Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Resto PvE Healing

Updated 01/13/10, patch 3.3




!!!!! I have overhauled this guide and split it up into more navigable chunks.
Please click here to visit the new guide !!!!!







Druids are a very versatile class, one that I enjoy simply for its flexibility. There are a lot of playstyles found among resto druids. Below, I have outlined the healing style that works best for me at level 80, and my thoughts on the how's and why's.




Note:
I am in a 10-man raiding guild. Most of my perspective and experience in healing in WotLK assumes that I am healing EVERYONE... not just a tank, or not just the raid: I have to watch after all of them.

Smaller raids put more pressure on the individual healers, especially as my guild typically runs only 2 healers in a raid; healing assignments rarely exist, except when we have to spread tanks out of range of each other (ie Gluth, Thaddius, Thorim), or when damage is spiking heavily into two tanks at once (Anubarak).

This does make my healing style different from a purely 25-man raider, whose sole job may be to only raid heal or to just spam at a single tank. I do think that this makes me a more well-rounded and flexible healer: I am specced for and can adapt to both raid healing and MT healing on the fly.




Vocabulary:

If you are new to druid healing or are just confused by some of the terms thrown around, here is a primer:
  • GCD: Global Cooldown. This is what stops you from chain-casting the majority of the instant spells and abilities in the game. The base GCD for any character is 1.5 seconds, meaning that if you use any instant spell or ability, you must wait 1.5 seconds before using another. It is lowered by haste to a minimum of 1.0 seconds. For more info on the GCD for druids, check this post.

  • Mouseover Macros. These are macros that will fire your selected spell at whoever your mouse cursor is currently hovering over. Mouseover macros are keybound on your action bars so that, rather than moving your mouse to click on your action bar, you press a key on your keyboard or a mouse button that you have bound to the macro. They condense the action of mousetotarget-clicktarget-mousetobar-clickaction into mousetotarget-presskey. This is a specific healing UI style; an alternative is click-casting through the use of mods such as healbot and clique, which bind spells to specific mouse button combinations and make use of right and left clicks as bindings. Both mouseover-macros and click-cast mods result in the same speed, and the choice is only up to your preference.

  • Spellhit: there is no such word in the druid healing vocabulary. It is a wasted stat on our gear, for purposes of healing. Friendly targets don't try to avoid heals! Well... if they do, that's called LoS :)

  • LoS: Line-of-Sight. Most heals and targeted buffs require line of sight to your target. Walls, some gates/shrubbery/rocks, hills, columns, and pedestals can block line of sight between a healer and their target. Don't be afraid to yell at your tanks about it if you have to, and make them move. If the tank can't move, then move yourself.

  • WG: in the resto druid world, this does NOT mean Wintergrasp! It stands for Wild Growth, our 51-point-talent AoE HoT of Awesomeness.

  • HT: Healing Touch. This was the major heal back in the days of Molten Core and BlackWing Lair raids, and is still our most powerful in terms of raw healing given, but it falls behind with its super-long cast time. The vast majority of level-80 druids simply tie this spell to a NS (Nature's Swiftness) and only use it then, or when out of combat. While with talents and the glyph you can reduce this spell to below 1 second, you will learn the Nourish spell at 80, which generally replaces HT as a healing spell.

  • NS: Nature's Swiftness: a 21-point talent that is the same as the shaman version. Makes your next nature spell instant-cast if it wasn't already (some restrictions apply). NS is usually tied to HT, but can also be used with any other nature spell such as regrowth, cyclone, entangling roots, or wrath. NS does not trigger the GCD, which means it can be tied in a macro to instantly fire a spell such as HT in the same moment, without having to wait for your GCD to be up.

  • OoC: Omen of Clarity: once held in the paws of feral druids alone, few druid builds are without this very shiny talent anymore. It will proc clearcasting for you, making your next spell cost no mana. This is a very, very, very important talent.

  • Oo5SR: Out of 5-second Rule. This refers to the "out of combat" mana regeneration that will kick in 5 seconds after you last cast a spell. Channeled spells have their own modifiers on when the 5SR starts ticking. Since the nerf to out-of-combat mana regeneration in 3.1, the Oo5SR is of far less importance for regen than it used to be, and is mostly a figment of times gone by. Just be aware that if you wait for 5 seconds without casting anything, your mana will regenerate faster than "while casting," if you are in combat.

  • GotEM: Gift of the Earthmother: a resto talent that grants haste and further reduces the GCD of lifebloom. It's a hand-full to type, thus it is shortened!
  • LS: Living Seed: a resto talent that is more useful to tank-healing since it is based off of crits.
  • CF: Celestial Focus: a balance talent that grants a small 3% haste buff for 3 talent points, + additional talent points spent to open it up in the relatively deeper tiers of the balance tree in talents that are of little use to healing. Druids will only take this if they can sacrifice deep resto talents and feel that they MUST reach the soft-haste cap: this is more applicable to pure raid healers. For more information on CF, you can see graphs here that compare the GCD with and without the talent, with appropriate raid buffs.



Talent Spec:
14/0/57

I arrived at this spec after much testing and experimenting with tweaks to the build; it is what works best for me, and has proven a strong build in both my 10-man raids and in any 25-pugs I run. Other druids will need to tweak their own specs to fit how they play; pure raid healers are encouraged to drop LS and other tank-healing talents in favor of getting CF from the balance tree, until they have enough haste to get them back while maintaining a 1-second GCD.

I'll explain most of my talent choices:

Balance Talents:
  • Moonglow is a remarkable mana reduction talent, as well as providing 3 points necessary for reaching talents in the 3rd tier of the balance tree.

  • Nature's Splendor
    is godly. We have a major glyph that adds 1 second to Lifebloom, while this 1 talent point does double that AND adds a tick to rejuvenation and regrowth? The rejuv and regrowth duration increases are specifically what make this talent so wonderful, adding extra ticks to the spells as well as increasing the length of time that your target remains swiftmendable.

  • Nature's Grace
    tends to be skipped by resto druids who do nothing but raid-heal and find themselves in competition by a glut of other healers in a raid, but I am in neither of those circumstances, so I find the talent extremely useful. We get crits off of Swiftmend, Regrowth, Nourish, Lifebloom's final bloom, and Healing Touch, and this talent procs from those to reduce the cast times of our next spells and the GCD of all the spells cast within those next 3 seconds after the crit. I find the talent a blessing when things get messy! Remember that your GCD will never be reduced below 1 second, however: if you have reached the soft haste cap, NG procs will not impact your GCD further. At high-end raiding, Nature's Grace is much more useful for players who need to heal tanks; pure raid healers may still take the talent anyway, however, as they work to open up CF deeper in the balance tree.
  • No Celestial Focus
    This is a talent that I would like to take for sake of being closer to the soft haste cap for the GCD, but I find that I cannot sacrifice the deeper resto-tree talents in order to free up the 4 talent points I would need to take it (1 to open the tier, 3 for the talent itself). As I am needed to both raid heal AND tank heal, the deeper tier resto talents are higher on my priority list than 3% haste. This talent is more applicable to pure raid healers. For more information on CF, you can see graphs here that compare the GCD with and without the talent, with appropriate raid buffs.
Resto Talents:
  • Nature's Focus
    is, in PvE raids, not that great. Many of our spells are insta-cast and we don't usually like getting hit by mobs, so this talent rarely sees use. I suppose if your tanks aren't very alert and leave mobs beating on you from your MAD HEALING ARGGO'Z that it might be useful, but I'd hate to consider that as a necessity (that situation is listed on my "how to piss off a healer" list). The talent is needed, however, to open up the next tier of talents. The times that it is useful are when doing dailies or during fights where aggro is less of a guarantee, such as Rotface's little oozes or ToC's Faction Champions. The only other option is to drop 3 points in Furor, which is even less useful for a treeform raider.

  • No Naturalist.
    I know, I know... /gasp choke die... Healing Touch was the bread and butter of Vanilla WoW druid healing, and then in TBC, we pretty much had to take it to open up talents deeper in the resto tree. It's always been there, we always specced it... but wait, we don't have to anymore? How often do you cast Healing Touch at level 80 without it being tied to a Nature's Swiftness? Seriously? Is it worth 5 talent points to shave off half a second? This talent is really just a leveling talent to make up for the smaller selection of spells available while lower-level, and a shiny damage talent for feral druids. Some druids who are pure MT-healer specs do take this talent, speccing into the rare "HT Spec," but most druids will not need to take this talent.

  • Subtlety.
    Sigh. Yeah, it's been buffed a bit. Half the talent is PvP. Unfortunately, threat is and always has been insanely high for a good druid healer. Holy Paladins are as threatening to mobs as a bunny (as long as they don't have Righteous Fury active), and Priests just fade into the background when a mob comes after them, and it all just spirals down on the druids and shaman to have all the lovely healing threat. There's nothing subtle about a walking, glowing tree waving their hands in the air, no matter what this talent may try to say. This talent is not gonna save you from general heal threat on mobs the tanks haven't bothered to get a hold of. I only took it because at least it's better than .3 seconds shaved off of a 3.5 second Healing Touch.

  • Natural Shapeshifter + Master Shapeshifter:
    4% increased healing done by every healing spell you cast. 4% extra healing is pretty expensive at 5 talent points since natural shapeshifter is so lackluster for pve raiding, but they are necessary points to spend to open up the deeper resto tree. Worth the points? Definitely, compared to the alternatives (furor and naturalist) available at this tier.

  • Omen of Clarity
    Procs off of spell casts. It is ranked as the best mana regeneration talent available to a druid, even over intensity. It has an internal cooldown, but it's not that big a deal. Also, if you find yourself in the awkward situation of being OoM, you can start punching the boss to get melee procs as well. Honestly, though, I've enjoyed having an "excuse" to be in melee range dropping 600 damage punches and claiming I'm contributing to DPS. Rabid Tree, Rawr! If you are especially attentive to your procs, try to use a regrowth or lifebloom to consume this proc, as they are more expensive to cast than your other spells.

  • NO Tranquil Spirit or Imp Tranquility:
    10% mana reduction on 3 spells for 5 talent points, or 9% mana reduction on 2/3 of those spells PLUS 2 other heals we use more often for two fewer talent points? Tranquil Spirit is a horrible talent when you compare it to Moonglow in the balance tree. I quietly /facepalm at the druids who take full Tranquil Spirit, though I can understand taking 1 point in it in trade for 2/3 Subtlety. Imp Tranquility, however, is a bit nice for it's cooldown reduction, but there are honestly better places to spend the 2 talent points at this depth of the talent tree since tranquility sees relatively little use in comparison to those other talents.

  • Empowered Touch:
    I know it seems a bit contradictory for me to be taking this after throwing Naturalist in the dirt, but a 40% healing bonus to your 2-minute-cooldown emergency healing spell for only 2 talent points is actually a really good deal. HT + NS ftw. This little gem will crit beautifully, especially on someone who's just been hit by Guardian Spirit! It also buffs your Nourish by 20%, which is wonderful for anyone who needs to tank-heal on occasion.

  • Natural Perfection
    This is, mostly, a PvP talent. It is one of the few talents that I wish I could take, but can't for lack of available points, because I can't justify taking it over anything else this deep in the talent tree, mostly because I simply don't PvP enough anymore. It procs a lot due to a tree's inherent lack of crit-reduction, and a 12% damage reduction shield that blankets both magic and physical attacks is verrrrry nice, particularly when hunters stick their pets on you thinking they'll push back your casting time (haha). The 3% spell crit passive is also pretty nice. Again, I wish I could spec for it, but alas... it's just not a PvE raiding talent.

  • Living Seed
    is quite good for a 3-talent-point passive heal that you don't have to cast. For me, it averages to about 2.5k per seed, which is great considering it's entirely passive: it's basically automatically adding 2-3k or more to your crit heals, but pausing to make sure that it will only cast when the person is next hit and so it won't risk it all being overheal. Pure raid healers will have far less use for this talent, as HoTs don't (usually) crit; this talent is for my tank-healing side.

  • Revitalize
    also seems to be one that druids either love or hate. Personally, Rejuvenation accounts for an average of 30% of my healing (up to 35 and even 60% in some situations), and Wild Growth another 30-35%. If it's proccing energy back to people, all the better! The key to this talent is realizing that it's not there for MANA. Do not try to compare it to replenishment. It's there for your kitties, your rogues, your DKs, your warriors, and your bears. The little mana procs are a nice little side regen, and should never be compared against replenishment: the talent isn't for that, and isn't needed for that. Revitalize is for the rest of the raid, and does boost your raid's DPS or a tank's threat. I can give a DK full runic power before a fight even starts. I did a Breakdown of revitalize procs/power gains from a Ulduar10 raid in July 09 with pretty graphs, which you can see here.

  • Gift of the Earthmother
    Playing a resto druid is all about speed, spamming quick spells, and your only "downtime" around not needing to refresh things is given by the global cooldown. This talent aids in reaching the GCD cap (1 second) by a significant amount, as well as lowering the cast times of any casted spells, which make it useful for any resto druid. Point for point, it is a far stronger healing talent than Celestial Focus.
As for the talents that are in my spec but I didn't mention by name: don't leaf Moonglade without 'em :D (baaaad pun... /flee)


The Details:

Glyphs:

For a full breakdown on the available glyphs and who they would benefit most, go here (CLICK). Personally, I use Swiftmend, Nourish, and Wild Growth.
  • Nourish is a a significant buff to your nourishes, assuming you cast them with HoTs rolling on the target. The 4pc T7 set bonus and the glyph DO stack for a total 11% bonus per HoT, so don't shy away just because you have the set bonus, if you happen to pick up enough T7.
  • Wild Growth: A 6th target on a high-use aoe healing spell is very nice, particularly if you are primarily raid-healing 25-mans. This is a popular glyph. In smaller raids, you will need to be more careful in your positioning to ensure that the WG splashes across both ranged and melee. Remember that pets can also catch a WG splash and enjoy the healing, and revitalize will proc off of WG.
  • Regrowth: a widely recognized favorite pre-3.1, which led many druids to simply spam this spell as their nearly only heal. Post-3.1, it may not be necessary to take this glyph, as regrowth will not crit as often (half of the regrowth crit talent's original 50% buff was handed over to nourish instead), but it will still be a useful glyph depending on your spec and healing style.
  • Lifebloom or Innervate are popular pre-3.1 choices, and can still be useful depending on your healing style and mana concerns.
  • Rejuv is popular in hardmode fights with heavy raid-wide AoE (Hodir, Anubarak P3, etc), as there are fights where many raiders drop below 50% HP repeatedly. It is found more among pure raid-healers when their guild is progressing through difficult content with high AoE damage.
  • Rapid Rejuv is popular for giving rejuvs faster ticks. It does not add ticks to the spell; it simply makes the same number of ticks occur more quickly, based on your haste. Many raid-healing druids prefer this glyph. Personally, I like having a longer rejuv duration since it keeps players swiftmendable for a longer period of time, and I have more need of a tank-healing glyph like Nourish than pure raid healers do.
  • Minors are of far less importance. Choose as you like. I use swim speed, thorns, and the reagent-removal glyph for rebirth.

Stats:

Spellpower > Haste (until soft-capped) > Spirit > Mp5 > Int > Crit > Haste (post-capped)

If you find yourself having mana problems, look into your spec and spirit, and balance yourself accordingly.

Key Mods:

Grid, GridStatusLifebloom, GridStatusHots, and Quartz.

I rely on Grid with mouseover healing macros to handle my casting. This means that I press a button on my keyboard while my mouse is hovering over my target to cast a heal at them. Some players prefer to use click-casting methods such as Clique and Healbot, using a mod rather than macros. Ultimately, which you choose is up to your preference, as they all take time to set up and a period of adjustment, and in the end, they result in the same speed. I will not be covering Healbot or Clique any further, as I do not use them myself.

An introduction to Grid
An introduction to Macros

Other mods I find useful for healing include:
  • GridStatusMissingBuffs
  • GridManaBars
  • GridStatusRes
  • Ghost Pulse
  • Power Auras
  • Debuff Filter
  • SexyCooldown
  • IceHUD
  • OmniCC
  • oRA2
  • LootRollMover (get that loot box off of my raid bars!!)
  • DeadlyBossMods, DXE, or Bigwigs boss mods
Further explanation of my UI can be found here.


My most important macro:
/cast [@mouseover,help] [help] [@player] Spellname

I use this format for every targeted healing or cleansing spell available to me. Simply replace "Spellname" with the name of the healing spell, and you have yourself a mouseover version of that spell. Keybind it just like you would an ability from your spellbook, and you have yourself a mouseover macro.

For my specific healing macros, see my post here. I also have some resto/balance dualspec macros.


Spell use:
  • Lifebloom has been through a lot of changes since its inception in TBC. At current, it is used mostly as a tank-healing spell, since its mana cost is so prohibitive. It is a good spell to use when you have procced clearcasting from OoC, as it will then cost no mana. You will want to avoid rolling full stacks on more than one tank, because it is unlikely that your mana will be able to hold out against such abuse. It is quite a strong spell, regardless, in spite of the nerfs: I recommend letting it bloom regularly to make use of the bloom's heal and to refund half of the mana cost. Time your blooms to when they're most needed by the tank, whenever possible. Avoid rolling a stack of 3 (by applying a 4th lifebloom before the stack of 3 has run out) unless you have plenty of mana and you don't think the tank could immediately use a bloom of 15-25k. The trick to using lifeblom is deciding at the last second whether or not the tank would benefit more from the bloom or from rolling the HoT. It can also be used as a heavy-backended raid heal in situations of high raid damage, since it is instant-cast, and it ticks far more quickly than rejuvenation.
  • The mana cost was doubled in 3.1, but the final bloom has been buffed immensely and refunds half of the initial mana cost, making it cost the same 14% base mana (490) as it did pre-3.1 (assuming it blooms and is not rolled).

  • Rejuvenation on tanks as well as any slow raid damage, and the "squishies" like myself (and the mages) who may need an emergency swiftmend depending on the situation. If damage is light and your mana is secure, rejuvs may be used for energy replenishment on DKs, cats/rogues, or warriors/bears, assuming you specced into revitalize (sharing your innervate is a better way at that point to share mana). 4-pc T8 will also grant your rejuv an extra tick that will tick immediately, as opposed to 3 seconds after application; 4-pc T9 will let your rejuv ticks crit. Rejuv is a very strong underdog spell, often underestimated because of its slow ticking. Currently, it is one of the most powerful and most-used heals in a resto druid's arsenal.


  • Swiftmend when available for a big heal, be it tank or a squishy. Crits for 10-12k or more, depending on your spellpower; I've been seeing it crit for 20k in Ulduar. 15 seconds is a quick cooldown, so don't be afraid to use it often and freely: just be mindful of its cooldown and have an alternative spellcast in mind if it is on cooldown (NS+HT, or a quick nourish). Glyphed, it will not remove your HoTs from the target.


  • Wild Growth on a cluster of 2+ players who need something more than a rejuvenation. This is just like a priest's Circle of Healing, only it is a HoT. It is a powerful spell, but should be cast on the person or mob nearest those who need the heal, as its aoe effect is based on those nearest your target rather than yourself. If people are too spread out, you can position yourself between them and cast it on yourself, using your body as a bridge. Remember that if your target has higher health than the people surrounding, your wild growth may not necessarily heal your target, but jump instead to those players and pets around them. For more details on using Wild Growth (with pretty diagrams!), view my post here.


  • Regrowth for an extra HoT on the tank as necessary, or a needed quick heal with a crit portion and HoT if Swiftmend is down. Use this spell on tanks, or anyone taking heavy, sustained damage; once a regrowth HoT has been applied, you can switch to using Nourish for "flash heals" until the regrowth HoT falls off. For most druids, this was the "spammable" primary healing spell pre-3.1, but remember that it is heavily mana-expensive and has a longer cast time than our insta-casts and nourish. Quite a bit of its mana cost is caught up in the HoT portion of the spell, which is simply over-written if you continually recast a regrowth on someone before the HoT has run its course. If you have it glyphed, you will get a 20% boost to your Regrowth heals if the target already has the Regrowth HoT on them. Regrowth's HoT portion is quite powerful, however, so don't forget about it!


  • Nourish if there is a need for speed in casting, if you already have a HoT (or more) on the target, or if your target only needs a small flash heal (unbuffed by hots). It has a strong chance to crit if properly talented. Avoid casting nourish if you have no current HoT of any type on your target, as it will be 20% less effective in healing power; you can still use it as a flash-heal if there are no hots, just be aware that it will be much less healing than otherwise. For effective use of Nourish, I recommend setting up your raid frames to show YOUR HoTs on the target separately from showing other peoples' hots (which are useful to see swiftmendability): Nourish will only receive its bonuses if it has a lifebloom, rejuv, wild growth, and/or regrowth FROM YOU on the target.


  • NS + Healing Touch macro cast for the dire emergencies. I've had this crit for 25k, though 15k is more usual (Naxx geared). Save the mage who pulled aggro, or the healer or myself, or the tank who just pulled 2 or more patrols at once :) Don't be afraid to use it, this is a tool to be used and not forgotten! My macro is below.

/stopcasting
/cast [nomod,combat] Nature's Swiftness
/cast [@mouseover,help] [help] [@player] Healing Touch
/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear()

  • Tranquility is party-only, so sees less use for me when Wild Growth is readily available as an alternative. If the whole raid is going down quick, I'll pop a WG on as much of the other party as I can, and then Tranquility on my own party (which usually catches the whole of a ten-man raid, if the groups are split ranged/melee). I rarely cast this in raids, however, as the channeled casting means HoTs drop while I'm using it, and I can cast two WGs in the time it takes to complete the channel. It is a very strong spell, however, so be watchful of circumstances where you feel like you could use it: times when your party is all clustered together, and the whole raid is dieing too quickly, and you know you can only save some of them by throwing that WG off to another party while you pop tranquility on your own group. These times are rare, but Tranquility can save the raid from a full wipe. Tranquility tends to be favored by moonkin or feral druids who want to pop out of forms to assist raid healing quickly, so don't forget about it when you're in an off spec.



My style, thus:

Keybound spells:
All of my heals are keybound within easy reach of my fingertips, with a shift modifier in the macro that will toggle between two spells. Lifebloom and Rejuv are bound to (for example) "e," with swiftmend and regrowth tied to "q." Full details of my keybinds can be found here.

Mouseover macros
:
All of my heals are macroed for mouseover casting. If my mouse cursor was over a player's health box when I hit "e," they'd get a rejuvenation. No extra click to target the person and then cast, no time wasted, bam! one keyboard click and I'll move on to the next health box.

Eyes on the Grid health boxes:

They inform me of player aggro, player mana, inc heals to each person from other healers, curses or poisons I can cleanse, missing buffs, lifebloom time remaining on players, stacks of lifebloom (by color), and whether any player has rejuv or regrowth active and is thus swiftmendable, and if that rejuv or regrowth is mine and if it will run out soon, who has been hit by my Wild Growth and if it will be running out soon, and any important boss-specific debuffs I need to know about like mortal strike or a heavy dot. This is why I love Grid! My Grid settings can be found here.

The Boss is my actual target:
I keep the boss targeted in most cases so that I can see his health frame and cast bar, and can then be able to quickly compare my mana resources to the time remaining in the fight. The 50% mark is generally a good time to assess your mana. Also, having the boss' cast bar big and in your face as your target will also alert you to important spell casts that you need to react to, such as Thaddius' polarity shift, or a large damage spell being cast upon the tank. There are other mods such as Power Auras which can give you special alerts such as what spells your target is casting, and these require the boss to be targeted as well.

Monitor all cooldowns:
So you know quickly what is available to you. Cluster your important cooldowns on your action bars in as much an uncluttered way as possible, and use cooldown timer mods (sexycooldown) and/or a pulse-alert mod (Ghost Pulse) to let you know a cooldown is over.

I HoT up the tank first:
interrupting only as necessary. Rejuv first in most cases, then a lifebloom or two. If the tank seems to be taking more damage than this and the other healers can easily manage, I add a regrowth and start weaving lifebloom(s) and nourish. I keep an eye on the rest of the raid, still, and will interrupt my tank-HoTing to apply raid heals (rejuv and WG) as needed. If the tank is taking more damage than my HoTs can handle, I focus on them and let WG-splashes take care of nearby raid damage: if the tank dies, the raid will wipe anyway.

If someone needs an emergency heal, they get swiftmend first, and NS+HT if Swiftmend is on cooldown. NS+HT takes priority if they're at a sliver of health and have a large health pool (tank). If the tank isn't taking much damage at all, I'll keep at minimum a rejuvenation on the tank(s). They're the tank for a reason: they should be the one taking the most damage. If I get bored and healing is super-light, I start punching mobs or moonfiring or checking what I could CC or, heh, HURRICANE!


The importance of speed:

Global cooldowns (GCD). There's no casting time to spend looking for your next target, or checking out your area, or choosing one person over another, or checking your HoT timers among different people... all of that has to be done at the same time you're clicking a heal. It's fast-paced with little time to make choices, so you need to know what you're going to do in each situation ahead of time, and you need to be able to check your timers, cooldowns, and situation very, very quickly.



Tips

1) We have powerful mana regen.
...but it could still run out. While +spellpower is the strongest stat you can buff/gem/enchant for and you want to try to reach the haste soft-cap for your 1-second GCD, don't skimp on the spirit or mp5. Intensity is required for resto builds for a reason, beyond opening up Nature's Swiftness. Keep an eye on your own mana, and make sure you don't throw your innervate to someone else before you know whether or not you'll need it for yourself. Use mana pots as a last resort, since you can only use one per fight. Use your trinkets -- you can macro a trinket + Lifebloom or Regrowth or Nourish combo to keep from having to waste a GCD in the rotations, if you havea click-use mana trinket. If you are seriously concerned about your mana, jump into melee and start punching things for OoC procs. Use these clearcasting procs to throw a lifebloom to someone, and let it bloom: it will refund you 14% base mana on the bloom, even though you spent no mana to cast it!


2) Move while casting.
It's easy to get mentally locked on your health bars so much that all else around us is IGNORED (warning: blood elf on fire!) but if you're moving already, you automatically have to be mindful of where you're going, and moving helps you keep aware of your surroundings if only peripherally to the almighty health bars that dominate your consciousness. You may be a slow tree, but you can still move and jump and stuff unlike our rooted casting-time compatriots. Just remember to do it and not forget your surroundings while you're madly clicking on people.

As a bonus, moving and jumping can keep you from going insane from staring at all the little timers. If you do it right, it should never interfere with your healing (aside those times that anyone moving is a BAD THING, of course), beyond those quick moments that you need to root down and cast off a regrowth or nourish.

Amusingly, moving around in raids teaches you a lot about which mobs will cleave or have a cone-effect attack. I will just grin and say that it taught me to better anticipate damage done to others caught in those same cones/cleaves! ;)


3) Know your LB timers.
In TBC, we could have maximum of 4 rolling 3-stack lifeblooms up on the raid. Now, with more haste gear and talents and a glyph that will increase the duration of your lifebloom to a maximum of 10 seconds, we have many more GCD's to play with in between renewing lifeblooms... but the developers don't want us to just be rolling lifeblooms on the raid as our near-only-healing-spell like we did in TBC, so they nerfed lifebloom a bit (*cough* major understatement...) and have made it much more costly to cast. Just don't let the lifeblooms drop from your MT when you don't want them to. Lifebloom still does 20-30% of my average healing done (depending on the boss mechanics and tanks' gear) in fights where the tanks are taking lots of damage, and provides a great buffer for the other healers. Timing its bloom in messy situations can make it very strong. The mana cost is something you have to juggle, and getting that half-cost mana refund when it blooms is something you need to decide on last-second. If, as you go to refresh a lifebloom stack, you think a 15k-22k heal would benefit the tank, then you must make a quick choice to either renew the spell or let it bloom, and then whether or not to begin reapplying the stack (and how quickly you want to restack it) around your mana and the further damage incoming to the tank. It is a hard spell to work with, probably the most difficult, and thus is the one you should keep an eye on the most.


4) Be aware of lag.
Lag throws off your expected rotations and causes HoTs to drop when you were expecting to have more time before needing to renew them. It can cause your mods to lie about how much time is left before your Rejuv drops from the tank, making you possibly misfire a Swiftmend. Your lifebloom may bloom at just the wrong moment when you wanted to renew it, or you may end up rolling a stack that you had wanted to let bloom before restacking. Lag sucks and screws over a resto druid more so than someone who just had a slightly longer cast time, because our healing is so heavily dependent on getting that cast off EXACTLY when we want it to. In areas of intense graphical rendering, the easiest and fastest mid-combat solution is to turn your back to the raid and face a happy, unmoving wall. If you know you are prone to some lag, this is where spell-haste can be helpful by further reducing the GCD to give you more time to go through your rotation without being barred as much by the cooldowns. If you're having heavy lag, de-synch any meters (ie /recount sync), heavy libraries (auctioneer), or other sharing mods you are running, turn down spell graphics, turn off nameplates (the v key by default), and even cut out auras in your combat log: do whatever you can to minimize your lag. I've known people that have gotten up mid-raid to go unplug their siblings' connections to the house's router to reduce their lag.


5) Renew Lifeblooms at the last possible deci-second to conserve mana.
If you aren't experiencing (much) lag, wait as long as you can (also measured in a second or less) before renewing a lifebloom, provided you aren't needing to rush your mouse off to cast something at someone else. It's wasteful on your mana to renew a lifebloom too early, as you'll probably loose ticks of healing in that time, making the mana you spent on casting the heal go to waste. Also, by waiting, you can better judge if you should renew it at all, or to let it bloom for a bigger heal and a mana refund to yourself. Depending on your gear and the combat situation (fight duration, amount of raid damage, etc), this may or may not be a big deal.


6) Use Macros.
Macros, as mentioned previously, allow you to shave off precious seconds amidst the chaos of healing. They can tie NS or a trinket to a spellcast, and they can tell the game your chosen target when you cast without having to click them. If you've never used them before, talk to some people and have them walk you through making and using the macros. They WILL make your healing life much, much easier!

If you've never used macros before, now is the time to start. I have an introductory guide to macros, or you can just pop one of the macros from here into your macro menu, drag the macro out like a spell from your spellbook, keybind it like you can any other spell, and try it out. If you're really really lost, I recommend IceDragon's Macro Anatomy introduction, it has flowcharts showing how the game reads macros.


7) Use Keybinds.
The most important part of these mouseover healing macros is that you keybind them to an easily accessible, comfortable location on your keyboard, close to your movement keys. You cannot use your mouse or arrow keys for movement: your mouse is your targeting arrow, and those keys around your hand are your spellcasts. Full details of my keybinds can be found here.

Lifebloom and Rejuv are bound to (for example) "e," with swiftmend and regrowth tied to "q." All of my heals are keybound within easy reach of my fingertips, with a shift modifier in the macro that will toggle between two spells when I hold down the shift key (like toggling between upper case and lower case).

Personally, I use WASD (and autorun bound to a side button on my mouse) to move, and have ~, 1-5, q, e, t, f, g, and three of my G15 keys all within easy access of my finger tips. I hold down shift or alt while pressing these keys in order to toggle between different spells -- I use CTRL as my push-to-talk ventrilo key, but you can use it as a keybind toggle as well!


7) Prioritize your debuff-cleansing .
Cleanse debuffs quickly, prioritizing those people who are most effected by the particular debuff. Learn about the curses and poisons that are cast by the mobs and bosses in the instances you run, and learn what they do: if a curse is limiting the amount of healing received by the target (such as spider wing trash in Naxx), then the tanks and people who are low-health should be your cleansing priority. If a curse applies healing to the mob whenever the afflicted player attacks (such as the giant dragonkin in Sarth), then prioritize those players with fast attack speeds and leave the healers for last on the cleanse-list.


8) Other small tips:

Rejuv the ret pally(s).
They like to hurt themselves regularly, so help mitigate that.

HoT warlocks who are low on mana
,
to offset their lifetapping. If they don't start lifetapping, let them know they've got heals and can commence, provided your voice chat isn't busy with raid commands.

Don't stand in the fire.
Seriously. We're made of kindling!



Now go forth, and the world! Or something like...

8 comments:

Raymond said...

I'm suprised you haven't had any comments here yet.

Love this guide! Especially with dual specs on the horizon, I've got Resto on the mind. I'll actually respec tonight to give ease myself back in the healing mindset (currently feral).

Kudos on your hard work here.

fallingleavesandwings said...

Well....since Raymond posted here today, I suppose I can as well =)

I just stumbled on this site and think it's fantastic!

I do have one comment/question however, and I only comment on it because this is the second time I've seen someone make a similiar comment...

Regarding lifebloom, I'm not entirely sure why people are stating to now shy away from it as a raid heal. It is still an incredibly strong, and mana effiecient, raid heal. Once you factor in the mana return from the bloom it is actually cheaper to cast now than it was pre-3.1!

I still feel that it is a very stong raid heal spell, for all of the reasons that it was previously. Granted, I use it far less now than when I was in TBC, with the addition of wild growth to my spells, but it is most certainly still a viable raid healing spell =)

Just curious!

~Beru

Kae said...

Well, I've stopped using lifebloom as a raid heal for the most part in this expansion, except when I need to be focusing on a tank at the same time, a rejuv isn't sufficient, AND the raid damage isn't enough to warrant a Wild Growth (which is two people, based on mana cost). Usually, at that point, the person's pulled aggro, and then they might as well be a tank in my mind and they need something more than a single lifebloom (say, NS + HT!).

WG and Rejuv, coupled then with Nourish and Swiftmend, have served the vast majority of my raid-healing purposes. Pallies also enjoy sniping what a bloom's heal would take care of with a quick flash heal, and other chain/aoe heals usually land before the bloom as well, wasting it. Lifebloom isn't swiftmendable, and if you've got revitalize, you won't be giving energy back to the person as you would with WG/Rejuv. The rejuv also lasts longer, with heavier, steadier ticks. So, ultimately, I've chosen to rely on rejuv over lifebloom as my primary single-target raid HoT.

One of the places I *do* definitely use lifebloom as a raid heal is on Grobbulus, usually a 2-3 stack on people as they run away to drop their disease clouds. The timing of the bloom is useful there. But, as I said in the guide, such occasions are rare :)

Btw, when factoring in the bloom's mana return on Lifebloom in 3.1, it's not *cheaper,* it's the same cost as it used to be :) The mana cost was doubled, and half gets refunded, so it evens back to the original 14% base mana cost that it was pre 3.1.

Lifebloom is seeing some pretty heavy changes with this patch, though, given the bump in its bloom amount and the price of rolling them. I think it will still see problems based on its delayed bloom vs the aoe heals and fast-cast snipers in raids, but the bloom amount compared to mana cost (factoring in the half mana returned) is certainly something to keep in mind and attempt to work with!

fallingleavesandwings said...

I actually never really was overly concerned with the "bloom" part of the heal and figured it would be overheal 90% of the time. I often use it over rejuv merely for the fact that it ticks immediately and actually effectuates some healing right away. By the time a rejuv starts to work in most fights (there are a fair number of exceptions, Sapph and Maly come to mind), the rejuv is completely wasted by a heal from a direct healer (3 seconds is a long time to wait for a heal to tick!), ecspecially during trash =)

I imagine that once I have 4pc T8, I will probably rethink that, but right now I think my personal preference is to keep lifebloom in my raid heal rotation.

In thinking on it some, the difference in my preference may also be that I'm used to running 7-8 healers in a 25 man setting, as opposed to 2 healers in a 10 man setting. There are just fewer heals flying around overall in a 10 man setting, and your rejuvs actually get to work before someone has healed over them =)

Thanks for the response!

~Beru

Road Rash said...

What a fantastic resource you've started here. I've been looking for resto info for the first time now that dual spec is here and these guides are perfect!

I'm so glad I've found your blog, and I cannot thank you enough for the beautifully written guides and taking the time to share it all with us.

/gushing praise and cheers

Kae said...

Beru:

Yep, you're probably right about the number of healers and the competition to get healing in quickly. 7-8 healers is a LOT for a 25-man!! Even my 25-pugs usually only go with 4-6. (Frankly, I've always wondered why some guilds run 3 healers in 10-man Naxx, beyond that short time that Sapph was crazily bugged...)

I try to avoid thinking in terms of "sniping heals" or "beating the other healers," so I've never really cared that much if someone gets a heal in and bumps the target to full before the rejuv starts to tick. If the person took some damage, they'll probably take some more, and the HoT is there if needed! It keeps the raid alive, either way :)

Most often, Wild Growth just takes care of things for me. A WG hits half my 10-man raids, give or take pets. I haven't found much need to change things up in the 25-mans either, as the aoe heals splash around freely... and, again, those pugs don't have a high number of healers relative to group size. PuGs are also interesting just in that you get all sorts of people in them... like tanks not having good threat or positioning the mobs to whirlwind on the ranged dps, or dps that doesn't know what threat means, or what a cleave means, or standing in the fire, or to even get in ventrilo to hear about the meteors, or a mage jumping into a fresh pull and dropping aoe bombs before the tanks have even touched them... fun times for a healer, keeps me on my toes!

If you do find you're having to fight other healers a lot to feel like you're contributing anything, maybe you can see if your guild would be okay with letting your healers rotate around respecs to DPS, having 1 or 2 of you use the dual-spec feature to go moonkin or ret or shadow or whatever, to give you all something to do beyond competing for slivers of health bars :D


Road Rash & Raymond:

Thanks :) *blush*

Raymond said...

Kae,

I don't know if this was intentional or not, but the talent spec link above is unfinished (2 points left to spend).

Plus I was a little suprised you put 2 points into Improved Barkskin.

Kae said...

Haha, nah, wowhead just updated their talent trees and it shuffled things around from what it was pre-3.1 :) I'll update the link now.