I'd be the first to admit I don't take the game quite as seriously as the hardcore theorycrafters at EJ. To be fair to WoW, it's hardly the only game in that position; with the Olympics on, I've had the opportunity to acquaint myself with many questionable pasttimes like curling. Someone even went so far as to set hipster music to a series of clips featuring expert players crouching on the ice, staring down the run with the coiled alertness of a Serengeti hunter. The athletic grace is impressive until you consider that they are watching a large rock slide down the rink at the speed of a miniature dachshund while teammates scrub frantically at the ice in the hopes that the rock will travel a few more inches. One realizes: a). the fundamental absurdity of the human condition, and: b). that the effort to maintain a dignified façade has caused you to soil your pants.
The inability to treat what is meant to be a fun hobby with the gravitas due, say, a shuttle launch or an Irish wake, has occasionally resulted in problems when readers take material more seriously than I do. The official forums have also convinced me that any deviation from the standard imposed by theorycrafters and spreadsheets is going to be greeted with hostility by anyone who decries the notion of individual choice in a game, which makes today's topic -- finding a place for the druid's worst heal in progression raiding -- a bit touchy.
I am required by law and contract to be sensitive to the needs of the differently-minded in our community, and as such, I am going to borrow (read: steal) a technique first employed by the humorist Dave Barry in a 1991 column.
The following article has been closed-captioned for the humor-impaired.
As an expert on the subject of druid healing (NOT TRUE) who's currently enjoying the Arthas fight (HE'S KICKING HER ASS), I've found myself wanting to use the Healing Touch glyph with 5/5 Naturalist a lot more. As a general rule, Healing Touch is one of the druid's less-attractive heals (IT'S TERRIBLE) outside of the usual butt-saving Nature's Swiftness + HT macro. It's too slow, it's too big, and by the time you actually land one, the paladins will be laughing all the way to the top of the healing charts. It's for this reason that a Gladiator druid of my acquaintance memorably described the Healing Touch-spamming Dreamstate druid as "a paladin with a permanent Curse of Tongues."
However, a glyphed and specced Healing Touch is another matter. This first came to my attention while doing heroic Anub'arak-25 (HE KICKED HER ASS TOO), because phase 3 turns into a raid healing nightmare between Penetrating Cold and Leeching Swarm. Leeching Swarm does pretty much what it sounds like -- it leeches health from raid members and heals Anub -- so you had to had to keep the raid at a sliver of health to have a prayer of killing him (OR STACK SHAMANS WITH GLYPHED HEALING STREAM TOTEM, GG). But Penetrating Cold was periodically applied to 5 raid members, doing 6K damage a tick to people who were already hovering around 1-2K life. Essentially you had a second or two to react to a Penetrating Cold target in the raid, because the debuff killed them on the first tick. But -- this gets better (SARCASM) -- you couldn't heal them for too much, because it fed Anub'arak more health. Most raids typically assigned healers to specific Penetrating Cold targets in the raid (BRB DOWNLOADING ADDON THAT IS TOTALLY NOT NECESSARY TO THE SUCCESS OF THE ENCOUNTER) (MORE SARCASM) to limit overhealing.
I was initially skeptical (SHE WAS TOO CHEAP TO RESPEC) because Nourish was a 1.1 second cast for me at the time, and I was dubious about the benefits of a heal that was only marginally faster. For that matter, it's hard to get behind a flash heal that bears the additional burden of scaling worse than Nourish (SHE WAS TOO CHEAP TO BUY THE GLYPH).
But it wasn't even a contest. Healing Touch saved my targets. Nourish did not.
Here's the thing about a glyphed and specced Healing Touch:
Really, really fast.
At the soft +haste cap (856 without 3/3 Celestial Focus or 735 with it), Healing Touch fires at a speed of roughly 0.7 seconds, and it's important to note that raid-damage auras or boss debuffs never tick faster than once per second. If your latency is decent (THAT NEVER HAPPENS), it's possible for you to land a 7-10K heal on a target before the next damage tick occurs, or even as it's happening. On progression content with unpredictable damage spikes, anything you don't outgear, or (THE TRUTH EMERGES) lots of raid mistakes, Healing Touch is a lifesaver.
Honestly, this entire article could just be a flag waved on behalf of bucking the "Do this or you're a terrible player" trend in favor of doing what works best for you, but WoW.com has standards (IMPLEMENTED AFTER SHE WAS HIRED) that require me to expand on that a bit. We have such a commitment to journalistic excellence that, when the editors develop a hankering to know what is going on inside a burning building, they send one of the more disposable staff members to investigate (THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED). So after researching this issue extensively (SHE MADE A SANDWICH), I have developed a set of criteria wherein a glyphed and talented Healing Touch may have a place in your arsenal:
- Absolutely addictive speed.
- Great compensation for unpredictable damage on progression content.
- if you don't have another resto druid in the raid (and thus can't blanket the whole raid in HoTs), it's a good way to spot-touch damage that wasn't cushioned.
- Drives the rest of the healing team into a frothing rage sniping their targets.
- The rest of your healing team might be armed.
- Chews through mana. Do not glyph or spec for it if you have mana issues.
- Nature's Swiftness + Healing Touch is far less effective.
- You'll have to free up 5 talent points for Naturalist and a major glyph slot at the very least.
- Generally pointless if there's another resto druid in the raid and the two of you can blanket everyone with HoTs. If that's so, leave the spot-healing to the classes who can do it more efficiently.
- If it's the kind of encounter where the raid stacks up, Chain Heal will drink your milkshake.
- Lord Marrowgar: Bone Spike, people who can't stay out of fire.
- Professor Putricide: Malleable Goo, although technically no one should be getting hit by it (HA HA!).
- Blood Queen Lana'thel: Pact of the Darkfallen and people who screw up positioning during Bloodbolt Whirl. HoTs will otherwise stomp this encounter.
- Lich King: Infest, particularly past phase 1.
- Faction gunships: There's really not much healing required on this encounter, and nobody should be getting hit by the Sergeant mobs' Bladestorm but a tank.
- Deathbringer Saurfang: Priests, paladins, and Beacon of Light own this fight once a Mark goes out.
- Festergut: HoTs, HoTs, and HoTs. If you are alive and it is within range, it should have Rejuv on it.
- Rotface: People who screw up positioning may have to get bailed out on occasion.
- Valithria Dreamwalker: HT is absolutely not what you should be using to heal the dragon herself; HoT her up and Nourish away. Otherwise, HT can be useful to get dangerously low people up if the raid's not good about interrupting Frostbolt Volley, or doesn't get Blazing Skeletons down quickly enough. If you find yourself using it a lot, however, something is very wrong.
- Sindragosa: There's an unfortunate element of luck to this encounter concerning how many healers get Unchained Magic, and DPS learning the fight are also likely to make mistakes breaking people out of Ice Tombs too quickly or being on the wrong side of one during a Frost Bomb. An experienced raid is unlikely to need it much, but otherwise I would nominate Sindragosa as a good encounter for which to keep a glyphed HT in reserve.
1. Do what works best for you, and don't be afraid to experiment.
2. What works best for you is going to depend a lot on who else is healing in your raids, the nature of the encounter, and -- to be frank -- how fast your fellow healers are, and how good the raid is at avoiding damage.
Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go prep my inbox for the coming flood of angry curling enthusiasts (SRSLY).