I was popping about, doing some reading over at EJ, and comparing gear choices/specs on some other endgame druids that I often review to see what they are doing and why they make those decisions. In doing so, I noticed a trend: fewer and fewer of them were opting for the 14/0/57 spec that has been popular amongst trees everywhere. It seems like the pendulum has swung back to 11/0/60 for raiding, dropping Nature’s Grace in the balance tree and picking up Empowered Touch in the resto tree.
Interesting. Well, at lest I thought so! It certainly begged me to ask the question: Is Nature’s Grace worth those three points anymore? Let’s break it down.
What does Nature’s Grace Give You
- Nature’s Grace provides you with a 100% chance (assuming 3 points) upon a critical spell to increase your spell casting speed by 20% for 3 seconds.
- This spell does not work with the 4 piece T9 set bonus.
Thinking Through Nature’s Grace’s Usefulness
- If you are casting a lot of direct heals with frequency (i.e. Nourish or Regrowth), having your cast time reduced has potential to be quite useful. I could see this potentially being the case for healers in 10 man raid settings, or in a guild where they are primarily tank healing. That being said, the proc only permits you a small window of time in which to get the benefit of the added haste from the spell. As such, you will likely not be getting 100% of the bang for your buck, as you may not always be able to take advantage of the proc in your rotation.
- On the flip side, if you are primarily raid healing, the usefulness of this spell goes down quite a bit. While you may use regrowth and nourish while raid healing, or tossing some spot heals up on the tank, you likely will not be casting them in such a succession that 1) you will get a lot of benefit from the 3 second proc, or 2) you will not have as much crit uptime, because of the lower use of Nourish and Regrowth.
- Note that there may be certain encounters where you will cast more Nourish and/or Regrowth while raid healing, but this is not necessarily true for the majority of the encounters in the game right now.
Are the Other Options Any More Useful?
That is the million dollar question then, isn’t it. Regardless of if Nature’s Grace is useful or not, are the other alternatives more useful? You get 3 extra talent points if you do not talent Nature’s Grace…add that to the one “filler” point that is left in the resto tree and you have 4 talent points to work with. What are the options?
- Natural Perfection (3 points) - While largely conceded to be a PvP talent, gaining 3% crit with the 4 piece T9 bonus might make it more worthwhile. Since Blizzard seems hell bent on making crit a worthwhile stat for resto druids, I do think that this talent garners some consideration. Is 3% crit worth 3 talent points? I’m undecided on that right now. Are these 3 talent points arguably better spent here than nature’s grace? Possibly. I think there is a fair argument that 3% crit is better than the 20% haste you get for that 3 second window.
- Empowered Touch (2 points) - While this talent was largely considered a throw away talent for a class that almost never cast healing touch, the talent was just recently buffed to include a healing bonus to your Nourish spell, which makes it more attractive. Take this in hand with the healing needed for ToC and TotGC, and I think it becomes more attractive. I know, I hear you asking “but you just said that if you are spamming nourish, Nature’s Grace still has some value”. While this is true, even if you are intermittently using Nourish, the buff to it for these two talent points is worth more than the haste granted from Nature’s Grace. Are these two talent points better spent here than in Nature’s Grace? I think so, yes.
- Improved Barkskin (2 points)- Again, another talent that was largely thought to have a PvP focus has some good use in PvE. Anything that will add to damage mitigation in a fight were healing is tight is worth consideration. Will it be game breaking? Not likely. Is it useful? Yes. Is it worth dropping Nature’s Grace for these two points, no. Is it worth picking them up in conjunction with something else that leaves you with some extra talent points, yes.
What Did I Do?
Last week on Wednesday, I opted to respec out of Nature’s Grace into an 11/0/60 build. I picked up Empowered Touch and put a second point into Improved Barkskin, although I did consider putting two points into Natural Perfection rather than Imp. Barkskin. I made this decision for a few reasons:
- Being primarily a raid healer in a 25 man guild, I really didn’t feel I was getting a lot from the hasted cast time that Nature’s Grace was providing me. Often it would proc and my 3 seconds would pass without me ever using a casted spell to take advantage of the proc.
- In doing 10 man TotGC through Anub, and working 25 man TotGC Beasts, I found that there was more opportunity for me to use Nourish and have it be a more useful tool in my healing arsenal. Specifically, I found the extra healing invaluable on HM Anub, for both the tanks and the piercing cold targets. I also found the extra healing helpful on impales on Gormok. I could WG the melee after a stomp, and use a well timed nourish as the impale was hitting the tank. I am sure it will show it’s usefulness again with Incinerate Flesh as we work HM Jaraxxus tonight. To me, this justified spending the two talent points for larger Nourish heals.
- I became a fan of Improved Barkskin awhile back, while starting Ulduar Hard Modes. I have remained a fan. To me, damage mitigation is just as good as healing. The more I can up my survivability, the better I become as a player. The less I have to worry about my own health, the more I can worry about someone else’s health. Will I move these two points out of here at some point? Maybe. But right now I like having the extra mitigation.
In the three raid nights that I’ve had since my respec, I can honestly say that I’ve not missed Nature’s Grace. My opinion on this may change as I continue to experiment, but right now, I think that my talents points are better placed where they are. Will this be the case for everyone? Probably not. However, the only way to know if you change things up a bit, and give it a whirl.
So, what do you think? Is Nature’s Grace on the way out?