I recorded and uploaded this as quickly as I could after finding out that the video capture bug seems to have gone to that big beta test in the sky (hurrah!), and I hope it gives you at least a glimpse of what an 85 in pre-heroic blues is doing right now. I should note that the seeming efficiency here isn't an accurate reflection of the mana you'll spend in the average 5-man (and certainly not the average heroic), but it's a reasonably good look at what'll happen if you get a decent group and play sensibly.
Nature's Swiftness A number of commenters have started voicing a suggestion fished from the bowels of heresy: Dump NS. After giving it some thought and experimenting with a non-NS spec, I can see why; it's a preventable-emergency kind of talent in a tree that desperately needs more room. Now, no one reasonable could argue that NS is a useless talent, especially for a healer who still lacks the proverbial "Oh s&%t!" button -- but it's a talent whose usefulness can be invalidated if you already know what to expect from an encounter and your group/raid is reasonably competent. Hence, I've given it the boot for the time being.
Fury of Stormrage I know what this talent does, but I'm still not entirely sure what it's supposed to do outside of PvP. The free Wrath takes care of any objection one might have had to the use of precious mana for a DPS spell, but the proc is for an instant and still full-cost Starfire (2,981 mana on the level 85 premade without Moonglow). It's still the sort of talent I might consider at better gear levels for use in 5-mans -- what sort of madman would turn down free damage, especially if your gear's advanced to the point where you've got some free GCDs? -- but its status as a prerequisite for Malfurion's Gift is the sort of troublesome tradeoff we've already got in Natural Shapeshifter.
Empowered Touch Mandatory. As with Naturalist, you're not really here for the Healing Touch bonus, given the spell's expense, but the benefits for Nourish are excellent. Tank healing became much less of a hassle on the beta once this talent started working.
Malfurion's Gift Very valuable given how much Blizzard's banking on Lifebloom being rolled the length of a fight, but fairly inaccessible for the moment. I can't justify spending points on FoS at present gear levels, and putting five into both talents will definitely snarl you up elsewhere in the tree.
Efflorescence I wasn't a big fan of this when it was a proc off Regrowth, which seemed like a needlessly expensive way to get a tiny heal that you couldn't guarantee would do any good (ask me how many DPSers and tanks have trotted out of the friendly green circles under the mistaken belief that they were evil green circles). Giving it to Swiftmend instead is a very good choice. Now you can guarantee it'll proc, it heals the hell of a lot more (1,944 a second at 4,502 spellpower on the 85 premade while unbuffed), Glyph of Swiftmend is happily still around, and if you Swiftmend a Rejuvenation, the two spells together still won't cost what a single Regrowth will. I think this last beta build's succeeded in making the talent truly useful, although the three-point investment in Living Seed followed by another three-point investment in Efflorescence is very, very costly.
Nature's Cure Mandatory. If you haven't downloaded Decursive (or configured raid frames to display only debuffs you can cure) by now, I would advise getting familiar with it sooner rather than later. On live, you don't waste mana on a debuff you can't dispel; on the PTR and beta, you can easily run yourself OOM doing so. The expense of dispels (3,167 mana for Remove Corruption) is such that I anticipate a "dispel healer" or team being assigned to groups in advance of an encounter so as not to waste huge amounts of mana on redundant dispels.
Nature's Ward This isn't entirely unlike Nature's Guardian in the restoration shaman tree, but sparing points for it in a PvE build is next to impossible. With 3/3 Gift of the Earthmother, it would (I assume) trigger a small instant heal as well, but I don't know if it occurs with regular ol' raid damage rather than a direct attack; I haven't been able to devote points to this in any talent build I'd be willing to take to a dungeon.
Tree of Life As with Pulverize for bears, the new version of the Tree has given me a lot of conflicting feelings. Unlike Pulverize, the Tree hasn't really evolved significantly from its initial concept, and it's the poorer for it. While it's a nice boost to your healing output, in practice all it really does is serve to run you out of mana faster without having an appreciable impact on your effectiveness, largely because of the spells it affects and how it affects them.
- The Wild Growth bonus isn't likely to be wasted in 25-man raids, but for 5-mans and heroics, you won't get any use from it, and how much use you'll get from it in a 10-man depends entirely on the encounter. When I first saw this bonus, the first thing I thought of was a comment thread from our column on Restoration 101, where players observed that the Wild Growth glyph is often wasted on 10-man content.
- The former Lifebloom bonus (two applications per cast rather than one) only worked to save you a single global cooldown, assuming it saved you anything at all. If you already had a full Lifebloom stack running when you popped Tree form, the bonus did nothing. The new version (allowing you to apply Lifebloom to an unlimited number of players) is significantly more useful and that's a huge plus for the most recent beta build. With Malfurion's Gift and Revitalize, liberal use of Lifebloom during the Tree cooldown could theoretically help you gain mana. Then again -- why blow a big cooldown only to use Lifebloom?
- The instant Regrowth is the most problematic bonus. While very helpful if you're on the move, Regrowth is still a very expensive spell that is just not designed for heavy use. Nor does the insta-cast bonus really save you a ton of time, given that you're still subject to the global cooldown.
Every week, Shifting Perspectives treks across Azeroth in pursuit of druidic truth, beauty and insight. Whether you're a bear, cat, moonkin, tree or stuck in caster form, we've got the skinny, from a look at the disappearance of the bear tank to thoughts on why you should be playing the class (or why not).