Friday, November 13, 2009

A Primer on Tree Healing (Part 2, The Spec and Glyphs)

Following the same path I treaded with my bear primer, I continue with discussions of leafy things.

The Spec

Here is a link to my spec, which I'll step through once again.  This time, instead of mentioning hybrid builds, I'll mention what's most useful for tank vs. raid healing, in addition to points that I'm thinking of moving into or out of, and why.

Much like with the Feral build, there are a few talents in another tree that are useful - but this time it's the Balance tree.  There really isn't anything you want in the Feral tree, so I'll skip that one, but you want to get at least 2 and possibly 3 tiers deep into the Balance tree, so we'll talk through that before digging into Restoration.

Level 1
Starlight Wrath, 0/5: Not even remotely helpful to a tree.
Genesis 5/5: Makes your HoTs (except the not-really-a-HoT Tranquility) better.  That's right, it improves half your healing spells by 5%.  That's pretty good for a 1st tier talent, and it's really your only option to get to the 2nd tier to boot.

Level 2
Moonglow, 3/3:  Reduces the mana cost of half your heals by 9%, including the important Nourish and Rejuvenation.  Worth it!
Nature's Majesty, 2/2:  Crit chance is fairly important for healers, and while Healing Touch is not a very go-to spell for us, Nourish is, and this gives us access to a couple of abilities we probably want in the next tier, not to mention that if you DO want to get to the next tier, you need five points in this one.
Improved Moonfire, 0/2:  You don't do damage.

Level 3
Brambles, 0/3: You don't do damage and the Barkskin ability is negligible in PvE.  You *might* consider taking this for a PvP spec but not here.
Nature's Grace, 0/3: For trees that cast mostly instant-cast HoTs, this isn't an exceptionally strong talent, but I see quite a few 14/0/57 builds that take this to be better at casting Nourish, Regrowth, and the occasional Healing Touch.  I'm considering moving 3 points around to take it, and the biggest reason I haven't yet is that I'm not entirely sure where I should take points away from to do it.
Nature's Splendor, 1/1:  I think 1 point here is worth it for the Rejuvenation and Regrowth boosts alone, and if you're tank healing and using Lifebloom, this really, really helps.
Nature's Reach, 0/2: You don't cast Balance spells, and you don't use FFF.

So much for the Balance tree.  I don't think it's as obvious a must-have as the Restoration tree talents were for a Feral druid, but it's still strong. Moving along, the Restoration tree!

Level 1
Improved Mark of the Wild, 2/2: If the 2% total attributes increase isn't enough, it makes your buffs better AND you need 5 points to get to tier 2, and you aren't getting them elsewhere.
Nature's Focus, 3/3:  Reducing pushback isn't the most super buff for the trees that like so much to cast instantly, but it does help all of our non-instant cast spells, and... well I hate to say this yet again but you need 5 points in the first tier.
Furor, 0/5: This is a Feral talent that happens to be in the Restoration tree.

Level 2
Naturalist, 0/5:  Unless you're one of those rare trees that is just determined to make Healing Touch your go-to spell, this isn't worth it, at all.  In my mind, it's 5 points on this or 5 points increasing all your healing by 4%.  I'll take the other.
Subtlety, 3/3:  This would be worth it for the threat reduction alone; healers really don't like grabbing aggro.  Making your effects harder to dispel makes this an all around strong talent.  Take it!
Natural Shapeshifter, 3/3:  If you aren't taking Naturalist, you get to put 2 points here, and if you're putting 2 points here, you need to put the 3rd in and get Master Shapeshifter out of the next tree and increase your total healing by 4%.  If might not be worth 5 points, really, to get just 4% bonus healing, but if you don't go for it you really have to let 2 points go to waste in the second tier.

Level 3
Intensity, 3/3:  You do a lot of instant casting, which makes this somewhat less cool, but it does help with mana regen (one of the most important things for a healer!), and gives you access to Nature's Swiftness, which you want.
Omen of Clarity, 1/1: To paraphrase my point from the bear post, random free stuff is good mmkay?
Master Shapeshifter, 2/2:  I've kind of already discussed the how and why of taking this, but 4% bonus healing is pretty good.

When I wrote this, I had forgotten that even with instant casts, as far as WoW is concerned you are casting for the next 5 seconds.  Intensity is way cooler than I thought.

Level 4
Tranquil Spirit, 0/5:  A good ability that we don't have enough points to justify taking, unless you're using Healing Touch a lot, and if you are you'd probably rather be using Nourish anyway, which this helps as well, but 5 talent points to reduce the cost of Nourish by 10% is not worth it.  The Tranquility reduction is not huge; as I said before it's an emergency button.  Perhaps if we free up enough points elsewhere, and are focusing on tank healing...
Improved Rejuvenation, 3/3:  Rejuvenation is a go-to spell, plus gives us access to Nature's Bounty.

Level 5
Nature's Swiftness, 1/1:  Part of our emergency suite - most often used to power out a Healing Touch at instant speed.
Gift of Nature, 5/5:  Increases all healing 10% and gives access to Swiftmend.  Strong!
Improved Tranquility, 2/2:  Honestly I should probably spend these points elsewhere.  The cooldown reduction is nice but it shouldn't be something we're relying on anyway.  The threat reduction is really why I took it, but that should be a tank's job to worry about more than ours.

Level 6
Empowered Touch, 2/2:  Excellent for tank healers.  Given the way I have healed I probably should not have this talent, but I'm bound and determined to make myself use Nourish more often.
Nature's Bounty, 5/5:  Much like Empowered Touch, given the way I have healed I should probably move these points, but increasing crit chance on Regrowth and Nourish by a massive 25% is huge, especially for tank healers.

Level 7
Living Spirit, 3/3:  Spirit is goooooood.  More on that with Improved Tree of Life later.
Swiftmend, 1/1:  Awesome for quick recoveries.  Not so cool without the glyph, but still a powerful option, instant heal.
Natural Perfection, 0/3:  I really don't know what to make of this ability.  Seems to me to be more PvP oriented.

Level 8
Empowered Rejuvenation, 5/5:  Bonus healing effects of HoTs increased 20%.  Nice.  Plus, access to Tree of Life form.  Required.
Living Seed, 3/3:  I really, really like random free heals, but if you're looking for points to squeeze out, it might be these 3.

Level 9
Revitalize, 3/3:  These 3 points might get moved elsewhere.  Although it (slightly) boosts everyone rejuvenation is ticking on, except for providing you with a little extra mana when cast on yourself, it really doesn't help you heal.
Tree of Life, 1/1:  In order to be a tree, you have to, well, be a tree!  Note that in tree form you generate an aura that increases healing done to all affected by 6%.  You just made all the healers in your raid better.
Improved Tree of Life, 3/3:  Ignore the armor contribution part.  We don't care (unless we're doing this for PvP!)  We really do care that we get to increase our spellpower by 15% of our spirit.  With upwards of 1000 spirit well-geared, we're getting 150+ free spellpower.  Nice.

Level 10
Improved Barkskin, 0/2:  I mostly view this as a PvP talent.  It can be useful but I think we'd rather spend our points elsewhere.
Gift of the Earthmother, 5/5:  There's been a lot of talk about how this is going to change come patch 3.3 (or maybe Cataclysm, I don't remember), but for now it lets us cast heals faster, and that's a good thing.

Level 11
Wild Growth, 1/1:  Most.  Awesome.  Group.  Heal.  Ever.  I can't say enough good things about Wild Growth.

The Glyphs

There's a lot of good glyphs out there available for a tree druid.  It's difficult to settle on what the best ones are, but I'll take you through my picks and why, and try to discuss the other options with clarity.

I would recommend Glyph of Wild Growth for any tree druid.  It's not as strong in 5-mans but it makes one of your best spells even better for raiding.  I'm not currently using it because it wasn't available when I selected glyphs and I haven't revisited them since.  I'm going to be picking this one up soon, though.

After that, we have a LOT of good options.  Glyph of Healing Touch is the only one I really wouldn't recommend having.

Swiftmend is strong, but not as much as it was - I'm probably going to keep this one when I go about changing my glyphs.  Not eating HoTs when you cast Swiftmend is pretty good.

Lifebloom is also very strong, but as I'm trying to shift away from being quite so focused on the multi-nerfed spell I'll probably pass.  It does give you more time in between rolling blooms and increases the healing output of the spell, but I'm wanting to shift my focus elsewhere.

Glyph of Regrowth is good, but I don't think it's worth it.  If you really like using Regrowth, consider it, but I think you'd rather have Glyph of Nourish.

I'm currently using Glyph of Rejuvenation, but I'm probably going to move away from it.  It's situationally amazing but I'm hoping that shifting my healing style a little bit will make it less useful.

Glyph of Rebirth is a reasonable option, especially if you're going after bosses that are a little hard for your group, as it makes less chance for a freshly resurrected friend to die to random damage.  I'm passing, though, as I'd rather try to keep people from dying in the first place.

Really, after Wild Growth, it will be a battle for my other 2 spots between Swiftmend, Glyph of Nourish, and Glyph of Innervate.  For the long, mana-intensive fights currently out there, Innervate means (when you cast it on yourself) you get ~18k mana instead of ~15k, which can be a lifesaver in dire situations.  Nourish is excellent for tank healers, as is the Lifebloom glyph - you won't often have more than 1 or at most 2 stacked HoTs on anything other than a tank, and you won't often Lifebloom non-tanks.  Making either of these spells better, though, is a very good thing.

I'm leaning at the moment toward Wild Growth, Swiftmend, and Nourish, but that could change.

Whew!  That's a lot.

One of the key things to remember is that the strength of a druid has always been versatility.  No matter what role you want to do - main tank, off-tank, melee dps, ranged dps, raid healing, tank healing - you can do it as a druid.  To be among the best at any of them you have to choose and focus on that one to the exclusion of (at least most of) the others.  If you're like me, you want to be good at more than one role in each of your two available specs - and if you want a PvP spec, you only get 1 spec for PvE.  While I'm trying to refocus my healing spec to be better at both raid and tank healing, I will probably never be as good at either as someone who focuses, because I have to give something up to get that flexibility.

I hope folks are finding this and the bear primer useful!  It'll pick up again in a few days with a post on gear, gems, enchants, and professions!

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