.

I'm very pleased with Druid healing as it stands now. The meters backed that up, although I was rather sickly astonished to see Holydude's Judgement of Light absolutely killing all the other healers on trash.

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Post by Lealla » Wed Dec 03, 2008 10:44 am

Okay, I waited until level 80. The results? 2500 HPS on Heartwood last night on our final Patchwerk attempt. That's in a half-ass mix of level 70 and level 80 gear. Of course, Heart died because I went OOM at the last 5% during his enrage. So I clearly need more mana/mana regen. However, I am now an absolute believer in the power of single-target healing for Restoration. Nourish is the ability we've been waiting for to fill in the gaps in our rotation.

I'm going to take a stab at updating the main post for 3.0.

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