Last week I talked about my post 4.3 frustrations while healing. I spent the majority of that week feeling like I was championing a “this is why we are frustrated” cause to everyone who isn’t a druid (and feeling like I was talking to a brick wall 9 out of 10 times), while being a beacon for other frustrated druids who thought that perhaps they were alone in their frustrations and that they must be doing something wrong (and found out that they weren’t). I’m tired of trying to explain the frustrations of our class to people who don’t regularly raid as a druid, subsequently think “druids are fine, I don’t see what you are so frustrated about”, and have spent the past eight months living with what I’ve termed “tranq envy” (thanks for that, by the way, Blizzard).
Since I’m fairly weary (and emotionally worn out) from these conversations (and dealing with the frustrations), I thought perhaps today I’d flip that and write something a little more positive in an effort help the forest that came forth and said “I’m so relieved that it’s not just me”. In short, let’s talk a little bit about how to maximize what we can do with the tool kit we’ve been left with.
Working with the 4.3 Tool Kit
Since our last chat, I’ve had the opportunity to clear out normal Dragon Soul (where I continued to be frustrated), do a full guild LFR of the first four bosses with Beru, clear 7/7 Heroic Firelands and do a 8/8 Dragon Soul LFR on Elentari. One of the biggest things I’ve noticed is that the less there is to heal, the more frustrating it is to be a druid. I think that this was the most apparent in the LFR I did with Beru (and full guild healers) and in several encounters in Heroic Firelands. This is the direct result of our HoTs not having sufficient time to work before being overwritten by a direct heal and our lack of any form of Burst AE healing since the WG nerf.
However, there are still things that you can do to improve your performance so that you feel a little more comfortable with your healing, and feel a little more like a valued contributor to your healing team. It will not completely alleviate your frustrations, but it will help you feel a little more competitive. Let’s break it down and take a look!
- Do Not Be Afraid To Be Smartly Aggressive With Rejuv. What do I mean by “smartly aggressive”? Let me explain! First off, do not try to just blindly blanket rejuv over your raid, you will run out of mana before you can say “innervate”. Do, however, have an understanding of the damage patterns of an encounter and prep your raid for incoming damage with rejuv (this is key to being effective!). Note: if you try to solely reactively heal with rejuv, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage as most damage will be healed up, or in the process of being healed up, before your rejuv even gets its first tick off. Keep an eye on your boss timers and prep your raid so that you can have the maximum number of rejuvs out for incoming damage without having any completely wasted – as a rejuv that does zero effective healing is completely wasted mana. Since a lot of our Rejuv will be overheal, as long as a few ticks can “work” it’s a successful rejuv. (note: the graphic above is from our madness kill, which does have some consistent damage, which is why my OH was low on Rejuv - but almost every other encounter I was ~70+% overheal on Rejuv). You will have to experiment with how much rejuv you are comfortable using – but do not be afraid of having to pot and being completely OOM at the end of the fight.
- Don’t WG just because you can. This is even more important for those raiding 25s and utilizing the WG glyph. Similarly to Rejuv - time your WGs for when there is damage for it to heal. Once you understand the damage patterns of an encounter, time it to make sure that your WG is off of cooldown when there are going to be a sufficient number of people who will benefit from the healing. That being said – don’t wait an inordinately long amount of time to use it while you are waiting for that “perfect” moment – but do make sure you think through the points in an encounter you want to have it available for maximum use. Even though it hits like a wet noodle now, it’s not a completely worthless heal, it’s simply not packing the burst ability that it was previously
- Don’t Swiftmend just because you can. This is very similar to Wild Growth. While you want to maximize the use of swiftmend, you also want to make sure that it’s available when Efflorescence will really have an impact on the raid. So make sure you time your swiftmends so that they are off cooldown during high damage periods where there will be a strong benefit to the AE healing offered by Efflorescence. Don’t sit on it forever – just play with it smartly so that you can make the best use of the heal.
- Maximize Tranq and Tree of Life. I can’t stress this enough. If you have a 6 minute fight, be sure that you are getting two of each of these cooldowns in. Find the best times to utilize these cooldowns to the maximum potential of both the cooldown and the raid. For example: On Ultraxion, I like to tranq following the first time I return from hour of twilight after I receive Alexstraza’s buff. I will immediately go into ToL after I tranq. This assists with keeping the raid stable during the early parts of the encounter, and ensures that I will have both tranq and ToL off cooldown at the end of the encounter when damage is the heaviest and fast, burst healing is needed the most. Additionally, don’t be afraid to lifebloom ALL THE THINGS in ToL, it’s a great way to help conserve mana while continuing to contribute to raid healing.
- Innervate and Pot. One of the biggest downsides to relying to heavily on rejuv to deal with the lion’s share of our “raid healing” is that it’s going to have a significant impact on your mana. It will be more important than ever to make sure that you innervate early and often. Time your innervates with Power Torrent and other Intellect boots to give them more juice. If at all possible in the encounter, try to find a time to utilize a potion of concentration over mana potion. Every last ounce of mana will help, and there are several opportune times in Dragon Soul to make use of a concentration potion. Even with these efforts, you are likely to end encounters staring at a completely empty blue bar. It will take some time to adjust to how much rejuv is “too much” for your mana bar, but don’t be afraid to push yourself to find where that limit stands. I will admit that there were several encounters during the week where by the end of the fight I was waiting for regen ticks just to be able to cast again – which was an indicator that I may need to back up on rejuv just a touch, but until I push to that point I won’t know where it is.
- Keep Good Lifebloom Uptime. This is more important than ever. Lifebloom is key to our regen, and you will be feeling a huge mana pinch as you try to keep up with the other healers on your team utilizing a sub-optimal toolkit. Try to keep your uptime as close to 100% as possible, and don’t be afraid to refresh it by refreshing lifbloom as opposed to nourish if needed. Additionally, do not let OoC procs go to waste! They are free heals, and very quick ways to refresh both LB and Harmony if you pair them with a speedy regrowth.
- Keep Good Harmony Uptime. Harmony makes our heals more powerful. I know that a lot of our HoTs are ticking for overheal, but making sure that the ones that aren’t healed over are as powerful as they can be is important. Try to keep Harmony uptimes between 80 and 100%. Don’t further hinder yourself by neglecting it!
While these pointers will not negate the underlying frustrations surrounding druid healing right now, they should help make you feel a little more on par with the other members of your healing team. They won’t completely (or efficiently) circumvent the huge gap we are missing in our toolkit (again) right now with regards to raid healing – but they should at least make you feel a little stronger as a healer. It will be hard work, and it will still be extremely frustrating, but we can at least try to make some lemonade, even if it does taste a little bitter.
I am happy to answer any questions that you may have, so please do not hesitate to let me know if you have them either the comments or via email (although I’m notoriously slow about getting back to email, so expect ~1 week turn around!). Good Luck out there, and remember – the reason we are covered with bark is to protect us as we weather the storm! (I do believe I did say there was a chance of storms in my last post, did I not? )