Field Testing, Resto Druid: Patch 3.0.2

29 10 2008

  Zul’aman run with guildies on Saturday night, and we were looking for a healer. I’d already used Manchego earlier in the week so she had a raid ID; Ribeye was specced Feral at the time, but I thought that I’d take a crack at using the new Resto talents. Rib’s set is a little bit lower in absolute spellpower than Manchego’s, and has only minimal haste. What it *does* have is a ton of Spirit and MP5, which means ridiculous mana regeneration. Even with the new calibrations for mana cost on Lifebloom, et. al, he rarely gets to a critical stage on mana – which is quite nice.

  We ran a 2-healer setup with a Resto Shaman. This particular character had good, but not great gear. The character had never received any loot from ZA, and was running with mostly Kara loot, some badge rewards and pvp pieces interspersed – for a base +heal of about 825. Ribeye is just over 1025 base heals in his present setup (I use the Pendant of the Violet Eye over a pure +Spellpower trinket). Additionally, I have no glyphs equipped that would influence healing.

  We had a very successful run, a single wipe on Malacrass being the only real blemish. on the plus side, we got through all four chests in the timed event for the first time ever. The final fight of that segment, Halazzi, was particularly touch-and-go as we lost both Ret Paladins *very* early on which also removed our ability to cleanse the Flame Shocks and necessitated a lot of healing. I battle rezzed one of them, and he died almost immediately to a totem or some other splash damage. In fact, a totem managed to kill both healers almost simultaneously with the killing blow to Halazzi – quite a fight!

  The Halazzi fight was one of the first times (since I’ve actually gotten a finished healing set together) that I’ve run Rib out of mana. I brought him down to near zero, Innervated up to almost full, and then drained it all back down again with furious use of the GCD. Basically, it would appear that the 3.0.2 changes have made it possible to do what was nearly impossible before and OOM a Druid. I don’t think that it will even be an issue in 25-man raids, where the burden can be more equally shared and more mana return is coming in. It’s also worth noting that the Ret Pally fatalities deprived the group of the Replenishment buff; with that still active, I don’t think that anything beyond the Innervate would be needed. Additionally, I was sharing my healing duties with someone who was a bit light for ZA standards, even after the nerf. The combination of things made it quite challenging; in the end, though – we won!

  A look at WWS reports after showed me at 39% of raid heals. Resto Shaman was at 28%, and an Elemental Shaman who drew Healing Stream Totem duty got 20% from that alone. I’m still getting the majority of my healing via Lifebloom; old habits die hard! The primary thing that I noticed was that now, more than ever, the HoTs really smooth out the raid heals. I found that most boss fights were requiring the assistance of a second healer to keep the tank topped off, though I could more or less keep tanks up by myself – just not completely full up on the health bar. Trash pulls were very smooth to heal; Wild Growth really shines here. While single Lifeblooms work well when compensating for damage that ticks in a little here, a little there, Wild Growth is fantastic for dealing with things like the splash damage from the Flamecasters. Simply drop one on the melee group, and one on the ranged group and watch the bars fill up! At it’s core, Wild Growth is more or less a minor version of Regrowth that heals up to 5 people *and* is instant cast. Additionally, it’s nice in that you can stack it up with your other HoTs as needed. There are not too many fight where triple-stack Lifebloom, Rejuvenation and Regrowth all ticking off simultaneously aren’t enough. There are even fewer fights were interspersing Swiftmends into that rotation won’t make up the ground… but for those problem moments, it’s one more layer. Wild Growth’s ability to offset raid-wide splash damage is fantastic. It’s not generally enough to counter the big ones by itself, like Malacrass. Paired with Chain Heal, or that beautiful new Paladin Glyph, or CoH – it’s devestatingly effective. Having done malacrass several times now post-nerf, I really believe that Druid / Shaman is the best combo to healthrough his Spirit Bolts. The only gripe that I have with Wild Growth is the 15-yard range from the target of the heal. While it works well for a melee group, casters, healers and ranged DPS tend to be less tightly packed and thus tougher to catch in a single heal.

  As a side note, I tagged along with another bumbling Kara PuG last night. They had cleared almost to Shade when I joined in. Monday night, just before the reset – so you know what happens. Horrible group. The only other healer is a 68 Priest, and he’s not very good. It’s technically a 10 man, but many are so poorly geared that their rolls on drops are a joke. One Warrior rolls on both the Breastplate of the Lightbinder from Illhoof and the Triptych Shield of the Ancients from Chess. Pally healing loots does not a tank make…

  Anyhow, we finally make it to Prince. I’d eventually wind up leaving at the server restart following wipe #3, but the story is really in the encounters here. For starters, we were only 8 deep by now. A DPS Warrior and a Mage who were two of the better damage dealers had both logged off. We still had the 68 Holy Priest, a pair of Hunters with at least some idea of how to play, a Mage with nary a clue, a Pallytank with decent gear and horrible skills, 2 Warriors (one of whom had great MP5) and myself. The funny things that happened on these pulls were great. MP5 warrior was so freaked out by Enfeeble that he stayed at range and shot at Prince. Of course Prince’ Shadow Nova range > Warrior gun range. He died to enfeebles and the subsequent Shadow Nova on each attempt. The Mage, I told to stay at max range next to me and my Star raid icon – out of range. somewhere around enfeeble #1 or 2 on a pull, she’d get hit with it and run around, either into the Shadow Nova or an Infernal. She never made it past the 3rd Shadow Nova. The other DPS Warrior would invariably stay up longer before eventually misreading an enfeeble, or not recognizing it at all and getting popped by Shadow Nova. The Hunters and the Priest, I was more mystified by. All they have to do is stack on me and follow me, but wanderlust is a killer. They managed to succumb to Novas or Infernals each time, though one of them usually lasted for a bit. As to the tank? ADHD Pally. Whether Infernals were threatening or not, he couldn’t stay still. Sometimes he moved out of range of heals. One time, he actually ran Prince right over to the ranged group. It was awesome. The point is, wipe #2 was some kind of fun. As usual, the Priest died early, leaving me to heal everyone. Somewhere around 50%, everyone else but myself and the tank was down. I managed to keep him up almost 7 minutes longer (during his hard-hitting second phase, no less), enough to use a second Innervate in the fight, before we finally got wiped from a low mana / axes combo. The point being, with some smart management, I was able to stay alive – and more importantly, keep the tank up – all by myself for a long, long time. We got him all of the way down to 25%! if even one Hunter (and, preferably, a Survival specced one) could have stayed up as well, we would have downed him for sure with 3.

  I’m very impressed with the viability of Druid healing now. I was happy with it before, but in it’s present state it is very effective. I tend to get the feeling that it works best as a support healer that helps to top off the raid or buffer the tank, as I noticed a far more significant mana drain when I was forced to really carry the mail. With smart casting and proper use of regeneration tools, though – a properly geared Druid should easily be able to cast as he or she wishes for the duration of any fight. I’ll have to revisit my plans come 80, but if I can get Inyaki and Eusko both to 80 as well for tanking options, there is a very good chance that I use Rib as a healer for the foreseeable future.

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