17 October 2008

Druid healing in 3.0.2

I had my first chance to do serious Resto work last night. I'd healed a run in heroic Underbog for a paladin tank a few weeks ago, and we friended each other. Last night, he pinged me and asked if I wanted to heal a Karazhan run. It was a great chance to test out druid healing, so I took him up on it.

I respecced into full resto. (I really wish they had reset the respec fees along with the talent point refund.) Here's the 5/0/56 Resto druid build I took. My one change from my earlier intent was that I skipped Improved Tranquility and the one point in Empowered Touch, in order to take Replenish. This was only because I wanted to give it a real test, and not because I thought it would be helpful.

We had a pretty good pick-up group. Four or five players were from the tank's guild, including my friend Hazek. In about three hours we were able to get Attumen, Moroes, Maiden, Opera (Big Bad Wolf), Curator, and Illhoof. We had one wipe due to an accidental trash pull, but were able to one-shot all the bosses. That was surprising, especially with no crowd control on Moroes; we had no priests along. It's pretty clear that the bosses have been nerfed quite a bit.

We started with two tree druid healers. I don't remember the other guy's name. His skills were fine but he was undergeared; I healed a little less than double his amount. (Due to this, I pulled a lot of aggro and had about 8 deaths.) After the Opera, he had to leave, so we brought in a Holy paladin instead. He said he was a 'raid noob' but he did a great job. I reset my Recount stats when we brought in the paladin, so that I'd get some clean numbers. So these numbers reflect Curator, Illhoof, and the trash in between. This is a good test, because it's got a good bit of raid damage due to the flares on Curator and the mana worms.

I didn't use Swiftmend at all during the run. Just forgetful on my part! I have been healing as Restokin for a long while now so I'm just out of the habit. After the first half though I made a point of using Wild Growth whenever it made sense, so that I could get an idea of how well it worked. Also, I haven't glyphed for anything yet, so nothing to account for there.

Overall healing: it was good. I did 838.9 HPS which accounted for 47.0% of the healing done. The holy Paladin did 34.0%; #3 was the paladin tank at 6.7% — healing after rezzes and so forth. That number is mostly due to better gear on my part, but it supports the point that resto is still very good.

Healing breakdown:My strategy was fairly basic. I used Lifebloom stacks on the tank and off-tank. I also kept a Rejuvenation up on the tank. When someone else took isolated damage, I'd use Lifebloom and/or Regrowth depending on how bad it was. On raid-wide damage I used Wild Growth, followed by other heals as needed.

Here's how that sorted itself out:

Spell         %-tot  count
Lifebloom 59.9% 1294
Wild Growth 14.9% 481
Rejuvenation 11.9% 132
Regrowth 11.6% 108
Healing Touch 0.9% 2
Living Seed 0.7% 10
The first thing I saw is that Lifebloom is still working pretty well. Now I'll note that I outgeared the instance, which may have affected things. And I'd say that Lifebloom was definitely less powerful than before; I had to use more other heals than I'm used to. But LB still gets the job done.

Next: Wild Growth is cool. It does a good chunk of healing and it is an easy fire-and-forget quick heal. The biggest problem is its randomness. I don't think Grid knows enough yet to track who's been hit with it, and so I was guessing on who needs supplemental heals beneath it. I'd kick out a WG and then start dropping LBs on whoever looked in danger. But even with that limitation, it did a lot of healing. I can live with it!

On the other hand, I didn't get a lot of use out of Living Seed. That's mostly an effect of my healing tools — I didn't use much that could crit. I didn't cast enough HTs or (any) Swiftmends, which left just Regrowth to proc it. Now Regrowth is a great spell to use, because talents get it to crit something like 60% of the time. I'm a big fan. But even if LS procs, it won't take effect unless the toon is hit again within 15 seconds. So for isolated raid damage, it'll be lost a good portion of the time. But I can see some places in the stats where it probably helped keep a toon alive. I'll place this in the "continue to watch" category.

Finally: Replenish. I started out optimistic about the spell; it's a very cool concept. But the numbers looked bleak and I turned skeptical. How did it play out?

I tried to keep Rejuv up on the tank all the time, for Replenish as much as the healing. And the result? Over two boss fights and a good chunk of (mana-draining) trash, Replenish gave him 1134 mana. This was 1.9% of his total mana gained. Of course a paladin gets a lot of mana from Spiritual Attunement, but in any case Replenish just didn't make a big difference. I'm guessing that in the budgeting process, Blizzard decides that adding 2% to the mana returned (or rage or whatever) is worth 3 talent points. But in practice, it's so small as to be unnoticeable. If the tank is going to go out of mana, that extra 2% is unlikely to make a difference.

I keep trying to find arguments for Replenish, because it would be a sweet capability to have. But one night's trial just reinforces my existing opinion. I don't think many druids are going to take Replenish. Even at level 80, I think we'll use those points to get into Balance for Nature's Splendor and Nature's Grace. I'd love to be proved wrong!

Edit: I forgot to say something about my mana observations. In short, I noticed a difference, but I could live with it. I had to watch mana but never went OOM. I had the most trouble on Moroes, as we had no crowd control and a lot of Garrotes to heal through. But with a potion and an Innervate I was fine.

Other random thoughts:
Revive still rocks! We had a Feral druid as off-tank and DPS, so we had several chances to use it, including a few where the paladin tank had died and Soulstones were on cooldown. LOVE IT!

Similarly, it's really nice to have a tree that can move at full speed. It felt funny... but in a good way! I'm sure that arena druids are thinking through all sorts of new tactics.

Very nice to have Gift of the Wild hit the whole raid. It's a simple convenience that makes life a lot simpler. I'm going to love it in AV.

I really miss Blessing of Salvation. Of course, 8 deaths due to healer aggro will do that to you. I'm going to have to get in the habit of waiting for more incoming damage before starting my heals.

So that's the story. I think we might try for the last half of Kara tonight; if so I'll post more complete thoughts later.

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