August 1, 2009
First off, I think there are probably three main roles a druid healer may find himself in in a 25 man raid. In 10 man and 5 man, needs and expectations are different and I am optimized solely for 25 man raiding. There are cases where, with my preferred build, I will have problems in 10 man without switching out gear, such as mimiron.
The three healer roles that I see that a resto druid can fill are:
1) Specifically targeted tank healing (Healer assigned to keeping a tank up)
2) Tank HoT rotation + supplemental raid healing
3) Pure Raid healing
This is almost like a spectrum.
In order to do targeted tank healing well, it requires you to focus more on your heals with cast time and to probably pick Regrowth or Nourish as what you will glyph for and focus on improving with talents and gear build. However, I think there are other classes that are more locked (Pallies and Disc priests, maybe certain holy builds, too) into this role with druids being better in 2 or 3.
The 2nd role is probably druid specific because of lifebloom. I can’t think of an equivalent strat that would be workable for other healers. This is probably the most common role that people who are knowledgable about druids expect them to follow. This role is done by keeping 3 stacks of LB+rejuv+regrowth on the MT and OTs, with raid healing as permitted.
The 3rd role is done well by druids, priests and shammies. Shammies excel at this and there really is no comparison if the raid is taking a lot of damage… which is the case in most fights in Ulduar. Druids do well with HoTs in this role. Priests do well with CoH and Flash Heal(?), I believe.
Take whatever I say about priest and pally healers with a grain of salt. I know the least about them in healing roles.
So, having said that, I found that my best strat is to focus on either 2 or 3 as the situation calls for. 2 is best for a normal tank and spank with some adds or some damage hitting targets in the raid somewhat randomly (e.g. Mimiron 1st phase). I switch to 3 when I know the raid is about to take a lot of dmg as a whole (e.g. Hodir’s frozen blows, Mimiron 2nd phase, Kologarm’s oblivion).
There are a number of things I do with my build to support this and try to make this as effective as possible.
First, I will talk about what I try to stack as far as stats. The main stats that affect healers are Int, Spirit, Spell Power, Haste and Crit.
For my build, the one that I consciously go after first is Haste. Your goal as a HOTter should be to get your global cooldown down to 1 sec. It is 1.5 by default. This is 50% more HOTs that you can throw out. Here is a link so you can calculate the spec and gear needed for this.
In working this calculator, I assume there will be swift retribution and a totem up. This is true probably 90% of the time, if not more.
If you note from my spec, I have Celestial Focus and 4 pts on Gift of the Earthmother. I am to the point where I could take one more point from Gift of the Earthmother and put it elsewhere (probably Living Seed or Revitalize, maybe Tranquil Spirit – all about as equally useful/useless in my opinion?).
Mana regen is important. This role requires constantly spamming HoTs to be effective. (Well, I do use other spells as appropriate so not constantly). Spirit should be your first choice since you should have Living Spirit and Imp Tree of Life. However, don’t think that mp5 is a waste if you have a choice to gem it or if it is on a trinket that has a cool proc (like Living Ice Crystals). My goal with regen is to have enough that I don’t go OOM but not so much that I don’t use Innervate in most boss fights. If I have to use a pot, that is a sign that I might want to buff my regen for that fight.
Spell power, Int and Stam scale pretty well with gear. If I have a red gem slot, I go with a pure spell power gem. With blue, I can go a lot of ways depending on what I currently feel I am lacking. With yellow, well, I haven’t had to fill a yellow slot in a while. If you need help on meta gems, I can throw some advices up on that but I think there are only a limited number of choices that make sense for any casting class. You can probably easily find more detailed information elsewhere about gems and enchants so I am not going to spend a lot of time talking about it.
Crit is almost useless for this build. Sure your regrowths, nourish, lifebloom blooms and other big heals are affected but that usually just contributes to overhealing.
So, the next major topic is strategy. My strategy is entirely situational. I would put situations into a number of categories.
1) Tank damage only with very little raid healing needed. (Worm packs when done right)
2) Tank damage primarily with some sporadic healing needed on raid, usually on a single target. (Mimiron phase 1)
3) Tank damage with periodic heavy raid dmg (Hodir, Kologarn)
4) A lot of constant dmg on all members of the raid. (Mimiron phase 2)
Most fights will contain elements in 2 or 3 of these categories. You should be able to see a correlation between these categories and the roles I mentioned above.
I think one of the primary things that I see as ‘common knowledge’ about how druids are supposed to heal that is wrong is what hots to use on the raid.
Rejuv is usually over-emphasized for raid healing while Lifebloom is under-emphasized.
The main difference between these two spells is their duration and how they tick. Lifebloom has a shoter duration, ticks hit smaller but quicker and there is the bloom at the end. Rejuv has a longer duration, longer tick rate but bigger heals.
The single most important thing to know about most 25 raids is that the healers are constantly keeping everyone topped off. In order to be effective as a raid healer (or even a tank healer) with HoTs, you need to be proactive and use quick healing. This is why Lifebloom is so heavily favored.
I will only use rejuv to either supplement lifebloom or when there is very little damage being taken currently with massive raid damage being anticipated more than 10 seconds out.
You may be saying at this point ‘Kyliaar, what about the benefits of revitalize?’ Revitalize does help members of the raid regen mana, runic power, energy or rage quicker. However, they will still be more effective if they are kept up than if they have a slight boost to their regen. This may be a factor in fights like Patchwerk when it was progression but it is rare for a DPS race to be that tight.
The main goal I have is to anticipate those moments of massive raid damage (e.g. Kologarn’s oblivion) and have lifebloom (1 stack) ticking on as many people as possible.
It is best to have WG go off right as the dmg is taken. WG also has an interesting tick mechanic. It ticks extremely quickly when first cast, then peters out. So, you want to cast it simultaneous to the hit to the raid. However, that being said… don’t save it, cast it on someone (usually melee) as often as it comes up.
Capitalizing on these hits to the entire raid is what will determine how much HPS a resto druid can do. Outside of that, there is too much competition for HPS to be able to make much of a difference. Don’t expect to be able to beat a shammy using Chain Heals because they are more effective in these situations than you can be.
All of this being said, it should be remembered that people not dying is way more important than capitalizing on meters. If you are asked to root or do some other role that knocks you out of tree, do it. Tanks are more important than any other member of the raid – keep them up. Keep your swiftmend, NS+HT macro and other instant heal you may have (Living Ice Crystals) available and close to your other healing key bindings.
For more thoughts on resto druid healing: More thoughts on raid healing as a resto druid