End-game Druid Healing
Much has been written about this already, but I thought I’d share my own techniques on how to be a good druid healer, having healed in dungeons for all 70 levels of my career as a druid. Yes, the above shot is of my druid, Polanna, in Karazhan, on the way to Shades of Aran. You can check out her armoury profile here (sometimes I’ll be wearing my feral gear, or some pvp items, so don’t worry about that).
Going for serious end-game healing means you have to spend every last talent on the restoration tree. It is not like the feral build, where it is advisable to take some points in the resto tree as well. The only thing you might want to get outside the restoration tree is Nature’s Grasp, like this. But I am not a big fan of this, because most instances are indoors, hence you can’t root the enemies anyway. This build means you might effectively be useless in PVP and arena, unless you are able to find good gear to give you a feral edge.
Of course, it is imperative that every druid maintain at least two sets of acceptable gear, feral and resto/balance. You’ll need the feral gear for questing purposes, unless you prefer to quest by casting [I've no idea why you would - it is so much slower]. With good feral gear, you can easily quest as a resto druid.
Basic healing requirements:
1. You need mana-per-5-second stats on your gear, in addition to spirit. 100 mp/5 while casting, is the very minimum, in my opinion.
2. You need bonus healing. To last through most normal level 70 dungeons, 1k bonus healing should be fine. To get through heroics, you need at least 1.2k – and that is the bare minimum. For Kara, minimum of 1.3-1.4k, with additional buffs and elixirs.
Gear and stats
Wowwiki has an extensive guide to the kind of gear you are going to need for end-game healing. You might have to compromise on armour and get cloth healing gear for some slots at the beginning, but do try towards working towards leather gear upgrades.
There are several choices facing the serious healer – from the beginning, Aldor or Scryer? Scryers have a nice healing staff as a reward, but their inscriptions have less bonus healing, and more towards mp5. Aldors have better bonus healing inscriptions for shoulders, but no mp5.
The second choice is – staff or one-handed mace? Both have their disadvantages and advantages, and it depends on the rest of your gear. Staves typically have the same bonus healing as one-handed maces of their level, and a lot of stam, intellect and spirit. However, they deprive you of the option of equipping an off-hand, like the one-handed mace does, which can significantly add to your bonus healing and other stats. When gearing up, you’ll find that you’re going to have to make many trade-offs – very often, you have to sacrifice stamina to get bonus healing.
I would also advise all druid healers to stack on spirit, because the usefulness is twofold. One, it increases your mana regeneration during combat, and secondly, it increases all healing on your party members by 25% of your spirit. For example, if you have about 400 spirit, that’s pretty much an additional 100 bonus healing.
For sockets, go for bonus healing/mp5 gems, and stamina. Intellect is important, but not as important as these two. It is usually not necessary to get spirit gems, because your healing gear should give you enough.
Get every enchant possible, but save the expensive enchants for the good blue and purple gear.
Foods, Buffs and Potions
It goes without saying that you will need Health Potions and Mana potions for emergencies, and make sure you place in them in an action bar.
Elixir of Healing Power, Elixir of Draenic Wisdom, and Elixir of Mageblood are three potions you will need to bring in to every raid [but you can't use all of them at the same time]. Superior Mana Oil is also useful, but not necessary. Potions can be rather expensive, however, so a technique I use to avoid high potion bills, is to buy large quantities of Elixir of the Sages, which are less powerful [but still quite good] but can be used through the raid and through multiple wipes, and save the Elixir of Draenic Wisdom for bossfights.
People tend to overlook this relatively inexpensive way of buffing up, but make sure you bring cooked food, especially the ones that give spirit, stam or plus healing, to be used in addition to Elixirs.
I shouldn’t even be saying this, but make sure you cast Thorns on the tank – it wears off fast, so keep checking throughout the raid, and especially before boss-fights. Never cast Thorns on yourself, or any other raid/party members except the tanks, as it increases agro. Stack up on Wild Quillvine to give your party Gift of the Wild buffs at regular intervals, and on Flintweed seeds for Rebirth. No one wants to hear that you are out of seeds during an emergency situation when the tank goes down.
If a paladin casts Blessing of Might on you, make sure you remove it and request Blessing of Salvation, or Blessing of Wisdom instead. These two blessings take priority – if there is a second paladin, request Blessing of Kings.
Lifebloom is the lightest heal, in terms of mana, so use it liberally. The best thing to do is stack three lifebloom, but do it this way: cast the next one right before the first one runs out. That way, you maximise your healing-mana output, because it heals for x amount the first six seconds, then for 2x for the next seconds, BUT it still uses the same amount of mana, not two times, and then 3x for the next 6 seconds after that. Note that the direct heal at the end of the heal confers threat ON the receiver, not on the healer – so it is an absolutely excellent heal to use on the tanks.
When fights begin, stack Lifebloom on the tank, plus maybe a Rejuvenate, then move on and Rejuvenate or if absolutely necessary, Regrowth the other members. You give them the bigger heals, so that you won’t have to keep coming back to top them off – you want to reserve that time and mana for the tank. And that also means less healing agro on you, since they are not tanking.
With good bonus healing and mana-regen, and the fact that we have Innervate, druid healers can outlast pally and shaman healers in dungeons. I am not just saying this, because I’ve seen it happen quite a few times. I rarely ever run of mana unless in long boss-fights in Kara, at which point I either use a mana pot or innervate. Innervate first, then pot, because the two-min CD might affect any health-pots you might have to use, and because it is cheaper to do that.
The discretion to use Swiftmend and Nature’s Swiftness lies with you, but save Nature’s Swiftness for absolute emergencies when someone is going down fast, followed by Regrowth, and Swiftmend if the damage is fast.
Tranquility is the best, most powerful heal in the game – even holy priests can’t match the sheer power of the heal, which can save a dying raid group. But this is a panic button which should be used with discretion, because of the 10-min CD. Cast Barkskin before casting Tranquility, to avoid interruption of spell-casting.
And yes, you do need bandages. In a fight, if you are silenced or out of mana, bandages can save lives.
Like I said before, Blessing of Salvation is what you should be getting from a Paladin to reduce agro – Blessing of Might increases agro.
A tactic I like to use is Shadowmeld, to avoid agro. You can shadowmeld in Tree form, so before the fight begins, meld until the tank has grabbed agro, and all the crowd-control (CC) has been done. This avoids any stray mobs coming for you at the very beginning, especially in case of bad pull or a mis-timed CC. Healers tend to go down in two hits from elites, so this can be critical.
HoTs draw less agro than direct healing, so you should be somewhere near the end of the agro-table. If not, use HoTs sparingly, but, as always, never put agro-management before survival of the raid. The tank can’t grab agro off you, if he is dead. Make sure you take the two points in Restoration tree, Improved Tranquility, which will reduce threat generated by your Tranquility by 100%.
Everyone has their own macros, but I like this one that I created, in case you are being attacked.
/party Help Me!
You can change the /party to /raid, depending on situation. When you are being attacked, you won’t have the time to type out and ask for help, so make sure you hotkey this macro. It is not possible to create a macro such that you cast more than one heal, because of the Global Cooldown. You can play around with the combination, though, and maybe replace the Barkskin with Cyclone.
You are not going to be able to fit in all the spells in the single action bar, if you haven’t realised that by now. You can call up additional action bars – but if it is not on your main action bar, you can’t assign number-keys to it. Give precedence to healing spells – you can actually leave out Healing Touch from the action bar when in Tree form. Panic buttons should be assigned easily reachable keys, such as “1″, or “=”.
Assign reachable keys to your group members so that you don’t have to waste precious seconds targeting with the mouse – this will not be that useful in raids, but it will be, in 5-man instances.