Okay, so I promised myself I would post tonight, and I started working on a WotLK dungeon drops post. BAD IDEA. Different sources disagree about who drops what, various sites have links to some items but not others, and there are a LOT of bosses to go over. I started out writing the post as I researched, and then I found myself making notes separately and copy-pasting links backwards and forwards, and finally I started to think about doing a spreadsheet to compare stats of various items.
Rest assured, this post WILL happen, but it’s a LOT more work than I anticipated, and it may take me a while. So in the meantime, you get…
Wild Growth: When it’s Awesome and When it Sucks.
For starters: this spell is amazing. I’m 5/8 T6, and my main competition on the healing meters (which don’t matter, remember) is an 8/8 T6 shammy we picked up not too long ago. Actually, it was never a competition: a tree just could NOT keep up with chain heal. He was consistently on the top, followed by other shamans, followed by CoH priests (when there was plenty of raid damage), then the poor druids. Pallies and Holy/Disc priests tend to come at the bottom of the meter, which isn’t a bad thing because their job is to spam-overheal the tanks.
So, since I picked up Wild Growth, what’s happened? I’ve hit the top. Any number of boss fights are ideal for this spell, and the fact that it does your work for you by selecting the people in range who most need healing is just brilliant. The flood of green numbers floating around my screen is overwhelming, and recount has spat out numbers in excess of 2k HPS on boss fights. This has resulted in me being able to out-do even the previously-unchallenged chain-healing shamans, and really pump my healing numbers.
More people die.
Why? Is Wild Growth a bad thing? Well, yes, and no. And THIS is exactly why healing meters DO NOT MATTER. Previously, druids were the king of direct group healing. Shamans are busy tossing out chain heals, which are great, but don’t always get to the people who need them. Pallies and priests are either CoHing or spamming the tanks. It was left to us druids, in between rolling lifebloom on the tanks, to toss out regrowths and rejuvs to those in need, and be ready with a swiftmend. Wild Growth is fantastic, and it can really reduce the load on other group healers, but trees need to be careful not to focus too much on the big numbers it can push out: Regrowth, Rejuv, and Swiftmend still hold CRUCIAL roles in druid healing, and we mustn’t fall into the trap of ignoring them.
Go back and read my post on Spell Selection, if you haven’t already (sorry for linking it over and over, but it’s really quite relevant). Lifebloom is king on the tanks, rejuv for light on-going raid damage, and regrowth when we want some burst. Since the patch, Healing Touch is more of an option even, although I wouldn’t be grabbing the glyph myself (that’s a whole ‘nother post), and Wild Growth needs to fit in somewhere.
Where? Consistent raid-wide damage with little chance of spikes. You can definitely put out bigger overall numbers with WG than you can with either regrowth or rejuv, particularly in a 25-man raid. Ultimately, effective healing is the measure of your mana-effectiveness in dealing with damage, and when you’re not worried about losing people, the sheer healing-meter power of WG is superb. WG is VERY bad, however, at saving lives: the ticks aren’t really all that big, and the kicker is, YOU CANNOT SWIFTMEND WILD GROWTH. If you see a bit of damage on someone and toss out a WG to hot up a few nearby players as well, only to see ever more damage piled onto the person you cast on, you’re an extra second or two away from any kind of burst healing. There is a good chance this person will die, because you wanted to see bigger numbers.
What’s the solution? Unfortunately, it’s to increase your options. In my last post on spell selection, I looked at how you can reduce your choices to a few good ones, so you don’t waste time thinking about bad options when the pressure is on. More options means more decision time, and fractions of a second can make a difference. So, how do you pump your healing effectiveness without letting people die?
I think the answer is to know the fight. On Bloodboil, for example, I can predict the damage pretty well. I know when the raid damage is happening, and when the burst is crucial. I watch the boss’s target, and I keep an eye on my DBM timers. I know ahead of time when I need to toss out group heals to help out the priests and shammys, and I know when to forget it and spam-heal the poor fel enrage target. Make some decisions before-hand, and save yourself time during the fight. If you don’t know the boss, try to find patterns early: Is there lot of light raid damage (use WG)? Are people dying from focused damage (more Regrowth)? Am I busy casting direct heals on people, one by one, only to watch someone I haven’t gotten up to yet die gradually (again, more WG)?
By now, you should know the deal. Lifebloom on the tanks is obvious. Rejuv on light raid damage when only one or two people are affected (this is actually not that common), otherwise Wild Growth. Regrowth on anyone you even THINK is going to take some spike damage, and follow up with a swiftmend if needed. Healing Touch? Well, now we need to learn a technique that hasn’t applied to druids much before. Cancel-casting.
The deal is, if you have a few spare seconds with nothing to do, you start casting a long burst heal, but cancel it if it isn’t needed. HT is perfect, at roughly three seconds (depending on talents and haste), and it lands for some pretty big numbers. When you see a few seconds spare, start casting it on the tank. If you get to between 1s and 0.5s cast time left, and the tank’s health is full, hit escape, or forwards/backwards, or jump (NOT preferred, it prevents you from starting a non-instant cast until you land), and save yourself the mana. If the tank’s just taken a big spike, let it land, and score yourself a nice extra few thousand on the healing meters (which DO matter :P). This technique may very well save the tank, and is EXTREMELY preferable to spending those few seconds picking up your glass and taking a sip of wine/fruit juice/whatever you drink while raiding. Keep in mind there are some times (generally on progression content) when you’re told to SPAM-HEAL the tank, and cancel-casting may not be appropriate there. Use your judgement, and if tanks are dying, start re-thinking your plan. Also, if your mana pool is looking full and not really running down, let it land anyway: this is a great way of “tuning” your gear on the fly: stacked too much regen and not enough spell power? Let those HTs land anyway.
Well, hopefully that’s been helpful to someone. It took me a while to really work out how much value I was getting out of spells since the patch, and I imagine others are struggling with the same. Please PLEASE share your own thoughts on this with me: I haven’t really had that much time to work this out, and I’m sure there are insights still to be had.