Evaluating New Resto Druids in Cataclysm

The other day, I was approached by a couple on my server looking for druid advice. One of them was an up-and-coming resto druid still making the transition from Wrath to Cataclysm and felt she wasn’t quite where she needed to be with mana control. I offered to help get her up to speed, which eventually culminated in doing Grim Batol on normal difficulty. During the run, I realized I hadn’t seen much information on evaluating healing druids who were still getting geared up and used to Cataclysm mechanics. Below are a few things you can do to evaluate those druids who are still getting up to speed with the newer systems.

The Basics: Gear and Itemization

This has been beaten to death by about every druid resource out there, but it’s still just as important. I won’t go over the nitty-gritty of druid itemization here; these are just some general things to look for. If you’re not already familiar with the basics, don’t be afraid to ask your guild’s druid class lead or use resources like Elitist Jerks.

Make sure the druid is itemizing properly for stats like intellect and spirit, and check that they are gemming and enchanting appropriately based on what they feel they are having issues with (e.g. more spirit gems if they feel they have mana issues.) Also, make sure that the druid is wearing all leather gear. A single piece of cloth gear will keep a druid from a free 5% intellect bonus. I have seen more than a few druids get caught in the trap of wearing a couple pieces of cloth quest gear.

Talents and Glyphs

Talent setup and glyphs are just as important as itemization (you can’t be a healing druid if you’re not specced into resto!) While there are a number of different ways healing druids can spend their points, there are quite a  few talents that are necessary to keep up with the pack. Check to make sure they have the iconic healing talents, such as Wild Growth, Tree of Life, Nature’s Cure, and Efflorescence. Any direct boosts to their healing spells, like Improved Rejuvenation, should also be taken. Talents that add additional benefit in an indirect way, like Malfurion’s Gift and Nature’s Bounty, can also be useful.

Depending on the druid’s goals, they may have Nature’s Ward, Fury of Stormrage, or Perseverance. These talents are fine, so long as the druid plans to do PvP, solo, or small group content; these talents take up vital points that could be used elsewhere if your druid plans on raiding.

Glyphs are equally as important, adding many very nice perks to restoration’s already-potent healing arsenal. Be sure to ask what prime glyphs the druid has; if they are using the Rejuvenation, Lifebloom, and Swiftmend prime glyphs, they are in good shape. Glyph of Regrowth, while it sounds cool, isn’t as practical as one might think. Compared to the other three, it’s fairly lacking.

As for major and minor glyphs, the only one you should worry about the druid having (and this is only if they plan to raid) is Glyph of Wild Growth. Other than that, any glyph is fine, so long as it will benefit them while healing (I don’t think you’ll see a resto druid casting Typhoon or Feral Charge any time soon).

Technique: Theory and Practice

This is where it gets a bit harder to evaluate a player. That said, there are a few tricks you can use to check for where their technique could use some polishing. Ask them how they deal with different situations while healing, such as burst group damage or massive tank spikes. Set up theoretical boss fights and ask how they would manage healing in such a situation. Finding where they may be spending too much mana or have not enough healing throughput can be an immense help in improving a player’s healing. Make sure they know to keep a stack of three Lifeblooms up on a target as much as possible to take advantage of Malfurion’s Gift, and that they know to use Clearcasting procs on the expensive spells.  Also, be sure the druid is aware of who will be hit with Wild Growth or where their Efflorescence circle will land (Efflorescence is dropped at the feet of a Swiftmend target.)

Once you’ve gotten the theoretical stuff out of the way, it’s best to test the druid’s ability to use that knowledge. Undoubtedly the best way to improve anyone’s play is through practice; healing is no exception. Take your druid through a regular dungeon run (don’t jump into heroics until you’ve gotten them comfortable with regular difficulty) and put that player on your focus frame. Watch to see what spells they cast and what buffs they take advantage of (combat log addons help immensely for this.) If they are having mana issues, they might be over-casting Healing Touch or Regrowth, or forgetting to use cheap spells like Nourish and Swiftmend. If group members’ health is dropping dangerously low, they might be relying too much on using HoTs alone or are too focused on healing one or two people (including themselves.) Let them know if you see an issue in their healing technique; if they use that advice during the run, you can both see if it made an improvement.

Healing Precision in 25-Man Raids

Healing a 25-man raid can be a daunting task. While there are more healers to compensate for the larger group, who those healers choose to heal is not static. We as healers have the tendency to heal the lowest-health person as quickly as possible to prevent death. However, in the world of Cataclysm, where damaging mechanics often leave a moment of reprieve and triage, this tendency often leads to multiple healers focusing on the same people, neglecting others until the very last moment, when it’s too late. Luckily, there are a few tricks that can be used to alleviate the lack of healing precision in 25-mans.

Limit the Number of Targets Healers Have in Range

By leaving healers to free-for-all heal the raid during an encounter, you increase the mental strain on those healers, forcing more split-second decisions to be made and leaving opportunities for unintended neglect to sneak in and cause raider death. Limiting the number of people a healer can heal using range limits can help improve focus and reduce mental stress when a raid takes a large damage hit.

Seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? Trust me, though, it works.

The method I used to fix issues my healers were having on Chimaeron was to limit the number of targets they each had in healing range. This forced them to concentrate on bringing only a few health bars above 10k health in the small windows of time between acid volleys and Massacres. While splitting and limiting the healers may seem detrimental to the raid, it in fact freed up the burden each healer had by a significant amount, allowing them to concentrate on only a handful of people at a time.

Note: This assumes your raid frames will fade or dim when someone is out of range, but even the default UI has this functionality now, so it shouldn’t be much of an issue.

Assign Specific Groups or Targets to Healers

While I’m sure this has been covered by many other raid management and healing articles, it is nevertheless still important. Similar to the above trick, giving someone an assigned group or target to heal gives them a goal. They can focus on keeping their assignment up, as well as their own health and mana, instead of worrying about all 25 raiders’ health bars.

A related trick regarding healers and assignments comes into play when looking at healer skill. If you’ve recently started up a raiding team or want to test a new healing recruit, assign them to a role where you will easily be able to gauge their performance. Examples of this include healing tanks or kiters.

Use Healing Zones Whenever Possible

With tools like Efflorescence, Healing Rain, and Power Word: Barrier, among others, grouping up to take advantage of these types of spells is one of the best things you can do to handle raid damage in 25-mans. While it may not be healing precision per se, it still allows healers to breathe for a moment and focus on more immediate threats, such as tank death or near-fatal strike mechanics.

Take note that you should only do this when it is feasible. Trying to group up when the boss has a tendency to cause explosions or demolish people standing near each other are good reasons to not worry about these spells.

Oh, also make sure to have your entire raid click the Lightwell!

Resto Druid Mana: Tips and Tricks

This is a guest post by Arajal. No, not related in anyway to Archmage Arugal.

My guild began our 25 man raiding about a month ago, throwing our entire healing team out of the frying pan of heroics and into the fire of raids. It was a system shock for everyone, myself included. We were all quickly finding that our old Wrath tricks weren’t working so well under the new healing system; we had to relearn our methods on the fly. Through this trial by fire (literally in some cases), I’ve come up with a few ways to save mana while still having good healing output, which I want to share with you all today.

Tank Healing

Lifebloom is your best friend for this now. While we used to spam this on everyone back in Wrath, it’s limited to one target now, so your best option is to slap this on a tank. Luckily, it’s a cheap spell, so if you need to swap it on a tank-switch or toss it to that DPS taking hits, feel free. Once your target is picked and the Lifeblooms are in place, don’t let that stack fall off. If you do, not only will you have to put up another stack, but you’ll also temporarily block yourself from Malfurion’s Gift, a talent that gives you a chance at a free casted spell every time Lifebloom ticks. Clearcasting procs are immensely helpful for saving mana; by keeping a stack rolling, you can guarantee you’ll always have access to the procs. You can refresh Lifebloom by casting it on the stacked target, or by using any casted burst heal.

Speaking of Clearcasting, the most mana-efficient way to use these procs is by using Healing Touch or Regrowth to consume them, as these are the two most expensive non-cooldown heals we have. Regrowth is good to use if you want a Swiftmend target and a quick heal, while Healing Touch is good for a free massive heal.

Rejuvenation is also a good spell to throw on the tank alongside your Lifebloom stack. This gives you the extra healing ticks and the option to use Swiftmend (just as cheap as Lifebloom in cost) for burst healing.

Raid Healing

Rejuvenation still shines as our go-to heal for throwing on other raid members. The main difference in Cataclysm is that we can’t spam it for too long without hurting our mana. As such, feel free to cast it on a few members who have taken damage, but don’t spam it like you would have on, say, Blood Queen Lana’thel, in Icecrown Citadel. That’s a one-way ticket to running out of mana.

Instead, using Wild Growth to start raid healing is a good choice. It’ll target the 6 (if glyphed) lowest-health targets and heal them for a pretty good amount. This is far more efficient than spamming Rejuvenation on everyone right away. However, be sure to look where your target is before you cast it. Throwing a Wild Growth on the DPS by the far wall of the room, away from the rest of the raid, doesn’t do your mana or raiders any good. Make sure casting it will hit the maximum number of targets possible.

The other way to throw out a good amount of healing for little mana is Efflorescence, a healing circle dropped at the feet of your Swiftmend targets. Now, I’ve read what Elitist Jerks has posted about the talent: How the talent is optional if another druid has it, how the math doesn’t show it to be very good throughput, etc. I don’t agree with this assessment*; any healing tool is worth getting, especially in a raid environment. Throwing down an Efflorescence circle is an incredible way to save mana while raid healing, and in some cases can make or break a heal-intensive boss phase, such as during Chimaeron (those of you who have done this fight know what I’m talking about). Also, just like Wild Growth, make sure the target you are casting your Swiftmend on to spawn the circle is standing in a place where the Efflorescence circle will hit as many people as possible (unless you need Swiftmend for the burst heal, of course).


Tree of Life (as much as some people may hate the new version) is a good mana-saver if you’re running low or run into a damage-intensive fight mechanic. Lifeblooms revert to their spammable form, thus giving you an even greater chance for Malfurion’s Gift to kick in. Regrowth also becomes instant, giving you the perfect outlet for all those Clearcasting procs. Even Wild Growth is affected, giving you two more targets per cast.

Tranquility may not seem like a very good way to save mana, but it can be a life-saver for both your raid and your mana if used well. If you coordinate your Tranquility casts with other druids (or priests with Divine Hymn), you can save yourself the time and mana you would have otherwise used on casting Rejuvenations and Wild Growths by instead using Tranquility to stabilize your raid  and give the rest of your healing team a breather.

Mana Regeneration Tools

For regaining mana mid-fight, Innervate is your best option. However, using it when you’re scraping the bottom of the mana barrel won’t save you from running out. Instead, if you know you’ll need mana later in a fight, use Innervate early on in the fight (I like to use mine at about 75-80% mana). This allows it time to cooldown in time for a second use later, when you’ll likely need all the mana you can get.

Potions are a bit different, as you can only use them once per fight. While Mythical Mana Potions do work for emergency mana, I’ve found Potions of Concentration to be a good go-to source of mana in a fight. The only drawback to using these is the fact that you’re not healing and otherwise a sitting duck for the duration. However, there is a way to mitigate this: About midway though your mana (while Innervate is still on cooldown), find a safe spot, wait for a time when healing isn’t at a premium, and use the potion. Let the other healers know when you’re using it so they can be prepared for those ten seconds where you’re not healing. It’s a great tool to use to get your mana pool back up.


Nourish is unique in many ways, even more so with the release of patch 4.0.6. Nourish is useful for both tank and raid healing, as it benefits from having a HoT already on your target when you use it and it refreshes your Lifebloom stacks. In 4.0.6, the Nature’s Bounty talent was changed to reduce the cast time of Nourish by about one-third if you have three or more Rejuvs active at one time. Most importantly, however, Nourish is among the cheapest heals druids have available, alongside Lifebloom and Swiftmend. When in doubt, Nourish!

While all of these are good ways to save your mana during raid encounters, I’ve found the most beneficial thing to do when your mana is at a premium is to trust your fellow healers. Don’t try to take the entire raid’s health into your hands; let the other healers in the raid help you keep everyone alive. If you’re low on mana, ask a priest for Hymn of Hope or a shaman for Mana Tide Totem to help not only your own mana, but everyone else’s. That teamwork can mean the difference between a wipe and a dead boss.

*I’m not against Elitist Jerks. I applaud them for their work and find a lot of their information useful. I just prefer to use my own five years of druid healing experience rather than raw mathematical data to base my conclusions on.