HoTs, Haste and 4.0

It’s patch night! Goodbye 3.3 and tree form, hello 4.0 and caster form. That means it’s time for me to hash out a last-minute prediction about what exactly is going to happen to resto druidry in this brave new world.

There’s all sorts of patch notes to read, spell changes, new glyphs, etc. to consider, but I’d like to look at the big picture. I suspect that little of this will change our fundamental healing style; what will is the changes being made to HoTs – the fact that they’re affected by both haste and crit now. Especially haste.

Most resto druids will have tried playing with the Glyph of Rapid Rejuvenation at some point. Love it or hate it, it’s a powerful glyph, dramatically increasing Rejuvenation’s powers. Part of the story is that it makes Rejuvenation more powerful, but the more important part, in my opinion, is simply its quickening. Before, unglyphed Rejuvenation was a terrible reactive heal. It took three full seconds for the first tick to land, and six for the second. Even if there’s enough time to wait around for Rejuvenation to heal the injured, by the time a significant amount of healing had been done, a shaman’s or priest’s heals would have landed on those same raid members multiple times and done all the work already, meaning that your Rejuvenation was a complete waste. You can partially counter this with healer coordination, but many of your fellow healers’ spells are smart heals and there’s little that can be done to coordinate those.

Compare what happens with Glyph of Rapid Rejuvenation and decent (but still not great) haste: the first tick happens after two seconds, and the second after four. This is fast enough to “stake a claim,” if you will, to particular injured raiders. Their health will be slightly higher than that of the people you haven’t healed, meaning that smart heals will avoid those guys and heal people who don’t have Rejuvenation on them, so everybody’s spells are working fully to restore the raid’s health.

In 4.0 this will be the way things work automatically, and without the Glyph of Rapid Rejuv’s annoying duration-shortening side effect. Added to this will be the new effect of Gift of the Earthmother.

So we’re looking at faster ticks, as well as a Swiftmend-like burst of healing when you first cast the spell. Between the two of them, I think Rejuvenation will actually be quite an effective reactive healing tool, able to stake its claim well before other healers get done with their cast times. In fact, it’ll be more efficient when used in this way, since the burst of healing would be wasted when healing proactively. Will mana efficiency be important enough in Cataclym for that to be a concern? I don’t know. There will probably still be a time and place for proactive healing. But I do think druids will be able to heal reactively far more effectively than they could in WotLK, perhaps well enough that it will become the norm.

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