Monday, October 26, 2009

More Than One Kind of Tree

Just as there are oaks, elms, birches, and maples, so to are there different kinds of tree druids. Even if we all have the same yellowed leaves, grumpy old-man face, golden bark, and spindly arms, resto druids do not all play the same, because our roles as healers can vary.

Some of the most commonly found types of resto druids are:
  • Leveling
  • PvP
  • 25-man raid-healers
  • 10-man healers
  • Non-raiders
Each mini-role provides a different situation a resto druid must adapt to in their spell selection, target awareness, and stat choices.

  • Leveling druids will not have nourish, might not have lifebloom, and will be lacking many of the deeper-tier talents that a level 80 druid relies upon. Their playstyle and focus as healers can vary greatly. True leveling tree-druid healers usually rely heavily on grouping with friends to do quests and dungeons, or else they are speccing also into feral or balance for soloability.
  • In PvP, a druid must account for resilience and put far greater focus on their own survivability, as well as terrain usage, roots, and cyclones. Any casted spell they use leaves them open to interrupts. They tend to use lifebloom quite a bit more than raiding restos do in WotLK, as well.
  • 25-man raiding restos will most commonly find themselves in the role of pure raid-healers. Among 25 people in a raid, there will be (usually) 5-6 total healers, and among those healers will be some who designate themselves as tank-heals, thus diminishing the importance of the tanks from the druids' leafy-healy attention. Raid-healing druids in raids this large may spend their entire time casting nothing but rejuv and wild growth (in 3.2): HoTs with little use for crit, and only enough haste to reach a capped 1-second GCD. Swiftmend/NS+HT will see backup use in emergencies, some lifebloom may be spread, and some may decide to keep regrowths on the tanks as an extra buffer, but these spells see far less focus than the rejuv/WG raid-healing. Any talents, glyphs, or set bonuses relating to WG and Rejuv are the whole world to these druids.
  • At the same time, there are some 25-man tank-healing druids, who churn out glyphed-HT or spam nourishes (buffed on HoTs) in mimicry of classes that are more traditional tank healers (it has been equated to Flash of Light spam) around their more WotLK-standard use of WG. They may choose this style out of liking that type of healing, or they may be forced to it by what other healers their guild has, in cases where a guild runs heavy on other raid-healers. I am less familiar with this variety, but know they exist, and have seen one in action to great effect.
  • 10-man raiding restos, along with other 10-man healers, must help heal the tanks as well as the raid. I am one of these. These can vary quite a bit depending on who they are co-healing with, but overall must be far more flexible than a pure raid-healer. In progressive guilds, there will often be only 2 healers in a 10-man group, with a 3rd available through dual-spec from among the other raiders for encounters that require it. These druids, like the 25-man raid-healers, will make heavy use (in 3.2) of WG and rejuv, but they also turn regularly to other spells in their books: regrowth for an extra HoT and nourish-booster, swiftmend for its quick life-saving capacity on targets that have rejuv/regrowth, NS+HT in a dire emergency, nourish for its quick cast that is boosted by HoTs stacked upon the tank as well as for use when swiftmend is on cooldown, and lifebloom stacks that the druid must decide to let bloom or roll on the tank. These druids place greater value on crit than a pure raid-healer, and will often have talents like living seed as an additional buffer when healing tanks and dealing with heavier damage. This healing style can also be found among a few 25-man raiding guilds.
  • Non-raiding restos, or max-level druids who group with friends or pug in 5-mans, tend to be similar to the 10-man raider variety, though they may find Tranquility to still be useful as they are usually in the same party as their targets.
  • I'm sure there are some variant saplings out there forging ahead with a different style, as well!


When reading anything about what sorts of stats you, as a resto druid, are "supposed" to have, take a moment to consider for yourself what sort of role you play as a healer. Many raid-healing druids will have little use for crit. Other druids who need to tank-heal around the cooldowns of swiftmend and NS will still rely on a balance of haste and crit. These differences will be further refined around your set bonuses, and will impact your glyph selection, spell selection, and stat preferences... as well as how hurtful or beneficial any future set bonuses, glyphs, or spell changes may be!

You can read more about keeping an open mind as a raider here.

As an aside, I made little pixel tree...


Daniel said...

As a non-raiding restro I agree with most of your observations. I actually found tranquility more useful as a leveling druid than I do at end game. The biggest problem with tranquility is that it has no HoT ability. If you cast it at any other time than at the very end of a fight all your HoTs will have run out by the time it's finished and that's very bad. After all, if you are casting TQ you are doing so because the party is taking a boatload of damage only now they are taking a boatload of damage and they have no HoT buffer.

It's only real usefulness is as a spell is to prevent that 1% wipe. And in a five man PUG a wipe just isn't that devastating of an occurrence. I find it to be one of those spells I always think about after the fact--then shrug my shoulders about.

Kae said...

I can certainly understand that :) I still rather wish that half of Tranquility could be turned into a wild-growth-esque HoT after some initial channel, allowing the druid to go back to other things, like healing another group or re-applying hots to the tank.

Of course, the sparklies should remain for the full duration. Sparklies are important. ;)

lissanna said...

That's what makes writing my healing guides so difficult. :(

lissanna said...

Also, I wanted to say that tank healing resto druids benefit A LOT MORE from using multiple HOTs and Nourish than they benefit from using Glyphed HT. I've spent a LOT of time on my blog showing how nourish heals for a LOT more in 3.2 with scaling HOTs and the nourish glyph than glyphed HT heals for. The synergy Nourish has with HOTs makes it a much better tank healing spell for any tank healing situation. The difference in cast time is off-set by the fact that HT costs a lot more mana and will run you OOM faster (which is more problematic in smaller groups more likely to lack replenishment sources).

Kae said...

Cool to know, Lissanna. I haven't run with a pure tank-healer druid in a long time; when I did, there was no such thing as Emalon (about 6 months ago, I guess?).

I will edit in a note about nourish-users for the tank-healer druids, then :)