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.
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.
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.