I finally got my Cataclysm Beta working again after downloading an extra 2GBs of content.
It was time to take the plunge and try my hand at healing a dungeon. I found myself quite apprehensive. As much as I’m confident healing on my Restoration Druid I very rarely heal random PUGs on live. I usually prefer to heal for my friends and guildies. So it took a bit of courage to branch out and heal a PUG with a completely new – and untested – talent build and a shaky knowledge of my (now much changed) healing spells.
I hadn’t played this Druid from 80 to 85. I had a premade level 85 Druid in a peppering of greens with a couple of blues that I had taken for a quick tour of Deepholm and Uldum to unlock the dungeons in those zones. I queued up and within a couple of minutes (before I had a chance to chicken out and Leave Queue) I found myself standing in Halls of Origination (Level 84-85).
Halls of Origination
After a brief moment of panic I reminded myself of Blizzard’s propaganda: Restoration Druids who already use more spells than Wild Growth and Rejuvenation won’t find the new style of healing difficult. Since I still use Regrowth, Lifebloom and Nourish quite frequently I figured I might be one of the lucky ones. How hard could this possibly be?
Before I could think any further into it the tank had pulled and we were off!
Within 2 trash packs I was completely out of mana. I started out healing in a similar fashion to what I would do in a dungeon today. Full HoTs on the tank with a smattering of Rejuvenations and Wild Growth for the party. I quickly discovered this was simply not feasible unless you have a patient tank who is willing to let you drink between trash pulls, and even with a patient tank you couldn’t pull this type of healing off on a lengthy boss fight. The Druid tanking my run was an efficient type, and was steadily moving forward as he pulled trash groups.
After realizing I was completely out of mana I reached for my Innervate and sprinted off to catch up to the tank. As he pulled the next batch of mobs I got a large shock: the effects of Innervate were barely noticeable to look at my mana bar. I actually thought for a few seconds that I might not have actually used the spell. I was forced to heal lean and mean. The DPS were left to fend for themselves, the tank only got Lifebloom and Rejuvenation. To my surprise this was fine for trash. Blizzard really did follow through on their promise that tanks would be taking steady damage.
As we continued on I experimented with my arsenal of level 85 Restoration spells to get a gut feel for numbers and what was working vs what wasn’t useful. These are mainly gut feelings that I had based on just one dungeon run and then reviewing the combat parse I logged.
I had a mana pool of approximately 68 000. I thought this was quite large but I chewed through it incredibly quickly. Gone are the days of spamming/pre hotting targets unless it’s really, really necessary.
Innervate is either broken or needs some tweaking. I really didn’t notice any mana returns and found it pretty worthless. This is quite sad considering how much more useful it could now be that we actually have mana issues.
It’s going to take me a while to remember that Lifebloom can only be cast on one target.
In the heat of AOE damage I often found myself casting Lifebloom on DPS which meant that the tank automatically lost his stack. This was really frustrating because I had just wasted some of my precious mana and now had to recast it on the feral druid.
As much as I like the new addition to Tree of Life – you can cast Lifebloom on multiple target while Tree of Life is active – I also am worried about how I’ll adapt to that. I think it might take me awhile to get a handle on the single target vs multiple target thing especially considering what a short period Tree of Life is active for.
Nourish and Healing Touch
Just didn’t cut it. Really didn’t cut it.
I had read a post from Restokin (prior to the Nourish nerf mind you) where approximately 27% of her overall heals were Nourish based. I was expecting to cast this a lot and while I did try it out I found myself cancel casting more often than not because it was both too slow and too weak to spend any mana on.
My average Nourish hit for 5993 health. The single time it crit, it hit for 10262 health. When your average DPS has over 70 000 health and your tank as 110 000 health this just pathetic. Add to this a slow cast time and I panicked often that my target was going to die mid-cast.
Healing Touch wasn’t much better. The cast time felt even slower again (it isn’t but it sure felt like it!) and it hit for an average of 11 892 health. I was really disappointed, I thought they wanted to make Healing Touch useful for Resto Druids? Perhaps in a raid situation where I can spam direct heals on a single target this may be useful however I’m quite skeptical.
I ran with this build. I think in a raid situation, I would change the top tier talent to Naturalist instead of Blessing of the Grove, but I wanted to try out the increased Rejuvenation healing talent while in a 5 man group.
Rejuvenation did the majority of my healing overall coming in at 30%. Based on the number of casts, Rejuvenation healed more with less over healing than the same number of Lifebloom x 3 stacks. I think in its current form I will still be relying on Rejuvenation quite a bit during AOE damage.
AOE Healing/Tank Healing
For the first time in my healing life I felt quite weak when there was AOE damage hitting the entire group.
Don’t get me wrong, Restoration Druids have an arsenal of spells that are designed to handle incoming AOE damage. I just didn’t have the mana to really use it. I learned quite quickly to stop trying to keep everyone at 100% health. Instead I was simply grateful to keep the party at about 50% health and have no one die.
The AOE intensive fights left me completely and utterly out of mana. Each time I thought “that’s it we’re going to wipe because I have no more mana” the boss would die and I would sigh in relief. I alternated between Rejuvenation and Wild Growth HoTing and when off cool down, jumped for the new Tree of Life for these moments.
Tank healing was much easier. In Wrath of the Lich King tanks get hit hard and in level 80 dungeons I often find myself rolling full HoTs on the tank and then jumping back in with a Nourish during large damage spikes. In Halls of Origination, a Regrowth, Rejuvenation and Lifebloom stack was ample at keeping the tank steady and often at full health.
Efflorescence seemed pretty neat, except for one teeny, tiny problem: the final spell animation isn’t currently implemented in Cataclysm Beta. Instead Efflorescence appears as a big green blob on the ground. My party members kept running out of it thus totally defeating the purpose. But I can understand why they ran. I have to admit even I ran out of it first it popped up. I wasn’t until I started noticing the Efflorescence ticks on my screen that my brain linked the cause and effect correctly – then I ran into every Efflorescence I could!
Sadly World of Logs didn’t record data for Efflorescence so I couldn’t tell how effective it was however I’m quite excited by it and am glad that the radius has been increased to 8 yards and we have a little bit more control over its placement with the change to Swiftmend proccing it.
The New Tree of Life
Well we still have the same Tree Form model for Tree of Life. So much for looking like one of the cool Argent Defender trees in Darnassus.
The Tree of Life buff was actually very useful especially for oh shit, I don’t know how much incoming damage is going to come in… everyone is getting low on health moments. Having instant Regrowths were especially cool even with a very reduced HoT timer. My major problem with Tree Form is that it made me OOM so quickly that I then had to really pay attention for the remainder of the fight.
I am still concerned that Tree Form will just not be used once you get a bit of gear and that still makes me quite sad.
Overall, even though I struggled and had some minor freak outs moment, doing this dungeon was good for me.
Even with the nerfs and mana issues I still really enjoyed the feel of Druid healing even if I’m no longer a dorky, adorable, tree. I was also really happy that with all the complaints about dungeon difficulty (too hard!) on the beta forums, my group got through the entire instance with no deaths and no wipes. Perhaps I was really lucky and got 4 quite experienced people or just maybe healing has been tuned to work quite well for each level of difficulty.
Leveling up I would expect to have mainly greens with a few blues mixed into the pile, so I think my premade Druid was a pretty good representation of how most healers will be geared when they enter Halls of Origination.
While I juggled and ended most boss fights without any mana left, part of me thinks isn’t that a job well done? I used all the abilities I have as a Druid and got through it without any deaths with the mana I had available to me. What more can you really ask from an encounter or a healer?