Welcome to Arbington’s Guide to Resto Druidry! I first started making this guide some time ago because I couldn’t find any decent guides out there on the net. Since then I’ve found one I actually like, but I’d already nearly finished by that point so I went ahead and finished it up. I thought I’d post it up and get it out there before Cataclysm comes out and potentially renders it obsolete. So if you’re new to photosynthesis, take a gander and see if there’s something here that’ll help you. I’ll be posting it in installments over the next few weeks.
Arbington’s Guide to Resto Druidry
Several of my friends have told me that we, your friendly neighborhood trees, are OP healers. It might even be true. We sure are good at putting out the raw numbers when we’re raid healing. Healing numbers mean nothing, we all know this, but damn, don’t they look shiny. Of course, in order to convince your friends that you’re OP – and who doesn’t want to do that? – first you have to know what you’re doing, and that’s where this guide comes in. I want to pay particular attention to tank healing, because I feel like druid tank healing gets very little love from the other guides out there. We may not be able to match the one- or two-target HPS of a healadin, but we can definitely do the job and it’s entirely justifiable to specialize in tank healing, especially if your guild/raid lacks an amenable paladin. Even if you do have one, you never know when you’ll have to step in temporarily and every tree should know how.
Resto druids have a fair number of spells at their disposal to keep those bars up. This is your toolbox. Some of your tools are mostly used when levelling, but most will be useful from the moment you get them until you quit the game in frustration because everything’s just gone downhill since whatever version it was when you joined and your guildies are baddies who stand in Legion Flames in order to proc Owlkin Frenzy.
Rejuvenation – An instant-cast spell that provides an (when specced) 18-second HoT that ticks every three seconds. When you first get this it’s very weak, but it scales well with spellpower and by the time you hit 80 it should be your workhorse spell when raid healing. Cheap and powerful, its only real drawbacks are the time it takes to do its healing and the fact that you can’t spam it on a single target.
Regrowth – A hybrid spell with both a direct heal of fair strength and a weak HoT that lasts 27 seconds when specced. It has a two-second cast time, and the HoT ticks every three seconds. While levelling this will often be the fastest way you have to react to sudden damage, and it makes a useful all-purpose heal, albeit at a steep price in mana. At 80, it’s still a powerful spell that can be used to save a raid member and place a HoT on them at the same time, but it should be used sparingly due to its high mana cost. When healing a tank, it’s mostly useful just to place another HoT on the target – always a good thing.
Swiftmend – An instant-cast direct heal with a 15-second cooldown that’s unlocked in the resto talent tree, Swiftmend is quick, powerful, and surprisingly mana-efficient. This is the spell of choice with which to react to a damage spike. Those 15 seconds before it comes up again can feel like a long time, though, when there’s a lot of damage flying around. It also requires a HoT (Regrowth or Rejuvenation, specifically) to already be on the target before you can cast it, so if you’ve been lazy and haven’t prehealed, Swiftmend probably won’t save your friends. In addition, if it isn’t glyphed, it will consume that HoT.
Nourish – Learned at 80, this is a direct heal with a 1.5 second cast time, moderate mana cost and quite good HPS if used well. “Used well” means having HoTs already in place on the subject, because Nourish gets a significant boost to its effectiveness if used on such a target. Although it’s an excellent spell, Nourish actually has a slightly unsavory reputation among druids, for reasons I’ll go into later. Suffice to say that it’s a useful emergency heal when Swiftmend is on cooldown, and is a mainstay of tank healing. Just be sure not to drive yourself OOM spamming it.
Lifebloom – A weak instant-cast 9-second (when specced) HoT that ticks every second. When it expires, it “blooms,” healing the target for a decent chunk of health and refunding half the mana you spent on the spell. Lifebloom is unique in that it stacks up to three times – if you refresh it before it blooms, it will gain a stack and tick (and bloom) for twice as much, and three times as much after the third application. If you keep casting it after three applications, you’ll just refresh the 3-stack. This spell is complex, and I’ll discuss its proper use under “Strategy” below.
Wild Growth – The resto druid’s 51-point talent is an instant-cast multitarget smart heal on a 6-second cooldown. It affects the 5 most-injured raid members within 15 yards of the target. Note that the target isn’t necessarily affected – in fact, he could be an enemy. It doesn’t matter, the spell will still go off and heal some fools, so long as they’re within 15 yards of the target and in your party or raid (this includes pets). It applies a short-lived (7 second) HoT that heals for more at the start of the spell, and wanes in power as it ticks every second. This makes it unusually “bursty” for a HoT. An invaluable spell for raid healers.
Healing Touch – A powerful direct heal with quite good mana efficiency. The lowest levels are reasonably quick to cast, but after gaining a few spell ranks it becomes a bloated, 3-second monster of a spell. It may be powerful, but it’s not really worth such a long cast time. You may use this while levelling, but you’ll probably make a point of trying to use it as little as possible, and once you hit 80 you’ll probably never cast this sluggish spell normally again. It does retain one function, however:
Nature’s Swiftness – A talent-unlocked ability that makes the next nature spell an instant-cast. The traditional use for this is to make a macro tying it to Healing Touch, giving you another powerful instant-cast direct heal for when the poo hits the fan and Swiftmend is already on cooldown (or you don’t have it yet). Nature’s Swiftness has a 3-minute cooldown of its own, though, so don’t waste it.
Remove Curse – Does what it says on the tin. Each cast removes one curse. Only two other classes can remove curses, and one of them is a DPS class (mage) who’s probably not paying attention to player status effects. The other is shammy, and they have to be resto-specced and spend a talent point on it and, on my server at least, aren’t very common anyway. Therefore decursing usually falls to the druids, so keep up with it.
Remove/Abolish Poison – Remove Poison works the same way Remove Curse does – one cast, one posion cleansed. Abolish Poison is better and essentially replaces it when you get it (level 26). Abolish Poison removes one poison effect when cast, and attempts to remove one additional poison effect every 3 seconds for 12 seconds. This means that if you know a poison effect is coming, you can preheal against it!
Innervate – Grants your target a hefty chunk of mana on a three-minute cooldown. Being a healer, it’s important to keep yourself from going OOM so if you think you might need it, don’t feel bad about hoarding it for yourself. If you won’t, though, give it away freely and make a friend happy.
Rebirth – The famous battle-rez, this lets you raise an ally in combat. It has a 2 second cast time and they don’t come back with much health so be ready to top them off quick before something comes along and kills them again. They won’t come back with much mana either, so if they’re a spellcaster you might want to toss an Innervate their way once you’ve got them healed. The 10-minute cooldown means that you’ve got to be careful how you use this spell – you’ll only get to use it once per boss fight so make it count.
Mark/Gift of the Wild – Mark of the Wild affects a single target, Gift of the Wild affects your entire raid. They have the same effect – a small (but noticeable) boost to all resistances, armor, and ability scores. This is one of the best buffs available and you should make sure everyone in your party/raid has it.
Thorns – A buff that causes the target to deal a small amount of damage to anyone that strikes them in melee. The damage is credited to the recipient of the buff, not the druid who cast it, so this should be put on tanks to make it just that little bit easier for them to hold aggro.
Tranquility – A very powerful channeled AoE heal that lasts 8 seconds and usually tops off everyone in the party during that time. In 5-mans this can very easily be the difference between a wipe and a good story to tell later about that time the hunter’s pet pulled two packs of radioactive doom-spiders. If you haven’t put any points into Improved Tranquility, though, this spell WILL get you aggro from every mob around as they inevitably notice the waves of healing awesomeness pouring out of your woody body. Note that this spell heals only your party, making it of limited usefulness in raids. It also has an extremely long cooldown – 8 minutes untalented.