As timely as it may be, this post isn’t referring to the upcoming Cataclysm changes. Although, I do think the title would be appropriate for that as well! What I actually want to talk about is, well, relearning to heal! Have I confused you yet?
Awhile back you may recall that I mentioned I am working on leveling a mini-me. That is another little druid to tinker around with, who is, down to her professions, an exact copy of Beru. I have gotten her up to level 70 through a combination of questing and LFD healing, and on my journey I have had to relearn how to heal without all of the tools and gear that Beru has available to her. It has been quite the challenge, and anyone who says “healing is boring” should go make themselves a mini-me and challenge themselves.
The Low Levels
I actually found these levels to be some of the hardest for me to heal – until I got used to healing without all of my tools again. As a druid, you have very limited tools when you start, and I learned to appreciate every one of them. In your early instances you will start with the basics: Healing Touch, Regrowth and Rejuvenate. You will actually use healing touch quite a bit (at least until you get swiftmend!), and remembering that it is a long cast takes some getting used to.
You often run short on mana, and your group is frequently composed of 4 tanks and a healer. Well, not technically, but you know what I mean! I had honestly forgotten how much I valued Lifebloom and Swiftmend until I would go to hit my keybinding for them and realize that they weren’t tool that I had available to me yet. If things get a little ugly in your group, the healing can be very tricky. Not just because you have limited tools, but because your mana feels every spell that you cast. I probably used more mana potions in these lower levels than I have used on Beru in the past month.
Hello Swiftmend, how I’ve missed you!
Somewhere around level 40 you can get swiftmend, and what a blessing it is! I know in this day of zerg instancing it’s hard to remember your tanks dropping more than half their life in one trash pull, but when you are leveling up, this is the reality of things. Until you get swiftmend, you have two options – Healing Touch and Regrowth. And let me tell you, while that Healing Touch is juicy when it lands, I am usually biting my nails hoping that I win the race between the cast time and the tiny sliver of life the tank has left.
Swiftmend is a god send. It really nicely fills a gap in druid healing in the mid-levels. Now when the tank drops half his life, I can fill it back up quickly, and without worry that he’s going to die before I can get a heal off.
I can’t say that I “missed” swiftmend, as I use it fairly frequently during raids, but I do think that I can say I underappreciated swiftmend as a tool in the lower levels, having received it for the first time at 60, I suppose I never realized its value to leveling healers. Once you obtain it, it’s one of the best tools in your tool kit!
This spell wasn’t the bees knees that I thought it would be as I was leveling. Sure, it’s nice to have in a pinch, but it’s really expensive at those lower levels. You have to actually think about when to use it, because over use will quickly mean an empty mana bar. Hmmm…I wonder if the devs got their new healing model from leveling some healers? I digress!
Wild Growth, while nice to have and convenient for those times everyone is taking damage, really wasn’t the staple in my lowbie tool kit that Swiftmend was.
Traveling Through the Dark Portal
Burning Crusade instances are different from those old and loved vanilla instances. And you know what? The trash is still hard! Especially if tanks don’t know the zones and have bad pulls. Which subsequently means that there is frequently challenges with the healing! I can’t tell you how many LFD groups I joined that were missing a healer and the group was running back in this bracket.
The biggest part of the problem, I think, is that a lot of tanks don’t really understand that they need defense. And once you get out to the Outland Instances it does start to matter. But not only that – a lot of people are either still learning to play their classes, or are still stuck in a zerg mentality from WotLK 80’s. This causes problems, because you also have tanks that are still learning to tank. What all of this means is that there is a lot of healing that needs to happen!
Of course, you are in and out of the Outlands so fast, that you really don’t get to experience all of the instances in the zone.
The Bloom is the Word
Lifebloom. Obtained somewhere around level 64, if I’m remembering correctly, it quickly became one of my favorite instancing spells. It fills in a very nice gap on the tank – especially when the rest of the group is flailing around. While it’s still a little expensive, it definitely plays well with the little druid in trying to keep the tank alive.
Much like Swiftmend, it’s another one of those spells that I was very glad to get, because when I didn’t have it, I definitely missed not having it. I also think it’s something that I had underappreciated and undervalued for the leveling process.
I’m just starting my journey in Northrend, but I can tell you that I’m already missing Nourish. Yes, this is Beru. Yes, I really just said that I miss Nourish! No, I’m not feeling very well today, but that has nothing to do with it!
At level 70 I don’t have Nourish yet, and I am desperately feel the gap. Part of what makes it such a gap is that again there is another step up in challenges as you enter the Northrend instances. And…there are still tanks that don’t understand defense (hi, you need it!). Tanks regularly have their health plummet to less than half their life, and I am finding that the cooldown on swiftmend just isn’t fast enough. Sure, I’m keeping my HoTs up, but there are times that I long for that quick tick of health that Nourish would bring. I find that I am, once again, playing Russian roulette with Healing Touch and the Tanks life.
I intend to continue with this project. It’s been so long since I haven’t had Beru’s gear and abilities to carry me through almost everything that I’m finding it fun to relearn what I’m doing with Elentari. Not only that, but I think that recognizing Elentari’s shortcomings have made me more aware of things when I heal with Beru. It’s actually a project that I’d recommend for every healer!
If I manage to get there before Cataclysm hits, I’m looking forward to going through the gearing process and finding what struggles I have as a fresh 80 healer. Of course, if I don’t get there before Cataclysm I will still be relearning to heal, just in a different way!
Surely I’m not the only one that has taken on this exercise? Did you find anything different than I did? How about those of you new to leveling a druid, what have your experiences been like? Have you found certain spells to be amazing after you’ve received them?