Healing Assignments for Resto Druids

Healing Assignments for Resto Druids

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Perhaps more than any other healing class, Wrath of the Lich King has revolutionized the way druids heal. I’m going to take a bit of a look back to where we came from as a way to help understand any troubles druid healers might face at present when we try to figure out what our role in raids should be.

Back in the “Good” Old Days

I came of age as a healer during the BC raid content, and I think part of me will always missing rolling Lifebloom stacks on four different tanks during the Hyjal trash waves. Lifebloom spam may have been widely criticized, but at the time it was effective and felt very dynamic for the player. The timing was tight enough to require tank-specific macros, which I miss, because I could always change their icons to a pig whenever I got mad at them (sorry, Brio). However, when healers argue now that they don’t want to be locked into a rotation, they’re probably thinking of something like old-school LB rolling with horror. That was a rotation, all right–but it left me dizzy. I had to keybind Lifebloom twice–both to my mouse clickwheel and to F. The “F” was for when I needed to refresh while turning with the mouse. At the time, there was no way to increase the 7 sec Lifebloom rotation, and the penalty for letting the stack fall off was fairly severe. I never ran into mana problems, but sometimes the tank would take more damage than I liked if their stack slipped off, and I had few ways to play catch-up. If one tank’s stack went, then most likely all four would.

Even some boss fights made Lifebloom spam worthwhile. On Illidari Council, I used to assign Bonkers to roll LB on three tanks, giving him 1 GCD per cycle free to do “whatever he wanted.” Let me add that the healing buffer Bonkers provided to three of the tanks won the fight for us on more than one occasion. Why did I give the assignment to Bonkers and not myself? Because Bonkers is quicker than me. My assignment, keeping up the group on Malande, was a lot easier. The odd thing is, these kinds of assignments seemed great to Resto Druids at the time–1 GCD free? That’s amazing.

Now that I think about it, the Good Old Days don’t seem so great after all.

Broccoli, v. 3.0

Patch 3.0 brought new tools for the druid healer, offering flexibility where before we had none. However, it strikes me that many Broccoli Stalks might be a little bewildered by all our new toys. And if we’re confused, imagine what it’s like to do healing assignments for a resto druid these days. A few days ago I came across this topic on PlusHeal forums, posted by Siha of Banana Shoulders:

So, I’m the healing lead for my guild, and it usually falls to me to do healing assignments.

I’m having some trouble deciding how best to make use of resto druids. I know in TBC I always used to use them for a multi-tank assignment, keeping a bunch of people hotted up with Lifebloom, but I’m not really on top of all the resto druid changes in WotLK yet.

The talented Siha, as always, gets right to the point with her post. I replied in the topic, but I think that the question has enough merit to warrant a full-length post.

So, what do we do with the newly-versatile druid? After looking at my own performance and those of my Cruciferous Vegetable buddies in Conquest, I am convinced that Resto Druids can be assigned in two different ways for Wrath content. I’m going to showcase a couple of meters-topping druid performances to show just how versatile trees are these days

Raid Healing

This assignment is the most obvious for a resto druid. Wild Growth, due to its higher total healing and it’s status as a heal over time spell, suffered less from the recent nerf than Circle of Healing did. With Rejuvenation, Wild Growth, and perhaps a glyphed Healing Touch in the mix, druids have a powerful toolkit to deal with raid damage.

Let’s take a look at the meter breakdown from an expert druid healer on Gluth, which features heavy raid damage:
s13-meter

Now, the meter % alone might not mean much, but let’s factor in healing assignment. Both S13 and I were assigned to heal the kiters on Gluth, and we have similar gear. Why did he outperform me? Let’s take a look at the abilities breakdown.
s13-breakdown

Take a look at S13’s Healing Touch percentage and the amount it hits for on average. That tells me–even if I didn’t already know–that he’s using the Healing Touch glyph. The fact that he’s able to get so much healing out of a direct healing spell also tells me that S13 is fast. He’s really great at reacting to situations. Notice here that he’s also made a lot of use of Lifebloom–nerfed it maybe, but useless it is not. This WWS report is post-WG nerf, by the way. S13’s performance shows how little a healer has to rely on Wild Growth to be effective (and to post good numbers while doing so). If I were to take a look at S13’s targets, I would see a lot of healing on the 5 kiters, but also a decent amount on other members of the raid. S13 is a great raid healer because he’s able to pay attention to a lot of things at once and to accurately judge when he can go a bit beyond the boundaries of his assignment.

Tank Healing

Yes, I know druids have an AoE heal now. That doesn’t mean that we’re not still good at our old role, healing the main tank. I’ve just shown you the WWS from a druid who excels at raid healing. Now, I’m going to show you my own meter performance. I am a tank healer. That’s what I like, and that’s what I’m good at. I’ve been healing a warrior MT so long that I know how the damage hits and what I can do to fix it. I don’t pretend to be the best at anything, but if I’m in charge of healing assignments, I’m going to stick myself to a tank. It’s not usually very showy on the meters, but I’m going to give you a peep at the one fight in Naxx that does let tank healers show off–Patchwerk.
syd-meter

To understand this image properly, you should probably know that Silvia and I were assigned to heal the offtank, a druid, while S13 and Arktos were assigned to the main tank, a warrior. For the life of me, I can’t remember what Kaldora, our holy priest, was assigned to that day. The nature of the fight dictates that there is simply more healing to do on the off tank(s) than on the main tank, so an off-tank healer is going to post higher numbers. Be that as it may, this is nonetheless a good performance from me personally. Let’s look at the breakdown of what I did.
syd-breakdown

First of all, notice the presence of Regrowth. I use the Regrowth glyph, and a fight with heavy tank damage also shows it off. Meanwhile, I keep Lifebloom rolling on the primary off-tank. As for Rejuvenation, I keep it on both the primary off-tank and the backup. At higher gear levels, your raid is less likely to need two offtanks for Patchwerk. I used to post even more impressive numbers when two off-tanks took heavy hits. I would keep up my full hot rotation on the druid and use Rejuvenation, Swiftmend, and a Nature’s Swiftness/Healing Touch on the secondary off-tank. I always say that Resto Druids can heal two tanks as well as one, and it’s very nearly true. This is a lesson I learned in Zul’Aman, and it still serves me well on a multi-tank fight like Patchwerk. One thing an MT healer can never forget is the power of Swiftmend–it’s easy to ignore, but make yourself use it whenever you can. You’ll notice that Nourish is missing from my rotation, even though I have the 4pc T7 bonus. Regrowth is simply better if the damage is high. I will use Nourish on fights where Regrowth might be overheal, or on long fights that might stress my mana.

My message to healing leads is this: resto druids can tank heal. You might think that only a paladin or discipline priest will work, but don’t discount the resto druid, particularly one who’s used to this job. We may have a discipline priest solo-healing the MT on Sarth 3D, but that doesn’t mean a resto druid cannot be assigned to the task. In fact, some days I want to arm-wrestle Mallet for the job.

Glyphs and Talents

As you can see from our performances, S13 and I, despite having almost the same gear, are very different healers. There are slight differences in talents and glyphs that support each of our preferred roles. Here are my thoughts on how to set up a resto druid to excel at either raid healing or tank healing.

Raid Healing

In terms of talents, I suggest Tranquil Spirit to make Healing Touch and Nourish more efficient, a fully talented Gift of the Earth Mother, and perhaps Naturalist for the shortest Healing Touch cast time. As an alternative, you might put either 1 or 2 points into Improved Tranquility. I find this spell very useful when I can remember to use it. It shines on any fight where the raid is fairly close together and AoE damage as high–I’ve used Tranquility to good effect on Loatheb, Sapphiron, and OS3.

To heal S13-style, you will absolutely need to glyph Healing Touch. I am extremely impressed with the HPS of this spell, and it only gets better as your gear scales. In addition, we can all afford the mana at this point. S13 doesn’t run OOM any more than I do. The raid healer has some amount of choice in the other glyph slots. I suggest Swiftmend and Innervate, but if you find that you never use Swiftmend, Lifebloom will also work. The Regrowth glyph, while good in and of itself, won’t do much for you if you’re never assigned to tanks.

Tank Healing

In terms of tank healing talents, the most important one to have is Nature’s Splendor from the Balance tree to extend HoT duration. However, all raiding restos should have this talent. I also use Tranquil Spirit to support my Nourish (in case I ever use it), a fully maxed Improved Regrowth, and Gift of the Earthmother for easier HoT refreshes. I do not have Living Seed at the current moment. It accounted for less that 1% of my total healing when I had it. If I get enough haste to remove points from Gift of the Earthmother, I may try it again. I have a feeling that either 1) Living Seed will do more healing in Ulduar or 2) it will get some sort of buff in the future. As for Replenish, either build should skip it because it’s endlessly terrible, but the tank healer especially does not need it.

In terms of glyphs, I use Swiftmend, Regrowth, and Innervate for main tank healing. The only debateble choice here is Innervate. I prefer it over Lifebloom, but Keeva of Tree Bark Jacket, who also main tank heals often, writes very convincingly in favor of the LB glyph in this recent post. A main tank healer should not glyph Healing Touch. It’s more useful in the large version paired with Nature’s Swiftness.

Conclusions

We’ve come a long way from Lifebloom spam. Whether we’re set to healing tanks or the raid, druids have a variety of techniques now to support their chosen role. We can do it all–just not all at once. If you’re a healing lead, it’s important to get to know your healers. With the new diversity of the druid class, skill and preference start to weigh heavily on how you should assign your druids. So, why not ask them what they like, and what they are good at?

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Comments

  1. Have you noticed any big differences since the patch?

  2. My own healing hasn’t really changed since I was trying to reduce my dependence on Wild Growth from the beginning.

    I’ve seen other people’s numbers post very, very different breakdowns of abilities used.

    The use of Lifebloom/Rejuv has gone up quite a bit.

    However–good healers are still good. Everyone managed to adjust, at least on the druid side of things.

  3. Oh, just to give an idea–

    I saw WWS reports with Wild Growth reporting up to 80% of healing done for some fights before the nerf. And this was from druids that I’d consider really, really good healers.

    Now the % of Wild Growth is around 10% for everybody in most fights. I think that may go up a bit because it’s a great spell and people will get used to watching for its CD to be up.

  4. From a pure DPS point of view I haven’t noticed any differences int he way we raid but then again I think as a group we have really solid healing core

    I always thought though most druids would end up being Healing Touch spammers since the glyp makes it really fast and leather seems to have a ton of haste on it

  5. I think the answer to the original question is: don’t give your druids healing assignments. We will just lay a blanket of healing over top of whichever targets are taking the most damage. If you have 3+ druids in your raid, as in the posted examples, maybe it is good that they have tank assignments just so they each know who to blow their cooldowns on in a pinch.

  6. The drawback to Healing Touch spam is that it doesn’t leave a HoT behind. As the content gets harder, we will want these HoTs more, so it’s not a good idea to use exclusively HT now.

    For the tank healer, the question is one of glyph space. You replace HT with Regrowth, because RG is pretty much better as a tank heal in every situation. It hits for a lot more, and that amount is usually not overheal. It also works out much better in the efficiency dept.

    If your HT is too fast, the casts will clip. That’s kind of sucky. Haste is what they put on leather gear in order to, pardon me, make it suck. It’s entry-level healing gear if it’s got crit and haste. I think Blizzard is well aware that spellpower, mp5, int, and spirit are all we really want.

  7. I just wanted to say thanks for this post, it’s appreciated.

    I raid on my main as a holy priest and am very used to (and like) that style of healing, however, my alt, when she gets to 80 I’m sure will also be used for raids some nights. She has always been a boomkin druid and will continue to be, however if/when dual spec ever comes out I’m planning on making her secondary spec resto, and having always been boomkin have no idea how to heal with her. So this post helps a lot. 😛

  8. Thanks for the mention, Sydera, and a great post 🙂

    I think that there is a bit of confusion (on the part of other healers) now that we have some different heals at our disposal. I love that we can now tank or raid heal well, so there’s flexibility and choice.

    I think I will always be a tank healer; I enjoy rolling HoTs on the tank and then weaving in extra heals (or spot heals on the raid if necessary). On the other hand, I know druids who hate tank healing and prefer adore fast-paced raid healing, and while that is not my idea of fun, I think it’s good that they have that option now.

    The fact that we have a range of glyphs to compliment these different choices is great, too. I enjoyed my Innervate glyph but these days I hardly ever need an Innervate. Perhaps if Ulduar is really tough on mana (mine and the other healers’ too) I may swap things around again.

    I think it’s so good to have that flexibility – there’s not necessarily a right and wrong glyph, or even any “must haves” – there are some that we can tell you are really nice, but they’re still not mandatory because it all depends on the content you’re running and your own style.

    🙂

    Keevas last blog post..Grid followup: copy my layout

  9. I’ve been waiting for a post like this since the expansion hit. Thanks.

    I was feral in BC and switched to resto to kill the boredom. Healing is so dynamic that it almost never gets boring. And healer specs can be tuned to fit almost any scenario, whereas tanking is fairly simple and there is an optimal rotation for maximum threat per second.

    But since I respec’d I was having a real hard time deciding what spec best suits me. I tried the big Healing Touch approach and found that it just wasnt good for me or our raid. The other healers in the raid are so quick that if you wanted to cast an unglyphed HT with a 2s+ cast time it would be mostly overheal because someone would spot heal before your cast was done.

    I found that in my raid environment I need to be quick so I go fairly deep into the balance tree to get the extra 3% haste and wind up using my glyphed regrowth a lot. I’ve even been considering going even deeper into the balance tree to get the addition sp from Lunar Guidance, but that means dropping Wild Growth – and I just haven’t brought myself to actually do it yet… although I may just try it this week. Raiding with a 23/0/48 build just seems ridiculous though. Maybe ill try it out in a few heroics before taking it into the big show.

  10. Tranquil spirit is lackluster in my opinion and tranquility is only party-wide, not raidwide.

    That said, it seems to me that you are stuck in thinking that a healer must be either assigned to one thing or another. I strongly disagree. With nature’s splendor you can now heal up to three tanks through heavy damage or heal one or two tanks and do raid healing, it is completely unnecessary to restrict yourself to one or the other, as long as your UI is properly set up, you have a good reaction time and you can make healing decisions quickly while keeping track of spell durations. ( keeping your healing over time spells’ GCD at one second will also help a lot with this, and is one of the other factors besides nature’s splendor that has greatly increased a druid’s effectiveness from BC)

  11. As a resto druid I like laying down a healing buffer on the entire raid which keeps everyone alive until the bomb healers get to them. When there is constant raid damage my HoTs, though initially turned to overheals, resume ticking after more damage is taken. Of course tank healing is great fun too with Nourish. I like the idea of a 1 second HT but I don’t want to spend 5 talent points and a glyph to take on the role of a paladin. I just don’t like playing that way.

  12. Healers do need to be assigned. Fights like Sarth+3 really demonstrate why you need to assign your healers. There’s enough damage going on in a wide area that you can’t always be in range of everyone. Granted, there are good healers who are aware of what they can do and are able to shine with assignments that give them a focus but gives them the leeway to do whatever needs to be done, but that doesn’t mean (even with druids) that healing should just be a free-for-all. Content right now is easy, while it’s definitely possible to free-for-all heal most of it, retraining your healers to follow assignments when content actually IS difficult and not snipe heals isn’t exactly something I want to deal with.

    As for the innervate glyph….

    /gasp

    You actually get to use your innervates on yourself? 🙂 I love the innervate glyph because I finally get some benefit from innervate. It’s a rare occasion that I need it myself but the glyph is a nice bonus when someone else needs it and I would only get a little of the benefit if I self-cast.

  13. Wild Growth used to be 15-20% of my healing in an entire clear of Naxx 25 including trash. I avoided it like the plague unless the raid absolutely needed it. My fellow resto druid used it every single GCD. He had trouble keeping Lifebloom up on the tank, but he still managed second on the meters every raid.

    Now with the changes the only boss fight where Wild Growth was less than 20% of my total healing was Patchwerk. I don’t cast Wild Growth on Patchwerk.

    I also keep my HoTs stacked on the main tank all fight every fight. I raid heal while doing this because I can. This is what I enjoy, but on Sapphiron I force myself to play different because raid healing is so important on that fight. I also double everyone elses healing on Sapphiron. My trick is to cast Rejuv on the raid. I cycle through my in range raid members and put up a Rejuv on each of them in order, and I continue until Rejuv falls off the first person in group 1. I only cast Wild Growth when I am chiling behind the ice block. Last attempt I did 28% of the healing with 6 healers present doing this.

    The moral of the story is that Druids are very versatile, and all of their healing spells are viable and efficient.

  14. Thanks for this great post! I’ve recently been “promoted” to healing assigner (because the former persons cba or hate it). And this post has given me a good view over the druid 🙂

    SuicidalPriests last blog post..Owned

  15. @ Tielong: the only fight where I do the Rejuv-the-whole-raid technique is Loatheb. It’s pretty much a good technique to win meters, but it’s not my preferred style of healing. I like to make sure the main tanks are all right, and I prefer to have a fairly strict assignments. I’m likely to assign others to raid healing but not myself.

    @Imalinata: in my old guild I used to innervate the mages. Somehow, they’re not calling for it these days, maybe because they’re not specced arcane. In all seriousness, since Mallet went discipline no one has asked for my innervate. That might change when the content gets harder, or different. As hard as Sarth 3D is, it’s not all that hard on mana, probably because of all the running time. If I could still WG spam I’d probably be going OOM, but as that’s not an option? Sarth 3 seems fine without an innervate either on me or the priests.

  16. Thanks for this post. I was lacking an intel update on the new resto druids 😉

  17. Can you link your talent tree. I’m new to resto druid healing and would like to compare with a more experienced player’s tree. Thanks.

  18. Imalinata says:

    @Sydera – My personal favorite is innervating hunters. First time I did that in a BG years ago, that hunter loved me forEVER. 😀 I definitely agree though, innervates when they’re being used are going later in the fights or to someone who was just battle rezzed. It’s really hard though to break the programming from 3 years of raiding to save innervate for a priest or anyone else. I’ll be interested to see how Ulduar works out as far as our “must have” glyphs go.

  19. my armory if you can get it working:
    http://www.wowarmory.com/character-sheet.xml?r=Eldre%27Thalas&n=Lifeforu

    Still working on the gear, I received 2 X T7.5 this week. and being the only druid in the raid I have also got 5 or 6 other peices of 25 man gear last 2 weeks.

    I like all the ideas posted here, I feel some times that a player makes each class thier own based on what they read and how they like to play. That being said I haven’t been able to HT much, I spec’d into it for 1 week and I was bottom of the healing with it.

    HOTS are the druids life line, I use “Idol of Awaking”106 mana savings on rej.

    Wild growth was insane if you understoon it before the nerf. it woudl heal yor target and 4 closest to him that are hurt for 1500 hps. cast it on someone standing on the other side of the room and it would heal that guy and 4 friends. in a raid with 25 people they spread out, I just hit the tank every time I updated his HOTS. and I would hit the caster taking any damage and rej him, I also would put hots on locks so they could tap. I might run out of mana??? yeah right.

    Tank healing:
    Hot the tank, hot the 3 dps I know are going to take damage from the aoe, hot the off tank, use my swiftmend and maybe a nouish to save the odd member of the raid and when the boss goes crazy on my MT I drop all hots on him, rej, reg, WG, LB, and nourish / swiftmend untill he’s safe again. MT healing isn’t much different then raid healing for me except I spend a little more time watching him. unless he’s getting really owned. 37K tanks are easy to keep up with 6000 hps a tick healing. switftmend proc’s crits for 11K and nourish crits for 7500 to 8000 and puts living seed doing another 30% of that. (2500 ish)

    rej is 2K a tick and lasts 17 sec’s, it’s hard to think I would use HT a 1 sec cast for 5000 hps @ 1000 mana vs isnta cast rej at ? 12000 hps @ ??? 500 mana.
    Never looked at the numbers really in detail, I know I’m not going to be a HT’er

    I like HT but I find the time spent casting sucks, and some fights when you get 300% spell casting slow; If someone doesn’t tell me we have the Debuff I wouldn’t know. rej, lb, wg, and if needed I wil Reg to add. Natures Switfness macro with /cast regrowth under it rocks. insta or slow cast regrowth button.

    Swiftmend is Free healing with a glyph that costs nill casting / mana

    My best experince so far: (last night)
    last night my guild and another guild have joined forces for the first time to run 25 man nax, it will (tonight) be my 2’nd full clear.
    Last night we had 1 pally healer , 1 cleric , 1 druid (me). 1 tank for spider wing; 2 tanks and 2 dk’s pretending to be tanks in the 2’nd wing (? 4 horse). We are 10 man nax geared raid, and some guys were fill-in’s (greens and blues) and we still cleared 2 wings with 3 healers in about 2.5 hours.

    I’m not sure if I”m good at healing but we managed what http://www.tankspot.com says we should have 7 healers to complete. The 4 horse men was a real challange, we had another priest show up to help (thank god) because we had to have 4 tanks (2 pallys healing themself) and 4 healers spread out. On our 3’rd attempt I went to the back; because I can HOT both tanks to help, and both our tanks were pallys back there they healed themselfs the whole 1’st part of the fight. we downed him with 4 healers 3 tanks, and one DK. our DPS was higher for the night which helped greatly, first boss went down before raid had 3 debuffs.

    With 5 healers I do 30% of the healing, last nigth I did 30% of the healing. I don’t understand why in a 25 man raid when you go from 5 healers to 3 my HPS didn’t go up. I heal anywhere from 1600 HPS when the raid isn’t getting hurt. to 3200 hps when we’re in trouble. each rej ticking on about 12 memebers when we’re taking major aoe damage is 24K a tick, and wild growth on top of that = good chance to make it. throw in oh crap Swiftmend and nourish and isnta regrowths I should do more then 3K hps?

    Sorry for the really long thread, if you read it I would love to hear more about this.
    Nice thread here and I hope it continues.
    /cheers and happy Life For U

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