Kae's Guide to Resto Raid-Healing: Part 3, Mechanics

Resto Druid Mechanics

Now that we've covered spell use, I want to go into spec, talents, and glyphs.

There are currently three base "accepted" specs:

The differences are based on haste rating: Celestial Focus (18 in balance) gives a flat 3% haste which can apply to your GCD, Nature's Grace (14 in balance) gives you a spell-crit-based haste proc which is only good for druids who are healing with nourish/regrowth (and in some cases healing touch and wrath/starfire-spam), and some druids need neither talent so they only go as far into balance as necessary to pick up the very nice mana and hot-duration talents.

Before you look at spec, you need to determine how much haste rating you have, including raid buffs.  Assuming you can rely on having a moonkin or improved ret pally aura in the raid ALONG WITH a totem of wrath, a druid needs 856 haste rating to reach the 1-second GCD limit.  If you don't have those buffs, your haste softcap will be even higher.

  • 18/0/53 Celestial Focus (CF) Build:
    • If you do not have ~856 haste rating (assuming your raid will also have improved ret/moonkin aura AND a Wrath of Air totem) AND
    • you will be heavily raid healing and can thus give up some deep-tier resto talents that are more tank-healing focused,

    ...go with the 18/0/53 spec, which boosts your haste by an additional 3%. It will enable you to reach your haste softcap for the GCD (for your insta-cast spells) a little bit quicker.

  • 14/0/57 Nature's Grace (NG) build:
    • If you do not have ~856 haste rating (or cannot rely upon raid haste buffs), AND you cannot give up the deep-tier resto talents (often the case with tank-healers or 10-man raiders), OR
    • If you have over or close to ~856 haste rating (assuming your raid will also have improved ret/moonkin aura AND a Wrath of Air totem) AND you spam-cast regrowth and/or Wrath (which is rare), 

    ...go with some variation of the 14/0/57 spec. This gives you Nature's Grace haste procs to aid in non-haste-softcapped nourish spam, or if you are haste softcapped, it will speed up any spell with a base time longer than 1.5 seconds (including regrowth and untalented wrath).

  • 11/0/60 Nature's Splendor Build:
    • If you have over or close to ~856 haste rating (assuming your raid will also have improved ret/moonkin aura AND a Wrath of Air totem) AND
    • You don't spam-cast regrowth or wrath,

    ...go with some variation of the 11/0/60 spec.  This only puts enough points in the Balance tree to give you Nature's Splendor.

NOTE: some druids opt for a "healing touch" glyphed spec, using the glyph and the Naturalist talent to boost their healing touch spell. It has more or less fallen out of favor, and even the developers have said they do not see Healing Touch as a major resto-druid heal at 80 except when used in conjunction with Nature's Swiftness as an emergency, big heal. Nourish replaces HT as the straight druid heal at level 80.

Spec Variations

Variations in talent selection in the above specs will depend on personal preference and playstyle. The key talents that you may wish to swap around are:
  • Empowered Touch: boosts HT and Nourish heals, favored among those who don't purely raid heal, particularly those that run heavily 10-man or 5-man.
  • Revitalize: power procs to those you cast rejuv/wild growth on. It is particularly useful to rogues/cats/DKs, and a small power buff to mana/rage users. Favored among many druids for the slight increase in raid dps/threat.
  • Living Seed: crit-based proc heal, favored by those who make regular use of Nourish, Swiftmend, Regrowth.
  • Improved Barkskin: boost to our personal damage-reduction shield, favored by those in power-guilds dealing with progression bosses that have massive raid-wide damage mitigated by use of barkskin, and probably pvpers.
  • Living Spirit: in a few rare cases, druids have been known to drop points from this spirit boost talent, depending on their gear level. Be sure you know what you're doing as that spirit is a chunk of spellpower as well.

A few comments on the talents I did not include in the linked builds:
  • No Furor: Furor does not contain any bonuses useful to a raiding resto druid.
  • No Naturalist: Nourish replaces Healing Touch at level 80 as our casted direct heal. The most use you will get out of HT will be when it is cast with Nature's Swiftness, which gives it no casting time.
  • 2/3 Subtlety: Just to open the deeper levels of the resto talents.  As far as healing aggro goes, be ready to work with your tanks to deal with any initial heal aggro before the tanks have had a chance to hit a mob. If you prefer, you can go 3/3 subtlety and 0/5 Tranquil Spirit.
  • 1/5 Tranquil Spirit: just to open the deeper levels of the resto talents. Moonglow in the balance tree is a far better talent for mana reduction.
  • No Improved Tranquility: if you are running only 5-mans, you might consider this as an option over something like Improved Barkskin, but in larger raids, it sees astronomically rare use.
  • No Natural Perfection: primarily a pvp talent. HoTs do not typically crit (though the final bloom of Lifebloom can), so 3% spell crit is of very limited use. If you PvP at all, you will want to consider taking this talent.


The four most popular raiding glyphs are Swiftmend, Wild Growth, Rapid Rejuvenation (RR), and Nourish.
  • If you are doing only 5-mans, Wild Growth may not be a good choice.
  • If you are doing any kind of tank healing, you will probably want to have Nourish.
  • If your raid spends a lot of time sub-50% health, regular glyph of Rejuvenation is another option.
  • Progressive, hardcore raiders will often carry extra glyphs to swap around in an instance.
Raid makeup (your cohealers), group size, and individual boss mechanics will determine what glyphs are best for you.  For full details on all available resto druid glyphs, check here.

All minor glyphs beyond Unburdened Rebirth are of no consequence and you can choose whatever ones you like. Personally, I choose Thorns and Swim Speed.

For more details on Resto Mechanics:

In the next section, I will cover the gearing of a resto druid: stats, starter gear, and gem/enchant choices.