We’ve all seen the holy pally on LFG advertising 2.2k +healing. Wearing greens, with no spell crit or mp5. We all know better, right? Right? We wouldn’t be caught dead wearing greens of healing?
At the same time, gearing to heal isn’t just about throwing on a bunch of blues and purples with +heals on them, and spamming lifebloom. Especially when selecting gems, you have to balance different stats, and the main stats you’ll be looking at, for resto druiding (can ‘druid’ be verbed?), will be +healing and spirit. You may also end up looking at intellect eventually, but the balance between spirit and intellect is another whole article, and rather than writing it, I’ll just suggest you go read Phaelia’s great work at Resto4Life.
Also, as you collect various bits and pieces of gear, you may find you have two similar pieces for one slot, one with more regen and one with more +heals. Then, there’s trinkets: again, you’ll probably end up with two +heals trinkets, and two regen trinkets. There’s a staff from heroic MgT with a huge pile of spirit, which you can triple-gem and enchant for some great regen, and there are plenty of weapon/off-hand combinations with a focus on +heals, and little or no regen. You can even swap between weapon/off-hand combinations mid-fight.
So, what to focus on? How to select the right balance of healing and regen for a fight?
It’s a bit of an art, to be honest. It starts with getting a feel for your “main” set: the set of gear you feel is your most useful. What should you include in this? As far as gear choice, it should be a balance. Plenty of +heals and plenty of regen, with some room to move either way. The Bangle of Endless Blessings combined with either the Lower City Prayerbook, Essence of the Martyr, or a similar +heals trinket will work well. Grab the nicest mace you can find, along with an off-hand with at least a little spirit.
You also need a feel for the various boss fights you’re doing: is there a lot of burst healing, with various breaks, or are you piling heals on the tank for twenty minutes straight? Pick a “middle-of-the-line” boss fight: one where mana is a bit of an issue but not too tough, and there’s some burst healing but nothing crazy. If you’re not really sure about that, just pick one that’s tough but doesn’t force you to chug mana pots (much). Try to pick something around your level of progression: If you’re working on Illidan, chances are nothing in Kara is a useful gauge.
So, we’ve picked a middle-of-the-range boss fight and a balanced gear set. Now, what are your goals?
Some people will tell you that you should be trying to be running close to OOM at the end of the fight: any more regen is wasted. I think this is REALLY bad advice, for a few reasons. The main one is that things go wrong: if you’ve aimed to be able to maintain the expected level of healing for the usual length of fight, then if you lose a few dps and the fight goes longer, or you lose a healer or two and have to heal harder, you’re in trouble. Then there’s having to give your innervate away unexpectedly to a healer you brezed, or to one of those holy/disc tank healers who seem to me to be always going OOM (priests, you have an escape key: USE IT). Personally, I like to aim to be able to finish a nice controlled kill on about 1/3 mana (without using my innervate), and still achieve strong healing output.
This means I can give away my innervate (to a comrade who thinks less about balancing regen and +heals than I do, or someone who needed rezing), burn a little extra mana on a brez and some emergency healing, and still have some wriggle-room.
So, try your selected boss-fight with your balanced gear. There are a few possible outcomes.
- You may find you’ve selected a fight that’s too easy. If you can keep your target up easily, other healers aren’t having to make up for your slack, and your mana bar stays full, try a harder fight.
- You may have selected a fight that’s too tough. If you have trouble keeping your target up, and you’re going OOM as well, try an easier boss.
- You may find you’re short on +heals. Signs of this are your heal targets dying, other well-geared healers going OOM (picking up your slack) while you have heaps of mana, or noticably under-performing a comparable healer on the heal-meters.
- You may keep your target up easily, but head towards OOM. You need more regen.
- You keep your target up without trouble, and finish with between 1/4 and 1/2 of your mana left, without using innervate. You’ve achieved a nice balanced set of gear.
Now, like I said, balancing stats is a bit of an art form, and you could hit number five above right on the dot and still be off the mark, but it’s a good sign. If you run into numbers one or two, try a different boss.
If you find you have too much +healing, look for ways to boost regen, usually by sacrificing some +healing. Trinkets and gems are a good way to shuffle this around without too much cost, especially if you use cheaper blue (or even green) gems to find the right balance, and then replace them with epics as you become comfortable with your stat balance. On the trinket side, get yourself the Bangle of Endless Blessings. Really, I can’t stress how great this for regen, especially if you keep the “Use” effect up as much as possible (if you have to innervate yourself, make sure you save the Use for the same time as innervate for a BIG boost to innervate’s effectiveness). If you’ve stacked spirit all you can, you have the Bangle AND the Darkmoon Card: Blue Dragon, and you’re still going OOM, you probably have a rotation problem, and need to look at the spells you’re using.
Obviously, the reverse applies if you have too much regen and not enough healing. Ditch some regen trinkets or other gear, resocket spirit gems with +healing, and try to find the right balance.
Ultimately, your goal is to have your main set tuned to a medium-length fight, and still have room to switch pieces of gear for more healing or regen. This means that when you run into fights with different requirements, you can easily adjust.
Black temple is a great example of a raid with heaps of different requirements for different fights. Illidan requires some SERIOUS healing output during a moderately short phase two, and features various mechanics which give you time outside the 5SR to regen your mana back up. It’s also long enough (towards 25 minutes) that you can make use of Innervate several times, and get plenty of use out of pots to replace regen. I personally tend towards stacking +heals, as I find I never have mana issues here (to the point that I never pot, and happily give away my Innervate). Other fights, such as Bloodboil, change tanks regularly so stacked HoTs are less mana-efficient, require big group healing output, and while needing some burst healing, tend to strain a druid’s mana heavily (although I suspect CoH priests and shammys are less stressed). Council can either be a nightmare for mana-management, or very easy except for needing to burst-heal people who are poisoned, depending on which side of the room you’re stationed on. And so on.
Even looking much lower on the progression scale, you find this sort of mechanic. Shattered Halls has a long gauntlet (followed by a boss on heroic), which may test the limits of your regen, while Kargath Bladefist, the final boss, requires big burst healing on the whole group (particularly yourself), while hopefully being short enough that you won’t go OOM (if you do, the dps may be at fault, rather than you). I suspect Kargath is designed for priest, shammy, or pally healers: us druids seem to have struggle more than others.
Hmmm… Has this made things clearer, or muddier? Hopefully, what you can take away from this is that you need a main healing set, which manages your middle-of-the-road boss fights, while leaving room for you to stack some extra regen or bonus healing. This should mean you’re now capable of shuffling gear to deal with either mana- or healing-intensive fights, while having a balanced set which will handle most things.
Unfortunately, there’s one final consideration: serious progression content, which you’re not quite geared for but you’re having a stab at anyway. Chances are these fights will test both your healing output and your mana-efficiency. Go with the set that fixes the biggest problem you’re having, obviously: if tanks are dying, you just have to stack +healing, and try to last as best you can. Maybe throw on your most effective piece of regen gear, and focus everything else on +heals. Consider late weapon-swaps: use your high +heals mace/offhand combo, swap to a high-spirit mace while you innervate, back to your mace/offhand for a while, and then switch to your regen staff again as you go close to OOM, and hope to get that extra heal or two off to close out the fight.
For serious regen fights, throw on all your regen gear: Darkmoon Card: Blue Dragon combined with Bangle of Endless Blessings (used on every cooldown) provides a SERIOUS mp5 boost, without sacrificing too much healing. Consider using your mace/offhand combo and swapping only for innervate, because (as we’re talking progression stuff here), if you lose too much healing bonus your tank may go down. Also, look for ‘quiet moments’ in the fight: chances to spend a bit of time not casting, and boost your regen nicely. Listen for the “dodge trinket up” call from your tank (hopefully he lets the healers know when he does this), and keep pre-casting (and hopefully cancelling) Healing Touch. This lets you burst the tank back up if he DOES take a hit, but lets you stay outside the 5SR if he doesn’t (you only go inside the 5SR if your HT actually lands). Even better, trust your priests to manage this with greater heals, assume your pallies keep casting flashes (they just go afk in boss fights and let one of those bobby bird thingys keep hitting the FoL key anyway), and just pre-cast and cancel Regrowth. You can always let it land and then mash swiftmend if things start to go pear-shaped, and you still have NS+HT up your sleeve.
Reading back over this post, I’m not quite sure if I’ve managed to explain what I was trying to, or missed the target completely. Hopefully you’ll find some useful advice jumbled up in there, anyway. Ask questions: maybe you’ll be able to drag what I’m trying to say out of me, if I haven’t made enough sense on my own.