Whenever other columnists here write really good columns, I sit at my computer and swear a blue streak, for I am a jealous god. Sacco, damn him, turned out a great article on the basics of elemental shamans, and for a while I've been kicking around bits and pieces of 101-esque columns for all four druid specs. This was the last shove I needed to get that done. While I expect our new balance blogger (a.k.a. Murmurs, the person I will be forcing to do all my number-crunching in the future with bribes or, when necessary, threats) will address moonkin, I'll cover bears, cats, and today, trees.
A quick note on what I want to accomplish here: I'm addressing this to people with no prior knowledge of the spec who want the tools to become reasonably competent healers quickly. By necessity, that means we're going to gloss over a few finer points; this is a cheat sheet, not an encyclopedia. When I say (for example) that Improved Tranquility needs to be dragged out behind a barn and killed with an axe, I'm not going to spend paragraphs explaining why that is, or examining situations where you could actually get some use from it. If you think I've glossed over something truly important, please drop a comment and I'll direct readers to anything they really need to know.
1. What is restoration?
Restoration is the healing tree (pun!) available to the druid class.
2. Restoration's benefits:
- The best array of Heal over Time (HoT) spells in the game.
- Tremendous mobility while healing.
- A specialized form (Tree of Life) available as a 41-point talent, providing a 6% healing received buff to the raid and boosting the druid's healing efficiency and throughput.
- Arguably the most mana-efficient healer, with a choice over using Innervate for themselves or giving it to another player.
- Arguably the most annoying healer to kill in PvP (when specced and geared).
- Very little competition for gear if you stick with leather +spellpower pieces.
- In the hands of a skilled player, the best and most effective healer for fights with heavy and frequent raid damage.
- Limited capacity to address burst damage, and less efficient than other healers at doing so.
- The Tree of Life form graphic has been variously described as "rotten broccoli," "Looks like the petunia I left out on the windowsill without watering," or "Dear God, what is that thing?"
- The druid is unable to cast damage or most crowd-control spells while in Tree of Life form.
- Fast raid healers are often adept at "sniping" heals before HoTs have a chance to tick, decreasing our effectiveness. Asking other healers to refrain from doing this results in phrases like "Screw you" being bandied about.
- Restoration has no cooldowns with any real impact on tank survivability, or abilities that reduce targets' damage.
- Effective druid healing is dependent on heavily reconfiguring your UI to show HoT targets and durations.
- Less "Wow!" factor with spells. If you're someone who enjoys seeing a 20,000 crit heal on a target, you're better off playing another class. The resto druid is about a lot of little numbers, rather than one big one.
- Spellpower: Our best stat.
- Haste: Haste does two things -- it lowers the cast time on our spells, and (more importantly) lowers the global cooldown, increasing our ability to keep HoTs rolling on multiple targets.
- Spirit: The Tree of Life gains both mana regeneration and spellpower from spirit.
- Crit: Crit is not particularly useful for resto druids, although it is more valuable if you are a tank healer or are using 4-piece tier 9.
- Intellect: Intellect increases our total mana and crit (and also affects the scaling of mana regeneration from spirit), but we don't get as much from it as other healers.
- Mp5: Mp5 is not a bad stat for us, but we get less from it than we do from spirit. Odds are good you will wind up wearing several mp5 pieces, but a spellpower/spirit piece is usually superior to a spellpower/mp5 counterpart.
- Hit: We don't need it. You should only grab a caster piece with +hit if your DPS don't want it.
- All other stats: Agility, strength, etc. are useless to a tree.
There are multiple restoration builds that can be customized to the job you do in raids (tank healing or raid healing) or adapted as necessary to specific fights, but the basics are usually the same. Due to the Gift of the Earthmother change implemented in patch 3.3, it is generally recommended that players spec into the balance tree for Celestial Focus if they are below the soft haste cap (856 haste). With 3/3 Celestial Focus, you need only 735 haste to reach the soft haste cap with raid buffs. If you are between 735 and 856 haste, you can drop one point in Celestial Focus for each 40 haste rating (approximate) you add to your gear, until you reach 856 and can drop the talent entirely.
If you are below 856 haste in full raid buffs: Use a Celestial Focus build. A more tank-healing oriented CF build is here.
If you can reach the soft haste cap (856) in full raid buffs: Use a non-CF build. A more tank-healing oriented build is here.
If you're mostly doing 5-mans: This is a good general-purpose build.