This is a guest post by Epiphanize, a Resto Druid, and co-host of Raid Warning.
So you’ve just shaken the frost off of your branches and are staring down the entrance to Icecrown Citadel, the final raid of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. You and nine of your closest guildies (or 9 random pugs if your unlucky) are ready to face the challenges that await you in your quest to take down Arthas. The first of these will be the bosses of the entrance to the Citadel. Before we get into strategies, let’s discuss a few things you should think about before trotting into The Frozen Throne. There have been some major changes to how Druids approach healing that are worth taking a look at.
Most trees are in the process of making the swap from crit-laden gear to stacking haste (or at least you should be – Bad tree, bad). This, along with the introduction of Glyph of Rapid Rejuvenation, has given us some new and interesting options. The goal of this article is to help you understand the changes to Druid healing and how it affects you prepare to confront the Lich King.
In addition to these changes, 10-mans can leave a lot of uncertainty, and raid composition will often force Druids to fill rolls they may not be best suited for. Your choice of glyphs and spec will depend a lot on role, personal preference, and playstyle. However, there is some general advice you can follow when making these decisions. I’ve done my best to try to gives options for popular playstyles and specs.
I’m Still a Crit Machine
If you are still very early in the process of swapping gear from crit to haste, you are probably using either Nourish or Regrowth as your main spell. Nourish is a slightly better spell in most realistic situations where you aren’t sure you will keep Regrowth’s hot up on at all times (Thats a discussion for another article). However, at this level of raiding, either spell should serve you well regardless of role. So use whatever your little wooden heart desires, just make sure to bring the appropriate glyph.
Next, I would recommend Glyph of Swiftmend. This is especially helpful in situations where you are spot healing the raid or attempting to 2 heal. It allows you to quickly save a DPS that may be taking sudden burst damage, or catch up on a tank you may have neglected for a moment. It is also a nice way to save on some mana. Plus a global cooldown wasted refreshing a HoT can often be the difference between life and temporary, virtual death. If mana is not a concern and you are comfortable relying on some of your other emergency options, you can go with both of the choices for your third glyph.
Your third glyph is really up to personal choice and should be based on your role as well as the encounter. Glyph of Wild Growth is always a safe bet, especially if you are helping raid heal. There are lots of scenarios where the whole raid is taking damage in ICC, and that extra target is a welcome buff. Glyph of Rejuvenation is also good but slightly weaker option, as there won’t be large chunks of time where the tank is under 50%. Thought this can shine in some encounters, especially with the 4 piece tier 9 set bonus. One thing to keep in mind is that the small amount Glyph of Rejuvenation can play in helping catch up, can easily be replaced by a Swiftmend, Nature’s Swiftness/Healing Touch, or even a Regrowth.
When it comes to talent choices with a Crit build, not much has changed since 3.2. Living Seed is a must in my book if you are going to be tank healing, and is also handy when dealing with Saurfang’s Mark of the Fallen Champion. This especially holds true due to Nature’s Bounty increasing the amount of Living Seed procs.
Another option that is good for tank healers, but is especially strong for raid healing, is Revitalize. While not a complete replacement for Replenishment, it is better than the complete lack of a regeneration buff. You should end up with something similar to 11/0/60 (full build here) with either 3 points in Living Seed or Revitalize depending on what tickles your fancy.
Crit Is So Last Month
If you are at or approaching the soft haste cap (856 without Celestial Focus, 735 with) Rejuvenation is now your baby. Blizzard has really made this our new bread and butter spell. With two strong glyphs, 4 piece tier 9, and the last two idols granting you spell power based on rejuvenation ticks, it is clear you should be using Rejuvenation liberally. This being said, Glyph of Rapid Rejuvenation is a must in my opinion. This is obviously slanted towards raid healing, though I’ve seen instances where it has come in handy as a tank healer. It also comes in useful for mechanics like Mark of the Fallen Champion where a glyphed Rejuvenation with 4 piece Tier 9 can often alone keep up the marked target with minimal management. ICC encounters seems to have been tuned to encourage the use of Glyphed Rejuvenation, as there are lots of dots and healing on the move.
If you plan on focusing more on your HoTs, the original Glyph of Rejuvenation is a good companion for the new Rapid Rejuvenation. It will take time for you to get used to how quickly you can heal up someone with this combo. Once your haste gets up there and you get down the timing, this combo is a very powerful option.
Glyph of Nourish is your other option for your second glyph. Some would even argue that Nourish is the main reason to stack haste, not Rapid Rejuvenation, as you will have a 1s cast time on Nourish. This, combined with a reduced global cooldown, should allow you to direct heal your stump off. This is also a perfectly viable options, especially at the 10-man level. I think its safe to leave this decision up to personal preference.
Of course you could always just use the above three glyphs and have the best of both worlds, which is what I have ultimately done. But if you are indecisive, Swiftmend will save some mana when you need a big direct heal. In the same vein, Wild Growth will give some HoT power to go along with those quick Nourishes. There really is a lot of flexibility here.
There is however, not so much when it comes to spec. For most people, you will be stuck going deep enough into the Balance tree to get Celestial Focus, that you will not have much of a choice but to go 18/0/53. Now as you progress through Icecrown you will be able to move those points out of Balance and back into the more useful Resto talents. Revitalize being a priority in my book due to the amount of Rejuvenation’s you will be tossing around. Where you go from there will depend on how often you decide to use you direct heals. Your build should look more like the crit 11/0/60 build..
Phew…Who knew when you signed up to heal as a sapling, you’d be in for so much homework? However, as long as Blizzard keeps being bipolar in regards to Druid healing mechanics, you better get used to it. Who knows, maybe if we cut back on the QQ they will give us new Tree Form models before the end of Cataclysm. Well, we can dream can’t we? In the next part of this article we will cover specific strategies for healing the first 4 bosses of Icecrown as a Tree.